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Intel slashes PC power-up times

Intel Corp. unveiled a new technology on Monday that significantly reduces the time it takes for a notebook PC to power up or access programs, while improving battery life to boot.

Intel’s new Robson cache technology ensured an almost immediate start-up of a Centrino-based notebook PC during a live demonstration at the Intel Developer Forum in Taipei, while a laptop with identical hardware but without Robson took several seconds to boot up.

The laptop with Robson also opened Adobe Reader in 0.4 seconds, while the other notebook required 5.4 seconds. It opened Quicken in 2.9 seconds, while the laptop without Robson technology needed 8 seconds to do the job.

The secret behind the Robson nonvolatile cache technology is NAND flash memory. Instead of booting from the hard drive, a laptop using Robson would turn to standard NAND flash memory instead. The difference saves time and battery power, according to Intel.

“You get power savings because there’s no need to spin the disc when you access applications,” said Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of Intel’s mobile platform group.

Although Intel declined to go into specific details on how Robson works, Eden said the technology is mature enough to share it with computer makers. More information will be revealed later, he said.

Robson is meant to be used with industry standard NAND flash memory of 64MB to 4GB capacities, Eden said. The laptop used in the demonstration contained 128MB NAND, he said.

Eden offered no time frame for when Robson would become widely available to users, saying only that PC makers will be a major factor in how fast it gets to market.

“It’s up to the OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] to decide how it will be implemented. My guess is that enterprise users will likely see it first,” he said.

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