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Intel's Dothan chip expected in May

Intel's next notebook chip is almost here, insiders say, and the powerful processor's debut will come with lower prices and a new naming scheme.

The latest notebook chip from Intel will come out May 10, according to sources, along with price cuts and a new naming scheme.

Dothan is a new version of the Pentium M chip for notebooks. It will come with 2MB of cache, a pool of memory near the processor, and run at 2GHz, according to sources. Models running at 1.8GHz and 1.7GHz will also debut while cheaper, less speedy models will appear in June. Current Pentium M chips come with 1MB of cache and top out at 1.7GHz.

The chip, originally due earlier this year, was delayed by a problem that hampered manufacture. The chip will now come out May 10, according to sources in the PC industry and analysts.

Intel does not comment on unreleased products but has said Dothan will come out in the second quarter.

Although a slight oversupply of notebook chips dented Intel's revenues in the first quarter, portables remain one of the company's strongest markets. Notebook sales are growing faster than desktop purchases, a trend that has benefited laptop specialists such as Acer, which leaped into the top five PC makers in the first quarter.

Dothan also gives Intel an opportunity to sell Wi-Fi chips. Nearly all Pentium M notebooks come with built-in Wi-Fi and more than half of those Wi-Fi units are supplied by Intel, according to company executives.

Several PC manufacturers are expected to announce notebooks containing Dothan chips at the same time.

The upcoming Dothan chips will also be the first to bear Intel's new model numbers. The 1.8GHz Dothan will be sold as the Pentium M 745 while the 1.7GHz version will be called the Pentium M 735. For years, Intel has rated chips by their megahertz. Megahertz, however, is only one factor in performance. In switching the model numbers, Intel follows rival Advanced Micro Devices.

The 2GHz chip (called the 755) will sell for $637 in quantities of 1,000, according to market research firm ARS, while the 745 and 735 will go for $423 and $294. Existing chip production will be cut by 31 to 13 percent.

The Pentium M line, originally designed by Intel's labs in Israel, is currently displacing the Pentium 4 in notebooks. By 2006, a Pentium M derivative called Jonah is expected to become the mainstay for the desktop line.