Intel Readies Mobile Platform Refresh, Launches Solid-State Drive - InformationWeek

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Intel Readies Mobile Platform Refresh, Launches Solid-State Drive

Intel is launching a thumbnail-size solid-state drive that will be available in 2-Gbyte or 4-Gbyte models and weighs six-tenths of a gram.

Intel on Friday said it plans to ship next month an upgrade of its dual-core mobile platform that's based on the company's next-generation 45-nanometer manufacturing process. In addition, the chipmaker launched a solid-state drive for mobile devices and plans to have notebook SSDs available by mid-2008.

Intel provided updates of some of its upcoming products during a news conference in downtown San Francisco. The event was held a day after rival Advanced Micro Devices unveiled in New York its two-year product road map for financial analysts and reporters.

The refresh of Intel's Centrino platform, code-named Santa Rosa, will include a 45-nanometer Core 2 Duo processor, code-named Penryn. The company is moving its whole product line over to the new manufacturing process, which gets more transistors on a chip than the previous generation for more computing power without increasing energy consumption.

The platform upgrade includes Intel's GM965 Express chipset, which has technology for processing high-definition video in HD DVD or Blu-ray formats. In addition, the platform supports Microsoft's DirectX 10, the latest version of the software maker's graphics technology, which is in Windows Vista.

Intel plans to offer the Santa Rosa refresh as a platform for smaller desktop PCs that have a stylish design to attract buyers. The platform offers quieter and cooler technology than other desktop products.

For handheld device makers, Don Larson, product line manager for Intel's flash memory products, unveiled the thumbnail-size Z-P140. The SSD is available in 2-Gbyte or 4-Gbyte models and weighs six-tenths of a gram.

Using an Intel controller, as many as four of the devices can be linked together for a maximum of 16 Gbytes. The drives can be used in any device that supports a PATA interface. PATA, or parallel advanced technology attachment, is a standard interface for connecting storage devices.

In mid-2008, Intel plans to release SSDs that could be used as hard-disk drive replacements in notebooks. The drives would be available in a 1.8-inch or a 2.5-inch model. Further details will be released closer to the launch date.

The solid-state drive market is growing, primarily because of the increasing demand for storage in consumer electronics, ranging from digital cameras and portable media players to smartphones. SSDs are also increasingly being used in notebooks to boot operating systems faster or as a hard-disk drive replacement. While SSDs are faster, more reliable, and quieter than HDDs, they are also vastly more expensive, which means their use in notebooks remains limited to niche markets. The overall SSD market this year is expected to reach $15.2 billion, according to Intel.

For the ultramobile market, which covers pocket-size devices, Intel said it remained on track to deliver its first generation low-power platform, code-named Menlow, in the first half of next year. The platform comprises a 45-nanometer processor code-named Silverthorne and a chipset Intel is calling Poulsbo. Intel plans to showcase Menlow-based devices next month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

In the first quarter of next year, Intel plans to ship a family of 45-nanometer processors, code-named Penryn, for consumer desktops. The Core 2 quad-core and dual-core processors, formerly code-named Yorkfield and Wolfdale, respectively, will feature larger L2 caches for better performance and Intel's latest HD Boost technology for video, photo, and high-performance computing software applications.

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