Intel plans a big push into the market for mobile and laptop computer chips that use less power, but supply high speeds.
The power management features of the new chips will be "second to none," said Intel executive Don MacDonald at the annual developers forum last week.
Currently, Intel is second to Transmeta, which has come to dominate the laptop market in Japan with its Crusoe power-conserving chips. With some analysts saying Transmeta will be a contender for U.S. laptop manufacturers business, Intel is attempting to regain ground in the market for low-power processors.
Intel is concentrating on both high performance and conserving power by letting the processor alternate between high-speed work and a temporary sleep state. "Hurry up and idle," was the way MacDonald, marketing director for Intel Mobile Platforms, summed up the technique. "Only the part of the chip needed for instructions is getting power."
Most laptops have a less finely graded means of going into a sleep state, after a predetermined period of inactivity.
Intel will offer a power-conserving mobile version of the Pentium III late this year, followed by a low-power mobile Pentium 4 chip in the first half of 2002, and a more advanced Banias low-power and ultra-low-power mobile processor in the first half of 2003.
The mobile Pentium 4 will use state-of-the-art, 0.13-micron circuits, which power Intels current Pentium III chips. It will operate at speeds of 1.5 gigahertz when its introduced, and will achieve speeds of 2 GHz by the end of next year, said Frank Spindler, vice president of the Intel Architecture Group and general manager of the Mobile Platforms Group.
Banias will have built-in networking capabilities with its core chip set that allow it to search for wireless Bluetooth personal area network connections as its user moves around. Once it is beyond Bluetooths 30-meter limit, it will automatically switch to seeking a wireless 802.11 Ethernet connection. And once its beyond the 300-foot range of that connection, it will seek a cell phone connection, allowing the holder of the mobile, Banias-based device to always be seamlessly connected to the Internet, MacDonald said.