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Wed 26 May 2004 04:00 AM

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Centrino gets cheaper chips as Dothan makes debut

Prices may fall on some Centrino notebooks following Intel’s decision this month to cut the cost of some of its current processors by as much as 30%.

Prices may fall on some Centrino notebooks following Intel’s decision this month to cut the cost of some of its current processors by as much as 30%.

The chip giant accompanied the launch of its much-anticipated Dothan processors with price cuts on its existing range of Pentium Ms. The Pentium M 1.7GHz processor fell from a rather hefty $423 to a more modest $294, while prices fell on other processor models.

While notebook manufacturers in the region were quick to claim that notebook prices are already very low, Ferhad Patel, strategic relations manager for Intel Middle East, said vendors would have to offer a compelling reason for the customer to choose to buy a system based on the older processor. “When the customer has the choice on the shelf of buying Dothan or the current product, which is he going to go for?” he said.

Dothan offers a range of performance benefits, including extra Level 2 cache, for a total of 2MB. The company is claiming performance increases of up to 17% compared to previous Pentium M chips. The new chips are built on Intel’s 90-nanometer production process, which has allowed it to increase cache without increasing power consumption. Dothan also marks the debut of Intel’s new numbering scheme, the new processors are referred to as the 735, 745 and 755.

Notebook makers have been quick to get off the mark and announce new systems based on the new chips. Toshiba, for instance, announced support for the new processors in its current professional Tecra, Portege and Satellite Pro series notebooks, as well as in upcoming Tecra and Satellite models.

Vendors however are cautioning against massive reductions in notebook prices right now. “There will be a small price movement, but not huge as there is volatility in the price of memory and LCDs,” said Graham Braum, Acer Middle East’s business development manager, a view echoed by Michael Collins, general manager of Dell’s regional operation. “I can’t see the price coming down much more, as it’s becoming much more difficult for us to make a profit,” he said.

Analysts also cautioned against a huge price drop. “Notebook prices have dropped significantly in the past three quarters,” said Omar Shihab, research analyst for IDC Middle East. “Starting from this period however, memory, tft, and other component prices are on the rise. This may cause a stagnation in prices.”

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