The new Centrino

When Intel introduced their Centrino brand and announced that they were shifting to more platform-centric marketing, it made the job of the consumer a lot easier.  Instead of worrying about silly things like processor names and specifications, you could just walk into a store and ask for a Centrino notebook and you’d be guaranteed that you’d get something decent.  At the same time, Intel’s efforts have made our job a little more difficult because we focus on much more than just the overall brand.  We’re of course interested in the individual components that make up the brand, but that means that we now have to talk about individual product code names, as well as brand code names.  Keep that in mind, and be patient with us, as we take you though all of the parts of the new Centrino.

The new Centrino brand being announced today is Intel’s Centrino Duo brand.  As has been the case since the introduction of Centrino, in order for a manufacturer to call their notebook a Centrino it has to meet three very specific requirements.  The CPU, chipset and wireless adapter must all be provided by Intel.  It gets a little more specific than that of course, since Intel usually tells the manufacturer exactly what chipset and what wireless adapter they must use from Intel’s line as well.  If you follow all of Intel’s instructions and buy the right components, you get access to some of Intel’s Centrino marketing funds and you get the right to use the Centrino name on your laptop.  Since the original introduction of Centrino we’ve basically seen manufacturers offer both Centrino and non-Centrino versions of their notebooks and we expect that to continue with the Centrino Duo platform. 

So what does Intel require of manufacturers to be Centrino Duo certified?  The notebook manufacturer must use an:

1) Intel Core Duo microprocessor
2) Intel 945 Express Chipset
3) Intel 3945ABG Wireless solution

If all three requirements are met, then the notebook is officially a Centrino Duo.  And here is where those code names start cropping up.  The Core Duo microprocessor is nothing more than the dual core Yonah we’ve been talking about for quite a while now; and the 945 Express chipset should sound very familiar as it is a mobile version of the 945 chipset that was released on the desktop side last year. 

Now the combination of the Core Duo processor, 945 Express chipset and the 3945ABG wireless solution is what is known as the Napa platform.  In other words, the code name for Centrino Duo is Napa.  Its predecessor is Sonoma, which is the code name for the Centrino platform that was composed of Intel’s Pentium M (based on Dothan), 915 chipset and 2915ABG wireless solution.  We will refer to Napa and Sonoma later in this article, so just keep in mind that Napa is the current Centrino Duo while Sonoma is the previous generation Centrino based on Dothan. 

Index Napa vs. Sonoma - Tangible Features


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  • stmok - Saturday, January 7, 2006 - link

    I admit it, I have no use for the Weener (Windows) keys. Its a pointless feature to have if you use other OSs or migrating AWAY from Windows. Its like Nvidia's chipset firewall solution...Another pointless feature for "Windows Only" users. (Which causes more trouble than its really worth).

    With Lenovo adopting all these "everyone else has it" features, its not the same ThinkPad anymore. They don't stand out technologically, like they used to.

    Granted, the fingerprint scanner and keyboard light is interesting, but that's all there is. My old R40 ThinkPad has a keyboard light as well. So I guess the only thing is the fingerprint scanner.

    As for ThinkVantage, that is useful...To some extent.

    I tried to "clean restore" WinXP from the hidden partition (as Windows requires a clean installation after 2 or more years of use), and I get a crapload of errors. The Trackpoint or Touchpad seem to be no longer detected, and so on. And other error messages. I couldn't get past finishing the install. So I unhid that WinXP Partition, and formatted the sucker clean, gained 8GB back of HDD space. Which is enough for a quadriple boot...Win2k, Slackware, FreeBSD and Solaris. (And they all work fine with the Trackpoint/Touchpad).
  • Scarceas - Saturday, January 7, 2006 - link

    I think Apple will focus their Intel support on the Yonah designs. I wouldn't be surprised to see a Mac Mini or something that was essentially a Yonah desktop.

    And I am quite glad that IBM/Lenovo are finally putting a Windows key on their Thinkpads!

    Hope that carries over to their rack-mount KVM's, as well. Drives me nuts....
  • littlebitstrouds - Friday, January 6, 2006 - link

    I wanna see a desktop board with this chip in it... then overclock the heck out of it. I bet that thing would scream. Reply
  • raskren - Friday, January 6, 2006 - link


    Looks like an extremely competitive if not flat-out better Intel solution.

    So where is Beenthere's a.k.a. CRAMITPAL's canned comment?
  • stateofbeasley - Sunday, January 8, 2006 - link

    The fanboi is probably too demoralized to come out and troll. The numbers don't lie -- Core Duo is fast and efficient, and the Centrino Duo stuff is going to make Intel a pile of money.

    Beenthere tried to claim the opposite in his comments re the AnandTech preview, and he got run over like a Prescott in the way of an Athlon 64. Come to think of it, Beenthere's claims about Core Duo were about as stupid as claiming Prescott >>> Athlon 64.
  • uly - Friday, January 6, 2006 - link

    "Intel 3945ABG Wireless solution"
    "starting to look at platforms and solutions"
    "the 3945ABG wireless solution is what is known as"
    "915 chipset and 2915ABG wireless solution"
    "wireless solutions have both been undergoing reductions"
    "Pricing (with 945GM chipset and wireless solution)"
    "it did give us a nice solution"

    Another definition of 'solution' is something that is diluted or watered down. Wonder if Intel appreciates having their products looked upon from that perspective. (cred: buzzkiller dot net)

    Anand, whenever you find yourself about to type 'solution' in the future, please think, do I really want to sound like I'm copying from the presskit?

    Other than that, nice review.
  • raskren - Friday, January 6, 2006 - link

    You read this hunting for the word "solution." Please, this is part of everyday speech, not a buzzword. Reply
  • uly - Friday, January 6, 2006 - link

    It's part of everyday speech - for PR guys. It's also pretentious - the customer should decide the solution for himself.

    > You read this hunting for the word "solution."

    No, I read it and buzzwords like solution kept popping out at me, so I used grep to do a quick wordcount. Seven times repeating mindless marketing drivel! C'mon Anand, I know you can write better than this.
  • sprockkets - Friday, January 6, 2006 - link

    The inside meant that this computer had an Intel chip inside meaning better performance than those other people, way back in 1993, not that Intel focused on the insides of the computer.

    Watch it and this will actually be bad for them. All those people won't even recognize the intel they knew with the new logo. "Leap Ahead"? How original.
  • henroldus - Friday, January 6, 2006 - link

    the only mistake in this excellent article is that they use the wrong memory with ddr2-533.
    the new core Duo supports DDR2-667.
    I am wrong when I mean that this could be a bottleneck?
    maybe the performance will raise with this memory but also the powerconsumption because of the higher frequency.

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