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Intel kicks off Centrino push, launches Pentium M

Mar 12, 20033 mins
Cellular NetworksNetwork Security

Intel Wednesday officially launched its Centrino package, which includes the latest addition to the company’s mobile processor lineup alongside a companion chipset and a wireless LAN chip.

Intel Wednesday officially launched its Centrino package, which includes the latest addition to the company’s mobile processor lineup alongside a companion chipset and a wireless LAN chip.

Centrino is based around the Pentium M processor, formerly known by its codename Banias, which incorporates a chip architecture that is different from that used with Intel’s other mobile processors, such as the Pentium 4-M. The result is a chip that offers greater performance and longer battery life than the Pentium 4-M.

Intel introduced four standard versions of the Pentium M processor running at speeds of 1.6 GHz, 1.5 GHz, 1.4 GHz, and 1.3 GHz, priced at $720, $506, $377 and $292, respectively, in 1,000-unit quantities. The company is also offering a low-voltage version that runs at 1.1 GHz for $345 and an ultra-low-voltage chip running at 900 MHz priced at $324.

The Pentium M offers higher performance than the Pentium 4-M, according to Intel, which said the 1.6 GHz Pentium M offers a 13% to 15% improvement in performance over the 2.4 GHz Pentium 4-M. The 1.6 GHz Pentium M also offers 76% longer battery life than the 2.4 GHz Pentium 4-M, according to Intel.

The lower clock speeds, however, may confuse end users who have become accustomed to Intel’s emphasis on the connection between higher clock speeds and greater performance.

“I was actually confused about that as well,” said Kitty Fok, director of personal systems research at IDC Asia-Pacific. “But just looking at the CPU speed doesn’t reflect the actual performance anymore.”

Hoping to avoid confusion among users and potential customers, Intel is pushing the Pentium M and Pentium 4-M processors to different market segments. The Pentium M and Centrino are targeted at mobile users who want wireless LAN access and longer battery life, said Kelly Wu, country manager of Intel Taiwan. The Pentium 4-M, on the other hand, is intended for what Intel calls the portability market, essentially users who carry their notebooks from one office to another, she said.

“Our focus is not only on megahertz,” Wu said. “Of course megahertz is important but we are also considering the usage model.”

In addition to the Pentium M processor, Centrino includes an Intel 855 chipset, which supports a 400 MHz front-side bus, and the Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 wireless LAN chip. The 855GM chipset also includes integrated graphics based on Intel’s Extreme Graphics 2 technology.

Among the vendors that showed off Centrino-based PCs Wednesday were Acer, Asustek Computer, BenQ, Compal Electronics, Motion Computing, Fujitsu, Gigabyte Technology, IBM, Legend Group, Leo Systems, Mitac International, NEC, Samsung Electronics, Sanyo, Tatung, Toshiba and Wistron.

Intel expects to see Centrino account for 30% of all mobile processors by year-end, Wu said, adding that Centrino would likely account for 50% of mobile sales for high-end laptops.