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  • SharkyForums.Com - Print: The Future of the Mobile Market

    The Future of the Mobile Market
    By Arcadian November 28, 2000, 07:53 PM

    Hi, it's me, Arcadian.

    I wanted to start another technical discussion this week (and finally move off the topic of Pentium 4 ). So I decided to concentrate on the mobile market, something that usually isn't discussed much here.

    Let's start by considering current mobile contenders. Most considerably, Intel rules the mobile arena with their Pentium III and Celeron mobile processors. AMD still has K6-2 based laptops out there, but for the most part, they are slipping in this market.

    Now for the list of future contenders. Let's start with a surprise.

    1) VIA's Cyrix III.
    This processor almost certainly underperforms in the desktop world. While Windows scores are decent, games like Quake III perform at half the speed of Celeron. However, on a laptop, they have the ability to really give a solid low cost solution. They even come in 600MHz versions, which are at least as fast as AMD's K6-2 mobile processors. What are people's opinions on this? Would you be interested in a Cyrix III powered laptop in the $700-$1000 range? Also, cooling will be less of an issue here, since Cyrix III processors sometimes do not require a fan. You may even expect significant battery life out of here. So what's the opinion?

    2) Intel Coppermine based Celeron.
    One of the things that is shocking about mobile Celerons is that they run on a 100MHz front side bus. Not only that, but they come in speeds up to 700MHz. Not bad for some serious mobile power. The only thing that separates them form the Pentium III is SpeedStep. So what do you think of the future of this contender? Will they continue to add megahertz, and offer good value solutions in the $1000-$1400 laptop range?

    3) Intel Coppermine based Pentium III.
    Intel's Pentium III with SpeedStep can scale currently up to 850MHz. The low power SpeedStep version of this chip is 700MHz. So, either way you look at it, this is the highest performing mobile processor you can currently buy. Of course, these fit into laptops in the >$2000 price range, if you are willing to spend that much. What's the opinion here? I also wanted to mention that there is a 500MHz ultra low power Pentium III made to compete with Transmetta. Do you think it can keep up?

    4) Intel Tualatin based Pentium III
    It is said that Intel may choose to develop Tualatin soley for the mobile arena. While that may be bad news for desktop fans, the mobile market will rejoyce as Pentium III reaches beyond 1GHz mobile speeds next year. Does anyone want to offer some speculation here about the future of Tualatin and the mobile market?

    5) AMD Mobile Duron
    Eventually, we will see a low power Morgan version of Duron for the mobile market. But, how do you think it will stand up. Can we still expect high speeds, or will AMD have to scale down due to heat issues? This area is looking pretty grey right now. What's your opinion?

    6) AMD Mobile Athlon
    Because of heat issues with the Thunderbird, ADM will very likely rely on Palomino to carry their mobile plans forward. However, rumors are of Palomino only reducing power consumption by 20% over Thunderbird. Will this be enough for the mobile market? Will AMD have to scale back megahertz here, too? How will PowerNow stand up against Intel's SpeedStep and QuickStart?

    7) Transmetta Crusoe
    Well, this processor certainly had a lot of hype in the beginning, but now many sites are claiming poor performance and limited battery gains. What are people's opinions here? Does Transmetta still stand a chance in gaining mobile market share?

    Well, those are the contenders. Let me know if I've missed any. Feel free to comment on either one or all of them. As usual, opinions are welcome, but facts and technical discussion is prefered. I would love to spawn a discussion on PowerNow, for example, since I know little about it. Lastly, who do you think will likely have the most compelling solution next year?

    With the desktop market declining, Intel and AMD and others will have to look to the mobile market for more growth. How do you expect competition to effect different companies and prices. Thanks in advance for any responses.

    By SkyDog November 28, 2000, 09:00 PM

    I don't see much potential for the Cyrix III. It may be able to increase battery life somewhat, but there are two fatal flaws. The first is that it can't compete performance-wise with the offerings from Intel or AMD. The second and more critical issue is consumer recognition. Will the average non-tech-geek John Doe buy a computer built around a processor from a company he's probably never heard of? I know that I won't spend a large sum of money to buy something from a company I'm not confident in. Unless they can hook up with a big name such as IBM, Compaq, or Toshiba, they won't make a dent in the mobile market.

    I read somewhere that AMD should be able to substantially reduce power consumption using a silicon-on-insulator process sometime in H2 2001. If they can get the power consumption down to tolerable levels, they should sell even better than the K6-based notebooks. Horsepower sells, and they've got plenty of it.

    Intel should continue to be the major player in the market. They have current products with good performance and power consumption, and the most marketable name in the PC market. I haven't read enough about their various 'flavors' to discuss their merits, though.

    Transmeta is sort of the wild card in the discussion. They've generated enough of a buzz to be recognized, and they did have some big name contracts. The problem is that some (but not all) of those contracts have backed out. They're still a bit of a mystery as far as performance is concerned, and I think that their market share will be determined by how their performance comes to be perceived. They have a chance to become a legitimate #3 player in the mobile CPU market.

    By Maco Shark November 28, 2000, 09:49 PM

    Intel definately has a large share of the market with most the major companies signed on to them - IBM, Dell, etc. AMD's Duron is really kicking some celeron and P3 butt. I would have to say, if AMD had the speedstep technology or the power saving freatures of Transmeta, AMD has won the mobile market. I just hope AMD keeps focused on 3 markets - Low end server, Mobile, and Desktop. If they keep those, they will be able to rapidly change to market condidtions. Being with intel with Embedded Mircprocessing is a pain, because you cant adapt as quick. I hope AMD wins the war, their dediacated engineers and people deserved it 110%. Buy AMD stock and Parts, AMD Rules!

    By gaffo November 29, 2000, 12:15 AM

    First-off I think soon there will be two types of cusomers: 1. the current ones that buy a laptop as a "portable desktop" solution (i.e. everything and the kitchen sink - floppy, cd-rom, 14" lcd etc..). 2. the people who want something a little more functional than a palm device and that is compatable software wise with there home computer - the mininotebook (only a chip, ram, harddrive). I see the minibooks replacing the palms - they will use the same apps and OS as a desktop PC, so more convienent then a palm device. This market will greatly favor the VIA chip and TRansmeta's chip - where speed is irrelavant and battery life is not. The power draw of the k-7 chips is horrendous, and really is suited for and portable market. Intel's chip kinda fall in the middle (both performance and battery life).
    In long term, I see the minibooks taking a bigger share of the market than the "portable desktop" type laptops. I see the proprietary chip/OS handheld market shrinking - where the smaller mininotebooks will become handhelds (only running x86 software, and OS).
    I think the transmeta chip has great potential, I would not be suprised to see other similar chips show up in 2-3 years. The strongarm chips (what OS does it run?)shows a lot of potential - I know nothing about it though .

    By gaffo November 29, 2000, 12:17 AM

    Meant to say the k-7 is not suited for mobile market .

    By theorcus November 29, 2000, 12:35 AM

    cyrix III-- don't know enough except their desktop version will start at 600mhz and with .13um.. breeching 1ghz. Sounds pretty low given the manufacturing process involved. Secondly branding will be a problem as cyrix hasn't been a major player for awhile now.

    intel pIII variants-- continue to do well at least until amd athlon mobile variants show up. people seems to forget the fact back around march, amd actually had 60+% mobile market with their k6s.. until the much superior(read higher ramping) p3s started to show up in volume. battle will be extremely fierce and i will explain why in the next paragraph.

    amd mobile chips(future)--should perform at least as fast, probably a tad faster for a given clockrate (similar situation with destop athlon vs p3 comparisons). the big question is power draw/dissapation. athlon must provide compelling battery life to be a viable mobile business model instead of just desktop replacements. In fact amd chips do have power saving features, called powernow! It's superior to speedstep in everyway(general statement alert). it has three modes of operation, max performance, automatic, and max battery life. speedstep in comparison allows only switching between two processor speeds, depending on if the laptop is plugged or not. although there is manual override to for max performance even on battery. powernow! max perf. and max battery works like speedstep, however the automatic mode makes it act like transmeta chips. There are 32+ stages(core voltage, speed combinations) that laptop can swtich to automatically in realtime, meaning that you will be running the processor just fast enough for your current app. I think anandtech did a review on powernow! feature of k6-2/3 lines of laptop and found automatic mode still gives ~90% of performance lvl compared to max performance while almost doubling battery life. Now that's good power saving technology. amd intends to build powernow! tech into their future mobile processors so that's one advantage to amd. of course nothing is stopping intel to bring out something similar or better by mobile athlon timeframe. Therefore in my opinion, amd mobile plans have some advantages and a very big question mark. The unknown being just how much more efficient will the palomino/morgan core be compared to t.bird. no power saving feature will save a power hog.

    looking back, i almost sound like an amd PR person. although this is not my intention, but i feel the paying public hasn't really been made aware of the strengths of going with amd compared to intel. heck being as big as intel, i'm sure they don't need help to market their products. guess i'm just doing a little to help out the underdog. sometimes i wonder if two companies products are reversed, how would the hardware sites receive their respective products. ie if p4 is amd's and intel has athlon. The truth is for amd to compete with intel, they HAVE to have the better product at a lower price simply due to their lesser market clout. can you imagine the negative backlash against amd if their revolutionary "next-gen" part doesn't blow intel's out of water after the hype we have seen? something to think about.

    By zombor November 30, 2000, 10:20 AM

    quote:Originally posted by Arcadian:
    Hi, it's me, Arcadian.


    [b]2) Intel Coppermine based Celeron.
    One of the things that is shocking about mobile Celerons is that they run on a 100MHz front side bus. Not only that, but they come in speeds up to 700MHz. Not bad for some serious mobile power. The only thing that separates them form the Pentium III is SpeedStep. So what do you think of the future of this contender? Will they continue to add megahertz, and offer good value solutions in the $1000-$1400 laptop range?

    3) Intel Coppermine based Pentium III.
    Intel's Pentium III with SpeedStep can scale currently up to 850MHz. The low power SpeedStep version of this chip is 700MHz. So, either way you look at it, this is the highest performing mobile processor you can currently buy. Of course, these fit into laptops in the >$2000 price range, if you are willing to spend that much. What's the opinion here? I also wanted to mention that there is a 500MHz ultra low power Pentium III made to compete with Transmetta. Do you think it can keep up?

    4) Intel Tualatin based Pentium III
    It is said that Intel may choose to develop Tualatin soley for the mobile arena. While that may be bad news for desktop fans, the mobile market will rejoyce as Pentium III reaches beyond 1GHz mobile speeds next year. Does anyone want to offer some speculation here about the future of Tualatin and the mobile market?

    With the desktop market declining, Intel and AMD and others will have to look to the mobile market for more growth. How do you expect competition to effect different companies and prices. Thanks in advance for any responses. [/B]


    well i have a 650 p3 in my notebook, and as a current amd guy, im pretty impressed by this machine. I cant wait for the mobile athlon to kick intels ass tho.

    But procs arent the only aspect of mobile computing. With ati already out with their rage, nVidia is comming out with a mobile GeForce. I thourouly enjoy my rage mobility in my computer.

    And if amd get their prices low enuf compared to the whole system, i think amd will comtinue to be on top.

    By Sketch November 30, 2000, 10:40 AM

    1) VIA's Cyrix III
    I think this is a definate contender in the mobile world. I certainly does underperform the desktop world, but raw performance isn't what you're really after on a laptop. Most people aren't interesting in gaming on a laptop, they just want it to be functional and cheap. Battery life and price are king and I think Cyrix III is going to have both.

    2) Intel Coppermine based Celeron
    Not bad. This would make a good mid-range solution. The 100MHz bus would most certainly help out the aging Celeron, but the Intel name is going to jack the price and drop the overall value.

    3) Intel Copppermine based Pentium III
    Value being what it's all about, I don't think these will be serious contenders. Sure they're fast, but just how much power do you really need in a laptop? Value to performance, I think these are one sour deal. As for the low power 500MHz, I think it will make it into a lot more systems than Crusoe based solely on the Intel name.

    4) Intel Tualatin based Pentium III
    Can't comment as I haven't read enought about the Tualatin.

    5) AMD Mobile Duron
    Heat, heat, heat. If AMD can take care of the heat issue, this should be one hot item (no pun intended). The price and performance make it ideal for the mobile market.

    6) AMD Mobile Athlon
    Again, if AMD can address the heat issues, this should be a serious performer. With more power than the Duron, this will satisfy the most power hungry laptop users, and without the Intel name, we should seem some seriously high performing laptops with a relatively low price (for the mobile world anyway).

    7) Transmeta Crusoe
    Pretty fuzzy area. I don't see it taking off in the laptop world. I think it could easily dominate in PDA's and handhelds however. The CPU plays a more major role power consumption in those systems, so the battery gains would be more pronounced. I'm hesitant to call this one though. I really more interested in what Transmeta does next. This is still new technology and they're still learning and creating it. The next chip they release should hopefully have more quantifiable gains, and better performance.

    If AMD can address their heat issues, they come out the big winner here. Otherwise the future of mobile will remain an Intel world. Cyrix III may make it into a few systems, but VIA hasn't proven themselves as a CPU manufacturer yet. This depends on so many factors, I think it's going to be wait and see.

    By ua549 November 30, 2000, 03:13 PM

    The Transmeta Crusoe chip is recalled. It will take much time for the vendors who cancelled their contracts to re-consider using that chip again, if ever.

    The company is in some trouble as shown by the performance of their stock during the last 3 weeks - from $50.875 per share down to $20.25 per share today.
    (I bought at 21 and sold at 40 :-))

    AMD might do ok in the consumer market (read that as cheap). They haven't been able to crack the desktop business market despite their efforts and I doubt if they'll crack the business portable market either. Business doesn't like to take chances on the unknown and unproven. This is especially true for mobile executives and sales people whose life depends upon flawless performance in front of customers and potential customers.

    Intel will continue to be the only major player in this market.

    Now if someone was able to put some real functionality in the Palm type devices . . . .

    By Arcadian November 30, 2000, 07:52 PM

    A lot of people seem to agree that AMD needs to work on their power dissipation and heat concerns for the Athlon and Duron processors before they can be considered for the mobile market. However, most people also agree that AMD can be a great force if they are able to meet these goals.

    I wanted to start some technical discussion on these issues, though. How low do people think is an acceptable power dissipation for a mobile processor. Intel claims the Pentium III can get an average dissipation (which includes idle times and load times, averaged) of under 2W. This is a very significant number since AMD's Durons are much larger.

    Looking at AMD's Tech Docs for the Duron (page 19), http://www.amd.com/products/cpg/duron/techdocs/pdf/23802.pdf
    We see that the Duron at 600MHz has an average power dissipation of 24.5W, while the 800MHz version has an average power dissipation of 31.8W. Keep in mind that Intel and AMD measure their average power dissipation differently, so AMD could very well have less or more wattage by using Intel's test setup. Both Duron examples use 1.6V for power.

    Looking at AMD's Tech Docs for the Athlon (page 21), http://www.amd.com/products/cpg/athlon/techdocs/pdf/23792.pdf
    We see that the 1GHz Athlon has an average power dissipation of 49W, while the 1.2GHz Athlon has an average power dissipation of 59W. Both use 1.75V for power.

    Looking at Intel's tech docs for the Mobile Pentium III (page 56), http://developer.intel.com/design/mobile/datashts/24548303.pdf
    we see that the high powered Pentium III Mobile 850MHz (and 1.6V) has a Max power dissipation of 27.5W. Dropping down to 700MHz (and 1.35V), the Max power dissipation drops to 16.1W. Keep in mind that these are maximum numbers, while the AMD numbers above are average numbers.

    However, Intel has a technology called Quickstart. Using this feature, the processor will go into a sleep mode every time it is not busy, which actually happens quite often, like between the keystrokes of writing an email. Even playing an MP3 will allow short times for Quickstart to average in lower power modes. The user will not notice the transition, since it takes less than 1us to transition. The 850MHz Mobile Pentium III only dissipates 1.9W in Quickstart mode, and 1.2W in Quickstart mode and Speedstep 700MHz mode. This is no doubt where Intel averages in the 2W it claims in marketing.

    Lastly, the 500MHz Ultra Low Power Mobile Pentium III runs at only a Max power dissipation of 8.1W, and 0.6W with Quickstart enabled. The processor also runs at a very low 1.1V. But is this enough to compete with Transmetta in the low power market segment?

    The final question is, will AMD be able to match this with PowerNow? Also, will AMD be able to use the istopically pure silicon that it is rumored to be using to reduce heat? Unfortunately, new silicon will not lower power dissipation, or lengthen battery life, but it could enable faster Athlons to be in laptop computers without elaborate fan systems.

    So what does everybody think? Based on these new facts, does AMD stand a chance? Will Palomino and Morgan drop the average power dissipation that runs so high in their processors? What do you think is the most important feature AMD can exploit in order to make themselves a success in the laptop world. Thanks in advanced for any responses.

    By Marsolin December 01, 2000, 02:28 PM

    The mobile market has changed dramtically in the past year or so. It used to be that we never really saw processors that dissipate more than 10W in mobile. That changed once it was no longer possible to produce the faster procs within this boundary. Following this, power consumption in laptops began to rise. Then Transmeta came on the scene. You have to give them credit. They saw an opportunity in low power and shifted the mobile focus back in this direction.

    Intel and AMD both responded with SpeedStep and PowerNow respectively. If they hadn't I think Transmeta would have had great success. As it stands now though I think they will only find a niche market. The strength of code morphing in the future could migrate from low power to OS flexibility. They could conceivably make it so their chip runs any OS they want without a hardware change. The speed hit from this is what will prevent them from moving beyond the mini-notebook market to any large degree with current products.

    I see AMD continuing to lose ground in mobile as the K6 family becomes more outdated. Until they can figure out a way to reduce the power usage of both Athlon and Duron, they will have a hard time. This effectively leaves Intel as the only real option, in my opinion, for faster laptops. Although I'm sure AMD won't stand around and allow this situation to continue for long. If they can get power consumption down on Athlon they will have a great base to start from.

    For most of us it's harder to follow mobile because of cost and because we don't get to open up the hood and poke around. I have an IBM T20 with a 700 MHz PIII (550 MHz on battery power) and it runs great. Much better than my old IBM 600 with a PII 266. I even run Baldur's Gate II in 1024x768 resolution on it. I look forward to future power improvements across the board. I think we are moving in the right direction.


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