New Delhi: Chip-maker Intel Corp. plans to roll out a new processor platform, dubbed Menlow, with wireless capabilities built around the so-called Wimax standard as part of its push towards cheaper and better performing mobile Internet devices.
Wimax is short for worldwide interoperability for microwave access, a standard capable of data speeds of 10 megabits per second (mbps), up to 2km away from a radio transmitter, compared with a data throughput of 2mbps on third-generation, or 3G, mobile phone networks.
“The aim is to combine the form factor of a device like the iPhone, and using Intel’s Atom processor, deliver the processing power of an ultra-mobile laptop,” said Siavash M. Alamouti, chief technology officer, or CTO, at Intel’s wireless mobility group. The iPhone is a multi-media mobile phone sold by Apple Inc.
As an example of an “ultra-mobile” laptop, he cited Asustek Computer Inc.’s Eee PC, a notebook computer with low battery consumption and a small screen.
Intel has been backing the Wimax wireless standard since 2004. Last month, Intel, along with Google Inc., Comcast Telecommunications Inc., Time Warner Inc., and Bright House Networks, invested $3.2 billion in Clearwire, a broadband company that plans a US-wide network deployment to enable high-speed data access on the move. “The Clearwire deal shows Intel’s strategy going forward. We’re seeing this shift from a closed functioning, to a technology platform driven by multiple strategic partners, something that gives credibility to Intel’s backing of this technology,” says Girish Trivedi, deputy director of telecom practice at consulting firm Frost and Sullivan, South Asia and Middle East.
Putting Wimax capabilities on its chips is central to Intel as it moves beyond Internet accessed on personal computers and concentrates on mobile Internet devices.
“They have driven the Wimax ecosystem forward—the technology now has nearly 400 companies worldwide,” said A. Paulraj, a Stanford University professor and CTO of Beceem Communications Inc., a Wimax specialist.
Intel argues that Wimax is ready for commercial deployment, and is at least a year ahead of its closest competitor—the LTE (long-term evolution) project from 3G Partnership Project, a collaboration between telecommunications associations for 3G mobile standards. “The big difference is Wimax has been developed by a diverse and robust ecosystem of companies, whereas 3GPP is a small set of companies,” said Alamouti.