We’ve been through this before. Every year we get an update to Centrino, and every year the outcome is pretty much the same: equal or better performance, coupled with longer battery life. It’s Moore’s Law in action, transistors switch faster, they get smaller and thus Intel’s engineers can do more with them to not only improve performance but reduce power as well. The end result is that each year we have to evaluate whether or not buying a new laptop makes sense.

The last Centrino update brought faster FSB speeds courtesy of the Mobile 965 Express chipset, slightly faster CPU speeds, some additional power saving technology, and Intel’s controversial Turbo Memory. Despite what was looking like a potentially major improvement in the Centrino platform (mostly because of Turbo Memory), the end result was a fairly lackluster update to Centrino. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t much to get excited about.

The one thing we did say would happen however was that at some point, Santa Rosa (the current Centrino platform) would be updated to support Penryn. That update happens today.

As a simple CPU change, this year’s update is far simpler - it’s all in the processor. Starting this month, Intel will begin shipping its first 45nm mobile processors based on the Penryn core. On the desktop you’ll remember that Penryn offered mild performance improvements over Conroe, but in the mobile space the reduction in power consumption should translate directly into longer battery life and cooler running notebooks.

There are five mobile Penryn cores being introduced today, they are listed below:

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All of the chips run at frequencies we’ve already had from current Merom based Core 2 Duo designs. They are all dual core with either 3MB or 6MB of L2 cache shared between the cores. We only have a 6MB L2 part to play with, so it’s tough to say how the 3MB cores will compete at this point.

The new Core 2 Duo T9000 and T8000 series work in modified Santa Rosa platforms, using the same mobile 965 chipset. As long as there is motherboard support, you can use a mobile Penryn (similar to the situation on the desktop).

There should be an obvious performance increase from these new mobile Penryn chips, but the more interesting impact should be on battery life. Mobile Penryn offers two technologies that don’t exist on the desktop chips, one of which is targeted specifically at increasing battery life.

Mobile Penryn supports a deeper sleep state when a core is idle, allowing the chip to go into a near-reset state with only the absolute minimal circuitry powered. The other mobile-specific feature is Intel’s Dynamic Acceleration Technology, which we will discuss and test later in today’s article.

Increasing Battery Life: It’s the Centrino Way
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  • metacircular - Friday, January 11, 2008 - link

    Thanks for the review, but could the reviewers comment on the temperature differences between the two processors? I'm assuming lower voltage will result in less heat, but it would be nice to see some numbers.
  • legoman666 - Thursday, January 10, 2008 - link

    It's a shame about that DAT not really being useful. It seems like their ideas were hampered by the fact that applications always bounce from 1 core to another. Looks/sounds like a good idea though.
  • Jussi - Wednesday, January 9, 2008 - link

    Thanks for an interesting article, Penryn it seems like a nice, although not essential refresh.

    I'd like to nitpick the SSE4 performance numbers. You state that in case of Virtualdub "Penryn would offer a greater than 40% increase in performance". I find this to be incorrect.

    Let performance or speed (v) be defined as v = work unit / time. v1 is the speed of Merom and v2 is the speed of Penryn. Comparing Penryn to Merom = v2/v1 => t1/t2. Using your numbers 47.3s / 28.2s = 1.677 => 68% better performance.

    It would be correct to state that using Penryn takes about 40% less time to do the job, but that is not what the article states.
  • puffpio - Tuesday, January 8, 2008 - link

    Could I just swap chips out?
  • channelv - Wednesday, January 9, 2008 - link

    Yup, the D630 uses the 965 chipset (Santa Rosa). But you'd better wait for a BIOS update from Dell first before you think about putting a Penryn in there - I'd expect those to roll out almost any day now, but by Feb. for sure.
  • Mr Alpha - Tuesday, January 8, 2008 - link

    Have I understood it correctly, that you are comparing the SSE4 version of DivX on Penryn with the same SSE4 version of DivX on Merom? Shouldn't you be comparing the SSE4 version of DivX on Penryn to the SSE3 version of DivX on Merom?
  • mi1400 - Tuesday, January 8, 2008 - link

    Electric surges drain battery faster. When a device bulb, motor etc starts a peak is occured in load and then load comes to a lesser and steady value. Intel Dynamic Acceleration may result in same for battery.
  • Mgz - Monday, January 7, 2008 - link

    how about the Deep Power Down (C6) stage that penryn brings ? Any test on this feature?
  • coolme - Monday, January 7, 2008 - link

    Good review, but just to note.

    Merom (part of santa rosa) supports Intel Dynamic Acceleration, (although T7xxx series only) and since you guys weren't aware of that, the cinebench benchmark (and other benchmarks) with the T7800 might have a skewed score.
  • duploxxx - Monday, January 7, 2008 - link

    Nice to see that the t9xxx series will step up the performance again and battery life. Altough we can already say that Intel dominated this part of the mobile market for a long time with t7xxx it is now sure that it will increase that even more.

    what i really want to no is what about low end and midstream, how good are these t2xxx - t5xxx - t7xxx series compared to each other and what happens when you put a rather cheap turion class next to those t2 and t5 series.

    @anand i think you would hit a readers max out of such a review, but then again it would take a lot of time and effort to get a nice compare with equal hardware parts and price....

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