SAN FRANCISCO -- Intel (INTC) - Get Report expects the current strength in the mobile computing market to outstrip even the most optimistic of analysts' estimates, company officials said Thursday.

At a briefing here, Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of the company's mobile platforms group, said that while current notebook shipment growth on a compound annual basis has been predicted by Gartner at 14% through 2009, he expects that estimate could be revised higher. This contrasts with predicted desktop growth of only 3% over the same time period.

"The mobile market is actually exploding," Eden said.

As evidence of the increasing interest in notebook computers, Eden pointed to the stronger than anticipated design activity surrounding Intel's next Centrino platform -- currently named Napa -- which will contain the company's first mobile dual-core chips.

Eden said 120 product designs are being conducted by computer manufacturers that want to use Napa, which is slated for initial shipments later this year and a formal introduction in early 2006.

"The challenge will be to support so many

products when we go into the market," Eden says. "We have every major OEM going with us on Napa."

The early signs of momentum in the new platform are key because Centrino has represented such a source of strength for Intel in the past two years. Even better, the design pace for Napa is ahead of where the Centrino platform was at the same time in its ramp.

Originally introduced in 2003, the Centrino name represents a bundle of technologies that includes a mobile processor, a related chipset, and wireless networking technologies. Launched with a $300 million branding campaign, Centrino became synonymous with wireless networking and helped Intel gain a stronghold in the faster-growing notebook chip market.

It also helped Intel stay another step ahead of

Advanced Micro Devices

(AMD) - Get Report

, Intel's smaller but primary rival in the market for computer chips. AMD has improved its technology and manufacturing capabilities in the past few years and has driven the transition to 64-bit computing and dual-core processors, but AMD only recently introduced its first chip dedicated to thin-and-light laptop computers.

Napa will contain Intel's first mobile dual-core chip, known as Yonah, which will be constructed on 65-nanometer manufacturing technology. The chip will be a 32-bit processor, not a 64-bit processor as other recent chips from Intel and AMD have been. Eden said Intel could have enabled the larger data processing capabilities but decided against it for various reasons associated with laptops. He asserted that the company's mobile processors will eventually be 64-bit capable.

In other aspects of the mobile business, Intel said it is making progress in getting its chips into cell phones, and it now has an end-product to prove it.

O2

, a European cell-phone provider, will introduce a music phone next week that contains Intel's Manitoba chip.

Also, Sean Maloney, Intel's executive vice president and general manager of the mobility group, said the company is on track with launch plans in the second half of the year for its second-generation Manitoba chip.

"We are here to stay in the mobile-phone business," Maloney said.

Intel shares closed Thursday up 0.8% to $27.52.