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Intel Centrino Mobile Technology
By Aaron Yip
Category : Notebooks/Laptops
Published by Jimmy Tang on Wednesday, 12th March, 2003


Centrino - A Link To The Future

In the typical mindset of a notebook user, bigger means better performance. But big normally equates to bulky and heavy notebooks as well. But all that will change from today onwards with the official announcement of Intel's newest kid on the block - the Centrino.

Formerly codenamed Banias, Intel's new Pentium-M processor have since evolved into a trinity set along with the also-new Intel 855PM chipset (codenamed Odem) and a WLAN adapter in the Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 LAN MiniPCI Adapter (known as Calexico) that supports the 802.11b wireless communication standard. These three components are aggregated together as the Centrino Mobile Technology, or simply Centrino. This new set of technology epitomized Intel's foundation of mobility in notebooks, namely, battery life; performance; thin and light form-factors; and wireless connectivity.

Only notebooks with these three key components would have Intel's permission to carry the "Centrino Mobile Technology" branding. In simpler terms, any notebook that doesn't have any of the above three components are not designed according to the mobility foundation set by Intel. For example, if a vendor decides to use a 3rd-party wireless mini-PCI card instead of the Intel Pro/Wireless Network card, that notebook will only be known simply as a Pentium-M notebook and not Centrino. Naturally, since the Pentium-M and the i855MP chipset comes as one, the only way a Pentium-M notebook can lose the Centrino is by using a non-Intel wireless mini-PCI card.

Intel's approach here is that a Centrino Mobile Technology notebook will be a platform solution in one single unit - therefore, the three primary components are designed to work flawlessly with each other. Since one of the biggest buzz about Centrino is its much-hyped extended battery life, we were also told that the power saving technologies of the different components in Centrino here can be used more optimally. The Pentium-M processor has been designed to be significantly more efficient with battery power and yet as powerful, if not more, than the Pentium III-M and even the Pentium 4-M. In fact, Centrino notebooks are touted to last twice as long as Pentium 4-M notebooks in battery life. At the same time, increased processor performance at lower thermal power dissipation also allowed vendors to design notebooks in smaller form factors.

There is a reason why Intel is so aggressive with its Centrino branding of course. With its Centrino strategy, Intel wants to gain a foothold in expanding market share especially in the wireless sector. After all, they didn't spend US$150 million on telecoms as well as other wireless infrastructures to develop wireless zones or "hotspots" globally for no reason.

In conjunction with the worldwide introduction of the Centrino Mobile Technology, Intel was kind enough to provide us with a Centrino prototype in the Acer Travelmate 800 for a sneak peek. Let's check it out in the next few pages.

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