RealTime IT News

Intel Unveils 1GHz Pentium III for Notebooks

Intel Corp. Monday unleashed its 1GHz mobile Pentium III processor, and a host of PC manufacturers are already seeking to capitalize on the new processor by speeding notebook computers utilizing it to market.

Compaq Computer, NEC, Toshiba, Micron Electronics, Dell Computer, Gateway, Sony and Winbook plan to put computers with the speedy new chip on store shelves by next Monday. Hewlett Packard, looking to get a jump on the competition, plans to have notebooks with the 1GHz chip in stores by Sunday.

The 1GHz version of the mobile Pentium III is ideal for dealing with media intensive Web sites and applications, as well as downloading and decoding music, digital photography and 3D gaming, according to IDC analyst Alan Promisel. Promisel said it is also a major step in the integration of 80211 and Bluetooth wireless technologies, which will eventually be embedded on the processor.

Intel's chief competitor, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) plans to introduce 1GHz Athlon chips for notebooks by June.

Intel also unveiled a 900MHz version of the chip as well as a 750MHz mobile Celeron processor. The chips -- intended for full size, thin- and light-notebooks -- utilize SpeedStep technology, designed to dynamically switch clock frequency and voltage, thereby conserving power. In Maximum Performance Mode, for instance, the top-of-the-line chip runs at 1GHz and operates at 1.7 volts. However, in Battery Optimized Mode clock frequency is scaled down to 700 MHz and voltage to 1.35 volts. Intel said this allows the chip to consume less than 2 watts of average power.

Intel developed the SpeedStep technology as an answer to the competitive pressure Transmeta's Crusoe processor has created in the ultra-light notebook space.

Intel unveiled 1GHz Pentium III processors for desktops more than a year ago and added a 1.13GHz chip in July, 2000, but notebook computers raise special problems because they must be smaller and consume less power than their desktop counterparts. Intel's first mobile processor, the 386SL introduced in 1990, ran at 20MHz, operated at 5 volts, had 855,000 transistors and was based on 1 micron process technology. The 1GHz mobile Pentium III has 28 million transistors and is based on 0.18 micron technology.

Promisel said the 1GHz chip is expected to drive notebook sales. And those sales are becoming more important as manufacturers' profits are increasingly coming from the notebook space.

"Real profits are made in the notebooks," Promisel said. "In terms of companies that are struggling, especially in the fourth quarter, it's definitely going to be notebooks that will help bring them back into the black."

He added, "We anticipate notebooks showing much greater growth into the future than desktop PCs."

While Promisel said that the desktop PC is definitely not dead, he forecast very strong growth for notebooks in the corporate space. And the breaking of the 1GHz barrier makes replacement even more likely as notebooks close the gap to offer computing power on par with most desktop PCs.

"I firmly believe that the replacement rates are on the rise," he said. "Notebooks are replacing desktops in the corporate arena at a much faster rate. In a world where people are becoming increasingly more mobile, the notebook is definitely the most logical answer."

Notebooks utilizing the new chip are expected to range in price from $2,500 to $4,500.

HP will put two notebooks featuring the 1GHz chip on the market Sunday. The HP Pavilion N6395, aimed at consumers, will retail for an estimated street price of $3,1992,and is intended as a heavy-duty multimedia tool for work on the Internet and for complex video games. It will feature a 15-inch display, 256MB of RAM, a 30GB hard drive and 8x DVD drive. It will weigh 5.8 pounds and will be about 1-inch thick. The second computer is the HP Omnibook 6000 enterprise notebook PC, with various configurations ranging in price from $1,899 to $4,199. It will feature a 15-inch display and 256MB of RAM. In Q3 2001, HP plans to integrate wireless LAN technology with the line -- as well as with the Omnibook 500 line -- which will allow customers to switch between wireless and existing wired infrastructures.

Compaq will throw three new models into the mix. The Presario 1800, aimed at consumers, will come in numerous configurations starting at $2,099. The Armada E500 and M700 will be geared towards business computing. The E500, offers displays up to 15-inches, 30GB hard drives and DVD or CD-RW drives. With 128MB of RAM and a network card, it will retail for about $3,699. The M700 is a lightweight alternative weighing less than five pounds. It features a 14-inch display, 128MB of RAM, a 20GB hard drive, DVD drive and network card for $3,599.

Toshiba will introduce a Satellite Pro 4600 for the consumer market with a 15-inch display, 128MB of RAM, and a price in the $3,000 range. The company will also introduce a Tecra 8200 for the corporate computing market sporting the new 1GHz chip. The 5.5 pound notebook will feature a 14-inch display, 256MB of RAM, a 20GB hard drive and a combination DVD/CD-RW drive for about $4,500.

Gateway has added the Solo 9500 featuring the 1GHz chip to its line. Available in both corporate and consumer configurations, the Solo 9500 features a 15.7-inch display, an optional FireWire port, an optional combination DVD and CD-RW drive starting at $2,449.

Dell will offer up a Latitude C800 with a 15-inch display and the Inspiron 8000 with a 14.1-inch display, both for under $2,500.

IBM will come late to the game, with plans to launch the ThinkPad A22 and A22p in mid-April with prices ranging from $1,999 to $3,099 and $3,899 to $4,169 respectively.