Intel Demos 2nd Gen WiDi, Quick Sync and Discrete GPU Coexistence

Early this morning, in a conference room behind Intel's booth, we got a first hand look at Intel's latest refinements with their recently launched Sandy Bridge processor with integrated graphics. One question that some of you have been concerned about is if Sandy Bridge will allow users to access the chip's Quick Sync video encoding engine if there is a discrete GPU in the system. This is a common configuration in both the desktop and notebook space obviously, with solutions from various OEMs that include the likes of NVIDIA Optimus, etc.

Surprsingly, Intel has been spending resources with third party developers like Lucid Logix who has been developing middleware that will allow access to both discrete GPU resources as well as Intel's Quick Sync video conversion engine simultaneously. Dave from Intel took us through a demo of a system with Lucid's middleware setup with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 and Sandy Bridge chewing on their own workloads simultaneously. Have a look...

Intel was also showing off the latest iteration of their WiDi (Wireless Display) technology. New to WiDi is support for 1080P wireless video playback (the previous iteration was limited to 720P) and Intel also mentioned that more manufacturers will now be producing the dongles to support the technology. Due to the higher performing decode engine in Sandy Bridge, among some other tweaks, latency has also been vastly improved with this latest iteration of WiDi, and now the wirelessly-connected display can be configured as an extended desktop—not just a clone. The just announced Intel Insider technology which is incorporated into all Sandy Bridge based 2nd generation Core processors is also fully supported with WiDi now, so premium content which requires certain DRM technologies will work as well. A full demo of WiDi in action is available in the video above.

There were a couple of other interesting items being shown off by Intel in their booth as well, including a funky dual-screen Acer Iconia notebook—excuse us, Touchbook--and a new type of felt that’s being used in some notebooks to enable even smaller form factors.

The Acer Iconia is a Core i5 powered notebook that eschews a keyboard in favor of a second touch screen. Both of the screens on the unit are multi-touch enabled and Acer has designed a custom interface that sits on top of Windows 7 and gives users easy access to a number of applications. When in need to type out an e-mail or document, etc., a virtual keyboard is also available that actually proved to be very responsive in the limited time we got to play with it. We’d obviously prefer a real keyboard that provides tactile feedback, but the spaciousness and responsiveness of the Iconia’s virtual keyboard was perfectly usable.

The felt that Intel was showing off was a special substance that will be used in some upcoming ultra-thin and light notebooks that blocks water and particulate debris, but allows air to freely slow through it. The felt will be used under the keyboards on the machines, to allow them to vent heat upwards through keyboard, instead of through vents on the bottom of the machine, where they can be more easily blocked, like when a user places his or her notebook on a pillow for example.