Intel is betting that wireless technology will be the biggest thing since the browser, and new notebooks coming Wednesday will be an early indication of whether the company is right.
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Intel Chief Executive Craig Barrett, Dell Computer CEO Michael Dell, and a host of PC companies will be on hand in New York for the release of Centrino, a collection of chips from Intel designed to transform laptops and tablet PCs into portable offices. Centrino computers, with a $1,500 starting price, will run between five and eight hours on a battery charge, the sort of energy efficiency required to make wireless Net access a habit. The new chips will give Intel an opportunity to increase its presence in notebooks, a market growing approximately 17 percent a year. Additionally, Centrino will be the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company's wedge into the market for wireless chips.
If wireless takes off, the company will be poised to capitalize on supplying chips and other parts for updating the world's technological infrastructure over the next decade. "The wiring task is hopelessly manual. The spread of computing is limited by manual labor," said Andy Grove, Intel's chairman. "We can reduce the speed and efficiency with which new equipment can be installed in a factory...It will increasingly be used for the last-mile connection into homes. "The Internet was a major shot in the arm for the industry, and I've got a lot of the same feeling about this," he added.
A series of venture investments by Intel totaling $150 million into Wi-Fi start-ups could also pay dividends. The technology lets devices located within a 300-foot radius of one another communicate without wires.
News source: C|net