Intel continues the tradition of naming its mobile platforms after wine districts in California – the latest one is called Calpella. Unlike Intel’s previous laptop platforms, this one departs from the Centrino branding, which will be phased out along with the Montevina platform.
The End of an Era
From its introduction in 2003, the Centrino brand has been more or less synonymous with an Intel-equipped laptop, so it’s something like the end of an era. Since the Centrino brand is now being phased out, future Intel-based laptops will be marketed based on what processor it contains. So there are plenty of new stickers to let you spot the difference.
Calpella differs from its predecessors in more than its branding policy – the new processors are basically the biggest upgrade since laptop CPUs went dual core. The new i-series includes several mobile quad-core processors, as well as several quite revolutionary features.
Modified Desktop CPUs
The new CPUs are of course based on Intel’s successful Nehalem architecture for the desktop market, which has also set new performance standards. The first versions of the Nehalem-based processors for notebooks – Clarksfield – was built using a 45nm production process and with a TDP (Thermal Design Power) of 45W. Clarksfield also includes Intel’s Extreme-series enthusiast processors, which provide more performance in exchange for a less efficient 55W TDP.
One of the most interesting features with the new processors is the support for Intel’s Turbo Boost technology. This allows the processor to overclock itself and run exceed the standard clock speed when running demanding applications. Turbo Boost comes into play in demanding situations, but only as long as the processor remains within certain limits in terms of heat and power consumption. The frequency is increased in steps of 133MHz and can both be increased in individual cores or all cores simultaneously. How much clock rates can be raised depends on the number of cores and the processor model.
Breaking the 32nm Barrier
From 2010, Calpella has been extended with new processors based on the new Arrandale core and a 32 nanometer manufacturing technology. The new 32nm processors come in three flavors: i3, i5 and i7. All three have the brand new integrated graphics core on the same die as the CPU, but only come in dual-core variants. However, the (reintroduced) HyperThreading feature is still there, so you get four threads without having four physical cores. List of Arrandale CPUs:
Core i3 is the entry-level model, with 3MB cache and clock frequencies slightly above 2GHz and no Turbo Boost. In contrast, the i5 in its fastest version has a standard clock speed of 2.53GHz, but can take this up to 3.06GHz using Turbo Boost. Another step up the ladder is the 32nm versions of the i7, which have a 4MB cache compared to 3MB for i3 and i5, and a clock speed of up to 2.66 GHz.
In the i5 and i7 line-ups there are also power-efficient variants with lower clocks and an added U or an L in the name. For these models the the TDP has been reduced to 18W and 25W respectively, compared to the standard 35W.