McCaslin: Stealy/A110/A100 = a brief stop gap in the Intel roadmap = poor choice for UMPC buyers in 2007?

Discussion in 'UMPC - Ultra Mobile PC' started by Shogmaster, Jun 9, 2007.

  1. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I was somewhat cautiously optimistic about the Intel's 2007 UMPC platform known as McCaslin, along with it's 90nm Stealy processor (officially known as A110 and A100), but apparently, it's gonna be replaced early next year with Menlow UMPC platform as all the recent news stated.

    I say cautiously optimistic because up until now, intel powered UMPCs had to make due with low voltage or ultra low voltage versions of the mobile CPUs designed for much bigger devices and their bigger batteries (namely portable or ultraportable laptops). This resulted in either not getting enough power for longer battery life, short battery life with accepptable power, or both short battery life and bad performance because of the size constraints of the UMPC platform. But with the Stealy CPU in the McCaslin platform, Intel was seemingly about to address the UMPC problem with a line of dedicated processors for the job (with it's own designation apart from the regular Pentium brand name).

    But "cautiousness" of my optimism went to full blown caution when I later read that Stealy is essentially a Dothan Pentium M with much lower clock and tiny L2 cache of 512KB. Basically, The power savings comes from much smaller die size due to huge reduction in L2 cache size, reduction to 90nm from 110nm, and capping of the clock speed to a PDA like 600 to 800 MHz. Having read this fact, I questioned whether A110 could even out perform the 900MHz Celeron M in the Samsung Q1.

    Now, the evidence seems to bear out my suspicions: Intel has moved up Menlow from late 2008 to early 2008. Why would they do this if McCaslin was up to the task?

    I think the real reason for McCaslin was to stop momentum of UMPC OEMs switching to Via and it's C7-M until Menlow became available, and Menlow, not McCaslin is the first true dedicated UMPC processor. Let's looks at the reasons:

    * LV and ULV Pentium M and Celeron M are expensive processors that eats up a huge chunk of the cost of a UMPC. They were designed for $2000+ ultra portable laptop market. They cost nearly $100 and up to the OEMs (do not confuse the cost of LV and ULV P-Ms to their regular counterparts. there is a huge gap there). This is big problem for UMPC OEMs trying to keep the cost of UMPCs well below $1000, so many have made deals with Via and it's much cheaper C7-M line.

    * Stealy is a quick shortcut to provide a cheaper CPU based on current Intel processor line up. No new design here. Just cut the speed and get rid of much of L2 cache. Quick and easy. Would it provide a good performance at a much lower power? That's not the point. The point is to provide the OEMs a cheaper CPU alternative to fight off Via C-7M.

    * Stealy will be replace in only about 9 months time. We have still yet to see Stealy equipped UMPCs in the wild in June of 2007. That's a mighty short run for a new CPU. And it's not using the latest fabrication process, which would be 65nm. Smaller fab process benefits battery challenged devices like UMPCs most of all. Why would they not use it for Stealy? Because that would take more time and cost more money. Not very condusive for a quick stop gap solution. BTW, Menlow and it's Silverthorne CPU will be using the cutting edge 45nm process (Silverthorne also promises high end Dothan Pentium M performance at only 2 watts. Stealy eats up 3 watts to do 800MHz of castrated Dothan performance).

    As it stands now, my suspicion is that Stealy will prove to be a very poor choice for those consumers looking for a UMPC solution that addresses a lot of our complaints. I believe A110 equipped UMPCs will perform quite poorly compared to the previous models using the LV Pentium Ms. And most are still quite pricey (A decently equipped Samsung Q1 Ultra with A110 will cost around $1300).

    I personally think the best thing to do for most of us will be to sit tight until Menlow platform comes to the market in 1 half of next year and skip the McCaslin/Stealy UMPCs of 2007.
     
  2. The Niles

    The Niles Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Thank you for your well constructed post. Now let me tell you why you should still be interested in Mcaslin.

    We do not have a good benchmark test of the new a110 yet but the information we do have suggest that as a CPU it is comparable or slightly faster then the 1GhrzP-M and as a platform it is much improved over the previous generation capable of running Vista Aero.

    The A110 provides almost twice the battery life of the previous generation. Maybe the speed increase is unimpressive but the battery life increase is spectacular.

    The C7M is a decent choice for a UMPC but it is not as fast as any intel solution and uses a much less well equipt chipset.

    Intels move towards MIDs as they call them has me worried. Quite differently from you I believe Intel has decided not to pursue power increases but to improve responsiveness by using a castrated Linux distro. The move to Menlow will improve battery life but will not significantly improve processor speed I believe.

    Samsung has been at the top end of the UMPC market will the original Q1 as well. Other manufacturers will Provide a better value for money. Just look at the $800 Q1-U that has almost the same kit as its more expensive brother. Asus is also working or a R2H refresh.

    In closing let me say that the a110 and the new 945 chipset provides a welcome boost to the UMPC platform. A good way to run full Vista and to run it longer then the Previous generation.
     
  3. ctitanic

    ctitanic Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Well, you are not right. there have been a lot of tests and reviews that dearly show that the A110 runs a lot slower than a Pentium M.

    http://ultramobilepc-tips.blogspot.com/2007/05/q1-ultra-in-numbers.html

    Reviews from current owners saying that as Ultra is slow:
    http://origamiproject.com/forums/permalink/20958/20954/ShowThread.aspx#20954
    http://blogcritics.org/archives/2007/06/04/124854.php



    The battery life is not that impressive if you consider that just loking a Pentium M at 800 MHz you will get around 80% of the battery life you see in a A110. In another hand when you work in a very slow machine where you have to wait a lot, that time is battery time used doing nothing!
     
  4. The Niles

    The Niles Scribbler - Standard Member

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    It is unfortunate that you do not read your own links.

    Which is exactly what I was saying.

    Also a single benchmark test where a preproduction Q1u is pitted against user optimised machines is not a good test and certainly does not constitute a lot of tests. It is an indication and this happens to indicate exactly what I have claimed. I was also already aware of this test and it part of the basis for what I say.

    Your point about battery life being consumed while you have to wait for it to finish its task is not a fair comment. The Q1u is not THAT slow. You do not have to wait THAT long for it to open a window or load a website. In fact according to the benchmark you posted it is rather even with the previous generation.
     
  5. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Can I get a link to those "suggestions"? It seems like guesstimate second hand info or just pure conjecture from here until A110 devices actually make it out to the stores. We don't even have final A110/100 devices making in to the hands of well known web sites or bloggers, which makes this whole topic still mostly conjecture.

    Most of the info we have is rather vague. I've read Intel saying “The highest TDP of the new platform is only up to 9.3W and the average is 1.95W, while that of the previous model was 12.6W and 3.4 respectively.". The "platform" also contains 600MHz A100 while the "previous model" could be anything up to 1.4GHz LV Pentium M 738 (and even if it's 900MHz ULV Celeron M, Celeron Ms do not have speed step). The wording is a bit suspect, and while I definitely foresee good reduction of TDP, it seems to me like the most of it comes from castration of performance. I'd love to be proven wrong with slew of benchmarks in McCaslin's favor of course, but it's already June and we haven't got any as such.

    I brought up Via C-7M not because it's what consumers want, but it's what UMPC OEMs want because it reduces the cost of UMPCs they make. Price is still the biggest hurdle for the UMPC platform. They need profitable UMPCs at around $500~800, not $800~$1300.

    I'm not worried about their "Mobile Internet Device" terminology. Of the two Menlow prototype device they were showing around the trade shows, only one was running Linux (other was running XP IIRC). From what I've read about Menlow, Intel is promising decent Dothan like perfromance, which quite a bit of oomph for only 2 watts of TDP (processor only).

    From what I can see, The Q1U-EL Entry model is a bait and switch model designed to lure you into the other more expensive models. First of all, the next least expensive model is the XP:TE version at $1149. Quite a jump, no? A bit weird that they would create such chasm between the two models. Second, it's castrated in really weird ways like not having a SD card slot like all other models. Why?!? The use of 600MHz A100 will turn off many in the first place, but my guess is that it will be released in very limited quantities and is a loss leader designed to get news coverage or a to be a bullet point on low cost and not much else.

    Proof is in the pudding and we have yet to taste it. Time will tell I guess.
     
  6. scoobie

    scoobie Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Agree that this is a short term stop gap to compete with Via.

    However, I disagree that people should ignore these new Intel devices- primarily they have much better form factors.

    eg Look at the new Samsung Q1 Ultra with the new screen and mini keyboard. Also, the new fujitsu UMPC is one of the best umpc form factors we have seen yet in my opinion (hi res screen, full keyboard and clamshell)

    In my view it isn't just the chip speeds that are a factor in going for the McCaslin: Stealy/A110/A100, you have to look at overall portability and usability of the interface. There is a "hard core" of tablet users who are perfectly happy with the 1st generation UMPCs (primarily dedicated handwriting users) , but the bulk of people , including myself, weren't happy with the 1st gen form factors and have held out for the 2nd generation.
     
  7. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    If you like the new form factors that McCaslin brings, you'll positively LOVE the form factors that Menlow brings mere 9 months later (and probably kick yourself for pulling the trigger too early). Unless you are one of those brave and rich guys that buys new device every 9 months of course... *salutes*
     
  8. The Niles

    The Niles Scribbler - Standard Member

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    First off the entry model of the Q1u has been bumped weeks before its release from the A100 to the A110. Why this is I do not know. It might have to do with the negative press that the 600Mhz A100 has gotten out of fears of a lack of performance.

    There is a big gap to the next model and this version or indeed the Q1u on a whole is not for me but as I said other manufacturers will provide more choice and cheaper models.

    What made me raise an eyebrow at Intel's news about the MID's is that they did not claim it would run Vista and chose a special linux distro for it. This doesn't mean that it wont, but it seems odd to me that on a platform will be introduced more then six months from now and see its first devices months after that they would claim it runs an OS that has been superseded well over a year previously. To me that suggest performance in terms of speed is not of prime importance.

    Now is that a bad thing? I do not believe so. First generation devices offer necessary performance. Having used one for almost a year now I believe I can claim that.

    I cannot give you link to those "suggestions" other then the one provided by ctitanic. It is based as you say mostly on guestimates. Not by me though but by a number of people who have posted experiences with the Q1u around the net.
    We do indeed need a few reviews by reputable reviewers to make a final judgement. Just don't write McCaslin off before then.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2015
  9. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    This is good news and somewhat supports the thought that Stealy was a quick and dirty gap filler since the iteration that has the most favorable TDP numbers will not be used by majority of the OEMs due to poor real or perceived performance. I wonder if anyone will ever see A100 equipped UMPCs running Windows. Maybe some light embedded linux devices like MIDs that worry you, but not proper UMPCs I suspect.

    That brings up something that worries me about McCaslin: Other than Q1 Ultra, no solid details about ship dates and pricing for any other McCaslin devices than the Fujitsu's currently JP only FMV-U8240 with 20GB HDD that is going to retail there for around $1400! That's not favorable signs for A110 bringing UMPC prices down as a whole. We need real details about other A110 UMPCs but we still left to guess at this late in the year. 6 more months and Menlow devices are right around the corner!

    And yet you are a big fan of McCaslin? Menlow is going to have a lot more favorable TDP to performance ratio per clock than McCaslin according to Intel themsleves, and it's easy to guess as such only for the fact that it's not just a quick and dirty castrated Dothan job. It will be using the latest fab process and it all likelyhood will pack more transistors in it's die than McCaslin. It's main concern is price and power reduction, but my point is that it does it with less sacrifice to performance than McCaslin, and will actually succeed in bringing prices down to significant degree. It's the first real proper stab at dedicated UMPC chipsets.

    Those UMPCs you are use to are bad analogy to what McCaslin will offer for performance IMO. They use chips that were designed for much higher performance target, in sacrifice of battery performance. It's almost exact opposite.

    Personally, I'm willing to wait half a year to get my hands on what I know for sure will be a better processor for the job. Even if it doesn't exceed McCaslin in performance, at the very least, it's will bring even better form factor for devices and less MSRP and longer battery life.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2015
  10. The Niles

    The Niles Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I wouldn't call myself a fan of McCaslin. I do recognize the benefits it brings to the UMPC class of devices and I do not buy into the belief that many hold that it is a turtle waiting for a snail to pass (a comment not directed at you but at a number of people spewing filth over at the Origami forums).
    There is obviously still a large premium on the second generation devices and with recently released hardware that is often true. UMPC being smaller devices also have the premium on them that miniaturization requires. When I bought my R2H just hours after it had been delivered to the shops from ASUS it cost me 700Euro's the model I bought has since then gone out of production but when last available it was just 500Euro's. When the new Menlow chips come to market they will not be cheap either even if they are cheaper to make then the 90nm variants used today.

    Our positions are not that far apart. If you can agree that if you need or want a UMPC today there is no sense in waiting for better devices six or nine months from now. I can agree with you that if you don't need one now then the devices available six to nine months from now will be better devices.

    Your point about the lack of information about upcoming models is very true. I know from the rumour mill that ASUS is working on a R2H refresh but I do not when they plan to release it. I know that the T83 is coming out sometimes this summer but have not heard anything since it was first shown.
     

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