Intel Promises Productivity Boost from Centrino Bundle

Intel says its latest Centrino notebook platform will address business needs by offering greater productivity for mobile workers.

Intel Corp. says its latest Centrino notebook platform, which came out last week, will address business needs by offering greater productivity for mobile workers.

The new chip bundle, formerly code-named Napa, includes Intels new Core processor, formerly code-named Yonah, a mobile version of its 945 chip set and its tri-band Intel Pro/Wireless 3945ABG module, which supports 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g.

The Intel Core chip—the successor to the Pentium M—will come in a dual-core or two-processors-in-one-chip configuration, known as the Intel Core Duo processor. Single-core versions of the chip will be known as Core Solo processors.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company said the Napa bundle will offer double-digit gains in performance, thanks to the addition of the second on-chip processor core, as well as a double-digit reduction in system power consumption, the result of improvements to the Core chip and 945 chip set.

Intel executives said last week that Napa showed a 70 percent or more increase in performance while offering a 28 percent reduction in power consumption.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about Intels plans for Napa notebooks.

Napas improvements over "Sonoma," the chip bundle that preceded it, translate into productivity gains, in that notebooks will run longer on a single battery charge; some will last up to 5 hours or more, Intel officials said.

Work can continue uninterrupted even when a user is working on a large spreadsheet or copying files while simultaneously running virus-scanning or backup software, for example.

Thus, workers can focus on getting the job done, a Gateway Inc. official said. "Dual core, if youre working in a [Microsoft Corp.] Word document, will not do a lot for you," said William Diehl, vice president of product marketing at the Irvine, Calif., company, in an interview with eWEEK at the International Consumer Electronics Show here. "Its benefit will be if youre multitasking."

Intels Core Duo chips, which feature new processor model numbers, will range from the 1.66GHz T2300 to the 2.16GHz dual-core T2600. The Core Duo family will include T2400 and T2500 models running at 1.83GHz and 2GHz, respectively. The chip makers lone Core Solo chip, the 1.66GHz T1300, offers only one Yonah processor core, for low-priced systems.

Among the business-oriented Napa notebooks unveiled early on were pairs of systems from Gateway and Lenovo Group Ltd., and four from Toshiba American Information Systems Inc.

Pricing information shows that many of the new Core Duo-based notebooks will sell for at least some premium above their predecessors. However, prices vary among manufacturers and they can be altered significantly by the way a computer is configured.

Gateway rolled out two E-Series notebooks, the M465-E and M685-E, based on the new Intel chips. Its 5.7-pound M465-E, which starts at $1,399, offers Core Duo chips along with a choice of 15 or 15.4-inch screens. The M685-E pairs the new dual-core chip with a 17-inch screen and starts at $1,699.

Lenovo is offering the new Intel chip in its redesigned ThinkPad T60 and ThinkPad X60 models. The company also said last week that it would offer Cingular Wireless LLCs HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) service, in addition to an earlier deal to offer Verizon Wireless Inc.s EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized) service. The Cingular option will be available for the ThinkPad Z60, in addition to the T60 and X60.

Lenovos ThinkPad T60, which is about an inch thick and weighs in at 4.8 lbs, will offer Core Duo chips for a starting price of $2,049, the company said in a statement.

A T60 model listed on Lenovos site offered a 14.1-inch screen, a Core Duo T2400 processor running at 1.83GHz, 512MB of RAM and a 60GB hard drive. Although equal in price to several older ThinkPad T43 models, the T60 does not appear to include an optical disc drive, an option included with other systems listed on the site.

Lenovos ThinkPad X60 Series, which weighs 3.6 pounds and has a 12.1-inch screen, will start at $1,899, Lenovo said in the statement. One X60 model on Lenovos site offered a 1.83GHz Core Duo T2400 processor, 512MB of RAM and a 60GB hard drive for $1,999. That price also did not appear to include an optical drive.

For the same price, an X41 model offers a 12.1-inch screen, Pentium M 1.6GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive and a combination CD-Rewritable/DVD-ROM drive, according to Lenovos site. A ThinkPad T43, priced at $2019, offers a similar processor speed and screen to the T60, but includes an optical drive and a discrete graphics chip with its own 64MB of memory. The $2,049 T60 model listed on Lenovos site takes advantage of the graphics included in Intels mobile 945 chip set.

/zimages/1/28571.gifDell puts its chips on Intel. Read more here.

Toshiba, for its part, will offer the Napa chips in four upcoming business machines. The company will offer a Tecra A6, which comes with a 14.1-inch display; a Tecra A7, with a 15.4-inch widescreen display; a Tecra M5 with a 14.1-inch display; and Portégé M400 Tablet PC with a 12.1-inch screen and integrated optical disc drive, the company said in a statement.

Although Toshiba is finalizing specifications and prices at the moment, the machines are expected to come out in early February, a Toshiba representative said.

Dell Inc. is expected to launch a new line of Core processor-based Latitude notebooks with options for adding either the Cingular or Verizon wide-area wireless network service in the near future.

Hewlett-Packard Co. has not announced any Intel Core processor or Napa mobile systems to date, but the company has plans to make them available in the future, a company representative indicated.

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