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Intel puts focus around Napa

Dual-core chips to include enhanced graphics wireless featuresrn

SAN FRANCISCO — Napa doesn’t only refer to California’s famous wine region — it’s also the name of Intel Corp.’s next-generation mobility platform.

An extension of the Centrino\Sonoma technology, it will roll out in early 2006.

Napa will contain three enhancements, said Mooly Eden, general

manager of Intel’s Mobile Platform Group: Yonah, Intel’s first mobile dual-core CPU, as well as Calistoga (which will provide enhanced graphics) and Golan (which will provide better wireless access).

Napa will continue to focus on the “”four vectors”” of Intel’s mobility strategy, he said, which includes improved performance (through Digital Media Boost), a smaller form factor (through Advanced Thermal Manager), longer battery life (through Smart Wireless Solutions) and wireless connectivity (through Dynamic Power Coordination).

Mobility is driving the requirement for more performance, said Sean Maloney, executive vice-president and GM of Intel’s Mobility Group.

“”Our strategy is to extend this to a range of different processors,”” he said. Phones are getting smarter, he added.

According to research firm IDC, sales of data phones are overtaking voice phones. Intel, for its part, is ramping up handset processor volume, taking a “”top to bottom”” approach in GPRS/EDGE/w-CDMA handset platforms.

Intel will target the low-end consumer space with its Hermon platform, while targeting higher-tier consumer and digital enterprise markets with the PXA27x and Hermon platforms.

In two or three years it’s likely that users will be able to jump on and off high-speed networks, said Maloney. Intel’s Centrino technology is moving toward a mobile environment where phones and notebooks are “”aware”” of each other’s presence, he said, providing “”one-button connect.””

So what’s next? “”What you can do is deeply affected by how much bandwidth you have,”” he said.

Wi-Fi disappoints users when they lose the signal away from the hot spot. “”You have to get coverage,”” he said. “”It’s the lesson of the cell phone industry.””

Wi-Fi is the first global wireless networking standard, he said. But it has its limitations: Each hot spot typically provides network access for distances between 100 and 300 feet. Wi-Max, on the other hand, is expected to eventually provide mobile wireless broadband connectivity with a radius of three to 10 km, providing an alternative to cable and DSL for last-mile access.

Wi-Max will be the first global mobile broadband standard, said Maloney. “”We need to be able to get a signal wherever we are.”” Some see this as hype, but Maloney noted there are 244 members in the Wi-Max Forum.