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InfoHQ Tech Watch Newsletter

Laptop CPU Battle Heats Up

Newsletter 1

March 13, 2003

Welcome to our new InfoHQ Tech Watch Newsletter. We've started this newsletter to keep our site visitors informed and up-to-date on the latest computer technology. We also needed a way to pass on our latest computer shopping tips.
I hope you enjoy our new newsletter and find it a valuable resource of computer information.

This newsletter's topic:

Laptop CPU Battle Heats Up; A look at the New Intel Centrino Technology and AMD Athlon XP-M Processors

Laptop CPU Battle Heats Up - On March 12, both Intel and AMD announced new laptop processors: Intel announced its new Centrino technology processors, and AMD announced new Athlon XP-M processors.

Intel Centrino Processors and Chipsets. The purpose of Centrino technology is to allow optimized wireless communication for laptops.
Intel Centrino mobile technology is actually the combination of 3 new chips from Intel: the Intel® Pentium® M processor, the Intel® 855 Chipset Family and the Intel® PRO/Wireless 2100 Network Connection.

New Pentium M processors. Based on a new advanced chip architecture, Intel has made an improved mobile CPU that has lower clock speed then its current mobile Pentium 4 processor M.
Intel issued 6 new Pentium M CPUs at 1.60 GHz, 1.50 GHz, 1.40 GHz, 1.30 GHz, 1.10 GHz (low voltage), and 900 MHz (ultra low voltage).

Intel® 855 Chipset Family. The Intel 855 chipset family includes two new chipsets developed exclusively for the mobile market segment, the 855PM supporting discrete graphics and 855GM with integrated Intel® Extreme Graphics 2 technology.
The new chipsets also support Enhanced Intel SpeedStep technology, Deeper Sleep Alert State and an internal timer that automatically turns off the chipset clock when the chipset is inactive. The 855GM chipset also includes a low-power graphics power management mode.
Both chipsets include a 400MHz processor system bus and support for up to 2GB of DDR 266 memory, along with support for USB 2.0 and Intel's I/O Hub Architecture.

Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 Network Connection. The Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 Network Connection has been designed and validated to connect easily to 802.11b Wi-Fi certified access points. It also supports advanced wireless LAN security including 802.1x, WEP and VPN technologies, and will be software upgradeable to support WPA. Compatible Extensions.

Better Performance. Intel claims that Centrino mobile technology-based systems can deliver up to five hours of battery life or more, compared to about four hours on mobile Intel® Pentium® III processor-M-based system and about 3 hours on mobile Intel® Pentium® 4 processor-M-based systems.
On the same benchmark, Intel Centrino mobile technology offers 15 percent faster performance on multitasking office productivity applications compared to the mobile Intel Pentium 4 processor-M 2.4 GHz system.
In addition, users of Intel Centrino mobile technology based-systems will find a 13 percent improvement gain in their Internet experience when compared to the mobile Intel Pentium 4 processor-M 2.4GHz.

Available Now. Most of the larger laptop manufacturers are offering systems based on Intel Centrino technology including Dell, Toshiba, Sony, and IBM.

AMD Athlon XP-M Processors. Not to be out done, AMD announced 12 new mobile Athlon XP-M processors on March 12.
AMD revealed five low-voltage mobile AMD Athlon XP-M processors at 1800+, 1700+, 1600+, 1500+ and 1400+ with micro PGA packaging, for the thin-and-light notebook market; five desktop replacement AMD Athlon XP-M processors at 2600+, 2500+, 2400+, 2200+ and 2000+ speeds; and two mainstream notebook AMD Athlon XP-M processors at 2400+ and 2200+.

Same Chip, New Name. While AMD should be patted on the back for finally developing a low voltage mobile Athlon chip, there is nothing new about the full voltage Athlon XP-M processor except for an increased L2 cache size (from 256k to 512k) in the "desktop replacement" version..
What AMD is now calling its "mainstream notebook" Athlon XP-M is the same CPU that used to be called the mobile Athlon XP. This chip still retains its 128k L1 cache and 256k L2 cache.

Performance. AMD claims that overall, the mobile AMD Athlon XP-M processor 2500+ outperforms the 2.4GHz Pentium 4 Processor-M by up to 10% on a variety of industry- standard software benchmarks.
Battery life has not been improved except in the low voltage versions of the processor.

Availability. No major US notebook manufacturer is currently taking orders for "desktop replacement" or "mainstream notebook" AMD Athlon XP-M based notebooks.

And the Winner is ... Intel's 1.60 GHz Pentium M processor should be 3%-5% faster than a 2500 + AMD Athlon XP-M (based on both companies' benchmark comparisons to the 2.4 GHz Pentium 4 Processor-M).
Intel's Pentium M processor will also deliver much better battery life than a 2500+ Athlon XP-M system (5 hours as compared to 3 hours).
Whether or not it is any easier to wirelessly connect an Intel Centrino based notebook to the Internet remains to be seen.

As you can order a Centrino technology notebook now, maybe that's all that needs to be said.

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