updated 01:55 pm EST, Tue January 23, 2007
Intel 802.11n and Apple
Intel on Tuesday revealed an upgrade to the Wi-Fi on its most recent laptop chipsets. Titled Next-Gen Wireless-N, the adapter is said to improve on earlier draft 802.11n chips by offering the same 5X speed of earlier hardware that supports the new standard while drastically cutting down on their battery use. Intel estimates an additional hour of battery life, according to its own tests. The semiconductor maker expects notebooks from Asus, Toshiba, and other manufacturers to use the chipset upgrade by the time Windows Vista reaches the market next week.
The move comes at the same time as the IEEE standards group is on the verge of approving the second draft of 802.11n, a report by Ars Technica says. Having recently voted in favor of approving the second standard, the organization already expects to approve the new version by late March, paving the way for future second-draft products. The update, known as Draft 2.0, is said to offer the same reduced power consumption as Intel's newer chipsets as well as backwards compatibility with initial draft hardware -- an important component for the earliest hardware that supports only half of the official 200Mbps speed, Ars Technica says.
Read through for the effect both technologies are likely to have had on Apple.
Both advancements likely explain the delays in Apple's new Airport Extreme Base Station as well as the accompanying software to enable the faster connection speed on Core 2 Duo and Xeon-based Macs. While Apple has been quietly installing 802.11n-capable Wi-Fi in its computers since the optional adapter in its Mac Pro workstations, the company resisted official revelations until this month, when both the expected Intel and IEEE announcements would guarantee that its computers and networking products could support future drafts of the new wireless protocol. The upcoming Airport Extreme router supports the complete 200Mbps speed of Draft 2.0, though Apple has not confirmed whether or not its existing Macs will gain the extra speed.