IDF Day 1: David Perlmutter: "Where Will 'On-the-Go' Go?"
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."