Intel delays shipment of Centrino Wi-Fi chip

Expects release in fourth quarter

Intel Corp. has spurred the rapid growth of public-access Wi-Fi with its Centrino chip set for laptop computers that features built-in 802.11b wireless LAN capabilities.

But the company has stumbled in its efforts to keep up with the competition in development of a Centrino family beyond the 802.11b standard, which provides raw data rates of 11Mbit/sec. in the 2.4-GHz frequency band.

Intel had planned to introduce a dual-band chip set at the Centrino launch in March that could handle both the 802.11b WLAN standard as well as the 802.11a standard, which has a raw data rate of 5.4Mbit/sec. in the 5-GHz band. In March, Intel spokesman Dan Francisco said the a/b Centrino chip set wouldn't be ready for shipping until the second quarter, which then slipped to the third quarter.

Last week, Francisco said Intel has delayed shipments of the dual-band chip until the fourth quarter because of ongoing "engineering validations" being conducted by the company.

The delays put Intel well behind its competition in the WLAN field, which includes Broadcom Corp. and Atheros Communications Inc. These companies have been shipping dual-band a/b chips or tri-band a/b/g chips for much of the year. The 802.11g standard provides for data rates of 54Mbit/sec. in the 2.4-GHz band.

Francisco said that when Intel ships its dual-band chip set, it will be multiple chips in a mini-PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) size. Last week, Broadcom introduced single-chip 802.11b products and said it plans a family of single-chip products across all WLAN standards (see story).

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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