Intel Sharpens Focus on Ultramobile PC

Intel is set to cut power by ten times in its processors and use them in increasingly-popular ultramobile PCs.

SAN FRANCISCO—Intel wants to put the mobile in ultramobile PC.

The chip maker believes it can hit goals, set out earlier in 2006, of cutting power by ten times to release processors that uses about 1-watt of power, but which are still powerful enough to run a full version of Microsofts Windows operating system.

The company has a 5-watt chip now and plans to ship a 2.5-watt chip in 2007, its CEO said.

Executives at the company believe that UMPCs, which allow consumers or businesspeople to check e-mail and even play games or watch videos on a palmtop computer, could be the next big market for mobile computers.

They showed off on Sept. 26 a prototype UMPC that uses its McCaslin platform, a collection of chips it has created for low-power machines.

"All day [battery] life out of a highly portable, highly featured device is very much upon us," said Paul Otellini, Intels CEO, in a keynote address at Intels Developer Forum, here.

"All of these devices will have full Web capability and have the ability to run full OS version, including [Microsoft Windows] Vista."

Anand Chandrasekher, head of Intels low-power processor business group, joined Otellini to show off the prototype UMPC, a reference design created by Intel and manufactured by Quanta, a major Taiwanese notebook maker. UMPCs similar to the machine could come out in 2007.

The Quanta-built machine features a 5-inch, 1,024 by 768-pixel resolution screen and a fold-out keyboard as well as Wi-Fi and WiMax wireless built in.

It also uses the StreetDeck user interface and an Intel chip platform dubbed McCaslin that is due in the first half of 2007.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read about what Samsung has planned for the ultramobile PC.

The prototype "offers PC capability—the full, rich power of the PC and full connectivity—in your pocket," Chandrasekher said.

Intel also showed off work being done by car manufacturer Volkswagen to connect UMPCs to its in-car entertainment system. Using wireless, the car can access content, such as music or movies stored on the UMPC—Intel used the Quanta machine to demonstrate—or presumably tap into its Internet access for information such as traffic conditions.

Notebook growth has been accelerating of late, due to shifting business and consumer interests. More than half of consumer PCs sold in the United States and Europe are notebooks, Otellini said.

But wireless broadband access could accelerate the trend toward mobility, giving devices such as the UMPC a shot in the arm. To that end, Intel believes that widespread broadband access made possible by its mobile WiMax technology, will become the next inflection point in the spread of mobile computers.

"The next inflection point for mobility is that I call broadband to go," Otellini said. "You need the network and the form factor to make this possible."

Intel believes mobile WiMax, following the IEE 802.16, is the network and notebook PCs and or UMPCs are the form factor.

Intel will begin offering mobile WiMax for notebooks, starting with an add-in card that will debut later in 2006. The cards will increase in numbers during 2007 and during 2008 Intel will integrate the technology into a wireless module.

"In 08 WiMax is integrated into a single module with Wi-Fi and becomes essentially integrated into the Centrino [notebook chip] platform," Otellini said.

Intel has recently inked deals with Sprint and Clearwire, which said they would deploy mobile WiMax resulting in nearly nationwide coverage for the United States, giving over 100 million users WiMax coverage by 2008, he said.

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