David Perlmutter, in charge of Intel’s laptop chips, said on Tuesday these new energy-efficient laptops would become increasingly popular among companies and their staff — only 30 percent of whom are currently allowed to have laptops.
Owning an early version of such a laptop, Haifa, Israel-based Perlmutter permitted himself break with a family tradition — not to take computers to holidays.
Two DVD movies played on the laptop on a single battery charge kept his 11-year old daughter fully entertained during a five-hour holiday drive.
“We didn’t hear a sound from the back seat for the entire journey,” he recalled in a telephone interview on the fringes of a mobile trade show in London.
Five hours is more than what most computer users get out of their aging laptops, counting themselves lucky with three. But Perlmutter thinks even five hours is not enough.
“We’ll add another hour (of usage time) in the next year. But the real tipping point is when we can make laptops that will last for seven or eight hours on a single battery charge. There will be one or two laptops that can do that next year, but for most laptops it will take a few more years,” he told Reuters.
Perlmutter is general manager at Intel’s Mobile Platforms Group, the unit responsible for the Centrino chips for laptops launched early this year.
Centrino is set to become for thin laptops what Intel’s Pentium microprocessor is for heavy-duty desktop computers, and the world’s leading chip maker is pumping $300 million into marketing of the new name.
Perlmutter said the percentage of company staff allowed to have laptops had risen from 10 percent a few years ago.
“That percentage will rise further if we improve battery life,” he said. Intel’s margins on laptop chips are higher than on those of desktop chips, analysts said.
Six months after its launch, Intel last week unveiled the next generation of Centrino, also known as the Wi-Fi chipset because of the component that allows access to short-range wireless computer networks in offices, homes and public “hot spots.”
“Centrino is not a one-time event. We’re going to improve it all the time. It’s here to stay,” said Perlmutter.
Well over half of all chipsets that Intel ships to laptop manufacturers contain Centrino, Perlmutter said. More than 130 computer designs based on the chipset will be out this year.
“We’re achieving what we wanted to achieve with the Centrino ramp,” said Perlmutter, declining to give further details.
Wi-Fi access will soon be a standard part of a laptop computers, he said. In many cases laptop producers choose to build in Wi-Fi chips from Intel rivals.
Perlmutter believes the real value is not in the radio access part, which is becoming a commodity, but in things like inter-operability testing and integration with other computer programs. In this area Intel has an edge, as it supplies over 90 percent of laptop makers with the core processor, the nerve center of a PC.
“Right now the Wi-Fi chip doesn’t do anything for you when you have closed your laptop. We’ll make it communicate even when it’s closed, so the laptop can download calendars or emails while people are walking the corridors,” Perlmutter said.
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