Gelsinger Leading Intels Convergence Charge

In an eWEEK interview, Intel's CTO, who is in charge of "connecting the dots," talks about the convergence of communications and computing

Intel Corp. is a company with a wide—and growing—range of products, from chips and chip sets for PCs, servers and mobile devices to software, communications offerings and now even blade servers. At the Intel Developer Forum 2003 this week in San Jose, Calif., executives talked about common technologies that reach across the various platforms. But one key constant is Pat Gelsinger, Intels chief technology officer, who admits that an important part of the job is "connecting the dots" and ensuring that the products do tie together. Gelsinger spoke with eWEEK Senior Editor Jeffrey Burt at IDF about Intels plans for moving their offerings forward within the overarching message of the convergence of communications and computing.

During his keynote speech, [Intel President and Chief Operating Officer] Paul Otellini spoke of a number of different products—from Itanium and Xeon chips to Centrino, and Hyper-Threading and multithreading—and brought them all under the umbrella of the convergence of communications and computing. Can you talk about how all these products fit under that umbrella?

Its really hard to give a simple answer to that. Its a pretty broad set of things, and some things are relevant to each other, and some things just arent. Let me try to give a few examples of how were trying to hold these things together.

First, theres a handful of key standards, industrywide standards, that were trying to make sure we deal with across a very broad set of our platforms. And 802.11 is a very good example of that. Its a key thing for mobile, its a key thing for communications, were going to be taking it in through our handsets as well. So were trying to take some of the key standards and say, "Intel has it across the board." … Were trying to take individual technologies and stretch them across multiple platforms for the different applications.

Another good example is, you take MMX [multimedia] technology. We did that [in] 95, for the desktop when we first introduced that, and eight years later youre seeing it show up on the handheld platform. Some of the security stuff—LaGrande technology—that was first being targeted for desktops, but were taking it up to servers and down to handhelds as well, so were trying to tie these things together. … Thats one thing we do to make these technologies fit under a common umbrella.


Another thing we do is a lot of the software and tools. If you have an Intel Compiler version 7.0, that same compiler—if you load a few different modules—is exactly the same development environment whether its XScale, IA-32 or Itanium.

The final thing is … when we get to the next level, the user perspective, much of it has to do with delivering usage models across the multiple platforms. … Like the location service that was mentioned in [Vice President and General Manager of Intels Mobile Platform Group] Anand [Chandrasekers keynote]. … How do you do location services if you just have a compute platform? Good luck. But when you combine compute and communications, from both WAN and LAN, youre going to look at a few sets of location services no matter whether youre indoors, outdoors, whether youre on a small handheld or laptop or desktop computer being able to pull that together for enabling the converged usage models.

You can barely fathom the amount of energy that goes behind tying each one of these things together. How I might do a security implementation for a laptop ends up being quite different than for a handheld. However, I still want to be able to deliver a common set of services and capabilities so that an application vendor could say, "I really dont care. I just want to know that Ive authenticated that service for whatever communications device might be at the end of that network."

How far are you along in reaching this goal?

Its kind of like climbing Mt. Fuji. How far do you have to go? Its a long way up that mountain yet. But Im very encouraged because we have some very, very defensible proof points now where weve actually gotten there. … I think were past the first stage because we have real, concrete milestones, but theres a long way to go on this path.

Next page: Intels plans for PCI Express.