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Intel to demo power-saving tech

Yonah, Intel's dual-core notebook chip, will get an airing next month and some dual-core technology that lets one core sleep.

Intel will show off its upcoming Yonah processor in two weeks and showcase a technology that lets one processing core sleep while the other one drives.

Called Dynamic Power Coordination, or DPC, the technology is a way to conserve energy in dual-core chips, Mooly Eden, vice president of the Mobility Group at Intel said in an interview with CNET News.com on Thursday. When workloads are light, DPC will slow down one processor core to extend battery life.

"The power consumption of each one of the cores is totally different from the other core," he said.

DPC will be integrated into Yonah, Intel's first dual-core chip for notebooks, which will arrive in late 2005 or early 2006. Eden will demonstrate DPC at the Intel Developer Forum taking place in Japan April 7 and 8.

Power consumption remains one of the chief concerns for chip and computer designers. Dual-core chips, which contain two processing cores rather than one, will actually consume less power than current desktop and notebook chips because they will initially run at slower speeds. (Yonah will be a single piece of silicon with two cores, Intel has said. Others, like the future desktop chip Presler, will consist of two separate pieces of silicon fused into a single package.)

Nonetheless, speeds will increase, and consumers want more battery time. The goal is to be able to run for eight hours on a single battery charge, Eden said. Panel makers and software designers are also tweaking their products to consume less energy.

Notebooks have been one of Intel's more successful markets over the past two years. Notebook shipments have been growing faster than desktops, notebook chips on average sell for more, and the growth in portables has enabled Intel to become a dominant player in the market for Wi-Fi chips through its Centrino chip bundle.

Two years ago, when Intel launched the first Pentium M processors and the Centrino chip combo platter, only 10 percent of notebooks came with built-in wireless, Eden noted.

Now, more than 80 percent of notebooks come with built-in wireless cards, and more than 80 percent of Pentium M notebooks come with the complete Centrino bundle, Eden noted. Before Centrino, Intel didn't sell Wi-Fi chips.

Intel is also promoting its notebook chips for small desktops, and many of the energy-efficient design technologies created for notebooks will end up in desktops and servers, he said.

"There will be greater communality in the future," Eden said. The notebook chip families will actually begin to supplant the current desktop families in 2007, sources close to Intel said.

Advanced Micro Devices, however, has begun to increase competition in notebooks with the Turion 64 processor.