Intel: Centrino software that causes VPN crashes turned off

Intel said last Friday that it has turned off software in its family of mobile processors that could cause some Centrino-powered notebooks to crash when used with a virtual private network (VPN) under the Windows or Windows XP operating system.

Last week, Nortel Networks Ltd. In Brampton, Ontario, said it had determined that Centrino-powered notebooks crash when running Nortel's Contivity VPN client. Nortel has shipped more than 50 million copies of Contivity, according to a company spokesman.

Intel spokesman Daniel Francisco said the chip maker had determined that the problem occurs when VPNs are used with the adaptive-switching utility in its Centrino PROSet software. That utility allows users to maintain a connection when they switch from a wired network connection to a wireless LAN connection.

Intel believes that most Centrino systems shipping now have the adaptive-switching functionality turned off, Francisco said. He added that the problem occurs with laptops made by more than one manufacturer and with VPNs from a number of vendors.

Nortel developed a similar work-around of its own, but according to a Nortel technical bulletin (download PDF), the fix means "the added functionality of the PROSet drivers will not be available".

Craig Mathias, an analyst at Farpoint Group in Ashland, Mass., said he views the glitch as a common occurrence "in today's complex software environment. These are new products. New products always have bugs, and it takes time to get them fixed."

The Centrino architecture, widely adopted by notebook and laptop PC manufacturers after its release in March, includes a Pentium M mobile processor and an 855 chip set, which helps manage power consumption, graphics and Universal Serial Bus ports. Intel backed the Centrino launch with a $300 million advertising campaign.

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