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Intel's Otellini: Digital Convergence, Wireless Will Help Buoy Industry

Intel is bracing for a multifaceted explosion of both wireless connectivity and enhanced digital convergence, and will focus much of its efforts going forward on those two areas, Intel President Paul Otellini told attendees in a speech at the chip maker's Intel Developer Forum.

"In so many ways, you can't fight Moore's Law," Otellini said. "That fundamental building block of technology allows us to innovate, brings convergence of communications and computing together increasingly on ... pieces of silicon."

Otellini's keynote formally opened the twice-yearly IDF conference in San Jose, Calif. His speech comes as Intel reports that it is seeing higher-than-usual seasonal sales of its processors but has yet to call an IT sector rebound.

In his keynote, though, Otellini was nothing short of bullish about the role of convergence and wireless connectivity in buoying the industry over the long term.

He pointed to projected growth of public hot spots to 80,000 by next year from 50,000 now, as well as 10 million to 20 million wireless access points with a current installed based of 43 million wireless network-interface cards as undeniable evidence of opportunity.

"This is nothing short of viral," he said.

On the digital convergence front, Otellini said the Digital Home Working Group, established earlier this year, has gained ground in attempts to develop standards and products to accentuate digital technology in the home.

"The aim of this group is to have all of these companies agree to interoperability standards on a variety of devices in an open fashion," Otellini said, adding that he expects products based on those standards to ship to market in the second half of next year.

Intel executives are expected to discuss digital convergence and mobility--also key themes of the conference--in more detail this week. With a marketing push since the launch of its Centrino mobile platform earlier this year, Intel has made no bones of the fact it is banking its future largely on wireless network connectivity.

In addition, enhancements in its Hyper-Threading technology, as well as other industry trends including skyrocketing sales of LCD displays and higher-performing PC graphics, as well as Microsoft's forthcoming multimedia-focused Longhorn version of Windows, have led to additional focus on digital convergence.

Pitching his speech as one that would focus on the emerging "connect anytime/anywhere" computing paradigm, Otellini talked about the convergence of network connectivity between home, office and wireless devices in a constant, seamless way.

During his keynote, Otellini and others at Intel demonstrated a prototype "Universal Communicator"--a combination cell phone, PC and video device that could transfer realtime video, voice and data wirelessly from a handset to a PC or large-screen display using much of Intel's integrated silicon technology.

In other areas:

Otellini said Intel's Hyper-Threading technology would be driven down from servers and workstations "to PCs--both notebooks and desktops--over time. You need to assume that threading is pervasive. Over 90 percent of applications would have medium-to-high benefit to being threaded on the client. As we deploy our products, this becomes a very significant opportunity for those of you doing software development."

In regard to the LaGrande security technology, Otellini said "it is focused on bringing enhanced security to the platform--hardware-level security, a series of hardware enhancements in processors, chipsets and platforms that will work with software to work against software-based attacks. ... It will enhance existing security measures while enabling a number of new protections."

On Vanderpool Technology, he said the technology would more easily enable digital and wireless convergence on computing platforms in a robust manner. "It's focused on enhancing the end-user experience by partitioning inside the computer inside the given chip," Otellini said. "It would enable simultaneous use of a CPU for video playback and gaming, for example, and provide a more robust experience for each. He said it would be pushed into PC platforms within five years."

On Intel's silicon process technology, Otellini said the chip maker is producing processors based on a 90-nm process technology and will go into production on processors based on a 65-nm process technology by 2005.

And regarding Itanium 2, Intel's 64-bit processing platform, he said adoption was growing briskly by technology leaders and, with Itanium 2 product manager Mike Graf, demonstrated an SGI Altix 3000 running a Linux operating system scaled over 128 CPUs.

Other vendors are using the IDF conference to introduce and roll out products and technologies including Silicon Image and Maxtor, which are demonstrating the new Serial ATA Port Multiplier technology. The companies, in a statement, said they are demonstrating the technology as an "enhancement to the Serial ATA II specification that allows the connection of multiple SATA drives to a single SATA port" for both network storage and the desktop. The companies say the new technology provides for more connectivity to a greater number of devices.

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