World+Dog goes Centrino Crazy

Battery Schmattery

IDF Today is Client Day at the IDF, so where better to begin than the keynote delivered by Anand Chandrasekher, Intel's top mobile guy. In today's briefing mobile equals Centrino, Intel's wireless-enabled, low power flagship CPU.

Out on March 12, Intel is claiming huge industry support for Centrino - with four times more OEM wins on Day One than the Mobile Pentium 4 achieved for its launch day.

Chandrasekher's Big Pitch for Centrino is not the integrated wireless, but the longer battery life. This is achieved without any loss of performance, he says. According to Chandrasekher, Centrino typically delivers 316 minutes of battery life, compared with 215 minutes on the Pentium III-M, hitherto the world's lowest voltage mobile PC chip, and 163 minutes on the Mobile P4. Of course, this beggars the question of what, exactly, is typical.

Anand also displayed a 300mm wafer containing Dothan CPUs, the 90nm iteration of Centrino. This chip, scheduled for release in the second half of 2003. delivers more performance along with a 30 per cent reduction in cost, Intel says. The Dothan design is 100 per cent compatible with Centrino, so will fit into all existing Centrino designs. This will ensure a rapid volume ramp-up for the chip, Chandrasekher says.

Presumably, the new Dothans will feature in the Newport, the mobile PC concept design for 2004. A few more details were released - Newport mobiles will have six hours battery life and in tablet PC mode, 2.5 hours. Newports will work with 11a, 11b, GPRS and Bluetooth.

Battery life, or lack of, is the bane of mobile warriors everywhere, as Chandrasekher acknowledges. So what is Intel doing about this? Well, the company is working on reducing power consumption beyond the CPU - and with mobiles, backlit LCD screens are an enormous drain. Chandrasekher showed off a prototype notebook-sized low temperature polysilicon display (LTPS), which should translate into live product in 2004. This monitor operates at 3 volts. Intel is also helping to fund a start-up called PolyFuel to produce direct methanol fuel cells.

Chandrasekher showed off the world's first prototype. This delivers 150 watts hour battery capacity, three times greater than the best mobile PC batteries a day; so a Dothan- PolyFuel combo should deliver 15 hours capacity, almost meeting Intel's goal of all-day battery life. The fuel cell should reach the market in two-to-three years, handrasekher says. ®

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