Intel has unveiled plans for a new, low-cost notebook personal computer platform, code-named ?Tanggula?, designed for university students in the mainland. The platform, which seeks to bolster Intel?s Pentium processor and Centrino mobile system against competing formats in China, would be made available exclusively to mainland university PC users and their parents through a number of Chinese computer makers during the second half of this year. Stacy Smith, Intel vice-president and chief information officer, said the introduction is part of Intel?s Mobile Initiative for Learning in Education, launched by the company last year and with more than 100 participating universities in the mainland. ?The new notebook platform will be stylish and lightweight, and will come in a range of affordable performance and entry-level designs for students and their parents,? Mr Smith told the South China Morning Post. He said pricing and the operating system to be used would be determined by the Chinese original equipment manufacturers. Companies that had supported Intel?s previous education sector-related projects in China included Hewlett-Packard and the pre-merger Lenovo and IBM personal systems group. Dion Wiggins, Asia-Pacific research director at Gartner, said: ?Any initiative that offers lower cost computing systems to emerging markets is valuable.? Homegrown or open-source alternatives to the Windows operating system and productivity software would likely be used by the new notebook platform?s target market, Mr Wiggins said. He cited a Gartner report last October, which found that the cost of buying a legal version of Microsoft?s Windows XP Home and Office XP Standard Edition in China would amount to 6.58 months of an average mainland worker?s annual salary in 2003. ?What I can tell you is that the new platform will include such features as enhanced security, wireless capability, and high-quality sound and audio for multimedia enabled interactive learning and entertainment. The specific features for students will be disclosed closer to the notebooks? release,? Mr Smith said. The Tanggula-based notebooks will also feature the PC industry?s so-called Common Building Block Program specifications for notebook systems, including 2.5-inch hard disk drives, 12.7 and 9.5-millimetre optical disk drives, and 14.1-inch to 15.4-inch notebook liquid crystal display panels. Zheng Qinghua, vice dean of the Internet Education School at Xi'an Jiaotong University, said Intel?s Mobile Initiative for Learning in Education ?complements our existing wired network, improves the quality of our education and brings convenience to teachers and students?. On the origin of the notebook platform?s code name, Mr Smith said: ?The Tanggula region is the source of China's longest river, the Yangtze River. At Intel, it signifies a project designed in China, specifically for the mainland market.? Mr Smith said there are no immediate plans to release Tanggula-based notebooks outside of the mainland. ?But we are always open to new opportunities,? he said. Intel, which competes against Advanced Micro Devices in processor sales to notebook and desktop systems in China, has been actively involved in other low-cost PC programs across Asia. These included the ?Aku Punya PC? project in Indonesia, ?People?s PC Program? in the Philippines, and the ?May Tinh Thanh Giong? national PC ownership initiative in Vietnam.