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Intel forming home networking industry group

Posted: 29 Aug 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:intel? home networking? wireline network? wireless? interoperability?

Intel Corp. will announce the details of a cross-industry working group on home networking at the Intel Developer Forum next month. The Digital Home Working Group is expected to promote the interoperability of various home networks utilizing Microsoft Corp.'s Universal Plug and Play technology and 802.11 wireless technology, or a wireline network, presumably 1394.

Intel would not release details on the effort, including what PC and consumer OEMs are taking part. "This is a cross-industry group focused on interoperability," said Frank Spindler, vice president of Intel's corporate technology group. The Fall Intel Developer Forum will be held Sept. 9-12 at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California.

To date PC makers have coalesced around 802.11b as a preferred home networking technology due to its rapidly falling prices, reasonable 1Mbps to 2Mbps bandwidth and relative ease of installation. Consumer companies, however, have generally favored wired 1394 links, which provide the hundreds of Mbps needed for streaming media and have content protection schemes in place. The gulf between the two camps present "issues we will clearly address," said Anthony Ambrose, a director in Intel's communications group.

The new work group comes at a time when consumer-focused companies including Philips Semiconductors and Pioneer Corp. have recently expressed eagerness to leverage the falling prices of 802.11b for home networking.

"We have been pretty public about the need to accelerate broadband network adoption and accelerating the growth of the digital home [as one way to do that]," said Ambrose. At the Spring Intel Developer Forum, Louis Burns, GM of Intel's desktop platforms group, said the company would spearhead work toward interoperable home networks.

The initiative is perhaps the broadest of several news announcements in the pipeline for next month's IDF conference whereby Intel will address the expanding industry areas where it exerts influence.

For example, at IDF Intel will detail new efforts in networked storage, rolling out a variety of new products for network-attached-storage and storage-area-networks, including silicon that supports the emerging iSCSI standard with TCP offload features. Separately, Intel will disclose modifications to its Xscale processor that enhance its wireless networking capabilities.

Interconnect backers

The company will also reveal new backers for its emerging PCI Express interconnect scheme, presumably major communications OEMs supporting the Advanced Switching variant of the interconnect under development for use in routers and switches. Other presentations will detail the QoS and multimedia underpinnings of Express and give an update on progress defining so-called revolutionary form factors for Express devices. Express is a gigabit-class serial technology meant to succeed PCI.

"Our sessions on PCI Express have been some of the best attended sessions at IDF," said Spindler.

Intel is expected to provide some spot news on a number of its processors, including projections for its first 3GHz Pentium 4 chip, new details about Banias - its first processor designed specifically for notebook computers - and Madison, the mid-2003 follow-on to its current 64-bit Itanium 2 CPU for servers and workstations.

On IDF's final day, the company will reprise its focus on R&D efforts, a popular track started at last spring's IDF. Intel will discuss its plans for 90nm process technology slated for introduction in 2003, and will provide a progress report on its lab work in extreme ultraviolet lithography, nanotechnology, silicon photonics and networks of sensors.

At the conference, Intel will also unveil a draft specification for Serial ATA II, a new variant of the hard-disk drive interface. It will also release version 3.0 of the Accelerated Graphics Processor interconnect for implementing AGP 8x links to graphics chips and cards. It is expected to be the last iteration of AGP before a transition to PCI Express.

Fall IDF will devote an entire track to Infiniband, an interconnect line which has been under recent assault after Intel canceled its Infiniband product plans, and startup Banderacom Inc. announced significant layoffs. "Infiniband is clearly something that is important for us in the data center to cluster servers," said Ambrose.

International venues

Intel is trying out new international venues for IDF, and plans to hold its first conferences in Moscow and Mumbai, India this fall. Intel held IDF conferences in six locations last spring, gathering a total of more than 10,000 developers. About a third of IDF attendees come from the communications industry, concluded Spindler.

- Rick Merritt

EE Times

Junko Yoshida contributed to this report

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