Intel plans for notebook dominance

Laptops will continue to get faster and cheaper as they move toward desktop-style performance, says Intel. A super fast Pentium III was also shown at its developer confab.

Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Michael Kanellos
3 min read
PALM SPRINGS, California--Notebooks will get faster and a lot cheaper this year as part of Intel's effort to expand its markets, company executives said here at the Intel Developer Forum this morning.

The company also demonstrated a Pentium III prototype that ran at 1002 MHz, a new land speed record for processors, according to Albert Yu, senior vice president of microprocessor products at Intel.

Intel will release Pentium IIs for notebooks running at 400 MHz and 433 MHz in the first half of the year, said Yu. Both chips will be made on the more advanced 0.18-micron process, the first processors to be made on that process. In the second half, the company will introduce 500-MHz-plus notebook chips as well as a chipset technology called "Geyserville." Geyserville, which will be detailed in depth tomorrow, lowers power consumption, according to sources.

The notebook effort comes as part of an effort to maintain the company's historic growth rates. Computer shipments will continue to grow in double digit figures, Paul Otellini, general manager of the Intel Architecture Business Group, said in his keynote.

In fact, by the year 2000, PC sales will likely outpace TV sales worldwide, Otellini said. Prices, however, continue to drop. More ominous, approximately 70 to 80 percent of all current purchases come from repeat buyers.

"We have to find the recipe to bring the rest of the 50 percent of the U.S. households and 80 percent of the homes on a worldwide basis" to the computing market, he said.

As for notebooks, he added: "You will see notebooks go from $1,900 to $1,500 to $1,200. We are working with our partners in the industry to find the next price point. We don't know if it will be $999, but we will work with our partners to establish the new price point.

"You will see processor performance that is equivalent to the desktop," he added. Intel itself will switch from having a computer base consisting of 80 percent desktops to 80 percent notebooks.

The effort to drop notebook prices follows a disparity in the market caused by cheap desktops. Last year, while notebook makers were still directing their wares toward performance users, resellers were reporting fantastic sales on any products priced below $1,300.

Competition is also increasing. Earlier this year, Toshiba started to use AMD processors in its consumer notebooks in Japan. Toshiba has now extended it use of AMD chips to Canada and several European companies, say AMD sources.

For Intel's other product lines, Otellini, Yu, and others said to expect the following:

  • Pentium III Xeon processors for servers and workstations running at 450 MHz, 500 MHz, and 550 MHz will come out in the first quarter, said Yu. March 17 is the release date, said sources. In the second half, these chips will run at more than 600 MHz. Cost, but also performance, will improve. "The Intel architecture products have moved from last place to essentially first place," said Otellini.

  • Intel is performing the final circuit design on Merced, its upcoming 64-bit processor, which will ship in the middle of next year. McKinley, the successor to Merced, will appear in samples by the end of 2000. McKinley will be twice as fast as Merced and have a bus that is three times as fast.

  • As part of the effort to build support for Intel servers, the company will open the Enterprise Technology Center for software makers to tune their applications for the Intel platform.

  • Pentium III desktops running at 450 MHz and 500 MHz will appear later this week. These machines will start at under $2,000. A 550-MHz chip will come in May, said sources. In the second half, the company will boost the bus speed to 133 MHz from 100 MHz. The Pentium III line will run faster than 600 MHz by the end of the year.

  • Value notebooks will also increase in speed to 433 MHz and 466 MHz in the first half and more than 500 MHz in the second half.

  • The 1394 interconnect technology will become more ubiquitous in 2000 in both computers and consumer electronics devices, said Pat Gelsinger, an Intel vice president. Independent storage devices for desktops will also begin to appear. Intel will also soon publish the specifications for the next PC platform.

  • Intel will move rapidly to the 0.18-micron process, said Yu. The technology, in fact, is being introduced 1.75 years after the 0.25 technology came out.