Everything You Need to Know About The Centrino Platform
By Rafael Otto Coelho e Gabriel Torres e Cássio Lima on April 7, 2009


Introduction

Contrary to what a lot of people think, Centrino isn’t a laptop processor but a platform containing specific components set by Intel: a given processor, a given chipset and a given wireless network. A laptop can only be called Centrino if it has these three components. In this tutorial we will show you the several Centrino generations and the difference between them. Check it out.

So far, there are five generations of the Centrino platform.

The first Centrino platform, codenamed Carmel, was released in March 2003 and is based on a Pentium M (with Banias core) CPU, Intel 855 Express chipset and Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 (802.11b) wireless network.

In July 2004 Intel launched the second generation of the Centrino platform, also known by its codename, Sonoma. This generation is based on a Pentium M (with Dothan core) CPU, Intel 915 Express chipset and Intel PRO/Wireless 2200 or 2915ABG (802.11a/b/g) wireless network.

The third Centrino generation brought to notebooks the power of dual-core processing. This generation, also known by its codename, Napa, features a Core Duo (Yonah core) or a Core 2 Duo (Merom core) processor, Intel 945 Express chipset and Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG (802.11a/b/g) wireless network. There is also a version of the Centrino “Napa” platform that is based on Core Solo CPU, which has only one processing core, like Pentium M. From its third generation n Centrino platform started being called Centrino Duo in order to indicate that a dual-core CPU is being used.

The fourth generation, codenamed Santa Rosa, is divided into two versions: Centrino Duo and Centrino Pro. The basic difference between them is that Centrino Pro has a hardware-based remote management technology called Intel Active Management Technology (Intel AMT), which allows problems to be identified and solved remotely if the computer is connected to a network, even if the computer is turned off (the computer must be connected to the network and has to be connected to a power source, though).

The fifth generation is called Centrino 2, codename Montevina, and has two versions: Centrino 2 and Centrino 2 with vPro technology. It is based on Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad 45 nm processors (Penryn core), Intel series 4 (GL40, GM45, PM45 e GS45) mobile chipset, Link series 5000 wireless network, which supports up to 450 Mbps (802.11n) connections. This generation also requires the use of a Gigabit Ethernet interface provided by an Intel 82567 chip. "vPro" version simply supports vPro security and remote management technology (a new version of Intel AMT), you can learn more about it here.

With the release of Centrino “Santa Rosa” an optional component was added to the Centrino platform, an integrated disk cache using flash memory in order to increase the system performance and to save battery life. This component is called Intel Turbo Memory, also known as Robson technology.

In the table below we summarize all specs from all Centrino generations:

PlatformCodenameProcessorChipsetNetworkOptional
CentrinoCarmelPentium M (Banias) Intel 855

Intel PRO / Wireless 2100

 
CentrinoSonomaPentium M (Dothan)Intel 915 Express

Intel PRO / Wireless 2200BG or Intel PRO / Wireless 2915ABG

 
CentrinoNapaCore SoloIntel 945 ExpressIntel PRO / Wireless 3945ABG 
Centrino DuoNapaCore Duo (Yonah) or Core 2 Duo (Meron)Intel 945 ExpressIntel PRO / Wireless 3945ABG 
Centrino DuoSanta RosaCore 2 DuoIntel 965 ExpressIntel PRO / Wireless 4965AGNIntel Turbo Memory
Centrino ProSanta RosaCore 2 DuoIntel 965 ExpressIntel PRO / Wireless 4965AGNIntel Turbo Memory
Centrino 2MontevinaCore 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad (Peryn)Intel Series 4Intel Gigabit 82567 / Wireless Series 5000Intel Turbo Memory and vPro 

Some Examples

Like we said before, a laptop can only be called Centrino if it has all the three (or four) components defined by Intel, according to the table presented in the previous page. If a given notebook is based on a Core Duo CPU but doesn’t have Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG wireless network, for example, it can’t be called Centrino.

A very common confusion is to assume that the Celeron M processor belongs to the Centrino platform. This isn’t true. Celeron M-based notebooks aren’t Centrino. For example, Toshiba’s Satellite A105-S2236 isn’t a Centrino laptop, as it is based on a Celeron M, Radeon Xpress 200M chipset and Atheros Wireless LAN (802.11b/g). On the other hand, Toshiba’s Satellite A105-S4547 is a Centrino laptop, as it has a Core Duo processor, Intel 945 Express chipset and Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG wireless network, which are the required components for a notebook to be called Centrino Duo.

Some sellers created the term “Celeron Centrino.” This platform does not exist, as we have already explained on our Does Celeron Centrino Exist? tutorial. This happens for the same reason explained above: even if your notebook uses a chipset and a wireless network that belong to the Centrino platform if your CPU is different from what we listed on the table presented in the previous page your notebook cannot be called Centrino.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Everything-You-Need-to-Know-About-The-Centrino-Platform/474


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