Samsung will include a MIMO wireless LAN chip into its latest X20 laptop as standard, the company has announced.

The Airgo WLAN chipset uses MIMO (multiple input multiple output) technology to amplify the speed and range of wireless networks. It works with 802.11a/b/g networks but promises faster speeds than with current technology. It is believed to be the first time the technology has found its way into a mass-manufactured laptop.

MIMO technology improves WLAN speed and range by sending and receiving multiple streams of data over a single channel using two or more antennas. Airgo claims speeds up to 108Mbit/s, although real-world connection speeds are, of course, far slower.

MIMO is intended to become part of 802.11n, the successor to the current crop of WLAN standards that is currently under debate by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). However, the standards body has yet to reach agreement on exactly what type of MIMO technology will become part of the standard, prompting access point vendors to ship products with MIMO technology without waiting for the standard.

Airgo is advancing one type of MIMO technology before the IEEE, while another group, TGn Sync, composed of Intel and Atheros, among others, is pushing a different flavour. WLAN connections using the 802.11n standard could reach several hundred megabits per second, according the two main proposals.

Even though the standard has not been finalised, laptops and access points with MIMO technology will see improved performance over regular 802.11a/b/g networks because of the multiple antennas, said Will Strauss, principal analyst with Forward Concepts.

"If you only have MIMO at one end, you've still got two antennas picking up the signal, which improves the signal," Strauss said. The multiple antennas also help a signal break through interference on the transmit side, he said.

If you have MIMO technology on both ends of the connection, the transfer speeds can approach several hundred megabits per second, depending on your environment, Strauss said. These types of speeds are expected to arrive along with the final 802.11n standard, he said.

Samsung sells its notebook PCs throughout Europe and Asia, but the company has so far refused to say where or when the MIMO-equipped X20 laptops would be available.