CES - Intel to add WiMax to upcoming ultramobile platform

Intel may deliver WiMax technology to ultraportables and mobile Internet devices (MIDs) based on the Menlow platform.

Intel may deliver WiMax technology more quickly to mobile users by including it as an option for ultramobile devices based on the company's Menlow platform, according to an Intel executive.

Intel's integration of WiMax technology will come in notebooks based on the company's Montevina platform, an upgrade to the mobile Centrino platform, due out in the second half of 2008. However, it is possible that Intel will also deliver WiMax technology to ultraportables and mobile Internet devices (MIDs) based on the Menlow platform sometime in 2008, said Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager, Intel Mobile Platforms Group.

Intel is already developing a WiMax silicon chip codenamed Baxter Peak for mobile devices. Last year, Nokia said it would use Baxter Peak on its WiMax-enabled N-series Internet tablets, expected to ship in 2008.

"Baxter Peak is not a 'required' part of the Menlow platform," said Kari Aakre, an Intel spokeswoman. It will be an option similar to how Echo Peak is an option for Centrino notebooks based on the Montevina mobile platform, Aakre said. Echo Peak is a minicard that integrates WiMax and Wi-Fi technology on one chip.

The Menlow platform is a set of components, including the low-power Silverthorne processor and Poulsbo chipset, that run ultramobile devices. Intel didn't release further details on the platform.

Adoption of WiMax is expected to take off in 2009, and Intel wants to deliver WiMax clients quicker to boost adoption of the technology, Eden said. Intel is trying to move in parallel with wireless carriers, which expect WiMax-enabled mobile devices to hit the market as the networks are established.

"When you're trying to create a market, you always start at the infant stages," Eden said.

Intel is already testing WiMax, including in Japan and Russia. A consortium including Intel and Japanese telecom company KDDI will receive one of two WiMax licenses to be awarded by the Japanese government. Intel is assisting Russian company Comstar UTS in building a nationwide WiMax-based network.

Menlow-based devices will ship in the first half of 2008. Intel also said that it will display ultramobile PCs based on Menlow architecture from vendors including Asus, BenQ and Lenovo at the Consumer Electronics Show at Las Vegas this week. The Menlow platform, announced at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing in April, will be followed in 2009 by the Moorestown platform, which Intel detailed in September.

The company is also developing Diamondville, an ultramobile processor bearing features similar to the Silverthorne processor.

Though WiMax has availability and power consumption issues, Intel is trying to get carriers building networks to establish WiMax as a standard, said Dean McCarron, founder and principal at analyst firm Mercury Research.

"Intel wants to make sure that there is a readily available platform that can use WiMax and that it's worth the while of wireless providers to support WiMax," McCarron said.

If Intel can tackle the power-consumption issues and provide wide-area network access through its products, adoption of the technology may increase, McCarron said.

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