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Intel plans to further shrink the performance gap between notebook and desktop PCs with the availability of mobile CPUs exceeding 600 MHz before the year's end. The boost in speed--up from 366 MHz, the fastest mobile chip--will be coupled with new technology, code-named Geyserville, that will conserve power while the machine runs on batteries.
Notebook processors will be designed to switch to the battery-only mode automatically, and will consume only 50% to 60% of their normal power while delivering more than 80% of their maximum performance. A 600-MHz notebook will deliver about 500 MHz in the battery-optimized mode, said Bob Jecmen, a VP in charge of Intel's mobile group, in a keynote address today at the Intel Developers Forum in Palm Springs, Calif.
Current technology causes a linear decrease in performance if power is decreased. For example, a 300-MHz notebook runs at 150 MHz if the processor is using half the power. Because the microprocessor consumes a small portion of a notebook's overall power, the Geyserville technology will not dramatically extend battery life. But it should help.
Other Intel officials at the conference showed off a prototype of the cartridge for the upcoming Merced processor, due in mid-2000 for 64-bit servers and workstations. About the size of a disposable camera, the cartridge will contain the CPU, three levels of cache that will run at the full speed of the chip, and other circuitry. Intel has not disclosed Merced's speed, but analysts estimate it between 700 and 800 MHz. Intel officials say their second-generation 64-bit chip, due in late 2001, will double Merced's performance.
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