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In an attempt to boost sales of microprocessors for thin-and-light notebooks as well as ultra-mobile personal computers (UMPC), Intel Corp. plans to reduce the packaging sizes of its chips for next-generation Montevina small form-factor (Montevina SFF) platform due out in 2008.

One of the fundamental problems that notebook designers have to solve is where to put computer chips inside their laptops that do not have plenty of space inside. The chips themselves are not small and there are numerous components, e.g., hard disk drives, which have fixed sizes. One of the ways to shrink the size of a notebook is to reduce the sizes of chips, which automatically makes the whole system more compact, but may add complexity to design. According to documents seen by X-bit labs, Intel next year will unveil a special platform for notebooks that will employ chips in smaller packages.

Currently Intel offers two types of platform logic for different notebook classes: the Santa Rosa platform that features up-to-date multimedia technologies as well as the latest Intel Core 2 Duo processors is offered for mainstream laptops; the Napa refresh SFF platform that is not as feature-rich as Santa Rosa, is offered for thin-and-light laptops.

Each set of chips that make up the platform consists of three units: central processing unit, memory controller hub and I/O controller hub. Even though all the modern chips are relatively small, their packages may not be really small. For example, three chips that form Santa Rosa platform have package area of 3411mm?, whereas the Napa SFF platform has package area of 2915mm?.

In order to help notebook manufacturers to create smaller notebooks, Intel will use advanced packaging technologies for Montevina SFF chips, which is projected to reduce the package area of Intel Penryn SFF processor, Cantiga GS GMCH as well ICH9M SFF chips to 1415mm?, down more than 100% from, 3342mm?, the package area of Montevina.

Introduction of special chips for very small laptops or UMPCs will help Intel not only to increase sales of its silicon, but also to boost total available market of portable computers, as devices like UMPCs do not directly compete against normal-sized notebooks, but may complement each other in certain cases. Additionally, special SFF platform will enable more notebook designers to offer thin-and-light notebooks, ultimately making them more affordable.

Intel Corp.’s officials did not comment on the news-story.

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