Intel Offers Next-Gen Centrino As Holiday Present To PC Makers

"We wanted to make sure we addressed a quality issue we found in a late stage of validation," Anand Chandrasekher, vice president of Intel's Mobile Platforms Group, told financial analysts Wednesday. "We have since found that issue and fixed it."

The Santa Clara, Calif., chip maker still expects the chip's volume roll-out to be in the first quarter, Chandrasekher said.

Intel has been beset recently by a series of execution problems, including the delayed launch of Sonoma, a delay until next year of the forthcoming 4 GHz version of the Pentium 4, and inventory imbalances. Those issues, among others, convinced top brass at Intel to tell customers they would undertake a top-to-bottom review of its entire product roadmap to ensure there would be no further slips or disappointments.

Chandrasekher made his remarks in one of Intel's regular, quarterly calls with financial analysts to provide detailed updates on its various lines of business.

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Sonoma is set to follow on the May launch of Intel's Dothan processor " the centerpiece of its current Centrino platform offering. Centrino is composed of Intel's mobile processor, its wireless card and its chipset.

When Sonoma ships, Chandrasekher said, it will still include a new chipset " code-named Alviso " as well as 802.11a/b/g wireless capability. Intel is promising that Alviso will improve portable audio--including providing Dolby 7.1 surround sound and noise cancellation for VoIP applications--and better graphics.

It's clear that Intel is banking significantly on growth in the notebook space as well as use of notebooks for wireless connectivity. Chandrasekher said Intel is still hoping to see 250 percent, year-over-year growth in its mobile business this year " a number that would make it far and away the fastest-growing, big-ticket item in its product lineup.

Along those lines, Chandrasekher said custom system builders continued to play a significant role in the growth of the wireless platform.

"I think the white book market is very real," Chandrasekher said, noting that with manufacturers in Taiwan producing an abundance of "white book" building blocks for system builders, in a competitive environment that was leading to better-quality designs. "We're certainly seeing the white book marketplace grow, and being very aggressive."