What You Need to Know About Intel's New Santa Rosa Platform

So today marks the debut of Intel's new Santa Rosa platform. Aside from the fact that your notebook is officially outdated, what else does this mean? What does Santa Rosa offer that you're missing out on, and more importantly, is it enough to warrant buying a new lappie?

First things first, what's the deal with Santa Rosa. In an nutshell, Santa Rosa is a new platform (the consumer version is dubbed next-gen Centrino Duo while the business version is Centrino Pro) for your notebook that ushers in new Core 2 Duo CPUs, a new Mobile 965 Express chipset, Draft-N wireless and Intel Turbo memory. Collectively, these features equal 1) better performance 2) better battery life. Here's how they pull it off.

The CPUs. The new Core 2 Duo CPUs behind Santa Rosa are packing a faster front side bus that now maxes out at 800MHz (instead of 667MHz). Basically that means your CPU, mobo and RAM will get along splendidly. But there isn't a greater power demand, since the FSB now uses a technology similar to SpeedStep to manage its power efficiency.

The 965 chips aim to please gamers and media junkies alike by bringing DirectX 10 compatibility and HD-friendly features to the table. The chipset's graphics engine now goes up to 500MHz, so that even the lowest performing chip, the GL960, is promised to deliver the Windows Vista Premium experience.

Next up we have Intel Turbo memory, which is essentially flash memory on your motherboard that will make it easier to cache frequently accessed data. Again, another feature aimed squarely at improving system performance. And finally, Santa Rosa brings Draft-N wireless, which as we all know gives you greater speeds and range than 802.11g. Intel stresses the fact that, while they are delivering a "draft" spec on the wireless, it is sure to be ratified by the IEEE in the near future.

Will you be able to live without Santa Rosa? Of course. But if all these new features sound appetizing, stay tuned for some of our favorite new Santa Rosa hardware.

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