Thinkpad workstations get graphics boost

IBM took the wraps off two new Thinkpad mobile workstations Monday that push the limits of Intel Corp.'s Pentium M processor and ATI Technologies's graphics technology, IBM said.

The new Thinkpad R50p and T41p raise the performance ceiling of IBM's notebook product lines, said Bill Iori, worldwide Thinkpad product manager for IBM. The new models are built on the same chassis as the other R series or T series notebooks, but offer a number of features designed to improve the experience of mobile professionals who work in demanding environments, he said.

The Armonk, New York, company is targeting the two notebooks at engineers, industrial product developers, and other workers who need a combination of high performance and mobility in a rugged package, Iori said. These workers also need access to specialized software such as CAD/CAM (computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing) applications that are generally certified only for high performance machines, he said.

IBM has certified several of those applications for the T40p, and is working with industrial software developers to bring the them to the T41p and R50p, Iori said.

The new notebooks use ATI's Mobility FireGL T2 graphics card, which comes with 128M bytes of video memory. When combined with the UXGA (1600x1200) display on the R50p or the SXGA+ (1400x1050) display on the T41p, users will be able to create three-dimensional product blueprints or show potential customers detailed project plans, Iori said.

The R50p comes with a 1.7GHz Pentium M processor, 512M bytes of PC2700 (333MHz) DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), a 60G-byte hard drive, and a CD-RW/DVD-RW drive for a starting price of US$3,799. The T41p comes with the same specifications except for its CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive for a starting price of $3,449.

The R50p weighs 7.1 pounds (3.2kg) with an optical drive, while the T41p weighs 5.4 pounds with the optical drive. Both models come with Bluetooth wireless networking standard. Either Intel's 802.11b Pro/Wireless 2100 chip or a dual band 802.11b/802.11a/802.11g chip is available on certain models.

Other PC companies have released high-end notebooks with Intel's latest mobile processor that cater to the scientific and design communities. Hewlett-Packard Co. sells the Compaq nw8000 notebook for a base price of $2,999 with a 1.6GHz Pentium M processor, 512M bytes of PC2700 DDR SDRAM, a 40G-byte hard drive, a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive, and no wireless chip. That model also uses ATI's Mobility Fire GL T2 graphics card with 128M bytes of video memory, but comes with a 15-inch SXGA+ display.

Dell Inc.'s Precision M60 mobile workstation comes with a 1.4GHz Pentium M processor, 256M bytes of DDR SDRAM, a 40G-byte hard drive, Intel's Pro/Wireless 2100 chip, and a CD-ROM drive for a base price of $2,668. It uses Nvidia Corp.'s Quadro FX Go700 graphics card with 128M bytes of video memory, and comes with a 15.4-inch SXGA+ widescreen display.

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