What is Centrino Duo?

Question

I am in the market for a new notebook computer and keep seeing something called a Centrino Duo. What does it mean and do I need it?

-Jason

Answer

This question was answered on June 15, 2006. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

In the ever increasing battle to sell more processors, both Intel and AMD are constantly introducing new products that will perform better than previous products.

In most cases it is a heavy dose of marketing with a light dose of improvement

The bottom line for the user is not a bunch of technical jargon or laboratory tests on individual performance specs, but "will my computing experience be noticeably different?"

The primary difference between a standard Centrino (also referred to as Core

Solo) and a Centrino Duo is the amount of processing power.

The Duo incorporates what are essentially two processors into one chip.

It's not the same as having two completely separate processors, but it does provide you with additional processing power.

In a regular Centrino unit, if you ask your computer to do more than one thing at a time (scan for viruses and check your e-mail for example) it has to juggle those requests simultaneously using a form of time slicing which causes both to be slower than if they were run separately.

Think of it as sitting at a blackjack table in Vegas with you as the only player The dealer only has to concentrate on your hand, but as soon as another player sits down, it takes a little longer to get your next card.

In a Centrino Duo unit, there are two processors built into one chip that can each handle separate tasks at the same time, but they must share the rest of the computing resources (such as memory, etc.) This should improve the performance of your computer if you do a lot of multi-tasking, but it will not make any specific task faster.

Think of the Centrino Duo as a blackjack table with Siamese twins as the dealer They can perform two different tasks faster than a single dealer, but they can not perform the same single task twice as fast For instance, they could be dealing you cards and cleaning up the drink you just spilled simultaneously, but they can't both be dealing cards in the same hand to speed up play.

A true dual processor configuration (often used in servers and high performance workstations) would be more like two different dealers at two completely different tables that have all of their own resources.

Now that I have analogized this discussion to death, let me give you some practical information For the most part, you should see small differences in price between a comparably equipped Centrino and a Centrino Duo system, especially as time goes on, so pricing should not be much of a barrier.

There have been reports that in certain situations, the Duo version is experiencing some battery life issues, but the tests have been mixed There does seem to be some issues with external USB devices that draw power from the computer causing a reduction in battery life in some test units If you are somewhat technical, there is a great article at TomsHardware.com titled "Will Core Duo Notebooks Trade Battery Life For Quicker Response?"

If you are one that tends to only do one thing at a time, the benefits of the Centrino Duo will be less noticeable, but if you are a "multi-tasker"

(which most of us are), you may want to consider including this technology in your next purchase.

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on June 15, 2006