Back in Feburary 2009, Intel disclosed that the 32nm ‘Westmere’ desktop processors were coming out in the fourth quarter of 2009 and that appears to still be true. Westmere will be Intel’s first 32-nanometer mobile and desktop chip for mainstream computer systems. They will also will feature an integrated 45-nm graphics processor and memory controller on the package itself, so the motherboard solutions are actually quite interesting. Arrandale and Clarkdale are the first two Westmere cores that will be introduced to the market. Both Arrandale and Clarkdale are dual-core Westmere parts, but the difference between the two is that Arrandale is for mobile platforms while Clarkdale is for the desktop market.
Intel had a couple systems showing off the upcoming Clarkdale processor (Core i3), at this year’s IDF show. The first system we spotted that happened to be running Clarkdale was the concept HTPC shown above with a mini-ITX motherboard.
Intel had a reference mini-ITX H57 motherboard that they were showing off behind closed doors that we also got to spend a little time with. The layout of this reference board is a little different than most Intel mini-ITX boards that are currently on the market since it does not need a north bridge chipset. Since the board uses just the south bridge they can add more features like a full x16 PCI Express slot.
Turning the H57 board to a different angle we can see that it features four SATA slots, a 24-pin ATX power connector, 4-pin +12V power supply connector, two DDR3 memory slots, and a low profile south bridge heat sink.
The rear I/O panel offers support for four USB 2.0 headers, an optical S/PDIF port, a single eSATA port, a single RJ-45 Gigabit LAN port and the eight channel surround sound ports. When it comes to video connections you have the DVI-D port and the HDMI port. This motherboard is fully HDCP compliant, so it should be ideal for Blu-Ray playback or for any other protected content.
Just days ago AMD got to say that they had the World’s first graphics card that supported bitstreaming of high definition Blu-ray audio codecs. We touched on this in our ATI Radeon HD 5870 review in case you missed it. The new Clarkdale processors integrated graphics core supports protected audio paths and can properly handle the bitstreaming of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The demo above was showing 8-channel LPCM output, but they also showed Dolby TrueHD pass through. Audiophiles are going to love Clarkdale for this feature and everyone else will be getting an audio upgrade if they have the right receivers without even knowing it.
The next demo that Intel showed us was an Clarkdake HTPC system that was using a Dell LCD. The point of this demo was that the new Clarkdale system consumes less power at idle than the monitor did. The systems power cables was plugged into the power meter on the left and the monitor was plugged into the meter on the right.
At idle the system had an idle power consumption of under 27.9 Watts. At 100% CPU load, thanks to Cinebench R10 being run, the entire system consumed just 69.9 Watts. The LCD alone consumed 40.2 Watts as you can see in the image above.
Intel also had a couple Arrandale notebooks on display and ran a couple Winzip compression tests for us to show how much quicker it was over the previous generation.
Let’s take a look at the power point presentation that Intel gave us.