Intel helped kick off this year's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with a wide range of new processors aimed entirely at mobile. The spread covers smartphones, tablets and, unsurprisingly, its much-touted Ultrabooks. Beyond the hardware, Intel also spent time touting its software partnerships that are bearing fruit in new ways to interact with PCs.
Leading things off for Intel is a new generation of Atom processors. The processor family formerly known for powering netbooks has fully made the transition to mobile devices. An entirely new generation of Atom processors, called Lexington, are aimed at emerging markets and clock in at 1.2GHz. Importantly for the emerging market, the reference design adds support dual-SIM slots and an FM radio. Acer, Safaricom and Lava have all signed on to build using the new platform.
Clover Trail+ is the evolution of Intel's Medfield processor for high-end Android phones. Intel teased the processor, calling it the Z2460. The chip maker said that it would feature two cores and support hyperthreading. This will result in a doubling of processor power when it launches later this year.
Bay Trail is the next-generation Atom aimed squarely at tablets. Set to launch during the 2013 holiday season, the 22-nm, quad-core processors are targeting both Windows 8 and Android software platforms. Again, Intel is touting double the processor power while improving power efficiency and reducing prices.
Intel updated its third-generation Ivy Bridge processors with lower-power designs, which now operate using only 7 watts. These designs are already shipping and will slot into devices like Lenovo's new IdeaPad Yoga 11S.
Intel's line of Core processors received an expected update. The new name is Haswell, replacing the Ivy Bridge of yesteryear. The emphasis of the update is power efficiency. Haswell is Intel's first product line designed from the ground up for Ultrabooks. Ultrabook requirements will grow, ensuring that every fourth-generation, Haswell-equipped Ultrabook will have a touchscreen. Intel is claiming all-day battery life, saying "You won't have to bring your power brick, at all." They will launch sometime this year, but Intel was mum on specifics.
The reference design for Haswell, called North Cape, touts an impressive 1080p, 13.3-inch screen on a 11.6-sized frame. The convertible laptop claims 13-hour battery life when docked and 11 hours in tablet mode. Intel expects models based on it to launch at $799 and be available later this year.
Finishing off its hardware announcements, Intel said it is partnering with Comcast to build a premium TV pay service, in which Intel's Puma chip, a riff on the Atom, will be powering the device.
Next Page: Software For The SensesWorking to add more ways to interact with the traditional PC, Intel is building out voice assistant technology with the help of Nuance. Dell is already offering a beta version of the software for its Ultrabooks.
Beyond voice, Intel sees the potential to change PC security. Like many other companies, such as Google, Intel is launching a facial recognition technology for password. The system looks for muscular movement across seven points on the face to defeat photo- or video-based workarounds.
Gesture-based controls are on the way as well, according to the Santa Clara-based chipmaker. Intel partnered with Singapore-based Creative Technology, as part of a $50 million patent licensing deal made last November, to build out software that supports close-up, 10-finger differentiation in 3-D space, with gaming being the primary application here.
Intel also showed off its new eye-tracking technology it has in the works via its partnership with Tobii, a Swedish-based solution provider specializing in eye-tracking and gaze-interaction technology that received $21 million in funding from Intel Capital last March. The demo was a game of Where's Waldo, where in eye-tracking allowed the page of the book to be turned and, naturally, Waldo to be found. Though simple, the demo showed how impressive the eye-tracking was its accuracy and power.
PUBLISHED JAN. 7, 2013