Connectivity & the future of Mobile Computing

April 19, 2007 | 03:49

Tags: #2007 #2008 #45nm #65nm #computing #connectivity #idf #internet #menlow #platform #silverthorne #spring #umpc

Companies: #htc #intel #ultra #via

It's Day two of IDF and this morning we sat through a rather interesting mobile Keynote from The Senior VP of the Mobile Computing Group, Dadi Perlmutter, which discussed how Intel is moving heavily into the mobile computing arena and promoting the use of on-the-go internet.

WiMAX and connectivity in the future.

We previously touched on Intel’s commitment to WiMAX technology with the configurable antenna’s on Day Zero of IDF. This morning more information about how WiMAX fits in with the predicted future Intel sees with regards to the Internet and impending connectivity revolution.

The company (yet again) informed us that the mobile arena is growing consistently massively, so its investment into it is a secure future as far as it is concerned.

Intel is providing a complete range of products (CPUs, chipsets, WiFi) from the MID (Mobile Internet Device) and UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) to small and light laptops, all the way up to DTR notebooks.

There is a spiral of data change in the Internet from text to pictures to video to user generated content. This is driving the capabilities of systems and how the Internet is used. By making people capable of roaming anywhere with the Internet, by 2010 Intel estimates WiMAX will cover 1.3 billion people with 20 carriers. Comparatively, WiMAX also provides a far greater bandwidth than most other current roaming connections available.

This could result in yet another revolution as it allows an always on connection to the Internet over and above that what even the Blackberry currently provides. Through a video (which was more arty than informative) that was played to the audience, Intel predicts a future of ultimate connectivity with science fiction movie-esq voice activation, and an always online, always connected culture.

While this offers a whole world of extra interaction and new opportunities, whether this actually a good thing considering the potential addiction of such devices leading to new social problems in the future, has yet to be seen.

Finally, Dadi highlighted that the post-Santa Rosa notebook platform, Montevina, will offer native support and acceleration for HD DVD and Blu-Ray playback, as well as an estimated use of 40% smaller components with additional power savings again. Also included is a WiFi/WiMAX combo PCI-Express card for notebooks that will interlink with the new configurable antenna technology.

UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC)

The next speaker was the Senior VP and General Manager of the Ultra Mobility Group, Anand Chandrasekher.

There has been a large UMPC power reduction, thermal output and package size in just a single year for the next generation of the ultra mobile platform. Intel claims the average package size has dropped by two thirds, power usage has dropped by a half but the thermal envelope has remained the same. By 2008 this will drop massively to a tenth the thermal output, a quarter of the package size and between a fourth and a fifth of the power consumption compared to 2006 models.

Currently, Intel based UMPCs run from a specialised Intel A100 and A110 x86 based processor with a 400MHz FSB link to the 945GU Northbridge which connects to DDR2-400 memory and the ICH7U I/O Hub.

Silverthorne & Menlow

Silverthorne is the completely new UMPC processor. It is a custom made x86 CPU that is less than the same size as a Chinese penny (think, 10p/25c). It is Intel's 6th processor on 65nm but will move to 45nm next year. While it wasn't explicitly said, it takes aim at the VIA Eden-N CPU that is of a similar size and possible use but is doesn't offer the additional platform features of UMPC Intel is providing.

The advantage Intel has is, a respectively massive R&D budget as well as its own fabs. While VIA was by far the first to market, getting it into the channel in quantity has always tricky for it, especially with the patent problems and bus licensing issues it’s having with Intel.

Menlow will be the next generation UMPC platform in 2008 that has a 10x power reduction over what was available in 2006. It was designed from the ground up to be an UM platform rather than being an extension of components already found in bigger mobile devices. The Silverthorne CPU will work together with the Poulsbo I/O chip.

Anand then showed off a working Silverthorne platform running Ubuntu that was about the size of a Sony PSP. It was able to load a browser and play YouTube video streaming straight over WiFi.

Intel is partnering with HTC, a sister company to VIA. HTC originally invented the Smartphone and is still the largest producer of Smartphone worldwide. HTC, President, Peter Chou got up on stage with Intel to announce their new product: Shift. It offers simultaneous integrated wireless technologies but is essentially yet another UMPC running a full version of Vista, and will be available in Q3 this year.

Do you want an UMPC and think they are the next big thing? Or think they are too small and not functional enough? I mean, if Apple hasn't done one, it can't be cool, right? Let us know in the forums.
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