Friday, May 07, 2004

My laptop becomes a little outdated

Intel is apparently about to release some new versions of the Pentium M. The previous fastest version ran at 1.7GHz, and the fastest version is now 2.0 GHz. (A rough rule of thumb is that a Pentium M gives equivalent performance to a Pentium 4 that is 50% faster in terms of clock speed, so we are talking equivalence to something like a 3.0GHz Pentium 4). There is also a 1.8GHz version and a new 1.7GHz version with physically smaller components than the old version. My laptop has a Pentium M at 1.4GHz, and this clock speed is probably not going to be common for very much longer, at least on relatively high end full size laptops.

This boosting of the range at the high speed end follows Intels announcement of improved Pentium M and Celeron M processors at the low voltage end about a month ago. In particular, there is a 1.1GHz Ultra Low voltage version. Presumably Sony will release a speed bumped version of the drool inducing TR series laptop with the new chip before long. It would be be nice if Sony could offer that machine with a larger hard drive as well at the same time (it presently tops out at 40GHz), but that depends on how quickly Toshiba can come up with a suitable drive. The TR series laptop uses a 1.8 inch hard drive sourced from Toshiba rather than the 2.5 inch drives that are common in most laptops. (Desktop machines normally use 3.5 inch drives). This is the same drive that Apple uses in the standard iPod. It is not a coincidence that the top of the line iPod also has 40Gbyte capacity. (The iPod mini uses a 1 inch drive sourced from Hitachi, that maxes out at 4Gbytes).

And Intel is talking about abandoning the Pentium 4 and using the Pentium M core as the basis for its next generation of 32 bit desktop processors. I suppose that means our computers will be quieter, if nothing else.

Update: Yes, Dell are offering versions of the Inspiron 8600 (which is what I have) with clock speeds of up to 2.0GHz. The 1.4GHz (which is what I have) is still on offer for now, but we will see how long it lasts.

Further Update: And here is the updated Sony TR series (in this case the TR-5), which looks Japan only for now. Sony seem to be selling a narrower range of models in Europe, but I am guessing we will see a model with the 1.1GHz CPU, 802.11a/b/g wireless and an inbuilt DVD writer as standard here before long.

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