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Intel forum focuses on consumers

Intel will demonstrate a mobile version of the Pentium 4 and release a 2GHz desktop chip at its developer forum this month, as the high-tech industry moves into the living room.

Intel will demonstrate a mobile version of the Pentium 4, release a 2GHz desktop chip and outline a number of other initiatives at its developer forum later this month, as the high-tech industry moves into the living room.

Home and personal computing will loom large at the Intel Developer Forum, which runs from Aug. 27 through Aug. 30 in San Jose, Calif.

Last year, Intel, Microsoft and others in the PC industry launched a strategy to transform computers into the nerve center of home entertainment. With the upcoming release of Microsoft's Windows XP operating system this fall and cheaper Pentium 4 chips on the way, that strategy will begin to kick into high gear. PCs with enhanced video capabilities, for instance, will be nearly inescapable in stores come November.

Digital video is "going to take off," said Anand Chandrasekher, vice president of microprocessor marketing at Intel. "Expect to see a ton of 1394." FireWire, officially known as IEEE 1394, is a peripheral technology originally developed by Apple Computer for connecting digital cameras and other consumer-electronics devices to computers.

As part of the home invasion, Intel will release a 2GHz Pentium 4 for desktops Aug. 27, Chandrasekher said. A day earlier, Intel will announce massive cuts to prices on existing chips, several sources have said.

The Serial ATA Working Group also plans to release the final version of its ATA specification. The spec, when embodied in hardware, will allow for faster data transfers between drives--such as CD-rewritable or hard drives--and processors. Not only will this improve performance, but the elimination of connection ribbon wire will let PC makers build smaller, colder-running machines.

On the laptop front, Intel will demonstrate a mobile Pentium 4 for the first time, Chandrasekher said. The chip will officially come out in the first half of 2002.

In addition, Intel will provide details on "Banias," the first Intel processor specifically designed for notebooks. Banias, code-named after an archaeological site in Israel, will run the same software as standard Pentium chips but consume less power and feature other notebook-friendly features, according to Frank Spindler, general manager of Intel's mobile product unit. It is set to come out in 2003.

Intel's efforts to get deeper into the cell phone and handheld market will also be fleshed out at the forum. Last year, the company launched the Personal Internet Client Architecture, a blueprint for building wireless portables around Intel silicon. So far, Palm, British Telecom and a number of contract manufacturers have endorsed the architecture.

A number of new endorsements from telecommunications carriers, hardware manufacturers and others will be revealed Aug. 29.

"We're getting a lot of companies endorsing it," Chandrasekher said. "You need the content providers as well."

News on a new XScale--formerly StrongARM--chip for handhelds is also expected, sources said. Current XScale chips for handhelds top out at 200MHz. Hewlett-Packard and Compaq Computer use XScale chips in their handhelds, and Palm has said it will work with Intel, Texas Instruments and Motorola to develop ARM-style chips--the basis for XScale--for Palm handhelds by April 2002.

The twice-yearly developer forum serves as a showcase for Intel and its strategic partners to promote standards or upcoming technologies. In the past, Intel used the forum to encourage more stylish designs for PCs, boost peer-to-peer computing, and declare war on Sun Microsystems.

Paul Otellini, general manager of the Intel Architecture Group, and Jim Allchin, a Microsoft vice president, will deliver the first keynote speeches at the convention Aug. 28. Other speakers will include Ron Smith, general manger of Intel's Wireless Communications and Computing Group, and Sean Maloney, general manager of the company's communications products group.

Two executives who won't speak are CEO Craig Barrett and Chairman Andy Grove. Barrett will be fly-fishing in Mongolia, according to sources, while Grove will be occupied with another matter.