SAN FRANCISCO-Intel CEO Paul Otellini is continuing his push to create a continuum of computing based on Intel Architecture, and said the company's upcoming "Sandy Chip" processor is another step in that direction.
In his opening keynote here at the Intel Developer Forum Sept. 13, Otellini talked about the transformation of his company from one that builds chips for PCs and servers into one that creates the platform upon what other tech vendors cans build their products.
"We're becoming a solutions provider," he told the thousands of attendees. "We want to deliver full solution stacks."
Intel's transformation comes as the nature of computing continues to evolve, Otellini said. He spoke about a world in which the number of Internet-connected devices will grow from about 5 billion now to 31 billion by 2020, and about the increasing demand from users to more easily move from one connected device to another.
"People will want to move seamlessly between devices," Otellini said.
And he wants each device they move to be based on the Intel Architecture. Thus, the continuum.
The CEO also touched on the intelligence that is being put into an expanding number of appliances, televisions and cars, and the need to create high-performing and energy-efficient computing systems for these situations.
Recent high-profile acquisitions announced by Intel-including Wind River last year, and Infineon Technologies' wireless business and security software maker McAfee this year-are examples of Intel's push to become a solutions provider.
"Sandy Bridge," now called 2nd Generation Intel Core Processor, also is a step in that direction. The 32-nanometer chip, which will begin shipping in products in early 2011, integrates a range of features that normally occupy their own spaces, including computing, graphics, management and power.
"Basically, we are very much putting together all that is required on a single piece of silicon," said David "Dadi" Perlmutter, executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group.
The result of Sandy Bridge, which has about 1 billion transistors, is as much as a five times faster throughput than current chips, and 25 times faster graphics than in 2007. In addition, Otellini and Perlmutter noted that Intel's Turbo Boost technology-which currently allows users to increase the power in individual cores depending on workload demand-with Sandy Bridge will now increase core power beyond previous thermal limits, and will apply to the graphics cores as well.
Intel also is adding greater security into the chip architecture, and it showed off its capabilities in a number of on-stage demonstrations.
Analysts with TBR (Technology Business Research) said the Sandy Bridge demonstrations were interesting, but it's the overall implications of what Intel is looking to do as it expands its reach that is catching their attention. Intel is in the process of creating a hardware platform upon which others can develop software and services, said TBR analyst Greg Richardson. The software and services are where these Intel partners will differentiate themselves, Richardson said.
"Hardware is no longer a real differentiator," he said after the keynote address.
That could be a boon for vendors like Dell and Hewlett-Packard, which are looking to become solutions providers themselves, said TBR analyst John Spooner. Having Intel create the hardware platform underneath will make it easier for Dell and HP to make that move, Spooner said.
During his keynote, Otellini said that the recent acquisitions will help Intel expand its reach. The Wind River acquisition is helping Intel grow its software and services capabilities, he said. McAfee will be key to helping Intel expand the security within its products.
Buying Texas Instruments' cable modem business gives Intel greater entr??Â«e into the TV space, and Infineon's wireless business will make Intel more competitive in the mobile space. Not only is Infineon's technologies used by the likes of Apple, Nokia and Samsung, but it also gives Intel more wireless capabilities, from 3G to another 4G technology-LTE (Long-Term Evolution)-to complement its investment in rival 4G technology WiMax. In a question-and-answer period after the keynote, Otellini said buying Infineon's LTE technology did not mean that Intel was giving up on WiMax.
"We have to be agnostic on radios," he said, adding that Intel needs to be able to deliver whatever customers and partners need.
WiMax is expected to be serving about 800 million people by the end of 2010, and is ahead of LTE. However, most analysts expect LTE to outdistance WiMax. 3G will be serving about 1 million people by the end of the year, Otellini said.
Intel executives want to become a larger player in the highly competitive smartphone space that currently is dominated by ARM-designed processors. ARM officials upped the ante Sept. 9 when they announced their new Cortex-A15 design, which will begin showing up in products in 2012.
Otellini didn't say much about Intel's plans for McAfee, since the $7.68 billion deal has not yet closed. However, he noted that as with other aspects of Intel's hardware and software plans, work will start with PCs and servers, but quickly move to other areas, such as handhelds and embedded devices.