IDF 2011 Eden Keynote: Ultrabooks and Ivy Bridge
The second day of IDF began with Mooly Eden, Intel VP and General Manager of the PC Client Group, and his keynote discussion, detailing the current state of the company’s business and Ultrabook plans. Eden’s keynote began with a talk about growth in overall PC sales, due mostly to increased demand in emerging markets. Mr. Eden also spoke of the adaptability of the PC and the many transformations it has made over the years to meet market demand and dictate new usage models and experiences.
The discussion continued with some talk about the importance of the CPU, GPU, and attached media. Eden asked, “which is most important?” His answer was that all are important depending on the usage model and that, for a system to offer a solid experience, it must have a good balance of all three. He said Intel’s goal with Sandy Bridge was to try and offer a good balance between GPU, GPU, and media performance, then he moved on to a few demos designed to prove his point. In the demos, a Sandy Bridge-based machine was used to create a Picasa slideshow. And although the task seems simple, it showed about 40-50% CPU utilization. Eden’s point was that even for some relatively basic tasks, a powerful CPU is required.
Next, Eden moved on to an HDR photo demo in which three high-res images of different exposures were combined into a single HDR image. The demo was run on a 3-year old Core 2 Duo and a current-gen Sandy Bridge machine, and of course the SB-equipped system finished much, much faster than its older cousin.
The next demo used a feature of Cyberlink’s PowerDirector application that automatically creates short video clips using highlights from longer clips. The app will analyze a longer clip of video seeking “the most interesting” portions using visual cures like movement, zooms, etc. The point of the demo was to show that although the task seems complex, it was completed in a very short amount of time. A final demo in this portion of the keynote composited different styles of Ray-Ban sunglasses onto the face of the presenter, by analyzing a live video stream from a webcam.
Summarizing the importance of performance to the overall PC experience, Eden than took the chance to reveal more details of Intel’s upcoming Ivy Bridge architecture. Eden said that quad-core variants of Ivy Bridge would be comprised of over 1.48 billion transistors, and of course be manufactured using Intel’s 22nm process node, with tri-gate transistor technology.
Eden also went on to say that although Ivy Bridge was technically a “tick” in Intel’s "Tick-Tock" strategy, many more advances were made to the design above and beyond compaction. He called it more like a “Tick Plus” because Ivy Bridge would feature lower power consumption, more advanced power management, an updated system agent, and more powerful and capable, DX11 class graphics. According to Mooly, the graphics core in Ivy Bridge will have much better geometry performance, a more powerful shader array, and other improvements throughout the core. He then showed a couple of graphics demos—one featuring twenty 1080P video streams being displayed simultaneously on-screen and another of the DX11 version of H.A.W.X. 2 running on Ivy Bridge.
Mr. Eden also called out a new feature of Ivy Bridge dubbed PAIR, or Power Aware Interrupt Routing. With current and older generation architectures, interrupt requests are always sent to Core 0, even if the core was asleep and other cores remained active. With Ivy Bridge, however, PAIR will dynamically route interrupts to cores that are already awake, ultimately saving power because idle, sleeping cores can remain in a low power state longer.
Mooly’s talk then moved on to a discussion of “what people want” from their PCs and other computing devices. There wasn’t much technical discussion here, but rather some talk of the different desires for the “left and right” brain and how in recent years Intel has been doing much more research into studying what people expect from their systems logically and emotionally.
Next, Mr. Eden moved on to discussing some of the features and capabilities of upcoming Ultrabooks. He talked about Intel Rapid Start Technology, Intel Smart Connect Technology, and Intel Rapid Response technology. There was no RST demo since but he did show an Acer Ultrabook with Rapid Start that was able to wake from hibernation in about 3 – 4 seconds.
Intel’s Smart Connect technology allows a system to remain connected while in sleep mode. And on that note, Eden showed a Toshiba Ultrabook using the technology that was able to remain connected and receive images and e-mails, while in sleep mode.
Next up, a rep from McAfee was brought out on stage to talk a bit about a few security related features of Ultrabooks, namely Intel Anti-Theft Technology. They talked about an upcoming app from McAfee that would leverage hardware and software and allow users to remotely lock or wipe their machines in the event they were lost or stolen. The app isn’t available yet, but should launch in the first half of next year. The second part of the demo showed Intel’s Identity Theft Protections suite protecting a system infected with a keylogger that was being used for an on-line transaction. Since a secure token is used to authenticate a system, in addition to requiring login credentials, a hacker remotely viewing the keylogger data couldn’t use the credentials alone to access bank accounts.