By Ara C. Trembly

A new technology from chipmaker Intel Corporation promises to give mobile computer users “greater freedom to connect in new places and in new ways.”

First introduced in March of this year, Intel Centrino technology includes a new processor that delivers higher performance and lower power consumption, which results in longer battery life, says Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel. Centrino also provides wireless network communications and other features designed to increase battery life and provide thinner and lighter notebook computer designs.

“Unwiring the PC will change the way people use computers, allowing them to communicate, be productive or be entertained wherever and whenever they want,” stated Craig Barrett, Intels chief executive officer, when the technology was released. “This breakthrough innovation, together with industrywide investment and Wi-Fi hotspot deployments, brings new computing and communications capabilities to businesses and consumers, adding value to mobile PCs.”

Wi-Fi is one of several standards for wireless networks. A popular standard is 802.11b, while subsequent standards include 802.11g. The basic 11a and 11b standards have been branded as “Wi-Fi.” Hotspots are locations where mobile computer users can connect using 802.11 wireless technology.

As part of its Centrino push, Intel said it has been working with wireless network service providers, hotels, airports, restaurant chains and other establishments to accelerate hotspot deployment and awareness. The company said it expects to verify Centrino compatibility for more than 10,000 such hotspots by the end of 2003.

The Intel Pentium M processor that is part of Centrino includes several technical advances that deliver faster execution of instructions at lower power, the company stated.

The Intel 855 chipset family, also part of Centrino, includes two new designs exclusively for the mobile market, said Intel. Both support enhanced graphics and help manage power consumption.

Intels PRO/Wireless 2100 Network Connection “has been designed and validated to connect easily to 802.11b Wi-Fi certified access points,” Intel added.

Overall, the company said, Centrino-based mobile computers can deliver up to five hours of battery life, compared to about four hours on mobile Pentium III-based systems and about three hours on mobile Pentium 4-based systems.

“Centrino mobile technology offers 41% faster performance on multitasking office productivity applications compared to a mobile Intel Pentium III processor-M 1.2 [gigahertz], and a 15% improvement compared to the mobile Intel Pentium 4 processor-M 2.4GHz system,” the company claimed.

Intel added that users of Centrinobased mobile technology systems will enjoy “59% better performance in their Internet experience” compared with the 1.2GHz mobile system, and “13% improvement gain” compared to the 2.4GHz system.

In June, Intel announced further enhancements to Centrino-based processing speed and power-saving features. The company also said it would later provide updated networking software that supports security features to protect information transmitted using wireless technology.

Motion Computing, based in Austin, Texas, was among several vendors to adopt Centrino. In May, the company announced the Motion M1300 Tablet PC, which, Motion claims, operates up to 30% faster and extends typical battery life by 10 to 15%,” compared to the vendors former top-of-the-line product.

“Three things are important about a mobile computerdoes it have wireless access, does it have the latest and greatest processor and how long is the battery life?” says Tricia Traeger, director of corporate relations for Motion. “Walking around with a computer in hand, an agent might need these features.

“Centrino combines these three and thats why it is seen as the ultimate mobile computing architecture,” she continues, noting that the Centrino features add about $100 to the price tag of the companys previous Tablet PC model, with an increase from $1,999 to $2,099.

Traeger calls Centrino “a good standard for the insurance industry,” noting that it brings important features together, rather than leaving users to “cobble together” optimum systems themselves.

“In insurance, were seeing lots of interest in [using Centrino-based Tablet PCs] in sales force automation, because folks in the field can use this,” says Traeger. She recommends the devices “for people who normally use clipboards and forms.”


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, July 14, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved. Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.