Intel's Rich Creek 2 To Debut In Laptops Next Week

A group of notebooks powered by Intel's new Rich Creek 2 mobile motherboard, designed to give system builders' the muscle to go head to head against computer giants like Dell in the notebook market, will be featured at next week's Intel Solutions Summit.

Seneca Data of Syracuse New York will be one of several system builder giants showing off preproduction of Rich Creek 2 platform notebooks at the partner conference, which starts Sunday in Las Vegas. System builders said Rich Creek 2 provides for the first time the same kind of Intel standard motherboard that powered huge growth in both the desktop and server markets for them. The new Rich Creek 2 based systems are slated to ship at the end of June or in early July. Seneca for its part is hoping to break the sub -$800 price point with a Rich Creek 2 business class system that carries a full three year warranty.

Seneca, in fact, plans to show a Rich Creek 2-based notebook at the Intel Solultions Summit powered by Intel's 2.5 Ghz Core 2 Duo processor, said Steve Maser, vice president of product development and marketing for Seneca. What's more, Seneca intends to raffle off at the show the first two Rich Creek 2 platform notebooks scheduled to come off the production line, said Maser. He said that full-fledged systems are slated to be manufactured at the end of the second quarter or early in the third quarter, said Maser.

The Rich Creek 2 platform marks the first time Intel has put its own reference design muscle behind a mobile motherboard that bears its own name. System builders predicted that Rich Creek 2 combined with standards-based enclosures, multiple options for displays and drives will for the first time give system builders the ability to deliver business class notebooks with more bang for the buck than computer makers like Hewlett Packard, Lenovo and Acer.

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"Rich Creek 2 gives us the ability to build custom notebooks just like we do desktops," said Maser. "This is the first time that the system builder community has been able to build a notebook from the ground up that is 100 percent build to order. Now we can compete (against larger computer makers) and build exactly what the customer wants."

Next: A Defining Moment for System Builders

Maser says Rich Creek 2 marks a turning point in what has been a multi-year effort by Intel to try to provide system builders with standards-based ingredients to compete more ferociously against giant computer manufacturers in the fast growing notebook segment.

"We are at a key defining moment where Intel is putting their muscle behind a (build to order notebook mobile motherboard)," said Maser. "I think we could see growth similar to what we experienced with the desktop in the mid-90s and servers in early 2000." He said the $160 million Seneca only captured three percent of its total sales from notebooks last year. That should shoot up to 7 percent of total sales by the end of this year as a result of Rich Creek 2, said Maser. "If we could get that to 20 percent of the business in three years we'd be in real good shape," he said.

Up until now, many system builders have opted to stay out of the custom notebook market because they lacked the standards-based ingredients to compete effectively against large computer makers. Many have complanied that there simply is not the same robust ecosystem to allow them to innovate against computer giants.

Maser, for his part, sees that changing with Rich Creek 2. He predicts that system builders will now be able to provide $800 to $1,000 business notebook with a three-year-warranty that packs more bang for the buck than those offered by larger players like Dell.

The serviceability benefits of the Rich Creek 2 mobile motherboard are "huge" for system builders, said Maser. "It's an Intel board," he said, noting it provides the flexibility that allows system builders to immediately swap out a board. That has not been the case with the current crop of motherboard options for whitebook builders. He said it could take days or even weeks to get a mother board replacement.

Maser said the system builder community needs to rise to the Rich Creek 2 occasion and start aggressively selling innovative, powerful business class notebooks rather than sub-$500 consumer class notebooks. "We need to sell our integration, service, support, installation, customization and value-added competence," he said. "We need to embrace that on the notebook side and not roll over and play dead. Don't automatically assume you can't compete!"

"The overall VAR community needs to go out and embrace these custom, build to order notebooks so we can own the entire business," said Maser.