Intel intros 32-nm CULV CPUs for thin-and-light notebooks

Intel has taken the wraps off a new family of Consumer Ultra-Low Voltage processors based on its Nehalem microarchitecture. The CPUs are targeted at 10-13" thin-and-light notebooks, and according to Intel VP Mooly Eden, we can expect systems to become available early next month. Mooly wouldn't pin down a specific price range, indicating only that notebooks based on the CPUs would be in the "consumer" space. With multiple models ranging from budget Celeron and Pentium offerings and extending up to Core i3, i5, and i7 variants, the new CULV line should cover a wide swath of the market.

This new CULV family is fabricated using the same 32-nm process as Intel's desktop flagship, the Core i7-980X Extreme. No six-core madness here; the new CULV chips are all dual-core designs. The power-efficient 32-nm process does deliver substantial power savings, though. Standard Core i3, i5, and i7 mobile CPUs carry TDP ratings of 35-45W, while the new CULVs have a TDP of just 18W, which matches that of Intel's existing Ultra Low Voltage (ULV) mobile CPUs. Here's a quick summary of some key specifications for the new chips:

Base clock speed (GHz) Max Turbo speed (GHz) Cores Threads L3 cache size Price
Core i7-660UM 1.33 2.40 2 4 4MB $305
Core i5-540UM 1.20 2.00 2 4 3MB $241
Core i5-430UM 1.20 1.73 2 4 3MB NA
Core i3-330UM 1.20 NA 2 4 3MB NA
Pentium U5400 1.20 NA 2 2 3MB NA
Celeron U3400 1.06 NA 2 2 2MB $134

The new CULV line appears to replace Intel's existing low-voltage Core i5 and i7 CPUs with faster models, while adding lower-cost options in the Core i3, Pentium, and Celeron families. Hyper-Threading is available with the Core i3, i5, and i7 models, but only the Core i7 and i5 CPUs get Turbo Boost. All six CPUs share the same Intel HD Graphics component, whose clock speed ranges from 166 to 500MHz via Dynamic Frequency, which is essentially Turbo Boost for integrated graphics.

Intel already has 40 design wins for its new CULV CPUs, and you can expect systems from all the usual suspects: Acer, Asus, Gateway, Lenovo, and MSI, just to name a few. Eden expects all major OEMs will hop on the bandwagon eventually.

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