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Intel debuts concept PCs, flash memories for cell phones

Posted: 08 Mar 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:pc? broadband?

Banking on advances in broadband capabilities and applications, Intel Corp. on Wednesday (March 2) unwrapped a series of mobile "concept" PCs it believes will help drive its platforms and quench the market's thirst for on-the-go content.

At the same time, Intel rolled out a new line of flash devices, based on 90nm and 65nm process technologies.

In a speech at the Intel Developer Forum, Sean Maloney, vice president and general manager of the chip giant's Mobile Platforms Group, said the spike in handheld devices and cell phones since the 1990s has fueled the intersection of Moore's Law and Metcalfe's Law and created new opportunities.

"What's happening here is the mobility itself is driving the requirement for better performance, better experience and more integration," Maloney said. "Moore's Law has been called on more and more to address mobility rather than just requirements for performance."

Maloney took over Intel's Mobile Products Group in January, when the unit was formed in a top-to-bottom reorganization at the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company.

The concept PCs include an "on-the-go" entertainment PC that's about the size of a DVD drive and could fit in one hand. It also sports a touch screen and a flat-surface speaker and includes a wired or wireless keyboard, a detachable DVD player and a GPS navigation system. Maloney demonstrated one such PC that synced up digital video from a home PC into a Land Rover SUV.

He also showcased a thin-and-light digital office desktop, which is about an inch wide, as well as a digital office concept notebook that includes Intel Virtualization Technology with out-of-band manageability and more secure client, virtualized partitions.

Over the past few years, "anywhere, anytime" connectivity has been another focus of Intel executives, according to Maloney. "The first rule of mobility: Coverage is king," he said. "Wi-Fi is really cool, but the trouble is when you walk outside the hot-spot location and lose the connection, it's a disappointing experience. Signal range and reach are probably more important than the bandwidth of the connection."

Intel has been working with other technology providers in the development of WiMax Internet connectivity, the commercial rollout of which is expected later this year. Many engineers who worked on the design of 3G networks have "now shifted over to WiMax," Maloney said. Currently, there are 75 active trials of WiMax connectivity worldwide.

Other highlights of Maloney's keynote included the following:

*Maloney demonstrated Intel's upcoming dual-core mobile processor, code-named Yonah, which is expected by next year. The demo showed a Yonah-based system playing MP3 audio and rendering high-performance video without the performance degradation seen in the current Dothan mobile processor now on the market.

He provided a videotaped demo of an online videoconference conducted with another Intel employee who attached his notebook to a Wi-Fi hot spot aboard an in-flight Boeing passenger jet.

Maloney also unveiled new Intel technology, now in development, that enables a cell phone or handheld device to automatically find and sync with a user's notebook to upload new content or data. As needed, it also allows the notebook to sync with a cell phone to connect to the Internet when Wi-Fi or other connectivity is unavailable.

"Our strategy here is to expand this into a classic, top-to-bottom strategy--a range of processors in phones and cellular chipsets in phones," Maloney said. Intel is emphasizing software development as a major element of its mobile strategy, he added.

In addition, Maloney announced several new Intel flash-memory products and technologies, including the availability of "engineering samples" of 65nm flash memory and a flash file system for multimedia that's code-named Naubinway. "Flash is alive and well, and we see more and more computing power going into these devices," he said.

At IDF, Intel disclosed several flash-memory products. The first product disclosed for the cellular market segment is codenamed "Sibley," the first NOR multi-level cell (MLC) flash memory device, based on Intel's 90nm process.

The Sibley family will offer fast NOR read speeds to enable zero-wait code execution at up to 108MHz. In addition, Sibley write speeds of up to 500kbps will enable the rapid data storage of multimedia images required in today's wireless handsets, according to Intel. This product family will increase the NOR flash density reach with a monolithic 512Mb device.

Intel also revealed flash software for the cellular market segment codenamed "Naubinway," the next generation of Intel Flash Data Integrator (FDI) flash file system designed for multimedia phones.

It also rolled out "Sixmile," a new flash product family designed specifically for the embedded market segment. The product will be Intel's lowest cost-per-bit embedded flash solution.

All of the technology products disclosed today will launch in 2005 and be available to cellular and embedded customers this year.

- Edward F. Moltzen, CRN

Silicon Strategies

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