Intel shows off 22 nanometer, optimistic about future

A senior Intel executive opened up this year’s Intel Developer Forum this morning. Usually it’s Pat Gelsinger who opens the show. Intel has thoughtfully provided white boards for people to write messages and some wag is scribbling “Where’s Pat?” on them.

Notes from a keynote… Sean Maloney said that while the storm clouds were gathering this time last year at the time of IDF with Lehman Brothers crashing. Things for Intel, said Maloney, are not perfect but certainly better. This is an introduction to Paul Otellini, who’s presenting this year’s keynote. Intel is the center of the YOUniverse – and the Sponsors of Tomorrow.

Otellini said that there’s an incredible transformation taking place and Intel is poised to be at the center of things. Intel is building a spectrum of computing devices from high end servers all the way down to handhelds.

“Inside the spectrum we want to introduce the same personal computer experience across all devices,” he said. “The nature of IDF is changing. It used to be a PC event and 60 percent of the attendees were PC guys. Nowadays the show attracts 4,000 visitors and includes guys and girls from all sorts of different sectors.”

Standards are what made the internet explosion happen, he said. Intel is creating another generation of standards to enable the growth of personal computing. The three ingredients are Moore’s Law, the platform architectures and software that makes the technology real. The combination of these three “allow us to build the continuum”.

Moore’s Law continues to be the foundation of everything Intel does. Two years ago Intel introduced the world’s first 45 nanometer process, and to date the competition – that is to say AMD – has shipped zero. 32 nanometers is here now and makes it possible to ship a billion transistors at very high volumes. Intel has started production on the first 32 nanometer CPU which will ship in the fourth quarter of this year.

Intel is already working on a 22 nanometer process and Otellini showed the die of 22 nanometer silicon technology. It works, and it’s the smallest SRAM technology ever. Each has 2.9 billion transistors. Each array is 364 megabits, on target for production in the second half of 2011.

Sandy Bridge is the next generation of CPUs that will be out by this time next year. Intel is confident it can get to 15 nanometers after 22 nanometers on a predictable cadence, he added.

A new core will come out every two years on different silicon technology. Intel will use new cores to proliferate systems on chips. SOCs based on the Atom core will allow it to move into all of the new markets it wants to penetrate. Intel is porting the Atom core over to TSMC, not for capacity but to reach out to new customers.

Intel had to rethink its technology for SOCs. Intel will deliver products with less leakage, such as Westmere. Intel’s silicon technology means it’s developed common libraries to get Atom based products out to market very rapidly.

System on a chip
Intel has 12 SOCs in development coming out over the next couple of years. Intel may well ship more SOCs than standard processors in the next five years, he said. Software is changing – it’s all about multiple clients and multiple clouds to support a wide variety of clients.

“Intel is very committed to giving the developer community the tools they need,” he said. Intel has acquired more than 10 companies over the last few years in the software sector to bring new technologies to market. Intel will build the “continuum”. The market is more than resilient, he said. He showed a slide showing steep growth during 2010 in the PC sector.

“My own bet is we’re likely to see units flat to slightly up during 2008,” said Otellini. The PC market is flat but a PC is no longer a discretionary buy. I think the market is poised for a resurgence, and we’ll see how 2010 plays out. Intel’s i3, i5 and i7 represent good, better and best versions of its products.

“Early next year Intel will introduce the next core i3. Upcoming CPUs will be based on Westmere. Intel has worked very closely with Microsoft. “I am very excited about Windows 7. One of the things Intel has done is to work with Microsoft to optimise systems,” he added.

Netbooks outpace iPhone
Netbooks have filled the gap which otherwise would have led to a down year, he said. The netbook has outpaced the Wii and the iPhone and there’s no looking back.

Otellini said it’s clear a better developing environment is necessary. Intel is saying the Atom will be at the heart of a lot of other devices that Adobe and Microsoft will support. Netbooks will be followed by handhelds and then by other devices.

Intel is creating a framework to allow customers to build their own app stores. Asus, Acer and Dell are its first customers. Asus will support the developer program with a connection to Asus app store. Acer is doing a similar thing. Intel has 460 embedded wins with Atom and the CPUs will proliferate at hotel bedsides and slot machines, across many segments.

In-vehicle entertainment is an important sector for Intel and the sector is growing very rapidly. Many of the automotive manufacturers are creating interoperable standards across the automotive industry. BMW and Mercedes Benz will use Atom based entertainment systems in future cars.

In the handheld sector, Moorestown comes in 2010 and Medfield in 2011. In 2011 Medfield will be in smartphones. Moblin version 2.11 is available for handhelds. Moblin 2.1 is for MIDs and will run multiple applications.

More later…