2010 CPU forecast: What's coming for desktop and mobile PCs

From mighty six-core desktop chips to minuscule smartbook processors, here's a look at what's in the CPU cards this year.

No one should be surprised that the big action in the CPU market this year will be in the mobile and low-power processor segments. Rapid growth in the power-saving all-in-one and small-form-factor desktop PC markets, continued strong demand for portable computers, and new usage models (digital photo and video editing, casual gaming, watching high-definition movies and so on) will all ignite demand for powerful new processors that consume less energy than previous generations did.

What's more, a new category of small portable computer is springing up between smartphones and netbooks: the smartbook. Smartbooks are designed to maintain 3G connections to the Internet and deliver a full day's use on a single battery charge, like smartphones, but they're also designed to run productivity applications (usually via the cloud) and feature much larger screens and keyboards, like netbooks. And while Intel Corp. pretty much owns the netbook market with its Atom processor, it could face a strong challenge on the smartbook front from ARM Holdings PLC with its extremely low-power Cortex-A8 and Cortex-A9 processors and their successors.

All this emphasis on mobile devices is not to say the desktop processor market will stagnate; in fact, Intel announced no fewer than seven new desktop CPUs at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Intel are expected to introduce their first six-core desktop CPUs this year.

Here's a broad look at the road maps from the major chip makers, including their overall strategies and promised technologies for the coming year, as well as a peek what they might offer in 2011.

Desktop processors

Quadcore processors will enter the mainstream this year as AMD and Intel whack down prices to gain market share. You can already find four AMD quad-core CPUs -- the Phenom X4 9850, 9750 and 9150e and the Athlon II X4 620 -- street-priced at less than $US100.

At CES, Intel introduced an entirely new series of dual-core processors that were produced using its new 32-nanometer manufacturing process. Moreover, the first six-core desktop CPUs will be introduced this year, perhaps as early as the second quarter, but they will be aimed squarely at the enthusiast market.

At the other end of the spectrum, Intel will continue to dominate the market for ultra-low-power desktop CPUs. AMD is completely out of the picture there, but Via Technologies Inc. has some interesting products to offer.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobilecpuprocessor

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Brown

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?