Intel pitches Pentium M at embedded arena

Banias for routers, not just notebooks

It's official: Intel's Pentium M processor, codenamed Banias and the heart of the company's Centrino platform, is an embedded chip.

Intel today relaunched the part as a processor for communications applications, targeting routers, switches and telecoms gear - a long way from the mobile computing world Intel launch the part at back in March. Intel previously touted its Low Voltage and Ultra-low Voltage Pentium III chips at the embedded space with mixed success.

Intel's pitch is that the Pentium M's low power consumption - and consequent much-reduced heat generation - plus its high performance - it's faster than a 2.4GHz Pentium 4, don't forget, even though it maxes out at 1.6GHz - makes the part ideal for high-density networking equipment.

That sets the Pentium M up against the likes of PowerPC, Transmeta and MIPS, and will give them a run for their money. The Intel chip's SSE2 technology isn't a patch on Motorola's AltiVec, and the upcoming 0.13 micron SOI PowerPC 7457 at 1.3GHz consumes 16.6W (the Pentium M eats 12-25W at 1.6GHz), but the processor's raw performance should give Motorola pause for thought. And 1.3GHz is the best Motorola can do - the Pentium goes up to 1.6GHz today, and beyond when the 90nm Dothan version ships later this year. In that timeframe, Motorola might have reached 2GHz (depending on which roadmap you've seen), but still at 0.13 micron, so Intel is likely to beat it on wattage too.

Intel says it has already signed Nokia to take the Pentium M.

The Pentium M processor is available now in two forms: a 1.6GHz part priced at $625 and a Low Voltage model running at 1.1GHz and priced at $257. Both prices are based on 10,000-unit quantities. ®