Napa Officially Announced

A new wireless card has also been designed for the new platform, the Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG which offers improved performance and reduce power drain. This is using the PCI Express bus and comes in a MiniCard form factor rather than Mini PCI which has been the standard to date. The new Intel cards also have better profile support for multiple wireless networks, so you can easily swap between different network settings. On the subject of networking, the onboard Ethernet controller of the Napa platform is now up to Gigabit speed and it too uses the PCI Express bus.

In might be the world’s largest supplier of graphics, but performance graphics has never been Intel’s strong point. A new graphics core has been developed for the Yonah platform in the shape of the Intel GMA950 which according to Intel offers up to twice the 3D performance of the previous generation. It is also more power efficient and ready for Windows Vista.

Intel has also improved the support for widescreen displays by adding the required resolutions in the drivers. More importantly the GMA950 also supports HD video playback and with a dual-core processor in your notebook there should be enough grunt to play HD video smoothly. According to Intel the Napa platform will be able to play back HD video content at 30fps, so there shouldn’t be any issues with stuttering video.

There is also support for an ambient light sensor, which will allow the screens backlight to adjust automatically to various light conditions. This can be disabled if this is a feature you don’t like, but it could save battery power.

Intel claims market wide uptake of the new Napa platform and at least on paper, Napa looks like a huge step forward in mobile processing power. If all the promises come through, Intel will have a very good mobile platform that should offer more performance and better battery life, the two things that every laptop user wants. However, you’ll have to wait until the early next year before you can actually buy one, which together with uncertainties about pricing are really the only downsides to the new Napa platform that we can currently see.

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