Shanghai (China) – Day 0 of the Intel Developers Forum has just finished and we’ve now heard the company’s new slogan of ‘Carry Small Live Large’ hundreds of times. Intel has firmly established market dominance since its Core Duo processors and now it appears the company will also go full-bore into MIDs or so-called mobile Internet devices. Those devices will require desktop-like power and connectivity and that will require CMOS level integration of network cards, wireless radios and other IO devices. Guess who is going to make all those new chips … Intel of course.
Andrew Chien, Vice President of the Corporate Technology Group and Director of Intel Research, told attendees that mobile devices will need to be constantly connected to the Internet, larger screens and other devices to give a better experience. He gave an example of walking into a room with a MID and have it automatically detect and use a projector or larger LCD screen.
But there’s a huge problem with providing all of that connectivity in a small form factor. Modern computers have a myriad of I/O options from PS/2, USB, Wi-Fi, Wimax, VGA and others, however all those options (with all those physical ports) take up room. Senior Fellow Kevin Kahn said that laptops usually don’t have enough space for every plug and that problem is “much worse” for pocket-sized devices, “simply hasn’t got the space for all that connectivity” he emphasized. The trick here is to consolidate most or all of those into a single wireless I/O solution.
Intel Fellow Krishnamurthy Soumyanath, Director of the Communications Technology Lab, fleshed out details of Intel’s research into CMOS-integrated radios which will one day be able to do both wireless 802.11 agn and Wi-MAX. Soumyanath said the lab has already fabricated prototype CMOS transceivers integrating power amplifiers and self-tuning 802.11 agn wi-fi. The company is also researching millimeter wave synthesizers which can run at 60 Mhz.
The integrated radios will have two parts. The first is a multi-radio CMOS transceiver which will contain a receiver, analog to digital converter, digital synthesizer and transmitter. A flexible baseband & multi-MAC unit to translate the signals into PCI Express, USB and other I/O formats will be in the other half of the chip.
Later in the day, during the rapid-fire five minute sessions by Intel researchers, the company hinted at CPU-integrated network interfaces in the future. Intel has been working on moving the NIC and other components closer to the CPU by first popping them onto the PCI bus and then on the front side bus and researchers said they are currently seeing “orders of magnitude” in network speedup. The next step was to put the NIC into the CPU die, something the researchers say they are exploring.
Smaller size with the same connectivity … where do I sign up?