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Experiences with Centrino?

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EgeWorks

Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2002
Location
Melbourne, Australia
Hey, was just wondering if any of you guys have played with Centrino based laptops.

Here's a couple of questions:

How do they compare (performance wise) to standard P4s?
How much difference does the extra cache actually make?
How do they stand up to number crunching?

Any general user info would also be cool.
 

TC

Senior Seti Addict
Joined
Jan 15, 2001
Location
Denver, CO
They're considerably faster clock for clock than a P4. They've created quite a stir in the Seti forum. One of our members benchmarked a 1.4GHz model and found it to run Seti about the same as a 3GHz P4.
 

TC

Senior Seti Addict
Joined
Jan 15, 2001
Location
Denver, CO
Keep in mind that a pentium M is really sort of a hybrid between a P4 and a P3. It's like a P3 with the faster memory bus and other enhancements from the P4, but without the long pipeline for one.
 

Boilermaker

Registered
Joined
Aug 4, 2002
Location
Indiana. USA
Centrino's are a work of art. The information on how they work continues to be extremely well guarded to the point Intel refuses to attempt to patent it for fear the information will be leaked. I think we'll see whatever this mysterious technology is revolutionize computing (IE: In the predecessors to the P4).
 
OP
EgeWorks

EgeWorks

Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2002
Location
Melbourne, Australia
Mmm...Well this laptop will be used mostly as a "work at home" type thing for a client of mine. Apart from usual applications he will be running statistical analysis programs - so pretty heavy number crunching. I've tested our current p3 systems and they tend to perform very well for this type of app compared to low end p4 systems.

So it seems that this would be a good way to go - This guy is used to dual 2ghz Xeons, but I guess he will have to get used to it.

Thanks again.
 

JCLW

Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2002
We have a few in the office now (Dell Latitude 600s). I don't have one myself but I've played a little with them and I like what I see - fast (for office apps), long battery life

Intel just released the 1700 version and dropped the prices on the others by 30% today.

And the wireless networking is great - As I type this I'm sitting on a boat well over 500' away from an access point and I still have a 2mbs link :)

- JW
 

LandShark

Super Shark Moderator
Joined
Aug 13, 2001
Location
Deep Blue Sea (Maryland)
JCLW said:


And the wireless networking is great - As I type this I'm sitting on a boat well over 500' away from an access point and I still have a 2mbs link :)

- JW
:eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

is it from the stock laptop antenna and AP antenna? or aftermarket antenna on AP? line of sight?

it's very good buddy!
 

ol' man

Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2001
These are going to start going in blade servers and the like. SOme have mentioned some desktop use. They should rival and smoke out the "quiet" crappy via epia stuff. Supposedly dothan will run with out a fan and possibly HS.
 

ol' man

Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2001
crotale said:
What form factor are this chips? Other than the P4M?

Socket 478/479. Almost the same as the P4. I wanted to see if they could run in a socket 478 mobo. I know the P4 can run in centrino motherboard. I am not sure if works backward. I would love to have a quiet 2GHz machine for everyday use. Its IPC is about 10~20% higher than the athlons.
 

zachj

Chainsaw Senior
Joined
Aug 19, 2002
Location
Redmond, Washington
Is there any place actually selling these, or is Intel just saying that it's "possible" without MAKING it possible by putting the chips on the market? I'd dearly love to run one of these in a desktop. They look killer. If Apple can't be bothered to put out a G5 by the end of this summer, I've officially lost faith in their ability to produce consumer computers. As such, I will be buying a laptop not from Apple. As AMD can't make a quality mobile chip, Centrino looks the way to go.

Z
 

Mr. $T$

Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2001
so pound per pound the centrino is worth it, because I am looking into a laptop for computer classes.
 

zachj

Chainsaw Senior
Joined
Aug 19, 2002
Location
Redmond, Washington
I'd say it is. You get the performance of a much higher-rated P4 with the power savings of a PIII (maybe even a Crusoe, but I doubt I can strech it that far). Yes, the Pentium M will lag behind the P4 in certain areas, but no chip beats another in EVERY area if they're designed to compete. Sure, an XP will beat a C3 in EVERY test ever made, but they're not designed to compete. I'd love to see them on a 533MHz bus, but I think Intel did that on purpose. If it had that high bandwidth, it'd beat the P4s by a much larger margin and close that gap on the other tests. I'm sure there are more reasons, but I bet that's a big one.

I want a Centrino with a mobile Radeon 9600, all in a nice small package. I doubt I'll get one by the end of the summer, but maybe by Christmas, after I've already purchased one for college, it'll be out, and I'll be kicking myself in the arse.

Z
 

TC

Senior Seti Addict
Joined
Jan 15, 2001
Location
Denver, CO
If you can hold out for a little while wait for the dothan core. The current pentium m is about to top out. The next version (90nm) comes out in fall and will have 2mb L2 cache.
 

zachj

Chainsaw Senior
Joined
Aug 19, 2002
Location
Redmond, Washington
That really sucks for me, then, doesn't it? I need mine in September when I go to school. If Intel was smart, that's when they'de release it to get it into college kids' laptops, but I doubt they will. Even so, I doubt I could get one with the mobile Radeon 9600. How much faster will the Dothan be? As one cannot (apparently) overclock a laptop, the ceiling doesn't matter. However, I don't want to ride a 1.7 Pentium M if the 90nm version is going to kick out over 2GHz. Will Intel reduce the MHz and rate it higher because of the extra 1MB cache, a la AMD, or will it continue to run increased MHz regardless of cache size? Will Intel be able to get that much cache running at full speed? It seems to me that yeilds would be lower on good chips if they continue to increase cache size. That makes them more expensive.

Z
 

TC

Senior Seti Addict
Joined
Jan 15, 2001
Location
Denver, CO
Regarding your questions - this is from an Anandtech article:

Centrino Prospers
The market has never seen such a powerful launch in the mobile sector as Intel's Centrino; shortly after the mobile platform's launch, we are already seeing exciting solutions from all of the major manufacturers. A good part of this article itself was written on a Centrino based mobile platform, there's very little doubt that Centrino (or more appropriately, Pentium-M and the Odem chipset) is the perfect choice for all non-desktop replacement laptops.

Unforuntately, Centrino solutions are not cheap these days (neither are most laptops for that matter) and the question that is often brought up is - when will today's Centrino solutions be obsolete?

Unlike the original Pentium 4, the next Pentium-M won't be such a drastic departure from the current design. With that said, the improvements you can expect from Dothan (Banias'successor) are not insignificant. As we've mentioned countless times before, Dothan will be the first 90nm processor for the mobile market. Interestingly enough, Intel plans on introducing Dothan around the same time as Prescott - meaning we'll be seeing two 90nm introductions in Q4 of this year. There have been a number of times where Intel has debuted a smaller manufacturing process on the mobile side first, before transitioning their desktop parts; with both Prescott and Dothan due out in the 4th quarter, which one comes first is a toss up.

As we mentioned in our Pentium-M (Banias) microarchitecture article, Intel's Israel design team essentially built-in clock speed walls into the processor's architecture. For more information on why this was done be sure to read our review of the CPU, but as a quick recap, in order to minimize the amount of power used Intel's designers had to design the Pentium-M processor in such a way that the CPU would not be able to ramp in clock frequency all that well. The only hope for increasing clock frequency significantly on the Pentium-M, without significant architecture enhancements, would be to manufacture the processor on smaller, faster transistors. In the case of Dothan, using Intel's 90nm process will give the processor some extra frequency headroom. How much headroom?

Currently, the Banias processor is available in speeds of up to 1.60GHz, however in Q3 of this year Intel will introduce a 1.70GHz Pentium-M processor. This won't be the processor to upgrade to, and we'll explain why in a moment. In the same quarter Intel will extend the Low-Volt and Ultra Low-Volt Pentium-M lines to include 1.20GHz and 1.0GHz parts respectively. The reason you won't want to consider any of these processors is because in the next quarter, Q4 '03, Intel will finally introduce Dothan - the 90nm Pentium-M processor with a full 2MB on-die L2 cache.

Dothan will still feature the same 400MHz FSB (it won't really need a 533MHz or faster FSB until the processor starts to ramp well above 2GHz) and will feature some minor architecture enhancements but its biggest feature will be the 2MB on-die L2 cache. Dothan will be introduced at 1.80GHz and we're assuming based on Intel's roadmap, in relatively low quantities. If you're planning a Centrino notebook upgrade in the 2nd half of this year, then you may want to try and wait for Dothan at 1.80GHz. If you must have something sooner, then rest assured that you won't be buying anything obsolete for this year as the processor will top out at 1.80GHz.

In the first half of 2004 we will begin to see Dothan ramp up with 1.90GHz and 2.0GHz versions. We will also see the first Low-Volt and Ultra Low-Volt Dothan processors in the first half, weighing in at 1.30GHz and 1.0GHz respectively. In Q2 '04 we will see 1.10GHz and faster ULV Dothan processors.

Along with Dothan's introduction, Intel will also be bringing a new Wireless LAN chip to market - the Intel PRO/Wireless 2100A. The 2100A will support both 802.11a and 802.11b wireless LAN standards. As you will remember from our Centrino coverage, in order for a manufacturer to use the "Centrino" name they must use Intel's Pentium-M processor, 855 chipset, and PRO/Wireless LAN; unfortunately, Intel currently has no 802.11a solution so if a manufacturer wants to have 802.11a support in their Centrino solution they're out of luck. Instead, manufacturers have been using other 802.11a solutions and resorted to calling their notebooks Pentium-M based solutions, which adds to an already confusing market.

The introduction of an Intel 802.11a solution will definitely help, but the high price Intel is charging for their 802.11x chips will guarantee that manufacturers will continue to make both Centrino and simple Pentium-M based solutions. Intel is planning on pricing the PRO/Wireless 2100A at an astounding $65, that's almost 45% more than their PRO/Wireless 2100 is going for (in 1,000 unit quantities). Of course, Intel will have their usual "rebates" in place to encourage manufacturers to support the Centrino platform instead of using their own wireless solutions combined with a Pentium-M processor.

The beginning of 2004 will see the introduction of an 802.11g PRO/Wireless solution from Intel, although that could happen anytime during the 1st half of next year depending on finalization of the 802.11g spec.

Intel's 855GM chipset will receive a refresh to coincide with Dothan's launch with the 855GME. It is unclear what the enhancements will be and it's also interesting that there's no mention of an 'E' successor to the 855PM, could the improvements only be graphics related (the 855GM chipset features integrated graphics)?
 

cack01

Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2002
Location
San diego or UC Davis
My roomate just got a 1.4 Centrino based Dell laptop. Its quite fast, but from what I've seen the system is bottlenecked by its HDD. I don't know the secs of the HDD he has, but programs should be opening faster then they are, but when any type of raw hosepower is needed this thing kicks butt. The banias chips have 1mb L2 cache right?? That could explain how these things are so damn fast. I really want to know more about the memory controller more, b/c then it will become apparent if this chip has a desktop type future.
 
OP
EgeWorks

EgeWorks

Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2002
Location
Melbourne, Australia
Thanks for the in depth info TC! Sounds like holding off for a while would be a smart move - since this purchase isn't for me and the guy has already waited 3 months to decide to go ahead I think he will still get on enow though.

2Mb cache on Dothan!! That should be something pretty special!

Gotta love this forum - everyone is willing to help a guy out.
 

zachj

Chainsaw Senior
Joined
Aug 19, 2002
Location
Redmond, Washington
I guess Intel is being pretty non-specific about WHEN Dothan will be released? I go to school in September. If I could be guaranteed that it would launch in the first part of Q4, I might be able to wait. If it comes out right before Christmas, then I can't. I don't really care about high clock speeds, but I'd dearly love to see more cache, and even more, a 533MHz bus.

Z