Intel shows mobile, wireless chips

Demonstrations of wireless notebook and cell phone processors by Intel Corp. executives were the highlights of “Client Day” at the Spring Intel Developer Forum here Wednesday. Keynote speakers also provided a look into the future of Intel technologies on the desktop and the digital living room.

“We want to have a substantial impact on how people work, live and play around the world,” said Louis Burns, vice president and general manager of Intel’s desktop platforms group.

During the keynote address, Intel also announced an initiative called Granite Peak, which is designed to limit the number of changes in desktop and notebook software images by maintaining stability of core drivers shipped with Intel products for at least six quarters, Burns said. Some code may change above that core driver level, but Granite Peak will give IT managers one less thing to worry about, he said.

The first part of the keynote, delivered by Intel Vice President and General Manager Anand Chandrasekher, of Intel’s mobile platforms group, compared the performance of its older Pentium III and Mobile Pentium 4-M processors along with a 1.6GHz Pentium-M processor, which will be part of Intel’s Centrino product due to launch in March. Three identically configured notebooks ran a spreadsheet program, Adobe Systems Inc.’s Photoshop and a DVD rendering application, and the Pentium-M was shown to use less power in completing the tasks faster than either of Intel’s older mobile technologies.

Notebooks powered by the Pentium-M will have five hours of battery life while running the computing-intensive applications shown in the demonstration, Chandrasekher said.

Richard Wirt, a senior fellow with Intel’s software group, discussed tools to allow the “write once/run anywhere” software that Intel Chief Executive Officer Craig Barrett talked about in his Tuesday keynote.

Wirt announced a set of software development tools that will allow standardized applications across desktop, notebook, and handheld devices with Intel processors. For example, Intel demonstrated a parts-supply application that allowed a supplier, manufacturing executive, and mechanic view the same part on the same video-rendering application on a variety of devices.

On the desktop side, Burns revealed details about Intel’s next-generation desktop processor, known as Prescott. This processor will come with 1M bytes of Level 2 cache, he said, almost double the cache of current Pentium 4 processors.

It will also come with an 800MHz front-side bus, which will allow data to travel faster down the main data pathway of a processor than the current 533MHz front-side bus in Pentium 4 chips. Intel’s Canterwood and Springdale chipsets will support an 800MHz front-side bus, and will be released in the first half of this year, Burns said.

Vice President Gadi Singer of Intel’s wireless computing and communications group discussed how Intel’s older XScale processor designs for handheld devices resulted in the development of the PXA800F, formerly known as Manitoba.

The handheld device will introduce the Internet and computers to a new generation of technology users, especially in emerging markets such as China and India, Singer said. This provides tremendous opportunity for the developers attending the conference to design innovative devices with some of Intel’s new technology, he said.

In the cell-phone market, Intel is a newcomer, and is working to catch up to the market share enjoyed by rivals Motorola Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc. During a comparison of a processor from Intel’s PXA26x series with “the competition’s processor” playing music and a video game simultaneously, an Intel employee helping with the demonstration inadvertently let slip that the competitor was Texas Instruments.

Hoping to capitalize on the increased demand for wireless Internet access, Intel will also work to develop software and hardware that enables what the company calls “occasionally connected computing,” Chandrasekher said. Working with wireless Internet access providers such as T-Mobile USA Inc. and AT&T Wireless Services Inc., Intel hopes to allow notebook and handheld users to navigate through changing hot spots, or wireless Internet access points, he said.

Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. and Intel announced that Check Point’s remote access software with VPN (virtual private network) technology will be included with Centrino, helping to secure wireless transactions and data, Chandrasekher said.