IT WAS 10 YEARS AGO today that Intel scored its first big marketing victory in notebook PCs by launching its Centrino branding, which would come to symbolise laptops for years and eventually lead the firm to adopt parts of the strategy in future marketing campaigns.
In 2003 Intel chose Cebit to launch what arguably would become its most important chip of the decade, one that would see not just one but three of its chips dominate the then rapidly growing laptop market. Intel's Centrino was being positioned not just as a product but a trio of chips that customers would ask for in their laptops by a single name. It was also Intel showing that it could repeat the phenomenal success it achieved with the Pentium and Intel Inside branding during the 1990s.
Intel might have used Centrino as a marketing brand to drive demand for its chips in laptops but the firm did bring solid engineering to the table, especially when it came to the Pentium M processor. The firm codenamed the first Pentium M chip Banias and it was the first chip to come out of its Israeli design labs building on the impressive Pentium 3 Tualatin architecture rather than trying to shunt the power hungry Pentium 4 into laptops.
Intel's Pentium M CPU brought new levels of performance and power efficiency to the laptop market and allowed designers to build thinner and lighter laptops. PC OEMs such as Dell, HP, Toshiba and Sony could finally design laptops that offered three hours of battery life - a figure that today might sound pitiful but back in 2003 it represented the state of the art.
For Intel, Banias was a significant departure from the Netburst architecture in its Pentium 4 processors and history shows that it was the right choice. By 2006 Intel's Netburst architecture was no longer competitive because the firm couldn't hit the 6GHz+ clock frequencies it needed to really take advantage of the architecture's long execution pipelines.
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