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Intel launches Dothan with Pentium M price cuts

The 90nm 7xx series ships

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Intel today knocked up to 30.5 per cent off the prices of its 130nm Pentium M processors to make way for the 90nm version of the chip, codenamed 'Dothan'.

As anticipated, Dothan was formally launched today and began shipping to notebook vendors worldwide.

Intel is offering three new Pentium Ms, sold as the Pentium M 735, 745 and 755. The trio are clocked at 1.7GHz, 1.8GHz and 2GHz, respectively.

All three contain 2MB of L2 cache - the original, 'Banias' Pentium Ms have 1MB - yet occupy only fractionally more space. Dothan's die crams in 140m transistors and measures 83.6mm2. Banias' 77m-transistor die measures 82.8mm2.

That near-doubling of the transistor count was achieved by the use of a 90nm, strained silicon fabrication process - the same one used to produce the 90nm 'Prescott' Pentium 4. Unlike the new P4s, Dothan's die-shrink actually yields a reduction in heat dissipation: 21W compared to Banias' 24.5W. According to Intel EMEA mobile marketing chief, Andy Greenhalgh, both chips consume the same amount of power. The chips operate at 1.3V.

In addition to the enlarged cache, the new Pentium Ms feature a number of architectural tweaks, including an enhanced data pre-fetch system and an improved register access manager. The former makes it more likely that the chip's cache will contain the correct data while the latter "enables more efficient management of CPU registers when a partial length write to a register followed by a full length read. Dothan incorporates enhancements that efficiently handle these conditions without making additional work for the processor", Intel said.

Pentium M

Together with the extra cache, these techniques can boost Dothan's performance by around 9.5 per cent compared - when measured with MobileMark 2002 - to a Banias part of the same clock speed, Greenhalgh told The Register. And Dothan will yield a battery life "as good as or better" than Banias, he added.

Like their predecessors, the new chips will ship supporting a 400MHz frontside bus - the anticipated 533MHz FSB upgrade will not come until Intel ships the 'Alviso' chipset. Officially, that will happen sometime in H2 2004, but we understand it will not happen until the chip giant unveils its second-generation Centrino platform, currently known by the codename 'Sonoma'.

Sonoma is likely to be launched sometime in the autumn, Intel mobile chief Anand Chandrasekher admitted last February.

In addition to DDR 2, Alviso brings PCI Express, Serial ATA, Intel's Media Graphics Accelerator (aka Extreme Graphics 3) and Hi-Def Audio to notebooks.

The 2GHz Pentium M 755 is priced at $637, followed by the 1.8GHz 745 at $423 and the 1.7GHz 735 at $294. The 130nm 1.7GHz part is now priced at $294, down from $423, a reduction of 30.5 per cent. Intel also cut the price of the 1.6GHz Pentium M from $294 to $241, down 18 per cent, while the 1.5GHz part's price fell 13.3 per cent from $241 to $209. The 1.4GHz and the 1.3GHz chips remain at $209.

The new chips are pin-compatible with the old, so expect notebook manufacturers to begin offering Dothan-based systems immediately, Intel said. ®

Intel Pentium M Pricing
Processor Prev. Price New Price Change
Pentium M 755 (90nm, 2MB L2)   $637  
Pentium M 745 (90nm, 2MB L2)   $423  
Pentium M 735 (90nm, 2MB L2)   $294  
Pentium M 1.7GHz (130nm, 1MB L2) $423 $294 -30.5%
Pentium M 1.6GHz (130nm, 1MB L2) $294 $241 -18%
Pentium M 1.5GHz (130nm, 1MB L2) $241 $209 -13.3%
Pentium M 1.4GHz (130nm, 1MB L2) $209 $209  
Pentium M 1.3GHz (130nm, 1MB L2) $209 $209  

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90nm Dothan to lead consumer Centrino drive
Intel bins 'Extreme' graphics name
Intel completes hi-def audio spec
Intel i855GME to pave way for Centrino 2 next year

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