SAN FRANCISCO — Intel
opened a new chapter on
its wireless strategy Monday with the launch of its next generation
Pentium M processor.
The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant revealed three new cores (code-named Dothan) for its Centrino chipsets. As previously reported, the internal brains behind the processor are the first mobile chips from Intel built using the 90-nanometer process and serve as the successor to the chipmaking giant’s original Banias insides.
Instead of being identified by their speed, the Dothan cores are
the first chips under Intel’s new processor sequencing system that
rely on a combination of function and performance. The three new
Pentium M chips (7XX sequence) will be known as 755, 745 and 735. The
processors run at 2GHz, 1.8GHz and 1.7GHz respectively and will cost
$637, $423 and $294 each in quantities of 1,000. The series includes a 2MB Level 2 cache (twice the amount of the current Pentium Mobile) and 400MHz front side bus.
The chipsets are also outfitted with Intel’s 802.11b and 802.11.g PRO/Wireless
2200BG network connection.
Intel’s partners have already lined up for the new chips including
and Toshiba. IBM
and HP are also expected to offer notebooks and other mobile devices
in support of the new Dothan cores.
The addition of new Pentium M chips comes on the heels of a massive
shift in Intel’s chipmaking strategy. The company said Friday it
would no longer pursue further development of single-core processors
for its Pentium and Xeon product lines. The company is instead
switching to dual-core designs including its mobile lineups. While
Intel had already announced it would pursue a dual-core Pentium M
after the launch of its Dothan cores, sometime in 2005, the company
has shelved plans on its single-core chips after Prescott (Tejas and
The release of the new Pentium M chips also mark the one-year
anniversary of Intel’s Centrino initiative. The company spent an
estimated $300 million on its “Unwire” campaign to help promote a
mobile lifestyle. Intel has said that the promotion has been
successful in padding its $8.1 billion in revenues for the last three
Intel now lays claim to more than 130 laptop PC designs based Centrino
chipsets and nearly 32,000 verified hotspots around the world it says will
run great on its architecture.
But the upgrade may run into some resistance from enterprise
customers who have just spent the past year being convinced by vendors
that they need to purchase Intel’s onramp to the Wi-Fi craze.
“Interesting that they’re trying to go after consumers,” IDC
semiconductor analyst Roger Kay told internetnews.com.
“Centrino has had a hard time penetrating the consumer segment because
it is positioned as a premium part and consumers are fairly price
sensitive. I’m wondering how Intel will get consumers to pick up
Dothan. Maybe, since enterprises have to put in VPNs to adopt
wireless, consumers are a more straightforward play. They can just buy
an access point and get going.”
Another stumbling block has been production delays. Intel suffered
three-month setbacks from two of its plants in getting Dothan up and
running. During a recent briefing, Intel Vice President Anand
Chandrasekher chalked up the pause on production to a “quality issue
that Intel verified in its final stages.”
“The problem I believe Intel is facing with its 90-nm process is
higher leakage currents,” Kevin Krewell, principal analyst for
In-Stat/MDR, told internetnews.com. “This will increase power
consumption and it is especially a problem when the processor is in
sleep mode. Intel has likely been working on changes to the design to
mitigate the problem. Dothan would not be very useful if it offered
shorter battery life and lower clock frequencies. Originally, may of
us expected Dothan to offer significantly higher clock frequencies,
but now my expectation is for much more modest or no increase in clock
frequency. So I don’t expect Dothan to offer breakaway performance,
but rather a smooth increment.”
As part of its birthday bash, Intel is sponsoring an event at SBC
Park in San Francisco. The baseball stadium has recently been
outfitted with Wi-Fi access. In addition to highlighting Centrino and
introducing Dothan, Intel is scheduled to give testimonials from four
major U.S. retailers (Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA and Office