Intel Revs Up Centrino

Intel is speeding up new Centrino processors while cutting the prices on existing chips.

Intel Corp. is speeding up new Centrino processors while cutting the prices on existing chips.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company on Monday unveiled a 1.7GHz Pentium M, a low-voltage 1.2GHz chip and an ultra-low voltage 1GHz processor.

At the same time, Intel cut the prices on existing Centrino and Pentium M offerings by as much as 34 percent. Intel also promised enhanced networking software with upgraded security capabilities.

The Pentium M is the chip that powers Centrino, Intels mobile technology platform that includes the 855 chip set and wireless Wi-Fi module. Until this week, the fastest Pentium M ran at 1.6GHz, while the fastest low- and ultra-low voltage chips—designed for smaller notebooks and tablet PCs—had frequencies of 1GHz and 900MHz, respectively.

Pricing for the 1.7GHz Pentium M starts at $637 per 1,000-unit shipments. In conjunction, pricing for the 1.4GHz, 1.5GHz and 1.6GHz chips dropped from 18 to 34 percent. For the entire Centrino package, offerings powered by the 1.7GHz chip start at $720, with pricing for the other Centrino packages were cut by 14 to 30 percent.

Since introducing Centrino March 12, the number of systems using Centrino technology has grown from 34 to 58, according to the chip maker.

Among the software enhancements Intel will unveil later this month is an update to the Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 network connection, which will support such wireless LAN data security technology as Wi-Fi Protected Access.

Centrinos software generated some controversy last week when Intel officials and at least one user said that an compatibility problem between the Adaptive Switching technology in the platform and some virtual private network clients that caused laptops to stop working. Intel offered work-arounds that involved disabling the Adaptive Switching feature.