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Intel updates Centrino with new Wi-Fi part

The chipmaker is making new Wi-Fi parts available in its Centrino bundle of chips so that PC makers can use the latest Wi-Fi standard in their notebooks.

Chipmaker Intel is making new Wi-Fi parts available in its Centrino bundle of chips so that PC makers can use the latest Wi-Fi standard in their notebooks.

As expected, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company on Thursday said its Intel Pro/Wireless 2200BG part is set to be shipped in volume quantities to manufacturers. The company began shipping samples to manufacturers late last year. The part allows devices that use the chip to connect to 802.11b and 802.11g-based networks.

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Intel has placed big bets on Wi-Fi wireless networking and its Centrino package as it continues to look for ways to differentiate itself and add capabilities to its chips. The 802.11g-based component gives Intel and its PC manufacturing partners access to the most popular segment of the Wi-Fi market, something the company did not have previously.

"We're seeing Wi-Fi have influence all over in products, from notebooks to handhelds, and Centrino provides the only way to have a truly integrated solution," Intel Vice President Jim Johnson said.

Since the approval of the 802.11g standard last year, products using it have picked up on the momentum generated by the 802.11b standard and its devices, leading to more than twofold growth in the market.

Centrino is a collection of chips that includes a Pentium M processor, the Intel 855 chipset and the Intel Pro/Wireless network parts.

Among the first to use the 802.11g part with Intel's Centrino technology will be Fujitsu, Matsushita Electric, NEC, Sony and Toshiba. Others are expected to follow throughout this quarter, according to Intel.

The new two-chip component, which consists of communications and radio chips, is selling for $25 per part in 10,000-unit quantities.

The company is on schedule with its combination 802.11a/b/g part, which should be available in the first half of this year, according to Johnson.

A part that is not on schedule is the next-generation Pentium M notebook processor. The chip, code-named Dothan, has been pushed back to make changes to its circuitry, Intel President Paul Otellini said during a conference call Wednesday to discuss Intel's fourth-quarter earnings.

The chip had been expected to make its debut in mid-February, but is now scheduled to ship in the second quarter of 2004.