Intel officials went to the Computex 2015 show this week armed with an array of new and improved technologies that touched on everything from collaboration and interconnects to the Internet of things.
As is normal with Intel, a lot of the publicity coming out of the show for the company centered around processors. In this case, it was the integration of the vendor’s Iris Pro graphics technology in some of its server and PC chips, specifically the 14-nanometer Xeon E3-1200 v3 portfolio and 10 new Core “Broadwell-H” processors for both desktop and mobile PCs. On the server side, the inclusion of the Iris Pro technology was aimed at cloud-based workloads like HD video transcoding, complex 3D applications and the delivery of remote workstation software.
The new Core processors were aimed at such users as gamers and creators, bringing greater media and graphics performance into increasingly smaller systems.
However, Intel officials showed off the growing reach of its silicon and development efforts. The company announced that its Thunderbolt technology, which connects Windows PCs and Apple Macs to displays, docks and such peripherals as external storage systems and USB devices, will use the same kind of connector as USB 3.1.
Given that most PCs and Apple systems are adopting the new USB-C connector, it was important for Intel to make Thunderbolt connectors to also connect to it. According to the company, Thunderbolt 3.0 will be able to use the USB-C ports that are being put into systems and will be able to run at 10G bps. However, some systems starting toward the end of the year will also appear with Thunderbolt ports, and Thunderbolt 3.0 will be able to run data through those at 40G bps, twice what the Thunderbolt 2.0 allowed when it was released in 2014.
“Users have long wanted desktop-level performance from a mobile computer,” Dan Snyder, public relations manager at Intel, wrote in a post on the company blog. “Thunderbolt was developed to simultaneously support the fastest data and most video bandwidth available on a single cable, while also supplying power. Then, recently, the USB group introduced the USB-C connector, which is small, reversible, fast, supplies power and allows other I/O in addition to USB to run on it, maximizing its potential. So in the biggest advancement since its inception, Thunderbolt 3 brings Thunderbolt to USB-C at 40G bps, fulfilling its promise, creating one compact port that does it all.”
For the Internet of things (IoT), Intel officials expanded its IoT Gateway reference design portfolio with a greater choice of silicon, more software support and more operating system options. The new options will give developers and partners greater flexibility in the IoT products they create based on the Intel technology, according to officials.
Up till now, the IoT Gateway could run on Intel’s low-power Atom and even smaller and lower-power Quark systems-on-a-chip (SoCs). Now, the chip maker is offering reference designs that can be powered by its Core processors. In addition, Intel is rolling out the Wind River Intelligence Device Platform XT 3, which comes with new packaging options aimed at applications that require a low entry-cost point, officials said.
Intel also said the IoT Gateway also will now support Canonical’s Ubuntu Snappy Core OS, adding to the current lineup of operating systems from Wind River and Microsoft. According to reports, officials with the chip maker also said they were working to enable Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10 IoT to run on gateways powered by Atom. In addition, Intel officials announced new Pentium, Celeron and Atom chips aimed at the IoT that include strong graphics performance, low power consumption and a seven-year availability.
Intel Brings IoT, Wire-Free Computing Tech to Computex
Intel for the past few years has been aggressive in growing its IoT capabilities, and according to officials, it’s paying off. At the company’s annual shareholder meeting in March, CEO Brian Krzanich said that last year the IoT unit grew 19 percent over 2013, becoming a $2 billion business.
The company also pushed forward with its vision for wire-free computing. Officials are making a significant push to create technologies that free computers from everything from wires for charging them to cables for connecting them to peripherals. The upcoming Skylake chips will offer a range of features that will enable this, but at Computex, Intel introduced Unite. The software works with mini-PCs powered by Intel’s latest Core vPro processors to enable devices like notebooks—armed with the Unite software—to connect wirelessly to projectors, displays and other peripherals.
Company officials argue that too much time and productivity are lost in meetings as people try to find the right cables to hook their PCs into other systems in order to display their presentations and enable people to collaborate.
“Intel employees spend 17 million minutes in teleconferences every year, and countless more in face-to-face meetings,” Mark Densham, IT director of collaboration and productivity at Intel, wrote in a post on the company blog. “Businesses around the globe can relate to the above ‘dongle hell’ scenario, where meetings are delayed by having to set up conference bridges and connect multiple devices.”
Intel has the Unite solution installed in about 100 conference rooms with plans to expand it to 350 by the end of July, Densham said, adding that “there appears to be an almost insatiable demand by employees for the solution—which is always very satisfying to see as an IT professional.”
Hewlett-Packard this week introduced the Collaboration PC, a mini-PC that includes Core vPro chips that support the Unite software. In addition, Densham wrote that the solution can be used with Intel’s NUC mini-PC.
In addition, the chip vendor is working with Chinese companies around wire-free initiatives, including partnering with Targus to deliver wireless charging solutions based on the Rezence standard and with Haier to develop wireless charging solutions to such places as restaurants, hotels and airports in the country later this year. Intel also is working with other members of the A4WP wireless charging standards group, as well as Foxconn Interconnect, Basecom, BYD and Primax, to offer wireless charging solutions to the market this year.