Cheap chip order may bring low-cost laptops

Intel has produced a low-cost version of its Pentium M processor for an unnamed PC maker, fuelling speculation that cheap laptops...

Intel has produced a low-cost version of its Pentium M processor for an unnamed PC maker, fuelling speculation that cheap laptops could be heading to the UK.

A spokeswoman for the company said, "Sometimes we create one-off [lines of chips] in response to customer requests for specific combinations of features for a target system or customer type. We try to accommodate those requests when we can."

The mobile Pentium M 705 chip has half the cache size of the previous low-end model, the Pentium M 715. It has 1Mbyte instead of 2Mbytes of cache but runs at the same 1.5GHz speed. There are some other architectural differences, but Intel said they do not affect performance.

Intel said the chip would only be available on machines bought through retailers.

The new chip is based on the Banias generation of Pentium Ms, which went on sale last year and have been adopted by the major notebook manufacturers.

Phil Payne, principal analyst at Isham Research, said the processors would fill a niche. "They specifically address the needs of a very small sector of travelling businessmen, and that market has already been well served in the recent past."

However, Payne pointed out that business users have many alternatives to low-end laptops, such as smaller, powerful handheld devices.

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