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Laptop Pentium IIIs 124

jued0001 writes "A new Pentium III for Laptops running at 600 Mghtz is being released. Once called "Geyserville," now known as SpeedStep, it runs at 600 Mgthz when running on AC, but drops to 450 Mghtz when running on a battery. "
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Laptop Pentium IIIs

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  • But it reminds me way too much of those days when you had the 8088 with the turbo button to go up to 10.77 mhz. I wonder how much power will really be saved by slowing down the proc that much. I think I would rather have the option myself so that if I needed the extra speed while on battery I could have it. But Im not a high paid Intel engineer:)
  • I'm suspicious at the clock speed claims of these new chips. I have Dell Mobile Pentium II-450 at work, and the BIOS Setup contains a warning that setting the CPU to Full Speed may create an unstable system. This leads one to think that the CPU slows itself down depending on temperature, and may in fact never be running at rated speed.
  • Doesn't APM already do this? There's some setting in my AWARD bios which says something about CPU throttling. Is how is this different? (other than the fact that the change is triggered by power source, not system load).
    #define X(x,y) x##y
  • They've been hyping this for a long time. Wasn't it supposed to slow the processor when the system was running low on power? There've been laptops that do this for quite a while now. In fact, there was a discussion on the kernel mailing list about it a while back. Here's a link to the discussion. [] Personally, I don't see it being that big of a deal. My take on it is that it's just an excuse to charge more for portable processors again now that they've been forced to lower prices by competition by AMD.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Haven't you heard? Micro$ort had long offer this kind of technology in their windoze family products. To simply explain, Windoze will run on maximum performance upon release and will automatically slow down during the time of upgrades and service packs. Industrial analysts expect a major slow down in performance next year February with the new Micro$ort millennium service pack and the release of windoze 2000.
  • doh, I didn't mean to post this twice. Sorry.
    #define X(x,y) x##y
  • by crow ( 16139 ) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @01:47PM (#1431031) Homepage Journal
    Doesn't the fact that Linux calls the HALT instruction in its idle loop make dropping the processor speed irrelevant? That should save as much power and heat as possible without compromising performance.

    I believe that this is the reason that the heat-sensitive fan on my laptop stays off when running Linux, but goes on with Windows.
  • Well, that's all and good, but how much do they cost? There's nothing about it in the story, and nothing mentioning the new chip on Intel's web site. They must cost 2 arms and a leg, eh? in which case we wouldn't be able to use the computer. (Unless they're coming out with another "You talk it types" program. Good business strategy.)
  • ... and frankly, I think its a waste. Sure, its nice to be able to do quick audio editing on the fly out in the field (using Sound Forge on the train or bus to edit just-recorded audio does rock, I'll admit), but for the most part I find it hard to understand why laptop manufacturers insist on putting more and more processing power into portable computers.

    I'd be quite happy with a 400mhz laptop with good *connectivity* options - if someone came out with a P2/400 that was fairly simple in the performance ratio department, but had 128k radio connectivity within a 4 to 6 mile radius back to a home base unit I could put on my network, I'd be in total geek heaven.

    I don't understand why this isn't more of an issue for people these days - I guess in a nation of commuters (I walk to work every day), this is not as important as having the 'latest and greatest processor' to cart back and forth, but I'm hoping that in the coming year or so we'll start to see more innovation in the WAN department for portable computer users than we will in processor designs...

    In fact, if laptops *DEVOLVED* into simple video/screen/mouse interfaces with extremely good spread spectrum radio connectivity back to a home base unit that could be connected to a Monster P3/1Ghz system, that would be *ideal*.

    Why bother engineering to take all that luggage with you, when we could just engineer to leave the luggage at home and just take a ... dare I say it ... "window" into that luggage on the road with us...

    These new wireless WedPad type devices are more and more becoming an attractive occupation of time and geek attention, in my book... They'll surely evolve to something closely approximating what I described above. Hopefully, anyway.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I remember reading some stuff on linux-kernel about the "jiffies" counter which is used in device driver timing loops and how it is created at boot time and can't change. Has anyone ever tested Linux on a laptop while changing the clock speed on the fly? It's possible that device drivers could crash and lock up the machine.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is true. Windows 9x doesn't have a proper HLT idle thread. That is what utilities like CpuIDLE are for. Windows NT and 2000 have always had a HLT idle thread, which basically halts the processor when the system is inactive (i.e. no intensive computational tasks are being performed). I believe this is true with Linux and OS/2 as well.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    How will this effect the bogomips loop used to calculate wait states in linux? Seems to me that it was designed for processors that remain at a given speed.
  • I can assure you all that this is a nice feature for most laptop users. I use a PowerBook G3 Series (Macintosh laptop), that has this feature. I can chooose my power settings to give me the mix of performance and battery life that I want. As most of my work on the road is glorified text editing (scripting/developing), I let my processor cyle down, but keep the screen at full energy (punctuation is hard to read on a dimmed screen in high glare environs..).

    I get to keep working for an hour longer on a single battery. And this does bring up one more note on this, whenevery you think about the battery life figures now, remember that they are baseing this on the most power-conserving settings...
  • I can understand if you need a certain ammount of power but the type shouldn't matter in the slightest.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Here we have Ramsey Electronics of New York shut down by the Clinton administration for terrorism, his inventory confiscated, and this is the best you can do? Malda, get a life. Bill Ramsey has been selling neat kits for years, to Boy Scouts, schools, and the self taught. He has also been a tremendous help to law enforcement. I suppose Bill should consider himself fortunate. At least the BATF agents didn't kill his wife or children. Didn't even stomp to death the family pets. At least they are learning restraint.
  • Ooooh, the new Geezerite processor. sounds like what geologists will find when excavating the Intel prefab plant about 3 millenia from now with nanobots. "Wow, it's unbelievable - they actually used *silicon* to power their computers!"

  • I reawlly don't believe such statements that having variable temperature would cause anything but varing Mhz ratings.
  • While this is an ideal solution for mobility within the neighborhood, it is only an expensive, unecessary option for travellers. Your situation is unique; most people do not use their laptops within four miles or so of their home. If they are that close, they'll use their home machine. While a radio link would be great for cases such as yours, it should at most be an option for those who want it.

    void recursion (void)
    while(1) printf ("infinite loop");
    if (true) printf ("Stupid sig quote");
  • It still does certain useful things. It means that een when you are doing stuff, the processor won't get as hot, and hence the fan can be off. This is where the battery savings come from, since slower processor at less power would just be on longer to do the same thing, right? (admittedly a bit oversimplified, there may be some gain inherent in slowing down the proc)

    It's not the first Laptop to do this as far as I'm aware, I know many Toshiba laptops will do this with a special setting using the Fn (blue) hot keys or a third mode (the best i think) that runs at full speed and runs the fan based on a thermostat. They also implement other things like reduced power to the screen, causing less brightness but more battery life, and being more careful about spinning down HDs and cdroms which are idle. That being said, i'm not sure I want a processor that forces this on me as opposed to letting me choose, does anyone know which this does?

    Looking to get a new laptop soon for college...stuyman
  • Isn't what you have described almost exactly the definition of a network computer (NC), except for the portable part? Actually, isn't it even closer to a dumb terminal? And haven't dumb terminals and the NC pretty much gone by the wayside? I think this may be because the networking is harder to do than putting all the parts into the laptop, but it may also be because if you made your ideal system, it would not need to be upgraded every year to keep up with the faster processors that are available - you'd just switch your connected system. Manufacturers have much higher margins on laptops than on desktop units, so they don't want to switch to the portable NC model.

    Also, what would these idealized communications network you wish for cost? It sounds like it would be like a cellphone, but with much higher bandwidth. Who's going to pay for the new infrastructure for that?

  •'s a laptop, a lot of people do things while on a plane and such that aren't particularly processor intensive (such as word proc) and they want their battery to last as long as possible; they aren't too worried about draining the power grid when plugged in.
  • Unfortunately, the airwaves just don't have enough capacity for everyone to a link directly back home.

    A better solution would be short-range base units scattered 200 feet apart in all civilized areas (perhaps on top of all light posts) that have a fibre connection to the internet. Thus lower-power radios can be used, and since there would be only at max 200 notebooks in a 200 foot radius to one of these stations, there would be plenty of bandwidth for all! Then you would just securely VNC into your home computer for all the juicy processing tasks you need to do...

  • It's all nice and facy to have a 600MHz laptop.. but where is this speed going? I figure someone should look into incorporating a cpu that may start up at 600, but once everything is loaded and the like, the CPU should be able to self throttle itself so that it would slow down the system to the point where heat/power is no longer a problem. Just think of it, how much speed do you actually need to 'type' and 'move the mouse' once the system is booted? 66MHz, 100Mhz? (prolly 66 to stay compatible with system devices..) If the machine were to all of a sudden get bogged down, then it would auto-speed up :) I think it'd be a marvel idea.

  • Well, the fan on my laptop doesn't go on, unless Netscape freaks out (again) and pin the CPU to 100%...

    Can't wait for Mozilla and/or Opera to come out.
  • We have a trade off then. You have the high performance if hooked to A/C. So... it is a not so easy to use (ergonomics wise) home system. If you take it out on the town however it has about the same speed as all a standard high end laptop. Did I miss something here?
  • Yes, apparently Linux doesn't like variable speed CPUs. See here [] for more info. Apparently, it's a pretty serious problem.
  • ...they have their role, and they can rock at it, but they are not the best system to replace a whole desktop computer, not because of their cost or power, but because of... their size.

    the *interface* to the laptop, what you use to work with it, the keyboard, the screen, the mouse/equivalent, are all components that suffer through miniaturisation, due to their having to interface with our eyes and hands. small, unresponsive keyboards (still using the unwieldy qwerty layout! a disaster, sizewise), poor substitutions for the mouse, and a small screen, all hinder its usage.

    coding on it is passable, non-type-intensive applications are better, but anything demanding accurate mouse-control is difficult, graphic design nigh-on impossible. the laptop should not be performing any of these tasks though - by implication, the environment it should be used in is quite unsuitable to these sorts of developments - it should be used on the move.

    on the train/bus/etc while commuting, in a restaurant on a lunch break, so on and so forth - a non-work environment. as such it should be used primarily for supplemental tasks... anything from catching up on email to reading documents, filing things, noting down ideas, and so on and so on.. work that can then consolidate the work on the regular computer.

    this is probably what has lead to the increasing popularity of palmtop computers - they offer a similar range of functions as detailed above, but are all the more portable. people are finding laptops unwieldy for anything more. it is likely people could make more use of a portable computer than they can get from a palmtop, but in its current incarnation, the laptop is unable to fulfil this role to any great extent.

    ideally, the ultimate goal would be to produce a "portable computer" (i refrain from using the term laptop here) whose interface system is not an adaptation of the desktop computer's, but rather one made for the job, ie working on the move. speculation here could end up in the fantastic, but the technology, from voice-activated commands through eye-tracking pointers to thought-control, can't be too many years away.

  • Yeah, but if we did that the fancy shmancy Word Processors would slow to a halt, the spreadsheets would take a minute to compute values, the sources would take hours to compile, the ... etc...

    I use every MHz they clock these puppies up to, and I like this new function because it will accomplish a lot, believe it or not.

    Power consumption is reduced a great deal by shifting down the voltage, and a lot of battery life is added by the power down.

    Having worked quite a bit with these new FC-PGA pIII's, I can tell you that from 400-600MHz the productivity scales very well.

  • Whoa, now there's a troll!
    My haiku comment is deep.
    Won't be minus one.
  • ... then it must be the wave of the future:

    Won't be long before this becomes a commodity in the PC market, and when that happens, as all new technologies that enter the PC realm, it'll become faster, cheaper, lighter, and more and more powerful within a very short period of time...

    So :P

  • This is why I like my new Sony PictureBook. It's small. It has just the features I need (USB, FireWire, Infrared, PC Card, and a camera.) And, it already supports lowering the processor speed. It has a Pentium MMX 266MHz chip. I can lower (via software or the BIOS) that to 66, 133, or 200MHz. (Speeds of 25%, 50%, and 75%.) I have checked with WCPUID that it is indeed running at those speeds.
  • a software hardware solution that will mantain processor usage at 100%. What I mean is when you look at the proc utilisation on a typical system, it hovers at around 10-20 % most of the time and occasionally in small bursts it goes up to 100%. So in this scenario what'd be ideal is that the s/w throttles the processor speed so that proc utilisation always remains at 100%. As in if the systems not doing too much stuff at any given time slow the proc just enough so that proc utilisation goes up to around 90-100% and once the speed up the proc once utilisation reaches 100% and keep speeding it up until you reach peek speed. Does that make sense? I am thinking you could apply such algorithms to other parts of the system too. i.e. throttle the bus speed the video card etc..
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hmm. Bit of a problem for you linux bod's then. AMD is planning to introduce a similar technology in their forthcoming Mobile Athlon device, as well as in their K6-2+ (due Q1 2000). If this is integrated into the chipset, through ACPI, it may not be possible to turn this feature of. Wonder how Windows 9x and Windows 2000 handle the same thing?
  • Why bother engineering to take all that luggage with you, when we could just engineer to leave the luggage at home and just take a ... dare I say it ... "window" into that luggage on the road with us...

    My question is why would you want to leave it at home?

    I have a P2/400 Laptop and want it to replace [] my existing 486DX2-66 []. My laptop is my main machine; any non-portables I have are pretty much single task machines. (There's the web browser in the bedroom (IMDB!), the Quicken machine, the web browser/MP3 player at my desk, etc.) If it's important, it goes on the laptop, and it goes with me.

    When I travel, I don't have to rely on some hotel's idea of a decent machine (win95/98), or what's available at a client site (not my files). My commute time turns into productive time. I can take my system, configured the way it should be, and set up in advance to demos and meetings.

    Four to six miles might be adequate for some people, but it simply wouldn't work for me.

  • Laptops should not be treated like desktops...

    A laptop is my desktop.

    Computing power is cheaper than bandwidth. Until that changes, I want the most powerful laptop I can afford.

    I've got a 400mHz IBM Thinkpad 600E with all the bells and whistles. It docks into a wonderful base station which gives me access to a 21" monitor and an ergo keyboard. When docked, it might as well be a desktop.

    When undocked, I've got all the power of a desktop but in an easy to carry package. But most importantly, I've got the bulk of my data close (seven gig of it anyway). And that, my friends, is why laptops rock.

    If I could trade CPU cycles for bandwidth, I would. The best laptop I ever owned was a Tandy 100. It was light, ran on double-A batteries and was more reliable than a tank (the 100 still boots, unlike the four laptops I've since owned).

    At the time I was using the TRS-80, bandwidth was less expensive than power or storage so it made sense to use the 100 as a dumb terminal to the data center.

    Times have changed. Now bandwidth is much more expensive than CPU cycles and disk space. So it makes sense to keep the data close.

    Should the pendulum swing back the other direction, I suspect I'll be working from a Palm Pilot.


  • Is this another "innovation" that was borrowed from Apple? Or is it just Microsoft that clones Apple technology then trumpets it as an Innovation?
  • I don't want to maintain two computers. I don't want my application display limited by a 128K connection. I don't want to slowly suck data over over the airwaves instead of a 100MHz (or faster) system bus. I don't want to share my processor, my disk, my memory, or any other component of my computer. I don't want to be chained to a desk by a fifty pound mess of beige plastic.

    I want a freaking fast portable computer!!!

    Bigger pipes? Yippy for that too!! I love it. But I'm sick and tired of people telling me that the future will find me slowly circling the mother ship like some kind of semi-concious droid.

    Simple physics: things which are closer together can communicate faster. No NC will *ever* match what a stand alone device can muster.

    Ever notice how the people who sell NC's the hardest also sell servers? And also want to run the servers?

    The NC is just a modern version of central planning. Don't be fooled. Do things your way, not someone else's.
  • Not necessarily. The idea of dropping the processor speed is (if I remember correctly) done based on whether you are connected to a power supply (plugging it into the wall) vs running on battery. It runs slower when you are running on the battery to conserve power.
    Come to think of it, I wonder how much advantage there is. I mean, say I want to do X numbers of computations. If I slow down the processor speed I decrease the number of computations per second, but I increase the number of seconds per battery. I suppose they aren't related the same (probably battery life is increased much faster than computations are decreased, but I have no idea if that's true).
    Just my 2c
  • I have to disagree!
    ...poor substitutions for the mouse, and a small screen, all hinder its usage.

    My six-year-old laptop has a full size keyboard, as does my new one. Among the well over 150 portable computers [] I own, there are indeed some with very substandard screens, keyboards, etc. There are some with even worse features, though. You pick whats important to you when you pay your money.

    on the train/bus/etc while commuting, in a restaurant on a lunch break, so on and so forth - a non-work environment.

    My laptops work great in those situations, but I am not limited to "supplemental tasks" -- because my laptop is my main computer, I am fully functional where ever I might be. I don't have to worry about jotting down notes to update something later, I can update it right then and there. Heck, with my wireless modem [], I can update a web page, upload it, and view it off the net without leaving the coffee shop.

    When I get somewhere where I work a lot (such as my home office, or my main client,) I plug into a docking station connected to a MS Natural Keyboard, a Logitech Trackman Marble, and a 17 inch monitor. For trips, I have a bag packed and ready to go with a network card, serial card, another trackman, a ballpoint mouse, and various keyboard and monitor cables.

    The point is, where ever I am, I don't have to sacrifice. I have the best of all worlds, instead of sacrificing for a good machine some of the time!

    people are finding laptops unwieldy for anything more.

    Again, I think you are flat out wrong. Perhaps you find them unwieldy, but from what I've seen, laptops are replacing desktops in the corporate world left, right, and center. Fifteen years ago, I was about the only person I knew who owned a portable computer. Today, it doesn't surprise me to see two or more other people on the train with me working on a notebook -- at 9pm, going against the commute.

    I have no problem carrying a large laptop -- it beats driving somewhere to walk on a treadmill the way people do -- but there are smaller, lighter ones that still have full-sized keyboards and screens.

    Of course, portable computers aren't for everyone. My wife doesn't use hers anywhere nearly as often as I think she should. But for an awful lot of people, they are the future.

  • No...
    You have the high performance if hooked to A/C. So... it is a not so easy to use (ergonomics wise) home system. If you take it out on the town however it has about the same speed as all a standard high end laptop.

    What you missed is the way laptops are used. On the bus/train, you're running on battery power, so it would switch to low speed to save battery life. When you get to the office, you would plug it in, probably to a docking station/port replicator (with attached keyboard/mouse/monitor), and use it with AC for high speed. When you travel, you bring along the power supply, and maybe an external mouse or keyboard. When you get there, you borrow someone's monitor/kb/mouse and do your work at high speed. On the plane home, you're back to low speed and the built-in kb/mouse/screen.

    So, it is a full-blown, high-speed, ergonomic system at home/work/etc., and a normal-speed laptop on the bus/at the restaurant, etc.

  • by UncleRoger ( 9456 ) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @03:57PM (#1431086) Homepage
    I'll go ahead and guess that laptops will start to die off by the end of the year.

    Wanna place a bet on that? Portable computers have been around for over 25 years [] -- I don't think they're going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, my experience has been just the opposite -- they are replacing desktops like crazy.

    I think the days of using your laptop for a primary system are over. (Not that they were ever really here to begin with) The high end desktop CPU's are already pushing 800mhz, 450/600 just doesn't cut it, especially considering they cost so much more.

    Well, not everyone does 3-D rendering all day; you might be surprised to find that 90% of the population can get by just fine with a 450mhz processor. Meanwhile, portability -- being able to work where ever, whenever you want -- is far more important than cutting a few milliseconds off that spell check.

    As for cost, the relative price of a laptop to its comparable desktop counterpart is much closer than it was 10 years ago, and it continues to drop. In a few years, the price will be very nearly the same (but your desktop computer will come with an LCD screen.)

    Wander down to the airport some time and check out how many folks you see waiting for flights with their laptops out. Take the bus some time during the rush hour and look around. Have lunch in Palo Alto or Mountain View and see what's on the menu. Heck, take a look in a CompUSA ad some Sunday and count the number of laptops versus desktops shown! I think you'll find that laptops are definitely not disappearing.

  • I have to make the two concessions that:

    a) laptops easily become as good as a desktop system when placed in a docking station

    (for obvious reasons. it's just something i didnt cover in my original post), and

    b) the portability of data is the single most important aspect thereof, next to its accessibility en route.

    however, these reasons seem to be more of using a laptop as a computer to transport between two working environments, not one to be used anywhere, which is in my mind what portable computing really should be.

    i have to say my opinions are (as everyone else's) based on personal experience - the sort of work i do is simply unsuitable for laptops - programming (running something like symantec cafe on a 1-year old typical spec laptop is *not* fun!) and graphic design (where the lack of a sizeable display and good input device makes it nigh-on impossible) - as a result, i can't get much more usefulness from the laptop as i can something like a palmtop, which covers much the same ground on the lower-end of things.

    i can understand if someone wants to tap out something under Office, or access large amounts of data en-route, then a laptop is the only option, i simply don't think it's a good enough solution for a number of applications, unfortunately most of the ones i use!

  • When did "Mghtz" become a widely accepted abbreviation for "Megahertz"? The standard is "MHz".
  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @04:12PM (#1431089) Homepage Journal
    NT does a HLT too. And I've got an app called CPUidle [] on my Win98 laptop that does the same thing. It does reduce the temperature quite dramatically, and I'm fairly sure it increases battery life. I have the hard drive powering down after a few minutes of not being used, if the system's on batteries and the screen will switch itself off after a while too. (I've also got closing the unit set to simply switch off the screen, rather than scream at me). Being able to drop the core voltage and speed of the CPU is simply another tool to use to increase battery life that little bit more.

    As it happens, I have an Ultralight portable. External battery packs appear to be quite popular with them. I have a bit of info and some photos at my "drop tanks []" page. I have been able to pull off 8 hours on battery power, but I wasn't actually doing much. If I'm using the external CD drive to rip and compress MP3s, for example, then battery life halves.

    Anyway, haven't Powerbooks been able to do this forever? wasn't it called "clock cycling" or somthing...

  • Isn't this going to completely throw timing loops and other bogomips-measured functions out of whack? Linux gets it's reading at bootup, and doesn't refresh it's value. If it boots at one clock speed, then changes to another, things are going to break.

  • I'd trade 1/2 the speed for twice (how about 4x?)
    the battery life.

    In fact, everything else being equal (ram and disk capacity for instance), I'd really enjoy something like a P200 with a much improved battery life. 2-4 hours doesn't cut it. Give me 72 hours on a charge!!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    PAUSE (F3 90 - REP NOP)

    The PAUSE instruction has been added to the cacheability support group of instructions.

    The execution of the next instruction is delayed an implementation specific amount of time. The instruction does not modify the architectural state. This instruction provides especially significant performance gain.

    The PAUSE instruction is used in spin-wait loops with the processors implementing dynamic execution (especially out-of-order execution), or dynamic power throttling. In the spin-wait loop, PAUSE improves the speed at which the code detects the release of the lock. For dynamic scheduling, the PAUSE instruction reduces the penalty of exiting from the spin-loop. For dynamic power throttling, PAUSE in the spin-wait loop significantly reduces power consumption and prevents throttling.

    Since the PAUSE instruction is backward compatible with ALL existing IA32 processor generations, a test for processor type (a CPUID test) is not needed. All legacy processors will execute PAUSE as a NOP, but in processors which use the PAUSE as a hint there can be significant performance benefit.

  • If you think that you absolutely need a 800mhz CPU in your "primary system" you must be a monkey. IMO, anything faster than 400mhz is completely irrelevant to desktop apps users unless you are playing games or do other silly things. most desktop users don't need that power. And laptop on the other hand does no take much space on your desktop and you can walk with it around your house, plug into the library network at your university, work with it _everywhere_, etc
  • dropping from 600 to 450mhz is hardly an innovative idea. the feature has been something mac laptops have been able to do for years (you can set this in the energy control panel).
  • Bah, its a 450 megahertz laptop with a special AC adapter turbo mode. Next they'll start marketing a laptop that has a full size screen and keyboard and extra drive space when connected to a desktop.

  •'re getting a little rusty...this is VERY old news, on the order of 3 months anyway, Intel *announced these so long ago, but maybe just now they're shipping them.

    Also, you seem very fascinated with the use-less-power-on-battery feature. When I ran a story on the Geyserville on my site, I got a flood of reader mail reminding me that Macs have been doing that since the Duos, so about five-six years, possibly longer.

  • "it runs at 600 Mgthz when running on AC"

    Now, if only I could get an Anonymous Coward to power my PC.
  • obviously you aren't working for intel's marketing division...

    don't you know that the new 600Mhz Intel p3 will make your net access go faster? :P

    seriously though.. i think the increasing laptop speeds are not by any means driven by consumers.. its simply a Mhz war to be "on top" just like with the desktop market. For years the 166mmx was fine in laptops, then along comes AMD with the mobile K6 and we are up to 600Mhz in the space of about 9 months..

  • Nope, certain CPUs (PowerPC?) have a variable clock hardwired on all the time. Wouldn't be shocked if Intel started doing this too.
  • No, it was supposed to slow the processor when it was running off batteries instead of off a wall socket. Big difference there.
  • FWIW, apparently the Linux kernel has a few design issues with clock-speed switching. Some code depends on the clock frequency for timing features, and doesn't yet have a facility for changing frequencies on the fly. I think I read something about this in kernel traffic a few weeks/months ago.

  • My butthrtz
  • Good catch. This came up in the kernel mailing list a while ago. Right now, it'll completely break the bogomips calculation, and there isn't a facility for generating a new calculation on clock speed switch. I don't know if anyone is looking for a solution or not.
  • Call me radio-phobic (what ever...!) but...

    • Numerous studies have indicated that radio-waves are carcinogenic and DNA mutant
    • Micro-wave antennas are frying birds flying past them
    • Companies and people are jumping towards wireless access, making America more cancerous...
    • ...and later Hawaii will become the sheltering place for all the cancerous American people (as I saw on the TV that day...)

    Come-on people, come to grips, vote for safer technologies. Don't be just lured by just walking around with your laptop and boasting of mobility. Stop this wire-less every-where mania. Use it as a scrace resource and make this world a better place...


  • "Processor cycling" is the exact name. Since MacOS is a cooperative, not preemptive, system, it can't do HLT instructions nearly so well as Linux or Windows can. What processor cycling does is it watches the system for user activity. If you don't touch the keyboard or mouse, it starts to gradually turn down the speed. This is evidenced in word processors when the cursor starts to blink really slowly. Also, the clock in the menubar will start to miss seconds. I.e. it'll go from 8:56:40 to 8:56:43 without anything in between. It can really help battery life if you aren't using the machine that much but don't turn it off.
  • The new Motorola chips save power by turning themselves off completely, whenever there are a few unused cycles. Effectively, they will seem to run at full-bore, but in reality will spend a large fraction of the time using no power. Pretty cool.
    Mike van Lammeren
  • Sure, a couple years from now, PC companies will be all installing wireless networking, except that it will be slighlty different from Apple's pioneering efforts. Then, the nanosecond that the wireless market share tips in the favour of PC companies, everyone will start whining about how Apple is always so non-standard.

    That darn Apple!
    Mike van Lammeren
  • Actually, go read up on Apple's old PowerBook Duo line. Its whole purpose was to do just that. You got the Duo, plus a docking station and a full-sized monitor, keyboard, mouse, expansion cards, etc. When you were on the road, you had an extremely light-weight portable. When you got home, you plugged the thing into your docking station and had all your full-sized things, plus access to NuBus expansion cards and the like.
  • DISCLAIMER: This post is my suspision. I have done no research whatsoever. By reading this article you agre not to hold its writer responcible for any possible slander.

    Of course it makes a difference, you get the same amount of work done, but it takes longer. Therefore the company can hype longer batterylife, which will make more people buy the product.

    Basicly equivelent to working slow because you charge by the hour. Dishonest perhaps, but if it makes a buck go for it!

  • He's suggesting lowering the clock rate incrementally until the CPU is at 100% utilitation (slow it down until it can just barely keep up). This would save battery, but it would be crucial that the scheduler be able to bring the clock back up *fast* in response to a burst of activity, so that the computer doesn't feel sluggish. Some CPU's (powerbooks, this new one, etc) actually do change core clock frequencies on the fly.

  • I've been following all these threads as I'm about to make a hefty purchase on a super-powered laptop. Main concerns have been mhz, ram, hd capacity, and upgradability. I figured, get the fastest, strong, best now, and it'll take a little longer for it to be obsolete. But what about OS issues? Anyone run VMware on a laptop with Linux AND NT? (or any other combos) I like the idea of wireless LANs and wireless modems but it seems they are only available for Win95/98. Is this just FUD, or are there products out there for us mobile geeks with high power needs?
  • My new Toshiba running Win98 SE lets me tweak everything. CPU (full, high, med, low), screen (bright, dim, low[and they mean REALLY low]), fan (on/off), USB port (on/off), modem (on/off), and how soon to turn off the monitor/HDD/shutdown after inactivity. Its really nice.
  • Everything was simultaneously invented by Al Gore and Apple Computer. Yes, you heard it here first. Although I am sure Apple Computer has a press release out on it before now, because, as we all know, they are first at everything.
  • Someone will probably spill their jolt on themselves for me saying this, but take a look at the Powerbook G3. I'm really happy with mine, it's close to a portable equivilent for my P3 500 I'm on right now, the best part is the high power with low power consumption. If I turn the power saving stuff on it's still usable but will get me about 4 hours on a full battery. The screen is big and bright and comes with plenty of RAM, it also has 8 megs of video memory which is great for when I have it hooked up to my 19" monitor. MacOS probably wouldn't be an OS of your choice but I'm pretty sure you could get Yellow Dog or LinuxPPC working on one pretty easily. The 98 G3 300 is pretty nice from what I hear too (I have the 99 333). If you have the cash you can also get a Virtual PC card which works REALLY well in my experience.
  • Opt for less power.

    I think Gateway Solo computers are an excellent choice, and yes I worked with them. Sorry, I am not that fond of Dell Latitude, but maybe it's just me, I have over 500 of them here ;-). Not exactly most compatible laptop out there.

    The ideal way is to buy something about 2 steps below state of the art. It's usually considerably cheaper and just as good.

    In reality, that ultra-high P3 power is simply not necessary. Unless you wanna do video editing (for which Sony VAIO would be ideal) on the fly, don't bother getting monster laptop.

    I wouldn't suggest a low-end "consumer" laptop such as Compaq Presario, those are just plain unfit for the job.

    If OS or computer system is not an issue, demo an iBook. Put Linux on it and enjoy the envious looks. I certainly want one, once they drop in price a bit, and I've never owned a Mac. Oh, and it has wireless networking capability by design.

    Shop around, and do not get excess power. Do you really need that 8gb hdd in your laptop? I have one in my desktop and it's very heavily used and not nearly full, with 5 operating systems.

    Remember that the more power - the more your battery will be drained. Sure the Vaios are supersleek, but their battery life is quite limited.

    The screen size is a major issue... The 15" monsters do weigh a ton. I find 14" to be quite satisfactory, considering that I get near 100% viewable area. 13.3" used to be standard and they fit in economy class air flights, 14" will have harder time ;-)

    Before you purchase a laptop, read a lot of information, especially their support forums.

    A little checklist

    CPU - above 200mhz
    Ram - 64mb
    HDD - = 4gb
    USB - for wintel boxes if you plan to use Win 9x or Win 2000 Professional
    Winmodem - just say "No" to that garbage and get a normal 3com Megahertz 56K, perhaps with cellular capability.
    Upgradability - you don't upgrade a laptop except for hard disk which is removable and ram. Usually everything else is wired in.
    DVD-Rom - optional, but you might want it. I want one ;-). If Linux DVD player project moves along smoother now that our lovely DVD CCA has drawn much attention to it, you would be able to utilize it.
    Compatibility - check for Linux support of the components prior to purchase. 90% of the time everything is already supported unless you purchase some utter junk.

    Finally, it's been a while since I purchased a laptop, but I had to do quite a bit of research before recommending one.

    My e-mail address is valid, should you have any further questions.
    Leonid S. Knyshov
    Network Administrator
  • Newer digital mobile phones have the LiON batteries.

    I have a Sprint PCS Denso touchpoint. The battery is 2x3 and less than quarter of an inch thick. 130 hours standby time!

    I think the xx90 series from Nokia are also using LiON because their standby is about 5 days as well and they are very slim.

    FWIW I have NiMH batteries for my personal electronics :-)
    Leonid S. Knyshov
    Network Administrator
  • Already done by ricochet in major metropolitan areas. They are to roll out 128kbps service around summer.
    Leonid S. Knyshov
    Network Administrator
  • Well, since I kinda have this thing [] for portable computers...
    I figured, get the fastest, strong, best now, and it'll take a little longer for it to be obsolete. But what about OS issues?

    That's what I did 6 years ago. Six years was stretching it a bit, but you get the idea. My new laptop [] will hopefully last a while as well.

    Personally, I would recommend focussing on (in order of importance):

    • Keyboard -- If you are going to use your laptop with the built-in keyboard, make sure this works for you.
    • Pointing device -- depending on your use, this may be as important as (or even more so) the keyboard. I loathe the erasers; mine has a trackpad.
    • maximum possible RAM, preferably in a standard format -- you can never have too much, and it often makes a much bigger impact than processor speed.
    • Screen -- very hard to upgrade, so get the biggest and best you can. Of course, you have to trade off the size of your screen versus the size of the screen. That is, a bigger screen is better, but it translates into a bigger overall laptop.
    • Hard Drive -- it doesn't have to be huge, but make sure you can swap it out with another, standard drive. My last laptop started with 340MB, and has since had nearly a dozen different drives as big as 3+GB. My new laptop came with 6GB; I bought extra drive sleds for $20 each and have a 2GB loaded with DOS and a 10GB destined to get Linux [].
    • Battery -- If at all possible, have it be one of the more standard batteries. You'll need to replace it (or buy additional ones) so standard batteries are easier to find and cheaper.
    • Processor -- I think processor speed is nowhere as important as available RAM. If it's upgradeable, that's great. If you've got the money, go for as fast a processor as you can, of course.
    But what about OS issues?

    Well, I went for a ChemBook 7400 [] which is one of the laptops that Linux Laptops [] used to sell. (Unfortunately, they stopped taking orders before I got mine.) There is also a page on running Linux on an ASUS 7400 [] (which is the OEM version of the ChemBook). For more general info, check out the Linux Laptop page [].

  • What exactly does MHz got to do with SI naming conventions? IMHO it's the most inaccurate term in the entire computer industry. Hz denotes frequency and can't be used for anything else that has the unit s^-1 - you can't suddently convert becquerel to Hz just because it's also units/sec. Furthermore, 'mega' (to me) means 1024K when we're talking computers. Maybe the former sentence isn't much of a point, but it's just counter-intuitive that's all.
  • Yes, once the processor hits the HALT instruction, the gates stop transistioning between the on and off states, where the power is consumed. When these logic gates stop, they just act like capacitors and sit with its charge. When the keyboard, timer, etc., or other interrupt is activated, the processor starts executing instructions until the end of the interrupt routine and executes another HALT at the end.

    My laptop consumes 33 watts at full throttle, but consumes about 12 watts throttling the HALT instruction due to other electronics. You can watch how much your laptop consumes by splicing an ammeter and voltmeter from the power supply. Power in watts is voltage multiplied by current.

    If you have the wattage, you can express this as kilowatt hours and calculate the cost of running your laptop each month for nonstop use. Its usually 8 cents per kilowatt hour or 2 cents for the industrial rates. Running my laptop while chewing on CSC keys [] in the background cost me $1.90 a month.
  • Yeah, I agree that it's cool that it can be done, but why do it? It says...Hi you have a really fast long as you are with a power outlet. What about people that would like the extra speed but are on say a plane. This also has to make you think. If INTEL can do it with a Notebook computer who says that they are not doing it already with your PC at home. They could have been doing it for the last 5 years.

    In the age of super boredom, hype and mediocrity, celebrate relentlessness, menace to society. KMFDM
  • Thanx for the info. I was actually looking at the Dell Inspirion since its upgradable to 512 MB ram and 75 GIGs of disk space. 15.4" monitor, DVD, lots of speed, and I like their touchpad's feel. I do a lot of coding in NT and want processor speed to handle the MS bloat, but I also want the ability to boot a Linux partition. I really like your wireless modem, which sounds great, although not offered in my area and seems to only run under Win95/98 (which I will not stoop to running). Know of any other providers or hardware?
  • A program (I think its called Waterfall) on Windows does this already.

    It watches your % CPU use and throttles the CPU accordingly.
  • I was actually looking at the Dell Inspirion since its upgradable to 512 MB ram and 75 GIGs of disk space. 15.4" monitor, DVD, lots of speed, and I like their touchpad's feel.

    One thing I didn't mention was that with laptops, getting a good vendor is a little more important than with a desktop. If your video card (for example) goes bad on a desktop, you can chuck it and get a new one. Not so with a laptop. That's why I paid a little more for the Chembook name, rather than getting the ASUS version cheaper from some no-name little dealer.

    512MB RAM seems like it's way more than anyone could ever need, but I seem to remember people saying that about 64K not too long ago... 8^) Same goes for disk space. In theory, though, disk space should only be limited by available drives -- is there an actual BIOS limit or something at 75GB?

    A 15" monitor sounds dreamy, but be sure it's something you want to haul around. I'm 6', 280lbs, and use to carry one of those 40lb suitcase compaq-types, so it wouldn't bother me, but it's probably bigger than my wife. YMMV.

    The touchpad is important, but 90% of the time my hands are on the keyboard (I do COBOL programming mostly) and most of the rest of the time I use an external Trackman Marble. My mobile work is mostly typing (web pages, journal, e-mail, etc.) so the keyboard is far more important to me.

    I also want the ability to boot a Linux partition.

    Check out the compatibility of the components -- video card, etc. I've not loaded Linux on my new one yet (where are those damn CD's?) but one of the reasons I picked this model was because of the Linux support available.

    I really like your wireless modem, which sounds great, although not offered in my area and seems to only run under Win95/98 (which I will not stoop to running).

    I've had it running under MS-DOS/Win3.11, Win98, GEM/TOS (Atari ST), and the MacOS. I'm sure I could use it with Linux if I had the time. I know of others who have used it with handhelds as well.

    Basically, it's a hayes-compatible modem with a funny dialing string. The only problem I ever had was my Win3 dialer that didn't think "777**ppp" was a valid phone number. Note that for an extra $5/month, you can prepend a 9 and dial any landline modem. (I use this all the time to dial into client sites.) Check out some of my experiences [] with it.

    Know of any other providers or hardware?

    There are other, similar services, but most of them don't seem as simple or as well thought out as Ricochet. Check to see if a University in your area has coverage: I was travelling through Oregon one time and was surprised to get a signal. Turned out the hotel was right next to the Univ/OR which was wired for ricochet.

    Failing that, get a bunch of your friends to send inquiries in the hope that there's enough potential business in your area to get them to set up a network.

    I will have mine, btw, forever. When I die, there'll be a little antenna sticking up out of the ground by my headstone -- that'll be my Ricochet modem so I can update my web page from the other side... 8^)

  • A couple more notes -- The Inspirion 7500 uses the ESS Maestro sound card which I was able to get working (in a desktop box) under linux, so you're good to go there.

    The 15.4" screen runs at 1280x1024 (or something) which is probably higher than I would want to run it (I like 1024x768, but I could probably be convinced otherwise.) Laptop screens usually can't switch to a lower resolution -- it's a function of the hardware. Check out that screen in person before you buy! The same goes for the keyboard and mouse!

    On a desktop, you can toss the keyboard/mouse/monitor and get yourself a nice MS Natural KB (one of the MS products I like, but they didn't invent it!), a Logitech Trackman Marble, and an 17"/19" NEC or MAG monitor (or whatever you fancy), but it's not so easy with a laptop on the road. You also have to weigh how much you'll be using it on the road versus at a desk where you can use an external KB/mouse/monitor.

  • Thanx for the extra info. I just priced one out with dell, (500mhz, 15" SXGA+ 8meg video, 256MB on a single dimm, 25GB expandable to 75GB disk, and a DVD-floppy combo). Priced at $4890. This thing sounds like what I need--a desktop workstation in a little box that weighs in at 9lbs. I'll check into the Richochet, but I'm on the east coast and I didn't see much other than NYC. As for you landline dialing--why pay anything? These ISPs are now giving away free service. ;-) PDG FYI--TO ANY MEDIATOR READING THIS--GIVE UNCLE ROGER A MILLION POINTS IN HIS SCORE. TALK ABOUT RESOURCEFULLNESS!!
  • One more thing to consider... Floppy drives (and CD/DVD drives) can easily go out of whack during daily travel. You might want to think about how much you need a built-in floppy and/or CD/DVD. I rather wish my new one had an external floppy (how often does one use floppies these days?) but I'm very glad the DVD drive is removeable (aka replaceable).
    I'll check into the Richochet, but I'm on the east coast and I didn't see much other than NYC.

    I know they have WashDC covered. I'm surprised they're not working on Boston, actually. Keep an eye on them, and let 'em know you're interested and they may show up in your area.

    As for you landline dialing--why pay anything? These ISPs are now giving away free service.

    Sorry, I was being unclear. The $5/mo goes to ricochet so you can use the ricochet modem to call regular modems. That is, you can sit in the park with your laptop and ricochet modem and dial into any modem-equipped system, such as a BBS, internal network, or mainframe/minicomputer. The $5 covers their cost of an outgoing line, basically.


    Aw, shucks. I'd settle for one of those Inspirons... 8^)