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Intel’s Montevina laptop chip platform launches as Centrino 2

The vendor adjusts for a YouTube world with a laptop chip platform promising improved video performance and better Blu-ray DVD playback

San Francisco –After a delay that saw rival AMD (NYSE: AMD) to launch its Puma laptop chip platform first, Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) has launched its competing Centrino 2 chipset platform for laptops promising users better graphics, improved performance, power efficiencies, wireless capabilities, security and manageability.

Formerly codenamed Montevina, the launch of Centrino 2 was originally scheduled for last month, however Bill Davidson, marketing manager at Intel, said there were two issues around the chipset that resulted in the launch’s delay.

“One was with the integrated graphics, and the second issue was with the wireless cards,” said Davidson. “The hardware was fine, the software was fine, but the labelling that went on the card did not meet regulatory standards. We worked through these issues and now those cards are shipping to our distributors.”

Coming five years after the vendor first launched its Centrino processor platform, Intel is targeting its Centrino 2 and Centrino 2 with vPro technology chipsets for use in consumer and enterprise notebooks respectively.

Mooley Eden, corporate vice-president and general manager of the mobile platforms group at Intel, said the market saturation rate for notebooks has increased substantially over the years. The Internet, he said, is a huge driver in influencing how customers use their PCs for things such as social networking, user-generated content, gaming, watching videos, sharing photos, and more.

The launch of the Centrino 2 platform signifies Intel’s first-ever mobile quad core and its second generation products for ultra-thin and portable notebooks. The processors come with up to 6MB of L2 cache and 1066 MHz front side bus. Three of the five dual-core processors being introduced also minimize power consumption by about 30 per cent.

Intel also announced its Mobile 45 Express Chipset, which offers users the ability to watch a full Blu-ray video on one battery charge, which previously was not possible because the battery would often give out before the end of the movie, said Eden.

The chipset also provides users with improved performance when playing online or offline games, including better graphics, while using less power. One of the enablers to help achieve this is what E Intel is referring to as HUGI, or Hurry Up and Get Idle.

“The optimal state of the microprocessor is while it’s in sleep mode,” Eden said. “The minute you need to do a task, you can wake up the microprocessor. It does the job and then it goes to sleep. HUGI is our secret sauce and the way we’re trying to design the system of a microprocessor chipset so users get a faster response and better battery life with Centrino 2.”

Carmi Levy, senior vice-president of strategic consulting with Thornhill, Ont.-based AR Communications, said Centrino 2 is a way for users to have their cake and eat it too.

“For the longest time, we’ve associated higher performance with worse battery performance, when in fact, the new Centrino 2 platform marries higher performance with more efficient use of battery performance,” Levy said.

With AMD’s recently announced Puma chipset platform also set for availability soon, Levy said <a href="http://www.itbusiness.ca/it/client/en/CDN/News.asp?id=41426" target="_blank" the ATI acquisition by AMD will definitely give the company a leg up on Intel when it comes to integrated graphics. But all hope is not lost for Intel. Levy says the vendor has gotten its groove back in terms of being able to consistently bring improvements to its product line over the last few years.

Along with its Mobile Express Chipset, Intel also announced its Wi-Fi Link 5000 series of products with Centrino 2. The processors are said to run up to 50 per cent faster, with up to 40 per cent power efficiencies with a smaller form factor that’s half the size of its predecessor, Eden said. In a few months time, Eden said Intel will also be making its first Wi-MAX/Wi-Fi module using Centrino 2 as a customer option.

For enterprises, Eden said Centrino 2 with vPro technology is optimal in being able to improve a business’s proactive security and manageability measures.

Managed service providers (MSPs) will find opportunities using vPro technology by providing remote managed services to enterprise customers. Using remote configuration, partners will have improved access to wireless manageability even while a notebook is on standby, is powered off, or is in hibernate mode, Eden said. This not only allows for better power efficiencies since notebooks can now be powered off or on remotely, but also saves businesses the extra costs and downtime associated with having an IT worker come onsite. By being able to offer remote managed services, Eden said more partner opportunities are bound to arise.

“Small businesses are getting enterprise-like manageability all in a single management console,” Eden said. “As an MSP, you can manage everything remotely while the employee is at home so when they come into work the next day the system will be (as good as) new.”

During a previous Intel roundtable event last month, Intel said managed services is a lucrative business for channel partners to get into as they can receive recurring revenue.

“It’s a seismic shift for channel partners because they’re always looking for opportunities to deliver higher margin value-added services to their clients,” Levy said. “I think Intel throwing its weight behind this will lead to more rapid adoption rates in the mainstream industry.”

With Centrino 2 and Centrino 2 with vPro, Eden said Intel has more than 240 design wins and growing.

“We have broad support from system manufacturers and industry partners with Centrino 2,” Eden said. “The number of systems you’re going to see with this platform will be incredible not only because of the growth of mobile devices, but also because of our new level of performance, form factor and great battery life with HUGI.”