Articles :: The Mobile Desktop Convergence ::

D'arcy Lemay · 01-26-2005 · Category: Tech-planations


In the past, processors and their peripherals were designed specifically for desktop use, and then modified to work in a mobile environment. In the last few years, we've seen a stark change to that mentality. Amongst the major players, Intel was first to give the idea life with their creation of the "Centrino" platform consisting of processor, chipset and wireless network all specifically designed for the environment. Now we see AMD following in this path with their "Turion" badged processors. The interesting thing in all this design work going to discreet mobile designs is how they are giving back to the desktop, or in some cases, replacing them entirely.

Hacking down desktop parts made the most sense at the time, since laptop sales were a fraction compared to their non-mobile counterparts. It was much easier to take a desktop chip, and add things like adjustable multipliers, lower voltage, and only choose the premium silicon for the chips than design a whole new processor from the ground up. Power and thermal budgets could be met with mild tinkering like that, and using slower clock and bus speeds to further bring them within the design parameters. As a result, mobile performance was never up to that which could be found in a desktop, while paying a premium at the same time. Unfortunately for Intel, their recent desktop designs were the exact opposite of the ethos that is required for use in a mobile environment.

The castration required to fit the Netburst based cores into a small, low air flow area on top of running on a battery with limited power reserves had proved painful enough for them to go another direction entirely. In addition to applying those typical techniques to Pentium 4's meant for "desktop replacement" notebooks, Intel had another design team come up with something completely different. That was their Israeli team, and out of that came "Banias", the first of the Pentium-M's. By now most people are aware of how well they fit within the market; the penetration is so deep that nearly every retailer has at least one Centrino based model. The kite emblem and Intel badge logo is something nearly every customer looks for, their advertising has been so successful. Unlike certain Intel innovations however, this one has some teeth and the performance numbers to back it up.


  1. Introduction
  2. The Mobile Shift
  3. Heat Dictates CPU Design
  4. Conclusion

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