Today is an important day, it's the release of the long awaited Centrino 2 mobile platform (codenamed Montevina) from Intel. Unfortunately, product won't be shipping until August and review samples aren't exactly available so what follows can barely be called a preview. We'll take you through the components that make up Centrino 2 and give some guidance as to how it should perform, but we can hardly provide much in the way of test data.


Pretty slide, but where's the hardware?

Where's the Pomp and Circumstance?

For the first significant update to the Centrino name since it was launched in 2002, Intel really dropped the ball on actually putting substance behind today's announcement. The platform itself is what we've come to expect from Intel's mobile team, it looks to have all the right pieces and there's a good mix of innovation and steady evolution here - the problem is that we can't really even begin to test any of the interesting bits, there's hardly any hardware out there to test.

We contacted HP, Dell, Gateway, ASUS and even Hypersonic (a division of OCZ) - not a single company could provide us with a Centrino 2 notebook for review. Intel blames the lack of available hardware on issues with the GM45 chipset as well as incomplete FCC certification on the new wireless adapters. Both issues have either been resolved or are in the process of being resolved, but they pushed the launch back by at least a month; Centrino 2 was supposed to debut in June.

Instead we have today's launch, which isn't really a launch, but rather a release of information. Intel promised us that OEMs will begin taking orders today, but availability will be within the next 30 days. While we have no reason not to believe Intel, we can't help but feel that the launch itself could've been done better had Intel's mobile team actually gotten hardware out into the wild. This whole thing seemed very much like a launch that was set in stone, regardless of whether or not hardware was ready to go.

Of all companies, Sony actually came through at the last minute and shipped us a Centrino 2 notebook. Unfortunately, in its pre-release state the system is far from perfect. It actually draws more power than our Santa Rosa Refresh notebooks and we couldn't even get the GM45's hardware accelerated H.264 decoding to work properly, severely limiting what we were able to do here today. On paper, as you'll soon see, Centrino 2 is a steady evolution of what Intel has been delivering over the past six years. In Intel's usual Centrino fashion both performance and battery life should increase (albeit slightly), the problem is that we just don't have the hardware available to test it.

This may be a side effect of AMD not being nearly as competitive in the mobile space as it is in the desktop market, but Intel's desktop team would never launch Conroe, Penryn or Nehalem like this. Intel has been touting the importance of mobility for years now, yet Centrino 2 is treated like a second class citizen. Despite selling into the consumer market, we'd hate for Intel to learn from the consumer electronics companies of the world and introduce products as press releases, without giving everyone the opportunity to truly verify its claims.

The CPUs
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  • gfxmatters - Friday, July 18, 2008 - link

    So now that we have established that the HD video is broken (unless you like frame-skipping :>), how about the 3D and some games? I like Intel (I own many) and give them the benefit of the doubt on CPUs, but not GPUs. Why? Track record, from Vista issues to reported game perfornace and compatibility! Let's see the numbers....
    Reply
  • SmartyPants - Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - link

    Not 100% sure, but don't the new Lenovo Thinkpad X200 have Centrino 2? Some people have gotten their hands on units and reviews are popping up. Reply
  • FITCamaro - Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - link

    I'm glad this feature is finally making a real push in the market. And it doesn't get any lower power than an integrated Intel GPU. All I want on the go is web browsing, DVD playback and Office. If I'm playing a game on a laptop, its with the power cord plugged in. Reply
  • nysupport - Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - link

    http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/1880/85/">http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/1880/85/ Reply
  • kevinkreiser - Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - link

    Seriously, does anyone know when G45 based boards will finally hit the market? The article mentions that GM45 laptops should be out within 30 days, but it seems like I've been waiting for what seems like 6 months for the G45. Reply
  • Brian23 - Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - link

    I think your package info for the chips is wrong. 35mm^2 is smaller than the size of your pinkey fingernail. I think you meant to say 35mm x 35mm. That would be 1225mm^2 or 1.225cm^2. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - link

    actually, that should be 12.25cm^2 Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - link

    Hi Anand,

    you're writing:

    "Note that here, while the voltages dropped vs. Merom, maximum current draw actually went up to 44A from 41A. This could be due to greater leakage, the higher clock speeds offered by Penryn or simple inexperience with the 45nm process compared to Intel's tried-and-true 65nm process upon its release."

    It's much simpler than that. P = U*I, so if P=const (35W) and V goes down, I has to go up.

    Regards,
    MrS
    Reply
  • crimson117 - Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - link

    Not so much "new platform" as "new marketing opportunity for OEMs".

    I don't mean to knock Centrino - the original platform really did move the wireless revolution along.

    Centrino2 however brings nothing new other than upgraded (or downgraded!) components.

    I think AMD went the right way by including graphics requirements in their http://game.amd.com/us-en/amdgame_whatis.aspx">AMD GAME! platform, but only time will tell. Centrino is such a strong brand name it might be hard to top. It would be nice to see a gaming-based Centrino.
    Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - link

    It'd be nice if you could also get a similarly configured system with the 2.53GHz T9400 and P9500 to try to ascertain the realworld battery-life benefits between the 35W and 25W TDPs. (I'd wish they'd just call the 25W TDP parts Medium Voltage, Mxxxx parts, which makes it more intuitive where they belong compared to LV and ULV parts.)

    And maybe a comparison between a 2.4GHz SL9400 and a 2.4GHz P8600 to see how big a difference the loss of 3MB of L2 cache is. With a 1066MHz FSB, it probably isn't a big deal.
    Reply

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