Five Takeaways From The Intel Developer Forum

Forum the immersive TV experience

Or perhaps it was something that was missing -- a keynote from recently departed Intel executive Pat Gelsinger, who left for EMC just before IDF 2009.

Your mileage may vary, but here's what came away from IDF thinking about:

1. Sometimes it's cool to be "boring."

That's the word Dadi Perlmutter used throughout his mobility keynote at IDF. Perlmutter, head of the Intel Architecture Group, was delivering the news about Intel's first Core i7 chips for notebooks and talking up Atom-based System-on-Chip (SoC) processors for smaller mobile devices. So what's boring about that? For starters, it's not all that exciting when you know something's going to happen. Few at IDF were shocked to see CEO Paul Otellini produce a wafer of working 22-nanometer SRAM, for example. But watching Intel achieve the milestones in its "tick-tock" product road map with relentless consistency year after year is the kind of boring that Intel investors, partners and customers can get behind.

Sponsored post

2. Intel is bullish on an economic recovery.

Otellini claimed way back in April that the PC market had "bottomed out." At IDF, the aggressively optimistic Intel boss was confident that we're well on our way back to pre-recession spending levels. "I think we will see PC unit shipments that are flat to slightly up over 2008. It shows that we have built something that is indispensable," Otellini said, adding that Intel believes that Gartner's recent upward revision of its 2009 PC shipment projections still falls short of what the chip giant is seeing in the market.

3. Atom is Intel's favorite new toy.

Intel's Atom processors were everywhere at IDF -- in netbooks and MIDs, naturally, but also in embedded systems, consumer electronics devices and even a server configuration by SuperMicro. Intel is serious about pushing its Atom-based SoC platforms into an increasing number of product categories, and Otellini even predicted "a future where Intel ships more SoC cores than standard PC cores."

Intel also used the IDF spotlight to deliver the clearest explanation of its Atom road map to date. Essentially, Atom and SoC platforms such as next year's Moorestown have their own road map cadence that runs parallel to but separately from the PC client and server products on Intel's famous "tick-tock" road map. The Atom/SoC line will trail the leading PC and server products by about a process generation, or "tick." Major microarchitecture upgrades -- or "tocks" -- also will be different from the PC client and server road map.

4. Larrabee needs work.

Let's put it this way -- Intel didn't exactly knock the socks off IDF attendees with a demo of Larrabee, the chip giant's forthcoming discrete graphics product. That's troubling, because Intel has been pretty boastful about the benefits of bringing the x86 architecture to graphics processors and wants to take on Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices with its own discrete products. Given the hype and Intel braggadocio surrounding Larrabee, we expected more by now. Intel says it will ship Larrabee products in 2010 -- based on the technology's showing at IDF, we're guessing that will be later in the year rather than sooner.

5. Where were all the board-makers?

Maybe we missed somebody, but it sure looked as if the only channel-focused motherboard and chassis vendor on hand at IDF was SuperMicro. The San Jose, Calif.-based company had a booth displaying its building blocks for server, storage and GPU computing systems. We also spotted some Asus products on the showroom floor, specifically single-socket motherboards for Intel's new Nehalem-based Xeon 3400 series processors. Curiously, though, Asus wasn't listed as an exhibitor on Intel's IDF 2009 Web site.