Computex: Intel Talks 45-nm, Asustek Talks $199 Notebook

Computex Taipei exhibition

And to illustrate that push, Sean Maloney, Intel executive vice president, brought in two notables for help: Jonney Shih, chairman and CEO of Asustek, who unveiled what he called the world's first $199 notebook PC, and Marty Cooper, the former director of research and development for Motorola and the man credited with the invention of the cellular phone in 1973.

Intel's Sean Maloney holds a wafer with 45nm processors in one hand and the world's first cell phone in another to show how far the industry must go before computing can become totally mobile.

Maloney used his keynote to unveil the Intel 3 Series chipsets, formerly code-named "Bearlake." The chipsets, aimed an consumer electronics-like video and sound quality along with new data security and manageability features, are the foundation for Intel's next-generation "Salt Creek" Intel Viiv processor and "Weybridge" Intel vPro processor technologies, Maloney said.

The chipsets support dual-core and quad-core Intel processors, in addition to DDR2 up to 800MHz, or DDR3 memory with data transfer speeds up to 1,333MHz, as well as PCI Express 2.0 for increased graphics performance.

Included in the family are versions with integrated graphics called the Intel G33 and G35 Express chipsets, which support the High Definition Media Interface (HDMI), as well as HD DVD and Blu-ray disc playback. The G35 also supports Microsoft's MS DX10 for 3D graphics applications. The pair also support the Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Aero interfaces, and can connect up to six external hard drives to a PC. There are also P33 and P35 versions of the chipsets for high-performance desktop PCs.

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During his keynote, Maloney held up a motherboard based on the G33 chipset. "This is a thing of beauty," he said. "The only thing more beautiful would be to see 100 more."

With that cue, stagehands opened two sliding doors on the front of the platform from where Maloney delivered his keynote, revealing about 100 similar motherboards from numerous manufactures, mainly Taiwan-based companies.

"Hopefully it will stimulate new demand in the future," said James Huang, product marketing specialist at Amax Information Systems, a Fremont, Calif.-based system builder. "New products always help push the market."

However, Huang said it is both good and bad to see the number of G33-based motherboards displayed all together.

"It's good to have so many choices," he said. "But it only drives down the cost and confuses the customer about which one to buy."

Maloney also said Intel is ready to ramp up with 45-nm technology for producing its next-generation dual-core and quad-core processors. He said that the second half of 2007 will see new 45-nm chip production technology in place in Oregon and Arizona, followed by similar technology ready in Israel in the first half of 2008 and in New Mexico in the second half of 2008.

Maloney then looked at the huge number of computing devices that users are using that he said are not truly mobile, and the huge number of mobile phones with limited compute power. He said Intel's plan is to get mobile devices that are as common as cell phones.

"People have had impossible dreams before," he said.

Then, to illustrate one of those impossible dreams becoming reality, Maloney brought Cooper on stage.

Cooper reminisced that the concept of cellular communication was invented by AT&T, which had earlier announced it had the concept of cellular communication via a "car telephone."

"Can you imagine?" Cooper said. "AT&T locked us to our desks for 100 years. Now they want to lock us into our cars. We decided to be truly mobile."

Asustek CEO Jonney Shih sits alongside a working model of the EasyPC notebook, which he said will launch in August at starting price of $199.

Cooper said that even though it has been nearly 35 years since the invention of the cellular phone, he felt as if his job was unfinished.

"Users want freedom to communicate wherever they are...But when they want to communicate with their computers, they're locked to their desktops. They get a taste of freedom, but they need to use WiFi, and they need to find a hotspot. So we are developing WiMax. Broadband, mobile, very low cost. That is what's going to drive this."

Another big future drive is the ability to increase processor performance while cutting down size and power use -- and pricing, Maloney said. That, he said, is why Intel on Tuesday introduced its new Core 2 Duo Extreme Edition, the first mobile processor to be built using 45-nm technology.

The new processor, expected to be released in the third quarter of 2007, is targeted at high-performance mobile dual-core applications with energy-saving features, making them suitable for notebook PCs.

To illustrate the new processors, Maloney brought Asustek's Shih on stage, where Shih unveiled the EasyPC, a small ultramobile form factor notebook PC that weighs less than 2 pounds. The EasyPC includes a solid-state hard drive instead of a hard drive, and comes with 512 Kbytes of memory and a 2-Gbyte cache. During his demonstration, Shih showed how it could be booted up in about 15 seconds.

The EasyPC is expected to start shipping in August, and will be targeted to such demographic groups as students and the elderly in developing and developed markets, Shih said.

"We want to expand the mobile PC market to the next 1 billion people," he said.