IDF 2011: You Will Love Your PC!

Today we are going to talk about what people want their computers to be capable of. Is it just a productivity device or something bigger than that? GM of Intel’s PC Client Group, Mooly Eden, is going to talk about it and reveal a few new impressive technologies alongside with a sneak peak of the up and running Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks and even a Haswell based system.

by Anna Filatova
09/14/2011 | 04:14 PM

Today’s morning keynote was hosted by Intel’s Vice President and General Manager of the PC Client Group Mooly Eden. He was going to touch upon the current state of the business, the needs and desires of the consumers, the transformations necessary to meet these needs and desires, and the new kid on the block – the Ultrabook. And of course, he promised us a nice little teaser surprise.


Mooly started by talking about the growth of the PC market:

As you can see, PC market is growing. There are more than 1.5 billion PCs out there today. It is true that in order to create this growth Intel had to initiate and feed the evolution in PC, which got the market where it is now. But where is the future growth going to come from?

As you can see from this slide, two out of the top three consumption countries are emerging markets. And if you ask whether the people in the emerging markets will be eager to buy PCs, the answer will be “yes”. Let me remind you that PC is the most adoptable device and it changed itself several times during the last decades. We have already gone through several milestone transformations in the past. Let’s quickly recap what they were.

In 1995 transition from enterprise to consumer segment took place. CDROM and MMX found their way into computers, but the reaction was a little restrained: why would we want to watch videos on a PC, if it is perceived primarily as a productivity device. Ten years later Intel introduced Centrino platform. This is when the transformation from desktop to notebook occurred. As a result of this transformation, consumers got desktop performance in a notebook form-factor. They acquired portability, extended battery life and wireless internet access. And now, 8 years later Intel customers still want them to excel in this field. That is why Ultrabook concept has been developed and it will be a great consumption device and great creation device at the same time. According to Mooly Eden, “people will not only work with a PC, but they will also love the PC”.

In order to make sure that this is indeed so, we need to understand clearly what people are doing today with PCs. How do they use their PCs? Today there exist several different usage models. But the perfect way to understand it is to map these usage models onto different components of the system: the CPU, the GPU, the media component.

And it is also very interesting that your experience is always defined by the potential of the worst component in your system, and not the best one. Therefore, the magic is to deliver a balanced system that will deliver optimal performance of all three in harmony. This is what Intel tried to do with Sandy Bridge, and judging by the number of units sold to this date (more than 75 million), it was a very successful attempt. But what can we expect moving forward?

This is where the new Intel processor generation called Ivy Bridge comes into the picture. Yesterday we posted an article uncovering some of the details about the new Ivy Bridge family, so please check it out.

Now let’s talk a little more about the user experience and where it is coming from. Intel designs microprocessors, software developers produce applications that use these microprocessors and together they generate user experience. But what do the users really want and expect from their experience with PCs? This is when all those specialists who normally do not work at companies like Intel come in, such as psychologists, for example.

Intel in collaboration with other researchers spent a lot of time talking to people and finding out on the functional as well as emotional side, what their needs and wants were. Here is what they have found:

The left side of the human brain is our practical side, and the right one – the emotional side. So, the next generation computing needs to satisfy both sides of the brain, to make the user absolutely happy. And this is how Intel proposes to do it:

That brings us over to the Ultrabook concept, which combines all these needs and wants in one:

which in their turn can be translated into the following features and aspects of the new revolutionary device:

Speaking about performance, we all know very well that you need a great engine to have a great driving experience. And in many cases, you don’t even know what is under the hood. But with a PC it is important to know what is there. Intel redesigned the CPUs for Ultrabooks in such a way that even in a small form-factor and with low-voltage the performance will still be better than that of a 2-3 year old system.

But there is more to performance than just pure speed. The system’s ability to respond quickly is also part of it. This where Intel decided to extend the potential of their Turbo technology and they came up with the following:

To improve the responsiveness Intel introduced several new technologies:

Intel Rapid Start technology allows to wake up the system from Hibernate state very quickly, while the Smart Connect technology keeps constantly updating your system and synchronizing data even when it is in sleep mode.

Security is one of the top consumer concerns these days. Twelve thousand mobile devices are left in airports each week. And each and every one of them contains personal information and other sensitive data that needs to be protected from unauthorized usage.

Intel works closely with McAfee to ensure that this concern is addressed properly. Therefore, device and data security are a big part of their strategy. They have already come up with an Anti-Theft project for the Ultrabook, which should give peace of mind to consumers, if the device is lost or stolen, as in this case the data is going to be permanently locked or wiped for good.

This solution from McAfee will start shipping in H1 of 2012, but it is already showcased at the IDF.

By the end of 2011 there will be a lot of Ultrabooks from partners already available.

Some of them, based on the new Ivy Bridge were already demonstrated at the keynote presentation:

Another important aspect that concerns everyone, is finding a way to get more battery life. One thing that consumes most power is the screen. Intel came up with a self refresh technology that allows saving power on the screen, which in the end results into additional 45-60 minutes of battery life.

This side by side demonstration showed that while the monitor on the left was constantly consuming power, the one on the right had self refresh technology kick in every time

the image went static and the CPU went to sleep mode. They even pulled out the power cable completely disconnecting the monitor from the power source, and the static image remained intact.

The presentation ended with a sneak preview of the upcoming Haswell processor, which should be ready by 2013 and should deliver more than 10 days of connected standby and more than 20x performance per watt improvement.