Intel aims to eliminate all PC cables in 2016

Goodbye rat's nest! Intel says wireless power, docking and connectivity will form the basis of its post-Broadwell "Skylake" reference designs.

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Intel demonstrates a table with a magnetic resonance charging system attached under its surface. Seamus Byrne/CNET

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Intel's post-Broadwell next-generation platform -- codenamed Skylake -- will lead to Intel reference designs that eliminate all cables from the PC, the chipmaker announced Wednesday.

On stage at the Computex show here, Intel's Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group, demonstrated wireless display, docking and charging features that will close the loop on the final few mandatory cables in the typical PC environment.

The high-speed WiGig standard will be used as the short range "docking" technology, instantly creating a connection to a screen and peripherals when a device is moved within range and then swapping back out to standalone usage by just picking up and walking away. WiGig delivers speeds of up to 7Gbps.

A truly wireless -- and potentially tangle-free -- PC has long been coveted, but the idea has been hampered by the practical need for connections with peripherals and the need for power. More recently, advances in areas such as wireless charging have made this more of a reality.

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A clock radio also on display at Intel's event, charging a phone. Seamus Byrne/CNET

For power, Skaugen demonstrated Rezence, the magnetic resonance charging technology, promoted by the Alliance 4 Wireless Power (A4WP), that Intel is aligned with. The system can be installed under a table surface, with magnetic resonance capable of charging through 2 inches of wood. It can also charge any number of devices at the same time, unlike inductive charging technologies.

Skaugen demonstrated a table that charged a laptop, phone, headset and tablet all at once. He also named other new members of the A4WP group, including Dell, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Logitech and Panasonic. Other partners include Asus, Logitech, and Toshiba, as well as initiatives to build the technology into swappable phone covers, clock radios and car consoles.

There are competing wireless charging technologies, and the rivalry has been fierce at times. But with a recent agreement between A4WP and the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) to ensure cross-compatibility we're getting closer to a comfort zone for widespread adoption of a stable standard.

With Skylake expected second half of 2015 it's likely devices based on Intel's reference designs would start to hit the market in 2016.

 

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