Intel isn't giving up on the ultramobile PC (UMPC) concept. According to a couple PowerPoint slides at HKEPC.com, Intel is set to release new processors and chipsets for UMPCs on April 18 at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Beijing. The new platform, dubbed McCaslin, will shrink the size of the CPU and chipsets, which should allow room for more features and better battery life.
Space is at a premium on UMPCs. Intel's current CPU and north and south bridge chipsets take up a total of 2915mm squared. The McCaslin platform will occupy roughly a third of that space at 975mm squared. Not only will this open up room for the addition of features such as WWAN, GPS, and TV tuners, but it will also result in more efficient operation. Translation: longer running UMPCs. Current Intel UMPCs are rated to run two to three hours, while Intel estimates that McCaslin will provide up to five hours of battery life. According to the article on HKEPC, Intel expects that by 2009, UMPCs will provide a full day's charge with the arrival of 45nm chips that integrate the memory controller and graphics engine.
At the heart of Intel's new McCaslin UMPC platform is a processor code-amed Stealey that will compete directly with Via's C7-M chip. The new chips will be manufactured on the same 90-nanometer process as current Dothan-based (that is, second generation Pentium M) and will feature clockspeeds in the 600MHz to 800MHz range. The chips will be paired with Intel GMA X3000 graphics on the north bridge that support DirectX 9.0 and Vista Premium's Aero effects.
Not stated is what effect all of this will have on price, which is arguably the biggest hurdle UMPCs currently face in their race toward mass adoption. Until UMPCs come down in price, they will remain nothing more than a curiosity. It's hard to see the new Sealey chips being any cheaper to produce since Intel is keeping with the 90nm process.