Intel officially presents Centrino 2
Intel’s next mobile platform, previously undergoing development under the codename Montevina, has been officially renamed Centrino 2 for its market launch and will replace current Centrino Duo products, codename Santa Rosa. The new marketing name applies for both consumer and business laptops. Where the latter include Intel's AMT remote maintenance functions, they will be known as Centrino 2 vPro, previously Centrino Pro.
The processors will still be Core 2 Duos with 45nm Penryn cores, but they are getting a faster front side bus - rather than FSB800, they will run with FSB1066. In a further change, there will in future be a new class, the P model with a 25 Watt thermal design power (TDP). There had previously been a gap between normal Core 2 Duos (T models, 35 Watt TDP) and low voltage dual cores (L models, 17 Watt TDP). A new Core 2 Extreme with a higher 44 Watt TDP and an unlocked multiplier should be available at Centrino 2 launch. Mobile quad core CPUs will be a while longer, but Extreme versions with a higher TDP will also be available. There will also be a Celeron dual core for laptops.
Intel is also marketing the P, L and U Core 2 Duo Centrino 2 models (ultra low voltage, up to 10 Watt TDP) in a small form factor (SFF) with around 58 percent smaller area for soldering to motherboards. The type designations for the SFF versions start with SP, SL and SU. Such products are already available for selected customers - Apple is using SFF processors in its MacBook Air, Lenovo in its ThinkPad X300.
Intel has made no official statement on the name of its Cantiga chipset, but the product labels from some motherboard and laptop manufacturers reveal that the northbridge will be called GM45 and that the ICH9M will be deployed as southbridge. One change from the current GM965 chipset is the memory interface. Rather than DDR2, laptop manufacturers can optionally use DDR3 memory. DDR3 modules are currently more expensive than DDR2 modules, but they have a lower power consumption thanks to a reduction in operating voltage from 1.8 to 1.5 Volts.
Intel promises almost twice the graphics performance from the graphics core integrated in the GM45, but this assumes laptop manufacturers will install drivers that take advantage of the extra processing power. The GMA X3100 graphics unit in the current GM965 chipset should have been significantly faster than its predecessor, the GMA 950, but drivers installed by the manufacturersin in many laptops failed to activate the Transform & Lighting hardware units to realise this speed gain. Intel plans to use the GM45 graphics core to reduce CPU usage when replaying HD videos, but is keeping details under wraps for now.
In its new, as yet unknown wireless networking module, Intel wants to increase the Draft N gross data speed from 300Mbit/s to 450Mbit/s. Laptops with Centrino 2 chips should be available from the second quarter of 2008. The starting gun for this product release will probably be fired at the Computex computer show in Taiwan in early June.