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Intel chip to give notebooks a lift

The company will increase the performance of notebooks once again when it releases a new 2.2GHz Pentium 4-M chip on Monday, according to sources.

Intel will once again increase the performance of notebooks when it releases a new 2.2GHz Pentium 4-M chip on Monday, according to sources familiar with its plans.

The new Pentium 4-M, with "M" as in mobile, will boast an extra 200MHz in clock speed and will cost more, but will otherwise be the same as the current 2GHz Pentium 4-M.

A number of brand-name computer makers are expected to add the new chip to their flagship notebook models, which typically start at $2,000.

The manufacturers will also likely pair the new chip with notebook features such as large hard drives, CD-rewritable/DVD drives, wireless networking and 15-inch displays with high resolution. Prices for such notebooks usually start at $2,500.

The new chip may only boost the Pentium 4-M by 200MHz, but for Intel and also for PC makers, it pays to keep notebook technology moving ahead. That's because the market for notebooks has remained relatively strong and because portables sell with a higher price tag than PCs typically do.

To keep notebook and chips sales rolling, Intel even moved up the launch for its 2GHz Pentium 4-M to June, which pulled the 2.2GHz chip's introduction forward as well.

Notebooks have been a bright spot so far this year in an otherwise disappointing PC market. Unit sales of the portable machines grew by 6.1 percent during the second quarter compared with the same period last year, according to Gartner, while overall PC shipments declined by 1 percent. And this year, notebooks have consistently beaten last year's unit sales numbers at retail in the United States, while desktop PC sales continue to post year-over-year declines.

Notebook manufacturers also typically make more money on each notebook they sell than on each desktop. The average price for a notebook sold at retail in June was $1,548, compared with $801 for a desktop, according to NPD Techworld.

The Pentium 4-M is expected to continue to inch up in 200MHz increments. Intel is expected to launch a 2.4GHz Pentium 4-M in the fourth quarter.

The Pentium 4-M will soon be joined by a new chip, Intel's more energy-efficient processor for notebooks, code-named Banias. Expected to debut next year, Banias will be used in notebooks that place heavy emphasis on portability and power savings, while the Pentium 4-M will end up in more performance-oriented systems.

Intel could not be reached for comment.