Conclusion: Showing Promise
Waiting for Centrino 2
We wish we could answer the questions posed at the beginning of this article and tell you whether or not Centrino 2 deserves its new name. Unfortunately, none of the notebook partners we spoke to before the launch were ready with hardware to evaluate — and now that we know a little more about the delays holding back certain components of the platform, we understand why.
On paper, at least, Centrino 2 looks like it will be a solid step forward with regard to performance and energy efficiency. It’s always a good thing any time you can get faster frequencies, a quicker front side bus and more graphics power at a similar or lower thermal envelope.
We look forward to testing the GM45 chipset and its brand new graphics core. The inclusion of switchable graphics and the implementation of CrossFire compatibility neutralizes two of the advantages AMD’s Puma platform looked like it’d have over Centrino. Also, DisplayPort and HDMI connectivity help maintain Intel’s leadership position in I/O connectivity.
We’re hopeful that the new wireless networking solution is able to deliver on its speed promises. And the idea of WiMAX when we’re out of range for Wi-Fi is an interesting proposition as well.
We expect there will be plenty of vendors taking Core 2 Duo T9600 or Core 2 Extreme X9100 CPUs and putting them in large chassis with two discrete GPUs in CrossFire configurations. What we’d really like to see, though, is an affordable Core 2 Duo P9500-based system on a GM45-based platform able to hold its own in graphics and video playback.
Not Quite Ready
If brute force is what you’re after, feel free to check out the first batch of hardware based on Montevina, including all of the new Core 2 Duo chips, PM45, and Intel’s older networking offerings. Just remember that the actual Centrino 2 launch is still around the corner, bringing with it GM45, Intel’s newest wireless solutions, and the option to tie vPro into your notebook. Road warriors looking for the slimmer, lighter platforms will want to wait until early August, as will IT admins considering adding Centrino with vPro to their enterprise networks.
Intel deserves praise for holding back the components it didn’t feel were ready for launch. At the same time, we’re sure the company is under pressure to get as much of Montevina out into the market and available as possible. The CPUs and PM45 chipset should go a long way to counter AMD’s Puma initiative, but not nearly as far as GM45 and the new networking hardware will. Wait a month. See what the complete Centrino 2 package is all about, and reevaluate whether or not the technology bests what companies like HP and Toshiba are doing with AMD’s Puma platform.