Will Core Duo Notebooks Trade Battery Life For Quicker Response?

Summary And Conclusions, Continued

Naturally, Intel's new mobile platform can't address every conceivable performance problem. Most everyday home and office applications won't run appreciably faster, and some may even run a bit slower. Removing such obstacles is the job of the software developer, not the processor vendor, especially when it comes to cleaning up legacy issues that have been preserved too long in program code.

Another bottleneck that continues to hinder a genuine desktop experience on notebook computers is the relatively lame hard disks built into mobile computers these days. Higher rotational speeds are not the final solution, but they would certainly help. Classic RAID arrays consume too much power and are relatively expensive - too much for most notebook vendors to consider installing them in their products. At this point, the best one can do is put faith in the power of human ingenuity and innovation at the few remaining hard disk vendors, hoping that they come through with some kind of miracle, however minor that might turn out to be.

Despite these various disclaimers, one shouldn't underestimate the "Ah!" effect that can occur when using a dual core notebook. You could be working on some application and realize that a virus scan is running in the background while you switch around between a number of other applications, while the system remains ready to respond to the keyboard without a noticeable delay.

Gamers, who look for notebooks with dedicated high-end graphics chips to let them indulge their passions, should wait for dual core technology notebooks in any case. That's because 3D games (such as Call of Duty, Quake 4, or King Kong), which normally overwhelm even fast graphics processors and high-performance single core CPUs, run flicker-free on the new dual core processors.

Those who simply must go out and buy a new notebook in the next few weeks shouldn't lose too much sleep either. Battery lifetimes of a Core Duo or Core Solo system won't differ significantly, that is for sure. As we're discovering, this is the only, if pretty significant, criticism we can level at these new platforms.

A little head-banging may, however, ensue when dealing with the lack of availability of these new systems. The many announcements from Core Duo system vendors would seem to suggest that these systems should show up on store shelves soon. But experience teaches us that it will probably be another couple of weeks before the notebook you want so badly ends up in your hot little hands - and inside information confirms it. By then, we also hope to determine where the large amounts of battery power our test system consumed actually went.

One real step forward - in the sense of Intel's "Leap Ahead" slogan - would be something else entirely, at least in our opinion. That is, we'd like to see Intel work in collaboration with component and subsystem vendors to finally deliver a system architecture that makes an affordable notebook available to the teeming masses of ordinary notebook users who want an average battery life of five to six hours. But please, not by requiring use of five pound supplemental batteries, either...

Finally, we'd like to share the following tip. Bargain hunters (not trend-setters) should look for deals on what now becomes an "older" generation of Centrino (Sonoma) systems. Even the "good old" Pentium M (Dothan) is still a good, relatively energy efficient mobile CPU that can satisfy business computing needs quite nicely.

Whoops! We nearly forgot AMD. Can we dare to hope that we'll soon hear news from Texas that might really represent a step forward? This will probably mean something like a DDR2 memory interface for the next Turion 64 generation. But there's no immediate cause for alarm: Surely something new will come from the folks at AMD; of that, we're completely convinced.

How about something like a mobile 64-bit dual core mobile processor that consumes less power than Intel's brand-new dual core 32-bit offering? This would pair up especially well with Microsoft's new Vista operating systems and Office suite, because both should include massive 64-bit enhancements. And who wants to be stuck with a notebook twelve months from now that can't handle 64-bit programs?

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