Will Core Duo Notebooks Trade Battery Life For Quicker Response?

Summary And Conclusions

Yonah shows that Intel's engineers have achieved something that those who build automobile engines can only dream about: putting two engines in one device, resulting in better performance without excessive fuel consumption. That said, creating an eight-cylinder engine out of two four-cylinder motors actually creates a pretty powerful engine - a bit of trickery, but usually practiced in the car business. Still consumption for a V8 engine in moderate, everyday use is around 20 to 30 percent higher, when compared to a four cylinder engine.

The situation for Intel's Yonah - whose birthplace is in Haifa, Israel, as for so many other good CPUs of recent vintage - is different. There, the developers have succeeded in artfully improving performance by a wide margin, without sending power consumptions sky high.

Nevertheless we must ask ourselves where the bulk of battery energy goes missing. Our test system with its dedicated graphics chip ran out of juice in just a bit over two hours when running on battery.

We can't blame the CPU as we've already shown. Yonah by itself, perhaps better identified as the Core Duo processor, is definitely one of the most efficient and energy saving (mobile) processors we've ever seen. Whether battery power is disappearing into the ATI graphics chip or the chipset itself is something we can't say with certainty.

Then too, there are rumors that earlier versions of the ICH7M had problems with the USB 2.0 controller that caused excessive consumption of battery power. As the old saying goes, "there's some germ of truth in every rumor." For our part, we intend to dig into a dual core system with an integrated graphics core and a 945GM chipset to help us determine where that excess power is going.

Whether or not the new platform proves that Intel's new motto "Leap Ahead" is a real step forward, is only of marginal interest in this situation. One thing's for sure: Yonah, as implemented in the dual core technology in the Centrino Duo platform, is genuinely exciting stuff. By itself, it offers a great reason to wish the developers congratulations for a job well done. Better yet, this new platform costs no more than the old one - at least, not for the next twelve months. As long as Windows remains mostly 32-bit, so will Yonah.

In applications created to exploit the capabilities of dual core processors, single task use experiences a verifiable jump of up to 65 percent (Windows Media Encoder). Individual video editing applications such as Pinnacle Studio 10 Plus also benefit substantially from dual core notebook technology as well, showing a speed boost of 65 percent. Even those applications that aren't optimized can benefit from the new processor. Its faster front side bus, plus the added power of two independent processors and an improved memory interface in the memory controller hub, all help speed things up. In our own carefully crafted multitasking scenarios, the new platform led the pack across the board, with a lead of 30 to 50 percent ahead of a Pentium M Centrino system running at the same core clock speed. The results from off the shelf benchmarks such as SYSmark 2004 SE also validate our observations.