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Intel Corp. released the major details concerning its next-generation Santa Rosa mobile platform at its developer forum in Taipei, Taiwan, providing all the highlights that the laptops set to be released in the first quarter of 2007 will feature. Apparently, besides boosted processor performance, graphics core power and wireless network speed, the Santa Rosa will support code-named Robson technology that improves performance of hard disk drives. 

According to a presentation made by Intel’s James A. Johnson, who is vice president of the mobility group and general manager of the handheld platforms group for Intel Corp., Santa Rosa mobile platform will feature “dramatically better microprocessor”, “dramatically better Gen4 graphics”, “IEEE 802.11n MIMO Wi-Fi”, “professional level manageability and security”, “Intel media share software” and “Intel NAND technology”. 

A slide from James A. Johnson’s presentation at IDF Taipei. Photo by HKEPC web-site.

Quite some information about the Santa Rosa platform has already been published several times. The new platform and Crestline chipset will boost the processor system bus speed of the chip known under Merom name – expected to be introduced later this year – to 800MHz, which should significantly increase performance of this dual-core chip in multimedia tasks that require high bandwidth. Additionally, Santa Rosa will sport DirectX 9.0 shader model 3.0-compatible built-in graphics core as well as code-named Kedron wireless network controller compliant to 802.11n standard, which will increase bandwidth to up to 600Mb/s, a major increase from current 54Mb/s in the laptops.

At IDF Taipei trade-show Intel unveiled that the Santa Rosa platform and Crestline chipsets would support Intel NAND technology, which is known under Robson code-name. Intel NAND technology is a combination of 64MB – 4GB NAND flash cache for storage sub-system of a desktop or notebook as well as a special software that pre-caches frequently used data from the hard disk drive (HDD) to the cache. This results in very rapid access to system or launch files, which ensures high performance of the computer in general.  

According to Intel, huge flash cache also allows to decrease power consumption as well as reliability of storage sub-system, as HDD’s media is accessed less often. Other industry players, particularly Microsoft Corp. and Samsung Electronics, also believe that flash caches are capable of driving performance up, while slashing power consumption of hard drives. While conventional HDDs usually use dynamic random access memory (DRAM) devices as cache, which are faster compared to Flash, the size of such cache does not generally exceed 16MB. 

Earlier Intel’s demonstrations showed that Intel NAND technology with 128MB cache ensured “immediate” startup of an Intel Centrino notebook and also significantly boosted boot-up time for other programs. For example, the laptop with Robson opened Adobe Reader in 0.4 seconds, while the other notebook required 5.4 seconds. It opened Quicken in 2.9 seconds, while the laptop without Robson technology needed 8 seconds to do the job.


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