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Notebooks hit 1GHz

Notebooks reach a gigahertz, just about a year after Intel and Advanced Micro Devices released their first 1GHz desktop chips.

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Can the 1GHz processor perk up PC sales?
Don MacDonald, Mobile Platforms Group, Intel
Notebook processors hit 1GHz on Monday, just about a year after Intel and Advanced Micro Devices released their first 1GHz desktop chips.

As expected, Compaq Computer, Dell Computer, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and a host of other computer makers introduced notebook models Monday that run on the new Intel mobile Pentium III chip.

Notebooks from major manufacturers based on AMD's forthcoming 1GHz mobile Athlon chip are expected toward June.

Intel's 1GHz mobile Pentium III comes at a time when notebooks are growing in importance for PC makers, as sales of the portables continue to grow more quickly than those of traditional desktop PC sales.

Many of the new 1GHz Pentium III notebooks will be full-size models. These machines generally offer large 15-inch screens, lots of RAM and hard-drive capacity, and space for extras such as DVD or CD-rewritable drives. Prices of the new models range from about $2,500 to $4,500, according to PC makers.

One challenge for Intel and PC makers alike in the designing the chip into notebooks is its heat generation and power consumption. But Intel says those considerations have not been major stumbling blocks, even though it has doubled maximum chip speeds in a year.

Computer makers have managed to squeeze the 1GHz chip into "thin and light" notebooks, said Don MacDonald, director of marketing for Intel's mobile products group.

Some 1GHz notebooks can also go for six hours on a single battery charge. These notebooks, though, use more battery cells than smaller mini-notebooks.

"You don't need to look furtively and unplug the vending machine in airports," he said. "We're delivering very battery friendly characteristics."

The 1GHz chips run on an average of less than 2 watts of power. However, the thermal envelope, or maximum wattage, comes to 24.8 watts, slightly higher than that of the 850MHz Pentium III, the company said.

Among the new notebooks:

• HP is using the 1GHz chip in its newest consumer model, the Pavilion N6395. That notebook will ship with a 15-inch display, 256MB of RAM, a 30GB hard drive and 8x DVD drive for $3,199. It weighs in at 5.8 pounds and is about 1 inch thick.

HP also is beefing up its corporate OmniBook 6000 notebook with the 1GHz chip and a 15-inch display. The OmniBook will sell for about $4,200.

• Dell's new Latitude C800 model pairs the 1GHz chip with a 15-inch screen for a price starting at $2,459, according to the company. Dell is also planning to offer an Inspiron 8000 model with a similar configuration and price, geared toward consumers and small-business buyers.

• Toshiba announced a new Satellite Pro 4600, offering the 1GHz chip, a 15-inch screen and 128MB of RAM for about $3,000. The Tecra 8200 series, aimed at the corporate market, will offer the 1GHz chip with a 14-inch screen, 256MB of RAM, 20GB hard drive and a combination DVD/CD-RW drive for about $4,500.

• Compaq plans to offer several new notebooks based on the 1GHz chip. Its Armada E500, priced at $3,699, will feature a 15-inch display, 128MB of memory, 30GB hard drive, CD-RW drive and network card. The M700 packs a smaller 14-inch display, 128MB of RAM, 20GB hard drive, DVD drive and network card for $3,599.

• IBM also plans two new models, its ThinkPad A22 and A22p, which are expected to go on sale in mid-April. Prices will range from $1,999 to $4,169. The ThinkPad A22p, for example, will pack the 1GHz mobile chip with a 15-inch display, 32GB hard drive and CD-RW drive for $3,899.

Intel's new 1GHz chip is readily available, unlike its earlier desktop counterpart.

"Product has been stocked in the channel," MacDonald said. Intel started shipping samples of the 1GHz mobile chip in the fourth quarter.

Along with the 1GHz chip, Intel is shipping a 900MHz mobile Pentium III and a 750MHz mobile Celeron chip. However sources close to several manufacturers said they expect little to no demand for 900MHz models that will also come out Monday. HP, Dell and Toshiba will offer systems based on the chip.

Micron Electronics will likely be the sole PC maker to initially offer only the 900MHz mobile Pentium III. Its TransPort GX+ notebook will come with the 900MHz chip, a 15-inch display, a 30GB hard drive, and 8x DVD for about $3,400. A 1GHz model is expected in the future.

Staff writers Richard Shim and Michael Kanellos contributed to this report.