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Digital-Daily : Mobile : centrino_duo

Intel Centrino Duo: new-generation mobility

Intel Centrino Duo: new-generation mobility
Author: Vladimir Romanchenko
Date: 24.01.2006

Mobile Intel 945 Express chipset family

Centrino Duo

The new generation of "mobile" Mobile Intel 945 Express chipset for use in combination with Intel Core Duo/Solo processors has come as a replacement to the Mobile Intel 915 Express series and was known during the development of the Napa platform under the Calistoga working name.

These days, the family of new chipsets includes two versions of the north bridge the discrete Mobile Intel 945PM Express and integrated Mobile Intel 945GM Express. The chipsets are equipped with the mobile version of the south bridge- ICH7-M and appear to be improved, modified and economical versions of Intel 945G/P presented in May last year for desktop PCs.

Centrino Duo

The new generation of mobile chipsets offers the system bus optimized for power-consumption, running at 667 MHz, support for the PCI Express x16 and up to 4 GB 2-channel DDR2 400/533/667 memory. The chipsets offer power management tools - Intel Rapid Memory Power Management, which allow saving the power consumed by the chipset and DIMM DDR2 modules through switching the memory to the state of reduced power consumption with the display staying active.


We should also mention the Intel Display Power Saving 2.0 technology that reduces the display backlight power consumption with the minimum visual effect to the user, which allows elongating the time of offline battery operation; the Intel Automatic Display Brightness technology which automatically adjusts the display backlight intensity as per the ambient illumination level; the Intel Matrix Storage technology with the Link Power Management feature that allows to boost performance, manage the power consumption and protect data in data storage subsystems.

The 4-pipeline graphic core Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 (GMA 950) integrated into the Intel 945GM chipset is a the Gen 3.5 generation of Intel graphics and supports DirectX 9. The clock speed of GMA 950 chip has been raised from 200 MHz in Intel 915GM to 250 MHz in Intel 945GM, plus the hardware support for VLD/iDCT has been added.

Centrino Duo

Additionally, of note is support for the Intermediate Z that eliminates polygons displayed in 3D applications; a full-featured MPEG-2 (SD & HD) decoding; support for D-connectors of all types (D1-D5) and any TV-sets, including HDTV; adaptive line scanning management that removes some visual artifacts while watching on-air TV on non-interlaced scanning displays, as well as the COPP/HDCP/CGMS-A technology which allows viewing protected high-quality video with the content copy-protected.

Along with the above listed, the Mobile Intel 945 Express chipset offers support for 7.1-channel Intel High Definition Audio at 32-bit/192 KHz bit-rate; up to USB 2.0 ports. There is the DMI (Direct Media Interface), the LVDS interface, integrated TV-out, independent outputs to two displays (Dual Independent Display), support for Serial ATA storage media.

Centrino Duo

It is expected that in the second quarter presented will be value versions of the Mobile Intel 945 Express chipsets - Intel 945GMZ, Intel 945GMS, and Intel 940GML. Intel 945GMS is remarkable for its super-compact packaging merely 27x27 mm, which determines its use in ultra-compact notebooks and mini-notebook models. Intel 945GMZ is a cut-down version of Intel 945GM and lacks support for the PCI Express x16 bus. Finally, the Intel 940GML with integrated graphics and support for FSB at merely 533 MHz is evidently aimed at operation with chips of the Celeron class, but this time based on Yonah cores.

Centrino Duo

A few words on further prospects for progress of mobile south bridges of the ICH7 series. All the notebooks, as was already stated above, will be equipped with the standard ICH7-M series, while solutions for the desktop platform Viiv will be shipped with both the ICH7-M version and with the ICH7-MDH version which offers additional support for six PCI Express x1 slots and the RAID feature. It's quite possible that support for RAID will be also implemented in the Napa platform, say, in the second-third quarter of 2006.

Centrino Duo

Wi-Fi in the Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG version

Centrino Duo

The new-generation wireless network adapter Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG, formerly named as Golan (working name) supports extended functional characteristics which improve the communication capabilities of application systems and reducing their response times. The adapter offers support for IEEE802.11a (5 GHz/54 Mbit/s), IEEE802.11b (2.4 GHz/11 Mbit/s) and IEEE802.11g (2.4 GHz/54 Mbit/s).

Among the key characteristics of Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG, the following are worth mentioning:

  • Improved AP Selection, which is an intelligent means for access-point selection based on the connection quality parameters like signal level, data transmission rate, channels usage and connection errors, which also allows automatically selecting the access-point to provide the best performance when using any of the supported protocols of 802.11x family
  • Flexible roaming - the possibility to point to the need for using a certain access point. For example, there can be selected an access point of higher connection speed, if an additional bandwidth is needed when loading large files or data of higher signal level, if a more stable connection is needed (e.g. during a game)
  • Support for 802.11e QoS - the most recent 802.11e specification that regulates the service quality in wireless networks during content transmission, e.g. voice transmission over IP-networks (VoIP) or when viewing video streaming via a wireless connection
  • Intel PROSet/Wireless Software version 10 software is a friendly GUI that simplifies troubleshooting
  • Business Class Wireless Suite allows to use new applications for cooperation and provides the grounds for building high-performance wireless LANs
  • Wake on Wireless Local Area Network (WoWLAN) allows the IT personnel to bring the client system from the reduced power consumption state if the system is connected to the same access point and install a software update which is critical to provide security, as well as notify of the incoming IP-telephone call even if the notebook is powered off
  • Noise suppression filter detects signals from other clients not meeting the 802.11 standards (e.g., a microwave or a radio phone) and protects the receiver against operation in the overload mode, which allows maintaining a high bandwidth under unfavorable conditions
  • Support for Cisco Compatible Extensions (LEAP, EAP-FAST, and CKIP)
  • Supported by Windows XP, Windows 2000, Linux

The Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG Wi-Fi adapter is produced in the mini-card form factor for the PCIe bus (PCI Express x1, 1/2 mPCI format), which allows creating thin and light notebooks. Due to the possibility to use Intel PROSet/Wireless version 10, corporate customers can leverage the new IT administration tool and API interface which is meant to provide quality of service (QoS) as per 802.11e for IP-telephony.

Centrino Duo

Performance and economy of the Intel Centrino Duo platform

Having sorted out with components of the Intel Centrino Duo platform, it's high time we estimated its capabilities. Unfortunately, at the moment our test lab hasn't got the test results for a real system running on the base of the Napa platform, and we'll have to restrict to a few slides produced in the course of system tests run at the Intel laboratory. It was just these graphs based on which the company's official press release reported "performance boost up to 68 due to the use of new 2-core processors, elongation of the offline battery-powered operation by up to 28%", etc. For now, there is only official data, but in the near future we will definitely please our readers with tests of real retail systems.

Centrino Duo

Centrino Duo

Centrino Duo

Centrino Duo

Centrino Duo

Centrino Duo

The final touch in describing the Intel Centrino Duo technology is a collection of information on the power consumption of new-generation mobile systems. According to the preliminary information of Intel's OEM partners, the overall power consumption of Napa-based systems is lower than that of the previous Sonoma generation. The below table shows the average (not peak, maximum, but average) power consumption of Intel Core Duo platform for comparison versus similar characteristics of the Sonoma platform.

Approximate power consumption for components of
Sonoma and Napa mobile platforms
Processor 1.1 W 1.1 W
North bridge of the chipset Integr. (GM) 1.5 W 1 W
Discrete (PM) 1 W 0.39 W
South bridge 1.5 W 0.6 W
Wireless LAN 0.1 W 0.055 W
Total 4.2 W 2.8 W

With similar power consumption of Core Duo and Dothan chips, note how the power consumption by Intel 945GM and Intel 945PM chipsets have gone down as compared to the predecessors Intel 915GM and Intel 915M. Therefore, with the twice as less power consumption of the wireless adapter and south bridge the average power consumption for Napa platform components has dropped to 2.8 W versus 4.2W in Sonoma. The balanced choice of an economical display, storage media and other "voracious" notebook components will definitely let the developers achieve new records at the time of offline battery operation for Napa-based systems.

As a bright example of model based on Intel Centrino Duo, I am bringing in the recently presented Dell Inspiron 9400 notebook which will hit the retail by the end of January. The novelty is equipped with a Core Duo T2500 processor of 2 GHz clock speed, Intel 945PM Express, NVIDIA GeForce 7800 Go graphics of 256 MB graphic memory, 2 GB RAM, a 100 GB HDD, as well as a luxurious 17" 1920


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