Intel unwires with Centrino launch

Designed to unwire the global workforce and, with a slew of partners, bring wireless access to a wider customer base, Intel Corp. has launched a new mobile technology that has already attracted some big buyers.

Last month, Toronto-based Intel of Canada launched Centrino, the company’s mobile technology that integrates wireless capabilities into mobile PCs. The technology combines Intel’s new Pentium-M processor, the Intel 855 chipset family and the Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 802.11 Network Connection. It is designed to enable extended battery life, thinner and lighter notebook designs and overall better mobile performance on any form factor from Tablet PCs to full-sized notebooks.

“Centrino is the number one priority for Intel in 2003,” said Doug Cooper, country manager with Intel of Canada. “We started with a clean sheet for the new design. We knew we needed to focus on the areas where mobile workers say they are disadvantaged.”

According to Intel, these mobile dilemmas include low battery life, small screens, lack of performance and speed of mobile PCs and small keyboards. Through the Intel Pentium-M processor, based on a mobile-optimized micro-architecture, higher performance and lower power consumption is achieved to enable longer battery life – 15 per cent longer than the Intel Pentium 4 processor-M 2.4GHz system, the company said.

The processor also includes a 400MHz system bus, a 1MB Layer 2 cache, which turns off parts of the high-speed memory when not needed, and provides support for Enhanced Intel SpeedStop technology.

The Intel 855 chipset family offers two new chipsets developed for the mobile market. The 855PM supports discrete graphics and the 855GM offers integrated Intel Extreme Graphics 2 technology as well as a low-power graphics power management mode.

Intel’s PRO/Wireless 21000 Network Connection enables easier connection to 802.11b, Wi-Fi certified access points. The 2100 also reduces interference with other 802.11 signals as well as certain Bluetooth devices.

At the launch last month, Intel mobile partners, including the Fairmont Royal York hotel, McMillan Binch LLP, along with Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge were on hand to promote Centrino as the mobile technology of choice.

According to Tim Aubrey, vice-president of finance and chief technical operator for the Royal York, the Fairmont brand announced that wireless technology is in place in all its hotels and resorts world-wide and will be Centrino-compliant.

“Wireless speaks to the needs of the business traveller,” Aubrey said. “We are moving forward to promote awareness and are doing it with Intel.”

Pierre Bourbonniere, Canadian products and services director for Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge, said the company is pleased to be one of the first airlines to offer Wi-Fi-compliant lounges. While Bourbonniere explained that Air Canada has not officially launched its wireless capabilities, he noted that six out of 25 Canadian lounges are now equipped with Centrino-compliant mobile technology.

As one of the only Toronto Bay Street law firms to tout itself as a wireless entity, McMillan Binch LLP Partner George Atis said it hopes to set an example for other firms to encourage wireless as a powerful business case.

“With mobile technology, lawyers can have access to all applications and e-mail wherever they are,” Atis said, “Productivity increases dramatically enable lawyers to serve clients more effectively.”

Also on board to get the awareness ball rolling, Bell Canada, along with Intel, has opened a Mobile Experience Zone on the main floor of the Royal Bank Tower in Toronto to offer customers a chance to try out the technology before they buy it. The Mobile Experience Zone offers high-speed Internet connectivity via Centrino on stationary notebooks and will be available at no cost for four months.

Centrino is currently supported by big-brand vendor notebooks and Tablet PCs offered by the likes of IBM Corp., Dell Computer Corp., Fujitsu, and Acer Inc. Centrino is available now and pricing begins at US$720. For details, visit the company’s Canadian Web site at