Intel Has Mobility On Tap for the New Year

Intel plans to make a splash next month’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The chipmaker will show off new mobile platforms, flash memory and high-speed wireless networking products at the giant consumer electronics show.

Because of CES’s focus on consumer products, the devices on display will have a more mass-market appeal, but there will be some for business users and power users as well. Expect to see more products in the Penryn family on display, as they are due in the first quarter of 2008. Also, Skulltrail, a platform for enthusiasts and gamers, will make its debut.

Similar to AMD’s recently announced Spider platform, Skulltrail is a dual processor system with support for four high performance video cards running in parallel, which should be more than enough to make any hardcore gamer happy.

Business users will also be interested in the refresh of Santa Rosa, the company’s mobile platform. Santa Rosa, the codename for what became Centrino Pro, is being updated to the new Penryn technology, which runs cooler and slightly faster thanks to the high k/metal gate technology.

It will also feature improved graphics and support for HD DVD and Blu-ray high definition playback. But the real appeal is Penryn’s lower power draw. “Energy efficiency is always something important to mobile products, so this is a big deal, to get Penryn in there. It also gives us a performance boost and you can never go wrong to have more performance,” Connie Brown, a spokesperson for Intel, said.

At last year’s show, CEO Paul Otellini said that mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and ultra mobile PCs (UMPCs) would be an important part of Intel’s future. One year later, the company will deliver. Intel will introduce the new Menlow mobile platform, which consists of a processor developed under the codename Silverthorne and a chipset called Poulsbo.

The Menlow platform is targeted at MIDs and UMPCs using Intel x86 microarchitecture. While based on the x86 technology, Brown said it’s a ground-up design.

“Years ago we would take desktop processors and dumb them down and shove them into a mobile device,” she said. “When we went down the Centrino route, we built that from the ground up for mobile. We did the same thing with Silverthorne rather than take something else and try to modify it to fit in to a design.”

Intel expects third parties to show off Menlow-based products, including but not limited to Quanta, Aigo, Clarion and Lenovo. The company expects Menlow products to reach market in the first half of 2008.

Intel will also demonstrate the smallest NAND  flash memory products ever unveiled, the Z-P140 PATA SSD. These 2GB and 4GB drives are smaller than a penny and weigh less than a drop of water. Brown said they will be used in Menlow products, among other places.

Finally, Intel will show off Mobile WiMAX, the wireless broadband protocol based on the IEEE 802.16e industry specification. Intel plans to offer integrated Wi-Fi/WiMAX as an option with next-generation Intel Centrino processor technology for laptops next year. The company’s mobile WiMAX silicon will be available in early 2008.

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