Enterprise notebooks tout new wireless LAN features

New PCs sport Intel's latest wireless LAN technology

Two notebook makers have unveiled lighter, faster PCs, including several with optional cellular interfaces and Intel's latest wireless LAN technology, aimed at the enterprise mobile market.

Intel has integrated some existing PC management features for enterprise IT groups into the newest edition of its Centrino Pro WLAN technology. HP and Lenovo are touting improved battery life, with changes that can deliver eight to 12 hours of computing life, depending on the applications used.

Both vendors are battling for share in a rapidly growing market where users increasingly want to take their computing and communications with them, wherever they are. Market researcher iSuppli ranked HP first, followed by Dell, with Lenovo fourth in the most recent quarterly notebook sales figures.

Centrino Pro, formerly dubbed Santa Rosa, is Intel's latest WLAN technology package, which supports the existing designed-for-mobile Core Duo microprocessors as well as the newest Core 2 Duo. Besides this mobile processor, Centrino Pro has a faster and cooler motherboard chip set, and a wireless network interface that supports the draft 2 802.11n high throughput WLAN standard. Centrino-branded notebooks have to include all three.

The package also includes a battery of Intel PC management features for security management and network troubleshooting, which were developed for the company's desktop PC architecture

The mobile processor models, the first based on the Core 2 Duo architectures, are low-voltage devices, including one classed as an ultra-low-voltage processor aimed at the lightest of notebooks. Some of the recent microprocessor models are supporting a new font-side bus (sort of like the nervous system that connects components on the notebook's motherboard with the CPU brain) with a speed of 800MHz, compared with the previous top speed of 667MHz. Later this year, Intel will start producing microprocessors, codenamed Penryn, based on a smaller fabrication process, which will boost the processor clock speed but use less power and run more thermally efficient.

Intel promises that the new Next-Gen Wireless-N chipset will double the wireless range for a given data rate compared with 802.11a/b/g networks, with the usual caveats about the surrounding physical environment and potential interference. The new wireless chipset, originally labeled Kedron, can improve range and possibly throughput even if it's not used with a draft 11n access point. Kedron is configured with two transmitting and three receiving antennas. Intel is promising as much as a fivefold improvement in throughput performance for Kedron, which would put its data rate at about 100M to 125Mbps when paired with an 11n access point.

HP has introduced seven notebook models for business users, including two 12-inch display ultra light models. Two models have integrated cellular wireless, including a choice of Code Division Multiple Access 1x EV-DO, Universal Mobile Telecommunications System/HDSPA, and for the new ultra lights, EV-DO Revision A. Five of them are equipped with Centrino Pro.

With Intel's network management features part of Centrino Pro, enterprise network administrators can remotely access the notebook over the LAN if the power is off; if it's on, administrators can connect wirelessly.

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