New Intel chips to drive notebook prices down in 1999 - analyst

New Intel chips to drive notebook prices down in 1999 - analyst

Notebook buyers in 1999 will gain more choices, higher performance, and lower prices as Intel introduces new Pentium II, Celeron, and even Pentium MMX mobile CPUs.

Although the Pentium processor will be gone from the desktop side of Intel's price list by June 1999, the company will unveil a mobile Pentium MMX running at 300MHz.

"There are people out there who still like the Pentium," said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Dataquest. The specific application for a 300MHz mobile Pentium CPU is a mini-notebook PC, he added.

According to the Intel processor road map, mobile versions of the Celeron processor with integrated 128KB of Level 2 (L2) cache - the "Mendocino" CPU - will also be introduced by mid-1999. These CPUs target the "basic mobile PC", offering significantly slower clock speeds than Pentium II mobile processors, according to Intel officials.

These chips aim to meet the demand for lower-cost notebooks, industry observers said.

Notebook suppliers realise that the under $US1000 desktop PC has hurt their business because the price delta is too large. They have been looking at building three-spindle notebooks with entry-level technology at the lowest cost they can possibly get.

"Definitely, notebook prices will be close to $1000 by early next year," said Katrina Dahlquist, a mobile computing analyst at International Data Corp, in Framingham, Massachusetts.

One of the top 10 notebook manufacturers will be working with a Taiwanese OEM to introduce next quarter a $999 entry-level notebook with a 12.1in dual-scan screen, 1.6MB hard drive, and 16MB of RAM, sources said.

In the first half of 1999, Intel will boost notebook performance with a 333MHz version of the Pentium II mobile CPU, according to Intel's road map. That could be the Dixon processor, a Pentium II with 256KB of integrated L2 cache, according to Brookwood.

The Dixon processor, which may be available as early as January or February, will be offered in the existing mini-cartridge and Mobile Module form factors, as well as in a ball-grid array package for direct attachment to a notebook motherboard, Brookwood said. As with the latest 300MHz notebook chip, this CPU will be offered on Mobile Modules with or without an additional connector for the Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), Brookwood noted.

Mobile processors will gain another boost in performance in the latter half of 1999 with the introduction of Coppermine, a Pentium II chip with Katmai New Instructions graphics extensions. The processor will be built using Intel's new 0.18-micron manufacturing technology.

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