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3/7/2006
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Intel Unveils Next Mobile Platform

Intel's new technology, code-named Robson, promises system boots that take half the time of notebooks on the market today and application launches that are five times as fast with its NAND flash memory.

Intel's next-generation mobile platform will use flash memory to speed up system boots and application launch in notebooks.

Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Mobility Group, said Intel's next platform for notebooks, code named Santa Rosa and expected to be available in systems in 2007, attempts to provide some of the immediate response capabilities for mobile computing that people have come to expect from consumer electronics devices.

"We need to have devices that boot very, very rapidly the same way that we get off the plane and immediately get a cell phone signal," he said at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco Tuesday.

Mobile solution providers that service verticals have long lamented the slow boot time of Windows, even after it comes out of sleep mode. To save power, those solution providers have said, the system needs to be able to power down or go into sleep mode when not in use, but also needs to wake up immediately when a worker needs to access information.

Intel's new technology, code-named Robson, promises boot ups that take half the time of notebooks on the market today and application launches that are five times as fast with its NAND flash memory, said Maloney.

Maloney demonstrated a demo system with 256 Mbytes NAND onboard but it would be up to notebook system makers to choose how much they ultimately provided. Maloney believes it would be a matter of cost. "At some point you could have a whole OS running on there but you would need a lot more memory."

The Santa Rosa platform will support Intel's next-generation mobile CPUs, code named Merom. Those CPUs will be first available in the second half and will plug into the existing socket for today's Napa mobile platform.

The dual-core Merom CPUs promise faster processing power while keeping battery power and thermal consistent with current Intel mobile chips. They are based on Intel's next-generation core microarchitecture formally unveiled earlier Tuesday at IDF.

Maloney said Intel also will support 802.11n, Wi-Fi with MIMO, in the Santa Rosa platform. Maloney also showed off a radio that will support Wi-Fi and the emerging Wi-Max broadband wireless standard. Intel expects to have this available in the second half of the year.

Maloney said Intel is also investigating 3G support, but not ready to make any announcements at this time. 3G, he said, is more complicated because there are a number of standards that must be supported in the United States. In the United States, notebook makers such as Hewlett-Packard and IBM are already integrating support for 3G wireless, yet another wireless standard and one that is available today from cellular carriers.

At the show, Intel also announced an ultramobile platform for which it expects to squeeze down components so that users will still have a remote device but can access Web content more effectively than available on today's smart phones. Maloney expects vendors to experiment widely with the form factor but early models looked like a small tablet PC.

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