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IDF Day 1: David Perlmutter: "Where Will 'On-the-Go' Go?"
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Date: Aug 20, 2008
Section:Processors
Author: Daniel A. Begun
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IDF Day 1: David Perlmutter: "Where Will 'On-the-Go' Go?"
David Perlmutter (Intel Senior Vice President and General Manager, Mobility Group) delivered the final keynote of the first day of IDF. Perlmutter started out by declaring that notebook shipments are about to surpass desktop shipments. He predicts that within the next 10 years, Intel will be shipping over one billion Intel Architecture-based (IA) mobile devices per year. As to the growth of the mobile platform, Intel had only 35 notebook design offerings in 2002. In 2008, there are 244.

     

Perlmutter stated that the first notebooks were heavy, slow performers, and had poor battery life. Today's notebooks have good battery life, are high performers, are light weight, and come in a variety of form factors.

     

He also commented that quad core processors have actually been around since the 1970's. At the time, these quad cores were Cray supercomputers. Now that quad core notebooks are almost ready to hit the market, Perlmutter regarded these new mobile powerhouses as "supercomputers in a laptop form factor." With the help of his stage assistant, Craig (no last name was ever given), they showed off a number of soon-to-ship quad-core notebooks from vendors, such as Dell and Lenovo. In their demo they conducted a hi-definition videoconference while playing a high-definition movie in the background--while CPU utilization stayed around only 50 percent.

     

Also relatively new is the Centrino 2 platform (a.k.a. Montevina). While quad core notebooks will be aimed at the high end, the Centrino 2 platform is aimed at the mainstream market. In a performance comparison between Montevina, Santa Rosa, and Napa notebooks, the Montevina unit quickly finished a high-definition video encode using Sony Vegas long before the other two could finish.

     

In another demo, they showed off a Sony Vaio that has "switchable graphics." At the push of a button (and a second or two delay), the laptop can switch between its more power-hungry discrete GPU or its leaner integrated, Intel-based graphics engine. They claimed that the difference in power consumption amounts to about a 9-watt savings, which could equal an additional hour of battery life.

Perlmutter claimed that Centrino 2 also offers enough improved battery life that you could now watch a two hour Blu-Ray disc on a laptop. Also mentioned was a Centrino2-powered Aopen desktop, designed to attach directly to a TV. They also showed off a Cyberpower OEM laptop using a brand new, dual-core 3.06GHz mobile processor playing Assassin's Creed.

     

Perlmutter conceded that so far, none of this was brand-new news. The bit of new information he announced was the introduction of Intel's Solid State Drives (SSD). In a demo using Iometer, the SSD drive performed about 70 times faster than a traditional 5,400-rpm platter-based hard drive. Perlmutter claims that SSD drives bring faster overall performance, energy savings, and faster boot times. An 80GB version is "sampling now," with production to ramp up in September. A 160GB version will be available sometime in Q4. As to Nehalem, Perlmutter says that it will start showing up in notebooks next year.

  

Perlmutter invited HP's Keith LeFebvre (Vice President and General Manager, Americas Regional Business Unit, Business Notebook PCs) onto the stage to show off a couple of HP notebooks. (LeFebvre commented that HP sells 84 thousand units per day, which equals almost one per second.) The first notebook was the HP EliteBook 2530p--a small-and-light unit with a 12.1-inch display, weighing only three pounds. LeFebvre claims that its aluminum skin is six times more resistant to scratches than the previous generation. The 2530p will be available with 5,400-rpm or 7,200-rpm hard drives. SSD drives will also be an option--LeFebvre claims that the SSD drive offers a 570% performance improvement over a 5,400-rpm drive. (LeFebvre also said that the HP EliteBook 6930 can run for 24 hours with an SSD.) The second notebook LeFebvre showed was the HP EliteBook 8730w Mobile Workstation. The 8730w can be configured with a Core 2 Extreme or Core 2 Quad mobile processor. The 8730w features HP's DreamColor color-accuracy technology and LeFebvre claims that it is "one of the fastest notebooks in the world."
 
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Anti-Theft & WiMax
Next on Perlmutter's agenda was Intel's hardware-based "Anti-Theft" technology. He and Craig demonstrated how with using this technology, it is possible to disable a stolen or missing laptop and encrypt the drive's contents--all remotely (as long as the laptop has an active Internet connection at some point, that is). They call this sending the "kill pill" or the "poison pill." Under the right circumstances, you could even shoot a webcam picture of the person who has your stolen laptop, as well as learn other information about the person, such as their location if the laptop has GPS. Intel is working with a number of vendors on the Anti-Theft technology, such as Lenovo and Phoenix, and solutions should be available later this year.

     

It wouldn't be an IDF keynote without at least one mention of WiMax, and Perlmutter didn't disappoint. Perlmutter stated that Intel will start shipping mini-PCI and half-height-mini-PCI, WiFi/WiMax cards to OEMs before the end of the year, and that seven OEMs will ship notebooks with these cards (codenamed "Echo Peak") in Q1 of next year.

     

Intel is working with a number of partners in North America to get WiMax off the ground. Perlmutter claims that Baltimore will be going online with a WiMax system in the next few months. WiMax will also be launching in Japan and Russia next year. Intel is also trying to get WiMax implementations in Europe and Asia. Perlmutter  stated that Intel is trying to get WiMax "as close as possible to IP free" (IP in this case, meaning "Intellectual Property") because Intel wants WiMax to be an open standard. Perlmutter demonstrated WiMax by conducting a videoconference call with Clearwire's Chief Technology Officer, John Saw, whose laptop was connected to the Internet via a WiMax connection. Saw claims that 1.2 million people in the Portland, Oregon area are on the local WiMax network. Saw also stated that rolling WiMax out to Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Grand Rapids is currently in progress.
 
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Netbooks & MIDs
Next came netbooks. Perlmutter commented that the Internet is becoming an integral part of many people's lives and they'd like the ability to access the Internet wherever they go. Smaller and cheaper laptops, based on the Atom processor can make this a possibility. Some netbooks have already started shipping from vendors, such as Asus, Acer, and Lenovo. While the netbooks category was originally envisioned for emerging markets, Perlmutter said that Intel was surprised to find so much interest for it in mature markets.

     

The final topic for Perlmutter was MIDs. Perlmutter sees MIDs as way to have the "Internet in your pocket." He didn't have much to offer about MIDs other than to say the there are multiple suppliers of MIDs who are using Intel's Menlo technology. He thinks that they are great looking products--some have keyboards and some don't. Perlmutter was intentionally brief with his MID coverage, as he indicated that Anand Chandrasekher would have much more to offer in regards to MIDs during Chandrasekher's IDF day 2 keynote.

More IDF 2008 Coverage at HotHardware:
IDF Day 1: Pat Gelsinger Keynote: Embedded + Dynamic + Visual
IDF Day 1: Craig Barrett Keynote: "Inspiring Innovation"
IDF Day 2: Anand Chandrasekher: "MIDs: Platform for Innovation"
IDF Day 2: Eric Kim: "We Love TV"
IDF Day 2: Renee James: "Developing for the Future of Computing" 
 


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