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Intel Centrino 2 chips hit with problems, delays

Intel discloses issues with its highly anticipated "Montevina" Centrino 2 mobile platform.

Intel will delay the introduction of its highly anticipated "Montevina" Centrino 2 mobile chips due to technical and certification problems, the chipmaker said Tuesday.

The initial rollout won't take place until July 14. The next phase will take place in August.

Intel had recently been saying that the Centrino 2 mobile platform would launch after Computex, toward the end of June. Centrino 2 features upgraded integrated graphics, high-speed WiMax wireless silicon, and native support for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP), among other features.

"Initially what will be available on July 14 are the (Centrino 2) processors and some of the chipsets," Intel spokesperson Connie Brown said. These processors include the "T" and "X" (Extreme) series. Other Centrino 2 silicon will come later.

The two principal problems concern, one, the certification (on the Centrino 2 platform) of the Wi-Fi wireless standard and, two, technical issues with the Centrino 2 chipset.

Wi-Fi is "not a technical issue. It's paperwork," Brown said. "There were mistakes made while filing and testing our wireless antennas." The paperwork involves both the FCC and other government organizations like Canada's IC, she said.

The second problem is centered on technical issues with the Centrino 2 "Cantiga" chipset and the Intel graphics that is integrated into the chipset. In short, Intel will not release a chipset initially with Intel integrated graphics.

Instead, on July 14, Intel will offer a "PM" version for discrete (stand-alone) graphics chips only, Brown said. The July 14 version of the chipset can be used with discrete graphics chips from Nvidia and AMD-ATI, for example, but will not have Intel integrated graphics.

The "GM" version that includes the Intel integrated graphics will not be available until early August. "It will be ramping by August 5," Brown said. The two initial versions of the chipset with Intel integrated graphics are the GM45 and GM47. Intel will also make available its updated Wi-Fi technology called "Shirley Peak" in August, she said.

Brown said the chipsets must be "re-screened." This means basically that some chipsets need to be rechecked to see if they have "an issue," she said. Intel is not specifying, however, what the issue is.

WiMax silicon is also slated to come out later, though Intel is not saying when exactly. The Intel module that combines Wi-Fi and WiMax is called Echo Peak.

The delay of Centrino 2 also gives rise to a broader competitive issue: Advanced Micro Devices is set to announce its new "Puma" mobile platform in the near future that will feature both improved discrete and integrated graphics. For example, AMD's 780M-based integrated graphics is expected to be very competitive with Intel's integrated graphics.

Note: Intel Centrino 2 processors expected on July 14 include the T9600, P8600, and P8400, running at 2.8GHz, 2.4GHz, and 2.26GHz respectively. A high-end upgrade to the current Core 2 Extreme X9000, the X9100, is also expected. The X9100 is expected to run at 3.06GHz with a 44W thermal envelope. Pricing will range from $209 for the P8400 to $530 for the T9600 to $851 for the X9100.