Intel ships a trio of mobile processors

On the heels of last week's third-quarter profit warning, the bellwether chipmaker releases the 800-MHz and 850-MHz Pentium IIIs and the 700-MHz Celeron.

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Intel today is releasing new mobile processors, even as it reels from a third-quarter profit warning issued last week.

As previously reported by CNET News.com, the new mobile processors are the 800-MHz and 850-MHz Pentium IIIs and the 700-MHz Celeron.

The processors are Intel's fastest yet for notebooks, though the company has even faster plans for the desktop. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company on Oct. 30 will begin offering Pentium 4 processors running at 1.4 GHz and 1.5 GHz.

The new portable processors are hitting the market on the heels of a somber financial message from Intel. On Thursday, the company warned that revenue for the third quarter would be only 3 percent to 5 percent higher than it was in the second quarter, compared with analysts' average projections of about 12 percent.

The mobile Pentium III processors feature Intel's SpeedStep technology, which reduces speed to conserve battery power. Both chips run at 1.65 volts when plugged into a wall socket, but when running on batteries, the 850-MHz processor slows to 1.35 volts and 700 MHz, while the 800-MHz device slows to 1.35 volts and 650 MHz.

The 700-MHz Celeron runs at 1.6 volts and consumes about 3 watts of power. The Pentium III processors consume about 2 watts when using SpeedStep features.

The new processors are available now. Intel is selling the 850-MHz processor for $722 each and the 800-MHz for $508 each when bought in lots of 1,000. The 700-MHz Celeron sells for $181 in that quantity.

Compaq Computer, Dell Computer, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard and IBM are among the PC makers expected to offer portables with the new processors.

Dell is offering the Pentium III processors on its Inspiron 5000e, which the company last month outfitted with Ultra XGA displays. The Round Rock, Texas-based company also is offering the processors in the Inspiron 4000 and Latitude C600, which go on sale today. The Latitude C600 is Dell's first portable with integrated antennas for wireless networking.

Gateway plans to offer new processors on Solo 5300 and 9300 models, and HP will offer them on the Pavilion N5000 consumer notebook and its commercial counterpart, the OmniBook 6000.

The timing of the new processors' release, which was planned well in advance of last week's profit warning, is critical for Intel as it faces increased competitive pressure on multiple fronts.

Sony plans to offer its first Vaio portables using Transmeta's low-power Crusoe processor by mid-November, and Hitachi and Fujitsu also will start offering the processor in portables that month. IBM also has plans to release a Crusoe version of its ThinkPad X notebooks. One of the chip's selling points is battery life, potentially twice that of batteries packing Intel processors.

Intel also faces pressure from archrival Advanced Micro Devices. While Intel dominates the desktop, AMD's chips are an increasingly popular alternative on portables, particularly retail models, according to market researcher PC Data.

In addition, Intel's processor launch could be eclipsed by larger economic woes. The company cited slow sales in Europe as contributing to its revenue shortfall, fueling speculation that PC sales are slowing.

Earlier this month, U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray analyst Ashok Kumar downgraded Intel because of third-quarter concerns and a belief that PC sales would sputter in the second half.

But industry analysts largely dismissed Kumar's projections, except in Europe, where the euro's position against the dollar has driven up PC prices.

U.S. PC and portables sales leader Dell last week reported strong demand going into the second half. Just before Intel's third-quarter warning, Dell CEO Michael Dell brushed aside sales worries and reports of an industrywide component shortage.

"The shortages aren't all they're cracked up to be," he said.