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Intel talks up telecom, TV

The chipmaker's chief technology officer outlines plans in home entertainment and telecommunications and says the tech industry is finally seeing sustainable growth.

BARCELONA, Spain--Intel's chief technology officer kicked off a company-sponsored conference here on Monday, outlining the chipmaker's ambitions in the markets for telecommunications and home entertainment.

In a reprise of his recent speech at the Intel Developer Forum in the United States in February, CTO Pat Gelsinger told attendees at the IDF Solutions Conference that the technology industry is finally seeing sustainable growth in the long aftermath that followed the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000.

The relatively slow uptake of Itanium 2, Intel's 64-bit, next-generation architecture, has led the company to produce a version of its Xeon processor with 64-bit addressing extensions. This allows the 32-bit processor to handle greater amounts of memory without needing to recompile existing applications. Microsoft is working on a version of Windows that uses these extended processors.

Intel is keen to tap into the telecommunications sector of the market and sees wireless and optical technologies as the key. Gelsinger pointed out the rapid growth of Wi-Fi and stressed that WiMax wireless broadband will simplify building out network infrastructure.


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Optical communications is also an area for innovation. The company has recently created a silicon optical modulator chip that works at up to 1 gigabit per second, 50 times faster than previously achieved. Using silicon for the modulator makes fabrication cheaper. Gelsinger presented the prototype at IDF in the United States earlier in the year.

Intel also sees a lot of growth in consumer technology, particularly in digital home entertainment; the new breed of entertainment PCs are generally based on Intel's desktop processors. Gelsinger said the Digital Home Working Group is creating a set of standards that allow interoperability between PCs, digital video recorders and other consumer products.

Technologies such as ultrawideband wireless and liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) are real opportunities for growth in the home, according to Intel. Ultrawideband allows high-speed communication over short ranges, making video over wireless a possibility, while LCOS brings the benefits of silicon-based fabrication to displays, the aim being to bring down the cost of large LCDs (liquid crystal displays).

"We want to bring Moore's Law to TVs," Gelsinger said.

There was a 15-minute delay to allow delegates to pass through the tightened security at the conference center. Gelsinger was accompanied onstage by video clips of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and of scientist Stephen Hawking, who revealed that his wheelchair computer is Intel-powered.

Jonathan Bennett reports for ZDNet UK.