he new Mobile 915 'Alviso' chipset supports up to 2GB of DDR2 RAM, Serial ATA and PCI Express, plus improved integrated graphics and audio.
The 915 chipset also includes a power-managed Serial ATA disk interface, and PCI Express, which is advertised at being up to twice as fast for I/O and four times as fast for graphics. Expansion cards for this will follow the new ExpressCard format, which is around half the size of the venerable PC Card standard, and which has a somewhat squashed orange rabbit as its logo. Most, if not all, notebooks with ExpressCard launched this year will also have a slot for older formats, and most, if not all, ExpressCard cards this year will duplicate functions already available with PC Card.
Integrated graphics on the 915GM -- the Graphics Media Accelerator 900 -- includes DirectX 9.0 hardware support for 3D games, as well as high-definition, wide aspect ratio and TV standard outputs. Intel claims that the integrated graphics has twice the raw speed of the previous Centrino chipset, the 855GME, and that with two 533MHz DDR2 memory modules the chip can reach a preliminary 3DMark03 performance rating of 1,140. This compares with figures in the 5,000 range for high-specification desktop gaming configurations and is unlikely to excite the hard core, but should be sufficient for games a couple of years old. Most business applications are expected to be unaffected.
Likewise, adoption of the Intel High Definition Audio standard means that the 915 chipset can support multiple independent audio streams -- such as streamed telephony at the same time as surround-sound DVD playback -- in ways that may have consumer applications but are currently underexploited in business productivity tools. One small yet welcome point is that the audio circuitry can detect what sort of audio device is plugged into its sockets, and can therefore automatically route headphone signals to whatever socket the headphones are in.
Centrino's wireless now works with the trinity of 802.11a/b/g as well as current security standards (802.11i, WPA2 and Cisco Compatible Extensions version 3), some or all of which should be standard in any corporate installation that takes itself seriously. Intel has also worked on the wireless control software, and claims that the new PROSET/Wireless software 9.0 will provide better installation, connectivity and troubleshooting features for consumer and business users alike.