Intel develops processor similar to MacBook Air chip

Intel has shrunk another processor 60 percent for use in ultrathin laptops, possibly creating competition for Apple's MacBook Air.

Intel has shrunk another processor that will be incorporated into new ultrathin laptops, possibly creating competition for the processor it developed for the MacBook Air ultrathin laptop.

Laptop vendors Lenovo and Fujitsu will include Intel's low-voltage Core 2 Duo SL7100 LV chip in their upcoming laptops, which are expected to hit the market soon.

Like the Core 2 Duo processor specially developed for Apple's MacBook Air notebook, Intel shrunk the new processor to make it 60 percent smaller than standard-sized processors belonging to Intel's Merom family, according to Connie Brown, an Intel spokeswoman. The chip is manufactured using the 65-nanometer process, like other Merom processors.

Though the shrink size is the same, the SL7100 LV chip consumes less power and operates at a slower speed. It will operate at 1.2GHz, with 4M bytes of cache. It uses 12 watts of power, according to processor details provided by Intel. The Core 2 Duo processor for MacBook Air uses 20 watts of power, while operating at 1.6GHz to 1.8GHz.

The new processor was developed independently of the MacBook Air processor, Brown said. "These [SL7100 LV processors] are similar but not identical to the Apple processor," Brown said. The MacBook Air processor was specially developed to meet Apple's needs and is also available to other PC makers, Brown said.

Lenovo will include the Core 2 Duo SL7100 LV processor in a new notebook, according to specifications published on the Best Buy Web site, which lists specifications of 2G bytes of RAM, a 64G-byte solid-state drive and a 13.3-inch screen. The laptop is the ThinkPad X300, according to posts at numerous tech-enthusiast Web sites.

Declining to comment on the ThinkPad X300 posts, Lenovo spokesman Raymond Gorman said in an e-mail that the company will be "announcing a new ThinkPad by the end of the first quarter that we believe will continue our tradition of innovation and function."

Fujitsu will include the SL7100 LV in its ultraportable LifeBook P8010 laptop, which includes a 12.1-inch screen, a DVD-RW drive, and wireless and wired networking, according to a document filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. The laptop is due to ship in the U.S. this month and will be available starting at US$1,699 on Fujitsu's Web site starting Tuesday, according to a company spokeswoman.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs called Intel's development of the Core 2 Duo chip for its MacBook Air an engineering feat during a keynote at the Macworld Conference and Expo in January.

Intel has publicly talked about developing chips with smaller form factors, including at the Intel Developer Forum last year, when it said it would shrink chips by up to 60 percent for its next-generation Montevina mobile platform, which will include the new Penryn processors manufactured using the 45-nm process.

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service

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