Intel bananas over Banias

Timna team's wireless, mobile effort get another airing

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Some more details have emerged regarding Intel's new mobile-oriented CPU, now known by its codename, Banias.

Banias is the chip being developed by the team behind Timna, the integrated system-on-a-chip part the company canned last year.

An Chipzilla spokeslizard admitted to NewsFactor the existence of the processor - though the codename was not confirmed - and reiterated previous comments from the company that it's not based on the Pentium 4 core but has been developed from the ground up.

All of this we've reported before (Intel preps slimline chip for slimline notebooks), after the existence of the chip was hinted at by Don MacDonald, the director of marketing for Intel's Mobile Platform Group, last autumn.

MacDonald claimed Chipzilla's focus will be on implementing SpeedStep-style voltage switching and the use of gated clock transistors, which can be switched off when not needed to conserve power.

What's new - as far as official Intel comment goes - is the emphasis on wireless networking, specifically Bluetooth and 802.11 support.

The timeframe for the new CPU? 2003, said the staffer, contradicting MacDonald's earlier suggestion of a 2002 release date.

When we met MacDonald yesterday, he expressed his confidence that Intel already offers the best mobile processors from both a performance and a power conservation perspective, and would continue to do so. "No one has higher power/performance than Intel," he said.

He also noted that Chipzilla's development efforts centred on building processors to meet the needs of specific segments of the mobile market. How Banias fits into this is unclear. Macdonald doesn't expect significant growth in the mini- and sub-notebook categories (currently targeted by the Low-voltage Mobile PIII and the Ultra-low voltage Mobile PIII, respectively), so you wouldn't expect Intel to concentrate too much on these sectors.

The growth area is what Intel calls the Thin and Light Notebook, but that will surely be served by ever faster P4-based chips, in particular the 0.13 micron Northwood, due Q1 2002.

Another possibility is a version of Intel's ARM-derived Xscale CPU, augmented with on-die wireless and graphics support, aimed at small-form factor handheld wireless terminals. ®


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