Nearly 6,000 attendees gathered rich insight into Intels near-term and future development plans, products, and initiatives at the annual Fall 2004 Intel Developer Forum this week. Numerous third-party products and solutions were also on display at the Forums trade show. The keynote addresses defined the major themes of the gathering, and included the companys vision for the digital home and digital office, wide-spread wireless mobility, enhanced computer platform and Internet security, dual-core processors, Wi-MAX, remote collaboration, world-class enterprise computing systems and management, and mobile gaming and video and explored the benefits of virtualization technology. Intel execs also opened up about the many product delays, apparent direction changes, and stumbling over the past year. All told, this IDF show was an informative event, although there was the customary marketing agenda and lack of specific future product technical information in most areas.
Check out the IDF Special Report section at our sister site, ExtremeTech, for informative news and technology stories from site staffers Mark Hachman, Dave Salvator, and Jason Cross and contributor Patrick Norton.
We also encourage you to view the streaming videos of the keynotes at Intels IDF site. Be sure to catch Intel senior vice president and CTO Pat Gelsingers interview with Internet architecture pioneer Vinton Cerf in which they discuss the challenges for the next-generation Internet and talk about architectural enhancements that could address issues of Internet capacity, reliability, and security.
The keynotes and various training sessions placed much emphasis on digital home and digital office product design and platform architectures. The trade show area included a large Digital Home section mimicking a high-tech house with entertainment PCs, displays, digital media adapters, and audio gear strategically located throughout the living areas, bedrooms, and kitchen. High-quality audio and video was delivered everywhere, with multiple streams delivered remotely from entertainment PCs to multiple displays. Similarly, during Intel Desktop vice president Bill Suis keynote speech, Microsofts Joe Belfiore (general manager of the Windows eHome Division) demonstrated three video streams playing simultaneously off an entertainment PC based on a P4. One stream displayed on a large screen connected to the PC, and two other streams were remoted to a couple of Media Center Extender devices attached to remote TVs in two other rooms. The PC displayed HD-quality DVD content, encoded with the WMV9 codec, to its directly-attached large screen, while one remote TV displayed premium protected content streamed via the DTCP-IP protocol, and the other played time-shifted PVR content.
IDF attendees learned more details about WiMAX, ultra wideband, and wireless USB, as each is likely only a few years away from mainstream deployment. (PC Magazine Labs already has a WiMAX-grade fixed wireless installation from TowerStream that delivers 5 Gbits/sec downstream and 3 Gbits/sec upstream between our location on 28th and Park Avenue and TowerStreams antenna atop the MetLife building on 44th Street in New York City).
Storage-related sessions included enterprise storage management, entry-level NAS for SOHO and digital homes, and modular SAN arrays. Mark Hachman commented on the external SATA RAID and 3-Gbit/sec SATA 2 demos he saw at the tradeshow, and he reported on the new CE-ATA storage interface initiative for handheld and portable consumer-electronic devices that was formally announced at the show.
Many developers attended classes on optimizing for multithreaded and multi-core processors, which has been a big push over the past few years since Hyper-Threading became mainstream. Such optimizations will become that much more important with multi-core processors arriving late next year. In fact, Intel presented a technical overview of the next-generation dual-core Itanium, known as Montecito, expected to ship in volume in early 2006.
Other interesting technology areas included high-performance computing clusters and interconnects, low-power circuit design, longer-life battery technologies, server and workstation hardware optimization, security initiatives (Intels LaGrande, the “NX-bit”, and Microsofts NGSCB), Intels new 2700G multimedia accelerator chip that works in concert with its latest XScale PXA27x (Bulverde) chips to provide quality graphics on PDAs and other handheld devices, high-definition audio, and PCI Express, ExpressCard, and Advanced Switching architectures.