Intel Corp. this week will release a mobile Pentium III processor that runs at 1GHz. At the same time, the companys usual supporters plan to announce notebooks that feature the CPU.
Most major PC companies will offer gigahertz notebooks as soon as March 18. But while Intel officials said theres as much vendor support for the gigahertz chip as there has been for any previous mobile processor, corporate customers report that notebook processor speed isnt really a key concern.
"Gigahertz in a notebook? I can only think of two types of applications that require that kind of processing: video editing and games," said Dave Thompson, senior manager of the security practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers, in Boston. "I wish they would put efforts into things we really need in our notebooks, like the ability to get large amounts of information in and out easily, [such as] CD-RW [Rewritable] drives and ... FireWire interface."
Most companies supporting the chip have tried to include more bells and whistles than just a new processor.
Compaq Computer Corp. has two gigahertz notebooks that will be available within the next two weeks, according to sources close to the Houston company. The Armada E500, meant for professional users, comes with a variety of screen sizes and drives and, therefore, a variety of prices. A configuration that includes a 15-inch TFT (thin-film transistor)/SXGA (Super Extended Graphics Array) screen, 128MB of memory, a 30GB hard drive and a CD-RW drive costs $3,699. The M700, which weighs less than 5 pounds, includes a 14.1-inch TFT/SXGA screen, 128MB of memory, a 20GB hard drive and a DVD drive and goes for $3,599.
Dell Computer Corp. will unveil a version of the Latitude C800 with a gigahertz CPU, a 15-inch Ultra Extended Graphics Array display and a variety of drives. It averages 5.5 hours of battery life and includes a permanent CD-RW or DVD drive, plus a modular bay that holds other drives, said sources close to the Round Rock, Texas, company. Prices start at $2,599.
Hewlett-Packard Co., of Santa Clara, Calif., will introduce two gigahertz notebooks, the OmniBook N6395—aimed at consumers and small businesses—and the OmniBook N6000, which comes in a wider variety of configurations and is aimed at enterprise customers, sources said. Pricing ranges from $1,899 to $4,199 for the 6000 and is $3,199 for the 6395. Both are available now. Besides the chip, what makes these better than previous OmniBooks is their support of integrated 802.11b Wireless LAN. Future members of the OmniBook 500 line will include the same technology.
IBM will include the processor in its high-end ThinkPad models, said sources close to the Armonk, N.Y., company. At the same time, the company will be adding to its line of Ultraport devices, which are add-on modules such as cameras and microphones that fit into slots on the tops of notebooks.
Toshiba Corp., Gateway Inc., NEC Corp. and several other PC makers are expected to unveil notebooks based on the gigahertz processor.