Intel’s Mobile Core i5 And Core i3: Arrandale Is For The Rest Of Us

Don’t you hate it when you’re on a plane, three-quarters of the way through your favorite movie, when the notebook you’re watching on runs out of juice? It takes a miserly mobile platform to last an entire feature film and continue computing on after it’s over, and those are fairly few and far between.

The first Arrandale-based notebook to land in our lab is armed with a full complement of media-oriented functionality, but I'll spoil the suspense and come right out with the fact that it can’t quite finish a Blu-ray movie.

That’s not to say the Asus K42F isn’t a winner when it comes to longevity. We made it 120 minutes through Transformers on Blu-ray before the unit’s 63Wh battery gave out. More impressive, the K42F played back 300 in its entirely (on DVD) and still had 44% of its battery left.

In comparison, back in October, we gave you a look at Intel’s Mobile Core i7-920XM—the first Nehalem-based processor to tackle the desktop replacement notebook market, not counting the Bloomfield-based behemoths we've seen. With a 55W TDP, though, and paired up to a discrete graphics adapter, we were actually somewhat disappointed with the system’s power consumption, even if it did deliver superior performance versus previous-generation Montevina-based machines. That machine only made it through the first 44 minutes of 300.

But Intel’s Clarksfield-based processor was never meant to be the shining star in the company’s Calpella mobile platform. And ever since our desktop replacement preview, we’ve been anxiously awaiting Arrandale, the processor that’d power notebooks for the rest of us: from medium-sized designs to thin-and-lights and ultra-portables. Finishing our DVD movie with almost half of its battery left was quite a feat for Asus' first Arrandale offering. What else can the little 14" notebook do well?

A Platform Built To Dominate

Of course, Arrandale is the mobile equivalent of Clarkdale, which we detail in Intel Core i5-661: Clarkdale Rings The Death Knell Of Core 2. It leverages the same 32nm high-k / metal gate manufacturing process, which helps pull down the power consumption of these new chips to 35W, 25W, and 18W, depending on the model you choose.

“But wait,” you say. “Isn’t that the same as most of Intel’s 45nm Core 2 Duo standard-voltage and medium-voltage chips? Where’s the improvement?”

That's the BGA version of Arrandale with its SFF platform controller hubThat's the BGA version of Arrandale with its SFF platform controller hub

Like Clarkdale, Arrandale includes two die on a single package—the 32nm silicon consists of the dual-core, Hyper-Threading-equipped processor, while the 45nm die includes graphics, memory control, and PCI Express. Integrating all of that functionality into the CPU negates the need for a traditional northbridge. So, again, we’re presented with a two-chip platform, akin to Lynnfield/P55 and Clarkdale/H55/H57. Axing the middle chip—the GM45 graphics and memory controller hub, in the Montevina platform—eliminates a component that uses up to 12W. So, while Arrandale itself doesn’t represent a huge power savings, the platform it enables has the potential to both outperform and outlast any comparably-equipped notebook today.

Complementing the new processors is a host of chipsets and Centrino-branded wireless modules. Moreover, we have one of the first examples of Arrandale in action here in our lab. Today we’ll be taking Asus’ new K42F notebook for a spin and comparing it against an HP notebook configured as similarly as possible.

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  • burnley14
    Well played, Intel. You've been knocking it out of the park lately, keep up the good work.
  • I'm looking forward to getting an HP laptop with the Arrandale Core i5 processor in the near future.
  • It's going to be interesting to see the performance/battery time of the LM and UM processors as I'm in the market for a thin-and-light myself.

    Performance is good but I'm hoping for a viable update to the CULV offerings of yesterday.
  • Computer_Lots
    Looks like there are finally some replacements for the Atom, at least in efficiency anyway. Too bad the price is currently too high for the UM versions of these processors to make their way into netbooks. I would guess that even the i5-520UM would destroy the Atom in every benchmark, except maybe power consumption.
  • HansVonOhain
    C2D was one of the longest living platforms. But newer tech will replace slower processors.

    Keep it up intel. I do hope that AMD will release some new chips that will be able to compete with intel offerings.
  • jasperjones
    ^^^ true that. arrandale will further diminish AMD's role in the mobile processor market. and there's nothing coming up before may.
  • Luscious
    Chris, the dv4 series from HP has a 12-cell extended battery available as well rated for 94Wh 2.2A. Once HP makes the transition to Arrandale, all else being same, you can expect the dv4 to hit 8-10 hours easy.
  • cangelini
    Thanks for the tip Lucious. I didn't have the higher-capacity battery available to test, but I'd absolutely love to see 8-10 hrs. real-world from an Arrandale-based machine.
  • Reynod
    Good bye NVidia ...

    That chops them completely out of the mobile graphics market for the masses ... Intel will pay the RIGHT OEM's some "adjustment" just to make sure their "Strategy" is right to ensure AMD's mobile market is thin and restricted to the backwaters of Bejjing.
  • spydercanopus
    Wish you would have compared it to Intel Extreme Graphics 2 or something.
  • spydercanopus
    These comparisons aren't very useful. Was really curious how it stacks up against other competing integrated graphics.
  • spydercanopus
    Like... what is the Vista / 7 Aero and Gaming graphics score?
  • cangelini
    spydercanopusThese comparisons aren't very useful. Was really curious how it stacks up against other competing integrated graphics.

    Have a look at Page 8, where HD Graphics is compared to the previous-generation GMA in Vantage and WoW. You're not going to get much else out of this, to be honest...
  • Ok so we get 20% improvement over a 2.53GHz C2D but what about the fact that C2D goes to 3.06 GHz and 3.33GHz in extreme edition, but the best arrandale is only 2.66Ghz?

    Also the integrated graphics can barely match the 9400m that is 1-2 years old.

    The battery life is the same or worse...

    What is so great about this chip?

    Personally I'm not at all impressed and find it a step side ways or even backwards.
  • xanxaz
    ASUS EFI? can it load the apple one?
  • Just because the older C2D's have higher clocks doesn't necessarily mean they are better. Advances in the micro-architecture sometimes leave clock freqs irrelevant. An i7 920 @ 2.66 will beat a Core 2 Extreme QX9770 @ 3.2. But to be sure I guess we will have to see the highest end Arrendale vs highest end C2D.

    The integrated graphics do suck, but at least now we have a choice in some laptops where we can switch from the integrated to dedicated, saving battery life when needed and boosting performance where needed. It adds flexibility basically, I'm sure Intel was aiming more for that rather than performance in 3D games.

    What I really want to see is the ULV versions of this chip. I'm hoping whenever they start coming out, it'll push down the prices of older Ultra-Portable laptops around the 12-14" sizes. Certain ones with the C2D SU7300 and 4GB of RAM can be found for around $550 today. If these prices go down far enough, netbookks will be obsolete in my mind.
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  • Interesting that no mention was made of how Apple has been building Core 2 Duo notebooks that will play 4 movies on a single battery charge, while the i5's and i7's are great, I don't think Intel's Duos can be blamed for your notebook's barely being able to play a single movie. (note Apple is now making notebooks with the i5 and i7 processors which also can run all major operating systems)
  • Hey, Did you know these Arrandale CPUs are starting to pop-up already? I've noticed this review for the Core i5-520UM today, google says it's new: . Hopefully It's ok to post links in here, as they are related and help the readers of this post.
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