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Intel Shows Off Future Technology

At the Intel Developer Forum, CEO Paul Otellini demonstrates 32-nm Sandy Bridge microarchitecture running Microsoft Windows 7.

Demonstrating that it remains on schedule for developing smaller and faster chips, Intel on Tuesday showed off technology not due until 2011 and demonstrated a desktop chip due in about a year, that will run Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system.

During his opening keynote at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Paul Otellini, president and chief executive of Intel, held up a silicon wafer of SRAM chips, a type of semiconductor memory, built with Intel's not-yet available 22-nanometer technology.

With 2.9 billion transistors, the chips contain the "smallest SRAM cell ever invented," Otellini told attendees. Intel isn't scheduled to begin production of the 22-nm processors until the second half of 2011.

Closer to production, but still a year away, is Intel's 32-nm Sandy Bridge microarchitecture. In showing that Intel remains ahead of the curve, Otellini demonstrated a desktop running Windows 7 on a Sandy Bridge chip.

Along with Sandy Bridge, Otellini also showed off notebooks running Westmere, a 32-nm processor based on Intel's current Nehalem microarchitecture. The company plans to begin revenue production of Westmere in the fourth quarter.

While PC products continue to drive most of Intel's revenue, the company is clearly focused on moving beyond its traditional market to consumer electronics and handheld devices, such as smartphones. In those markets, Intel is focusing on its Atom processor, which currently dominates the netbook market, inexpensive mini-laptops that are the fastest growing segment of the PC market.

In discussing Atom, Otellini touched on upcoming technology codenamed Moorestown and Medfield. Moorestown, scheduled to ship in 2010, is a platform that consists of a system on a chip, code-named Lincroft, which integrates a 45-nm Atom processor, graphics, memory controller and video encode/decode onto a single chip.

The Medfield SoC, scheduled for release in 2011, will mark Atom's move to 32 nanometers and will be the first time the technology is ready for smartphones and other small handhelds. Moorestown and Medfield will each provide improvements in power consumption that is multiple times better than previous-generation technologies, according to Otellini.

To jump start development on Atom-based technology, Intel on Tuesday launched a developer program that offers a framework for creating and selling software for Atom-powered netbooks today and handeld devices and smartphones in the future.

Otellini announced that computer makers Asus, Acer, and Dell have joined Intel in the developer program, which will include software development kits for building applications on Atom. In addition, Intel is promoting Moblin, an Intel-developed Linux-based operating system for handheld devices.

Otellini also announced that car makers BMW and Daimler, which makes Mercedes-Benz, plan to offer in-vehicle entertainment systems based on Atom. By 2012, BMW is expected to have the systems available across its product line, while Daimler plans to introduce the systems in its C- and S-class series.


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