HP, Dell, Lenovo and others are among the suppliers of 230 new-and-upcoming Centrino laptops based on the latest version of Intel's mobile silicon.
After strong success for the original Centrino laptops, Intel hopes the improved version will fuel its its comeback against chip-making rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). The technology bundle of a processor, chipset and wireless card improves battery life and speeds up computing; Intel will keep the name Centrino Duo for the consumer version, although changes include a faster Core 2 Duo processor, support for the draft version of 802.11n wireless networking and a Turbo Memory feature that supplements the standard hard drive with NAND flash for faster booting.
"Probably the thing most people will notice is the graphics controller, for better video capability," said Mike Trainor, Intel's chief mobile technology evangelist. That will earn the new platform high marks from video gamers and DVD watchers, since improved colour control will make the monitor show images nearly as vivid as a TV set, he said.
Corporate buyers will be more interested in the business version, called Centrino Pro, which borrows many of the automated security and IT management features from Intel's vPro business desktop platform. That will allow corporate system administrators to repair and protect employees' notebooks remotely, inspecting faulty PCs or adding software patches over wireless links.
Adding remote corporate management technology to notebook PCs will meet a strong customer demand, PC vendors say.
"One of the key things we've been hearing is the need to simplify the overall IT environment," said Brett McAnally, senior marketing manager for Dell's Latitude business notebook line. "Rising complexity has introduced challenges where customers have trouble focusing on their core business tasks."
Dell will use Centrino Duo in the new D630 thin-and-light notebook and the D830 high-performance notebook introduced on Wednesday, replacing the previous models D620 and D820. The new platform extends battery life on those products by 15 percent compared to the standard Centrino, reaching up to 9.4 hours, Dell said.
Dell plans to use the Centrino platform in its Latitude D430 ultra-mobile notebook and Precision M4300 workstation "in the coming weeks," and will add Centrino Pro to its lineup by the fourth quarter when it launches a model D630c business notebook.
The D630, has a 14.1-inch screen and weighs 4.48 pounds, while the D830, has a 15.4-inch display and weighs 5.97 pounds.
It didn;'t all go Intel's way however - for the high-value market segment, Dell also unveiled its second Latitude notebook to use an AMD chip, the entry-level D531, which uses a Turion 64 or Sempron processor.
The power efficiency of the new Centrino platform also answers customer demand for cooler, quieter PCs, said Tom Ribble, director of ThinkPad product marketing for Lenovo.
Lenovo unveiled the ThinkPad T61 with Centrino Pro and ThinkPad R61 with Centrino Duo, both with 14-inch widescreen displays and reduced surface temperature and fan noise. The company will also launch a value-priced version for small business users in late May, the Lenovo 3000 N200 with Centrino Duo.
HP announced plans to sell Centrino-based notebooks, supporting Centrino Pro on its HP Compaq 2710p, 2510p and 6910p business notebooks.
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