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Intel readies 366-MHz notebook chip

Intel will release at least five new notebook chips on Monday, including one of most advanced Pentium IIs the company has ever manufactured and the first mobile Celerons.

Intel will release at least five new notebook chips on Monday, including one of most advanced Pentium IIs the company has ever manufactured and the first mobile Celerons.

The new Pentium II PE, code-named Dixon, will run at clock speeds of 300 MHz, 333 MHz, and 366 MHz. Additionally, it will come with 256K (kilobytes) of secondary cache memory "integrated" directly onto the processor, making it the first Pentium II of its kind, according to sources. Integrated cache improves performance.

Lower-end Celeron mobile chips will contain half the amount of cache of the Pentium II PE--which stands for "performance enhanced"--and run at 266 MHz and 300 MHz.

Current Pentium II chips come with 512K of secondary cache, but it sits alongside the processor. Cache acts as a data reservoir for the processor, keeping it "fed" with data and therefore boosting performance. While the PE chips will have half the amount of cache memory found in standard Pentium II chips, the memory on the PE will communicate at twice the speed by virtue of its being on the same piece of silicon.

Speed, however, is more crucial than size and the chips with the 256K should outperform even faster chips with the 512K of alongside cache. The PE designation exists to differentiate between the integrated and non-integrated chips that run at the same speed. The PE designation will fade out as all of the mobile chips become integrated. Intel added an "A" to Celeron chips when integrated cache came to that product line.

More integration is on the way. In the third quarter, Intel will release "Coppermine," an integrated version of the upcoming Pentium III, said Linley Gwennap, publisher of MicroDesign Resources.

AMD is coming out with a similar chip, code-named Sharptooth, in the first half the year.

A number of notebook PC makers are expected to come out with notebooks incorporating both Intel lines. Hewlett-Packard, for example, will release a Celeron-based notebook called Typhoon that will feature a distinct design, said sources. Dell, Micron, Compaq, and others are expected to bring out new machines as well.

Industry sources said Gateway would use all the new Pentium II processors across the Solo notebook line, while the 300-MHz mobile Celeron chip will find a home in the Solo 2500 line.

Dell will use the 333 and 366-MHz Dixon chips in the Inspiron 7000 line of desktop replacement notebooks, while all the new PII chips and will find a home in the Inspiron 3500 line, along with the 300-MHz mobile Celeron, according to industry souces. The Latitude line of corporate notebooks will get the 300 and 366 Pentium II chips, sources said.

The Celeron processors will likely appear in lower-end notebook models, since they don't offer the performance of the Pentium II PE. "In 1999, Celeron will be differentiated by its lack of Katmai instructions, its smaller [secondary cache], and its slower bus speed," said Michael Slater, writing in the most recent version of the Microprocessor Report. Katmai refers to the forthcoming Pentium III.