Intel speeds up delivery of faster Wi-Fi

Intel has confirmed plans to ship its next-generation wireless chips ahead of its previous schedule for bringing 802.11n wireless to its Centrino program.

The Next-Gen Wireless-N product will appear in notebooks from companies such as Acer, Gateway and Toshiba by the end of this month, Dave Hofer, director of wireless marketing for the company, said on Tuesday.

The new Wi-Fi chip is based on the draft 802.11n wireless standard, which is on track to be finalised later this year. It will become the newest piece of Intel's Centrino package of chips, which includes the Core 2 Duo processor, a mobile chipset and a wireless chip.

Notebooks with 802.11n chips will be able to connect to wireless networks at faster speeds and with greater range than notebooks with older wireless chips, Hofer said.

Intel also says its 802.11n chips will provide up to an extra hour of battery life, compared with other Wi-Fi chips based on the draft 802.11n standard. Companies have been shipping 802.11n chips based on the draft standard since last year.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) held a key vote on the draft standard this week, moving it a step closer to completion. In the past, Intel has waited until a final specification was complete to release wireless chips, but the company is moving forward now because of the high degree of confidence among many in the industry that the final standard will be extremely close to the draft standard, Hofer said. The Wi-Fi Alliance plans to start certifying products based on the draft standard during the second quarter, he said.

Intel also announced an extension of its Connect with Centrino program, in which it tests and verifies that its wireless chips will work with wireless chips from other vendors such as Atheros Communications or Broadcom. Interoperability problems can be a headache for users, especially in cities where multiple wireless signals are present, Hofer said.

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Intel has signed up several major access point vendors for the program, such as D-Link and Netgear, but it has yet to finalise the participation of market leader Cisco Systems' Linksys division. Cisco is evaluating the program, and Intel expects to see additional announcements, Hofer said.

Likewise, PC market leaders Hewlett-Packard and Dell are not onboard with the first generation of Intel's 802.11n chips, but will have products to talk about over the next few months, Hofer said. In the second quarter, Intel says it will overhaul its notebook products with Santa Rosa, a new platform that will feature 802.11n and mobile wide-area networking. Last year, PC industry sources expected Santa Rosa by March. More of Intel's customers will be onboard with 802.11n at that point, he said.

Via CNET News.com



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