Intel Pushes Faster Wireless Standard to Market

Intel has unveiled the next generation of wireless chips for its Centrino Duo mobile line used in many Intel-based laptops, which are designed to improve their ability to download music and stream high-definition video.

The Intel Next-Gen Wireless-N network connection, an upgrade to the wireless component currently used in Centrino Duo mobile technology, will substantially boost the power of notebook PCs, allowing users to share five times the data at twice the range of their current wireless connections, according to the company.

The component is based on the draft 802.11n WiFi specification, which is designed to replace the 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g WiFi standards for local area networking.

The new WiFi chip will become the latest piece of Intel’s Centrino package of chips, which includes the Core 2 Duo processor, a mobile chipset and a wireless chip.

Heavy Content

As notebook PCs are increasingly asked to download broadband-heavy content such as movies, videos and music, more powerful networking solutions continue to be developed. The Next-Gen Wireless-N addresses these increasing performance needs, according to Dave Hofer, Intel’s director of wireless marketing.

“Integrating wireless-N technology into notebook computers based on Centrino Duo with the Intel Core 2 Duo processor delivers the speed, coverage and multitasking abilities needed for consumers to enjoy their home networking and digital entertainment,” Hofer told TechNewsWorld.

While the improved designs are expected to better handle broadband-intense downloads, the technology is using less power and will actually increase the notebook battery life by an extra hour, he said.

The Next-Gen Wireless-N product will appear in notebooks from companies such as Acer, Gateway and Toshiba by the end of this month.

Industry Standards

While 802.11n is not yet an official industry standard, Intel has been its biggest supporter. It uses MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output) technology that can reach data rate speeds of 540 Megabits per second from distances of more than 100 feet.

This week, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) held a preliminary vote on setting a draft standard for wireless chip specifications. In the past, Intel has waited until the final specs were completed before releasing wireless chips, but the company didn’t wait this time because of the high level of support 802.11n has received across the industry, Hofer noted.

However, not everyone is on board with the first generation of Intel’s 802.11n chips. PC market leaders Hewlett-Packard and Dell are holding off for now but are expected to consider their incorporation over the next few months, said Hofer.

The Waiting Game

In the second quarter, Intel plans to overhaul all its notebook products with Santa Rosa, a new platform that will feature 802.11n and cellular wide-area networking.

Intel has also announced an extension of its Connect with Centrino program, through which it tests and verifies that its wireless chips will work with wireless chips from other vendors such as Atheros Communications or Broadcom. Interoperability problems can be a headache for users, especially in cities where multiple wireless signals are present.

“Additionally, access points that are identified by our new Connect with Centrino logo assure consumers that they are purchasing a compatible wireless-N system,” said Hofer.

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