Intel launched the "Santa Rosa" upgrade of its Centrino notebook platform Wednesday, running on Windows PCs from he likes of HP and Dell.
Intel has seen strong sales for its original Centrino platform, and a market success with the improved version could help the company to continue its comeback against chip-making rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). Already, Intel has tallied 230 platforms from various PC vendors that will be designed around the new Centrino, the company said.
The new version adds longer battery life and faster computing to the technology bundle of a processor, chipset and wireless card. Intel will keep the name Centrino Duo for the consumer version, although changes include a faster Core 2 Duo processor, support for the draft version of 802.11n wireless networking and a Turbo Memory feature that supplements the standard hard drive with NAND flash for faster booting.
"Probably the thing most people will notice is the graphics controller, for better video capability," said Mike Trainor, Intel's chief mobile technology evangelist. That will earn the new platform high marks from video gamers and DVD watchers, since improved colour control will make the monitor show images nearly as vivid as a TV set, he said.
In an appeal to corporate buyers, Intel also launched a business version of Santa Rosa called Centrino Pro, which borrows many of the automated security and IT management features from Intel's vPro business desktop platform. That will allow corporate system administrators to repair and protect employees' notebooks remotely, inspecting faulty PCs or adding software patches over wireless links.
Adding remote corporate management technology to notebook PCs will meet a strong customer demand, PC vendors say.
"One of the key things we've been hearing is the need to simplify the overall IT environment," said Brett McAnally, senior marketing manager for Dell's Latitude business notebook line. "Rising complexity has introduced challenges where customers have trouble focusing on their core business tasks."
Dell will use Centrino Duo in the new D630 thin-and-light notebook and the D830 high-performance notebook introduced on Wednesday, replacing the previous models D620 and D820. The new platform extends battery life on those products by 15 per cent compared to the standard Centrino, reaching up to 9.4 hours, Dell said.
Dell also plans to use the Centrino platform in its Latitude D430 ultra-mobile notebook and Precision M4300 workstation "in the coming weeks," and will add Centrino Pro to its lineup by the fourth quarter when it launches a model D630c business notebook.
The power efficiency of the new Centrino platform also answers customer demand for cooler, quieter PCs, said Tom Ribble, director of ThinkPad product marketing for Lenovo.