NEW YORK—The core of Intel Corp.s Centrino mobile platform was the direct result of a convergence of communications and computing, according to company CEO Craig Barrett, a company mantra for the past couple of years.
To accomplish the development, Intel worked closely with networking partners, service providers and software developers to create an ecosystem that will make wireless computing ubiquitous, Barrett said Wednesday here speaking at the U.S. launch of the platform.
“The exciting thing is, I think people are ready for this technology,” Barrett said. “People want to use their computers anywhere at anytime in any configuration. … There is a groundswell of desire, there is a need and there is a coming together in the industry to provide this.
“This is really, after 20 years of talking about it the most tangible evidence of [the convergence] of computing and communications,” he said.
That desire is illustrated by the growth of notebook sales at the expense of desktop PC sales, Barrett said.
Centrino is a package that includes the Pentium-M chip, formerly known as Banias, the accompanying 855 chipset family and a Wi-Fi module, the Pro/Wireless 2100 Network Connection.
The Pentium-M comes in four speeds, 1.3GHz, 1.4GHz, 1.5GHz and 1.6GHz, with prices ranging from $292 to $720, per 1,000 units. There also is a low voltage processor at 1.1GHz and an ultra-low-voltage chip at 900MHz. The chips have a new architecture that offers lower power consumption and longer battery life than Intels current top mobile chips, the Pentium III-M and Pentium 4-M.
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According to Anand Chandrasekher, vice president and general manager of Intels Mobile Platforms Group, the Centrino package gives users up to a 20 percent performance boost and 80 percent more battery life than the Pentium 4-M. It provides a 60 percent performance boost and 30 percent more battery life than Pentium III-M.
The new chips also enable notebook users to change from WLAN to WAN connectivity without having to change the devices configuration. It also supports 802.11b and Bluetooth without conflict, Chandrasekher said.
In the second half of the year, Intel will start shipping Pentium-M chips built on the .09-micron process (the current Centrino chips are built via the .13-micron process), which will mean even smaller form factors and greater battery life.
Intel also is pushing the proliferation of Wi-Fi “hotspots” around the world to enable users of Centrino-equipped devices to have more options for connecting wirelessly, Chandrasekher said. Currently there are 3,000 to 4,000 global hotspots verified to work with Centrino-equipped devices, he said. By the end of the year, Intel expects that to grow into the tens of thousands.
Intel is spending $150 million to help startups bring Wi-Fi products to market and working with companies around the world to develop and market Wi-Fi hotspots.
Intels not alone. Other chip makers are also pushing deeper into the mobile market. Advanced Micro Devices Inc., on Wednesday announced 12 new chips for both the full-sized notebook space as well as the growing thin-and-light notebook market.
Meanwhile, Transmeta Corp. earlier this week released more details on its upcoming Astro chip, which will be released in the third quarter of this year and also is aimed at the thin-and-light space.
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