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Laptops to sport low-power Intel chips

Several notebook PC manufacturers will ship new lightweight laptops based on the chipmaker's new low-power Pentium III-M chips.

New Intel notebook chips aim to offer less power to the people.

The chipmaker this week launched three new low-power chips: a low-voltage 933MHz Pentium III-M, a new ultra-low-voltage 800MHz Pentium III-M, and a 733MHz low-voltage mobile Celeron.

Several notebook PC manufacturers will ship new lightweight laptops based on the Pentium III-M chips, which are designed to consume about half the power of a regular mobile chip from Intel.

Dell Computer, Gateway, Fujitsu and Toshiba are all expected to use at least one of the new Intel chips, which run at clock speeds of up to 933MHz.

Toshiba, for example, on Wednesday announced its Portege 4010 notebook. The 4.2-pound, $2,199 machine comes with the 933MHz chip, a 12.1-inch screen, 256MB of RAM, a 30GB hard drive and a DVD drive.

Meanwhile, Gateway is expected to announce that its forthcoming Solo 200 mini-notebook will use the 933MHz chip. Dell will introduce a similar machine.

The two new lower-power Pentium III-M chips were designed to run at 1.15 volts, lower than regular Intel Pentium III-M chips, which run between 1.15 and 1.4 volts. This reduces clock speed, but it also cuts down on power consumption and the amount of heat the chip produces.

To further reduce power consumption, the chips use Intel's SpeedStep, which cuts voltage and clock speed back while a notebook is running on battery power.

The result is that the 933MHz chip drops to 1.05 volts and 533MHz in this battery mode, where it consumes about 1 watt of power. The 800MHz chip drops to 1.05 volts and 400MHz, where it consumes less than half a watt.

The lower power consumption boosts battery life and, because the chip runs cooler, it could eliminate the need for a cooling fan. Manufactures could use the extra space to create a machine with better battery life by using a larger battery, or they could go for a lighter-weight machine by using a smaller battery.

Toshiba's 4010, for example, weighs 4.2 pounds, but gets up to 3.9 hours on a single charge.

The 800MHz chip will come in two flavors, one with a 100MHz bus, and one with a 133MHz bus for use with different Intel chipsets.

Intel's other new chip, the 733MHz low-voltage mobile Celeron, is designed for lower-priced notebooks.

The company also launched a 1GHz mobile Celeron chip, which is not a low-voltage chip, for full-sized notebooks.

The 933MHz Pentium III-M costs $316; the 800MHz Pentium III-M is $209; the 733MHz low-voltage mobile Celeron runs for $134; and a 1GHz Celeron chip costs $107.

In related news, Sony on Thursday announced a notebook, the 4.4-pound VAIO PCG-VX88, which uses an older 850MHz low-voltage Pentium III-M chip. The machine combines the chip with a 14.1-inch screen and has a starting price of about $2000, the company said.