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  1. Technology
February 24, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

Mobile systems will be the first beneficiary of Intel Corp’s planned rapid move over to 0.18 micron process technology, Intel VP Bob Jecman told developers at the company’s conference in Palm Springs yesterday. Intel is expected to launch faster versions of the current 0.25 micron Mobile Pentium II in the first half of this year, taking the clock speeds up to 366-MHz. But around mid- year, a 0.18 micron version of the part will push speeds up further to 400 and 433-MHz, he said. And in the second half of the year, the first Mobile Pentium IIIs will appear, also using 0.18 micron and with clock speeds ranging from 400 up to and beyond 600-MHz, Jecman said. The change in process technology offers mobile users something like a 50% savings in power consumption for chips running at the same clock speed, the reason why Intel similarly introduced 0.25 micron parts in the mobile space with the Tillamook processor back in 1997. At the conference, Jecman offered the first demonstration of another technology, Geyserville, which Intel hopes will help cut the current performance gap between desktops and notebooks. Geyserville would enable a 500-MHz Pentium III laptop to run at full speed while connected to AC power, and then dynamically switch to 400-MHz operation when running on batteries. Geyserville cuts both frequency and voltage, so that CPU performance drops 20% when in battery mode but uses 40% to 50% less power. It’s not just frequency scaling or clock-throttling said Jecman, an approach which typically cuts performance by half as well as power consumption. When Geyserville is ready to appear in OEM systems by the end of the year, 600-MHz versions of the Mobile Pentium IIIs should be available, he said. Power consumption and integration technologies, such as integrated L2 cache and ball grid array packaging, will also help Intel supply faster processors for new smaller form factor machines, such as the B5 mini notebooks launched recently by Sony Corp, Toshiba Corp and IBM Corp. The first Mobile Celeron was launched on January 25th, and by the end of the first half of the year Intel will launch the 440MX chipset, a low-cost chipset integrating both the north- and south-bridge portions of the existing 440BX chipset into a single component. Intel is anticipating a major shift in the market towards mobiles, and says that for its own internal use, it plans to shift the system mix from 80% desktops in 1998 over to 80% mobile systems by 2000. It claims its new technologies will solve performance issues and that overall cost of ownership is now much closer to the cost of a desktop, though still around $700 more expensive per year. The average price of mobile systems dropped by around 50% last year.

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