The Santa Rosa CPU:

As with all Centrino platforms, Santa Rosa is the codename given to a combination of Intel components: CPU, chipset and wireless Ethernet. With Santa Rosa there's a new optional fourth component, now called Intel Turbo Memory but at one point it was known as Robson.


The Santa Rosa CPU is the same 65nm Merom based Core 2 Duo processor that was introduced last year with a few minor changes. The most noticeable change is that Santa Rosa CPUs can support up to an 800MHz FSB, up from 667MHz. The Core 2 Duo is a data hungry CPU, and thus giving it a faster FSB should improve overall performance when plugged in. A faster FSB is also necessary as Intel increases clock speeds; the faster your CPU runs, the faster it needs data to work on in order to operate efficiently.

Along with the 800MHz FSB, Intel introduced SpeedStep technology for its FSB. In previous Centrino platforms, the CPU could throttle its clock speed based on demand by simply adjusting its clock multiplier on the fly. For example, a 2.33GHz mobile Core 2 Duo runs at a 14x multiplier of its 667MHz FSB (166MHz clock frequency x 14.0 multiplier). Under light load, the CPU can reduce its clock multiplier while keeping its FSB frequency the same to reduce power consumption.

With Santa Rosa, Intel can throttle both the CPU multiplier and the FSB frequency in order to conserve the most amount of power when necessary. The FSB frequency can run at a full 800MHz or at 50% of its frequency, 400MHz. The ability to scale back FSB frequency means that idle power of Santa Rosa could actually be much better than previous Centrino platforms.

The product lineup hasn't changed too much with Santa Rosa, there are simply 800MHz FSB mobile Core 2 Duos in the mix now:

Intel Core 2 Duo Processor Launch - Santa Rosa Merom
Processor Core 2 Duo T7700 Core 2 Duo T7500 Core 2 Duo T7300 Core 2 Duo T7100 Core 2 Duo L7500 Core 2 Duo L7300
Process
Technology
65nm 65nm 65nm 65nm 65nm 65nm
Cache Size 4MB 4MB 4MB 2MB 4MB 4MB
Enhanced
Deeper Step
Technology
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Processor
Speed
2.40 GHz/
800 MHz Battery
2.20 GHz/
800 MHz Battery
2.00 GHz/
800 MHz Battery
1.80 GHz/
800 MHz Battery
1.60 GHz/
800 MHz Battery
1.40 GHz/
800 MHz Battery
Voltages 1.0375 - 1.3V 1.0375 - 1.3V 1.0375 - 1.3V 1.0375 - 1.3V .9 - 1.2V .9 - 1.2V
Bus Speed 800MHz 800MHz 800MHz 800MHz 800MHz 800MHz
TDP 35W 35W 35W 35W 17W 17W
Median Average Power <1.1W <1.1W <1.1W <1.1W <1.0W <1.0W
Pricing 1Ku $530 $316 $241 $209 $316 $284
.

Other than that, there are no more changes to the CPU. You already get a good idea that Santa Rosa is the most evolutionary of Centrino platforms we've seen introduced just based on the relatively few improvements made to the CPU. Despite the minor changes to the CPU, Intel has introduced a new socket pinout with Santa Rosa, meaning that these new Merom chips won't work in older platforms and vice versa.

A new, old Chipset:

In Intel's recent tradition, last year's mainstream desktop chipset is now this year's mobile chipset of choice. The Intel 965 Express chipset is now offered in mobile form for use with Santa Rosa, and with it comes updated integrated graphics. As we discovered on the desktop, Intel's G965 graphics performance left a lot to be desired but we are not sure if things have improved since our initial looks at the platform as the test notebook Intel shipped us used discrete graphics.


From a mobile standpoint, the major new feature that the 965 Express chipset brings Centrino is a helpful reduction in power consumption. We originally described the improvement in our IDF coverage last year:

"In the Core 2 Duo's lowest power state, often referred to as Enhanced Deeper Sleep, all data in its cache is flushed to main memory and the cache is powered down to conserve battery life. Otherwise, if the memory controller is still handling memory requests, it will continually wake the processor up looking for data in its cache, even though the cache is empty."

The new 965 chipset goes through a handshaking process with the CPU so it knows when the Core 2 processor's cache has been flushed, thus knowing not to wake it up until it absolutely needs to. It sounds like a simple fix but it should result in reduced power consumption."

Obviously support for the 800MHz FSB is a necessary part of Intel's mobile 965 chipset lineup, but that goes without saying, and DDR2-667 is still the memory of choice for Santa Rosa; we won't see a move to DDR3 until Montevina in 2008. There's nothing more to see here, let's talk about wireless and Robson.

Index Networking and Turbo Memory
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  • Lord Evermore - Saturday, May 12, 2007 - link

    Mobile sockets are just oh so cute!

    Just what we needed. A nice new proprietary memory card that you can only get from an OEM included in a system. What actual interface type does it use? Can the amount of the flash that's reserved for ReadyBoost or ReadyDrive be changed? Seems kind of stupid if not, a total waste of half the flash you paid for. Even with 1GB completely available, in some cases that will be useless for speeding up hibernation since it might not be enough to store the system state.

    For that matter, if you've got the money to be buying the flash, which is guaranteed to be more expensive than a 1GB flash thumbdrive, wouldn't you be buying with enough memory to start with, and possibly also getting a hybrid hard drive that already had flash (possibly more than just a piddly 1GB)? Really I still just don't see a point other than to sell more flash memory. Put more DRAM into the drives, they need it. With enough memory in the system, you already have a disk cache in memory that can be used for the often-needed data, which is faster than even the Flash. One of the big things with Vista is how it always seems to be using so much memory, and this is exactly the reason.

    IS 802.11n ever actually going to be finalized? Or have they contracted beta-fever from software developers? And dang, that laptop maker is serious about keeping that wireless card in place.

    Reply
  • coolme - Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - link

    The intel turbo memory module uses PCI express x1 interface.

    The major thing about flash is that it's non-volatile meaning that it can be used for boot-up and/or hibernation sequences.
    Reply
  • jediknight - Thursday, May 10, 2007 - link

    There were really three things I wondered about this platform:
    1) Performance of robson
    2) Performance of GMA X3000
    3) Battery life improvements

    None of which were answered in this one.

    I second the suggestion to hold off on reviews until you have something to really.. review.
    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Thursday, May 10, 2007 - link

    The power consumption figures are certainly interesting. The only difference between two systems is the video cards and the CPU, and I doubt the Geforce 8600M consumes less idle power than the Radeon X1600. The power consumption figures indicate there may be a battery life increase of 25-30%. Reply
  • rexian96 - Thursday, May 10, 2007 - link

    Many questions posted above & none answered. Well, I'll add mine. Are these new T7300 processors compatible with current socket 479? Did I miss it or the article never talked about it. Reply
  • Freddo - Thursday, May 10, 2007 - link

    On the second page; "Despite the minor changes to the CPU, Intel has introduced a new socket pinout with Santa Rosa, meaning that these new Merom chips won't work in older platforms and vice versa." Reply
  • TA152H - Thursday, May 10, 2007 - link

    What a worthless review.

    Why even bother with it? If Intel is too arrogant to provide something worthwhile, why do them the favor of reviewing their item. Am I missing something here? They send an item with two big changes - a new IGP and a new solid state memory that is supposed to be the greatest thing since Cheddar Cheese, and neither can be reviewed properly. It's either the height of audacity or stupidity, and I don't think they're stupid. My guess is they just want press for their items without having to reveal too much, assuming there is anything rational about it. I don't get it.

    I wouldn't do them the favor of even reviewing stuff like this. They get exposure, albeit not particularly positive, and they give essentially nothing. If they want to play weird games, let them play it alone. Sending something like this is just arrogant.
    Reply
  • mongoosesRawesome - Thursday, May 10, 2007 - link

    How does linux support the Robson technology? Does it see half the memory as part of the hard drive? Reply
  • solipsism - Thursday, May 10, 2007 - link


    Is it 8GB or are we stuck with the same 4GB limitation as in the 945PM chipset?
    Reply
  • solipsism - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    It's still a 4GB maximum

    Page 30 :: http://cache-www.intel.com/cd/00/00/33/40/334087_3...
    Reply

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