SPRING IDF - Show will focus on mobile, wireless chips

Details of Intel's new Pentium-M processor, the chip formerly known as Banias, and its Manitoba processor for cell phones will be released during a series of keynote speeches from company executives at the upcoming Intel Developer Forum (IDF).

The company will also highlight its update to the Itanium 2, code-named Madison, at the San Jose, California, show scheduled to begin Feb. 18.

Intel will advance the convergence theme of communications and computing devices that it has been developing for a few years, said Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president and chief technology officer, in a conference call previewing the spring IDF. It will also offer a sneak peak at some future applications the Intel Labs team is working on, including location-aware technology and the impact of future technology on life sciences, he said.

The company is expected to provide more details on its shift to 90 nanometer process technologies. The first product scheduled to be manufactured in volume on 90 nanometers is Prescott, an updated version of the Pentium 4 with essentially the same architecture. Prescott is expected to be released in the second half of this year.

Intel Chief Executive Officer Craig Barrett will kick off the show with a keynote address providing a broad overview of Intel's vision, Gelsinger said. Barrett will provide details on Intel's new Centrino technology for notebook PCs, as well as Manitoba and Madison, Intel's successor to the Itanium 2 server processor, he said.

The Pentium-M will be sold in conjunction with an 802.11b wireless chipset in a package branded Centrino. While the processor will also be available separately, Centrino will be Intel's first product marketed as a package, and its first product that enables wireless Internet connections. It will launch on March 12.

Manitoba is the result of a project to bring a processor together with a digital signal processor (DSP) and flash memory onto one chip. The integration of the DSP and the processor allows cell phone makers to build smaller packages than possible with two-chip packages, but Intel is a relative late-comer to this market dominated by Motorola and Texas Instruments.

Server manufacturers will be able to plug the forthcoming Madison chip into the same motherboards currently used for the Itanium 2, because Intel was able to increase the frequency and on-die cache of the processor without changing the amount of power it requires. Madison will feature up to 6M bytes of Level 3 cache, and run at 1.5GHz.

The second day of the show will feature keynote addresses from Louis Burns, vice president and general manager of Intel's desktop platforms group, Anand Chandrasekher, vice president and general manager for the mobile platforms group, and Gadi Singer, vice president for the wireless communications and computing group.

Burns will discuss several forthcoming technologies on the desktop side of Intel's business, including its Springdale chipset. Springdale is expected to boost the performance of current Pentium 4 processors, and provide enough headroom for the forthcoming Prescott Pentium 4 processor with an 800MHz front-side bus, Gelsinger said. Burns is also expected to discuss Intel's efforts in helping companies roll out stable software images across their networks as they upgrade their existing hardware, Gelsinger said.

Chandrasekher will expand on the details provided about the Pentium-M at the last IDF in September, and outline how Intel's manufacturing investments will pay off for the mobile products group, Gelsinger said.

Singer's keynote is expected to focus on the strategic direction of the cellular wireless market, he said during the conference call. Further details of Manitoba will be presented to attendees, and Singer will outline how these advances in cellular technology provide users with a new experience beyond current cell phones, he said.

Mike Fister, senior vice president and general manager for the Intel enterprise platforms group, will discuss a low-power version of Madison known as Deerfield during his keynote address on the third day of the show. Deerfield is expected to be released at the end of the year. The road maps for Intel's 32-bit Xeon server chips will be updated, as well as the expectations for Intel's line of server chipsets with support for the PCI Express interconnect, Singer said.

Also speaking on the third day will be Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's communications group. Maloney will discuss how Intel is working to provide builders of cell phones and personal digital assistants modular building blocks that offer high levels of performance at a cost savings, Singer said. Maloney will also announce new processors for networking applications, Singer said.

The final day of IDF is dedicated to future technologies, with Gelsinger providing attendees with a look inside the work that Intel Labs is developing, he said. Gelsinger will discuss how Intel is working to develop a uniform way for PCs, handheld devices, and other products to take advantage of developing location-finder technologies such as GPS (global positioning system) and emerging 802.11b networks, he said.

Gelsinger is also expected to talk about Intel's work in the life sciences. The company is working to determine how technology can assist a person with early-stage Alzheimer's disease by helping to monitor their behavior, for example.

Intel will bring its IDF show around the world this April, with stops in Tokyo, Taipei, Beijing, Berlin and Bangalore, India.

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Tom Krazit

IDG News Service
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