Intel has produced a wireless-N card that also operates with 802.11a, b and g, offering laptops users five times the data at twice the range.

The Next-Gen Wireless-N network connection is an embedded network adapter card that uses the 802.11 Draft-N standard, making Intel just the latest in a number of companies to jump ahead of the IEEE's final adoption of the 802.11n standard, expected in the new few months.

The card pre-empts the company's own "Santa Rosa" product that improves on the popular Centrino and Centrino Duo platforms by updating the processor, chipset, graphics and wireless card.

Intel decided to launch the card early to support laptop users who need enough bandwidth to download music files and high-definition video, as well as simple email and Web pages, said Dave Hofer, director of wireless marketing for Intel's mobile platforms group.

To meet the needs of high-bandwidth applications like VoIP and digital media adapters, Intel had to improve the four vectors of mobility it had first defined in 2003 with the original Centrino platform, Hofer said. The Wireless-N card helps to improve a notebook's battery life, performance, small form factor and wireless connectivity.

The new card will not interfere with cordless phones, microwave ovens and baby monitors, Hofer claimed. It boosts wireless bandwidth by using two input and output streams instead of one. That approach would usually burn through battery life faster, but the card also optimises data payloads so they uses the available bandwidth with less overhead, he said. Together, that design supports MPG-2 video signals by sustaining a 19Mbit/s data stream at a range of 68 meters, Hofer said.

Acer, AsusTek, Gateway and Toshiba will begin selling the card by the end of the month, built into computers using Vista. Other vendors including Dell and HP are expected to follow in the first half of 2007 when they launch laptops with the entire "Santa Rosa" platform.

The card, codenamed Kedron, needs an improved wireless access point to work.