Driven Between Intel and AMD – The Wi-Fi Divide…

In the past few years I bought a number of Lenovo notebooks for me, friends and family to run Ubuntu Linux on them. Most of them had AMD CPUs inside, because they had a price and performance advantage. These days, however, I’m drawn again to the Intel side for a simple reason: Integrated Wi-Fi.

In the past, no matter whether an AMD or Intel CPU was inside a notebook, Wi-Fi connectivity came on a separate PCI-express card. While good for upgrading, it was often not clear if the notebook came with a Wi-Fi card for which good driver support is available in Linux, or with some other Wi-Fi card that is not so well supported in Linux. At least not out of the box. So if a notebook came with something other than an Intel Wi-Fi card, the first thing I usually did was to replace the card and save myself a lot of trouble.

But these days, the game has changed: Intel has now included a lot of the functionality required for Wi-Fi into the general chipset. In other words, no separate PCI-express Wi-Fi module is required anymore. This makes it a no brainer. If there’s an Intel CPU inside these days, there’s Intel Wi-Fi inside. And so far, pretty much all AMD based Lenovo notebooks I’ve seen come with a different Wi-Fi chip. Too bad for them.

But choice is king and I very much hope that Wi-Fi chips of manufacturers other than Intel get their act together and include their drivers in the official kernel sources. Until then, I guess it is Intel. Sorry, AMD.

One thought on “Driven Between Intel and AMD – The Wi-Fi Divide…”

  1. Intel’s “integrated” Wi-Fi still requires an RF module, which connects thru a proprietary interface called CNVi. That RF module can be either in a special M.2 module or a soldered-down version. This is partly due to the complexity of mixed signal design (analog RF) but largely because of the regulatory considerations to avoid having to do RF certification on every motherboard configuration.

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