Intel revs up notebook chips

For the first time, all of the chipmaker's mobile processors for mainstream notebook PCs operate at speeds of 2GHz or more.

Intel introduced six new chips for notebooks on Tuesday, not long after cutting prices on its mobile processors.

The chipmaker, which slashed prices on its mobile Pentium 4 and Celeron chips on Sunday, launched a new flagship 2.4GHz Pentium 4-M chip for notebooks. The chipmaker also boosted the clock speed of its mobile Celeron processor, issuing a new 2GHz mobile Celeron.

For the first time, all of Intel's mobile processors for mainstream notebook PCs operate at speeds of 2GHz or more. The 2.4GHz Pentium 4-M and 2GHz Celeron outpace earlier versions of the chips.

While the new chips give Intel-based notebooks additional clock speed, the processors may be competing against themselves in some market segments. Although the majority of Intel notebooks use mobile chips like the Pentium 4-M, a growing number of PC makers are producing large notebooks based on desktop Pentium 4 chips. These notebooks offer more portability than a desktop PC but have similar features including large screens, fast processors, and a somewhat lower price than a Pentium 4-M equipped machine. Despite trade-offs that include greater weight and a shorter battery life, desktop notebooks are becoming more popular with consumers, analysts say.

In response to the trend, Intel has reduced prices on its existing Pentium 4-M chips to make them more attractive to notebook makers, analysts say. The price of the chips dropped by as much as 38 percent after the weekend announcement.

But Intel's 2.2GHz Pentium 4-M, priced at $348, is still $155 more than its desktop counterpart, the 2.2GHz Pentium 4. For the price of a new 2.4GHz Pentium 4-M, which costs $562, PC makers can get desktop Pentium 4 chips running as fast as 2.8GHz and still have money left over.

But the desktop notebook trend, so far, has been limited to consumer notebooks. Several notebook makers, including Dell Computer and Gateway, adopted the new 2.4GHz Pentium 4-M in machines that cost between $1,800 and $2,700.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the notebook spectrum, Intel introduced four new ultra-low power mobile Pentium III-M and Celeron chips.

These new chips are designed to consume less power than a traditional processor, allowing them to fit inside the small chassis used by mini-notebooks. Because these tiny notebooks typically weigh less than 4 pounds, they are most popular with business travelers.

Intel's new Pentium III-M chips will run at 900MHz and 933MHz, while the Celerons deliver 800MHz and 866MHz. The new chips cost between $134 and $209.

The new 2GHz mobile Celeron lists for $149, Intel said.

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