SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The race to deliver the world's first 0.13-micron microprocessors is heating up, particularly in the notebook PCs arena. But the new processor technology is coming at an inopportune time for suppliers as the current slowdown in desktop PCs begins to spread into the notebook space, according to analysts.
At next week's TechX NY trade show in New York (June 26-28), Intel Corp. and Transmeta Corp. plan to separately unveil their first, x86-based microprocessor lines, based on 0.13-micron design rules.
Initially geared for notebooks and related portable products, Intel's code-named Tualatin processor line will deliver speeds in excess of 1 GHz, according to the company.
Intel's new chip line is a 0.13-micron version of the Pentium III processor line, which until now has been fabricated with 0.18-micron processes. The new mobile central processing unit will be known as the "Pentium III processor-M," said Intel today in annoucing plans to show the new CPU at TechX NY next week.
Also at the show next week, Transmeta plans to roll out its first--and long-expected--low-power processors based on 0.13-micron technology (see June 13 story ).
Remaining on the sidelines is Advanced Micro Devices Inc., which will not roll out its 0.13-micron processors until late-2001 or early-2002. Recently, AMD announced its new processor line for notebook PCs based on 0.18-micron technology.
Nonetheless, AMD, Intel and Transmeta have already been beaten to the punch. Two weeks ago, Taiwan's Via Technologies Inc. announced the world's first 0.13-micron processor line for notebooks and desktops (see June 5 story ).
In any case, the market is still wide open for processor vendors in the notebook and portable space. But these announcements also come at a time when suppliers are struggling with the slowdown in the PC industry.
The PC industry is not only slowing but falling in terms of unit shipments in the U.S. market, according to a recent forecast by International Data Corp. The research firm recently cut its forecast for the worldwide and U.S. shipments, and it is now predicting that unit shipments will fall for the first time ever in the United States (see June 6 story ).
While the desktop PC market has been sluggish since late last year, the notebook computer segment seemed relatively healthy--this is until recently.
Some industry executives and observers believe that the notebook PC market is now slipping into the slump. During a conference call with analysts on Thursday, executives from Transmeta warned that the slowdown in the PC market has spread into the notebooks space.
One of Transmeta's key customers--reportedly Toshiba Corp. of Japan--has experienced a slowdown worldwide, said executives. Customers "are seeing a slowdown in the notebook market," said Mark Allen, president and CEO of Transmeta, during the conference call.
Despite a series of high-profile design wins in recent weeks, Transmeta on Wednesday said it was cutting its outlook and lowering revenue estimates for the current quarter by 40-to-45% due to weak demand for processors inportable computer systems technology (see June 20 story ).
The company also faces new competitive threats, including the 0.13-micron Pentium III processor-M from Intel. The central processing unit--code-named Tualatin--has been expected for months. For some time, Intel has been quietly sampling its first products, based on the company's 0.13-micron process technology (see May 16 story ).
Sources believe that Intel has already shipped a 1.13-GHz version of the Tualatin line designed for the desktop PC market.
Now, the Santa Clara chip giant is gearing up for notebooks. At present, Intel offers two portable processor lines based on 0.18-micron design rules, including the Pentium III and Celeron family of products. The high-end Pentium III for portable applications currently runs at 1 GHz, while the Celeron goes to up 800 MHz.
Intel did not elaborate on the specifics of its new portable chips. Equipped with copper-interconnects, power management, and other advanced features, the code-named Tualatin processor family for portables from Intel will deliver speeds in excess of 1 GHz, the company said today.
Based on 0.13-micron design rules and copper-interconnects, the new chip features a new power management technology, enabling a new breed of thinner, lighter notebooks.
"With the combination of performance, enhanced power management technologies and a scaleable new chip set architecture, the new mobile Pentium III processor-M will power a wave of new systems featuring great performance, long battery life, small size and wireless communications," said Frank Spindler, vice president and general manager of Intel's Mobile Platforms Group.
The 0.13-micron mobile processor is already being shipped to customers in volume quantities, according to Intel, which said it plans to officially launch the Pentium processor-M product in the third quarter.