INTEL will introduce today a low-voltage 75-megahertz Pentium microprocessor it hopes will become the chip of choice for notebook users and reduce the power gap between mobile and desktop personal computers. Some industry analysts, however, feel the chip may not be particularly popular at first, even though in the long run there will be demand for it. 'Certainly there's a good market for it - everyone is power hungry,' said Glen Rasmussen, managing director of ResearchAsia. '[However] what we're seeing is a little bit of a downturn in enthusiasm for notebooks. 'We're definitely seeing a hesitation in people buying notebooks, but the market is still growing.' Intel's Asia-Pacific regional marketing manager, Deborah Conrad, countered this view, claiming:'We're not seeing a downturn in the market and we're still announcing products to meet customer needs.' One question Mr Rasmussen said needed to be addressed to ensure the chip's long-term uptake was the issue of heat. Pentium had a reputation at the start for producing high heat levels - something undesirable in a notebook. Resulting bad press may have given rise to caution among consumers. According to Ms Conrad, today's release resolves the heat question with a low-voltage version of the Pentium. Power consumption did not exceed that of the 486 DX2 66-megahertz chip used in some notebooks, she said. 'The 75 dissipates about three watts when running applications,' she said. The new chip is reported to be twice as fast as its 486 DX4 75-MHz counterpart and operates at 3.3 volts. The chip features Intel's SL technology for power-management functionality and is built on static 0.6 micron process technology. The chip is available in both tape-carrier and staggered-pin-grid-array package designs, and sells for as little as US$495 in 1,000-piece quantities - only a little more expensive than the DX4 chip selling at $429. According to Ms Conrad, several vendors are planning products based on the chip in the next few months, and Toshiba and NEC both made product announcements to coincide with the chip's introduction today. 'The Pentium processor will now enable the truly enhanced multimedia experience in notebook computers such as the Toshiba T4900CT by dramatically increasing the video and graphics performance,' said Steve Lair, vice president of marketing for Toshiba's computer systems division. This view was echoed by Ms Conrad who emphasised the multimedia potential of the 75-MHz chip. 'It'll make your notebook truly multimedia,' she said. 'It's like taking your desktop on the road with you.' Bob Levin, NEC Technologies' director of marketing for portable systems, also said the new chip would raise the performance level of the firm's notebook line. Other notebook makers, including Compaq, AST and Hewlett-Packard were unable to comment on future product introductions. In the long-run, ResearchAsia's Mr Rasmussen agrees the chip will become popular, even if the take-up is slower than Intel might like. 'There's going to be demand for it,' he said. 'It wipes out Cyrix and AMD and the 486.' Even so, the issue of the speed of market uptake may be important. Mr Rasmussen said Digital's Alpha chip was an example of how a technologically advanced chip without obvious design flaws could suffer from a slow pick-up in the market. 'The pickup for [the Alpha] really wasn't there and that lends itself to rumours,' he said. '[People ask]: is there something wrong with it.' According to Mr Rasmussen, the notebook market accounts for between eight and 10 per cent of the total computer market and that the level is static. At the moment there are no clear competitors for the latest Pentium release. Motorola and IBM have yet to release the PowerPC 603, a version of their RISC processor designed for the notebook market. 'If they really have a chip that works they'll definitely have a jump on the others,' Mr Rasmussen said.