Processor War…Again

Intel Centrino 2 vs AMD Puma…which one?

Again, I come to a point of making a decision.

Right after Intel launches its new Centrino 2 processor for mobile computing, AMD wants to come out and play too. AMD Puma has been launched in Asia and already being sold in IT vendors around town.

I have always been a huge fan of AMD and I’ve been using AMD ever since the K2 processor era. I think it’s because I feel that AMD has a better processing power when it comes to 3D games such as Counter Strike back when I was a hardcore gamer…kinda. But that was during the era of desktop PCs.

Now…almost all IT geeks and enthusiast are looking for mobility power, with minimum battery consumption.

I have done few readings and research on my own to know which processor would suit today’s lifestyle when it comes to mobile computing. I have evaluated laptops that uses Intel and AMD. I find that Intel has a slight edge over AMD in terms of usability and battery consumption. And the WLAN on Centrino machines are stronger in terms of its radio signal to catch the available WiFi AP in the surrounding area.

As for AMD on laptops, I can still “feel” the power when it handles heavy graphics and 3D games. It still renders 3D very well even on a low memory laptops. Of course, it also depends on the graphic card. I think it was a GeForce Go with 128MB memory on nForce motherboard.

But now both of the chip makers are out playing in the field again with their new processors. We have seens lots of dual-core machines out there and some even have quad-core. Yet to see is the 8-core laptop PCs, like the one being used by Mac Pro desktop. That would be awesome.

Here’s a snippet of an article I found for the new Centrino 2 processor:

Computing performance

Using the latest 45nm chips, the Penryn Core 2 Duo processors are said to be faster while consuming less power. According to Intel, the 2.8GHz Penryn chip takes 30 seconds less to perform a single task compared with the previous-gen 2.33GHz model, while, at the same time, using 60 percent less power.

The Intel Turbo Memory feature has also been given a boost, with the maximum RAM upped to 2GB. This component is supposed to reduce boot times while increasing battery life and performance. However, its previous iteration didn’t really impress reviewers all that much, so we’ll have to wait and see if the new implementation has improved.

Graphics

Integrated graphics has finally entered the DirectX 10 era. The GM45 and GM47 mainboards hold Intel’s X4500HD video chips which are capable of decoding HD movies natively without the use of third-party software. The GM47 version has slightly better performance in this area, thanks to its 640MHz GPU, compared with the 533MHz model in GM45. PM45 chipsets are reserved for machines which hold discrete GPUs. With more and more LCD TVs being found in homes, it’s also timely that HDMI ports are part of the Centrino 2 standard.

However, an interesting twist to this story is that there is now an optional feature which allows the user to switch between the integrated GPU and discrete video card. Though this functionality has existed on Sony VAIO SZ series notebooks, the Centrino 2 implementation kicks in automatically and does not require the system to reboot. Unfortunately, unlike AMD’s Puma platform which lets the system use both integrated and discrete solutions simultaneously, Intel’s version is an either-or model.

Connectivity

Anticipating more prevalent HD video downloads as well as greater penetration of home media networks, Centrino 2 laptops will come with Gigabit Ethernet ports and 802.11n radios as standard. Moreover, as one of its primary supporters, Intel is offering WiMAX connectivity as an option on the new platform.

Security

This one is for the cubicle warrior. The latest Centrino 2 with vPro machines hold all the advantages of the vPro platform, but now include an anti-theft component. When the stolen PC is connected to the Internet, the system administrator can wipe out the encryption key on the hardware remotely, thereby rendering the data on the harddisk useless.

And here’s a snippet that I found on the new AMD Puma:

Instead of playing the number-crunching game, AMD is, instead, leveraging on the graphics technology from ATI. Its latest mobile platform, codenamed Puma, offers a tight integration between the CPU and video chipset for exceptional gaming and multimedia performance. As Dirk Meyer, AMD president and chief operating officer, put it during his keynote at Computex Taipei 2008, “It’s not about creating technology for technology sake, but for an immersive experience… The future of computing is visual.”

Consisting of the new dual-core AMD Turion X2 Ultra mobile processor (codenamed Griffin) and Series-7 mainboard (M780G and SB700), the most exciting feature must surely be the AMD PowerXpress technology. The mainboard comes with an integrated ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics processor, a DirectX 10-capabilty solution which AMD claims offers 3x the performance of its competitor. But alongside, a discrete ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3400 or HD 3600 graphics card (GPU) can be included. In this case, PowerXpress kicks in to seamlessly switch between the integrated and discrete GPUs, depending on whether battery life or performance is required.

Yet even while the dedicated GPU is in use for tasks like HD video or gaming, the integrated chipset continues to handle less video-intensive needs like Vista’s Aero interface, thanks to ATI CrossFireX technology. AMD claims the synergy between integrated and discrete graphics gives a 70 percent boost to graphics performance.

This is one of the reasons that, despite reports of the Griffin chip drawing more power than its predecessors, AMD promises longer unplugged time as the system uses five times less CPU clock cycles for multimedia tasks. All this is nice and dandy on paper, but one of the most challenging issues faced by AMD is that there are comparatively fewer models compared with Centrino systems. However, with the launch of Puma, there are twice as many designs based on the latest AMD chipset compared with the previous Turion X2 chip.

Well yes. I’m in a dilemma again. Intel is gaining my interest when the time I’ll choose my next machine. But I’ve always remained faithful with AMD.

From the two articles that I found, I see that both chip makers are really going head to head on this one. Both have similar functionality and similar graphic performance.

Should I remain faithful to my all time favourite AMD, or shall I try out something new like the Centrino 2? I guess I have to depend on my budget on this one.

Article written by K. Azwan

To simply put it, I am a web and graphic designer by profession, a cook by passion, a blogger & photographer by hobby and a bowler by reputation. I am a geek ever since I started using the PC back in the late 80`s. Now I blog and review just to kill time. And because I love writing too.

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