Centrino 2: The Curtain Pulled Back
A Platform: Defined
Like its predecessors, Centrino 2 is defined by four key components: a processor, chipset, wireless networking solution, and wired networking controller.
The Santa Rosa platform — the one just before Centrino 2 — began its life relying on Intel’s Core 2 Duo processor. Manufactured at 65 nm and operating on an 800 MHz front side bus, it did its job well enough, but was replaced earlier this year by the much more attractive 45 nm Core 2 Duo. Armed with more cache and higher clock speeds, that quiet Q1 refresh represented a good time to upgrade. Intel ups the ante even higher with Centrino 2 by pushing a full lineup of chips employing 1066 MHz front side bus speeds and TDPs of either 35 W or 25 W.
The Mobile Intel 45 Express chipset family displaces the old GM965, to which we say good riddance. Gaming of any sort was wishful thinking on the Intel GMA X3100 core. We can only hope that 3D performance gets a much-needed boost this time around.
Less prominent is the replacement of Intel’s 82566MM/C Gigabit Ethernet chip with a newer 82567LM Gigabit controller, likely tied to the new out-of-band management support Centrino 2 introduces. There are a couple of new wireless options, referred to as the Wi-Fi Link 5100- and 5300-series cards. Intel also plans to launch WiMAX/WiFi Link 5150- and 5350-series cards later this year with built-in support for, of course, WiMAX.
Lastly, Centrino 2 supports a second generation of Intel’s Turbo Memory technology code-named Robson 2. The first time around, Intel armed its Santa Rosa platform with either 512 MB or 1 GB NAND flash cards designed to work specifically with Vista’s ReadyDrive and ReadyBoost features. While Intel hasn’t said much about Turbo Memory as it pertains to Centrino 2 (perhaps because the technology never really demonstrated compelling gains?), we do know that the platform will support optional 2 GB Turbo Memory kits, and later, 4 GB kits. We can only hope that the larger partitions for ReadyDrive and ReadyBoost translate into palpable gains.