Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi Core Duo notebook

The dual-core notebook other vendors have to beat?

There's also a differentiator between the single- and dual-core chips in the model numbers, with the single-core 1.66GHz Solo chip numbered T1300, while the dual-core 1.66GHz Duo chip is numbered T2300. The Duo range goes up from there to the T2400 at 1.83GHz, the T2500 at 2.0GHz and the T2600 at 2.16GHz. The T2400 is the sweet spot when it comes to price/performance.

Expect to see ultra-portable notebooks appearing with the low-voltage Yonah chips. These are rather unimaginatively named Core Duo LV. The model numbers also reflect the low-voltage angle with the L2300 1.5GHz chip and the L2400 1.66GHz chip.

Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi

So, if you've got used to the very familiar Centrino Mobile Technology moniker, you'll now have to get used to Centrino Duo Mobile Technology for the next generation of dual-core notebooks.

Intel has also implemented a new shared-cache model with Yonah. Whereas the desktop dual-core chips have separate Level 2 caches allocated to each core, with Yonah both cores share the single 2MB of cache. This design can potentially provide a far more efficient execution environment. If you have separate aches for each core and one core is heavily loaded while the other is twiddling its thumbs, that second block of cache is essentially useless. With the shared-cache model, if one core if very busy it will take advantage of the majority of the cache while the second core has no use for it. Of course, if both cores are loaded they will have to share the cache, but that's no different to having separate complements.

The TravelMate 8204WLMi is obviously based on the Napa platform, sporting a 2GHz dual-core Yonah. Acer hasn't skimped on the supporting components either, throwing in 2GB of RAM and a 120GB hard disk. The graphics chipset is nearly as new as the CPU - I've only seen a demo notebook from ATI running the new X1600 chipset before, but the TravelMate is packing a production version complete with 256MB of video memory.

The TravelMate 8204WLMi definitely feels swift in use and much like a desktop system equipped with a dual -ore chip, you can run a plethora of tasks simultaneously with no discernible slowdown. Want to run a full virus scan while you get on with some spreadsheet work? No problem. Why not do some media encoding while you're at it? This notebook really will take anything you throw at it and just come back for more.

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