Intel plans to add WiMax to its Centrino platform next year, a long-expected move that could boost demand for wireless broadband services.

WiMax will be an option with Montevina, the successor to the next version of Centrino, called Santa Rosa, which is set to hit the market next month.

Montevina, which will use a Penryn processor manufactured using a 45-nanometre process and include an integrated hardware video decoder, is scheduled to become available during the second half of 2008, said Dadi Perlmutter, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Mobility Group, during a keynote speech at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) conference in Beijing.

WiFi will continue to be a centre-piece of Centrino, but the addition of WiMax in markets where these services are available will give users the ability to access the Internet away from hotspots.

While Intel didn't dive deep into technical details about Montevina, the components will be about 40 percent smaller than current Centrino parts, which clears the way for their use in smaller devices, such as sub-notebooks.

Intel is betting that the decision to add WiMax as an option to Centrino will spur the adoption of the broadband wireless technology. "We believe it's going to ramp up fast," said Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of Intel's mobility group.

By making WiMax available in large numbers of notebooks, Intel hopes to do for the technology what the first release of Centrino did for WiFi.

"When I was on stage in 2003 when we introduced Centrino, the attach rate for WiFi was 10 to 15 percent. And when I told them it was going to be in every airport, in every coffee (shop), it's going to be in your house, everyone was laughing," Eden said. "Today, the attach rate is about 95 percent."