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Intel's Banias Starts with 802.11b

The Banias Mobile Platform is Intel Corp.'s push for mobility in 2003, with lower power consumption and wireless capability integrated in all new laptops with Intel inside. Initially, the chip giant's plans called for its wireless chipset to support dual-band 802.11a/b, running at 54Mbps and 11Mbps, respectively. However, when the first original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) laptops with Banias ship in 2002, they'll be 11Mbps 802.11b only (using chips from Philips).

Dual-band support is to come later in the first half of 2003.

The there is a mix of reasons for this, "some are regulatory, some are performance," according to Tom Potts of Intel press relations. "We are not satisfied at this point that "a" will live up to what the Intel brand promises. There appears to be significant demand for [wireless] notebooks without the "a" needed, initially."

However, he says the company is "committed to launching dual-band in the first half of '03. But prior to that, there will be a number of OEM notebooks that will be "b" only."

When asked whether the wireless chipset (codenamed Calexico) that is part of Banias -- both of which will be getting official brand names in the first part of 2003 -- will eventually support the 2.4GHz 802.11g standard that is current still in the draft stage, Potts said the company is committed to an 802.11g version of the chips. However, they won't touch 802.11g until it's a ratified standard. He says "A lot of our customers don't want to get near it" when it's not a standard.

The initial 802.11b Calexico chipset that's used with Banias will ship on a miniPCI card integrated into the laptop. The wireless is not built in to the central processing unit (CPU) , like some have reported. Potts says eventually wireless may make it on the CPU, but that's years down the road. In the meantime, he says getting 802.11 support on every computer is akin to how computers have evolved to include Ethernet ports.

"If you don't see Ethernet [on a computer], you feel it's not a complete product," says Potts. Intel feels the same way about Wi-Fi on every laptop.

Banias systems will ship with initial CPU speeds of 1.3 to 1.6GHz with a 1MB cache.

Eric Griffith is the managing editor of 802.11 Planet.

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