In typical fashion, Intel kicked off IDF 2010 with a couple of keynote addresses headlined by the company’s President and CEO, Paul Otellini, and GM of the Intel Architecture Group David “Dadi” Perlmutter. Topics of the keynote addresses included everything from Sandy Bridge to WiDi, and a myriad of others in between, but the main theme that permeated the entire conversation was how Intel is changing or plans to change moving forward.
Mr. Otellini began his presentation by talking about the huge growth in internet-connected smart devices and how the PC market has changed in such a way that the conversation is no longer centered on the “one PC per household” concept, but rather “one, or multiple PCs per person”, depending on how you define the PC. He said that current projections estimate that the number of connected smart devices will likely double in the next 4 years and that for many users, no single device will suffice. Intel’s goal moving forward is to not only power these devices, but to fulfill the needs of developers and end-users to seamlessly connect and share data among all of the devices.
Intel plans to achieve that goal though more complete hardware and software solution and more service-oriented offerings. Mr. Otellini then mentioned that Intel’s 22nm manufacturing process, which will be a key component of future platform offerings, is on track and that processors are already being manufactured using the technology—not just simpler the SRAM devices, which were shown off at last year’s IDF.
Other critical elements of Intel’s plans moving forward include sensors, more robust wireless display technologies, and of course, improved performance of both CPU and graphics. To help get his point across, Mr. Otellini then began discussing Intel’s upcoming Sandy Bridge processor and walked through a number of demos showcasing the performance of the platform.
Sandy Bridge Unveiled and Impressive -
Intel’s current plan is to ship Sandy Bridge in the early Q1 2011 timeframe. It’s being referred to as the 2nd Generation Intel Core Processor, and in addition to improved IPC per core, Sandy Bridge will feature exponentially faster graphics processing than previous Intel offerings, fast media transcoding capabilities through the use of dedicated hardware, and next-gen Turbo functionality.
In a couple a demos, Sandy Bridge was shown significantly outpacing current Core i7 processors while encoding HD video—in fact, the SB system was 2x-3x faster in our estimation. We should point out, however, that the encoding demo used a beta version of Media Show Espresso that’s optimized to take advantage of the dedicated media processing capabilities of SB.
The graphics capabilities of the DX10.1-class graphics core integrated into SB processors were showcased in a side-by-side comparison showing versus discrete NVIDIA graphics. With a mainstream title like StarCraft II which was used for the demo, it was impossible to tell the difference between the two. Intel’s message is that for casual or mainstream gaming titles, Intel’s integrated graphics will finally offer more than enough horsepower to play the games with most of the eye-candy turned up.
Intel and Google: Partners in TV
Mr. Otellini then showed off some of the other connected smart devices that Intel was working on and showed a live demo of GoogleTV in action, using a Logitech set-top box. In the GoogleTV demo, the user was able to easily switch between the TV feed and internet, conduct Google searched using the pop-up widget, overlay a TV feed on top of Facebook, etc.
In another demo, which was meant to showcase the real-time video encryption capabilities of Sandy Bridge, through the use of AES-NI, a couple of Intel’s reps took the opportunity to show off an Atom-powered tablet PC that was equipped with Wireless Display (WiDi) technology. Optimization to the WiDi software and algorithms, in conjunction with the increased performance offered by dual-core Atom processors, will enable Atom to work with WiDi moving forward—to this point it was only available with Core processor platforms. Mr. Otellini also mentioned that there is significant momentum with Atom-based tablets and that numerous offerings should hit the market soon.