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The commercial implications of Core i7

by Scott Bicheno on 4 November 2008, 11:30


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Tock time

When the company that dominates the CPU market launches a new generation of CPU architecture it's always going to be a major event for the PC industry.

Elsewhere on HEXUS you can find out how the new processor performs, but here at we're going to have a look at what this launch means for the PC business on the whole.

Intel calls its CPU roadmap strategy "tick-tock", referring to an annually alternating launch of either a new architecture or a shrink in the manufacturing process. So in 2006 we had the "tock" of the new Core architecture, then last year we had the "tick" of its manufacturing process being shrunk from 65nm to 45nm. Core i7 is the next "tock" in this sequence.

The Core 2 launch had a profound effect on the CPU market as it marked the moment Intel firmly wrestled back the technology initiative from AMD. As AMD hasn't produced anything to compete with Intel at the higher ends of the CPU market since then, this launch finds Intel competing with itself as much as anyone else.

So you could argue that Intel didn't need to bother with this launch, at least for now, but the hard lessons from AMD's period of ascendancy before 2006 remain learned and Intel remains determined not to take its foot off the gas for any reason. In essence then, the company that already had the best performing CPUs has just launched a new generation that's even better.

Having said that, yesterday's announcement was very much a soft launch. There will be no availability of Core i7 processors for at least a couple of weeks and we expect initial supply to be a trickle rather than a deluge as Intel ramps up the manufacturing.