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IDF Fall 2007, part 1-- Opening keynote

Live updates from the Intel Developer Forum's opening keynote presentations in San Francisco.

10:03 AM: That's it for the morning keynote. I'll be back later during the day with additional posts from other IDF sessions. (This post was delayed-- the WiFi did go away after all, just as the keynote was ending.)

10:01 AM: Otellini's last topic is "extreme inclusion." Now that there are a billion Internet-connected PCs, Intel is looking at how to support the next billion, and then the billion after that. He highlights Intel's efforts with the Classmate PC, which is its alternative to the One Laptop per Child-- although he shows the OLPC notebook on a slide as well. He also points out that the rest of the industry is working in this area.

09:57 AM: Otellini brings up Andrew Fanara, a manager of the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star team, to discuss the recent Energy Star 4.0 standard and the Climate Savers initiative, which involves many technology companies, the EPA, and the World Wildlife Fund. There's a demo of a big server rack that saves 18% of the power from a standard rack by using more efficient power distribution and other techniques.

09:47 AM: On to consumer electronics. To support this market, Intel is bringing out system-on-chip devices with a processor core, graphics, memory control, etc. There will be more details of these products at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. And now it's time for another video. This one's about Intel's involvement as a sponsor and technology provider for the BMW Sauber Formula One racing team, an HDTV documentary about sailboat racing, and Boeing's development of the 787 Dreamliner.

09:42 AM: Next, Otellini brings up Jeff Yates, VP of product management for Havok, the gaming technology developer Intel purchased this week. Naturally there's a demo. The first demo machine crashed, alas, but they had a second one ready to go. As usual, it's pretty much impossible to tell from images on a big projection screen whether the demo is really showing anything new in terms of graphics performance or quality.

09:38 AM: Now, Otellini is talking about the company's integrated graphics products, which have always been pretty much inadequate for leading-edge 3D games. Next year, Intel will offer a 65nm chipset with twice the graphics performance of today; in 2009, expect a 45nm chipset, and in 2010, Intel plans to offer a 32nm integrated-graphics chipset at the same time it offers a 32nm CPU. This 32nm graphics core will be ten times faster than current Intel graphics cores-- but really, this is just Intel promising to continue to fall further behind the discrete graphics chips from AMD and NVIDIA. Those chips double in performance twice a year or so. Otellini says Intel is also working on a chip design called Larrabee that will combine CPU and graphics.

09:33 AM: And now for "extreme entertainment." Gaming, for example. Otellin brings out Charles Wirth of XtremeSystems.org to describe some frequency and performance records he's set with a supercooled overclocked system running a Yorkfield processor at "well over 5 GHz".

09:26 AM: More about Montevina. There's a demo Montevina system on the stage, but in a desktop-size test board. Now he's moving on to handheld devices; the slide shows handheld GPS devices, the Nokia N770, etc. In 1H08, Intel will ship the Menlow platform. There's a live satellite hookup to a fellow in Zion National Park in Utah who's about to jump off a cliff while carrying a Menlow system, apparently from Compal. Another person there has a similar Benq handheld. The jumper is wearing a USB webcam on his helmet, and he'll record a video on his way down. Well, he wasn't really going to jump; the whole thing was fake, but funny.

09:19 AM: Otellini says that Intel is on track to deliver the 10X increase in performance he promised in 2005 to deliver in 2010, and that the company is two years ahead of that schedule for a 10X reduction in power, now planning to deliver a processor consuming 0.5W next year. Don't expect this to provide the kind of performance you're expecting for a PC, but it will probably be useful for handheld devices.

09:16 AM: Back to the "Extreme to Mainstream" theme, where Otellini wants to talk about "The Next Mainstream." Intel, he says, is pursuing "extreme mobility." He credits Centrino as triggering the rapid growth in the notebook business. Well, I think that's overblown. The technology was coming anyway; Intel was riding the wave, not making it. He says that the world needs new ultramobile PC devices with WiMAX networking, giving him a good segue into Intel's work with WiMAX. Intel has been making a big deal about WiMAX for years, and the big deal continues here. Next year, Intel will ship an integrated WiFi/WiMAX adapter next year called Echo Peak, part of the Montevina mobile platform.

09:08 AM: Back to system platform stuff, talking about vPro and Centrino Pro, brands that are not exactly taking over the world right now. Otellini says that since 3Q06, Intel has sold only 5 million of these systems, but he seems proud of that. Hmm. He also describes how Intel intends to extend its product lines down into lower-power systems such as UMPCs and handheld PCs. I doubt Intel is very enthusiastic about this business, since processors in this segment generate lower gross margins than Intel is used to. Intel's 45nm fabs include Fab D1D in Oregon, Fab 32 in Arizona, Fab 28 in Israel (coming up 1H08) and Fab 11X in New Mexico (coming up 2H08).

09:03 AM: Glenn Hinton, chief architect of Nehalem and an Intel Fellow, comes up to talk a little more about this new chip. He talks about the benefits of more cores, as well as higher performance and power efficiency from each individual core. Nehalem will have an integrated DRAM controller called "QuickPath," thus finally matching the superior system architecture of AMD's parts for the last several years. There's also a new front-side bus called the QuickPath Interconnect, which presumably functions somewhat like AMD's HyperTransport. There was a cheesy demonstration of a system running on a Nehalem processor, allegedly saying hello to Otellini via some kind of voice synthesis, but frankly it sounded more like a guy on a microphone with a speech processor.

08:59 AM: What's next? Nehalem, the Intel processor to follow Penryn, due out next year. "Nehalem is a very dynamic design from a number of perspectives." Intel can change the configuration of the cores, I/O, etc. to meet the needs of multiple market segments. There will be an 8-core processor in 2008, each core running 2 threads at a time-- thus restoring a feature Intel lost when it killed the Pentium 4 line. Otellini shows a wafer of Nehalem processors, each with 731 million transistors.

08:57 AM: Otellini touts Intel's advantages in platform technology, and certainly Intel has the greatest breadth and strength in this technology for the PC market. Otellini begins talking about the 45nm Penryn microprocessor, which is now in production; he promises the Penryn launch for November 12.

08:55 AM: Otellini describes "the magic of 45nm" (process technology), although there's no magic here, just more transistors. Otellini affirms that Intel is still on track for the 32nm process generation, and shows a wafer of SRAMs from the 32nm process. Each SRAM has 291 megabits of storage; the chip contains 1.9 million transistors.

08:49 AM: Otellini shows a timeline of innovation in the semiconductor industry, including some other people's innovations, but he admits that; he says he's showing the past to show the kind of work Intel is doing for the future. Okay, that seems reasonable. He talks about Intel's capabilities-- process technology, platform technology, and its ability to create new markets. Well, to date at least, Intel generally serves markets that other people created. Intel is reasonably innovative, but visionaries in the software industry have been more effective than those in the semiconductor industry at seeing new market opportunities.

08:41 AM: And now it's Paul Otellini's turn... no, there's another video, this one about how "extreme" Intel is. BASE jumping with the Intel logo on the parachute? Now that's extreme! Otellini comes on and says that the video reflects the theme of his talk: "Extreme to Mainstream."

08:38 AM: Speaking first this morning is Pat Gelsinger, SVP and GM of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group. Pat will be speaking later, but right now he's just giving us a preview of the next three days here at IDF.

08:30 AM: We open with a video about the development of the transistor and the history of Intel and IDF. There are clips from previous keynotes by Gordon Moore, Andy Grove, Pat Gelsinger, Craig Barrett, John Miner, Paul Otellini, and others.

08:13 AM: I'm at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. 2007 is the tenth anniversary of IDF, and as far as I can recall I haven't missed any of the US shows. IDF has moved around a lot, from San Francisco and San Jose down to Palm Springs, but the show is large enough now to occupy the whole of Moscone Center West here.

I'll be providing live updates during the keynote, assuming our Internet access doesn't go away. Stay tuned!