As high-performance computing moves beyond the PC, Intel Corp. is preparing for new markets by rolling out general-purpose embedded Celeron processors and tailoring its MMX-enhanced Pentium chips to specialized automotive applications.
While it hasn't taken its eye off its core PC business, Intel's processor-modification efforts offer further proof that it's laying a strategy to head off its competitors in the embedded-RISC-processor camp.
"At the high-performance end of the market, people are going to continue to move more toward higher-level solutions on boards and in hardware systems and platforms," said Joe Jensen, director of Intel's Embedded Microcomputer Division in Chandler, Ariz.
To address this trend, Intel has devised its Celeron CPU family to meet such applications as communications, transaction terminals, and industrial computing.
"We've also seen a trend emerging where people are really embracing Windows NT in the embedded space for these platforms, which can be addressed by the high-performance capabilities of the Celeron," Jensen said.
Intel has pledged long-term support for its new 300- and 366-MHz Celeron processors, in keeping with the longer product life cycles associated with such markets. In addition, the company will provide longer support for associated graphics, flash memory, bridge chips, and networking components. To support the device through software, Intel is offering a set of drivers for Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE and VxWorks operating systems.
The Celeron chips are available in Intel's Socket 370 scalable package and use the same software code as the Pentium. Available now, the 300-MHz embedded Celeron is priced at $61 in 1,000-piece lots; the 366-MHz version costs $101.
Windows CE also forms the foundation for Intel's new 166-MHz Pentium with MMX, designed for the
temperature extremes of automotive applications. Intel has adapted the Pentium and associated 430TX chipset from the mobile PC, qualifying them to run at temperatures of -40??C to 80??C.
Intel anticipates that OEMs will connect GPS and Control Area Network devices to the 430TX's parallel-port interface, giving the driver more access to the car's basic functions. Clarion Corp.'s second-generation AutoPC has opted for the Pentium over Hitachi's SH-3 RISC processor, according to Patrick Johnson, director of Intel's in-car computing operation in Chandler.
The new Pentium features a high-temperature, low-profile plastic BGA package especially designed for the space constraints of a dashboard-mounted PC. The 166-MHz Pentium with MMX and the 430TX will ship in the second quarter for $49.50 and $26, respectively.