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Windows PC makers to use MacBook Air chips

Intel processor will make thinner ultraportables

The processor developed by Intel for Apple's MacBook Air laptop will soon be used by other PC vendors in Windows systems.

Two PC makers will use the miniaturised Intel Core 2 Duo processors used by Apple in MacBook Air, said a source familiar with Intel's plans. Windows systems powered by the chips will be released soon, the source said.

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Apple MacBook Air laptop review

The companies' names weren't revealed, but the chip could bring smaller and lighter notebooks that could compete in size and performance with the ultra-thin MacBook Air, which weighs 1.3Kg and measures 4mm at its thinnest part and 19mm at its thickest part.

Apple asked Intel to develop powerful chips for MacBook Air that are 60 percent smaller than the normal size, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said during a keynote address at the Macworld Conference and Expo earlier this month. Intel obliged, which led to the development of smaller Core 2 Duo processors.

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"All you have to do is check out the size and shape of the MacBook Air to see what the shrink enables - smaller, lighter form factors that were physically not possible before," said Connie Brown, an Intel spokeswoman.

The MacBook Air comes with miniaturized Intel Core 2 Duo processors running at either 1.6Ghz or 1.8GHz, with the Intel 965GMS chipset and integrated graphics. Manufactured using the 65nm process, the chips belong to Intel's Merom family of processors.

Intel shrunk the CPU and chipset for a 60 percent reduction in total footprint to comparable Merom processors, Brown said. While delivering similar performance, the chips use 20 watts of power, lower than comparable Merom chips that use 35 watts.

The miniaturized chip was designed for Apple, but other PC makers can use it, Brown said.

PC manufacturers could adopt the miniaturized Merom CPU in mini desktops or subnotebooks, but the Mac OS X Leopard operating system gives MacBook Air an advantage, said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst with Insight 64. Other systems could be based on Windows or Linux.

Apple also has a leg up in product design, which potential MacBook Air competitors will find hard to emulate, Brookwood said.

"What has resulted from Apple's move to Intel chips is its forcing other OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] to pay more attention to the styling of their systems, which is clearly an advantage for users," Brookwood said.

This was the first time Intel developed a small form-factor chip from a normal-sized mobile processor, Brown said.

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