Notebook PCs are getting new technologies that make them cooler -- literally -- than ever before. Advanced Micro Devices on Tuesday announced its new mobile K6-2+ and K6-III+ notebook processors. Meanwhile, Toshiba has devised a new cooling system for notebook PCs.
The new components, while coming from opposite ends of the spectrum, work to increase the performance of notebook PCs, which have traditionally lagged behind desktop PCs in performance.
Case in point: Notebooks are now able to regulate power consumption by reducing the clock speed and voltage of their processors. This means they can go to higher clock speeds, but still maintain decent battery life.
SpeedStep and PowerNow!
Intel was the first to offer this technology with its SpeedStep technology reduces its mobile Pentium III clock speed and voltage to preserve battery life.
AMD, however, promises to take it a step further.
Following the same frequency and voltage-reduction formula, AMD said it will extend battery life of notebooks between 30 percent and 50 percent with a forthcoming new feature, called PowerNow!, for its K6-2+ and K6-III+ chips.
While operating on alternating-current power, the K6-2+ or K6-III+ chip will run at full clock speed and voltage. However, when running on battery power, the chips scale back frequency and voltage in order to reduce power consumption and extend battery life.
However, the K6-2+ and K6-III+ will not receive PowerNow! initially. The feature, which requires a new motherboard, will be turned on at mid-year. In the interim, value notebooks will get a performance bump from two features of the K6-2+: its integrated cache and updated manufacturing process technology.
Meanwhile, Toshiba's new technology, called "Super Cooling," works toward the same goal of increasing performance. It uses a copper tube filled with purified water to draw heat away from the processor.
One end of copper pipe sits over the processor. When the water inside the pipe heats and begins to boil, it expands and funnels toward the other end of the pipe, which is located away from the CPU. The heat is then transferred into cooler areas of the PC.
"This is designed to take heat away from the CPU and funnel it to the cooler areas of the PC," said Craig Marking, product manager for Toshiba's Tecra and Protege notebooks. "Lowering the temperature around the CPU gives better performance ... because the hotter it gets, the lower (in clock speed) the unit throttles down."
The Super Cooling technology, he said, will work with both Intel and AMD mobile processors.
The technology will be available first in Toshiba's Protege 3040 model. Priced at $2,499 (£1,583), the notebook will ship next week.
Marking said Toshiba hasn't yet determined if Super Cooling will be used in its other notebooks. The company could also possibly license the technology to other notebook makers, he said.
Three speeds this month
AMD, for its part, will ship K6-2+ and K6-III+ at 450MHz, 475MHz and 500MHz this month. The chips will be offered at the same clock speeds with PowerNow! at in the second half.
AMD's new chips offer two specific capabilities, said Steve Lapinski, director of product marketing for AMD's Computational Products Group. "One is the (forthcoming) PowerNow! feature. The second thing it allows our customers to do is take performance up a notch."
One of the first PC makers to support the new AMD chips will be Hewlett-Packard, which announced earlier this week that it will offer the K6-2+ in one of its Pavilion line of consumer-oriented notebooks.
HP's Pavilion N3215 will use AMD's 475MHz K6-2+, coupled with a 12.1-inch dual-scan display, 32MB of RAM and a 4.8GB hard-disk drive. With this model, HP said it's shooting for a low price -- $999.
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