Intel Previews Future Mobile Chips

SAN FRANCISCO –- Intel unveiled a Wi–Fi/WiMAX radio chip and a mobile WiMAX PCMCIA card it plans to deliver in the second half of this year.

Code-named Ofer, the Wi–Fi/WiMAX chip will offer notebook users the flexibility to connect to Wi–Fi or WiMAX networks worldwide, said Sean Maloney, vice president of Intel’s mobility group during his keynote address for the Intel Developers Forum.

Maloney also provided some details on Intel’s next iteration of its Centrino mobile platform, due out the first half of 2007.

Code-named Santa Rosa, the new platform will include a more powerful mobile microprocessor. The chip will be based on Intel’s Merom Core microarchitecture, which the company announced earlier at the event.

Santa Rosa will include an improved graphics chipset (code-named Crestline), an 802.11n Wi–Fi adapter, (802.11n is a much faster version of the current 802.11 Wi-Fi standard) as well as advanced management and security solutions.

Santa Rosa will also feature faster boot-up times and power savings, thanks to Intel’s NAND flash–based platform accelerator, code-named Robson.

An initial version of Merom will be available this fall in systems for the current Intel Centrino Duo platform. Merom will be socket or pin–compatible with the current version of Intel Core Duo processors.

But for users to enjoy the fruits of Intel’s labor, the delivery of broadband must improve, according to Maloney. He said that while video is helping to drive the popularity of the Internet to greater heights, mobile users are being held back by subpar, if not non-existent broadband access.

“The Internet isn’t mobile,” said Maloney. “You can make the case we’re at the beginning of liftoff, but we’ve got a long way to go to see real growth when you look at the relatively small number of people in the world who have broadband.”

Meanwhile, top Intel rival AMD has made its strongest gains in the commercial server and desktop retail space but analysts expect mobile to be a tougher nut for AMD to crack.

Since the introduction of its Turion64 mobile processor almost a year ago, AMD has made a few percentage points gain since the to about ten percent of the notebook processor market.

“You can expect AMD to bring out a dual-core mobile processor with DDR-2 memory in the second quarter of this year,” David Rooney, AMD’s Turion64 product manager told internetnews.

He said a TurionX2 will continue AMD’s goal of lower power consumption and longer battery life.

Mike Feibus, analyst with TechKnowledge Strategies, said mobile will be one of AMD’s toughest challenges: “I think right now Intel is superior to AMD on power management.”

Rooney said AMD knows of over a hundred notebook designs shipping or in development based on Turion64 from such vendors as Acer, Fujitsu, and HP.

“I think Intel is ahead of AMD on mobile technology,” NPD Group analyst Stephen Baker, told

“But the biggest problem both AMD and Intel have is to show the advantages of dual-core and these other features. This is the problem companies like Dell are facing in trying to sell upgrades because a lot of customers are happy with what they already have. Where you see interest are in niche areas like gaming.”

Maloney also discussed Intel’s plans for handheld and other small form factor devices like the Blackberry 8700c which runs an Intel processor.

He said Intel has started shipping samples of its next generation application processors for handheld devices, code-named Monahans, to customers.

Based on Intel’s XScale technology, the Monahans platform family is designed for handsets, handhelds and consumer electronic devices and offers better video and audio, Maloney said.

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