Intel launches a plethora of mobile processors

Intel launched 12 new mobile processors on Monday, ranging from its fastest mobile chip yet to the first .13 micron version of its entry-level mobile Celeron chip. PCs using the new processors will be available from the top 10 U.S. vendors starting Monday, Intel said.

The new offerings are split between versions of Intel's high-end mobile chip, the Pentium III processor-M, which was formerly known as Tualatin, and its value-priced Celeron chips. The company also launched two new versions of its 830 chipset that feature integrated graphics controllers, said Frank Spindler, vice president and general manager of Intel's Mobile Platforms Group, in a conference call with press on Friday.

The new chips are aimed at the mini-notebook, subnotebook and tablet PC categories, Spindler said. "We are seeing good, solid growth in these segments as the world shifts to and desires even smaller notebook systems," Spindler said. "The Pentium III mobile is now going to give us a huge boost in performance capability in these types of systems."

In the 0.13-micron Pentium III processor-M family, Intel launched its fastest mobile processor yet at 1.2GHz, just slightly faster than the 1.13GHz version the company launched in July. The 1.2GHz offering has a 133MHz front-side bus, which allows it to use PC133 SDRAM (Synchronous Dynamic RAM).

Two other processors run at 800MHz, one with a 133MHz front-side bus and one with a 100MHz front-side bus. Intel also launched a 733MHz chip with a 133MHz front-side bus, and a 750MHz chip with a 100MHz front-side bus.

Intel has two versions of some of its chips; while both versions have the same clock speed, the difference is the speed of the path between the processor and the system's memory. Traditionally, they have featured identical pricing. Although it offers lower performance, the 100MHz version of the bus allows the processor to run with slightly less expensive RAM.

In addition, Intel announced the ultra-low-voltage 700MHz Pentium III processor-M, which runs at less than 0.5 watts, the lowest power consumption of any mobile offering from the company.

The new processors show Intel focusing more on lowering power consumption, compared to the previous versions, in which the company focused on performance, one analyst said. "It took a little bit longer for these to launch; they said they would be launching them sooner," said Kevin Krewell, an analyst with MicroDesign Resources in Sunnyvale, California.

The delay could have been caused by Intel wanting to release the new processors near the release date of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP operating system, which will be released at the end of October, Krewell said.

"They could be waiting for XP," he said. "XP offers better features for notebooks, especially corporate notebooks," he said.

Intel also launched six new members of its mobile Celeron line of low-cost processors, including the first Celeron made using a 0.13-micron manufacturing process, which allows elements of a chip to be more tightly packed than with earlier processes. That chip is a low-voltage 650MHz processor. The company also made several speed increases, launching versions that run at 933MHz, 900MHz, 866MHz, 800MHz and 733MHz. Previously, the fastest mobile Celeron ran at 850MHz.

All Celeron offerings have a 133MHz front-side bus except for the 650MHz and 900MHz versions, which feature the 100MHz front-side bus.

The company also launched two new versions of its 830 chip set, which feature integrated graphics controllers, Spindler said. The new offerings are the 830MG, which is a low-cost version of the chip set, targeted at low-cost systems, and the 830M, which is the high-performance version, Spindler said.

The 830M offers a 118 percent increase in graphics performance from the 815 chip set, Spindler said.

"I think we'll see the first system introductions (using the chip sets) during October, then another wave in the beginning part of next year," Spindler said.

Pricing for the new processors is as follows: In the Pentium III processor-M family, the 1.2GHz costs US$722, the 800MHz versions are priced at $316, the 733MHz and 750MHz versions cost $241, the 700MHz chip costs $209. In the mobile Celeron family, the 650MHz, 933MHz and 900MHz versions are all priced at $134, the 866MHz version costs $107, the 800MHz version costs $91, and the 733MHz version costs $75. Prices are all in 1,000-unit quantities, a standard measurement for chips.

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Douglas F. Gray

Computerworld
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