Intel Takes Mobile SpeedStep

Lifts performance, costs for laptops

ALTHOUGH INTEL'S dual-speed processor technology, SpeedStep, comes with the promise of higher performance and extended battery life, acceptance of the new chip may wane as IT managers attempt to justify the benefits against the cost.

Designed specifically for mobile computing, the SpeedStep Pentium III (PIII), formerly known as Geyserville, switches seamlessly from 600 MHz or 650 MHz down to 500 MHz when the battery is engaged, according to officials at Intel. Users who need additional battery-driven processing power can override the system, boosting the PIII speed back to the higher range, an Intel representative confirmed.

"Most mobile users don't need that kind of performance," said Rob Enderle, an analyst at the Giga Information Group, in Santa Clara, Calif. "And it's a performance jump that has to cost extra as [the SpeedStep PIII] is a low-volume part. Besides, most mobiles stay plugged in most of the time."

Intel officials conceded that even Intel's own research shows that mobile computers are plugged in at least 70 percent of the time.

Steve Pintarich, a service delivery coordinator at Computer Sciences Corp.

(CSC), which deploys hundreds of Dell Latitude laptops for companies such as Otis Elevator, said SpeedStep has some benefits.

"The next time I review my standards, I'm going with the SpeedStep models," Pintarich said. "It's the next step, and we're always looking at what's available to give our users the most current technology."

Matthew Nisley, an IT assistant at international trade show organizer Messe Berlin North America, disagreed.

"I don't think we need to buy into that kind of performance," Nisley said. "Our people mainly use mobiles for word processing, email, a little data processing.

They don't need, or expect, high performance."

The adoption of Intel's SpeedStep PIIIs requires no customization to any OEM's existing power or cooling scheme, said Manny Vara, a spokesman for Intel.

"We've made it easy: same chip set (the 440BX) and no having to change the bio-settings," Vara said. "Mobile customers sacrifice a lot compared to PC users, but they don't have to be second-class citizens."

Intel Corp., in Santa Clara, Calif., is at Computer Sciences Corp., in Farmington, Conn., is at Messe Berlin North America, in Fredericksburg, Va., is at

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