Intel intros Wireless-N adapter

Next-gen Centrino machines out "within weeks"

Intel has unveiled its next-gen Wireless-N network connection technology and 'Connect with Centrino' branding. The next generation of the Centrino platform, Santa Rosa, will launch with the draft-802.11n adapter "in the coming weeks."

Intel says its version of the draft technology provides five times the performance and twice the wireless range of 802.11g. The company also claims that, compared to existing draft-802.11n solutions, you'll gain up to an hour in notebook battery life.

At an online press briefing, Intel's Dave Hoffer introduced "a great end user experience" and said that Intel had decided "to prioritise draft-802.11n" last summer. Much of the briefing was old hat and focused on Intel's reasons for staying out of the market until now. Now, the Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN draft-802.11n card is in production and "ramping nicely," according to Hoffer.

Intel cites forthcoming notebooks from Acer, Asus, Gateway and Toshiba that will carry the new adapter - the release of these models is dictated by the launch date of Windows Vista .

Hoffer said the company hadn't previously wanted to support draft-802.11n as there was interference with legacy networks. It seems that Intel's turning point was the announcement by the Wi-Fi Alliance that it would be pre-certifying draft-802.11n products.

"We see good convergence in the industry and standards [bodies]," said Hoffer.

We were shown a video of testing for the 'Connect with Centrino' programme - essentially a rigorous test plan for Centrino kit. This was previously announced at last Autumn's Intel Developer Forum ( IDF ). The main partners in the programme are Asus, Belkin, Buffalo, D-Link and Netgear.

Tested products will display the 'Connect with Centrino' on their packaging. Aside from the obvious marketing issues, the programme does have a purpose, to help consumers buy kit that will work with, rather than disagree with, their draft-802.11n Centrino laptop. As with older Centrino models, the new wireless adapter will also work with existing 802.11 a/b/g access points.