IDF Fall 2005 Coverage. Day 1

IDF Fall 2005 started a few hours ago, and I already have something interesting for you to read. News from the dual-core front, amazing optimizations of the power consumption (and not only on the mobile segment), Merom, Conroe and Woodcrest and more!

by Anna Filatova
08/23/2005 | 02:45 PM

Time simply flies by. It seemed that we just got back from Computex not so long ago, and now it is already time for IDF Fall 2005 to kick off. I haven’t heard yet how many press people and overall attendees IDF has this time, but it looks like this number is going to be considerably higher. What makes me think so? Well, they have removed the round lunch tables from half of the press room and filled it all with rows of computer desks and terminals. Of course, I am not complaining, as it is actually good. Last IDF I remember searching for a free cable to hook up my laptop to the Internet for quite a while. This time I haven’t yet had any problem finding a spot in the working area :)

 

Anyway, let me start reporting the latest and greatest IDF news – hot from the scene.

This time they started the IDF opening keynote presentation in a very exciting way. If you have been following our news from the previous IDF shows, you should remember that a few times they showcased outstanding custom cars stuffed with computer and electronic technologies to the point of no return. This time, Intel is giving away a sparking new MINI Cooper (I hope it is a Supercharge one with a manual transmission), which rose from the clouds of fog and smoke before the startled audience this morning.

More surprised were coming. Looks like Intel moved away from their slogan about computers, communications and convergence. Today they started under a new banner of “Learn, collaborate and innovate”. Well, let’s see what we can learn from Intel this time :)

When it comes to the future there are three kinds of people: those who make it happen, those who want it to happen and those who wonder what has happened. This morning all these people were at the keynote speech presented by Intel President and CEO - Paul Otellini.

Growth Is Back

The biggest and the most important general announcement made this morning was that the growth in computer industry is back. According to Intel, the heart of computer industry is the PC, and the PC market continues to grow.

If you look at the chart above, you will see how greatly and rapidly the shipment volumes have grown since the very first days of the PC industry. It took 18 years to go from 0 to 100 million units a year. And to continue with this positive tendency Intel and partners need to keep investing and innovating, and this is what will make growth happen continuously.

Another remarkable threshold is that this year for the first time the industry crossed 200 million units. This growth is not an accident: it is happening because Intel and their partners continue to invest in products people want to buy. A great example of a product like that is Intel Centrino platform. This platform has proven so successful, that as a result, we see notebooks sales volumes cross over desktop shipment volumes in Japan at first and then in Europe. And now it looks like US retail channel is also showing the same tendency.

Why so? The driver was that Intel gave them what they wanted: battery life; small, thin and light form-factors, mobility and computing on the go, which became possible due to active implementation of Wi-Fi technologies. Intel has actually created a new industry together with its numerous partners - a so-called new normal, something that people expect to become common in their every day life.

Nowadays a fundamental shift in the way computers are designed and used has been made. In particular, now we live in the era of usage-oriented computing aimed at specific needs and tasks that people want done. In this respect Intel underwent the biggest strategy reorganization in company history: according to Paul Otellini, Intel reorganized themselves around platforms, taking platform concept as the basis for strategy formation. One thing remained common though: understanding what the users need.

As you can see from the presentation screenshot above, all these core groups are built around Intel architecture.

From Performance to Performance-Per-Watt

Intel architecture keeps evolving. Right now Intel is moving beyond GHz. They are trying to meet broader set of user needs. It is not just performance that matters most right now, but performance per watt. Since the whole industry is going more mobile (I have already mentioned that a few paragraphs ago), the performance per watt appears a more natural essential parameter for those things that you carry around with you. Of course, it is also essential for things that go beyond the notion of mobility.

Well, Intel began moving towards performance per watt concept and the first manifestation of it was in the notebook arena. Namely in Yonah. As you may see, Yonah has been significantly improved compared with Banias. And this year Intel will also ship a significantly improved Yonah that will offer twice as much performance per watt as Banias. How is this possible to achieve?

The trick here is very simple: Intel changed the focus from speed of a single-core processor to the performance of multi-core technology. Let’s get a little bit deeper into detail here.

So far Intel has been shipping two different micro-architectures. One is NetBurst micro-architecture, which delivers ultimate performance. Another is mobile micro-architecture, which is focused on the most optimal power characteristics. Today at IDF Fall 2005 Intel announced a combination of these two, a new generation architecture that will come out in 2006:

This new generation technology will find its implementation in all three major market segments: in the mobile, desktop and server. And this is where we will get new level of performance per watt.

In the mobile segment it will appear in the new solution aka Merom. During the keynote we could see a Merom based notebook running 64bit Windows XP Professional Edition operating system.

In the desktop segment we are talking about a new solution aka Conroe. The demo system on the stage was running Linux 64bit on Conroe platform.

In the server segment Intel will be introducing Woodcrest. And already today we could see a dual-processor server running on two dual-core Woodcrest processors (the total of 4 cores).

As for the new level of performance per watt we are talking about, Intel anticipates about 3x performance increase in the mobile segment with the arrival of Merom solution, about 5x increase with Conroe in the desktop segment and Woodcrest should bring about 3x increase (here we are talking about the TBS performance in relation to servers).

According to Intel’s roadmap, all these products will be shipping in H2’2006 and will be manufactured using 65nm production process (note that besides dual-core, Intel is also planning to roll out two new single-core products designed with 65nm technology at about the same time). By Q3 2006 the shipments of 65nm CPUs from Intel are expected to surpass those of 90nm CPUs. The same forecast has been made for dual-core processors versus single-core ones. Intel expects to ship 60 million of dual-core processors next year.

But this is not all. Beyond this Intel will also have quad-core. They are already working on over 10 quad-core projects, and I would say there are more to come.

Low Power Consumption is the Key

Power consumption of contemporary and upcoming platforms was one of the key topics in the today’s keynote. Taking into account the overall tendency towards miniaturization, mobility and portability of the computer devices, we all surely understand the importance of resolving the power consumption issues and thus extending the battery life of our mobile solutions. In 2006 we should see a new era of ULV (ultra low voltage) notebooks, that will eat up only 5W of power:

Besides that there will emerge a completely new category of devices – the so-called handtops. These solutions will offer functionality of a PC and mobility of a laptop. They will be equipped with a 5-inch screen, weigh about 1 pound, offer about a day (24 hours) of battery life, and will always stay WiMAX and Wi-Fi connected.

 

This small baby runs full-featured Longhorn operating system and consumes only 0.5W of power!

Intel’s partners are already working on their design solutions and products from them should become available in H1’2006.

All in all, new core technologies introduced and implemented by Intel will drive the performance up and power down not only in the mobile segment. This way, computer users can save over a billion dollars on electricity per year. Not too bad, eh? :)

Among these other market areas we should also mention the enterprise, of course. Here the most important things to take into account are security, manageability and virtualization. According to the latest studies, maintenance expenses in the enterprise segment eat up 89% of the funds allocated for business spendings. This is partially the result of growing security vulnerability.

This is when Intel comes with Embedded IT initiative. And today Intel is already ready to show some real products that have come out and that take advantage of the technologies we have been talking about for the past few IDFs.

What will help us lower the maintenance cost? A great example of innovation and low cost infrastructure has been brought by Lenovo Company. They introduced Intel Active Management technology that allows loading things, running diagnostic tools and recovering the system integrity in seconds. Another great example is the new Lenovo’s AntiDot delivery manager. They announced these products this morning, and the anti-virus technologies are expected to start shipping in approximately 6 months.

Emerging Markets – the Markets of Tomorrow

Within Intel there was formed a new department called Channel Products Group (CPG) that is responsible for defining the needs of customers in emerging markets in the rapidly developing countries, such as Latin America, India, etc. Intel sees these markets as the engine of the economies of tomorrow. And since they are perceived as the markets of tomorrow, they will hardly be satisfied with the today’s technologies. Therefore, to begin with they opened platform design centers in a few cities of the emerging markets in the countries mentioned above.

Bill Su, runs channel platform groups for Intel. During the keynote he introduced to us a concept of a community PC that would be adjusted and designed to stand hard working conditions.

Systems like that may be used in rural and other areas to access government info, business info, to assist during remote medical exam or just for communication purposes. Intel admits that there are some very unusual challenges here that get resolved in a pretty unusual way, too. For example, they use car battery to power the PC for hours in case of power outages. They equip it with removable dust filter that protects the inside of the system from dust and bugs that could get through the vent holes, especially in rural areas. And in case the system gets compromised, there is an easy one-button recovery process.

This was the computing side of the solution, but connectivity is also very important. WiMax is the technology here. Two thirds of planned carrier trials occur in the emerging markets.

All in all, it looks like once Intel equips all the far-away regions with their community PCs and other initiatives, we might be getting more readers joining us at X-bit labs. Well, welcome! :)