Intel has unveiled a new generation of mobile processors that bring near desktop PC performance to notebook PCs without sacrificing battery power, but initial tests show unremarkable results.
While frequency reduction is not new, the technology behind the 600MHz and 650MHz chips -- called SpeedStep -- actually reduces the voltage of the chip, not just the frequency. That gains more power savings for less power reduction.
Initial tests show little effect on battery life. A Dell Inspiron running at full speed ran down its batteries in 1 hour and 52 minutes, but when allowed to clock down it ran down in 1 hour and 57 minutes. That's because the processor has relatively little effect on battery life compared to power-hungry peripherals such as screens, CD ROMs and hard drives.
Toshiba, Dell, IBM, Hewlett Packard, NEC and Gateway were among the vendors on hand during the announcement in London, showing notebooks running the new processor. Most plan to start shipping notebooks with the new processors late next month.
Dell showed the new processors running on a Latitude and an Inspiron. An Inspiron 7500 VT with a 600MHz Pentium III, 64MB of RAM, a 12GB hard drive, 15in screen will cost £1,699 ex VAT. A top of the line Inspiron 7500 YT with a 650MHz Pentium III, 128MB of RAM, 18GB hard drive and a 15.4in screen will cost £2,399.
- Dell Inspiron 5000 with SpeedStep 650MHz Pentium III
- Full speed on battery power: 112 minutes
- Power saving mode (500MHz): 117 minutes
- On mains power: 24.6
- On battery (500MHz): 21.2
IBM will ship a version of its ThinkPad 600 series with a 650MHz Pentium III in late February. It will cost £3,400 (estimated street price) for 64MB of RAM, 12GB hard drive, 13.3in screen, a DVD drive and a built-in mini-PCI modem.
Toshiba plans several notebooks based on the new processor. A Satellite Pro with a 600MHz Pentium III, 12GB hard drive, DVD drive, 14.1in screen will ship next month with a suggested retail price of £2295 ex VAT. A Tecra 8100 with a 650MHz Pentium III and similar specs will cost £3095 ex VAT. A Portégé 7200 with a 600MHz Pentium III will cost £2895 ex VAT.