Intel Releases Centrino 2 Mobile Platform

The Intel Centrino 2 mobile platform for laptops is the chip maker's fifth platform for notebooks. The Intel Centrino 2 mobile platform offers the company's latest 45-nanometer processors, new wireless technology and enhanced graphics.

Intel officially released its Centrino 2 mobile platform for notebooks July 14, which includes a number of new Core 2 Duo processors, a new chip set and wireless technology that includes support for 802.11 draft-n wireless technologies and WiMax.

The Intel Centrino 2 platform is Intel's fifth mobile platformand the chip maker is offering two different platforms during this release. The first is Centrino 2 for consumers, and the second is Centrino 2 with vPro that is geared toward enterprise customers.

The launch of Centrino 2 was delayed by about a monthafter Intel reported some problems with the company's own integrated graphics and issues related to applying to the Federal Communications Commission for use of the draft-n wireless standards.

Still, the launch is a major event for Intel and shows the importance of notebooks and mobility both with consumers and with the enterprise. Intel is also planning to counter some of the momentum Advanced Micro Devices had when it released its new mobile platform in June.

Mooley Eden, vice president and general manager of Intel's Platforms Group, emphasized that mobile computing is no longer just about processor performance and battery life. It's also about style which is transforming the way laptops are being designed and the way vendors are developing slimmer and smaller laptops. This new style is finding its way from the consumer market and into the enterprise with notebooks such as the Lenovo X300.

The evidence of this trend toward mobility and style, said Eden, can be seen in how fast notebooks are overtaking more traditional desktops in terms of revenue and shipments.

"If you look at 2008, IDC projected that we are going to cross 50 percent of total clients - the number of notebooks divided by the number of desktops and notebooks - and we are going to cross it by 2009," said Eden at an event in San Francisco. "At Intel, we are going to cross it in 2008 and if you look at mature markets like the U.S., like Europe, like retail, they have already crossed 60 percent."

With the delay, Intel and its OEM partners planned to ship more high-end notebooks that use discrete graphics from either ATI or Nvidia in July with additional models that use Intel's integrated graphics to follow in August. However, Eden said that laptops that use the integrated graphics have already started to ship, which seems to indicate that more Intel-based notebooks will be available sooner than early August.

At the heart of the Intel Centrino platform, previously called Montevina, is the company's line of 45-nanometer processors from the Penryn family. The new processors will include the Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 (2.26GHz), P8600 (2.40GHz), T9400 (2.53GHz) and the T9600 (2.80GHz). The chips will offer 6MB of L2 cache and a 1066MHz FSB (front side bus) compared to the 800MHz FSB of the company's older mobile chips.

Later in the third quarter, Intel will ship its first quad-core processors for notebooks - the Core 2 Extreme Processors. This processor is designed for gaming notebooks and mobile workstations.

To help save battery life, several of the Intel processors will have thermal envelopes of 25 watts compared to the standard 35 watts. Other power-saving features include Intel Dynamic Acceleration and Deep Power Down, which allows for components such as the core clocks and cache memory to shut down when not needed.

The Intel Centrino 2 platform will include a new chip set, the Intel GM45 Express chip set, and a new wireless feature - the 5000 series - which will make 802.11 draft-n wireless technologies standard with these Intel-based notebooks. Intel is also including a new technology called the Intel WiMAX/WiFi Link 5350, formally called Eco Peak, which combines WiMax and Wi-Fi technology.

While full-fledge WiMax networks are not expected to become widespread in the United States for at least two years, Xohm - the brand name for the Sprint Nextel WiMax service - announced at the event that it plans to bring a new WiMax network to Baltimore in September.

The Centrino 2 platform also includes a number of other improvements, including support for DDR3 (double data rate 3) memory, which consumes less power and is faster than DDR2 memory.