Intel to drop older mobile processors

Intel has begun phasing out several of its mobile processors, so that the list will be dominated by the Pentium M processor.

Intel has begun phasing out several of its mobile processors, so that the list will be dominated by the Pentium M processor.

The Mobile Intel Pentium 4 and Mobile Intel Pentium 4-M processors will be gradually taken out of Intel's product line-up over the remainder of 2004.

Only three Mobile Intel Pentium 4 processors that were built on the company's 90-nanometer process technology will be available after November; all other mobile processors in Intel's line-up will be based on the Pentium M architecture.

The Mobile Intel Pentium 4 and Mobile Intel Pentium 4-M are designed for the desktop-replacement notebooks that have captivated consumers over the past year. They are based on the same architecture as the desktop Pentium 4 processor but feature some added characteristics to help manage power consumption.

The brands evolved as Intel switched from the Mobile Pentium III family to the Pentium 4 family, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst with Mercury Research. The Mobile Intel Pentium 4-M was the first mobile processor of the Pentium 4 generation, but its introduction came well after the desktop Pentium 4 first appeared, he said.

During that gap, notebook manufacturers started to use desktop processors in notebooks to fulfill the demands of users who wanted as much performance as possible at the expense of portability and battery life. These so-called desktop-replacement notebooks have been very popular among consumers over the last two years.

Mobile processors are higher-margin products than desktop processors because of the additional features, McCarron said. So Intel designed the Mobile Intel Pentium 4 to fill that need of desktop-replacement buyers while still taking advantage of the higher margins on notebook chips, he said.

But with three premium processor brands with similar sounding names, Intel's mobile processor line-up has been confusing for potential notebook buyers, McCarron said. Intel also sells a Celeron version of the Mobile Intel Pentium 4 chip, adding to the complexity.

The chips slated for retirement in the Mobile Intel Pentium 4 line-up are the 3.2GHz processor with hyperthreading, the 3.06GHz processor with hyperthreading, the 3.06GHz processor, the 2.8GHz processor with hyperthreading, and the 2.8GHz processor.

The Mobile Intel Pentium 4-M processor family will lose all four remaining chips in that line-up, ranging from the 2.6GHz processor to the 2.2GHz processor. The Mobile Intel Celeron processors at 2.5GHz, 2.4GHz, and 2.2GHz will also be discontinued.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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