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Intel pushes toward 600-MHz mobile chips

Intel executives showed off yet another peculiar PC design, as it laid out chip plans for compact and mobile PCs.

Intel executives showed off yet another peculiar PC design to prove that small is cool as it laid out chip plans for compact and mobile PCs.

Notebooks will contain chips that run at 600-MHz and up in the second half of 1999, the same speed that desktop chips will achieve at that time and more than twice the speed of the fastest Intel-based notebooks today, company executives said at the company's semiannual analysts conference today.

But compact desktops will pick up lost ground in style. Smaller PC circuit boards and greater availability of flat panel liquid crystal display (LCD) screens will lead to modular, novel shaped computers next year Intel chairman Andy Grove said.

The first of these new modular machines will start to appear at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

And, while many of these units will be for the home, some of these stylish boxes will be aimed at businesses, said Pat Gelsinger, corporate vice president of the Desktop Product Group.

Gelsinger showed off the "Twister" prototype, a 500-MHz Katmai machine for business. Katmai is Intel's next-generation Pentium II chip due in the first quarter of next year.

Twister weighs about eight pounds and is shaped like a double helix. It is similar in capabilities to the ziggurat-shaped "Maya" prototype Intel has touted recently.

The chip that will launch notebooks into the 600-MHz realm is "Coppermine", a processor built around the Pentium II and includes the upcoming Katmai technology for enhanced multimedia performance.

Coppermine will be the first chip made by Intel under a next-generation manufacturing process. "The first product of the 0.18-micron [manufacturing] generation will be tailored for notebooks," he said. "For the first time in a long time we will be able to match desktop performance in mobile."

Coppermine will appear in desktops and notebooks in the second half of 1999.

Mobile sales have on average been outpacing desktop sales by 3 percent, said Paul Otellini, head of the architecture business group at Intel. Other executives pointed out that notebooks will constitute up to 60 percent of all PC sales in Japan in the near future.

Market segmentation will also come to the mobile market, he added. Intel will release 266-MHz and 300-MHz versions of its low-budget Celeron chips for notebooks in the first half. This will result in notebooks in the sub-$1,500 range and notebooks that approach the $999 price point.

Intel is also speeding up the roadmap for its desktop Celeron processors as well. In the first half, Intel will release Celeron chips for desktops running at more than 400-MHz. At the Intel Developer Forum in September, the company said that 400-MHz Celeron chips would come out in the second half.