Intel Dumps Rich Creek 2 Whitebooks For Peggy's Cove

Intel has decided to phase out its Rich Creek 2 custom notebook initiative, introduced last spring as part of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip giant's rollout of its Centrino 2 mobile platform, according to Steve Maser, vice president of product development and marketing at Seneca Data.

"Once Rich Creek 2 transitions out it will be gone," Maser said. Intel told partners in late December that it would continue to support Rich Creek 2 systems but would not continue to develop the platform, a decision that coincided with Intel's shuttering of its Channel Platform Group.

Seneca Data's Nexlink Carbon 4200 is the new face of Intel's whitebook program.

An Intel spokesperson said in mid-December that the Rich Creek 2 platform would "continue to ramp as planned."

Seneca, based in North Syracuse, N.Y., launched two new 15-inch Nexlink Carbon notebooks Monday based on a mobile platform, code-named Peggy's Cove, Intel's latest attempt to develop a North American whitebook ecosystem. Over the years, that's proven to be a tall order for Intel -- the chip giant has tested a series of platforms and initiatives to jump-start a whitebook channel that would theoretically compete with Tier 1 notebook manufacturers the way makers of custom desktops and servers do.

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But Intel's whitebook agenda has gone forward in fits and starts. Rich Creek 2 is only the latest program that's been reeled back in as the chip maker tries another approach with partners. The Verified By Intel program for validating notebook components for its whitebook channel was also reeled in considerably about 17 months ago.

Seneca was one of three partners in Intel's pilot program for Rich Creek 2, which was formally launched at last April's Intel Solutions Summit (ISS) for North American channel partners. At this year's ISS being held in Las Vegas this week, Seneca is the sole system integrator on board with the new Peggy's Cove initiative and used the forum Monday to launch its pair of Nexlink Carbon notebooks.

Next: Nexlink Carbon Specs

The Nexlink Carbon 4200 and 4225 will begin shipping in the second quarter of this year, Maser said. Those units will be priced in the $750 to $850 range, a far cry from Rich Creek 2-based Nexlink Carbon notebooks priced north of $1,000.

"This next-generation platform is really a step in the right direction," Maser said. "Rich Creek 2 was our first and only attempt to make a notebook similar to a desktop. You could build it from the ground up, there was lots of room for customization, etc... The long and the short of it was that once people got their hands on it, from our point of view, it was a great product.

"But for the average Joe VAR, when you've got 40 or 50 screws that are the size of the tip of your pencil, it was difficult to build out in volume," Maser said. "So for the broad channel, the concept was there but it didn't pan out. I'm actually sad to see it go."

The media were not invited to this year's ISS. An Intel spokesperson explained the decision as a "cost-cutting measure." She also confirmed that Intel is working with Seneca Data on the next stage of the chip giant's whitebook agenda but would not specify the Peggy's Cove platform by name.

Maser said Peggy's Cove comes in two flavors, with a 15.4-inch platform that Seneca is using in both the new Nexlink Carbon 4000 series notebooks and a 13.3-inch variant as well. Intel is also developing a third whitebook platform, code-named Bianca, that is also geared for 13-inch systems, he said.

Seneca has added a shock-detecting accelerometer, a fingerprint


and other features to its new Nexlink Carbon notebooks.

The Nexlink Carbon 4200 has a Core 2 Duo mobile processor and Intel's 4500MHD graphics media accelerator. The 4225 is also based on Centrino 2 hardware but swaps out the Intel-made integrated graphics chip for Nvidia's GeForce 9300M unit. Both notebooks have added features to make them stand out from the crowd, Maser said.

"No other whitebook has an accelerometer, which detects a drop or a shock and parks the hard disk to prevent data loss. It also works to detect unauthorized movement of the notebook, as in a theft, and an alarm goes off," he said. Other features include a trap-door Web cam, slot disk drive and built-in fingerprint reader.

Seneca is offering its own partners the choice of a bare-bones, private label, co-branded or Nexlink branded systems. The notebooks have a one-year depot and a one-year LCD warranty out of the box.

Equus Computing, which along with Fremont, Calif.-based distributor ASI was an initial partner in the Rich Creek 2 program, does not seem to be building notebooks based on Peggy's Cove or Bianca. But Minneapolis-based Equus has already released its first netbook, the 8.9-inch Nobi Convertible, based on Intel's Classmate design and built around a 1.6GHz Atom N270 processor.