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Intel downplays PC-133, Screaming Cindy, on notebooks

Notes from the Santa Clara folks

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Internal Intel roadmaps seen by The Register indicate that notebook chips which will be launched next Monday -- as exclusively revealed here last January -- are just the thin end of a DDR (double data rate) wedge from Chipzilla Central in Santa Clara.

Further, Intel is not overconcerned with Transmeta, the notes reveal, but is far more concerned with making notebooks that incorporate synchronous memory, and is downplaying the fact that such chipsets also support Screaming SIMD extensions. AMD is the real, retail enemy.

The mobile roadmaps we have seen, rather than considering Transmeta as a major player, target AMD (Advanced Micro Devices), which has taken a major bite out of Intel's retail notebook market share. Bluetooth is the sharp end of Intel's offensive come September.

One executive told us today: "In US retail, the Pentium Brand has maintained its market share. More and more large corporations adopt Windows 2000 operating system for notebooks."

Those figures are based on market data. For example, according to these figures, IDC says that 81.5 per cent of large and medium corporations will buy Pentium III based notebooks. Intel's margin on its notebooks chips has avoided the price erosion that has affected its desktop Pentium IIIs and Celerons.

Intel is also downplaying the fact that Solano II-mobile is based on the synchronous memory solution too. Although it is takes Transmeta and other information appliances seriously, it does not believe PDAs will dent its share of the market.

Intel also has no plans to release a 733MHz using a 133MHz front side bus in the second half of this year, although it could do so. Instead, it will launch a 800MHz supporting 100MHz bus speeds, and, our sources confirmed today, although .18 micron mobile chips support Streaming SIMD extensions, it does not want to tell its customers about that. Unless they ask. Which now we know they will.

Solano-2M does not yet have a launch date, but has sampled for two months now, and it is a given that Intel will intro a PC-133 version to companies such as Toshiba, IBM and Compaq this year. The last Celeron offered in the MMC2 form factor will be in September this year.

Intel is making sure that this month's PC Expo in New York will be dominated by low end offerings of mini notebook form factors, and is far from intimidated by threats Transmeta could possibly steal the show, and damage share prices accordingly.

Nor will Intel introduce increased speeds on mobile Celeron processors at 1.35 volts until next year, as Intel attempts to drive demand for the mini-notebook sector.

But Intel will launch a huge collateral drive starting on Monday in an attempt to convince corporate end users that its boxes are better than its competitors. Further, come June 27th, Intel will intro an educational scheme and attempt to convince both the world and its dog that Bluetooth is the shape of things to come.

The advertising campaign will kick off in the following publications, which we will not bother italicising: Business Week, Mobile Computing and Mobile Insights. It will also offer deals with software companies such as Laplink.

Intel CPUs in the mobile sphere will remain on 100MHz front side buses until at least the middle of next year, although if we were buying mobile notebooks, which we're not, we'd prefer to have them now, seeing as Intel can already make them.

The question that remains is why Intel is not majoring on its Strongarm family of processors, a very dinky set of chips. We have not seen any StrongArm roadmaps so can only surmise that Intel is keeping these products in reserve in case PDAs begin to present a real threat to its traditional notebook space. ®

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