LAS VEGAS- During his Jan. 7 keynote address at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show here, Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini suggested his company would be throwing its hat into a number of high-profile rings in coming months, including a smartphone based on the company’s “Moorestown” infrastructure, an online applications store for netbooks, and even 3D moviemaking.
Before Otellini’s speech, as the audience streamed into the keynote hall at the Las Vegas Hilton, they found plastic-bagged 3D glasses waiting for them on each seat. The presence of that black, chunky eyewear seemed to signify that, fad or not, 3D has certainly seized the imagination of many of the companies presenting their latest technology here.
But Otellini saved the visual fireworks-namely, a series of movie clips and home videos rendered in 3D-for the midpoint of his presentation, choosing to start with a broad statement about how computing empowers the individual.
“We’re focused on making all computing personal,” Otellini said. “Personal computing is evolving in the home, in the devices you carry around with you.”
The speech quickly shifted, however, to a discussion about how 3D graphics in games, movies and home entertainment would likely become the next big thing, and how Intel was positioned to take advantage of that trend.
“The good news for us, on the hardware side of the industry, is that creating and managing 3D content demands a ton of computing,” Otellini said, citing how a movie like the upcoming “Shrek” sequel, “Shrek Forever After,” required some nine times as many compute cycles to render as the first film. “What I find interesting, though, is what starts at the high end trickles down and finds its way into the mainstream, into our homes.”
Intel, Otellini added, was providing the computing horsepower for that transition from studios to the home, where Intel-powered machines could power home 3D moviemaking. In order to better access and share content, Intel is also working on technology called Light Peak, which can supposedly transfer data at 10 GB per second. At that rate, an entire Blu-ray film could be downloaded onto a PC in less than 30 seconds.
“Sony and Nokia have announced their support,” Otellini said. “You can expect PCs to have this technology about a year from now.”
On that same front, Intel also used CES as a platform to introduce the Intel Wireless Display, also known as WiDi, which wirelessly streams video content from a PC to an HD television. Otellini said that WiDi-capable laptops, along with a $100 adapter box to connect to one’s television, will be available starting next week at Best Buy.
“I believe the world of entertainment will be driven by Moore’s law,” Otellini said, referring to the theory that computing power doubles roughly every two years.
The CEO then turned his attention to netbooks, one of the bright spots of a PC manufacturing industry otherwise bogged down by the effects of the recession in 2009.
“Eighteen months ago, we launched Atom,” Otellini said, which spawned the category of netbooks. “At CES, we’re launching a new version of the Atom microprocessor, with 20 percent lower power than the previous version.”
Apps for Netbooks
As the everyday role of netbooks has expanded, developers have worked on creating a new wave of software applications for the devices. Intel plans to make these Windows- and Linux-compatible applications available through an online store called the AppUp Center, which is currently available in beta on this site.
Netbook apps currently visible on the site include Yoono Desktop, which allows a netbook user to collate their social networks and IM services on a single interface, and Newsy, which conveniently delivers news content.
Otellini suggested that the AppUp Center would expand and evolve, with manufacturers such as Acer, Asus, Dell and Samsung all building their own versions of the storefront; eventually, he suggested, the store would become available in the “handheld and smart TV space over time.”
The mobile space will be yet another focus for Intel, with Otellini announcing the first smartphone based on the company’s Atom processor-based Moorestown infrastructure. The smartphone, manufactured by LG and featuring a 5-inch touch screen, will be introduced in the second half of the year.
Even before Otellini’s wide-ranging keynote, this CES was proving a particularly eventful one for Intel. On the morning of Jan. 7, the company opened its CES experience with a presentation highlighting the new 2010 Intel Core Processor family and associated products, including the new Intel Core i7, i5, and i3 processors, the first to be produced via Intel’s 32-nanometer (nm) manufacturing process. Also introduced were the Intel 5 Series chipsets, as well as the Intel Centrino Wi-Fi and WiMax adapters.
That Intel can leverage 32-nm manufacturing capacity to mass-produce its newest processors is due in large part to a $7 billion investment made in early 2009, at what many consider the nadir of the global recession.
Intel itself managed to weather the economic storms better than many tech companies, reporting a $1.9 billion profit on $9.39 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2009. During an October conference call with analysts and journalists, Otellini suggested that healthy demand for consumer notebooks would continue through 2010, and that he expected to see corporate PC spending grow in the wake of the Oct. 22 release of Windows 7.
Benefits of the 32-nm process include the second generation high-k gate transistors now integrated into the processors, which theoretically boost both speed and energy efficiency.
“We’ve always built products in the middle of recessions that will encourage business growth afterwards,” Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group, told assembled media at the opening of Intel’s morning event. “With the all-new 2010 core family, we bring graphics onto the processor package, so we get a really good performance pop” as well as boosted energy efficiency.
Maloney used the Jan. 7 conference to draw attention to Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology, available in the Intel Core i7 and i5 processor. “It’s the first time in the mainstream computer industry that we’re dynamically changing the frequency based on the workload,” he said. “If you have a Word document and a PowerPoint, the frequency can pop up, which has an effect on how the machine reacts and feels under your fingertips.”
The Intel Hyper-Threading Technology available in the Intel Core i7, i3 and i5 processors allows for what the company is calling smart multitasking. “By introducing hyperthreading, we’re allowing more tasks to be dispatched,” Maloney said.
More than 400 laptop and desktop PC designs will eventually utilize the 2010 Intel Core Processor family, according to the company. If Otellini’s keynote initiatives pan out, though, Intel will also have a footprint in the electronics world that goes far beyond traditional PCs.