Intel soups up Pentium M
| The chip giant unveils its second-generation Pentium Ms, code-named Dothan. Intel gave the chips a major makeover, squeezing in technology upgrades that include 2MB of external cache. |
By Brian Nadel, Stephanie Bruzzese, and Tom Dunlap (May 10, 2004)
| If you crave a fast laptop with long battery life, you'll feel doubly blessed by Intel's second-generation Pentium M processors, a.k.a. Dothan. Announced today, the revamped processors pick up where first-generation Pentium Ms left off by raising the performance bar and using less power. And they don't cost an extra penny.
Alongside an Intel chipset and an Intel Wi-Fi solution, the new Pentium Ms will continue contributing to the Centrino brand. But to reduce the Pentium M confusion (or potentially to increase it, we fear), Intel has taken the unusual step of assigning each chip a processor number, which is intended to indicate the chip's abilities but not to confuse you with gigahertz. For example, the 2GHz Dothan is dubbed Pentium M 755, the 1.8GHz version is called Pentium M 745, and the 1.7GHz version is labeled Pentium M 735. Sound familiar? BMW follows a similar naming convention for its cars.
With an extra megabyte of external cache, bringing the total to 2MB, the second-generation Pentium Ms allow you to zip through work and play by keeping your most frequently used data ready and waiting. Produced using Intel's latest 90nm semiconductor process, a Dothan processor has 140 million transistors. These transistors work together to yield a performance boost and, on average, about 30 minutes of extra battery life. We tested five Dothan laptops to see how the new chip cranks, with the Dell and HP models impressing us the most. Once we get our hands on a few more Dothan laptops, CNET Labs will be able to judge exactly how much faster the new chips make these machines. Check back soon.
Despite our good experiences with these new laptops, the best may be yet to come. Later this year, faster Pentium Ms will emerge with a speedier frontside bus, which moves data between the processor, the memory, and the peripherals. The additional performance will likely be a mobile godsend.
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