Intels Napa Notebooks Gain Power from Yonah

The dual-core Pentium M chip at the heart of Intel's 2006 Centrino lineup offers boosted performance and lower power consumption through its independent processor cores.

Intel has a twofold plan to increase notebook performance.

The chip maker, at a presentation to press and analysts on Thursday, disclosed several new details of "Yonah," the first dual-core version of its Pentium M, a company spokesperson said.

As the portable computers increase in popularity—notebook adoption has been growing among a number of consumer and business market segments and is expected to continue to deliver double-digit growth rates in coming years—Intel Corp. has been focusing much more development effort at the space.

The company rolled out Centrino in 2003, and in early 2005 it updated the platform to include a higher-performance version of its Pentium M and mobile chip set.

Intel is counting on Yonah, which will become the centerpiece of Napa—the third generation of Intels Centrino bundle—for an even bigger boost.

The chip will receive a number of tweaks aimed at boosting performance and power management capabilities of notebooks, Intel said during its presentation Thursday.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about Intels Napa chip bundle.

The chips twin cores will increase the performance of notebooks for multitasking, but also aid machines running on battery power by shutting down one core to cut power consumption.

Among Yonahs new features is a shared cache or onboard pool of memory that holds data close to a processor core for quicker access. Dubbed Smart Cache, the design element allows one processor core to access the chips entire 2MB level 2 cache, Intel disclosed for the first time on Thursday.

The Smart Cache is important to performance, allowing one core to store as much data as it can in the cache. The feature is also key to power management, as a single core can access the entire cache when the other is shut down, while running on battery. Intel made several additional modifications to improve the caches performance as well, the company said.

Another new feature called Dynamic Power Coordination, essentially Yonahs power switch, allows its two cores to be power-managed independently, making it possible for one core to shut down.

It also includes the capability to put the entire chip into sleep mode as well as to apply Enhanced Intel SpeedStep, which can change the chips voltage and frequency to meet performance needs of the applications a notebook is running, Intel said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about the importance of dual-core chips to Intels revamped product line.

Digital Media Boost, a Yonah feature which aims to increase performance, is a combination of updates to SSE (Streaming Single Instruction Multiple Data Extensions), a set of special instructions for executing multimedia, and the chips Floating Point or number-crunching unit, the chip maker said.

The result, according to Intel, will be more performance for functions like computer-aided design, video edition and digital photography, as well as gaming and music.

Napa-based wireless notebooks will start arriving in early 2006. Intel said on Thursday that notebook makers have already begun building 120 notebook designs around the platform.

For its part, Yonah will be produced using Intels forthcoming 65-nanometer manufacturing process. It will incorporate almost 152 million transistors. The chip, whose clock speed, voltages and other details have not yet been disclosed, will also be accompanied by a new chip set, dubbed Calistoga, which promises better graphics capabilities.

Separately, Intel announced an effort to extend average notebook battery life to eight hours on a single charge by 2008. The company will do so through a variety of efforts, ranging from working with software makers, to reducing its own chips power consumption and working with screen makers to do the same for notebook displays.

At the same time, Intel is investing in new battery technologies that will help increase the amount of energy a given battery cell can store.

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