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Intel prepares for Centrino launch

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ComputerWire logo Intel Corp cut prices across its mobile processor line at the weekend as it paved the way for the launch of its Centrino wireless notebook technology in March.

Intel's 2.2 GHz Pentium 4 M dropped by 38% to $348. Other cuts ranged from 31% to 10%. While Intel's desktop division used the launch of its 3GHz Pentium 4 in November to raise its top bar on pricing after a summer of furious price cutting, the mobile unit is not expected to follow a similar strategy when it launches Centrino, which is expected to take pole position in the vendor's mobile line-up. The mobile market has not suffered from the same kind of downturn in recent years as the desktop sector.

Centrino comprises the Pentium-M CPU, previously code-named Banias, a chipset, and wireless networking silicon. Intel CEO Craig Barrett confirmed last week that Centrino would debut in March.

There had been some confusion over the product's shipping date. At the Intel Developer Forum last September, executives had referred to a first quarter launch. However, Intel's official line had only been that the product would appear in the first half of this year.

Don Macdonald, director of mobile marketing at Intel, said that at launch, the Centrino package would support 802.11b wireless networking. Intel has always said it would be agnostic on wireless networking standards and a dual band version will follow quickly.

Macdonald also played down suggestions that Intel was strong-arming vendors into taking the whole Centrino package. While the company would prefer OEMs to take the whole Centrino offering, he said, they would be free to use just the processor and choose silicon from other suppliers for the other components.

However, this will mean they can only use the Pentium-M branding, not the Centrino branding. This presumably also means they will not be able to fully exploit the marketing push Intel will throw behind Centrino.

The dubbing of Banias as Pentium-M also means that the vendor's mobile Pentium 4 line will lose that suffix. Macdonald confirmed that the notebook version of Intel's mainline desktop processor would in future be known simply as the Mobile Pentium 4.

© ComputerWire

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