With Intel's Centrino Duo and Centrino Pro platforms officially released Wednesday, leading hardware manufacturers are rushing to get out new notebook PCs. The new platform, also known by the prerelease codename of Santa Rosa, is the fourth generation of Centrino, and features a new Core 2 Duo processor design.
To have the new Centrino label, notebooks will need to have the Core 2 Duo processor, mobile Intel GM965 Express chipset, and the wireless network interface of the new platform.
Intel said that the Centrino Duo, intended for consumer markets, can provide up to twice the performance of earlier Centrino platforms when doing processing-intensive tasks, while its power-saving features can extend battery life.
Connectivity and Battery Life
According to Intel, the platform's "robust wireless integration" provides up to five times better wireless performance and also can support an optional upgrade to the faster and farther-ranging 802.11n Wi-Fi spec. Support for 802.11a/b/g wireless is standard.
The Santa Clara, California-based company said that systems using the new, optional Intel Turbo Memory offer performance up to twice as fast when loading frequently used applications, and up to 20 percent faster when booting Windows Vista. Previously, the codename for Turbo Memory was Robson.
The new Centrinos are an "inevitable step in the right direction," said IDC analyst Doug Bell. He noted that the two most important things for notebooks were connectivity and battery life, both of which the new generation of Centrino advances.
A big step here "is the Turbo NAND flash memory, which is the future of memory," he noted. But the larger advances, he predicted, will come with the fifth generation platform, Montevina. Scheduled for release in 2008, Montevina is expected to support the broadband wireless standard WiMax.
Centrino Pro, Notebooks
The Centrino Duo provides up to 20 percent faster processing rates because of an increased front side bus speed of 800 MHz, compared to the previous 667 MHz. Meanwhile, the Advanced Digital Media Boost component, the company said, doubles the rate at which streaming media instructions can be executed. Finally, the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100, part of the GM965 Express chipset, provides support for Vista Premium's graphics-intensive Aero interface.
The Centrino Pro platform, intended for business users, actually debuted in mid-April and has been designed to make it easy for I.T. admins to do remote maintenance. For example, Intel Active Management 2.5 gives I.T. departments the ability to troubleshoot infected notebooks while keeping them quarantined from the general corporate notebook fleet.
This remote management is possible "regardless of the system power state and whether or not the operating system is functioning," according to Intel.
Accompanying the Centrino Duo and Centrino Pro release were announcements of new notebook computers from Hewlett-Packard, Gateway, Fujitsu, Sony, Toshiba, Acer, Lenovo, Dell, and others. Several hundred new notebooks with the updated Centrino platforms are expected to be released in the next few weeks.