Intel Demos 14nm Broadwell Processor, World's First 22nm Smartphone and Unveils Quark X1000 SoC Open Architecture at IDF13

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Intel’s newly appointed CEO, Brian Krzanich and President Renee James kicked off this year’s Intel Developers Forum with an opening keynote that laid out the company’s plans for 2014 and beyond. They spoke of industry trends in general, about Intel’s strategy moving forward, and how they believe they can win in the current economic and technical environments. They also revealed some bleeding edge new technology, which somewhat surprisingly, was already up and running, live on stage.

The underlying message of the opening keynote was that integration and innovation are driving the industry right now, as Intel (and others) movie from CPU to SoC architectures. Intel’s goal as the industry completes this transition, is to lead in every computing segment, from servers to smartphones and other connected devices.

HP's Fanless 4.5 watt Haswell-Based System

To that end, Intel’s Krzanich spoke about the current re-architecting of the data center and the move to software designed infrastructure. He also highlighted upcoming and current products like the Atom-based Avoton and the C2000 family of products, the latter of which was just recently announced. Krzanich also briefly mentioned that Intel will be announcing the Ivy Bridge-EP-based Xeon E5 family of products today.

Intel's 14nm Broadwell Processor Was Already Up and Running at IDF13

Krzanich then moved on and talked about innovations happening to the PC scene. It was during this segment of the keynote that he showed off some bleeding edge stuff that caught many in attendance off guard. Krzanich showed off a fully functional, fanless system from HP that was powered by a 4.5 watt Haswell Y-based SoC. Though that system was impressive on its own, Intel’s CEO then went on to show the first, functional 14nm Broadwell-based system. If you’re unfamiliar with Broadwell, it is essentially the 14nm shrink of Haswell, targeted at the mobile market. The Broadwell system was running Windows 8.1 and was fully functional. According to Krzanich, 14nm Broadwell SoCs will be shipping to partners by the end of this year, for commercial availability next year.

The company then went on to show off a wide range of 2-in-1 systems and tablets that will be powered by Intel technology. Krzanich claimed that by the end of this year there will be over sixty 2-in-1 system designs in the market alongside a slew of tablets and other small form factor devices. On stage were 11 Android-based tablets featuring Intel chips inside, with a number of designs running Windows as well. We’re told there will even be a sub $100 tablet on sale this holiday season, featuring an Intel SoC.

Krzanich Showed a Smartphone with a 22nm Intel SoC

Though a couple of upcoming products were already shown at this point, Intel’s CEO wasn’t quite done. In a “but wait, there’s more” moment, Mr. Krzanich then went on to show off what he says was the world’s first smartphone powered by a 22nm Intel SoC, complete with LTE connectivity. The phone was working and the silicon inside was shipping today, though it only supported data over LTE—voice used 3G. By next year, however, Intel will have their LTE controller with true LTE data and voice capabilities. Krzanich also demonstrated the current device’s ability to perform carrier aggregation to boost LTE connection speeds. Initially, a real-time bandwidth monitor showed the phone with an approximate 35Mb/s connection, but with carrier aggregation enabled the connection speed jumped to 70Mb/s. By next year, Intel expects to be able to boost that speed up to 150Mb/s. The intention of this demo was to show that Intel will be ready with silicon for LTE smartphones relatively soon, which has been one of the reasons the company hasn’t had as much success as it would have liked in the ultra-mobile space.

Intel Unveiled The New, Ultra-Low Power Quark X1000 Family of SoCs at IDF13

In yet another big announcement, Krzanich then introduced a new line of low-power SoCs, dubbed Quark X1000. According to Krzanich, Quark X1000 is 1/5 the size of current Atom processors and consumes only 1/10 of the power. Quark X1000 is also fully synthesizable, which gives Intel’s and potential partners the ability to incorporate another company’s IP into the chip, should they so choose. A complete reference design motherboard featuring a Quark X1000 was shown as well.

Krzanich also showed off a couple of wearable device reference designs, but these items appeared to be a ways off. A smartwatch circuit design was show\n, along with a wearable smartwatch enclosure, but these items were still roadmap products and are just laying the foundation for future designs.

All in all, the opening keynote to IDF13 was quite good. There wasn’t much glitz and glamor, but plenty of new technology was shown, some of which will be here sooner than many expected.

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