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Napa Officially Announced

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Just to make it that bit more difficult to buy Christmas gifts companies do seem to enjoy announcing products that will be available early next year. The guilty party here is Intel, with the official announcement of its new mobile platform. The official name can’t be made known yet, so for now we’ll have to stick with the code name, which is Napa.

Just to put a dampener on the new laptop you’ve got for Christmas Intel claims that the new platform will be faster, use less power and just be better all round. Let’s take a close look at what Napa has to offer and if it will meet the high expectations – both the ones from Intel and the ones from expected buyers.

The new mobile processor has the codename Yonah, and it’s no secret that it will be dual-core and that it will be manufactured using a 65nm micron process. Yonah utilises a shared 2MB L2 cache which both cores have access to. Intel claims that this will reduce cache misses and cache under-utilization. The two cores can also share data more efficiently between them this way. A single core version will also be available, but Intel hinted, but did not confirm, that this will replace the Celeron brand of mobile processors.

The FSB (Front Side Bus) will also be increased from 533 to 667MHz, which should boost the performance as well. Intel has also tweaked the SSE/SSE2 functions and added several new SSE3 functions. The FPU (Floating Point Unit) has also been given an overhaul to improve its performance. As with previous generations of mobile processors Yonah will be available in full-fat, low voltage and ultra-low voltage flavours.

Intel has once again improved the power saving features of its mobile processors and Yonah has some interesting power saving features. First up is Enhanced Deeper Sleep, a better version of Deeper Sleep that turns off more parts of the system when it’s not being used. However, when in use, one of the cores can be switched off to save power if the extra CPU power isn’t needed. The information of the shared cache can also be moved to RAM during periods of inactivity or low usage, which again saves power by switching off parts of the cache.

The new processors and faster FSB requires a new chipset and for this Intel will use a mobile version of its existing desktop 945 chipset. The increased FSB also means support for faster memory and the 945 chipset works with DDR2 memory at speeds of 533 or 667MHz in a single or dual channel configuration for up to 4GB of RAM. A mobile version of Intel’s ICH7 will be paired to the 945 chipset and there will be a model that supports RAID 0 and 1 as well as Intel’s Matrix RAID. There is also support for SATA optical drives, something that haven’t been available in previous chipsets.

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