Intel Releases Faster Pentium for Notebooks

The new Mobile Pentium 4 runs at speeds from 2.66 GHz to 3.20-GHz. However, Intel said the chip's heavy power demands will make it a candidate for "transportable" notebook models.

Intel Corp. on Tuesday raised the bar on Pentium 4 notebook performance with the introduction of the Mobile Intel Pentium 4 with hyperthreading technology. The chip should drive a new generation of "transportable" notebooks.

Officially, the Mobile Pentium 4 replaces the Mobile Pentium 4-M, which will be phased out by the newer, higher-performance Pentium line. Although Intel Corp. is offering the latest chips at higher speeds from 2.66GHz to 3.20GHz, the processors also require substantially more power and dissipate much more thermal energy. And lead to a bigger footprint.

Intel classifies thin-and-light notebooks as "mobile" and has designed the low-power Pentium M processor to allow those notebooks to last several hours on a single charge. However, Intel calls heavier, transportable notebooks as "portable" and adapted the Mobile Pentium 4 to deliver desktop-class performance for a notebook that can be shifted from one desk to another.

However, Intel research found that customers interesting in higher performance were leery of the so-called "thin and light" form factor, according to Karen Regis, manager of the mobile programs and promotions group at Intel. According to Intels research, a total of 53 percent of all notebooks sold will fall into one or the other category during 2003. The rest comprise a mix of mid-sized notebooks as well as Tablet PCs and other form factors.

The transportable notebook "ha s been an exciting segment," Regis said. "Weve seen double-digit growth during a time when the overall market has been less than stellar."

By 2007, however, Intel forecasts that just 37 percent of users will choose either a full-size or transportable notebook, with the latter category falling to an estimated 7 percent of all units sold. By that time, roughly half of the market will turn to what Intel describes as thin-and-light notebooks, which weigh between 4.5 and 6 pounds.

The Mobile Pentium 4 contains the same hyperthreading implementation as its desktops chips, Regis said. Intel usually ships a mobile processor at any specific speed about three months after that same chip has appeared in desktops.

However, the Mobile Pentium 4 requires about 76 watts of power for the 3.2-GHz version, a little more than twice the power needed to drive the Intel Mobile Pentium 4-M, which topped out at 2.60-GHz.

"It does require a bit higher peak power, but we can counter that by getting into low-power states quickly," she said, by using the companys SpeedStep battery-management technology to push the chip quickly into a low-power mode.

The chip prices range from $234 to $653. Dell Computer Corp. announced a version of its Inspiron 5150 based on the chip. Starting at a base price of $1,599, the Inspiron 5150 includes a Mobile Intel Pentium 4 running at 3.06GHz, 256MB of RAM, a 30GB hard drive and an 8x DVD optical drive.

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