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Intel 'Yonah' to boost Centrino media speed

SSE 3, updated graphics engine, more added

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IDF Spring 05 Intel's 'Yonah' microprocessor, the dual-core, 65nm cornerstone of next year's 'Napa' Centrino platform, will eliminate the limitations that have kept the Pentium M's multimedia performance well behind NetBurst architecture-based chips.

Indeed, said Mooly Eden, VP of Intel's Mobility Group and one of the minds behind the 'Banias' processor that became the first Pentium M, Yonah is going to make for "one hell of a gaming machine".

Despite operating at lower clock frequencies, the PM has been able to match and sometimes even outperform the P4 when running mainstream applications. With multimedia it's been a different matter, thanks to the P4's media-optimised NetBurst architecture.

To redress the balance, Yonah will support SSE 3. According to Eden, it also features an enhanced floating point engine and a beefed up instruction decoder that can handle "several" SSE instructions in parallel. SSE and SSE 2 have been added to the list of instructions that the architectur's micro-operations fusion system can handle. Together, these tweaks are called Digital Media Boost, he said.

Separately, Napa's chipset, 'Callistoga', will provide a better integrated graphics core, quite possibly the Graphics Media Accelerator 950 engine that's going to be part of the 945 desktop chipsets coming next quarter.

The upshot, Eden pledged at IDF today, will be a much richer mobile multimedia experience than Centrino machines have been able to deliver to date.

Napa, along with Yonah, Callistoga and an updated Wi-Fi adaptor, 'Golan', will ship late this year in time for a Q1 2006 introduction.

Yonah will also feature a new power management system, dubbed Dynamic Power Co-ordination, which synchronises the chip's two cores' individual Enhanced SpeedStep power-saving technologies and the other tricks the PM architecture uses to preserve battery life, said Eden.

DPC sounds not unlie PowerTune, the multi-processor - and, by extension, multi-core - power management system IBM introduced just over a year ago, at February 2004's International Solid State Circuits Conference.

Together, Yonah and Callistoga will also equip Napa with Intel's Virtualisation Technology and Advanced Managment Technology, Eden revealed.

Golan, meanwhile, will bring the "latest" 802.11 standards and Cisco-compatible security extensions (CCX), in an add-in module that's less than half the size of Centrino's current WLAN adaptor. The size reduction arises from greater integration at the silicon level and the use of a more compact high-speed serial interface to the card, rather than the large, parallel interface used in today's boards, Intel Mobility Group chief Sean Maloney said separately. ®

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