Intel puts mobile chips on the fast track

Mobile users received a shot of speed Monday with the release of Intel’s Pentium 4 1.6GHz and 1.7GHz mobile processors.

But the question that looms is who within the enterprise community is prepared to dish out money for the upgrade.

While the emphasis is clearly on speed of the new processors, Intel Corp. is also banking on improvements made to help extend laptop battery life and connectivity as main selling points. The P4 will be shipping with both Windows 2000 and Windows XP, a justification in itself for the increased speeds.

With mobility being driven in corporate Canada by salespeople, consultants and executives, it is they who will constitute the likely early adopters for the mobile Pentium III to the P4, plus those who are currently using multiple handheld devices, said Intel.

“Bluetooth is really eliminating cables so that devices like your PDA and cell phone all can connect and communicate with the laptop without the addition of any other special cradle or cable. In addition, we have the 802.11x standards in products that are being deployed,” said Doug Cooper, Canada country manager for Intel in Toronto.

And with Moore’s Law holding steady, Cooper said he encourages companies to always buy the most performance that the organization can afford. He cited two reasons: because the industry continues to create software that will require more speed, and because companies need to remain up to the challenge posed by emerging technologies.

He added that Canada ranks second to only Japan in the mobile processor market.

With significant strides made in power and functionality in order to run more applications, the processors will be competitive in the overall process market, but price may be a problem, one industry analyst said.

“My question is about (its) cost, about US$400 to $500. It gets fairly expensive and it drives up the cost of the mobile device,” said Jeremy Depow, senior analyst for the Yankee Group in Canada in Ottawa.

He added that the increased speeds don’t justify the price of the processors, and that for organizations that are looking to deploy more than one wireless device, it may not be cost-effective given the price tag of the upgrade for the chip alone.

“If you have some (Microsoft) Word functionality and some spreadsheets, how much speed does that really need? The real need is for high bit rates so you can send information back and forth with your colleagues,” he said.

Intel in Santa Clara, Calif., can be reached at

Yankee Group in Ottawa can be reached at