New Delhi: Intel Corp., the world’s largest chip maker, on Wednesday launched new hardware—Centrino Duo and Centrino Pro platforms—for notebook computers aimed at home consumers and business users. The use of flash-memory chips and a whole package of components aiding processor performance is expected to make notebook computers deliver faster performance and extend battery life.
The company’s new product is not a processor, but a platform—a whole package of components, including the main processor as well as all the secondary chips that add features, such as the ability to connect to a wireless network.
The Centrino Pro platform targeted at the enterprise user manages both desktop computers as well as notebooks variants and addresses concerns such as security threats, cost of ownership and wireless communication. A key feature in Centrino Pro is the ‘active management technology’ that allows administrators to manage and repair the system, even when it is powered off. “Remote management could potentially increase productivity and reduce infrastructure downtime and cost in a notebook,” said Ramamurthy Sivakumar, Intel’s managing director for South Asia markets.
The new platforms will boost performance and battery life by storing data on a flash- memory chip that have so far been used in mobile phones, digital media players and digital cameras in small configurations, and enable faster access by using lesser power.
The Centrino Duo processor for home consumers helps pack in all the features of a home entertainment system, including movies, music, photos and games into a notebook computer. It also better enables multi-tasking or processor-intensive applications, such as gaming or high-definition entertainment.
Analysts feel that these products—part of a project Intel code-named Santa Rosa—will benefit both the consumer as well as the enterprises in some ways. “For the consumer, these platforms will offer a better overall computing experience, while for the enterprises it will provide easier and better managed information technology infrastructure,” said Diptarup Chakraborti, principal analyst at research firm Gartner Inc.’s Mumbai offices.
Both the Centrino Duo and Centrino Pro platforms are based on what Intel calls its ‘Core 2 Duo’ processor that will replace the earlier-generation Core Duo processor that the chip maker plans to phase out by the second half of this year.
Intel, which powers four out five personal computers (PCs) in the world, has traditionally been even more dominant in the notebook segment and updates Centrino about once a year to try to maintain its lead over rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD).
Notebook computers are the fastest-growing segment among PCs. Last year, worldwide PC shipments rose more than 7%, but sales of notebook computers jumped 26%, compared with just 2% for desktops, according to market research firm IDC.
Chakraborti, however, was sceptical about how the Centrino Duo would help home entertainment and gaming enthusiasts in India. “It is too early for a product like Centrino Duo to make a hit with the Indian consumers. The gaming benefit as well as the high-definition television benefit will be underutilized in the Indian market for a while. While the US uses high-definition TV as a standard, broadcasting in India is still not high definition,” the Gartner analyst said.
Around 2.9 lakh notebook computers were sold in India in the quarter to 31 March, of which those powered by Intel had a dominant share of about 95%, with the remaining market served by AMD.
In terms of processors on all PCs, around 81% of the computers sold in 2006 were based on Intel, with AMD accounting for the remaining share.
“In the last three quarters, Intel had lost some market share to AMD, because the latter had the benefit of introducing more new products in that period. But this year, Intel has regained its lead in market share,” Chakraborti said.