January 9, 2003 7:08 PM PST

Intel promotes wireless home network

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LAS VEGAS--For someone whose company is known for making and improving processors, Intel CEO Craig Barrett sounded strikingly like a networking boss.

During a keynote address late Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show here, Barrett stumped for the versatility and wide accessibility that wireless networking provides to consumers. He also plugged products that use his company's chips, saying that they remained a significant part of the networking food chain.

"What's at the center of the network? I don't think there is a center," Barrett said. But of the PC he said, it is the "the most versatile and interactive piece of equipment in the house that can manage and create rich content." Gadgets, such as digital cameras and audio devices, that play and store digital media often connect to the PC, which can act as a depository for editing studio for content.

Barrett's remarks echoed the sentiments of many of the manufacturers and developers at the CES this year. Companies such as Sony, Microsoft and major PC makers are looking to the increasingly popular wireless home networking market not only to help bring the consumer electronics and technology world together, but also to add broadband access and rich multimedia content into the fold.

The wireless home networking market has been growing rapidly, and analysts expect it continue. Companies have seized on making one of the key messages for wireless home networking the sharing of resources connected to a network, such as printers and high-speed Internet access, in homes with multiple PCs. Consumers have also found that wireless networking makes high-speed Internet access more attractive because they can use it on portable devices--something that may contribute to improving adoption rates of broadband in the United States.


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Intel has been busy trying to capitalize on wireless home networking as well. The company recently announced the name of its latest mobile technology, which integrates wireless networking capabilities with processor power, called Centrino.

Centrino, which will incorporate 802.11b chips, is expected to provide the Wi-Fi wireless networking market with a significant boost as notebooks shipments remain one of the few bright spots in the PC market. In return, Centrino also ensures that the PC remains a significant part of the digital media and Wi-Fi market.

"As digital media becomes more pervasive, you see the growing significance of the PC," Barrett said.

Barrett also demonstrated Intel-based products that use Wi-Fi networks as well as digital media. The company has been working with partners to promote digital media, with reference designs for devices such as portable video players, which use Intel chips. Manufacturers can use to these designs as blueprints for their own products.

 

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