SAN JOSE, Calif.—Calling wireless “the next best thing,” Intel Corp.s top wireless executives are promising lower-power enhancements that will extend the technology throughout the world.
Anand Chandrasekher, vice president and general manager of Intels Mobile Platforms Group, confirmed that the next generation of Intels Pentium M processor line, “Dothan,” will ship in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Ron Smith, senior vice president and general manager of Intels wireless communications and computing group, described some of the lower power technologies Intel will incorporate in “Bulverde,” the companys next wireless chip.
Both spoke on the second day of the Intel Developer Forum here.
When Intel launched its Centrino platform in March, executives promised 10,000 WiFi hot spots would be available. Today, over 21,000 Centrino-certified hot spots have been deployed, Chandrasekher said. “Were quite pleased with this,” he said.
Intels assumption has been that mobile technology would expand outside the traditional “road warrior” class of consumers, and thats been happening, he said. Chandrasekher demonstrated technology that the company is developing to roam from wireless LAN to wireless WANs; the company is testing a pilot program in Asia to do just that.
“Its easier to tackle roaming from an international standpoint and then do it domestically,” he said.
Next page: Power-saving advances.
Dothan, a Pentium M-class processor with 2MB of cache, will launch in the fourth quarter, as expected, Chandrasekher said. Intel will complement the chip with the Intel 855GME chip set, which Intel announced Wednesday. Power-saving display technology in the 855GME dims the display backlight to reduce power while still maintaining the quality of the display.
Dothan and the “Alviso” chip set will be part of the “Sonoma” platform, which will essentially be the second-generation Centrino platform in 2004. Sonoma will use the “Calexico 2” hybrid wireless chip set PCI Express, and the first implementation of the Azalia audio standard, which supports Dolby 7.1 surround sound.
Chandrasekher said that in addition to Intels power-saving advances, the company is pushing display manufacturers to include power-management technology. The development of 3-watt displays is “on track,” he said. Chandrasekher even showed a demonstration of research technology that tracks the users face, turning the display off when the user turns away.
Smith said Intel is also developing wireless and multimedia enhancements for its embedded processors, recognizing that PDAs are also wirelessly connected devices. For example, in 2007 an estimated 300 million wireless phones will ship with cameras installed, he said.
At the spring IDF, Smith promised that Intels future wireless chips would include wireless MMX capabilities, a version of the companys older MMX extensions for enhancing wireless multimedia. That capability will be included in Bulverde, expected next year.
Bulverde will include three key technologies, Smith said: Wireless MMX, Wireless SpeedStep and QuickCapture. Wireless SpeedStep will incorporate some of the power-management techniques found in Intels mobile PC microprocessors, adding two new low-power states and allowing the processor to change its own frequency and operating voltage to regulate power. QuickCapture, meanwhile, will allow the processor to capture and record video at a rate of 30 frames per second as well as still images at up to 4 megapixels of resolution. Smith showed functional prototype silicon of Bulverde.
Smith also demonstrated actual silicon of the PXA80EF processor Intel announced last week. The PXA80EF is essentially identical to previous versions of the chip, aside from the new firmwares ability to run the EDGE protocol, which can accelerate GSM data rates to about 115KB per second.
“At Intel, we believe wireless is the next best thing,” Smith concluded. “It will spur the next cycle of growth just like the railroad spurred growth in the 19th century.”
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