Chip Advances Give Notebooks a Power Surge

At CES, Intel and AMD gave attendees a peek at new technologies that will improve battery life and connectivity in notebooks.

The worlds two leading chip makers are each readying new mobile technologies that will give notebooks even greater battery life and connectivity.

Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. this week both gave customers at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas a peek at the new technologies.

Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., demonstrated the next generation of its Centrino platform, code-named Sonoma, with several notebook PC licensees.

Sonoma is expected to appear in more than 150 different notebook designs by mid-2005, according to Intel officials.

The long-awaited Sonoma—which includes the "Dothan" Pentium M chip, Alviso chip set and updated wireless component—was expected to be rolled out last year, but unspecified issues with the chip set delayed the release. Dothan and the PRO/Wireless 2195 component are shipping now. Sonoma—with the chip set—is scheduled to ship later this month.

With Sonoma, Dothan will have a faster front-side bus, at 533MHz, and the wireless component will be more widely available, officials said.

The chip set supports the PCI Express Bus architecture, a boon for users who need to process video data and other high-bandwidth applications. Unlike PCI, PCI Express is a serial link, enabling more data to move through fewer lines than the parallel delivery in PCI.

Also, PCI Express links will run faster, at 2.5GHz, as opposed to 133MHz.

/zimages/1/28571.gifIntel CEO Craig Barrett talks mobility at CES. Click here to read more.

For its part, AMD this week will announce Turion 64, the newest product family featuring the AMD 64 technology, which enables users to run both 32- and 64-bit applications.

AMD is hoping that Turion, which is designed to provide better battery life and power consumption, will enable AMD 64 to find its way into commercial thin-and-light notebooks, according to officials with the Sunnyvale, Calif., company.

AMD plans to officially announce the chip this week, though it wont release the new family until later in the first half of the year.

However, officials did talk up the offering with customers in a private event last week at CES.

AMD has challenged Intel in the server and desktop space, said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst with Insight64, in Saratoga, Calif. The next step is notebooks.

"In that regard, this is the area that AMD has the most catching up to do with Intel at this point," Brookwood said. "What theyre doing with Turion is following Intels approach in some ways, but not in others."

While AMD—like Intel—is focusing on longer battery life and better performance, the company has no plans to offer an entire platform like Centrino. Instead, it will offer the processor and let systems makers use components from other vendors to complete the mobile platform.

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