Intel denies new iMac has new 'Montevina' platform

Is it a first peek at an entirely new class of Intel CPU that Apple is offering in its latest refresh of iMacs, or is it an older class of CPU that is being overclocked at customers' requests? Intel is indicating that the iMac's new high-end CPU is neither.

The latest round of the old "telephone game" amid several online news sources yesterday resulted in two unusual interpretations of Apple's news on Monday that its top-of-the-line iMac was getting a speed boost to 3.06 GHz.

One interpretation was that Apple was getting first pick of Intel's forthcoming Centrino platform architecture, code-named "Montevina;" and some sources actually went ahead and clicked "Publish" on that story.

But as an Intel spokesperson told BetaNews, the new 3.06 GHz option -- which customers may request in place of the standard 2.83 GHz processor -- is a 45 nm Penryn-class Core 2 Duo CPU. It is not, therefore, the yet-to-be-released X9100, which will be a Core 2 Extreme at 3.06 GHz that supports the 1066 MHz front-side bus.

What was missed in all the confusion were several factors, the most obvious one being that the X9100 would require an entirely new chipset. The Montevina architecture doesn't run on the iMac's current Intel Santa Rosa chipset. It awaits an entirely new chipset, code-named "Cantiga," which is still slated for release in this quarter according to Intel's current roadmap. But for iMac buyers to have requested a swap from the standard 2.8 GHz chip to the X9100, they would have naturally had to have requested an entire motherboard swap.

In an attempt to remove the egg stains on account of that obvious omission, some blogs yesterday alleged that the 3.06 GHz chip actually is the 2.8 GHz chip, just overclocked -- set to run at a clock speed higher than the factory recommendation. That would contradict reports stating that Intel spokespeople specifically said it provided Apple with a special SKU of an existing E8xxx-series chip, one that supports the iMac's (non-swappable) G965 Express chipset.

A check of Intel's parts specifications reveals that running a 45 nm on a G965 chipset was a special feature to begin with: The 45 nm Penryn-class E8xxx series processors weren't rated for the G965 Express anyway.

So it should not therefore be any feat of rocket science for Intel to do whatever it does to its 2.83 GHz E8300 for Apple, to its 3.06 GHz E8400 instead. Still, the mess of mangled misinterpretations has become so thick that Intel is going back to the drawing board on its public interpretation of the news, and may yet have a clarification for BetaNews later today.

Meanwhile, Apple itself has gone completely silent, perhaps in hopes that saying nothing (which it already knows how to do quite well) may make the misinterpreted news just go away.

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