Intel demos new P4, Banias mobile chips

Intel Corp. demonstrated two new mobile processors, one coming soon and one a little under a year away, at the Computex Taipei 2002 exhibition, which opened Monday in Taiwan.

The nearer of the two chips to launch is the latest version of the company's Mobile Pentium 4 processor line. At a technology showcase, notebook computers from Taiwan's Winstron Corp. and Compal Electronics Inc. were on display running a 2GHz version of the processor. At present, the fastest chip in the line is a 1.8GHz processor and the 2GHz version is expected out sometime this month.

Just over a week ago, Intel began preparing for the launch of the faster chip by cutting the price of existing processors in the line. The 1.8GHz chip fell 45 percent from US$637 to $348 while other chips in the range tumbled by similar amounts. Intel generally reduces pricing of existing products in anticipation of the launch of new processors. Looking further ahead, Michael Splinter, executive vice president of Intel, demonstrated the latest Banias processor during a keynote speech in the afternoon -- the first time the chip has been seen in public, according to Splinter.

The Banias is Intel's first processor designed specifically for mobile computers and is scheduled to begin shipping in the first quarter of 2003.

"It was designed thinking about small form factors, thinking about low power, thinking about removing the heat from the processor," said Splinter. "So Banias is really an inflection point for Intel. It changes the way we do our processors. In the past we just took a Pentium processor and scaled it down, added features for mobility and that is out mobile processor. This is totally different so we are going to call it a different name. It's going to be branded differently than Pentium."

The chip was running alongside the company's equally new Monterra GM chipset, which is designed to be used with the Banias processor and features integrated graphics.