Cooler-running Notebooks from HP, Toshiba, et al.
Krause - May 10, 2000
April 18, 2000 [Source: AMD press release]-- AMD announced the Mobile
AMD-K6-III+ and Mobile AMD-K6-2+ processor families with speeds up to
500MHz. Hewlett-Packard has chosen the 475MHz Mobile AMD-K6-2+ processor
to power its Pavilion N3215 notebook PC, and Toshiba has chosen these
processors for its Tecra and Portege The first mobile devices to be manufactured
on AMD's advanced 0.18 micron technology, these processors support a number
of notable features including high-speed on-chip L2 cache, AMD's innovative
PowerNow! battery saving technology and an enhanced implementation of
AMD's 3DNow! instruction set with digital signal processing (DSP) instructions.
April 17, 2000 [Source: Toshiba press release] - Demonstrating its engineering
dominance in the computing market, Toshiba America Information Systems,
Inc. (TAIS), Computer Systems Group (CSG) announced the .80-inch-thin
Portg 3440CT portable computer with Super Cooling technology. A milestone
in thermodynamic design, Toshiba's Super Cooling enables increased performance
levels in ultra-thin designs.
1, 2000 - Phoenix Technologies Ltd., a leading BIOS manufacturer, announced
that PowerSuite 4.0 will allow notebooks to extend battery life by providing
the ability to control both the speed and the voltage level of the notebook's
CPU. The first products to use this will be part of Sony's VAIO product
line. Early testing indicated battery life extension of around 18% when
running one set of tests.
Although Intel currently controls the corporate notebook market, AMD is
winning in the retail space. This will help it gain a larger foothold
in Corporate America. In addition to the product wins for AMD, the PowerNow!
technology is another example of AMD taking the fight to Intel.
Intel announced its SpeedStep technology, seemingly in response to the
long-awaited Transmeta unveiling. The market welcomed the idea of being
able to increase notebook battery life, even if the products aren't shipping
yet. (Although the focus here is on AMD, Intel's SpeedStep technology
benefits the consumer, too.) AMD has been a half-step behind Intel in
some of its announcements relative to technology and marketing, that is
a lot closer than they were three years ago, and a trend curve might show
them passing Intel eventually.
We see HP and Toshiba as being winners here, as well. (Assuming the PowerNow!
chips work as promised.) Although the PowerNow! technology will not be
available until mid-year due to the need for a new BIOS and motherboard,
we expect these products to sell well.
doesn't want a notebook with much longer battery life? Battery life is
the third leg of a notebook feature trinity/Holy Grail: large screen,
lightweight, and long battery life. Previously, increasing battery life
meant beefing up the battery, which meant increased weight, this announcement
helps mitigate that. We believe that highly mobile users will be willing
to give up a little performance in exchange for much longer usage. We
expect Compaq will eventually follow suit for its Presario and "Notebook
100" lines, leaving only Dell as an Intel holdout.
In addition to the hardware technologies described, the new BIOS technology
from Phoenix will add yet another way to help users conserve power and
battery life. Although Phoenix has now made an investment in Transmeta
(CPU developer and new home of Linux creator Linus Torvalds), the new
BIOS will help Intel and AMD compete against one of Transmeta's big selling
points. There is a possibility that Phoenix will only let Transmeta use
the new BIOS, but we think that highly unlikely.
cannot resist making a comment on Toshiba's "milestone Super Cooling"
technology: as best we can tell, it's just a heat pipe. Heat pipes have
been around since the 1960's, and have been tried in computers before,
along with other types of ebullition (i.e., boiling) cooling. They are
terrific at cooling, but they ain't new. While we acknowledge that Toshiba
has probably made a good choice of cooling technologies, calling it a
milestone is not unlike calling Windows 98 a milestone.
"Road warriors", i.e., users who spend a lot of time away from AC power,
will want to check out these products. The AMD chips will be aimed at
the lower-price notebooks initially, and corporate users generally prefer
more bells and whistles, but we believe some businesses will be looking
at stretching their IT budgets, and this price-point may be where they
want to be.
As with any new technology (we mean the PowerNow!, not the "Super Cooling",
of course), users should make sure that they the test the hardware adequately
before making a major commitment to large quantities of these units. Although
Intel has had its own problems, AMD is not perfect.
the system requirements for Windows 2000, we do not currently recommend
users purchase these notebooks with Win2K pre-loaded. If you must have
something more robust than Windows 98, then Windows NT 4.0 should be considered
before Win2K. (Users of PowerSuite 4.0 excluded - it is currently only
compatible with Win 9x and Windows 2000.)
recommending that users look for PowerSuite 4.0 in their notebooks, we
suggest waiting until one of the major notebook manufacturers (e.g.,Compaq,
Toshiba, Dell) adopts it. Phoenix is a quality BIOS developer, but we
generally advise some caution with any new technology.