Intel's Sonoma launch promises to outpace Centrino

Demand has been strong for Intel's Centrino - which bundles a Pentium M processor with a chipset and a WLan (wireless Lan)...

Demand has been strong for Intel's Centrino - which bundles a Pentium M processor with a chipset and a WLan (wireless Lan) chipset - since it was introduced in March 2003.

Intel expected the launch of its next-generation Centrino platform, known by the codename Sonoma, to build on this success.

"I'm expecting more [notebook PC] designs will get launched with Sonoma than we saw with the first Centrino platform," said Anand Chandrasekher, vice-president and general manager of Intel's Mobile Platforms Group, adding that more than 50 Sonoma-based laptop designs will be ready to ship when the technology is launched during the second half of this year.

Sonoma is based on an updated Pentium M processor, codenamed Dothan, that is made using a 90-nanometer process rather than the 130-nanometer process used to manufacture existing Pentium M chips. A more advanced process technology allows chips to be made that cost less and can offer greater performance while consuming less power.

Dothan, which will start to ship this quarter, offers 2Mbytes of on-chip cache and supports a faster 533MHz front-side bus, which connects the chipset with the processor. Dothan will also consume the same amount of power as Intel's Pentium M chips. The existing Pentium M chips, formerly known by the codename Banias, have 1Mbyte of on-chip cache and use a 400MHz front-side bus.

"You get the same great battery life that you're used to getting with Centrino but your performance goes up [with Dothan]," Chandrasekher said.

"The product looks very healthy and we're anticipating a very quick ramp," he said. Ramp is a term that describes the process of bringing a chip to production in high volumes.

But there is more to Sonoma than just an updated processor. It will also include an updated WLan chipset, codenamed Calexico 2, which offers lower power consumption, an improved software interface and supports the 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g wireless networking standards.

Sonoma also includes an updated chipset, codenamed Alviso, which offers Intel's High Definition Audio technology, and includes an improved version of the company's Display Power Saving Technology, further reducing the amount of power consumed by a notebook's display compared to Intel's Pentium M chipsets.

Sumner Lemon writes for IDG News Service

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