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Centrino Update

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Intel has today launched its latest version of Centrino branded laptop components - codenamed Sonoma. As with the previous generation of Centrino it consists of a Pentium M processor, an Intel chipset and a wireless network card. But the biggest news is the transition to PCI Express as the 915PM, 915GM and 915GMS chipsets all feature PCI Express instead of AGP. The new chipsets also adds support for dual channel memory - a first on a mobile platform - as well as DDR2 memory.

It wasn’t clear from Intel’s presentation whether the new mobile chipset will support DDR memory, nor could Andy Greenhalgh from Intel give us a definitive answer to the question. The bus speed has also been given a speed bump up from 400MHz to 533MHz, which in turn means that there will be a range of new processors to accompany the new bus speed.

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The new processors will range from the 730 model at 1.6GHz all the way to the 770 which will clock in at 2.13GHz – the model numbers will increase in tens between the entry level and top end chips, with models clocked at 1.73GHz (740), 1.86GHz (750) and the 2GHz (760), all with 2MB of level 2 cache. There will also be a Low power version at 1.5GHz (758) and an ultra low power version at 1.2GHz (753). If you were hoping to see hyper threading or dual core incorporated, you’ll have to wait until Intel release the next version of Pentium M processors codenamed Napa which will feature dual core, although hyper threading seems to be a Pentium 4 only technology.

Unfortunately, Intel has decided to keep the Centrino branding unchanged, so there is no easy way of telling the new and the old technology apart, unless you’ve done some research first. However, according to Andy Greenhalgh from Intel, it should be easier to tell the new consumer level products apart from the business ones, with new consumer features now on offer.

One of the new consumer focused features is the inclusion of the same 7.1-channel High Definition Audio that you’ll find on current 915 and 925 chipsets based desktop motherboards from Intel and its partners. The graphics core has also been improved and Intel claims to have doubled the performance compared to the 855 chipset, which in itself is an achievement. However, the new Graphics Media Accelerator 900 or GMA 900, is not going to be able to play any of the latest games, but it should prove to be a versatile solution for basic 3D graphics and more importantly video playback.

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