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Does Core i7 Mobile bring us closer to the final destination for desktops?

Corei7Intel hit up the market with an (expected) bombshell on Thursday, bringing the Core i7 platform to notebooks.

If you’re thinking this is just another development in desktop chip design shoehorned into laptops then think again. Core i7 is sick in desktops and super-sick in laptops.

Why the fuss? Like its desktop sibling the mobile version has four cores capable of running eight threads (a thread is a stream of execution instructions sent to a core). Both also ship with large amounts of level two cache, starting at 6MB, and can support mega-performance memory on the motherboard.

Kicker number one for the mobile version thought is a sort of ultra-speedstep technology called Turbo Mode which massively varies clock speed based upon processor demand. This allows the cores to function at anywhere between around 1.6GHz and around 3.2GHZ depending upon the model.

Kicker number two is that the mobile version can idle unused cores at almost zero power usage, which should mean great shakes for battery life if you’re performing simple tasks.

How much difference does Core i7 make compared to previous generations of mobile processors? It appears to be simply staggering from the benchmarks taken by various reviews published this week. The price? Not quite as heart-stopping as you might think; Dell announced it would sell a Studio 15 model fitted with a Core i7 for $999.

So are we going to be seeing Final Destination: Desktop Massacre? Core i7 Mobile should give us desktop replacement power without the weak battery life of some previous mobile powerhouses. Consequently more people might feel they no longer need a desktop.

In permanent installations however, such as corporate or home media center environments, desktops will probably continue to have a place for a while to come. But even in those scenarios the votes are increasingly going towards notebooks. After all, why choose a desktop when similar power is available at a similar price but with more flexibility?

Neil Berman


Sep 25, 2009 - Posted by | Analysis, Computing, Hardware, Mobile, News | , , , ,

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