Six months after introducing its Centrino mobile computing platform, Intel Corp. is laying the groundwork for the second generation of the architecture with a new chip, power-saving features and more Wi-Fi capabilities.
But while some users are willing to wait for Intel to deliver on its Centrino road map, IBM is moving ahead with new notebooks that include wireless components from another vendor.
At its Intel Developer Forum here last week, the chip maker rolled out its newest Centrino chip set, the 855GME, which features the ability to dim the backlight on the display to reduce power consumption. The chip set will complement the Dothan, the next version of the Pentium M processor that will include 2MB of cache and will launch next quarter.
In the meantime, Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., will roll out additional Wi-Fi capabilities in Centrino, starting with dual 802.11a/b support next month, officials said. Support for dual 802.11b/g will ship in the first quarter of next year, with 802.11a/b/g in the first half of next year.
IBM, however, isnt waiting. Next month, the company will introduce ThinkPad notebooks that incorporate dual-band 802.11a/b/g chip sets from Atheros Communications Inc. that support high-speed data transfers in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz ranges. IBM officials, in Armonk, N.Y., said they will evaluate the new Centrino chip sets when they arrive but that there is no guarantee the company will adopt them.
"We dont have all our eggs in one basket," said Ron Sperano, program director for mobile market development at IBMs Personal Computing Group. "We needed an a/b/g solution today. Once [the a/b/g Centrino] comes out, we will review it. But if the Atheros a/b/g card gets a lot of traction, were not going to pull it just for Centrino."
Sperano said IBMs customers havent shown much preference for which companys radios are in their notebooks, as long as they are compatible with wireless products from Cisco Systems Inc. and its Cisco Compatible Extensions protocol.
Cisco, for its part, will introduce a new line of wireless LAN products in November, according to sources close to the San Jose, Calif., company.
Jim Cavalieri, CIO at Salesforce.com Inc., said that once Intel support for 802.11g comes out, he expects that most of the Dell Inc. notebooks his companys employees use will be full Centrino. "Its very compelling, especially as the chip set matures," said Cavalieri, who said most of the San Francisco-based companys employees use laptops.