More speed and less power are the themes dominating Intel's chip strategy in portables. The Pentium 4 will run at more than 1.5GHz when it emerges next year and hit 2GHz by the end of 2002, Frank Spindler, vice president of Intel's mobile products division, said during a keynote address Wednesday at the Intel Developer Forum.
Then, in the first half of 2003, the company will debut Banias, which will contain a number of new power-management features that will allow for all-day battery life.
One feature, for instance, will shut off subsections of the chip when not in use. Right now, electricity runs to most subsections of PC processors even if the particular subsection is not in use. With Banias, only those parts needed at a given time will get juiced.
Banias chips will also come with a function called Micro-ops fusion. Under this technology, different processor operations are fused early in the computing process, which cuts down the number of instructions-- and hence work--a chip has to execute. Banias engineers are also redesigning individual transistors to reduce power consumption.
Both chips will find their way to the mainstream of the notebook market, he added.
"You will see Pentium 4 in 5- to 6-pound notebooks when it comes out next year," said Spindler. "The mobile Pentium 4 will include all of the features of the desktop Pentium 4."
Banias, too, will likely be a mainstream technology. Earlier, analysts predicted the chip might be confined to the mini-notebook segment. Often, energy-efficient chips get relegated to specialty submarkets because they run at lower speeds than standard notebook chips.
Spindler, however, stated that Banias will "play a broad and signficant role in the mobile market." The techniques developed with Banias will also likely migrate to other chips, other Intel executives have said.
Besides processors, notebook designers and component makers will continue to try to conserve power by tweaking other parts. Next year, for instance, Intel will come out with the 830 chipset. The 830 integrates a graphics chip into the chipset, which connects the processor to other components. The chipset currently consumes about 13 percent of the power needed to run a notebook, while the graphics chip eats up 14 percent. Integration will substantially decrease power consumption, Spindler said.
Display makers and hard drive manufacturers are also working on power conservation. Overall, 30 percent of active power consumption can probably be reduced, said Spindler.