Intel Santa Rosa Launched

For me, the most awaited product launch of the summer occurred today. Intel released a new version of the Centrino Duo and Centrino Pro today, based on the Santa Rosa platform. The platform consists of a Core 2 Duo CPU, the Crestline Mobile Intel 965 Express chipset, Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN and optional Intel Turbo Memory (sorry about the Intel marketing…). Over the existing Napa platform, Santa Rosa brings a faster FSB (667MHz to 800MHz), draft N wireless, and the GMA X3100 integrated video (as opposed to the GMA 950). In addition, there are some extra power saving features, hopefully eeking out some more battery life.

I’m in the market for a new laptop this summer and I’m especially excited about the Turbo Memory feature (either 512MB or 1GB of NAND flash memory on a mini PCI-e slot) and possibly better battery life. Hard drives are one of the slowest components of any computer and it doesn’t help that the vast majority of notebooks come with 4200RPM or 5400RPM drives. The built in NAND flash should help things (if properly implemented). As well, despite Intel’s push to extend average battery life to 8 hours by 2009, it’s all too common to see most laptops barely breaking 3 hours these days. It’s so sad to see a nice, portable laptop, such as the ASUS W7 series barely hit the 2:30 minute mark before shutting down due to low battery. What use is a small, portable device if it requires you to either bring an extra battery or the power adapter anyways?

Initial reviews of the Santa Rosa platform have been mixed. Performance gains from the higher FSB is minimal in most applications and Turbo Memory has sort of fallen flat. (It remains to be seen whether the performance of lack thereof is just a problem with the sample that was reviewed.) On the other hand, power consumption seems to be down compared to Napa. Meanwhile, Lenovo has said that Santa Rosa actually puts out about 20% more heat than Napa, so the power consumption numbers may be a little iffy.

Whatever the case, I’ve got my eye on a solidly built, probably business-class laptop that is around 5lbs (or less) and can give me at the very least 4 hours of battery life. Currently the HP Compaq 6910P, Dell Latitude D630 and the Lenovo ThinkPad T61 are all on my list. (I only wish Lenovo and HP would make it easier to customize their laptops in Canada.)


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