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Next Generation Centrino : Sonoma
By Justin Ong
Category : Notebooks/Laptops
Published by Jimmy Tang on Wednesday, 19th January, 2005


Formula of a Sonoma

Basically, Sonoma is the codename given to a whole new platform that updates the existing Centrino model that is aging fast when compared to the desktop platforms. The hugely successful Centrino branding will still remain to avoid confusion and so will the three predominant components that go with it, namely the Intel Pentium M processor, the Intel Mobile chipset and the Intel PRO/Wireless Network Connection. A notebook cannot be badged as a Centrino notebook if it fails to include one of these components. Since the Sonoma platform updates each of these components, let us take a look at the advancements made to each of these components.


A Meaner 'Dothan' Pentium M

Intel Pentium-M 'Dothan' processor

Up till now, every refresh of the Centrino family has been closely associated with enhancements made in the CPU processing department and the Sonoma is no exception. Taking over the speed crown from the Intel Pentium M processor 765 (once the fastest Pentium M processor at 2.10GHz) is Intel's latest Intel Pentium M processor 770. Running at 2.13GHz, this new chip on the block will finally usher in an FSB (Front Side Bus) that is beyond the 400MHz found in its predecessors. In fact, a whole slew of Pentium M processors have been launched to support this new front side bus speed. At 533MHz, it will provide faster data throughput between the CPU and the chipset, resulting in greater data throughput between the processor and chipset; and obviously leading to a better overall system performance. Increasing the FSB on the processor side is just one part of the bandwidth equation. Equally pivotal is a complementing chipset that is capable of supporting this new FSB and the Sonoma provides this via the Intel 915 Express chipset family.

As a measure to combat the ever-increasing threat from viruses, malicious scripts, worms and the likes, Intel's Execute Disable Bit (NX Bit) functionality can now be found safeguarding Centrino notebooks. First introduced in the Intel Itanium processor family in 2001, the NX Bit allows the new Pentium M processor to prevent 'buffer overflow' attacks when paired with supporting operating systems such as Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2.

List of Intel Pentium M Processors rated at 533MHz FSB
Processor Manufacturing Process L2 Cache Frontside Bus Clock Speed
Intel Pentium M 770 90nm 2MB 533MHz 2.13GHz
Intel Pentium M 760 90nm 2MB 533MHz 2.0GHz
Intel Pentium M 750 90nm 2MB 533MHz 1.86GHz
Intel Pentium M 740 90nm 2MB 533MHz 1.73GHz
Intel Pentium M 730 90nm 2MB 533MHz 1.6GHz

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