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7/14/2008
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Intel Rolls Out Centrino 2 Notebook Platform

Codenamed Montevina, Intel's latest offering includes a Core 2 Duo processor and Wi-Fi support with the option of using a WiMax add-on card.

Intel on Monday plans to roll out its latest notebook platform, which includes higher performing processors than the previous generation and an optional integrated Wi-Fi/WiMax module.

Formally named Centrino 2, the platform will make its debut at a mid-afternoon news conference in San Francisco. The technology was originally scheduled for release at Computex Taipei 2008 in early June, but was delayed due to problems with integrated graphics and wireless certification.

Codenamed Montevina, Centrino 2 will include a second-generation Core 2 Duo processor, codenamed Penryn. The chip, which is expected to have clock speeds ranging from 2.26 GHz to 3.06 GHz, is built using Intel's latest manufacturing process that multiplies the number of transistors on a die by shrinking them to 45 nanometers. More transistors deliver higher performance within the same level of power consumption.

The platform comprises a CPU, main-board chipset, and wireless network interface in a design for a notebook. Along with Penryn, Centrino 2 includes an Intel Mobile 4 Express series chipset, codenamed Cantiga, with the company's GMA X4500 graphics technology. In addition, the chipset will include flash-memory caching branded as Intel Turbo Memory, codenamed Robson 2.

Intel is also offering a version of Centrino 2 with built in security and manageability features. The business-focused product is branded Centrino 2 vPro.

For wireless modules, the platform will include Wi-Fi support with the option of using a WiMax add-on card. In addition, computer makers will have the option of using Intel's combo Wi-Fi/WiMax module, codenamed Echo Peak. Laptop makers Lenovo, Acer, Asus, Panasonic, and Toshiba have all agreed to carry the combination Wi-Fi and WiMax chipsets when the technology debuts, according to Intel.

Intel is heavily marketing WiMax as the high-speed wireless broadband service of the future for notebooks and smaller computing gadgets, sometimes referred to as mobile Internet devices, or MIDs. Intel partner Sprint Nextel plans to launch its first commercially available WiMax service in September in Baltimore. Sprint also plans to roll out service in Chicago and Washington, D.C., by the end of the year.

If the launches are successful, then they will be a milestone for Sprint. The telecommunications company has been trying to roll out WiMax services for a few years, but a slew of technical, financial, and managerial issues have caused delays. In May, the company announced it would partner with Clearwire, Intel, Google, Time Warner Cable, and others to roll out the fourth generation network.

Intel is releasing Montevina about a month and a half after rival Advanced Micro Devices launched its first platform built solely for notebooks. Codenamed Puma, the AMD offering includes the Turion X3 Ultra Dual-Core Mobile processor and the AMD 7-series chipset.

AMD plans to start refreshing its entire product line with 45-nm processors this year. All of AMD's current technology is 65 nanometers.

Because Montevina is 45-nm technology, it is expected to give Intel the performance lead in processors. However, analysts say AMD's offering is competitive in mainstream notebooks, where having the fastest processor is less important than price, as long as the CPU can get the job done.

The latest Intel platform is expected to be used by the major computer makers, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Toshiba. Manufacturers that have lined up to use AMD's Puma include Acer, Asus, Fujitsu, HP, NEC, and Toshiba.

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