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Intel's Dothan set for early May introduction

Pentium M reaches 90-nanometre level

Intel will introduce its new Dothan mobile processor at a launch event in San Francisco on May 10, the company announced yesterday.

Dothan is the code name for the 90-nanometre version of the Pentium M processor, first introduced under the Banias code name last year. The Pentium M, along with a mobile chipset and a wireless Internet chip, makes up Intel's Centrino mobile package for notebooks.

Intel doubled the amount of Level 2 cache that comes with Dothan to 2MB. Cache is used to store frequently accessed data close to the processor in order to reduce the time needed to fetch that data and run it through the processor.

The jump to a 90-nanometre process technology allows Intel to decrease the size of the transistors on the chip. This means the company can add more transistors to improve performance without having to increase the size of the chip.

Intel has already shipped the Prescott Pentium 4, its first 90-nanometer processor for desktop PCs. That chip actually consumed more power than its Northwood predecessor, and there are some concerns that Dothan might duplicate that power consumption increase due to the additional cache as well as the excess power leakage characteristic of chips made on the 90-nanometre process generation.

Power consumption is a much more important consideration for notebook designers since both battery life and mobility are affected by chips that consume excess power.

Anand Chandrasekher, vice president and general manager of Intel's mobile processor business, has said Dothan will provide the same amount of battery life as the current Banias Pentium M chips with better performance.

The Banias Pentium M processor was a good example of well-managed power consumption, and Intel will probably employ similar and more sophisticated management techniques to deal with the power consumed by Dothan's larger cache and possible current leakage, McCarron said.

Later this year, Intel will pair Dothan with the Alviso chipset and new dual-band wireless Internet chips to create Sonoma, the code name for the next generation Centrino platform. Alviso consumes less power than current Intel mobile chipsets, and Sonoma will also include technology that helps reduce the amount of power consumed by a notebook's display.


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