Intel Reveals More on "Banias"

Intel on Tuesday outlined more features of its Banias mobile chip, but once again refused to discuss its clock speed.

SAN JOSE, Calif.—Intel Corp. executives on Tuesday outlined some of the performance features of the companys newest mobile chip, code-named Banias. But once again it refused to reveal more specifics about how fast it will operate and how much power savings it will achieve compared to current mobile processors.

Nevertheless, industry representatives who have been briefed on the new chip revealed that Intel expects to release the chip running at 1.4GHz and 1.6GHz. While those speeds are well below the 2GHz frequency of the fastest mobile Pentium 4, Intel is telling developers that Banias will still be able to outperform faster clocked mobile Pentium 4s on many application benchmarks.

Intel contends Banias, expected to ship in the first half of 2003, will deliver the better performance while consuming significantly less power than Intels current array of mobile chips, including the companys ultralow power Pentium III-M processors.

Rather than single technological enhancement, an Intel executive said at the companys Intel Developers Forum here that Banias features a number of new technologies throughout the chip that were distinctly designed to be beneficial to mobile users. Previously, Intels mobile chips were based on the same architectures as the companys high-end desktop PC processors.

"With the Banias platform, Intel is taking a holistic approach to designing for mobility—from the way the Banias microarchitecture was designed from the ground up for low power consumption and high performance, to the way that the other platform components work in concert to deliver better wireless mobility," Anand Chandrasekher, vice president of the Mobile Platforms Group at Intel, said in an address at the forum.

Intel outlined four technologies it said are key to enhancing Banias performance, including advanced branch prediction, which analyzes how previous applications operated to determine a potentially more efficient way to feed software data to a processor. Also, micro-Op fusion merges multiple commands into a single operation and power optimized processor system bus can turn the system bus on and off as needed to reduce power consumption.

Finally, dedicated stack manager involves dedicated hardware to keep track of internal accounting, allowing the processor to execute program instructions without interruption.

Banias will also feature integrated wireless solutions enabling it to work with both 802.11a and 802.11b, which support wireless data transfers of up to 54Mb/second and 11Mb, respectively.

Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., also incorporated technologies to enable simultaneous operation of both 802.11b and Bluetooth technologies. The new design is aimed at eliminating potential conflicts between the two wireless technologies.

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