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SAN FRANCISCO—Intel plans to power up the wireless capabilities of notebook PCs.

The chip maker will offer, later this year, a WiMax PC card that will allow notebooks to tap high-speed Internet connections, and during 2007 it aims to equip its notebooks with a new generation of higher-bandwidth Wi-Fi, dubbed 802.11n. It also showed off a combination Wi-Fi/WiMax chip, code-named Ofer.

Intel believes the new wireless elements will continue a trend toward greater connectivity and greater network speed enjoyed by notebooks since the introduction of its Centrino chip bundle, said Sean Maloney, general manager of Intel’s Mobility Group, during a keynote address at the chip maker’s spring Developer Forum, here.

Centrino notebooks pair one of Intel’s notebook processors with a supporting chip set and a wireless module.

Intel will keep moving ahead with its notebook platform hardware as well. It will start later this year by introducing Merom, a new dual-core mobile processor.

The chip, which promises to grant a 20 percent increase in performance without upping power consumption, has a number of new features, including a 4MB onboard cache.

Intel will base the chip upon its newest circuitry, dubbed its Core Microarchitecture.

Click here to read more about Intel’s plan to create “ultramobile PCs.”

Merom, due in the second half, will be placed into existing notebook platforms, built on Intel’s existing platform hardware—a bundle sometimes referred to as Napa. Those systems will hit the market in time for the holiday season, Maloney said.

The next platform upgrade, code-named Santa Rosa, will arrive early next year and will combine Merom with a new chip set called Crestline and 802.11n wireless module, which is code-named Kedron.

Santa Rosa will also incorporate Intel’s AMT (Active Management Technology) and Robson Technology, which uses flash memory to augment a notebook’s hard drive.

Read more here about Intel’s spring Developer Forum.

Robson-equipped machines will boot more quickly and be able to save on power by spinning down their hard drives and storing data in the flash memory.

The WiMax PC Card will arrive in the second half of this year.

Although he didn’t give a time frame for the arrival of the combination radio chip, Maloney said Ofer will be able to address both 802.11n and WiMax, across several different bands, Maloney said.

“This is a very important first step—a radio that is capable of handling both standards in all of those frequency bands,” he said.

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