Intel's Road Map To The Future

During the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, execs discussed technology for developing desktop PCs, notebooks, and handheld devices that provide mobile access to data.
Chipmaker Intel gave a peek Wednesday at its product road map for the wireless market, which the company believes is the future of computing for the home and business. During the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, executives discussed technology for developing desktop PCs, notebooks, and handheld devices that could one day provide access to and share data from anywhere in the world.

In the second half of next year, Intel plans to ship its next-generation Pentium 4 processor, code-named Prescott, which will include the company's NetBurst microarchitecture and will support Hyper-Threading, which lets an operating system view a single processor as if it were two. In addition, the new chip will support 3GIO, an Intel-led specification for gigabit-speed serial interfaces aimed at linking chips or boards within a system chassis.

Louis Burns, VP of the Intel desktop platforms group, says the company also will launch products supporting its Lecta Concept Platform for PCs in the second half of next year. Lecta is Pentium 4-based and showcases Intel desktop boards, chipsets, and processors for a MicroATX chassis. For wireless connectivity, Lecta will support the 802.11 b/a specification for home networks. Intel sees the PC evolving into the "service provider" for the home, distributing all forms of data to a variety of devices, such as video to the TV and music to handheld devices.

Later this year, Intel will ship a notebook version of the Pentium 4, with a clock speed of 1.5 GHz, support for the 845 chipset, and support for AGP 4X. AGP, or accelerated graphics port, is a high-speed port designed for the display adapter (video card) only. Intel also plans to ship chips that can help make notebooks thinner and lighter without sacrificing battery life or performance. In addition, Intel believes wireless capabilities are a "very compelling, value proposition for notebook computing" that can drive sales, said Anand Chandrasekher, VP of Intel's mobile platforms group.

In the first half of next year, Intel will introduce a family of processors, code-named Banias, designed for the mobile market. "This is a family of products to usher in this new generation of mobile computing," Chandrasekher says. The processors, which will eventually replace the Pentium 4 for mobile devices, will make notebooks lighter, enhance graphics and video performance, extend battery life, and improve wireless support. To help in the development of standards and technology needed to build wireless devices on the Intel platform, the company unveiled its Mobility Enabling Program for partners and developers.

For PDAs, Ron Smith, senior VP of wireless communications, reviewed the company's rollout last week of the first chips based on its Xscale architecture--the PXA250 and PXA210, which run at 400 MHz and 200 MHz, respectively. The Xscale architecture would eventually supplant Intel's StrongARM microprocessors.

In addition, Intel will integrate communications functions into chips supporting Global System For Mobile Communication/General Packet Radio Service and later Wideband-CDMA. Later this year, Intel will introduce communications processors supporting GSM/GPRS 2.5-generation wireless technology, Smith said. For developers, Intel disclosed the availability of the PCA Developer Kit for building cell phones, PDAs, and other mobile Internet devices on the Intel platform. The kit includes tools for building software for the IBM WebSphere mobile platform and Microsoft's WindowsCE.Net.

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