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Intel 'Sonoma' Centrino Platform

by David Ross on 19 January 2005, 00:00

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

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So Centrino 2? Surely?

I don’t know about you, but I love freedom; I hate to sit at my desk and work all day. However, there used to be restrictions – I needed a network connection in order to be able to fire emails off and browse the net. Well times have changed and computers have evolved. I have been running a WiFi network for about 3 years now and for sure it has changed the way I work.

Around 18 months ago I was sitting in a briefing at IDF (Intel Developer Forum) when Intel shared a new ‘solution’ with us. Intel talked about an integrated wireless solution for mobile computers. They were to call it Centrino.

Over the years I have had a number of laptops; and without doubt up until I got my IBM X31 my favorite was my old trustworthy Compaq Armada M700 it was thin, easy to carry and did everything I needed it to do, it catered my needs and expectations from a laptop. Now I use an X31 and can connect to a WiFi LAN easily – and some could say it makes me more productive. Others say it makes it harder to disconnect from work.

Intel’s main focus for the Centrino brand was to offer a solution which had good battery life, a wireless connection, came in small form factors, and of course had some performance. There are not many who can argue it doesn’t achieve all of these, and well. Without doubt Centrino has been one of the major successes for Intel in 2004, and has helped to drive people to a wireless world.

Today sees the birth of Sonoma - Centrino 2 if you will – Intel’s next generation mobile platform which has been refined and sees some of Intel’s recent desktop technologies put into it. These are carried to Sonoma using the i915 core logic as a base. Sonoma also demands the use of the next generation Pentium-M CPU (Dothan), Intel Pro Wireless 2200BG or 2915ABG WiFi module, and Intel state that this new module supports new software which gives tightened security and easier configuration.

Intel’s aim is to deliver to the consumer a solution which will improve their experience of music, photos, movies, games and TV on their laptop. Intel has refreshed their integrated mobile graphics part with support for 3D gaming, TV out, and high-definition playback. This may not cater for everyone’s needs but OEMs can select to use an integrated 3rd party graphics solution. The ‘improved’ audio experience in the consumer is in the form of their high-definition audio part which features Dolby-approved 7.1 audio, array microphone support and jack re-tasking.

Like the existing Centrino platform, the OEM creating a Sonoma-based system has to have Intel CPU, Chipset, and WiFi in order for the product to carry the Centrino brand name.

Of course Intel also has to appeal to the business user, and even though these multimedia improvements may well sell it on the consumer side, the business side needs resilience and security. Intel has focused on delivering security, responsiveness, stability and flexibility.

The new Sonoma platform includes:
- Intel Graphics Media Processor 900
- 533FSB with DDR2 (up to 2GB), and PCI-E support
- High Definition Audio
- Intel WiFi Support
- Power Optimized FSB

The future of Centrino will encapsulate dual core technology, and Intel are investing in other key areas such as WiFi, battery and display, attempting to pioneer new technology in each sector.

Confusingly, Intel has chosen to retain the Centrino brand name with no modifications, with the only easy way to spot a Sonoma being the processor used. A 7-series Pentium-M on 533MHz front-side bus is what to look out for.

To sum up, Intel has taken most of the desktop platform recently rolled out for Pentium 4, and applied to Pentium-M and the Centrino platform. We’ll bring you more on Sonoma as and when we receive evaluation samples from third-party manufacturers.