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Wireless experience to improve following Intel and AMD launches

Mobile PC buyers can look forward to smoother and cheaper wireless computing this year, following the launch of Intel's new Centrino technology, code-named Sonoma, and AMD's new Turion processor.

Mobile PC buyers can look forward to smoother and cheaper wireless computing this year following the launch of Intel's new Centrino technology, code-named Sonoma, and AMD's new Turion processor.

Following on from the 'Dothan' version of Centrino, which launched in May 2004, Intel's new Sonoma suite offers improved support for different wireless standards, faster CPUs and enhanced multimedia functions.

Centrino is the umbrella brand name for three Intel technologies: its Pentium M CPU, Pentium M supporting chipsets, and PRO/Wireless network connection. On the chipset front, Sonoma replaces Intel's 855 Dothan chipset with the new 915 chipset (code-named Alviso). This technology was only previously available on motherboards for desktop PCs, and supports both dual-channel DDR2 memory and PCI Express. It will also support future PCI Express-based 'ExpressCards', allowing users to add external components such as sound and graphics cards to notebooks.

Meanwhile, Centrino's Intel PRO wireless component, which was enhanced in August 2004 to support 'a', 'b' and 'g' standard 802.11 wireless, is incorporated into Sonoma as standard, which should mean end users experiencing less niggles when connecting to WLANs. The most recent (and more user-friendly) ninth version of Intel's wireless software, PROset Wireless, is also included. While the CPU component of Sinoma has been the least effected overall, this still receives a boost with clock speeds rising up to 2.14GHz and front side bus speeds hitting 533MHz.

As for AMD's latest processor release, the company enlisted the help of six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong to unveil its Turion 64 Mobile Technology.

Due to start appearing in products over the first half of 2005, the Turion CPU replaces its elder brother, the Mobile Athlon 64, and will go head-to-head with Centrino in a market that has to date been largely dominated by Intel.

Few details of Turion were available at the time of writing, however this future-facing 64-bit CPU looks set to be offered as a standalone component; in contrast to Intel's platform strategy whereby Centrino is the public face of its Pentium M, chipset and wireless technologies. AMD's approach seems likely to be one of letting PC vendors source chipsets and wireless chips from multiple sources.

The launch of Sonoma and Turion should prove good news for bargain hunters; Dothan-based notebooks and Mobile Athlon 64 models should now fall in price as the cost of their respective comp-onents drops. For example, after Intel launched Dothan, its older Banias technology dropped in price by a third.

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