Intel’s Ultra Mobile PC on track for Q1 release

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Intel's Ultra Mobile PC on track for Q1 release

Chicago (IL) – Intel is gearing up for the release of its handtop computer platform later in this quarter: The first “Ultra Mobile PCs” (UMPCs) will arrive with a standby time of a week and include WWAN and GPS capability. A second batch of UMPCs will follow in the second half of this year and come with Windows Vista preinstalled, TG Daily has learned.

There is so much buzz around Intel’s recently launched Core Duo processor and Viiv entertainment platform, one could easily oversee the firm’s next major product launch. And no, we do not talk about Intel’s next-generation microarchitecture due in September of this year; we are talking about the UMPC.

The UMPC is Intel’s platform initiative in the handtop segment – which currently is only represented by the OQO computer. Intel first showed a UMPC prototype last August at its Fall developer forum with the promise to roll out the product in 2006. Sources now indicate that Intel is on track to take the wraps off the platform sometime this quarter: Samsung, Asus and Founder will the first companies to launch UMPCs.

The company previously stated that the first run of UMPCs will not be commercially available before the second half of this year. If the three vendors are able to ship the UMPCs then this is a clear indication that Intel is well ahead of schedule and is pushing the platform for an accelerated market adoption. The “breakthrough” of the UMPC so far has been targeted for the 2007 and 2008 timeframe.

For the second half of 2006, Intel expects a second wave of UMPCs that will include devices from LGE, Acer and Averatec and run Windows Vista.

According to Paul Otellini’s keynote speech at IDF Fall 2005, UMPCs will integrate a new category of processors that will consume as little as 0.5 watts. Intel executives also mentioned that UMPCs will achieve a continuous operation time of about eight hours. Our sources now tell us that at least the first generation of UMPCs may not include such a new processor, but rather rely on a proven platform, which will consist out of ULV Pentium M processors with 90 nm Dothan core as well as a 915GMS chipset.

Intel is also very aggressive in extending the wireless feature set of UMPCs. Wi-Fi capability is a standard feature by now, but Wireless WAN – such as EVDO and HSDPA – as well as integrated GPS capability will be able to draw some attention to those devices.

What we do not know yet is how much UMPCS will cost. However, it has not been a secret that the OQO ultra mobile PC’s price tag of $2000 has been much too high to be able to allow the device to enter the mainstream market. It does not take too much talent to forecast that Intel UMPCs will be available at a significantly lower price.