Richi Jennings

Intel's extreme laptop CPU (and APC vs. BS)

July 16, 2007 10:26 PM EDT
Like clockwork, it's Tuesday's IT Blogwatch: in which Intel launches an overclockable quad-core laptop processor. Not to mention the Aussie who destroyed seven cellular base stations in an armored personnel carrier...

Ben Ames reports:
Intel Corp. launched a dual-core notebook chip for high-end users on Monday, continuing an effort to defend its share of the fast-growing notebook PC market against Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD). Intel is selling the new Core 2 Extreme X7800 processor to PC vendors now, and says it will reach store shelves within two weeks, boosting performance for the hard-core gamers and digital artists who now use notebooks powered by Intel's Core Duo T2600.

The company encouraged vendors to push even faster performance by opening the chip's speed protection locks, allowing them to overclock the processor for even faster operation. Some video game fans seek top performance by running chips beyond their rated speed limits on desktop PCs like Dell Inc.'s XPS 720 series. The practice is less common on notebook PCs, which are usually optimized for the best battery endurance.

By concentrating on notebooks, Intel is aiming at the sweet spot of the PC market ... demand for notebooks in soaring, with global notebook shipments showing increases of 35.9 percent in 2005, 28.4 percent in 2006 and an estimated 25.3 percent in 2007 ... Intel now hopes to regain the initiative by expanding its Core 2 Extreme brand from high-end desktops to high-end notebooks. It is selling the 2.6 GHz Core 2 Extreme X7800 notebook chip for $851. [read more]
Todd Haselton adds:
The X7800 is a dual-core processor clocked at 2.6GHz on an 800MHz bus with 4MB of L2 cache and will be available to OEMs for $851 each in quantities of 1,000. Intel expects that its new mobile processor will appear in notebook computers within the next two weeks.

Intel claims that the X7800 processor will offer up to 28 percent more performance than earlier mobile processors and that it has removed the bus ratio locks, which previously prevented overclockers from tweaking their laptop CPU speeds. The 28 percent increase is in comparison with Intel's Core Duo T2600 in 3DMark06. The T2600, which is clocked at 2.16GHz, has a slower 667MHz bus speed with 2MB of L2 cache.
...
Intel also said that it expects to launch "battery-friendly" quad-core mobile processors sometime next year. [read more]
Confused? Jesus Diaz saves the day: [you're fired -Ed.]
The new X7800 offers Enhanced Deep Sleep (for better energy saving), Advanced Media Boost (for faster video, photo and music editing) and it can even be overclocked (for smoother plastic melting). But the question is: will it be the processor for the incoming MacBook Pros? (Yes, I know, that was a cheap shot but I couldn't resist.)

Intel says it offers 28% more speed than the previous generation. If your concept of previous generation is the early Core Duo T2600, that's OK, but what we want to know is the performance increase compared to the latest and best Core 2 Duo CPU. [read more]
Thomas Ricker swears, while hitchhiking his way around the galaxy:
the X7800's unlocked multiplier should allow for "easy" overclocking. In fact, some (vaguely insane) Belgian tinkerers over at Matbe have already dialed in a 3GHz speed on an X7800-equipped ASUS G2S gaming laptop. Niiice. [read more]
But Charlie Demerjian throws cold water:
For the $851 you spend, you get an unlocked Merom 2.6 more or less, but that is just where the problems begin, not end. Intel probably is shying away from mentioning bus speeds because they are probably stuck at 800, a little more than half the bus speed of the the QX6850. This means half the bandwidth, and coupled with slow laptop memory, well, Houston, we have a problem.
...
Keep an eye out for bandwidth constrained games on the X7800, it will probably be a very patchy set of numbers. [read more]
Charlie Robb boggles:
These types of chips have been limited to desktops in the past due to excessive heat that they cause. Most desktops need cooling options that definitely aren’t factory installed to overclock these processors properly, so the thought of these being thrown into laptops almost seems silly. [read more]
Digital Dave puts it more succinctly:
I have a feeling this would be quite warm when placed on one's lap. [read more]

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Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at blogwatch@richi.co.uk.