Intel Launches Next-Gen Notebook Platform With Common Building Blocks For The Channel

Dubbed Core Duos, Intel promises the processors – formerly code-named Yonah – will deliver more computing might but will still operate at a reduced power consumption to ensure a reasonable amount of battery life in the devices.

"It is up to 68 percent faster and consumes 28 percent less power," said Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini at a Thursday afternoon show keynote speech. Intel is ramping production of this CPU line quickly and Otellini said the company will ship 1 million parts in three weeks.

The Napa platform includes the dual-core processor Intel will call Centrino Duo and companion chipset as well as bundled 802.11 wireless capabilities. It also calls for a 667Mhz front-side bus, DDR2 memory, serial ATA, PCI Express I/O, Intel high-definition audio and gigabit Ethernet.

Intel has said the Centrino Duo CPUs will consume less than 3 Watts of power on average, a drop from the typical 4.2 Watts in current notebook designs.

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However, one Intel OEM partner said Intel's first releases are not the lowest power designs available for this processor line. The partner said Intel will ship an ultra-low-power Centrino Duo later this year suitable for ultra-light notebooks. Intel representatives were unavailable for comment at press time.

In addition to being Intel's first dual-core design for portables, the Napa platform also ushers in more options for systems builders. As previously reported by CRN, Intel pushed forward initiatives to improve quality and availability of whitebook components when Napa shipped.

One of the key initiatives was Common Building Blocks (CBB) that seek to standardize key whitebook components, including displays, drives, batteries and adapters. At launch, whitebooks will have four CBBs. The first is a standard screen format for ODMs intended to make sourcing screens for whitebooks from multiple vendors easier, Eric Thompson, Intel's North American marketing manager for the channel, said in an interview earlier this week. The others, aimed at traditional systems builders, are hard drives, optical drives and batteries.

Intel is working to offer additional CBBs later. Systems builders have said they expect some form of chassis customization and interchangeable screens in the future, and it is likely that Intel will roll out a bigger CBB program at its March channel conference.

Standardizing such components has been a hot button for systems builders, who are looking at ways to reduce inventory and better service their customers.

Steve Dallman, Intel&'s senior director of channels, said the chip maker also has secured Centrino duo and chipset supply for its ODMs to ensure that systems builders have Napa products at the same time as the top tier OEMs. Taiwanese ODMs Quanta and ASUS will be showing off available Napa notebooks at its booth, Thompson said.

EliteGroup Computer Systems, Fremont, Calif., said it also has several units available for shipment in February, including two with an integrated Web cam. Those models, as well as a model from ASUS, are built with a removable backplate that lets systems builders configure the notebook from one location. Some whitebook models can be difficult to configure because they require the system builder to open several different areas of the chassis.

ASUS said its current Z62F Napa model is the first time it had designed a whitebook from the ground up for the systems builder channel. Previous models were based on designs it had already made for top-tier OEMs.

OEMs also showed off a variety of models at CES, including large-screen entertainment notebooks from Dell and Toshiba, and models with 14- and 15-inch screens from Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Sony. Lenovo and HP also for the first time showed models with build-in wireless WAN connectivity.

Intel at press time did not release specific information about the Centrino Duo models availability and pricing. But a price list on its Web site indicated that it would ship Yonah dual-core CPUs and one single-core device. The dual-core CPUs available are the 2.16GHz T2600 priced at $637; 2GHz T2550 priced at $423; 1.83GHz T2400 priced at $294; and 1.66GHz T2300 priced at $241. All of these CPUs come with 2MBytes of L2 cache. The single core processor also contains 2MBytes of L2 cache and runs at 1.66GHz for $209. Pricing is for low quantities.