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Once again it’s time for a new processor revision and this time around it’s Intel’s Pentium M that has been given an overhaul. The new core, codenamed Dothan is here, but what does it have to offer? First of all the humble Pentium M has undergone a die shrink and is now fabricated at 90nm, and thanks to the die shrink Intel has managed to squeeze in some more cache. So, this latest version of Intel’s mobile chip sports a whopping 2MB of cache.
The increase in cache memory should result in a very healthy boost in performance, especially as the Pentium M has been designed to rely heavily on its cache memory. The new Pentium M will initially be available at a clock speed of 1.8GHz with faster parts arriving later this year, clocked up to at least 2GHz. One other thing worth mentioning is that Intel is about to change its processor model names, so the 1.8GHz model will be known as the Pentium M 745. I’m not sure what the number relates to, but I would expect Intel to clarify it all shortly.
However, there is more to this story than just a new CPU. As the Pentium M is only one part of Intel’s Centrino brand, the overhaul has gone one step further than just the processor. The other part of the Centrino equation is the WiFi adapter, and this has undergone a major refresh as well - there is now support for all three WiFi standards, namely 802.11a/b/g. Expect to see mainly 802.11b/g products in Europe as the 802.11a standard has yet to gain ground here.
The new CPU core and the WiFi options are supported by the current chipsets, but later on this year there will be a new chipset arriving with support for Serial ATA, PCI Express and DDR2. Other improvements include better sound and a new graphics core with DirectX 9 support, which shouldn’t differ vastly from the new desktop part. I don't want to delve too deeply into future chipset developments now, but TrustedReviews will bring you up to speed when actual hardware arrives later this year.
For now, let’s take a look at the first laptop to arrive at our offices featuring the new Dothan Pentium M 1.8GHz - the Systemax TourBook 5127. If you’re an avid reader of TrustedReviews you’ll notice that the chassis is the same as that of the TourBook 5112 that we reviewed a few weeks ago (to read the full review of the TourBook 5112 click here). This is not a bad thing though, as the TourBook 5112 managed to grab an Editor’s Choice award, proving to be a truly amazing laptop for the price.
The TourBook 5127 comes in at a mere £100 +VAT more than the 5112, totalling up to a sum of £1173.83 inc VAT. So what do you get for your money? Well, the TourBook 5127 is a fully fledged Centrino branded notebook, featuring the latest 1.8GHz Pentium M processor, 512MB of PC2700 DDR SDRAM and an 80GB hard drive. The rest of the hardware remains the same as the TourBook 5112, which means that you still get a Mobility Radeon 9600 graphics chipset, a DVD+R/RW DVD writer and a 15in TFT display with a 1,400 x 1,050 resolution.