What the Hell is…Geyserville

It's an Intel cunning plan, we think...

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It's a small town in California chosen by Chipzilla to provide the codename for its forthcoming 0.18 micron mobile Coppermine processors - the first mobiles to bear the Pentium III brand. Due out at the end of this year (so don't hold your breath, folks, Q1 2000 would be a much safer bet) Geyserville technology is supposed to mark the point where the performance gap between desktop and mobile horsepower disappears. The plan is that new chips running faster than 633MHz will be launched in both desktop and mobile guises at the same time, simultaneously and together. Intel is proud of its boast that within two years it is moving from an installed base of 80 per cent desktops / 20 per cent notebooks to the opposite state of affairs, citing the increasing mobility of its workforce, linked with better remote management tools and increasing mobile power as the keys to reducing the TCO of mobiles. Indeed, Chipzilla is keen to point out that although laptops will still cost more to run and administer, the grand plan is that mobile workers will be able to work in otherwise wasted time - in the garden, on the train, in the toilet and at their children's school plays, so that they will be able to work 100 hours a week instead of a mere 80. But what of Geyserville, I hear you ask? It's a simple idea which is rather more complicated to make work. Traditionally, laptops have simply throttled back their clock speed in a bid to reduce power consumption. This works fine up to a point. To increase battery life by two times, you have to run the CPU at half speed, so your state of the art 300MHz notebook turns into a creaky 150MHz museum piece if you want double the battery life - it's a linear kind of a thing, you see. But Geyserville offers a clever combination of clock-throttling and core voltage reduction, both of which can be user-defined by a Windows Control Panel applet to achieve the desired balance between performance and battery life. Intel claims that a 60 per cent reduction in power consumption can be achieved with just a 20 per cent hit on performance - a 600MHz notebook will run at full speed when plugged in to the mains and only drop to 500MHz on batteries. And because Coppermine uses slinky new 0.18 micron technology, power consumption and heat generation will already be considerably lower than chips built on the clunky old 0.25 process, so cooling fans will use less power, extending battery life even more. Initially only available in the premium-priced Pentium III brand, Geyserville technology will (like the Katmai 3D instructions) eventually find its way into the budget Celeron space before too long - just about as soon as sales from the early adopters (aka people who feel obligated to buy things because they're new and exciting) begin to tail off - Mid 2000 would be a good bet. ®

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