IF YOU‘VE BEEN waiting for a more powerful replacement of Intel’s CULV platform, then you’ll be glad to know that its partners have started to launch Core i UM based notebooks en masse. This is a couple of months later than expected and we wrote a little piece about this before Computex. Various markets seem to be getting models from different manufacturers at the moment, although this is most likely a business strategy more than a supply issue.
The 18W ultra low power processors might not have the most impressive clock speeds and the trick is to pick the right processor as the differences between the right and the wrong models are huge. Let’s start with trying to break things down a little bit between the various models. Starting from the bottom of these Arrandale derived processors we’ve got the Celeron U3400. This CPU is clocked at a mere 1067MHz – one of three CPU’s at this clock speed – and the missing feature here is Intel’s Turbo technology. In other words, the U3400 doesn’t feature dynamic overclocking and you’re stuck at 1067MHz no matter what. However, it does have Turbo on the IGP which can operate between 166 and 500MHz. This CPU also has 256kb L2 cache per core and 2MB shared L3 cache.
Moving up one step we have the Pentium U5400 which is a smidgen faster at 1.2GHz, but again, it lacks Intel’s Turbo technology. The U5400 also has 3MB L3 cache, but is otherwise identical to the Celeron U3400 with the small exception of no VT-x support. Next up we have the Core i3 330UM which is a real head scratcher at first, as it looks identical to the U5400 as it has the same clock speed, the same amount of cache and still no Turbo boost. However, this is the first of the ultra low Voltage CPU’s to feature Hyper-Threading and it’s also the first model with an IGP that supports two digital displays at once.
If you want to reap the benefit of Intel’s Turbo boost technology then you need to look for a notebook that features at least a Core i5 430UM as this 1.2GHz processor has a maximum Turbo frequency of 1.73GHz. Apart from Turbo boost support, it’s no different than the i3 330UM. Next up we have the Core i5 520UM and 540UM where the first is clocked at 1067MHz and the second at 1.2GHz. The 520UM will Turbo boost to 1.87GHz while the 540UM goes all the way to 2GHz. The 500-series also adds support for Intel’s new AES instructions, VT-d and trusted execution technology.
Finally we have three Core i7 models, the 620UM at 1067MHz, the 640UM at 1.2GHz and the 660UM at 1.33GHz. Intel is also expected to launch a faster 1.47GHz 680UM model in the fourth quarter. The 620UM will Turbo boost to 2.13GHz, with the 640UM hitting 2.27GHz and the 660UM 2.4GHz. The upcoming 680UM should Turbo to 2.53GHz. The 600-series also have 4MB of L3 cache, but that’s the only other difference on offer.
Hopefully this clears up some of the confusion with regards to Intel’s new ultra low power processors, especially with regards to some of the unclear information provided by many notebook resellers that might’ve been given the wrong information or misunderstood the features on offer. Currently Asus, Acer, Gateway, Sony and Toshiba seems to favour the Core i3 330UM in several of their models, with Lenovo and Toshiba seemingly being the only ones to offer notebooks with the Pentium U5400. Lenovo is also the only company we could find that sells a notebook with the Celeron U3400, namely the IdeaPad U160 which is the same model which is offered with the U5400.
Budget permitting we’d suggest that anyone considering buying a notebook with one of these new processors should aim for at least the Core i5 430UM. This model seems to offer a good compromise in terms of cost and performance and it doesn’t suffer from any of the drawbacks of the more basic models. The higher-end models offer additional performance and there really isn’t much to discuss about them outside of the few additional features that they offer, but which most people are unlikely to have a huge need for.
Intel’s 18W Arrandale based processors can be found in notebooks ranging from 11.6-inches all the way to 14-inches in size, although we can’t really see the point of getting a large notebook with one of these processors with the possible exception being that you could potentially fit a larger battery for insanely long battery life.
Time will tell if these new ultra low power notebooks will be more successful than Intel’s CULV processors which didn’t prove to be quite as popular as Intel hoped. At least this time around Intel has a solid range of solutions for business users and with companies like Fujitsu, Lenovo and Toshiba already having business models in the market with the new CPU’s, it looks like Intel will do much better with this new range of CPUs. It’s also a move towards that magical 8h battery life time that seems to be something of a holy grail when it comes to notebooks.S|A
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