Intel Upgrades their Mobile Platform

Both Intel’s new Santa Rosa Centrino platform and NVIDIA’s new GeForce 8M series of GPUs were released today and we decided to summarize them both in a nice, neat article.


Today marks a very significant launch for Intel and their mobile products.  The wildly popular Centrino platform that redefined the notebook market years ago is getting yet another upgrade today including some new chipsets and new processors.  The name stays the same though: Centrino Duo and Centrino Pro for the business notebooks. 

In conjunction with Intel’s Santa Rosa platform launch today, NVIDIA took this opportunity to announce the availability of their latest mobile GPUs based on the G80 architecture.  We’ll quickly summarize all the changes and technical blurbs here for users looking to get a quick overview of what’s new. 

Santa Rosa Blesses Us

Intel’s launch of Santa Rosa today marks a somewhat minor shift in the Centrino line: the only items changing are chipsets while the Core 2 Duo processors remain largely the same. 

Intel Santa Rosa Centrino Duo and NVIDIA GeForce 8M GPUs Launch - Mobile 5

This slide summarizes most of the major changes, the first of which is a move from 667 MHz front-side bus to 800 MHz FSB processors.  Clock speeds will differ and increase slightly due to the different multiples that the FSB creates, but the overall CPU architecture is still the same Core architecture we have seen for over a year now on desktop, mobile and server parts.

The new mobile Intel 965 chipset with the ICH8M south bridge adds a new graphics core (X3100 to the mobility landscape that supports Vista and DX10 support and enhanced Blu-ray and HD-DVD playback off-loading. 

The networking support gets an upgrade with Santa Rosa to Gigabit Ethernet connections and even draft-N 802.11n wireless.  WLAN support is enhanced but isn’t required for the Centrino Duo or Centrino Pro label.

Though not listed in the diagram above, one of Intel’s most interesting new features on the Santa Rosa platform is known as Intel Turbo Memory, previously known as “Robson”.  This allows notebook vendors to add 512MB or 1GB of NAND flash memory to a system to increase application load times and boot times (though it will only work on Vista).  This solid state memory can also be used to increase batter life if software can use it instead of the power hungry hard drives.

With all of these new chips come improved power efficiency; the chipset now supports dynamically scalable front-side bus speeds and the processors offer slightly improved granularity to disable unused portions of the processor.  This all means longer battery life while increasing performance, letting the graphs of “performance per watt” continues to go upward.

Intel Santa Rosa Centrino Duo and NVIDIA GeForce 8M GPUs Launch - Mobile 6

Intel’s Core 2 Duo CPU, 965 north bridge, ICH8M south bridge and wireless networking card

Interestingly, if you want to know if a laptop model is using the new Centrino Duo/Pro chipsets with all the features mentioned above, you can look at the model number of the processor it sports.  If the number is odd (T7700, T7500 or T7300) then you are running on an 800 MHz processor and thus on the new Centrino platform.  Intel’s consistency with the Centrino name has helped with the acceptance of the upgraded platforms, but it can lalso ead to confusion for the educated consumer looking for specific technology. 

As of dinner time today, there are TONS of notebooks from various manufacturers that have already been announced.  Here’s a brief summary:


Tecra A9
Tecra M9
Qosmio G45
Satellite P205
Satellite A205


Pavilion dv2000
Pavilion dv6000
Pavilion dv9000
Pavilion HDX

Compaq 2710P


Thinkpad T61
Thinkpad R61
3000 N200


Lifebook T4220


Auro Q45





Most of these are simply refreshes of existing notebooks as the new chipsets and processors simply drop into existing designs.  Availability of most of these units should be pretty quick and you should be able to purchase them within weeks.
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