AMD, Toshiba to make notebooks cool, Part II

Varied operating modes

Once PowerNow! is up and running, it will extend notebook battery life by a minimum of about 30 percent, the company said, by decreasing clock speed and reducing the voltage of the processor. PowerNow! will have three operating modes: High Performance, in which the chip runs at full clock speed and voltage; Battery Saver, in which the chip runs at reduced clock speed and voltage; and Intermediate, which a PC maker can specify using BIOS settings.

A K6-2+ chip going from High Performance to Battery Saver mode will drop from 500MHz and 2 volts with a nominal power consumption of 12 watts, to between 200MHz and 300MHz and 1.4 volts, with a nominal power consumption of about 5 watts.

When a notebook user pulls the power plug out of the wall, the PowerNow! notebook will, by default, go from High Performance mode to Battery Saver mode. A user can however change the default settings with a utility included with PowerNow!-enabled notebook.

The Intermediate Mode, it is expected, has the potential to allow a PC to regulate the clock speed and voltage requirements of its processor. This, if implemented by a PC maker, would allow the notebook to essentially set its own speed while running on battery power.

Positioning those chips

AMD will separate the new chips by pricing and performance. The mobile K6-2+ chip will take on Intel's mobile Celeron, while the K6-III+ will be targeted at Intel's Pentium III.

The K6-2+ will offer 128KB of integrated cache, while K6-III+ will have 256KB. The K6-III+ will also support tri-level cache, which allows the chip to use a third off-chip cache, if one is present.

Integrated cache is a new feature for the K6-2+. The K6-2 mobile processor has 512KB of off-chip cache. Integrating cache increases performance and should give the chip an additional performance boost.

Pricing on the K6-III+ chip ranges between $140 and $184, while the K6-2+ will cost between $85 and $112.

AMD cancelled plans to come out with a desktop version of the K6-III+ and K6-2+. The company said its Athlon chip has filled the role of both on the desktop.

Athlon now ranges from 550MHz to 1GHz (1,000MHz). The company will soon launch a low-priced chip, based upon Athlon, for lower-cost PCs. It is known by the code name "Spitfire."

Intel prepares 700MHz product

While AMD's PowerNow! is similar to rival Intel's SpeedStep, introduced earlier this year, Intel positions SpeedStep as a feature that gives the consumer more clock speed for the same battery life.

The technology works by dropping clock speed by several speed grades and the core voltage from 1.6 to 1.35. The 650MHz mobile Pentium III, for example, drops three speed grades from 650MHz to 500MHz when it switches from AC to battery power.

Intel is readying a 700MHz mobile Pentium III with SpeedStep technology. That chip, along with a 550MHz mobile Celeron processor, is due out later this month, sources said. The new mobile Pentium III will offer SpeedStep, which will reduce the clock speed by anywhere from 100MHz to 150MHz while on battery power.

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