SAN JOSE, Calif.—The convergence of communications and computing, which Intel Corp. talked about when launching its Centrino mobile platform earlier this year, is becoming more pervasive and will be fueled by a number of products the chip maker will roll out over the next few years, according to Intels president and chief operating officer.
“Convergence is becoming mainstream,” Paul Otellini told several thousand people during the opening keynote at the fall Intel Developer Forum 2003 here on Tuesday. “The technology is bringing all types of changes.”
The use of wireless technology is growing, Intels chips for servers and PCs will continue to add features designed to enable users to do more with their devices, and new markets—in particular Asia and Eastern Europe—are emerging that will force vendors to not only increase the capabilities of their products but also find ways to drive down the costs, Otellini said.
He outlined the myriad products Intel is developing that will dovetail with those scenarios. For example, Intel has put its Hyper-Threading technology—which enables a single processor to work as two virtual chips—across its Pentium 4 and Xeon lines of 32-bit chips, Otellini said. “Convergence by its very nature is a multitasking, multithreaded environment,” he said. “As a developer, youve got to assume that threading is pervasive.”
He also pointed to Centrino, which is designed to give mobile device users longer battery life and seamless wireless access. Wireless access points continue to grow—from 10 million this year to 20 million next year—as do Wi-Fi hot spots, from 50,000 by the end of this year to 80,000 in 2004, he said.
Intel will grow its wireless capabilities as well, Otellini said. Centrino currently offers 802.11b connectivity, and that will grow to a/b by the end of the quarter, he said. That will be followed by 802.11g by the end of the year, and a/b/g in the first half of next year.
Otellini also touched upon LaGrande, the security technology being developed in conjunction with Microsoft Corp. in which security functions are integrated into the microprocessor and chip set. In a demonstration, Intel executives showed how LaGrande can protect users from intrusion via graphics, keyboard and memory. Otellini said the technology will begin appearing in products within two to three years, and that users can assume that it will be integrated throughout Intels product lines.
In similar fashion to what Intel does with Hyper-Threading now, the company will offer some chips with LaGrande running on them and others with the technology disabled.
Otellini talked about a project code-named VanderPool, where partitioning—which now is done on the software level—is integrated into the chip. The technology, which will start appearing within five years, will enable users to run multiple operating systems on the same machine, with the virtualization being done on the chip.
“It gives the user a … tool for operating system migration and for migrating applications over time,” he said.
Intel also is working on new media and graphics chips that will enhance the user experience in those areas.
Otellini laid out road maps for several product lines, including the 64-bit Itanium chips. Montecito, an Itanium chip due in 2005, will have two cores on a single silicon chip. That will be followed by Tanglewood, an Itanium chip that will offer multiple cores.
Otellini pointed to the growth of Itaniums presence in top 10 high-performance computing machines, gaining share on the RISC-based systems, and showed off SGIs new Altix 3700 server powered by 128 Itaniums.
“Itanium is still the fastest non-clustered machine out there,” he said.
In the 32-bit world, Otellini touched upon Tulsa, a Xeon chip two to three years down the road that will offer dual-core capabilities.
He also said both Prescott, the next-generation Pentium chip with up to 1MB of cache, and Dothan, an energy-efficient processor for notebooks, are on schedule for release later this year, in time for the holiday buying season.
In regard to the manufacturing, Otellini said Intel is ramping up a 90-nanometer process for later this year, and gave road maps of 65 nm for 2005, 45 nm for 2007, 32 nm for 2009 and 22 nm for 2011.