updated 10:35 am EDT, Fri August 22, 2008
Intel Core 2 Duo S
Although declining a separate announcement, Intel at its Developer Forum has formally introduced the Core 2 Duo "S,", its first factory-stock processor based on the same small package technology that was rushed into use for the MacBook Air and similar systems. The chipmaker confirms numerous leaks and reveals that the switch to a 45 nanometer process lets it improve performance while reducing the size and power use.
Although running on the same 1,066MHz system bus and with the same 6MB of Level 2 cache as newer Core 2 Duos, the "S" and its accompanying chipset are 60 percent smaller overall while the processor itself uses 17 watts at its thermal design peak versus 20 watts for its Apple-focused ancestor. Both also keep the same hardware virtualization and trusted execution as for their larger counterparts.
Two speed grades, the 1.6GHz SL9300 as well as the 1.86GHz SL9400, start the line; Intel hasn't said when these processors will reach shipping products, though most forecasts have pointed to September. Lenovo is already known to be using one or both for the ThinkPad X301 and is commonly thought to be in competition with a future MacBook Air update, although whether Apple will use default clock speeds is unknown. A recent but unverified rumor would push the Air up to 2GHz. Fujitsu is also likely to make use of the new hardware.
The reference nature of the new Core 2 Duos is expected to contribute to dropping costs for these systems; the X301 costs $200 less than the original.
Core 2 Duo "S" (left), northbridge and southbridge chips (right)