Chicago (IL) - It appears that Intel has found a customer for a processor that already has been phased out and dropped off its pricing sheets: Toshiba's shiny new HD DVD player relies on fairly antiquated hardware that is based on Intel's Pentium 4-M processor and a chipset that was originally created for a ULV Celeron M processor.
Sources told TG Daily that the HD DVD player, which will be offered in two versions for $500 and $800, integrates a Pentium 4-M processor. The chip is based on the 130 nm "Northwood" core and was available with clock speeds ranging from 2.4 to 3.06 GHz. Officially, the CPU is no longer available and apparently has been phased out several months ago to drive the Pentium M processor into more market segments. It is unclear which version of the Pentium 4-M is used in Toshiba's HD DVD player.
While the regular Pentium 4-M's were only offered in combination with 852 series chipsets, Toshiba has received a 130 nm 854 chipset from Intel's consumer electronics division. According to Intel's website, the 854 was only available for a 600 MHz ULV Celeron M chip, which also was targeted at consumer electronics devices. However, it appears that Intel has enhanced the 854 for Toshiba, as it integrates alpha blending, a transparency feature that previously only had been available in the 82xxx series of graphics controllers. Also, the 854 comes with MPEG2 and MPEG4 decoding codec for Linux and Windows CE.
Toshiba's decision to build the Pentium 4-M into its HD DVD player is somewhat surprising as the processor consumes significant power, measured by today's standards. The chips operate in a power envelope ranging from 59.8 watts (2.4 GHz) to 70 watts (3.06 GHz), compared to 25 watts of a Pentium M or less than 10 watts in current ULV Celeron M and upcoming ULV Core Duo and Core Solo processors. Toshiba rates the HD DVD player at a total power consumption of 79 watts, which typically is high enough to require a fan to cool the system. As a result, the player may create more noise than a version that is equipped with a processor that consumes significantly less power.
While Toshiba did not tell us why it chose the Pentium 4-M for its player, the price/performance ratio may have had some impact on the decision. We hear that Intel is selling the CPU for less than $100. From the consumer's point of view, a Pentium 4-M may not be best product for the player, especially if $800 are changing hands. The winner here is Intel, which is able to breathe life into a product that can be produced in large volumes for little money.