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Comms chips

Intel's Got Cheaper Chips

The new Intel Corp.'s (Nasdaq: INTC) 802.11b/g chipset is not only the first Centrino product to support the two most popular wireless LAN specifications out there but is also the first such silicon to feature a 2.4GHz radio developed in-house by the massive manufacturer.

Yeah so, you might think. Why should I give a monkey's?

Well, gentle reader, Intel's lengthy development of its own RF components -- previously it had been using b (11 Mbit/s over 2.4 GHz) radios from Philips Semiconductors (NYSE: PHG) -- means that the silicon sumo should now be able to reduce the cost of Centrino and better compete with rivals like Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), which already has multimode WLAN chips on the market. (See Intel's Radio Follies for more on Intel's RF shenanigans and Broadcom Ascending in WLAN? for a snapshot of Broadcom's WLAN position.)

"The 2200BG [for that be its full title] should have a lower cost structure than the [existing] 2100 [b chipset]," Quoth Bob "Eighteen" Wheeler, analyst at the The Linley Group. "So we expect the 2200BG to become the standard Centrino offering over the next couple of quarters." Wheeler suspects that now that Intel can support the popular g standard [54 Mbit/s over 2.4 GHz] the firm will step up its battle to supply major laptop vendors with more wireless LAN chips. "I'm sure Intel will work hard to displace Broadcom at Dell for 802.11g," he notes.

The next hurdle for Intel is to combine the b/g chipset with its 802.11a (54 Mbit/s over 5 GHz) Centrino chipset to create one big multimodal bundle of joy (see Multimode Is More ). Intel spokesman Dan "Golden Gate" Francisco says the a/b/g chipset is "still on track for production in the middle of 2004." — Dan Jones, Slight Editor, Unstrung

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