The backbone of the Santa Rosa platform is the Mobile 965 Express Chipset. As already mentioned, one enhancement is the support for Intelâ€™s AMT environment, although this only applies to Centrino Pro machines.
The GMA X3100 graphics solution sports a unified shader model, like the Xenos chip in the Xbox 360 and nVidiaâ€™s latest GeForce 8800 graphics cards. The latest iteration of Intelâ€™s integrated graphics offering is also fully Vista compliant, so you can make use of all those snazzy Aero effects. Intel also assured me that this latest graphics solution is fully DirectX 10 compliant, but I wouldnâ€™t go expecting to play Crysis or Alan Wake on your GMA X3100 equipped notebook if I were you!
Of more importance is that the the GMA X3100 supports HDMI output, complete with HDCP compliance and the ability to playback 1080p content. This means that if you happen to buy a notebook with a Blu-ray or HD DVD drive, you should be able to stream HD content straight out of an HDMI port to your high definition TV.
Meanwhile, Intelâ€™s Clear Video technology is on hand to ensure that jaggies are dealt with and that video playback is smooth. Clear Video also allows the end user to manually adjust hue and saturation of colours, along with the brightness and contrast. Of course most good monitors give you access to the latter, but when youâ€™re using the panel built into your notebook, having those controls via Windows can be useful. To be fair, Clear Video isnâ€™t offering anything new over what nVidiaâ€™s Pure Video and ATIâ€™s Avivo have been doing for years, but thatâ€™s not to say that it isnâ€™t a welcome addition.
Intel hasnâ€™t missed a power saving trick with its graphics solution either, with Santa Rosa being able to dynamically change the refresh rate on the display. Now I know that a TFT panel doesnâ€™t actually have a refresh rate in that there is no scanning going in, but the liquid crystals are still twisted or untwisted a certain number of times a second. What Intel has implemented is that when the user is using the machine for duties that donâ€™t benefit from a fast refresh rate â€“ like editing a Word document - it will drop from say 60Hz to 30Hz. How much power will actually be saved by reducing the amount of liquid crystal twisting is debatable, but Intel works on a cumulative saving, so any small percentage of power saved is worth while.
The Mobile 965 chipset also supports up to 10 USB 2.0 ports, but I somehow doubt that the market will be flooded with machines sporting USB ports squeezed into every spare inch of space. In fact some of the USB ports could be used internally for devices like the keyboard or even a Bluetooth adapter. There are also three SATA ports on offer, but despite this the Intel Matrix RAID controller will only allow for RAID 0 or 1 arrays, whereas a three disk RAID 5 would be preferable â€“ assuming that anyone produces a chassis large enough for three drives that is.