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Intel Banias chipsets named

Odum and Monterra, apparently, but other info very thin on the ground

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Intel's mysterious mobile processor, Banias, continues to generate scraps of information but little in the way of a full meal or even a light snack.

The latest addition to the pot comes from Japanese Web site PC Watch, which notes an industry source's claim that the part will ship Q2 2003 after sampling in Q3 2002. It also says it has heard that Intel is preparing two chipsets for the part, codenamed Odum and Monterra, the former a mainstream product, the other a budget-oriented version with integrated graphics.

What can we make of this? Well, when Banias was first mentioned, by Intel at last autumn's Microprocessor Forum, it had a mid-2002 ship date. Later, an Intel spokeswoman said the ship date was 2003. PC Watch's source makes sense of those different dates, though it be simply a piece of reverse logic, of course.

As for the chipset names, as PC Watch admits, only one source has mentioned them, so maybe we should take these with a pinch of salt. It's hard to imagine Intel not offering two chipsets for any future mobile processor, one with integrated graphics and one without. But as for the codenames... well, Intel doesn't even acknowledge the name Banias.

The PC Watch article speculates that Banias will fill the gap below the 0.13 micron Mobile Pentium 4, due February next year, to target more power-sensitive systems like thin-and-light mobile PCs, mini-notebooks and sub-notebooks - the applications currently addressed by the Low Voltage and Ultra-low Voltage Mobile Pentium III.

At Microprocessor Forum, Banias was described as a ground-up design, but its roots lie in the PIII core. For what it's worth, we reckon it's a mix of PIII and P4, adding the latter's extra functionality, such as SSE 2, to the former, and possibly with some system-on-a-chip functionality. That's what some sources have suggested - backed by the fact that Banias is being developed by the Israeli team behind Timna, Intel's first attempt at an SoC.

PC Watch notes a comment made by Robert T Jackson, Principal Engineer at Intel's Mobile Platforms Group. Jackson says that while integration is good for power consumption reasons, integrating graphics is difficult and integrating a memory controller problematic from a marketing standpoint: which do you support, SDR, DDR or RDRAM? And what if you pick the wrong one?

That suggests Intel isn't too keen on integration, but don't forget that Jackson's comments were made right after Timna was cancelled for supporting expensive RDRAM rather than cheap SDRAM. ®

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PC Watch: Intel Banias rumours (in Japanese)

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