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Centrino proves a winner on performance

Portable processor isn't just a techno breakthrough, it's fast too

Today sees the launch of Intel's Centrino mobile processor, after months of hype about what the company promises will be its best chip for portable PCs ever.

Intel has touted Centrino, formerly known as Banias, on the basis of its built-in wireless capabilities, longer battery life and the fact that it enables manufacturers to build slimmer, lighter models.

But one area that it has been keen to keep under wraps was its performance, keeping information about clock speeds closely guarded by non-disclosure agreements. This is perhaps because it is following the AMD route, moving away from clock speed as a measure of performance and towards actual performance.

Toshiba product manager, Ken Chan, told PC Advisor that he was getting the same level of performance from a 1.6GHz processor, as he would have expected from a 2.2GHz Mobile Pentium 4.

To find out if we would get such impressive results from the Centrino, PC Advisor tested one of the first notebooks to use the processor. We ran our WorldBench 4 performance benchmark on Acer's TravelMate 803 LCI and it managed an impressive score of 126 with its 1.6GHz Centrino processor. This is faster than any of the models in our current notebook charts; clearly Intel had nothing to be shy about.

The launch was backed by a slew of announcements of notebooks based around the processor, so Intel is certainly enjoying plenty of industry backing. Toshiba has no less than four new Centrino models — the most it has ever launched using a new processor — while NEC has introduced the Versa S900 Centrino-based subnotebook.

Intel is keen to push Centrino as 'the' mobile platform to all customers, but Toshiba says that it will initially be targeting business users with its Centrino range. Product manager Chan says it is hard to push the message of less megahertz, but as much speed and more features to consumers who "still buy on clock speed".

For a full review of Acer's TravelMate 803 LCI, click here.

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