Intel's Penryn processors will push desktop PCs to run 40 percent faster for gaming than the latest Intel Core 2 Extreme chip, according to company executive at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) who gave details on the new chip design planned to reach markets in the second half of 2007.

Likewise, Penryn-powered workstations will deliver a 45 percent improvement for bandwidth-intensive tasks, versus today's quad-core Intel Xeon, said Sean Maloney, Intel's executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer. Intel will achieve the feat by shrinking its chip features from 60 nanometers (nm) to 45nm and by using ‘high-k metal gate’ transistors, which are arguably the biggest breakthrough in microchip technology in 40 years, he said.

Maloney spoke to reporters in a preview of comments the company plans to make at IDF in Beijing today.

In other advances, Intel will deliver a new line of high-end multiprocessor server chips code-named ‘Caneland’ in the third quarter of 2007. This Xeon 7300 series will include quad-core and dual-core chips running in 80-watt and 50-watt versions for blade servers. Those chips could help Intel compete with a major new chip release from competitor AMD, which plans to unveil its ‘Barcelona’ Opteron server chip in the middle of 2007.

Intel also said it plans to shrink enterprise-level platforms down to the size of a single chip. Under this ‘Tolopai’ project, designers will create a system-on-chip (SOC) platform by integrating several components into a single processor, reducing chip size by up to 45 percent and power consumption by 20 percent compared to a standard four-chip design, Maloney said.

The approach is similar to an SOC plan Intel announced on 3 April for low-wattage embedded tasks like print imaging and in-vehicle automotive platforms. That version of the strategy reduces three chips to one by combining the main processor with its memory control and I/O control hubs.

Intel will use this same design in its CE 2110 Media Processor, a SOC architecture that could allow consumer electronics vendors to make simpler designs for digital home products. By 2008, Intel will begin selling the chip as a common foundation that spans products from PCs to consumer electronics, including laptops, televisions, set-top boxes and other networked media players.

Finally, Intel shared its plans for a programmable architecture code-named ‘Larrabee’ that could allow a system to run at trillions of floating point operations per second (teraflops) of performance, a huge boon to applications in scientific computing, mining, visualisation, financial analytics and health care. Pressed for further details on the conference call, Maloney declined to describe it more precisely.