Next generation notebooks, based on the Santa Rosa platform, will be a significant upgrade on the existing Napa notebooks, sporting better graphics, faster processors, better wireless and the new Robson technology for faster disk access, Sean Maloney said this afternoon.
The current Centrino platform is called Napa, and features 802.11g, Core Duo chips and Intel Extreme Graphics Gen 3. Merom, the next generation mobile processor based on the Core micro-architecture, will be available to drop into Napa notebooks during the middle of the year. However, next January will see a refresh into Santa Rosa. This platform will include a better WiFi adaptor, which will contain multiple radios for a far better signal range and quality. It will also have Merom as standard, for fast processing. We don't know much about Gen 4 of Extreme Graphics yet, but we got a great demo of the power of the Robson flash technology.
This integrates flash memory into the motherboard so that, rather than accessing the hard disk, data can be stored on flash, which is far faster and uses less power. Maloney demonstrated a Santa Rosa notebook booting into Windows next to a current generation machine. The Santa Rosa notebook booted in literally half the time. He also showed how it could be used to store application data, by opening up five or six applications concurrently. The next-gen notebook was five times faster as loading them all up, taking a mere three seconds as opposed to fifteen on the current technology.
He reiterated that the power of Merom comes from the four-instruction wide pipeline and the fusion of instructions to enable them to operate in the CPU concurrently.
He also showed off 802.16e technology: mobile WiMax. WiMax allows for massive ranges of fast broadband, and the .16e standard allows for laptop-sized radios to receive the signal and roam around within the WiMax zone. The prototype notebook with WiMax was bilt onto an electric scooter, leading to amusing 'Sean Maloney likes to cruise around San Francisco' jokes. You'll be able to get PCMCIA WiMax cards for your notebook by the end of this year.
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