Intel rolls out redesigned Pentium III-M

For the first time since the introduction of the Pentium III chip family in late 1999, Intel Corp. has moved to a smaller, more efficient processor architecture for a new line of mobile chips.

Officially announced Monday, the 1.13GHz Pentium III-M, formerly code-named Tualatin, sports an “M” suffix that stands for “mobile,” and runs at cooler temperatures while consuming less power than its predecessors, Intel officials said.

Nearly every major PC manufacturer has announced intentions to introduce a laptop computer wrapped around the new chip. Mobile products powered by the Pentium III-M arrived Monday from Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp., and Sony Corp.

The chip is to invigorate competition in the mobile computing market between Intel and mobile chip competitors Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Transmeta Corp., according to industry analysts.

The Pentium III-M chip is engineered to a 0.13-micron fabrication standard. Since October of 1999, Intel’s Pentium III, Celeron, Xeon, and Pentium 4 chips have all been built on a larger, 0.18-micron architecture, according to Intel.

The Pentium III-M’s smaller transistor relays mean faster performance, cooler operating temperatures, and reduced power consumption, making it ideal for mobile computers and low-heat server blades, officials said.

In the wake of Intel’s chip announcement, HP on Monday rolled out a new HP OmniBook 6100 with the Pentium III-M onboard, HP officials said. The 6100 takes advantage of the low-power Intel chip to offer users up to five hours of operation on a single battery charge, according to HP. Offering a wide range of features, including 802.11 wireless connectivity for LANs, ATI Technology’s Mobility Radeon M6-P video controller, and options for CD-ROM or DVD-ROM, the HP OmniBook 6100 starts at US$2,899, HP officials said.

IBM on Monday introduced a new ThinkPad T23 laptop loaded with the Pentium III-M, IBM officials said. With an average three-hour battery life, the ThinkPad T23 offers 802.11 wireless capabilities as well as expanded multimedia options, IBM officials said. Pricing for the ThinkPad T23 starts at $2,279.

Sony will use the Pentium III-M chip in a new Sony VAIO GR laptop that will launch Monday. The GR line represents what Sony calls its first attempt to court companies in North America that deploy large numbers of business laptops to their employees. Starting at $2,599, the Sony GR laptops will be sold through a new U.S. distribution channel managed by Tech Data, a global provider of IT products, in an effort to go head-to-head against other corporate desktop replacement laptops from Dell, IBM, HP, and others, Sony officials said.

Compaq Computer Corp. hopes to get up to eight hours of battery life using the Pentium III-M chip in a new Compaq N200 laptop scheduled to ship later this year, Compaq officials said. Pre-announced last June, the N200 will offer a full rage of features including 802.11b wireless options, the 1.13GHz Intel chip, 128MB of memory, a 20GB hard drive, two USB ports, and a 10.4-inch XGA TFT display, officials said.

Toshiba Corp. will also introduce a new Tecra model laptop computer with the Pentium III-M chip in the third quarter of this year, Toshiba officials said.

The Pentium III-M’s arrival means the beginning of the end for Pentium III desktop chips as Intel proceeds with its Pentium 4 road map, according to Nathan Brookwood, an industry analyst with Insight 64, based in Saratoga, Calif.

“The Pentium III brand on desktops will definitely fade over the course of the next two or three quarters,” Brookwood said. “By early 2002, it’s going to be hard to find anybody actively promoting Pentium III on desktops. But [the Pentium III-M] will be the central player in Intel’s mobile strategies for the next 18 months.”

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