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Intel's roadmap reveals more about the Viiv platform, and Conroe's VRM problem

Intel quietly released a list of Viiv specifications to its manufacturing partners last week.  Intel's Viiv platform is an attempt to unify PC components into a concise, easily supported platform for media center PCs.  Unfortunately, the project is already starting to show some missteps -- the Intel Conroe CPU, the workhorse of the Intel Viiv 1.5 and 1.6 platform, are not compatible with Viiv 1.0. 

Documents from Intel mentioned that the next generation Intel desktop processor, Conroe, will require a platform refresh on existing chipsets.  The upcoming Intel G965 and P965 chipsets will support Conroe, but any other Intel chipsets from 975X on down will require a modified VRM and BIOS updates.  The VRM, or voltage regulator module, is the component on the motherboard that adjusts the voltages to the CPU.  Even if today's chipsets are physically compatible with Conroe, no motherboard today will support the CPU if manufacturers followed the VRM guidelines set forth by Intel when those chipsets were designed.

The major software change to Viiv will be the operating system.  Viiv 1.5 will feature Microsoft Windows XP MCE, while 1.6 will feature Microsoft Vista Premium. Windows Vista is due out later this year after the Intel Conroe processor launch.  A footnote declares that the 1.5 Viiv software package will be available June or July of 2006.

Another new addition to the Viiv platform will be the addition of 802.11 a, b and g WiFi chipsets.  The specification details that the 3945ABG or the 3965ABG WiFi chipsets may be added to a Viiv device and still receive support from the platform software.



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By JackPack on 2/14/2006 11:28:46 PM , Rating: 2
The last VRD spec will be over 2 years old by the time Conroe is out. The new VRD spec calls for more steps in between and lower VID values to reflect Intel's NGA philosophy.

Sure, Intel could have called for an all encompassing VRD spec that lasts for 5 years. But it would be stupid to enforce such a spec since the vast majority of users don't upgrade the processor. Those that do, tend to replace the motherboard along with the processor. As technology progresses, it becomes less expensive to manufacture the same VRM, which means a long-term VRD spec incurs high costs for everyone when only a few benefit from it.


By DigitalFreak on 2/15/2006 9:09:33 AM , Rating: 2
Doesn't matter if it's the VRM or something else, Intel always finds a way to require a new systemboard with each processor refresh.


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