New Centrino Tech Headed for Desktops, Too

May 11, 2007

Part of the significance of Intel's new mobile platform is that it will also allow manufacturers to design newer, more powerful, smaller form factor desktop PCs as well.

Intel has long expressed interest in developing products for a broad range of computing devices. While the new Centrino Duo and Pro will be primarily used for notebooks, Claudine Mangano, an Intel spokeswoman, confirmed that aspects of the next-generation mobile technology will also find their way into smaller, cooler, and quieter desktops very soon.

"…These new desktop systems will not brand or use 'Centrino Duo' per se, but [use] a combination of the new mobile technologies," Mangano said, such as the processor, chipset, and other optional components.

"In addition to using the Intel Core 2 Duo processor and - the - Mobile Intel GM965 Express Chipset for better graphics, the desktop PCs will bring options for 802.11n wireless support, Intel Viiv processor technology, and Intel Turbo Memory," Mangano added.

She said that while the actual implementation will be dependant on the OEM/ODM specifications for their respective system builds, a number of new consumer desktops designs are already underway.

According to Intel, AOpen's new Mini PC Duo uses aspects of its new mobile technology, as do a host of other small form factor desktop PCs from companies like MetalWare, Niveus Media, MSI, and Pelham Sloane.

The system prices will vary based on configuration, but Intel said that most will start around the $1,000 mark. "Over the coming months, you'll also see a number of new designs from other top manufacturers," Mangano said.

It's all part of a paradigm shift from static hardware to mobility in the PC industry, according to IDC analyst, Richard Shim. "It's a very telling tale of the times," he said, referring to what's now known as mobile on desktop movement (MoDT) - or what some IDC analysts call "mobile attrition."

"Back in the day, it was desktop parts used in mobile platforms," Shim explained. "That was in order to get to certain price points."

But as the world shifts to mobility, the industry is now seeing the dominance of notebooks, Shim said. Because manufacturers are getting into thinner and thinner designs and having to deal with thermal issues, using mobile technology in desktop PCs is beginning to make more and more sense - especially when one considers today's favorable price points.

"Today, in the desktop world, you need more flexibility in style and in design. A notebook processor gives you that flexibility," Shim said.

And while IDC says the small form factor desktop market is still relatively small, Shim said that could very well change in the future, especially when one considers Apple's success with its mini and iMac lines.

"Why did Apple shift to Intel in the first place? They wanted a smaller processor to fit into the designs they already had. Basically, they needed more headroom than they had with Power PC processors," Shim said.

For it's own part, Apple is expected to refresh its Macbook Pro line with Intel's 'Santa Rosa' platform as early as next month. And with newer, possibly redesigned versions of its mini and iMac lines, the company could very well be using aspects of Intel's new mobile technology as well. Apple did not return calls for comment.

Copyright 2007 by Ziff Davis Media, Distributed by United Press International

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