Intel's Centrino 2, With Linux Support?
This week Intel has unveiled its Centrino 2 platform that had been codenamed Montevina. The Centrino 2 notebook platform supports 45nm Penryn processors, GMA 4-Series graphics, up to DDR3-1333MHz support, DisplayPort/HDMI/DVI/VGA connectivity, 802.11g/n WiFi with an add-on card for 802.16 WiMax, and many other Intel innovations. Montevina will be the competition to AMD's Puma Platform that was introduced last month at Computex Taipei.
No Centrino 2 notebooks have yet to enter our testing labs, but it looks like -- as with other Intel products -- the experience for running this new hardware on Linux should be rather smooth. As we've shared before in earlier articles, the Penryn processors do run great on Linux already and Intel is certainly an active contributor within the Linux and open-source communities.
The biggest questions with the Centrino 2 "Montevina" on Linux will be around the new GMA X4500 graphics. However, there has been open-source for this flagship GMA X4500 IGP since last month for the DDX/Mesa/DRM drivers along with added DisplayPort and HDMI support. If you buy one of these new laptops immediately, however, be prepared to build the X.Org and Mesa components from git in order to obtain this support.
Introduced with Centrino 2 is support for switching between an integrated graphics processor (IGP) on the notebook and a discrete GPU also embedded within the notebook. If you're just running standard desktop applications and don't need any fast graphics acceleration, you can use the GMA X4500, but if you want to launch a game or watch a movie you can then switch over to using a discrete GPU. Unfortunately though, this feature is not currently supported by X.Org and the Intel driver. The subject of Centrino 2 video switching was brought up on the X mailing list early this morning. Intel's Keith Packard mentions they haven't got that far yet and video card hot-plugging support will require a pile of new code to make that work with the X server.
In the coming weeks we'll be delivering Intel GMA X4500 benchmarks with the latest X.Org/Mesa code at Phoronix.
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