Mobile Nehalem chips may come in late 2009

The mobile version of Nehalem may not hit the market until late 2009.

Intel is gearing up to release the first versions of its Nehalem chip family next month, with the scheduled launch of its Core i7 desktop processors. But users will have to wait much longer to get their hands on the mobile version of the new chip.

The mobile version of Nehalem, codenamed Clarksfield, will "be in production beginning in the second half of 2009," Intel said on Monday, without saying when the chips would be available commercially. The company did not elaborate on whether the reference to production means full volume production or limited pilot production of the processors.

Either way, this production schedule suggests users may not see Clarksfield until late next year.

Clarksfield will be produced using the same 45-nanometer production process that's used to make Intel's current chip lineup. The upcoming chip will be at the heart of the next version of Intel's Centrino laptop chip package, called Calpella.

Nehalem uses a different chip design than any of Intel's current processors. The most significant improvement is the move to combine the processor with the memory controller hub, which connects the processor to main memory, on a single piece of silicon. This feature, which is already available on processors from rival Advanced Micro Devices, should offer much faster access to data than is possible with Intel's current chips.

Clarksfield is also expected to include more advanced power-management features than Intel's current mobile chips.

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