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Montalvo preps Intel rival with asymmetric cores

updated 12:05 pm EST, Fri February 15, 2008

Montalvo CPU Leak

A relative newcomer to processor design, Montalvo Systems, hopes to take the edge over established firms such as AMD and Intel by using the concept of asymmetric cores, a reported source tells CNET. Much like the Cell processor at the core of the PlayStation 3, the unnamed first chip from Montalvo will feature at least one primary core but also multiple less powerful but more specialized cores that can offload work from the main cores without demanding as much power. While the way Montalvo's design will balance these uses is unknown, the Cell for PS3s typically uses its special cores to handle video decoding, networking, and background tasks.

Unlike the POWER-based Cell, however, the new design is allegedly being built with the same x86 processor architecture created by Intel and should run the same software as most if not all of the latter's current designs. Montalvo is allegedly competing directly with the established semiconductor giant and will use the asymmetric technology to either allow higher clock speeds or else reduce power consumption without sacrificing as much performance as Intel, which currently insists on equal features for each core. Montalvo is said to be targeting its architecture at both conventional desktops and notebooks as well as ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs) and smartphones.

The new company has retained a veil of secrecy and has not said when it will release its first products.

by MacNN Staff



  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I've been waiting

    for cell architecture-like processors to hit the Mac Pros before I consider buying one. Maybe if these catch on, Apple will take the hint and try to get the Max amount of power of that aluminum casing.

    However, I've got a very strong feeling that such an undertaking would require a large revision/seperate version of OS X, which would explain why it hasn't been done yet.

    Anyone know a little about the ins-and-outs of cell architecture?

  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Small Surprise

    If you want to make money on units at discounted rates, you've got to sell more of them. HD-DVD units aren't going to be selling when no one wants them. I wonder which resalers is going to be caught holding with the most of these left in their inventory.

    Right now it's a race! a race to see who can get rid of all of their units before no one buys them anymore or won't pay prices above comparable DVD players.

  1. olePigeon

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Cell isn't just PPC

    Toshiba demonstrated an Intel notebook with 4 Cell co-processors at CES. They've rebadged it "Spurs Engine." It's really impressive.

  1. winterspan

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Damn't!!! I wrote a huge response to you about the Cell BE processor and Mac OSX and where I see Apple going in regards to coprocessors such as a CELL or GPGPU, but I lost the whole damn post when firefox crashed.

    So this time I can only leave you with this:

    I think it wouldn't take too much effort to get Mac OSX running on the Cell. IBM and Sony have ported a lot of common dev tools and software components to the Cell already. In fact, the current Linux kernel natively supports the Cell. You can literally load up Ubuntu onto the Playstation 3. Now I'm not sure about BSD and all the technical details, but I bet there wouldn't be alot to do to get the Mach kernel or whatever OSX is using onto the Cell BE.

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