Centrino Update for 2008

Intel’s new Centrino 2 platform is formally debuted today and it includes quite a few new products and technologies including mobile 1066 MHz FSB processors, a new chipset and integrated graphics core, hybrid graphics support for IGP and discrete GPUs, draft-N wireless support and more!
Today Intel is formally announcing its new Centrino 2 brand and the technology behind it – though most of what makes up the Centrino 2 platform we have seen before, the compilation and some key new technology are being discussed for the first time.  Even if you don’t think you care about mobile products and technologies, you actually do.  The notebook market is growing at a pace much higher than that of desktop PC in terms of sales – and even though the predicted demise of desktop processing has been slowed a bit in 2007, the fact is that notebooks are likely to outsell desktops by the end of 2009.

The mobile arena is really the one area where Intel has dominated AMD; since the Centrino release in 2003 you’d be hard pressed to find a retail outlet with more than a handful of mobile AMD solutions while carrying literally dozens of notebooks built around Intel’s technology.  And even though AMD’s Puma mobile platform has been hyped up since the middle of last year nothing has been released yet giving Intel’s Centrino 2 technology another chance at free-reign on the segment. 

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This slide shows some interesting technology trends at work from 2000, 2003 and to today’s Centrino 2 release.  Most interesting to me is the notebook processor transistor count: from just 28 million in 2000 on the Coppermine core to 410 million on the Penryn core used for C2 – all while keeping the TDP of the processors around the same wattage. 

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Intel’s new Centrino 2 platform aims to address these five main areas of mobile technology – performance, battery life, form factor, wireless and security.  Performance will be helped by an updated processor line up and a new graphics technology on the G45 chipset C2 uses.  Battery life is of course a main focus for mobile users and Intel claims to have lowered average CPU power to 0.8w on some configurations.  Notice that Intel is using non-spec 802.11n technology for this release – even Intel is tired of waiting on someone to get that situation straightened out.  Finally, the Intel business-oriented vPro technology aims to increase better security and management options for IT staff.

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Centrino 2 consists of three additions compared to current Centrino products – an enhanced CPU, a new chipset with better integrated graphics and a new Wi-Fi module as well.  Above you’ll see a table that demonstrates how the Centrino 2 changes (Montevina) from Santa Rosa and the early 2008 refresh we saw of the Santa Rosa.  The Core 2 Duo processors have moved up to support 1066 MHz front-side bus speeds and the G45 chipset finally sees its migration to the mobile market.  Also both the wireless and wired network connections are updated as we’ll detail later. 

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There will initially be five different Intel Core 2 Duo models for the Centrino 2 platform starting with the 2.26 GHz P8400 model with 3MB of L2 cache and a 25w TDP all the way up to a 2.80 GHz T9600 model with 6MB of L2 cache and a 35w TDP.  For C2 the “T” model indicator is being used on 35w model processors while the “P” moniker is for the lower power consuming 25w versions. 

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45nm Core 2 Duo Mobile CPU

At the very bottom of this table you can see another CPU model as well: the Core 2 Extreme X9100 mobile CPU.  More on that below…

What else has changed?  Well the G45 chipset gets a faster graphics core running at 533 MHz, a new WiFi 5000 series of chipsets will update wireless network connectivity and the new Intel 82567 chip adds Gigabit networking requirements to Centrino 2.  Intel Turbo Memory, a feature we thought would catch on but never did, is still optional on the Centrino 2 platform, up to 2GBs for each module implementation. 

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The first extreme processor to hit the mobile market officially, the Core 2 Extreme X9100 will remove the shackles on overclocking of the mobile CPU but come at a higher 44w TDP; the most power hungry of all the Centrino 2 CPUs.  I would imagine you’ll see this processor is some kick-ass mobile gaming machines from Alienware, HP/Voodoo and probably OCZ’s HyperSonic brand.
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The 45nm Intel Core 2 processor should be nothing new to most PC Perspective readers – we first saw it on the desktop in October of last year as the Yorkfield quad-core QX9650.  Key updates from the 65nm version of Core 2 include the move to 1066 MHz FSB (for the mobile versions this is new), SSE4 instruction support, larger 6MB L2 cache options and tweaked and improved power management technologies. 

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