Intel Confirms Westmere Waiting in the Wings

If early reports are accurate, WestmereIntel's GPU/CPU fusion—will take center stage at the company's developer forum next week. The new processor has been a topic of interest for months, especially after Intel announced it was scrapping its plans to build both the CPU and GPU on a 45nm process. The company's strong 32nm ramp allowed it to skip straight to a 32nm CPU / 45nm GPU combination, which should decrease the chip's overall power consumption. Mobile Westmere processors are expected to ship in Q4 2009; it's currently unclear if the desktop variant will launch in Q4 or in Q1 2010.

If you're confused over which code name applies to which processor, Intel's decoder ring might be of some help. Westmere, like Penryn, is the name of an entire processor family, not just one type of processor. Clarkdale is the name of Intel's upcoming 32nm (dual core, HyperThreaded) desktop chip, while Arrandale refers to the mobile flavor. The one oddity in the diagram is that Lynnfield falls off the map, leaving a quad-core-sized hole in Intel's product lineup. It's possible that Lynnfield's refresh might occur after the desktop and server products are transitioned.

Dual-core processors with an integrated GPU might not sound like much to get excited about, but Clarkdale and Arrandale are the first Nehalem-based mainstream processors. That places them in direct competition with Intel's budget Celeron and Core 2 offerings, as well as the company's current mass-market chipsets. How bumpy or smooth the launch is will depend on how adroitly Intel can measure consumer demand and its own inventory levels. Expect at least a few bumps along the way, as OEMs adjust their product lines to feature Westmere processors while reducing their inventory of Core 2 chips.