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New Pentium 4-M breaks 2GHz barrier

The chip meets Intel's internal target for shipping a 2GHz mobile chip by midyear. It's accompanied by a 1.9GHz Pentium 4-M and a handful of mobile Celerons.

Intel broke through the 2GHz barrier for notebook PCs on Monday with the launch of a new Pentium 4-M chip.

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Pentium 4-M ups the ante

The 2GHz chip, which is accompanied by a 1.9GHz Pentium 4-M and a handful of mobile Celerons, meets Intel's internal target for shipping a 2GHz mobile chip by midyear.

Although the PC market overall has lurched into the doldrums again, notebooks have fared better than desktops in a variety of markets for some time.

Notebook shipments are expected to grow 17 percent year over year from 2001 to 2002, said Anand Chandrasekher, vice president and general manager of Intel's Mobile Platforms Group, citing a study from Gartner.

The new Pentium 4-M and Celeron chips will be offered in notebooks issued by a slew of PC makers on Monday. Starting prices for the new machines from companies such as Dell Computer and Hewlett-Packard will range from $1,299 for a 1.33GHz Celeron machine to about $2,000 for a 2GHz notebook, Intel representatives said.

Dell Computer, Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba were among the companies that announced new notebooks Monday.

Dell is offering the new Pentium 4 chips in three notebooks, including its Inspiron 8200. The machine, when fitted with the 2GHz chip, a 15-inch screen, 256MB of RAM, a 30GB hard drive and a combination CD-rewritable/DVD drive sells for about $2,300.

Toshiba's Satellite Pro 6100 will include the 2GHz chip, a 15-inch display, 512MB of RAM, a 60GB hard drive and a CD-RW/DVD combination drive for $2,699, the company said.

Meanwhile, HP will offer several Compaq Evo notebooks with the new Pentium 4-M chips. Its Evo N610c will include a 1.9GHz Pentium 4-M processor and a 14.1-inch screen, 128MB of RAM and a 20GB hard drive for a starting price of $2,149, the company said.

HP is also offering a Compaq Presario 1500 notebook with the new 1.4GHz mobile Celeron chip. When configured with the 1.4GHz chip, a 14.1-inch screen, 128MB of RAM, a 20GB hard drive and a CD-RW/DVD combination drive, the machine sells for $1,324, according to HP's Web site.

The Pentium 4-M's 2GHz achievement marks one of Intel's fastest new-processor leaps. The Pentium 4-M moved from 1.7GHz at its introduction to 2GHz in just three months. It took the desktop Pentium 4 several quarters to make the same journey.

Originally, Intel was expected to offer a 2GHz Pentium 4-M for notebooks later this year, but the company moved up that projection during an April analysts meeting at which Paul Otellini, Intel's president and chief operating officer, announced the midyear goal.

The chipmaker faced several obstacles in making the transition to the Pentium 4-M from its Pentium III-M precursor. The first notebooks to use the chip were relatively expensive, priced at $2,500 or more. This limited the chip's adoption early on, analysts said, and some manufacturers opted to build products with Pentium 4 desktop chips instead of the mobile variant to hold prices down.

Intel moved quickly to remedy the situation, introducing two new lower-clock-speed, lower-priced chips in April. Those chips run at 1.5GHz and 1.6GHz. The company then dropped prices of the Pentium 4-M chips to further spur demand.

Now, with the chip more established, Intel will increase the clock speed of the Pentium 4-M more aggressively. It will has also increased the speeds of its mobile Celeron chips from 1.2GHz.

If Intel follows a path similar to the one it took with its desktop chips, the mobile chip's clock speed will jump to 2.2GHz in the fourth quarter and probably 2.4GHz in the first quarter of 2003, sources familiar with the company's plans said.

Meanwhile, the new 1.9GHz and 2GHz chips list for $401 and $637, respectively. The 1.33GHz, 1.4GHz and 1.5GHz chips will list for $134, $149 and $170, the company said.