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Future PCs to integrate powerline Ethernet

HomePlug AV on board

IDF How is a home computer going to connect to the internet in 2008? Intel has been keen to tout the as-yet-non-standard 802.11n as the future of wireless connectivity, but it's now factoring in powerline Ethernet too. It plans to integrated the HomePlug AV 200Mbps powerline standard into next year's desktop designs.

The feature will be optional, but clearly offered as part of the bundle of processor, chipset and connectivity Intel packages up for computer manufacturers, in particular its Viiv platform. In any case, Viiv's due for a near-term update - codenamed 'Salt Creek' - as Intel rolls out its 'Bearlake' chipset family this quarter.

Intel also advocated building wireless links to peripherals on top of ultrawideband (UWB) technology, a move the minds behind both Bluetooth and Wireless USB are already engaged upon. But Intel wants other such protocols to do so too, and to clearly separate the protocol from underlying radio to allow them to leverage future wireless developments.

One such: a shift to the unlicensed 60GHz band, expected to take place in the 2011 timeframe, a timeframe in which we're likely to see machines equipped with multiple antennae and sophisticated circuitry to timeslice the various radios - WiMAX, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc - they're all connected to.

Coming much sooner: Intel is working on a UWB add-in card of the kind it already offers for Wi-Fi connectivity and, soon, WiMAX.

But however a system connects to the internet, future consumer-oriented machines will have the ability to be managed remotely by the manufacturer or other service providers. Borrowing from its big business-oriented vPro platform, Intel will add remote management features to Viiv and other home computer designs. So PC World technicians will be able to get your machine re-started without having to leave the office. Hurrah.

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