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Dell tips hand on Intel notebook chip plan

PC maker's Inspiron 6000 will incorporate Intel's latest Pentium M processor and Express Mobile 915 chipset.

Dell has taken the wraps off its Inspiron 6000, one of the first notebooks to incorporate a new crop of Intel notebook chips due out on Wednesday.

The Round Rock, Texas, PC maker's Web site details the Inspiron 6000 as a 6.65-pound, consumer-oriented notebook that will feature a 15.4-inch wide-screen display. It will come with an updated version of the Intel Pentium M designed to work with the chipmaker's latest mobile chipset, Intel's Express Mobile 915 (code-named Alviso), for a price starting around $1,300 before rebates.

Although the Inspiron 6000 information came out prior to Intel's official unveiling of the new processor and chipset, the chipmaker has been allowing Dell to quietly advertise its systems since the weekend, one source familiar with Intel's plans said. Intel executives have spoken fairly freely about the new chips in recent weeks. The chipset had originally been slated to hit the market last year.

Intel will unveil the mobile 915, along with several new Pentium M models, at an event in San Francisco on Wednesday morning. A chipset is a group of chips designed to route data inside a PC.

Less weight, more power
For its part, Intel has designed the new notebook parts to bring more computing and graphics processing power to so-called thin-and-light notebook models, such as the Inspiron 6000, which weigh in the neighborhood of 5 to 6 pounds. Intel will offer several versions of the mobile 915, including a 915GM that incorporates its latest graphics processing engine, dubbed the Media Accelerator 900. All of the versions will sport such features as DDR2 RAM, the faster PCI Express add-in card connection and high-definition audio, which are new for Intel notebook chipsets.

When paired with an IntelPRO 802.11b/g or a/b/g module, the Pentium M and mobile 915 will make up two-thirds of the next iteration of Intel's Centrino, a bundle of chips the company has code-named Sonoma.

Dell's site shows that when fitted with a 1.6GHz Pentium M 730, 256MB of RAM, a 30GB hard drive, a DVD-ROM drive and Intel's 915GM with built-in graphics, the Inspiron 6000 will start at $1,299 before rebates.

The Inspiron 6000's price comes to nearly $1,600 when the tri-band IntelPRO 802.11a/b/g module is added along with more memory for a total of 512MB, a larger 60GB hard drive, and a combination CD-burner/DVD-ROM.

For customers looking to save money, Dell will also offer a lower-price version of the Inspiron 6000 with Intel Celeron M chips such as the 1.5GHz Celeron M 370, another new processor set to be unveiled by Intel on Wednesday.

The Inspiron 6000 is expected to be one of a number of new notebooks that will come out this year based on the Intel Pentium M and mobile 915 chipset combination.

Best Buy is also listing two new Toshiba Satellite M45 models with the new Pentium M/Intel 915GM combination on its Web site. One model, the M45-S331, offers a 1.6GHz Pentium M 730 with 512MB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, a DVD burner and a 15.4-inch screen. It's being being sold for $1,499, the retailer's site says.

Dell representatives declined to comment on the Inspiron 6000.