Page 2 of 2
Gelsinger also predicted further consolidation in the semiconductor industry as the expensive conversion of fabrication plants from the current generation of 300mm silicon wafers to 450mm forces out smaller fab owners, whom he declined to name outright despite prodding by reporters.
"With each new generation in silicon technology, we see fewer and fewer companies that run their own fabs," he said, adding that Intel, Samsung and the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) -- the three biggest purchasers of semiconductor equipment in the world -- have agreed to the 450mm transition "post-2010, pre-2015."
"We used to have hundreds of companies that built fabs, now we have tens of companies that build fabs. We'll see single numbers by the time we move to 450mm," Gelsinger said, predicting that "any company below $1 billion is not big enough to do this next big transition, and they are falling off the pace of Moore's Law."
Gelsinger's remaining predictions were more abstract in nature. He said that better parallel programming for current multi-core processors and future ones would lead to "terascale computing at the level of everyone's personal computer." Intel's and others' work in simplifying tool kits for software developers to take advantage of multi-threading on multi-core processors would pay off for certain classes of workloads such as visual computing, he said.
One payoff end-users should expect fairly soon is "a dramatic restructuring of the user interface" that is immersive, intuitive and interactive. Asked whether he expected Microsoft, Apple or somebody like to Nintendo to drive that evolution of the interface, Gelsinger again demurred, saying, "In Intel's history, we've never been good at picking the next user interface or killer app."
Gelsinger wrapped up with a statement about what he called "the continued scaling of compatibility" -- basically the idea that Intel wants to get x86 chips into everything from consumer electronics devices to embedded systems -- and his own vision of a world where everyone on the planet is connected to a computer and the Internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week.