Gearing up for Santa Rosa

Gearing up for Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa isn't just a place in California, Florida or Mexico. It's the next-generation mobile computing platform for businesses being released by Intel this year. It promises to pump up processing power, boost battery life and enhance wireless connectivity.

Santa Rosa extends Intel's vPro business functionality, currently in the desktop realm, onto the mobile platform. It gives IT managers the ability to wirelessly perform a host of administrative tasks on users' laptops, such as diagnostics and repairs. According to the chip giant, the forthcoming platform will halve application loading times and allow notebooks to wake up twice as fast from sleep mode.

Having already experienced significant success with its Centrino mobile computing platform, Intel will upgrade these components to include a more efficient version of the Core 2 Duo chip and the ICH8M chipset.

IDC senior hardware analyst, Liam Gunson, said Santa Rosa gave resellers and vendors something to talk about over the current Centrino architecture; good news considering the increasingly competitive notebook arena.

"Typically, vPro is great on the desktop side for IT departments in terms of manageability, security and performance," Gunson said. "So the fact it comes across to other form factors, means it will drive notebook sales."

The boost in power and associated benefits of Santa Rosa made the decision to migrate from desktops to notebooks easier by making it less of an administrative and management conundrum, he said.

Santa Rosa's integrated graphics chipset is also beneficial, and will whet the appetite of many notebook aficionados.

"It will run Vista better without needing an additional graphics card," Gunson said.


Having a similar platform will also ease some of the security concerns associated with going mobile or mixing notebooks and desktops in the enterprise environment.

"The main inhibitor of shifting people to mobility is security, but this is being dealt with," Gunson said. Professional mobility is increasing. IDC researchers forecast the worldwide mobile worker population will increase to 878 million by 2009, representing 27.3 per cent of the global workforce. "Enterprise is becoming more of a mix of desktop and notebooks," Gunson said.

Ingram Micro product director, Matthew Sanderson, said its consumer and enterprise notebook sales accounted for 55 per cent of units shipped in the last year.

"The previous year it was 50/50. We're seeing the continuing trend towards notebook adoption, and the Santa Rosa and Vista rollout will fuel that uptake further," he said.

With the mobile world increasing, Santa Rosa is good news for enterprise customers, Intel business development manager, Sean Casey, said. "The enterprise is lagging behind the consumer space in terms of mobile adoption," he said. "Employees understand the mobility benefits, but they aren't being given the tools. There's real tension."

The next-generation chipset not only improves graphics by optimising drivers for Vista support, but brings consumers one step closer to 64-bit computing for notebooks.

Casey said another key improvement was enhanced wireless connectivity through the integration of 802.11n. The specification is designed to allow interoperability of next-generation wireless LAN products. And it beefs up bandwidth in a big way. Some experts claim 802.11n could be as much as 50 times faster than 802.11b, and 10 times faster than 802.11a or 802.11g.

Casey said 802.11n will offer throughput of up to 300Mbps-400Mbps, compared with the current maximum of 54Mbps.

"There's a lot of interest in 802.11n, and it's another big jump in performance," he said. "It's compelling for the enterprise. Users don't need a LAN connection, but can rely solely on wireless. For consumers, it will mean high-definition video delivery."

IDC's Gunson agreed Santa Rosa's 802.11n functionality would give the wireless standard a big push forward. He forecast it would be similar to what happened with Wi-Fi adoption after the Centrino launch.

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