Intel has officially launched its next-generation Centrino platform, and it's looking pretty darn spiffy.
The imaginatively monikered Centrino 2, previously running under the internal codename Montevina, is available in two flavours – the plain old Centrino 2 and the higher-end Centrino 2 with vPro™ Technology. No, really – that's what it's called. vPro is the name Intel has given to its own version of the Phoenix HyperCore embedded security system; a hardware-based virtual operating system that allows corporations remote access to perform security checks and maintenance on their laptops, even if the main operating system is hosed beyond repair.
As well as the Montevina platform itself, Intel also announced the availability of a bunch of new mobile-oriented processors based around the Core 2 technology. TrustedReviews
has a full list of current and future processor ranges, but the basic upshot is that you can expect a range of 'performance' units from 2.26GHz to 2.53GHz running on a 1,066MHz front-side bus with an impressive thermal design profile of 25W, and a second range of chips especially designed for the small form factor market ranging from 2.4GHz with 6MB cache down to a weeny little 1.2GHz unit with 3MB cache but a frankly astonishing 5.5W TDP – which opens the door for impressive battery life in future ultra-portables.
The processor joy doesn't end there, though: Intel has also used the launch of Centrino 2 to mention that it has beaten rival AMD to the punch and is the first chip maker to offer a range of quad-core processors for the mobile market. If you demand performance for your single-threaded applications, Intel's got your back there, too: a mobile version of the Core 2 Extreme 3.06GHz, allegedly the world's highest-performing dual-core mobile processor.
If you rely on Intel integrated graphics on your notebook, you'll be aware that – excellent Linux support aside – they've never been at the cutting-edge when it comes to gaming. The bad news is that the new Mobile Intel Express 45 IGP that is coming part and parcel of the Centrino 2 platform still won't set your gaming world on fire, but it does
feature hardware Blu-Ray decoding and the option – at the OEM's discretion – to switch between the integrated, energy-efficient Intel graphics chip and a discrete, power-hungry gaming chip on demand.
Centrino wouldn't be Centrino without wireless connectivity, of course, and Intel has that covered too with the announcement of the Intel Wi-Fi Link 5000 series of wireless networking equipment. Running on the as-yet unratified 802.11n draft specification, the new cards offer five times the speed and twice the range of the 802.11a/b/g cards offered in the original Centrino platform. If you're one of the lucky few who live in a WiMAX enabled area, check out the 5050 series – combined WiFi and WiMAX reception in a single card.
In order to get the energy efficiency points that any good mobile platform needs, Centrino 2 is set to feature a range of new power-saving technologies including Deep Power Down – in which extra cache and core clocks are completely disabled when the laptop is idling – and the aforementioned switchable graphics alongside old favourites like the SpeedStep dynamic clocking technology.
The Centrino 2 platform is due to start appearing in notebooks soon, with confirmed models including the Fujitsu Lifebook S7220, the HP Compaq 6730b, the Lenovo IdeaPad Y730, the Sony VGN-FW198UH, and the Toshiba Qosimio X305.
Anybody here looking to get their hands on a Centrino 2-based ultra-portable, or do you have other requirements from a laptop? Share your thoughts over in the forums