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Issue #2003 - 09 (March 2003)
(Updated Mar. 19, 2003)


Intel's Centrino Gets Good Reviews

Source: John Taschek, Ziffdavis

Intel Corp. has launched a major advertising campaign (press reports indicating that they may $300 million dollars on advertising) for launching Centrino, the company's brand name for its mobile processor and modular chip set. The company is emphasizing two key features: higher performance with better battery life and a wireless module that integrates well with the chip set. Initial indications are that Intel may have delivered on these promises.

The first thing to note is that the processor in the Centrino package runs typically at a slower frequency than the Pentium 4-M, Intel's previous-generation mobile technology. Most notebook vendors, for example, had 2.4GHz Pentium 4-M systems in their lineups. Most of the new Centrino-based notebook processors will run at 1.6GHz, although Intel will also offer 1.4GHz and 1.5GHz versions

It should be pointed out that frequency doesn't matter so much, as long as the chip design includes big caches and highly accurate branch prediction. The Centrino processor has met or exceeded expectations here, making notebooks based on the Mobile Pentium 4 completely unappealing for almost all practical purposes. In tests, Centrino-which is actually based on a modified Pentium III core and Pentium 4-like bus-outperformed the higher-frequency, power-hogging Pentium 4 devices hands down.

In tests conducted by PC Magazine Labs, Centrino-configured notebooks were typically more than 25 percent faster than Pentium 4-based devices. This is mostly due to the fact that Centrino includes a whopping 1MB of Level 2 cache, which is double that of the Pentium 4-M. Part of the Centrino design includes ways of fluctuating the cache speed and power usage so performance does not erode battery life.

Battery life tests show that, on average, notebook battery life of Centrino-based systems is 50 percent better than in Pentium 4-M configurations. The result is that typical Centrino notebooks will last more than 5 hours with a standard nine-cell lithium-ion battery. eWEEK Labs' examination of notebook specifications correspond to PC Magazine's benchmarks. For example, IBM claims that its X30 sub-notebook, based on the Pentium III-M, could yield 4.5 hours of battery life in its standard configuration. IBM claims that its X31 notebook-the same design but with the Centrino processor-yields 5 hours of battery life, just a 10 percent improvement. However, the X31's performance is substantially greater than that of the older and slower Pentium III-M-based system. Intel has developed a wireless mini-PCI network card for use in Centrino platforms, but it supports only 802.11b. This leaves notebook vendors free to include competing cards.

Source: Ziffdavis

MobileInfo Comments and Advisory: Intel is working aggressively in solving the battery problem in notebooks. Centrino is a an impressive achievement. The target should be to last for the full day. It seems we are getting there.

 Note: This news release may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and section 21E of Securities Exchange act of 1934 in USA. Similar provisions exist in other countries. There is no assurance that the stipulated plans of vendors will be implemented. MobileInfo does not warrant the authenticity of the information. Readers should take appropriate caution in developing plans utilizing these products, services and technology architectures.  All trademarks used in this summary are the property of their respective owners.

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