Intel Launches Sonoma As Next-Gen Centrino

Sonoma represents Intel's first significant new product since last year. The chip giant, which in 2004 started leaking Sonoma's release date, had scheduled a series of events near its Santa Clara, Calif., headquarters to formally unveil the chip. Though the new platform used Sonoma as a code-name, the technology will ship under the Centrino brand.

Like the initial version, the new Centrino platform includes a processor, a chipset and an integrated Wi-Fi card. The Intel Pentium M Processor comes in clockspeeds of 1.6GHz to 2.13GHz, with prices ranging from $270 to $705 in 1,000-unit quantities. The Sonoma release also offers a low-voltage Intel Pentium M processor at 1.5GHz and an ultra-low-voltage chip at 1.2GHz.

Sonoma includes a 533MHz front-side bus, the new Alviso chipset and the Intel PRO/Wireless 2915ABG network connection. Described by Intel executives as the "linchpin" of Sonoma, Alviso provides dual-channel DDR, PCI Express and Intel's Azalia audio capability with Dolby 7.1 surround sound.

Sonoma was one of several key product introductions that Intel had scheduled for 2004, only to rip up its road map, delay some products and cancel others. The company originally planned to roll out Sonoma in the second half of last year but then delayed it until January, citing unspecified "technical and marketing factors."

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Next year, Intel is scheduled to update its mobile offerings yet again with release of the Napa mobile processing platform, which is expected to include the company's upcoming Yonah processor based on sleeker, 65nm manufacturing process technology.

Intel expects system builders and OEMs to offer as many as 150 notebook models based on the Sonoma release, about half of which will be whitebook systems developed by channel companies.

The latest Centrino platform will compete with a new processor from rival Advanced Micro Devices, Sunnyvale, Calif., which earlier this month unveiled the AMD Turion 64 Mobile processor.