Intel looks to excite tech consumers

Consumers can expect many cool new technologies to emerge in the coming year as Intel and other industry leaders look to innovate their way out of the current PC slump, according to the company's lead executive.

"The only way to get out of the red zone is new products and new technologies," said Craig Barrett, Intel's chief executive officer, while addressing attendees at the Intel Developer Forum here Monday.

Barrett didn't offer any specifics, instead challenging his audience to come up with the goods.

"We need real technology that does real things for real people," Barrett said, noting that the best way to improve the industry's prospects is to get buyers excited about technology again.

"We must move faster down the technology curve to get people interested," he said.

Faster, better, cooler

For its part, Intel plans to continue investing in research and development, as well as capital spending, to make sure its processors will have the performance to power tomorrow's technology, Barrett said.

Intel plans to remain ahead of Moore's Law for at least the next 15 years, Barrett said. Put forth by Intel cofounder Gordon Moore, the law states that the number of transistors that can be placed on a sliver of silicon will double every two years. Moore issued the statement in 1965, and Intel executives say it has remained true since the release of its 4004 processor in 1971. That chip's transistor count: 2300.

To keep pace, Intel will outfit future chips with upwards of 2 billion transistors that will run at up to 30 GHz, Barrett said. The transistors on those chips will measure just 10 nanometers, and other parts of the chip will be measured in terms of atom widths, he said.

To illustrate the power of its upcoming chips, Intel demonstrated a prototype air-cooled 3-GHz processor in a system running an image-based content creation from Realviz. Using a standard digital camera, a Realviz representative created and showed a short movie that features Barrett performing stunts on a snowboard.

Internet remains key

Flashy movies help sell PCs, but the Internet remains the key to the technology industry's future, Barrett said. While the bursting of the Internet bubble was painful, it represented a trend that has occurred time and again when new technologies emerge, he said.

That trend? A new technology emerges and begins to proliferate. Irrational exuberance and spending follows, which leads to a period of turbulence. Finally, things settle down and the technology goes through a period of sustained growth.

"The Internet was going to change the universe," Barrett said. Even those Internet companies without customers or business plans hoped to change everything, he joked. Now that the era of Internet turbulence has come to pass, it's time for a period of sustained growth, he said.

"The ultimate goal," Barrett said, "is technology for everyone, anytime, anyplace in the world."

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