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Update: Intel Outlines New Sonoma Mobile Platform

Intel Wednesday unveiled a new mobile platform that the company promises will significantly increase notebook performance while reducing power consumption.

At the Intel Developer Forum, held in San Jose, Calif., this week, Anand Chandrasekher, vice president and general manager of Intel's Mobile Platforms Group, said the new mobile platform, dubbed Sonoma, will further reduce power consumption in multimedia areas such as audio, as well as add more performance to the card bus and storage. Notebooks based on Sonoma are expected to ship in 2004.

Chandrasekher said Sonoma consists of several new technologies, including Dothan, Intel's next-generation Pentium-M processor, as well as a new chipset dubbed Alviso.

Dothan is manufactured using Intel's 90-nanometer technology and will include 2 Mbytes of on-chip cache. Intel declined to specify clock speeds for the new processor.

The Dothan processor will be paired with a chipset code-named Alvios. The chipset will include a new graphics engine that Chandrasekher said is suitable for gaming applications. It also will support DDR memory, Serial ATA and a PC card based on the emerging PCI Express platform. Called the ExpressCard, the new technology will be "thinner and lighter" than current PC cards, Chandrasekher said.

Audio technology code-named Azalia will provide Dolby 7.1 surround sound, while at the same time providing up to a 50 percent reduction in power consumption when listening to music or watching DVDs, according to Intel.

Intel also said it will include with Sonoma technology that will allow notebook users to seamlessly roam between Wi-Fi networks and next-generation wide-area wireless networks (cellular-based wireless networks). Carriers, companies with remote workers and technology vendors such has Intel have been talking about including this technology in portable systems for more than a year.

The technology promises to bridge the increasing popular Wi-Fi networks with burgeoning wide-area wireless networks so that users can get the higher speeds associated with Wi-Fi when they are close to a hot spot, but then switch to the slower cellular-based networks when they are out of Wi-Fi range.

Chandrasekher said power management will be built into the wireless roaming capabilities, as wireless has been one of the main causes for power drains in portable computers. He demonstrated a technology that senses when a user is looking away from a computer screen and then automatically dims the monitor. Intel provided no launch date for this technology.

Also at the show, Intel announced a new chipset, the 855GME, for its current Centrino mobile platform. This chipset includes better graphics and power management and can reduce screen power consumption from about 5 Watts to as low as 3 Watts, Chandrasekher said. In a demonstration, Chandrasekher showed how the technology reduces contrast and brightness on a display but can readjust it when images require more light.

The new chipset and upcoming platform are efforts to build on the momentum Intel has seen from its current mobile processing lineup. Adoption of Centrino and hot-spot connectivity has already outpaced expectations, Chandrasekher said.

"The product is ramping faster than the two generations of products that preceded it," Chandrasekher said. "With Centrino, the promise was the innovation, and new vectors would drive growth outside the traditional road warrior class of purchasers of notebooks. Centrino has enabled people to take computing where they need it."

In the handheld and handset spaces, Intel said it would work to integrate into its next-generation ARM CPUs MMX, Speed Step technology that is currently used in mobile processors, and integrated quick photo and video capture.

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