Intel launches mobile chip line for large notebooks

Intel Corp. added a third mobile processor line to its roster Wednesday with the launch of the Mobile Intel Pentium 4 processor, designed for heavy desktop-replacement notebooks, the company said.

The new chip allows the company to offer notebook manufacturers a processor optimized for a mobile environment that can still deliver desktop-caliber performance, said Shannon Johnson, an Intel spokeswoman. The new chips will launch at clock speeds of 3.06GHz, 2.8GHz, 2.66GHz, and 2.4GHz, but can switch to a 1.6GHz battery mode that uses less power.

Consumers have made desktop-replacement notebooks one of the hottest selling products among PCs this year. Those notebooks aren't suitable for travel, but can play movies or download Internet content at desktop speeds while still offering a degree of mobility, even if it's just from room to room.

Many notebook makers have released notebooks with desktop processors in order to reach that level of performance, but those notebooks can be prone to overheating. Toshiba Corp. is still involved in litigation over a notebook it released in 2002 with a desktop processor that was unable to run at its advertised speed due to processor overheating.

The new Intel Mobile Pentium 4 processors can run at higher frequencies and hotter temperatures than the Mobile Intel Pentium 4-M processors previously recommended by Intel for larger notebooks, Johnson said. Intel raised the maximum wattage from about 45 watts in the Mobile Intel Pentium 4-M to about 70 watts in the new chips, she said. As more power flows through a chip, power increases, but so does heat.

The new chips are essentially versions of Intel's desktop Pentium 4 processor that come with Intel's Speedstep technology for reducing power in between processing tasks, and even keystrokes, she said. By applying power only when needed, this technology can help reduce the overall heat coming from the processor.

Dell Computer Corp. released a desktop-replacement notebook Wednesday based on Intel's new processor line. The Inspiron 5150 comes with a 3.06GHz Mobile Intel Pentium 4 processor, and is designed to be used as a home multimedia machine, the company said in a release.

A base configuration with the 3.06GHz processor, 256M bytes of DDR SDRAM, a 30G-byte hard drive, a 15-inch display, and a DVD-ROM drive costs US$1,549.

Intel now has a variety of similarly named mobile processors, including the Pentium M, the Mobile Intel Pentium 4-M, and the Mobile Intel Pentium 4. As part of Wednesday's announcement, Intel increased the speed of the Mobile Intel Pentium 4-M processor to 2.6GHz Wednesday, which will be the last speed bump for that processor line, she said.

The Mobile Intel Pentium 4-M will be gradually phased out over the rest of this year, subject to customer demand, Johnson said. Later this year, Intel is expected to launch Dothan, its first mobile processor built on its 90-nanometer process technology.

Prices for the new Mobile Intel Pentium 4 processors range from US$417 for the 3.06GHz chip to US$186 for the 2.4GHz chip, in quantities of 1,000 units. The new Mobile Intel Pentium 4-M chip is priced at US$562, also in 1,000-unit quantities.

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Tom Krazit

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