Intel Pentium 4 Centrino Launch Event

The Centrino Launch Event - Page 1

The Centrino Mobile Technology Launch Event
Intel Takes Mobile Computing to the Next Level

By - Jeff Bouton
March 12, 2003

After a few remote illustrations, the demonstration portion the presentation was over and the focus shifted to input from high ranking executives from T-Mobile, Boeing, Marriot, MacDonalds, Toshiba, SAP, Cisco and several others.  The majority of these guests were Vice Presidents, CEO's and General Managers, adding to the magnitude of what Intel has unveiled.  After a few moments of discussion regarding each company's role in the future of wireless, Craig Barrett and Anand Chandrasekhar entertained the press for a quick Q&A session. 

The next phase of the day was a technology overview on the 7th floor where a number of OEM's got to show their stuff.  I was eager to catch a few glimpses of the latest technology, hoping to take a test drive and snap some pictures.  Unfortunately, with such a popular event and the fact that lunch, and the demonstration was combined into one room, it was virtually impossible to move, let alone get a glimpse at a demo.  As you can see in this picture, there was hardly any room to get around.  So with that said, let's do a quick rundown on what Centrino is all about.


Centrino Architectural Advantages
"Mobile" doesn't mean light duty performance anymore

Intel's new Centrino technology consists of three major components; the Intel Pentium M processor, the Intel 855 Chipset, the Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 Network Connection.  We'll break down each of these and touch on their roles in the Centrino design.


Intel Pentium M processor

The Intel Pentium M processor has undergone some key changes that allows it to offer increased performance while reducing power consumption.  The first is the implementation of Advanced Branch Prediction which reduces latency in the instruction pipeline, resulting in increasing performance and lower power consumption.  Next is a feature called Micro-Ops Fusion which has a main role of combining two micro-operations into a single micro-op, again for faster execution and lower power.   A Dedicated Stack Manager has also been implemented, which helps manage the CPU stack and associated data, again providing for more efficient computation.  Lastly, the chip is outfitted with a full 1MB of low power L2 cache which is specifically designed to shutdown high-speed memory when it is not being accessed. 

In the end, the P4M processor is faster yet more efficient and able to complete its task at a fraction of the power consumption required by other processors.  This is will not only yield the obvious performance improvements, it will also allow developers to create smaller and thinner devices since heat will be less of an issue.  Anand had a couple of units on stage that were the thinnest mobile machines I've ever seen.

Intel 855 Chipset

At the heart of the Centrino technology is the Intel 855 Chipset which comes in two flavors, the 855PM which has workstation quality graphics integrated and the 855GM which boasts Intel Extreme Graphics 2 capability.  The new chipset, as you may have guessed, is optimized with a number of power saving technologies.  While it supports the well known SpeedStep technology, it also implements a timer that shuts down the chipset when it is inactive and has a Deeper Sleep Alert State for enhanced power management.

Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 Network Connection

The final component of Centrino is the Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 Network Connection.  Build to meet the 802.11b standard, the Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 Network Connection has been optimized to integrate easily to existing and future WiFi access points.  Intel also plans to support the 802.11g standard later this year, with full 54Mbps performance.


In the end, I think that Mr. Gladwell's opening remarks about "turning points" is a fair assessment of what Intel has planned here.  In fact, this may be the next big thing since Bill Gates introduced us to his new product called "Windows."  The demonstration today showed that there are some major changes coming that all of us will get to enjoy and benefit from at some point.  As the initiative to move to wireless moves forward, I believe that its effects will be as large as the Internet itself.  Whether this technology has the ability to replace wired networking remains to be seen, but if today was any indication of what's to come, I think some exciting changes are on the way.

If you would like a more detailed look at all of the technologies that comprise Centrino, be sure to stop by for his analysis of the technology.



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