Lenovo's X300 and Apple's MacBook Air may get some heavy hitting competition from Intel's ultra-low power processors

Intel's new Centrino 2 branding will launch with the "Montevina" platform
New branding, 5.5 Watt 1.2 GHz processors, DisplayPort, two-fold increases in graphics power await notebook enthusiasts this June

You could set your clock to Intel's mobile platform roadmap.  For the last three years, the company announced its new processor lineup in January, followed by a chipset and processor refresh in June.  June is always a critical month for notebook manufacturers, as the impending school semester spurs the largest volume orders on the year.

This year Intel announced its first generation 45 nanometer desktop, mobile and server processors.  New roadmaps issued to notebook partners claim the company will replace its Santa Rosa Centrino platform with the Montevina Centrino 2 platform this June. 

The June refresh includes new Penryn-based processors boasting a 1066MHz front-side bus and new motherboard core logic. Together, the chips will form the Montevina Centrino 2 and Centrino 2 vPro platforms.

On the processor front, Intel will launch a slew of dual core processors covering a wide range of market segments.

Penryn Core 2 Duo (Performance)
L2 Cache Launch
2.80 GHz 35W 1066
6MB $530
2.53 GHz 35W 1066
6MB $316
2.53 GHz 25W 1066
6MB $348
P8600 2.40 GHz 25W 1066
3MB $241
2.26 GHz
25W 1066
3MB $209

The Txxx processors are labeled as "Performance" parts and feature a TDP of 35W. The Pxxx parts are labeled "Power Optimized Performance" and feature a lower TDP of 25W. The P9500 strikes a fine balance between the two market segments by retaining a 2.53GHz core clock and 6MB of L2 cache while still managing a TDP of 25W.

Penryn Core 2 (Small Form Factor)
L2 Cache Launch
SP9400 2.4 GHz 25W 1066
2.26 GHz 25W 1066
6MB $284
SL9400 1.86 GHz 17W 1066
6MB $316
1.60 GHz 17W 1066
6MB $284
SU9400 1.40 GHz 10W 800
3MB $289
SU9300 1.20 GHz 10W 800
3MB $262
1.20 GHz
5.5W 800
3MB $262

The processors above are lumped into Intel's "Performance Small Form Factor" segment and feature a TDP of 25W at the high end for the SP9400 and continually fall until we reach rock bottom with the single-core U3300 which touts a TDP of 5.5W.

An Intel engineer hinted to DailyTech that the U3300 will be reserved for the "slimmest of slim" notebooks and tablets.  By comparison, the 1.6 and 1.8 GHz processor found in the MacBook Air has a rating of 20W TDP.  The same Intel engineer, speaking on conditions of anonymity, detailed that all of these small form factor processors will find their way into Apple and PC mobile products -- as indicated by other Intel representatives in previous interviews

On the chipset front, Intel will launch three SKUs during the second quarter: the GM45, GM47 and PM45. The GM45/47 will feature Intel's new X4500 HD integrated graphics processor which promises DX10 support, increased battery life, integrated HDMI and DisplayPort.

The GM45/47 support 667MHz and 1066MHz FSBs, DDR2/DDR3 memory, and the ICH9M/ICH9M-Enhanced south bridges. The two parts only differ in the clock speed for the graphics core -- the GM45 features a 533 MHz core clock while the GM47 has a faster 640 MHz core clock. 

Intel marketing materials claim GM47 performs twice as high on 3DMark as GM965 found in the current Santa Rosa chipsets.

The PM45 supports all the features of the two aforementioned chipsets minus the integrated graphics core. The PM45 thus will be used with integrated mobile graphics solutions from ATI and NVIDIA.

While the processors and new chipsets are important, we must also take a look at Intel's supporting cast of characters with the Centrino 2 platform. Centrino 2 notebooks will be available with 2GB of Turbo Memory -- Windows Vista ReadyDrive and ReadyBoost compliant.

Networking upgrades are plentiful for the Centrino 2 launch. Intel will launch the 82567LM and 82567LF Gigabit Ethernet controllers for LAN connectivity. Customers will also have a choice of two Shirley Peak-based WLAN controllers with the Intel WiFi Link 5100/5300. Finally, Intel will offer two WiMAX/WiFi controllers in the form of the Intel WiMAX/WiFi Link 5150/5350.

Apple yesterday launched revised MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks that incorporate Intel’s first run of Penryn processors. Apple insiders confirmed the company will refresh its notebook lineups in June, which comes as no surprise since all Centrino partners indicated they will announce notebooks based on the new Montevina Centrino 2.

Don't expect just the same old notebooks from January this June.  The upcoming second-generation Penryn mobile processors require the new Socket B motherboards.  However, since the thermal envelopes will not change between Penryn revisions vendors will be able to keep the existing form factors, like that found on the ultra-compact Lenovo X300, with minimal changes to the motherboard design.

Tick-tock.  Montevina will get an overhaul in June 2009.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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