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Intel low-power laptop chips get speed boost

New 1.6GHz ULV processors launching today

Intel is expected to refresh its line of laptop chips today with new ultra-low-voltage processors that should make ultraportable laptops operate faster without sacrificing battery life.

Intel currently offers ultra-low-voltage processors for fully functional thin and light laptops, such as Apple's expensive MacBook Air and Lenovo's ThinkPad X300. These chips fit into small spaces and draw less power than conventional laptop chips. The chips are about the size of a dime, or 60 percent smaller than mainstream laptop chips.

Laptops with the new chips should boost the speed of applications while drawing the same power as with the earlier chips. The chips will run at clock speeds of up to 1.6GHz, a speed increase from earlier chips that ran at up to 1.40GHz. Depending on the applications, existing ultraportable laptops with ULV chips run from anywhere between four to seven hours.

"There should be no difference to battery life with these speed bumps," said a source familiar with Intel's plans.

The chips will be available from today, according to the source. They will be a part of Intel's Montevina mobile platform, which bundles mobile laptop chips and wireless capabilities into laptops.

The refresh comes ahead of Intel's planned release of new ultra-low-voltage processors for inexpensive laptops, which are due in the second quarter as part of the updated Montevina Plus platform.

The new chips include the dual-core Intel Core 2 Duo SU9600 chip, which will run at 1.60GHz, include 3MB of cache and draw 10 watts of power, according to an Intel document seen by IDG News Service. It will be priced at $289 for 1,000 units. The single-core Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500 chip will run at 1.40GHz, with 3MB of cache. It will be priced at $262.

Intel is also releasing faster low-voltage (LV) processors as part of the laptop chip refresh. The Intel Core 2 Duo SP9600 dual-core chip will run at 2.53GHz, an improvement from previous LV chips that ran at up to 2.40GHz speed, according to the document. The chip will include 6MB of cache, draw 25 watts of power and be priced at $316.

Also being launched is the SL9600 Intel Core 2 Duo, which will run at 2.13GHz, include 6MB of cache and draw 17 watts of power. It will be priced at $316, according to the document.

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