Cache windfall set for Intel's Banias

The chip giant's new mobile processor, due next year, will include a 1MB secondary cache. That's twice as big as the one found on the Pentium 4.

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
2 min read
Intel is hitting the gas on Banias.

The chip, a completely new mobile processor coming from Intel in the first quarter of next year, will include a 1MB secondary cache, said Mooly Eden, general manager of Intel's Israel Design Center, where the chip was developed. That's twice as big as the cache found on the Pentium 4 and the same size found on the company's Xeon chip for servers. The cache is a reservoir of memory integrated into the processor to allow rapid data access.

The size of the cache bolsters Intel's claims that the chip will be one of the top performing mobile chips in the world when it debuts. More cache typically leads to higher performance. The chip will be introduced at speeds of 1.6GHz, 1.5GHz, 1.4GHz and 1.3GHz, slower than the Pentium 4. The larger cache, though, will likely narrow the performance gap created by the differences in speed.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker also disclosed that, along with Banias, it will release a chipset with integrated graphics capabilities, code-named Montara, for budget-class systems. Intel is also working on a chipset, code-named Odem, without graphics.

Banias will likely be one of the major events for Intel next year. Although originally targeted for "thin and light" notebooks, the chip will appear in all types of notebooks for both the business and consumer markets, including full-sized notebooks and tablet PCs.

"Most of the corporate (notebook) roadmaps will be full Banias," said Don MacDonald, a marketing manager in Intel's mobile division.

If Banias catches on, part of its popularity will arise from the fact that it will be more power efficient than the Pentium 4. Notebooks containing it will run for 6 hours or more, said Eden. The longer battery life comes as a result of differences in the chip's basic architecture. In traditional chips, designers run the cache as fast as they can. In Banias, Intel slowed down the cache slightly to save energy and cut down on electricity leakage.

"When you have a 1MB cache, you have to make sure it is not leaking," Eden said.

Notebooks will also come with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities.