RealTime IT News

Centrino Platforms to Get the 'Sonoma' Touch

SAN FRANCISCO -- Intel got the second phase of its wireless movement back on track this week, marked by the evolution of its Centrino lineup.

Coming off a year of successful market share -- and mind share -- Intel Vice President and Mobile Platforms Group General Manager Anand Chandrasekher said Centrino has been a good horse to ride, but now the time is right to switch to a bigger stallion.

"2003 was about driving momentum," he said to developers attending the company's bi-annual technology showcase here. "This year we will drive momentum into the consumer segment in its fullest manner possible. We are going to galvanize the industry."

Intel said it will introduce its next generation 90-nanometer Pentium M processor (code-named "Dothan") by the end of June and update all the elements of its Centrino mobile technology with its new "Sonoma" technology over the rest of the year. Dothan has so far stalled out of the chute, experiencing production delays from its two 90nm fabrication plants.

Chandrasekher chalked up the three-month pause on Dothan production to a "quality issue that Intel verified in its final stages."

The company was more forgiving on its Sonoma technology. The bundle includes a Dothan chip; a 533 MHz front-side bus; a new Wi-Fi component that supports the 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g wireless networking standards; and, a new chipset code-named "Alviso."

The chipset supports Direct Media Interface with improved bandwidth, TV-out, high definition audio, eight USB ports, four-port PCI Express, and up to 2GB of DDR2 memory. Intel said Alviso will also support its High Definition Audio with low power capabilities

Intel said the advancements are meant to boost the use of Wi-Fi at hotspots as well as its upcoming cousin 802.16 -- commonly referred to as WiMAX.

"With compelling new mobile platform capabilities and the tremendous industry momentum around Wi-Fi and Intel Centrino mobile technology, we envision a rise in new and innovative applications for mobile computing in both the enterprise and the home," Chandrasekhar said.

Hotspots are on the rise. Researchers predict that there will be as many as 200,000 worldwide by 2008. But analysts remain skeptical about whether or not they will be profitable. Meantime, non-hotspots -- that is, enterprise networks -- will also continue to grow significantly as companies look past WLAN's previous security issues.

Analyst firms like Gartner expect more than 50 percent of WLAN deployments will be within vertical markets such as education and healthcare over the next year.

"Some of the concern over wireless security is real, some is hype and misconception," Gartner Vice President, Mobile Computing, Client Platforms Group Leslie Fiering told internetnews.com. "The bigger issue is that wireless takes IT departments outside their comfort zone and that puts the challenge back on Intel and other Wi-Fi suppliers."

To help push the wireless support infrastructure and ease the mind of the IT set, Intel and other members of the Standards Panel Working Group (SPWG) Wednesday announced the release of the SPWG 3.0 specification, designed to help improve the notebook PC display interchangeability and time to market.

Additionally, Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology Co. announced the development of the world's first 2.38-watt, 14.1-inch XGA and 2.7-watt, 14.1-inch SXGA+ display for mobile PCs, helping to further reduce laptop power consumption and enable longer battery life.

Intel has also expanded its Wireless Verification Program (WVP) to include support for the 802.11g wireless standard. The WVP now includes more than 30,000 verified hotspots around the globe.