Intel chipset turns PC into wireless access point

Desktop PCs fitted with Intel's Grantsdale chipset will enable users to run wireless networks from their PCs.

Desktop PCs fitted with Intel's Grantsdale chipset will enable users to run wireless networks from their PCs.

Intel president and chief operating officer Paul Otellini first discussed the chipset with analysts last month. Grantsdale will incorporate support for double data rate memory and the peripheral component interconnect Express standard, in addition to access point capability.

The company's aim is to design products that will enable the digital home, with the PC as the centre of a digital network which transmits media to consumer electronics devices.

Software on the Grantsdale chipset will enable wireless access capability, but users will still need a wireless card for their PCs to use the technology.

Intel has added extra capabilities to its chipsets, such as basic integrated graphics and audio, said Stephen Baker, director of industry analysis at NPD Techworld. The extra features help drive up the value of the chipsets, which co-ordinate interactions between the processor, the memory and the I/O functions on a motherboard, he said.

Standalone wireless access points from manufacturers such as Linksys Group will likely offer more features, performance and flexibility than Grantsdale. Intel has not said what wireless standard will be incorporated into Grantsdale.

Intel launched an 802.11b chip along with its Pentium M processor as part of the Centrino package in March, but had hoped to have a chip for both 802.11b and 802.11a networks at that launch.

That combination 802.11a/802.11b chip launched in October after delays attributed to the need for additional testing and validation.

Intel hopes to ship a chip for 802.11b and 802.11g networks to PC manufacturers by the end of the year, and has said it will ship a trimode chip next year.

Networks based on the 802.11b and 802.11g standards are compatible, but transfer speeds over 802.11g networks are much faster. The 802.11a standard is also much faster than the commonly used 802.11b standard and is less prone to interference, but has a more limited range than the 802.11b or 802.11g standards.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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