Centrino is dead -- it's official. But don't worry. Intel has launched Centrino 2 -- codenamed 'Montevina' -- to stave off competition from AMD, and to cement its place as the world's number one choice for laptops.
But before we go any further, we can't help but wonder -- what's with the name? Until now, all the updates to the original Centrino brand weren't deemed worthy of a new public-facing name. Instead, they were given internal codenames: 'Carmel' (2003), 'Sonoma' (2005), 'Napa' (2006) and '', all of which were different, but still sold to the public as merely Centrino.
So is Centrino 2 truly different? What's it packing? What'll it do for you? Voyage with us, geeks, as we break down the tech behind 2008's hottest laptops. -Rory Reid
To qualify as a Centrino laptop, machines need to have a particular type of CPU, motherboard chipset and Wi-Fi adaptor, all built to provide longer battery life and guarantee connectivity to hotspots. As of 14 July, Intel will unveil a new collection of CPUs, chipsets and Wi-Fi adaptors -- all built to make the Centrino sequel a must have.
Centrino 2 will use the latest 45nm Intel Core 2 processors, codenamed Penryn. There's plenty of choice, too. Any chip with the model number 'Txxxx' -- currently the 2.8GHz T9600 and 2.53GHz T9400 -- will be aimed at performance enthusiasts. Any CPU with the part number 'Pxxxx' belongs to the 'power-optimised performance' range, so they'll be quick, but they'll give you longer battery life, save trees and prolong the life of our planet.
There's a slew of new motherboard chipsets, too, dubbed GM45, GM47 or PM45. The GM45 and GM47 both have a high-speed 1,066MHz front side bus -- basically a lightning-quick highway for transferring data between the memory and the CPU -- and will support DDR2 and -- for the first time -- DDR3 memory, which has a higher peak throughput than previous memory technologies.
Both chipsets will feature Intel's new X4500 HD integrated graphics adaptor, which has integrated HDMI and DisplayPort. Both are also DirectX 10-compliant, but if games are important to you, opt for the GM47, since that has a slightly faster graphics core -- 640MHz versus 533MHz.
aforementioned PM45 chipset supports all the same features, but lacks
an integrated graphics adaptor. It'll therefore be the chipset of
choice for high-end gaming laptops, and will come with either ATI or
Nvidia graphics solutions.
The third pillar of Centrino -- networking -- is also well thought-out. High-speed 1,000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet is standard, and you get a choice of new wireless adaptors. Laptops with the top of the line Intel Wi-Fi link 5350 will come with three transmit and three pick-up antennae, plus WiMax, while the slightly slower Intel Wi-Fi link 5150 will feature two pick-up and one transmit antennae, plus WiMax. WiMax-free versions of these adaptors are also likely to appear.
Finally, Centrino 2 laptops will have the option of 2GB of Turbo Memory -- an optional memory component designed to speed up the execution of commonly used applications. It'll also be Windows ReadyDrive and ReadyBoost-compliant. The former allows laptops to use hybrid (solid state and mechanical) hard disks, while the latter lets you use the space on a USB key as extra system memory.