Grantsdale, not so wireless after all

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EWeek reports that Intel’s new new desktop CPU system won’t have Wi-Fi at launch. Intel, despite its best efforts is a disaster when it comes to anything remotely communications. They have been painting a beautiful if flawed picture of the wireless future and have been talking up its “Grantsdale” chipset’s ability to act as a Wi-Fi software access point for months, but now won’t be able to include Wi-Fi at all in the shipping version.

Intel’s gap leaves the door wide open for competitors like Broadcom, which already ate Intel’s lunch on the laptop side, and has been a serious provider of integrated modules that include gigabit Ethernet, a 56K modem, and 802.11g Wi-Fi. Will Dell and others who turned to Broadcom for laptop Wi-Fi turn to them for the desktop version, too? At least there will be a flurry of competition among the several chipmakers who can supply the market. This delay is another major stumble for Intel, which came late to the Wi-Fi party. [802.11b Networking News]

Anyway, despite that, the Grantsdale platform is being billed as the most significant change to the PC platform since the introduction of Window95 and the Pentium class processors. Grantsdale was originally expected to launch in the first quarter of 2004. The Intel pundits have been predicting that Intel would push the launch out a second time to September 2004. (Read my piece, Grand Grantsdale)

American Technology Research analyst Erach Desai writes in his note to investors today:

What is unique about the launch of Grantsdale is the immense focus on the chipset itself, rather than the microprocessors which have lent INTC its historic market power. Thus, the launch will focus more on the features and user-benefits of the Intel Architecture platform, rather than raw microprocessor speeds. Clearly, the positioning of Grantsdale is designed to lay the groundwork for a slew of media/entertainment PCs that will be shipped later this year in an attempt to bring the PC into the living room. The battle-lines between the traditional PC vendors and the consumer electronics vendors are clearly being drawn in the living room of tomorrow.

To recap, why is Grantsdale important? Because it brings about some major changes to the overall PC architecture:

  • PCI Express: A new communications bus that interconnects the MPU and the rest of the PC components, enabling higher bandwidth applications.
  • DDR2 Memory: A newer memory standard that speeds up the communication between the MPU and the PC main memory (DRAM).
  • Graphic Processor Unit: PCI Express replaces the prior Advanced Graphics Port (AGP) bus, essentially opening up the equivalent of a multi-lane highway … and thus enabling media-intensive applications.

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