RealTime IT News

Intel Fortifies Its Low-Cost Chips

Intel enhanced some of its low-cost Celeron family of mobile processors this week, making them more like the popular Pentium M chips.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant said its new Celeron M 350 (1.3GHz) and Celeron M 360 (1.4GHz) are now built on 90-nanometer instead of 0.13-micron process technology, making room for double the on-chip Level 2 cache -- 1MB instead of 512K. The chips are designed for use in thin and light notebooks.

Until now, the only Celeron M built on 90-nanometer technology was the Ultra Low Voltage model 353, which runs at 900MHz with 512K of L2 cache. The shift is significant as Intel now says that it has reached a tipping point with its 90-nanometer production, which has just surpassed the number of 0.13-micron processors.

Using the same 400MHz system bus as their predecessors, the Celeron M 350 and 360 are priced at $107 and $134, respectively, in 1,000-unit OEM quantities.

The original line of Celeron chips were based on the same P6 architecture as the Pentium II microprocessor, but are designed for low-cost PCs. They generally run at lower clock speeds and are not as expandable as Pentium microprocessors. Earlier this year, Intel revamped its Celeron line to support a two mobile versions: a standard-voltage and an ultra-low voltage (ULV). The Celeron M has extended battery life and built-in wireless LAN capability, but the new chip lacks Pentium M features like SpeedStep technology and Hyper-Threading.

While Intel did not say which of the PC vendors would be using its new mobile Celeron chips, traditional Celeron buyers HP , Sony , Dell , Gateway and Toshiba are expected to put the processors in their mobile offerings.

The Celeron improvements follow this week's news that Intel has added support for three major Wi-Fi connectivity standards -- 802.11b, .11g and now .11a. to its Centrino chipset. The so-called "tri-mode" solution promises high-speed bandwidth, less interference and quicker connections.

Priced at $27 in 10,000-unit quantities, Intel's new chipsets come with version 9.0 of the company's ProSet/Wireless software. The upgrade includes a configuration, troubleshooting and security-setup tool called the Intel Smart Wireless Solution.

The software detects all available networks and offers profile management to help users connect to different WLANs at home, in the office and on the road. It also supports the new IEEE 802.11i security standard, with auto-detection and auto-select capabilities to help wireless users employ the highest available security settings.

Intel is expected to give updates of its hardware and software products during its bi-annual Developers Forum in San Francisco next week.

Editor's note: internet.com editor Eric Grevstad contributed to this report.