Intel Technologist Sketches Company's Long-Range Processor Vision

Speaking at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Justin Rattner, an Intel senior fellow and director of its corporate technology group, also described what he called a "Nobel-class breakthrough" in the creation of a silicon laser by Intel researchers.

Rattner made it clear that such technology is part of a long-range outlook, but he suggested that Intel is on the way toward "humanizing" computing during that time. "Instead of the clunky user interfaces we have today, we should be using voice and vision to establish those interfaces," he said. "As humans, we're fairly error-prone. We'd like the machine to forgive our errors once in a while."

Rattner and another Intel researcher demonstrated a handheld video and audio transmission device, which was the size of a TV remote control, that could connect to a dual-processor system wirelessly via an integrated access point. Intel's upcoming dual-core mobile processor is code-named Yonah.

"What we'd like to see in 2015 is seamless, realtime collaboration," Rattner said. "We may have the technology by then to do realtime language translation."

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Coinciding with Rattner's address, Intel released three white papers on what it called "Platform 2015." The studies discuss innovations in parallelism and related software development; a processing framework for handling the explosion of new data--Recognition, Mining and Synthesis (RMS)--designed to model future applications ranging from investment to gaming; and an overview of Intel's evolving processor architecture that allows for hundreds of cores on a chip.

In the second quarter, Intel plans to begin shipping the first of its dual-core processors, which will kick off the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company's multicore processing strategy for the next several years.

Since the chips are designed to hold hundreds of cores, "we fully expect these [core] arrays to be partitioned," Rattner said to reporters and analysts after his speech. Processors then could allocate scores of cores and threads for improved performance in specific applications, including graphics and media. A hundred cores "could be used over a range of applications," he said.

In his address, Rattner discussed other techniques that Intel could now use to boost Moore's Law, such as bonding wafers together or "stacking" dies on a processor to address memory bandwidth limitations. Still, it's too soon to determine which processes might work best in certain applications, he said.

Rattner was most animated when discussing a silicon laser discovery by Intel. The new technology could pave the way for higher-level use of optics in mainstream processors and add capabilities for data center fabrics, chip-to-chip interconnects, backplane display interconnects and medical lasers, among other uses, he said.

"We have vast new opportunities here with a breakthrough technology," Rattner said.