SpeedStep Pentium III on tap for Tuesday

Intel is tapping the increasingly important market with specialised, low-power chips

Intel is expected tomorrow to announce the first mobile chips using SpeedStep, a new technology for saving battery life in mobile PCs.

As earlier reported by ZDNet News UK, SpeedStep -- formerly code-named Geyserville -- will allow the two new Pentium III chips to run at two different speeds, a higher, more energy-consuming speed when connected to an electrical outlet, and a lower-energy speed when running on battery power.

Intel officials have confirmed the release, but would not comment on the details of unannounced products. However, sources said the first chip runs at 650 MHz or 500MHz, and the second runs at 600MHz or 500MHz. The chip switches between the two frequencies automatically.

"The goal was less to give you more batteries when you're not plugged in and more to give you a turbo boost when you do have an outlet around," said Manny Vara, an Intel spokesman.

Vendors planning to use the new chips include Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Dell Computer, Compaq Computer, NEC and Toshiba America Information Systems.

Mobile PCs are becoming more important, especially in the corporate market, as business users increasingly replace their desktops with a portable. Startup Transmeta, which employs Linux creator Linus Torvalds, is also targeting the mobile market with its Crusoe chip, to be introduced Wednesday; the chip is rumoured to be able to run ordinary desktop applications while consuming a fraction of the power of an ordinary chip, which could be an important development for handheld devices.

Intel is expected to roll out a new Celeron chip, at about 566MHz, later this quarter.

John G. Spooner of ZDNet News contributed to this report.

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