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Intel Napa Platform - a brief look

by Tarinder Sandhu on 6 January 2006, 01:35

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qaegj

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A little history

Intel Napa Platform Overview


Since the introduction of Intel's Centrino platform branding in 2003, which was the banner name given to the trio of a Pentium M CPU (Banias Core), Intel i865M chipset, and Intel's 2200BG Wireless card, users have had the assurance that the basic hardware in a laptop would simply work. With a certified base, laptop manufacturers created a number of thin-and-light laptops, and recently, gaming machines based on Centrino technology.

Since the initial release of the Centrino trio, codenamed Carmel, we have seen periodic refreshes that have included beefing up the single-core Pentium M's core with 2MB of L2 cache (Dothan) and, roughly a year ago, moving the CPU from its 400MHz FSB to 533MHz, along with an across-the-line manufacturing process reduction from 130nm to 90nm. Further, the simultaneous introduction of a new supporting chipset with native PCIe support and dual-channel memory addressing, Intel i915 Express, along with an upgraded WiFi adapter, made the Centrino brand (Sonoma, in this case) an all-encompassing one. You could literally find it in a 1.2kg superlight laptop, or with, say, an NVIDIA GeForce Go 7800 GTX, in a 4kg+ package replete with a 17-inch wide-aspect display.

The next evolution for the mobile Centrino brand was, as expected, to follow the changes in Intel's desktop CPUs. Dual-core CPUs, that is, two execution cores housed on one package, have been the in thing for 2005. Both Intel and AMD's multi-core product list continues to swell, and with the recently launched Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 955 CPU, dual-core processors based on a 65nm manufacturing process are now rolling out of the fabs.

It will come as no great surprise that Intel is officially releasing its newest iteration of the Centrino brand today, and Napa, the platform's identifier, takes in Intel's first dual-core mobile CPU, its i945 Express chipset, and Intel 3945ABG WiFi adapter. There's more to Yonah/Napa than just a couple of Dothan cores bolted on to a single piece of silicon and placed on an upgraded core logic, however, so let's take a more detailed look.