Adding Yonah

By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2005-09-23 Print this article Print

Whereas past notebook processor transitions, such as the move from mobile Pentium III to Pentium 4 M chips, promoted major redesigns, adding Yonah to notebooks isnt likely to do so. The chip consumes nearly the same amount of power—a maximum of about 30 watts—as todays speediest single-core Pentium Ms, whose maximum consumption is about 27 watts, eliminating the need for notebooks to bulk up.
Yonah, meanwhile, is expected to come in several forms, including a standard and low voltage dual core versions and single-core, ultra-low voltage forms for mini-notebooks and inexpensive machines, where a cut-down version will be marketed as a Celeron derivative.
Speeds are expected 2GHz, similar speed to todays Pentium M. Intel has said Yonah will offer a faster 667MHz bus, or data pathway. "The net of it is its basically business as usual" for PC makers, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst with Mercury Research Inc. in Cave Creek, Ariz. "Its really fitting [the new chips] into the existing work theyve already done. Its not trivial. But youre still talking about it begin a modest change in the hardware, rather than adding a completely new [processor] architecture and chipset." Intel has said more than 200 notebooks are already being designed around Napa. Lenovo, whose products mainly aim for businesses in the United States, is expected to offer Yonah chips in a range of ThinkPad models. However, the PC maker is anticipating gains for its mobile workstations—ThinkPad T Series models equipped with beefier internals such as high-end graphics cards for tackling engineering or other heavy-duty software—and ultraportable models, machines such as the ThinkPad X Series, which weighs about 3 pounds, Herman said. For its part, Gateway Inc., which serves both businesses and consumers, sees yet another opportunity in dual-core notebooks. They could present yet another way to encourage customers to replace their desktops. Although desktops are an important piece of the PC market and a major source of revenue for Gateway and others, notebooks have been growing more quickly than desktops and also continue to command higher prices, making them more attractive for manufacturers to offer. Gateways early analysis shows that Intels "Dual-core notebook parts should significantly outperform their desktop counterparts that are on the market right now," said Chad McDonald, director of notebook product marketing at the Irvine, Calif., company. "Theyre looking very strong, early." The increased performance could help pull a new segment of customers from desktops to notebooks, McDonald said. "What youre going to see next year is that the price delta in the value [notebook] space is still going to be narrow—so people will switch because of the low prices of notebooks," McDonald said. But, "The dual-core piece adds performance in the midrange and high-end, which will cannibalize desktops in another way. Youll have a performance benefit, which is another opportunity for us to go out and steal some market share." Apple Computer Inc., meanwhile, may bring even more new customers into the mix. The Palo Alto, Calif., computer maker could choose Yonah to make its first foray into the Intel hardware space, analysts believe. Apple, which announced plans to swap from PowerPC to Intel processors in 2006, could use Yonah to update its PowerBook and iBook portables, analysts say. Click here to read more about Apples plans to move to Intel chips. Despite appearing to have a lead in bringing dual-core notebook chips to market, Intel will have competition in the space. Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Intels chief rival, will counter with a dual-core Turion-brand notebook chip, which it says will ship during the first half of 2006. Sources familiar with AMDs plans said the chip is expected to arrive later in the first half, possibly in May. The dual-core Turion chip will be based on the same circuitry employed in AMDs dual-core Opteron server and Athlon 64 X2 desktop chips, meaning its capable of running 64-bit applications, where Yonah is limited to 32-bits. The new Turion will also offer new features such as Pacifica, AMDs virtualization technology, said Bahr Mahony, division marketing manager for AMDs mobile division. However, he declined to offer any more detailed information about its design or launch dates. Next Page: Intel flexes its manufacturing muscle.

John G. Spooner John G. Spooner, a senior writer for eWeek, chronicles the PC industry, in addition to covering semiconductors and, on occasion, automotive technology. Prior to joining eWeek in 2005, Mr. Spooner spent more than four years as a staff writer for CNET, where he covered computer hardware. He has also worked as a staff writer for ZDNET News.

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