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Intel adds vPro to Centrino laptops

Centrino Pro laptops also get Core 2 Duo chips

In a move to bolster its pending refresh of the Centrino wireless notebook package, Intel said it would add vPro IT management to the bundle, which PC vendors are scheduled to begin selling by June.

The new brand, called Centrino Pro, will combine Centrino's battery conservation and wireless connectivity with vPro's automated network security and remote troubleshooting.

Notebook sales have been hot in recent quarters despite slumping sales of desktop PCs, so the move could help Intel to grab a bigger stake of that growing market. Instead of selling only the chip in each PC, Intel's platform strategy - including Centrino, vPro and Viiv - dictates an entire hardware bundle of processor, chipset, graphics card and sometimes wireless card.

The time is right to combine Centrino and vPro as business buyers continue to choose notebooks over desktops, said Mooly Eden, vice president of Intel's mobile products group.

Intel launched vPro in September as a set of ingredients in desktop PCs sold by Dell, HP and other vendors. The system allows corporate IT managers to manage PC fleets remotely, fixing their software problems, monitoring security threats and even booting computers up without leaving their seats. That has made vPro-capable desktops popular with enterprise customers, Intel said.

Intel suffered a blow in February, when partner Nokia walked away from a deal to provide 3G HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) wireless modules on the Centrino platform, leaving it to rely solely on Wi-Fi technology to give mobile PC users wireless internet access.

Still, Centrino Pro will improve on nearly every aspect of the original standard, holding the line on power consumption while upgrading the processor from single-core to Core 2 Duo, adding enough graphics processing power to handle Microsoft's Windows Vista OS and offering the option of ‘Turbo Memory’, which can cut boot times up to 20 percent by supplementing the PC's hard disk with flash memory.

Even without HSDPA, the wireless capability will improve. Intel said in January it would use the ‘Kedron’ Next-Gen Wireless-N networking card for Centrino, using the IEEE 802.11n standard to allow users to share five times the data at twice the range of their current 802.11a/g cards. The extra bandwidth is critical to support activities like VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) telephony and downloading music files or high-definition video.

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