Intel talks future of mobility at IDF

SAN JOSE – Intel Corp. laid out its plans for wireless convergence at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) last month, giving attendees a peek at an upcoming mobile platform as well as the next-generation Pentium M processor, code-named Dothan.

Dothan is a 90-nanometer (nm) mobile processor, which will come with 140 million transistors and will use a strained silicon technique for better performance. To be released in Q4 this year, Intel said Dothan will also feature a 2MB power-optimized integrated Level 2 cache for quicker memory access.

Expected for release in 2004, the next-generation mobile platform, code-named Sonoma, is based on Intel Centrino mobile technology and will integrate the Dothan processor, in addition to a next-generation audio capability, code-named Azalia.

During his keynote address, Anand Chandrasekher, vice-president and general manager of Intel’s Mobile Platforms Group, compared Intel’s mobile strategy to the construction of the Pacific Railway in the late 1800s.

“Convergence is the next golden spike,” he said.

Chandrasekher highlighted Intel’s accomplishments based on IDF 2002 predictions, including more than 90 new notebook form-factor designs from a plethora of vendors, each with a focus on longer battery life and low power consumption, as well as the appointment of more than 20,000 Centrino Wi-Fi hot spots worldwide – more than double last year’s numbers.

“Innovation does spark adoption,” he said, referring to IDC statistics, which predict 20 per cent year-over-year growth for the global mobile notebook market. “We are enabling people to take computing where they need it, rather than having to go where computing is.”

According to Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Meta Group, the mobile market is poised for takeoff over the next three to four years. Meta predicts that future mobile processors will provide a combination of processing power, heat dissipation and better battery life – improving on what Intel currently offers with Centrino.

At IDF, Intel executives also spoke to the future of converged computing and communications. In his keynote, Paul Otellini, Intel president and chief operating officer (COO) hallmarked technologies that the chipmaker will rely on to bring the concept of convergence into mainstream reality. Two of these technologies mark new ventures for Intel, Otellini explained.

First up is LaGrande technology – a joint security effort with Microsoft Corp. and several other market vendors. According to Intel, LaGrande is designed to be a future enhancement to Intel chipsets, processors and platforms that, when used with specific software, will protect systems against software-based attacks. Otellini said the technology will be ready for release within the next two to three years.

Also on the agenda is the ability to have multiple independent operating environments on a single PC. Code-named Vanderpool, the technology is expected to offer increased system reliability and quicker recovery from system crashes.

Otellini also gave conference goers a sneak peek of Intel’s nanotechnology development, highlighting plans for 65nm products to be released as early as 2005. Expected for 2009 are 32mn and 22nm, which despite the prediction of the end of Moore’s Law – the observation that the number of transistors on a chip doubles every 18 months and there will eventually be no more room for growth – did not phase Otellini.

“We can’t prevent Moore’s Law, but we can delay it,” he said. “Two years ago at IDF we committed to deliver…technologies to enable greater productivity and better experiences for computer users…and we’ve done that.”