Intel has launched the first major upgrade to its Centrino platform for laptops, with Centrino 2 now shipping to manufacturers in the form of a 45-nanometre (nm) chip running from 2.26GHz to 3.06GHz.

Centrino 2, which features a 6MB L2 cache and a 1066HMz front side bus, initially supports 802.11n Wi-Fi, but Intel plans to upgrade the wireless functionality with support for Wimax later this year.

As well the improved wireless capabilities, Intel says Centrino 2 will give laptops a speed boost, while decreasing power demands. The company said the platform provides 23 percent more performance, and demands 23 percent less power.

Furthermore, Intel said it will boost the business credentials of Centrino 2 by launching a new version next month that integrates its vPro technology.

As well as giving IT managers hardware-based management features, Centrino 2 with vPro laptops will include Intel Anti-Theft Technology. This was first disclosed at the Intel Developer Forum in Shanghai during April, although few technical details were revealed at that time.

The technology works by allowing IT administrators to lock out a thief from accessing information stored on the laptop's hard disk. It does this by disabling a microcontroller embedded in the chipset that authenticates user access to the hard disk. When this happens, the chipset no longer has the key needed to bypass the disk-level encryption used to protect data on the hard disk, making it inaccessible.

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Intel: First quad-core laptops coming in August