Intel Embedding Pentium Mobile Chips

With an eye towards expanding its chips into markets outside the PC realm, Intel Monday unveiled two new Pentium M processors it says are designed specifically for communications applications.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant said the chips could help speed the processing and routing of data within modular, high-density networking equipment.

A 1.60 GHz version is priced at $625 in 10,000-unit quantities. A second low-voltage Intel Pentium M processor at 1.10 GHz goes for $257.

While the P4 Mobile has had a life of its own in the notebook market, the chip is currently the Banias brains behind Intel’s Centrino.

The company said the chip can operate as a control processor managing network processors, line cards and other components in equipment such as radio network controllers and media gateway controllers. Intel said the embedded P4 Mobile can also act as a services processor for security applications such as firewalls, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and intrusion detection systems. The company says telecommunication equipment manufacturers can use the processor in mid-performance bladed telco servers where space, power and heat constraints necessitate high performance, low-power consuming components.

Nokia Networks said it plans to use the processor in many of its core infrastructure products.

“Intel’s goal is to help equipment manufacturers and carriers continue to build modular solutions throughout the network while reducing both capital and operational expenses,” said Intel vice president Howard Bubb. “Our industry-leading services and control processors as well as our network processors are key components in our expanding portfolio of standards-based communications building blocks.”

The chip itself has a low thermal envelope of 12-25 watts and a 1MB, power managed L2 cache. The P4 Mobile also has SpeedStep technology, which lets the processor run in reduced power mode. Intel said the processor’s form factor is also ideal for use on CompactPCI and Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (AdvancedTCA) boards.

It is no secret that the No. 1 chipmaker has been expanding its horizons outside of the box. With PC and server sales hobbling along, Intel has recently branched out into cell phones and networking equipment.

But embedding Intel’s chips into networking devices treads into areas already covered by ARM and MIPS-based architectures.

Intel said it already has a firm following. Among the companies designing equipment and software for the Intel Pentium M processor are Advantech, American Megatrends, Axiom, Diversified Technology, Force Computers, Radisys, Momentum Computer, and QNX.

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