Intels Napa Wireless Platform Promises More with Less

The next generation of the chip maker's Centrino wireless platform claims to improve performance 68 percent over the last release, while cutting the watts by 28 percent.

NEW YORK—Intel Corp. is touting its next mobile platform, dubbed Napa, as another major milestone in notebook PC history.

At a session for reporters and business analysts here Tuesday, Erik Reid, product marketing director at Intels Mobile Platforms Group, stood Yonah—the chip makers first dual-core mobile Pentium processor—and Napa next to such advances as flat-panel displays and the chip makers first Centrino chip bundle, which helped to jump-start the trend of pairing notebooks and wireless.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about Yonah.

Intel claims the latest notebook technology stands to boost average performance 68 percent beyond that of its current Sonoma platform, which includes its single-core Pentium M, while reducing power consumption an average of 28 percent, extending battery life beyond the 5-hour mark, Reid said. Napa also improves wireless bandwidth and can help cut the size of a notebook by 30 percent versus todays machines, the Santa Clara, Calif., company said.

Thus, for businesses, Napa will make for smaller, lighter notebooks with stronger performance, both in the form of wireless networking and the ability to multitask, Reid said.

But Intel appears most excited about the advance in power consumption, enabled by the dual-core Yonah chip. The Napa platform will consume about 3 watts of power on average, compared with about 4 watts consumed by the leading competitors, according to Intels product specifications.

The chip benefits from a two-pronged assault on power usage, cutting amps by completing tasks faster and employing a new feature termed Dynamic Power Coordination, which allows its two cores to be power-managed independently, making it possible for one core to shut down while the other performs the heavy lifting.

Yonah also benefits from a shared cache or on-board 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 has said.

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 a key part of power management, as a single core can access the entire cache when the other is shut down, while running on battery, the company has said.

Intel first launched 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.

Those advances contributed to a speedy adoption of wireless notebook computing by business users, and Intel executives expect Napa to accelerate the already growing adoption of mobile notebook technology when it arrives in January, Reid said.

"Trends predicted in 2003 for 2007 are already being surpassed today, and we expect it to accelerate more," he said. "We have a brand-new microprocessor, all delivering more capabilities with longer battery life. And there are new capabilities evolving every day that will the tax system further. Now you wont have to compromise, you wont have to wait for adoption."

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead more here about Intels Napa chip bundle.

Intel is also amassing numerous PC manufacturer and developer allies to ensure Napa has an ecosystem to live in when it becomes available, Reid said.

The company is expecting more than 230 Napa notebook designs from various manufacturers in 2006, more than was supported by the Sonoma release, he said. Intel also expects more than 200 applications developed for the technology.

Napa will also be fully functional with Microsoft Corp.s next operating system, Windows Vista, when it is released in 2007, Reid said. In addition, the chip maker is working with Cisco Systems Inc. deliver network capabilities that can be easily deployed and managed.

Yonah also powers Intels Viiv platform for home entertainment, which the company hopes will make the Viiv computer an integral part of the family room and conference room.

The chip set, alongside several multimedia chip sets, a Gigabit Ethernet networking chip, Microsofts Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 and several other components, allows remote users to control music, video, streaming media and game technology from a remote control.

The company is working with several manufacturers, such as MovieLink, Adobe, Napster and TiVo, to develop Viiv-Verified applications and services compatible with the system.

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