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Turbocharge Your Notebook

Remember those old Pentium systems from about ten years ago? You know, the ones that used COAST or Cache On A Stick modules to speed up system performance? Yep, back in the days before CPUs had masses of on-die cache, you could actually buy a PC that had no Level 2 cache whatsoever, while the high-end systems sported little memory modules that slotted into the motherboard, providing the much needed cache memory.

Well, with a feeling of déjà vu Intel is introducing Turbo Memory to the next generation Centrino Platform, which is essentially the same thing as COAST. Well not exactly the same thing, since the Core 2 Duo chip has up to 4MB of on-die cache already, so Turbo Memory is more like a Level 3 cache, of sorts.

Intel Turbo Memory is basically a chunk of NAND flash – either 1GB or 512MB, depending on what the notebook manufacturer decides to implement. Turbo Memory will be made available as either a slot in module, or a chip kit that can be mounted directly onto the notebook motherboard. Obviously the latter is the cheaper option, but it means that the decision of which capacity to go with has to be made at the manufacturing process, whereas the module allows for flexibility for the reseller.

As well as the Turbo Memory hardware, a driver is also necessary – the driver also requires Intel’s Matrix Storage Manager 7.0, which is part of the Mobile 965 Express chipset. Finally DFOROM software is needed to allow the Turbo Memory chips to be accessed at BIOS level – this will allow boot up files to be stored there, thus reducing the boot time of the notebook.

The key benefit that Turbo Memory brings to the party is faster access times for your applications, both when opening them and working with them. By cutting back on the need to access the hard disk, you’re not just reducing latency, in true Centrino style you’re also reducing the amount battery drain.

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