Intel Touches on Mobility, Notebook Security at IDF

While most of the 2008 Intel Developer Forum focuses on Intel processors that will use the upcoming Nehalem microarchitecture, part of the forum also is looking ahead to what Intel will offer for both laptops and notebook security. Intel also introduced its first quad-core processors for laptops called the Core 2 Extreme QX9300 and the Core 2 Quad Q9100. In addition, Intel is expected to offer an anti-theft device for notebooks.

SAN FRANCISCO-While the majority of the 2008 Intel Developer Forum here has focused on Intel's Nehalem microarchitecture, the chip maker's top executives also took time to emphasize Intel's focus on consumer and business notebooks.

During his keynote address Aug. 19, Dadi Perlmutter, an Intel executive vice president and general manager of the Mobile Platform Group, detailed the company's first quad-core processors for laptops and a new anti-theft device and security protection for corporate notebooks.

While notebooks remain the most important part of the PC market, this year's IDF lacked a significant announcement from Intel's notebook division. The reason for that is the chip maker just launched its Centrino 2 mobile platforms in July and most of the new disclosures and updated technologies came out at the time of that launch.

Still, Perlmutter filled in some holes in the Intel processor lineup. The most significant updates included the release of two quad-core processors for laptops: the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9300, which has a clock speed of 2.53GHz, 12MB of Level 2 cache and a 1066MHz front-side bus; and the Q9100, with a 2.26GHz clock speed and the same amount of L2 cache and FSB found in the QX9300. The two mobile processors are based on the 45-nanometer manufacturing process.

While four processing cores in a notebook could be considered overkill, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo have each built new mobile workstations that use these quad-core Intel chips.

Perlmutter also demonstrated the first notebooks to use Intel processors based on the Nehalem architecture. The first mobile platform to use these processors-"Calpella"-is slated for release in 2009.

In addition to processors, Intel unveiled its first SATA (serial ATA) solid-state drives for use in notebooks.

Perlmutter also outlined a new anti-theft technology that Intel will start including as part of its vPro platform. "vPro" is Intel's term for essentially a chip bundle that is designed to make managing and securing a fleet of PCs easier for an enterprise's IT department. Intel first brought vPro to notebooks in 2007 and updated the offering with the release of the Centrino 2 platform in July.

Intel first hinted at what it calls its Anti-Theft Technology, or Intel AT, in April. This anti-theft technology offers to secure laptops through several methods, including the ability to encrypt the notebook's hard disk drive. The technology also allows the IT department to set up policies to protect passwords and deliver a "poison pill" to a laptop in case of theft, turning the notebook into what one Intel executive called a "brick." If recovered, the IT department can then retrieve the data that had been retained on the hard drive.

While Intel has put more emphasis on notebooks than on desktops, the chip maker still has a significant stake in desktop PCs. In Perlmutter's presentation, one slide showed notebook shipments pushing toward 400 million units by 2012. At the same time, desktop shipments were inching toward 200 million units.

"As a market watcher, I though that statistic was interesting to put up there," said Michael Feibus, an analyst with TechKnowledge Strategies. "In the Intel forecast, they have desktop shipments growing through 2012, and it shows that there still is a nugget there for Intel even though the desktop PC market has slowed in the U.S. and in Western Europe. There is still enough growth in the desktop market to carry a load for Intel."