Intel has big plans for little mobile devices

Intel has big plans for little mobile devices

Looking to increase its scope in the mobility market, Intel has unveiled its Ultra Mobile platform, also known as McCaslin, designed for ultramobile PCs (UMPCs) and other handheld devices. It has also outlined plans for increased Linux support and a new chip for UMPCs due next year.

The McCaslin chip is based on a low-power processor known by the codename Steeley and a chipset that includes an integrated graphics processor. This package is just the beginning, senior vice-president and general manager of Intel's Ultra Mobility Group, Anand Chandrasekher, told attendees at the Intel Developer Forum conference in Beijing last month.

During the first half of 2008, Intel will release a successor to McCaslin, called Menlow, based on a 45-nanometer, low-power processor called Silverthorne and a new chipset, called Poulsbo. Unlike the current two-chip chipset used with McCaslin, Poulsbo is a single chip, which reduces power consumption and takes up less space - key considerations for small, portable computers.

Chandrasekher also announced Intel's backing for Linux as an alternative operating system for small computers - particularly a class of device which Intel calls Mobile Internet Devices. The first two Linux companies to join this effort are China's Red Flag Linux Software and Canonical, which distributes Ubuntu Linux.

The first ultramobile PCs, based on a design called Origami, were jointly developed by Intel and Microsoft and designed to run the Tablet PC Edition of Windows XP. The latest UMPCs, such as Samsung Electronics' Q1 Ultra, run the newer Vista OS.

Intel has already proved it can succeed with hardware bundles for mobile devices, like its Centrino product for notebook PCs. And Intel is expected to upgrade that product to the "Santa Rosa" Centrino platform in early May, adding better wireless networking and battery life. Likewise, on April 5, Intel announced the U7600 and U7500 ultra-low power versions of its Core 2 Duo processor, designed for small form-factor mini-notebook, sub-notebook, and slate/tablet notebooks.

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