Centrino Evolves

The Centrino specification, coupled with a massive ad campaign, helped Intel consolidate its iron grip on the laptop market and also had the effect of pushing wireless networking into the mainstream – everyone who bought a new laptop was looking for the Centrino logo, and when they got it home wanted to take advantage of the built-in wireless technology.

The company went on to introduce its second-generation Sonoma platform in January 2005, taking advantage of the next generation Pentium M processor (Dothan), Intel's 915 Express chipset and 802.11g support in the form of the PRO/Wireless 2200 or 2195ABG wireless adapter. The new Pentium M boasted twice the level 2 cache at 2MB, an improved frontside bus speed of 533MHz and moved from a 0.13-micron process to a 90nm one. The power consumption of the new processor was down once again, though Sonoma laptops typically didn't eke quite as much from their batteries as Carmel machines did, thanks to the increased power requirements of the new PCI Express bus (which also heralded the arrival of ExpressCard in laptops).

A mere 12 months later, Intel pushed things on again, introducing its Core Duo (Yonah) 65nm processor ushering in the third-generation Centrino platform, Napa. The Core Duo chip implemented Intel's Smart Cache model, where 2MB of cache was shared between the cores, so that if only one core was utilised, it had access to all the cache. Months later, its next-generation Core 2 processors made an appearance too, with Intel adding its state of-the-art mobile Core 2 Duo (Merom) and Solo processors to the specification. The higher-end processors now boast a huge 4MB of level 2 cache while the processors run at half the power (34W TDP) of their desktop counterparts.

Significantly, with its dual core processors, power efficiency rather than clock cycles have now become the driving force behind the chip giant's processor design for both laptops and desktops. And with all of Intel's might pushing things forward, the future is looking rosier than ever for the once-poor relation of the home computing world.

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