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Commentary: Going mobile for real

Until now, notebook microprocessors have been desktop derivatives. Pentium III-M and 830 change all that.

    By Mark Margevicius, Gartner Analyst

    Until now, notebook microprocessors have been desktop derivatives. Pentium III-M and 830 change all that.

    See news story:
    Intel ups ante in notebook race

    Intel's latest mobile efforts includes five new Pentium III-M ("M" standing for "mobile") microprocessors. Unlike previously announced processors, the Pentium III-M targets mobile systems specifically. The 830 chipset offers a single chipset across all mobile PC platforms.

    Based on the new Tualatin 0.13-micron process, the Pentium III-M closes the gap on desktop performance by offering higher speeds (866MHz, 933MHz, 1GHz, 1.06GHz and 1.13GHz), more Level 2 cache (512KB, up from 256KB) and lower power needs.

    Intel eventually plans to shift all processor manufacturing (mobile, desktop and server) to the 0.13-micron process. That process enables significantly higher manufacturing yields without significantly raising costs, which ultimately means better technology offered at or below today's prices. The Pentium III-M also offers improved power management with "Enhanced SpeedStep," which can throttle power-based application and system requirements.

    Equally important is the introduction of the 830 chipset, which has several key aspects: integrated graphics, integrated connectivity and platform versatility.

    The onboard, integrated graphics enable computer makers to continue to shrink platforms and optimize with standardized video. Integrated connectivity allows mobile computer makers to offer integrated 802.11, Bluetooth and Ethernet connectivity without consuming precious system-board or PCMCIA real estate.

    Most significant about 830 is its applicability in all notebook sizes. Up to now, computer makers used different chipsets for different notebook segments (815 for desktop replacement, 440BX for mainstream and 440MX for ultraportable), forcing companies to create unique system images for each segment. The 830 enables developers to create a single image for all three platform segments. This development, then, will simplify IT departments' image creation and management tasks.

    Gartner views the Pentium III-M and 830 as Intel's recognition of the importance and uniqueness of the mobile segment (much as Itanium signaled a similar understanding of the server market). Traditionally, Intel has viewed mobile processors as an offshoot of the desktop; however, the portable systems have different key attributes--such as mobility, power and connectivity--than do the desktops. For the most part, mobile computing requirements marginally match those of the desktop, where they primarily focus on compatibility between applications and operating systems. Other attributes, such as wireless connectivity, are critical to mobile while having little value on the desktop.

    (For a related commentary on Intel's mobile processors, see Gartner.com.)

    Entire contents, Copyright © 2001 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.