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  IDF, Banias a New Mobile Architecture 
  Sep 10, 2002, 03:00pm EDT 
By: Sander Sassen

Today the buzzword was Banias as thatís whatís been talked about at IDF mostly, weíve been to the morning keynote and Banias certainly was the key subject of that speech. During the day there were various sessions and other presentations all focused on Intelís next generation mobile platform. Although most of the sessions did go into detail about what innovations Banias would bring to the market we were particularly interested in what kind of architecture is behind it. After the keynote we were indeed able to participate in the Q&A which resulted in that questions being answered right away. Banias is in essence a derative of the Pentium III architecture with several enhancements.

Banias Architecture

Fig 1. One of the many Banias architecture slides that were shown during the keynote. Notice the large die-area reserved for the cache.

One of the biggest enhancements is probably the large L2-cache thatíll be featured on the Banias processor, exactly how large nobody was willing to disclose but judging by the transistor count of >75-million weíd say about 1Mb is an educated guess. That would give the Banias processor a higher transistor count and possibly a larger die size than the current Pentium 4 with Northwood core. We were also able to ascertain that the clockspeed of the demo notebooks was a mere 1300MHz. With that said, letís recap what Intel is trying to accomplish with this new architecture; Banias is actually set out to do two things, deliver optimum performance for roadwarriors at minimum power drain. Weíre talking 8-hour battery life and performance thatís comparable to normal desktops.

SiS R658 Chipset Motherboard

Fig 2. SiS R658 chipset motherboard featuring a PC-1066 RDRAM support and all the usual connectivity such as USB-2.0 and FireWire.

Weíve also been browsing through the exhibition floor where all of the manufacturers weíre showing off their latest products. One thing certainly caught our eye and thatís not just because we think SiS had the coolest toys, and thatís the SiS R658 chipset featuring Rambusí RDRAM technology. The video card pictured in the photo is actually their new Xabre 400 which is another innovative product from SiS. We asked SiS whether their R658 chipset has a similar friendly price-tag as most of their other products and they were quick to comment that it indeed will be cheaper than Intelís RDRAM solutions.

Sander Sassen.

Next update: IDF, Itanium 2 and Blade Servers - 11-09-2002, 10:00am


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