Sonoma: The Second Generation of Intel's Centrino Mobile Technology

As wine aficionados know, freshly fermented wine is put into casks to mature - or 'age', as they say - before being bottled. Contact with wood and oxygen helps the wine develop additional aromas and round out its flavor. Larger batches of wine, in particular, benefit greatly from aging in casks, lending them a more harmonious "gusto".

At first glance, Intel's Centrino mobile technology seems to have little in common with wine. Yet the same "aging process" might be used to describe Intel's latest generation of mobile technology, christened "Sonoma." Anand Chandrasekher, Vice President and General Manager of Intel's Mobile Platforms Group, had already announced at IDF Fall 2003 the roll-out of this platform in the second half of 2004. According to official statements by Intel, Sonoma has been aging in the barrels - er, production facilities - of notebook makers since Q4 2004.

The official rollout to notebooks and actual launch has supposedly been delayed until now to accommodate notebook makers' product cycles. At any rate, this is more or less the story as related by Christian Anderka, media spokesman for Intel. Whether or not aging this new Centrino generation has been beneficial is part of the focus of this article.

Intel did have at least one specific Geforce Go6800 products only came out in November 2004. Or was this perhaps not the reason after all? Didn't spokesmen of these same two firms proclaim in Q4 2004 that it makes less sense to put a PCIe graphics chip in a notebook without proper support from a notebook chipset than to just combine one with a chipset tailored for mobile use? And that it was not possible to wait around forever to announce one's own products because of a shortage at Intel? Well, regardless of who was fibbing, according to Digitimes 60-70% of notebooks shipped from Taiwan and mainland China by summer 2005 are to have a PCIe graphics chip under the hood. And we have seen this chicken-and-egg dilemma before.

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