Intel lines up Santa Rosa, WiMax for notebooks

Centrino takes another step forward as Intel also highlights its WiMax and home entertainment technologies.

SAN FRANCISCO--Intel unveiled a new generation of its Centrino notebook technology as well as the ultramobile PC during afternoon keynote speeches at the Intel Developer Forum on Tuesday.

As previously reported, Santa Rosa is the code name for the next iteration of Centrino, which is a combination of a mobile processor, chipset and wireless chip, said Sean Maloney, executive vice president and head of Intel's Mobility Group.

IDF Spring 2006

Santa Rosa will arrive in the first half of 2007, according to Maloney, though sources have put the expected launch around March of that year. Santa Rosa will accommodate the Merom processor that's expected to launch later this year but will feature a new chipset called Crestline that's designed to improve graphics performance.

Kedron, the new wireless chip in Santa Rosa, will support the 802.11n standard expected to be ratified early next year. But Wi-Fi networks such as 802.11n are only one part of Intel's wireless vision. The company continues to push WiMax technology as a future wide-area-network standard that could deliver data signals at broadband speeds over areas the size of cities.

Maloney demonstrated a single-chip Wi-Fi/WiMax radio that could connect to either network, as well as a WiMax PC card that could allow current-generation notebooks to hook up to WiMax networks. The WiMax PC card was running the mobile version of WiMax, which was recently approved by the IEEE.

One of the more anticipated gadgets shown during Maloney's keynote speech was the ultramobile PC. Not quite a handheld, and not quite a notebook, the ultramobile PC looks like a shrunken tablet PC in its early days as a prototype. However, Maloney believes PC manufacturers will borrow design techniques from mobile phone companies and come up with a range of designs that incorporate clamshell-like hinges or swiveling screens. ultramobile PCs will be hitting stores "in a relatively short time," he said.

In the second part of the keynote presentation, Intel Vice President Don McDonald showed off several capabilities of Viiv PCs, the home entertainment brand the company unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show. Viiv PCs are just starting to emerge from PC vendors, but Intel has plans to add capabilities such as flash memory to Viiv PCs to help speed the boot time of applications, he said.

Viiv (rhymes with five) is a collection of Intel hardware and software that's supposed to make it easier to network home entertainment devices and move premium content around different homes. Intel has been showing demonstrations of slick digital homes for several years as it tries to convince consumers that PCs are the answer to a next-generation digital home.

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