Intel's upcoming Merom processor will get a boost in March 2007 when the company unveils its Santa Rosa platform, in the form of a faster front-side bus and improved wireless chips.
Intel code names tend to reflect the names of towns and cities around the geography where the chips were designed. Santa Rosa is a town in California located about an hour north of San Francisco and about 100 miles from Intel's headquarters in Santa Clara.
By March 2007, Intel will upgrade Merom's chipset and wireless technology with the Crestline chipset, which will be released as part of the Santa Rosa platform, according to industry sources.
Crestline will up the speed of Intel's front-side bus to 800MHz. The front-side bus connects the processor to memory and is a crucial link that affects system performance. Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices has enjoyed a performance advantage over Intel in recent years because it decided to integrate the front-side bus directly onto its Opteron, Athlon 64 and Turion processors. This allows the memory controller to run at the same speed as the processor. According to Japanese sources, the Crestine will almost certainly sport an updated graphics core, capable of supporting Microsoft's DirectX 10.
A faster front-side bus will improve the performance of 2007 Santa Rosa notebooks as compared with 2006 systems based on Merom and the 945 mobile chipsets. That chipset currently uses a 667MHz front-side bus.
Santa Rosa's wireless chip is known as Kedron, and it will probably support the forthcoming 802.11n wireless standard, according to sources. Wireless networking products certified for 802.11n are expected to arrive in early 2007.