Intel's Paul Otellini says the chip giant has powered more than 85 million netbooks that have been sold since the first Eee PC in 2007.
"PCs in general have become more affordable and more accessible," said Otellini. "The critical element of a netbook is that they're accessible and around half the cost."
Otellini was very keen to talk up Intel's involvement in bringing affordable computing to the developing world during his keynote speech at WCIT 2010 in Amsterdam, attended by TechRadar. WCIT is a conference designed to demonstrate how technology can help overcome key global issues in terms of the environment, finance, education and healthcare.
Power consumption was also high on the agenda. "Compared to the first billion PCs, the next two billion will use half the energy and have 17 times the compute performance," stated Otellini.
Displaying a slide showing that two per cent of global CO2 emissions are down to technology, Otellini talked about Intel's work on making processors more efficient, but then stated: "What's more important is what can technology do for the other 98 per cent? If we work together and use the microprocessor technology that's available, I think we can reduce emissions by 15 per cent by 2020 just by using the technologies we have in place."
In the next five years, 2.5bn users will connect to the internet using 10bn devices, according to Intel. "Data centres, the backbone of the internet, need to improve [in terms of consumption]," said Otellini, saying that by 2016 Intel will offer data centre solutions with 9x the compute ability but using the same energy. "This has the potential to transform industries," he added.
The Classmate PC and universal access
Otellini spoke about Intel's World Ahead Programme, launched at the same conference four years previously, where the Classmate PC was announced – so far two million of those machines have been shipped. 40 million PCs have shipped through government-sponsored programs in emerging markets in the same four years.
We were also shown the latest tablet version of the Classmate, a waterproof convertible notebook that features the latest generation Atom chip as well as an accelerometer. It was demonstrated how a child could draw an object on the screen and then animate it using the accelerometer.
Otellini also announced a new education programme, 100 x 100, designed to reach 100 million students and teachers per year over the next four years (the other 100 is the number of countries).
Part of this vision involves connectivity and again Otellini trotted out the same Intel lines about Wimax being the 4G solution of choice. New stats: Intel has so far invested $2.5bn in the technology, which so far has a reach of 630 million people worldwide. This will rise to a quarter of the world's population in two years' time. We remain completely sceptical, however.
"Innovation results when you combine people with investment. Good investments and ideas lead to good ideas and ultimately lead to wealth creation and good ideas throughout the world," continued Otellini. He cited Australia's $43bn dollar investment in a national broadband network, where everybody will be connected (90 per cent fibre, with the remainder using other technologies such as satellite), calling it a "safe bet".
Elsewhere, Otellini announced the 2010 Intel Challenge, a competition that will provide prize money for the best business plans submitted by university students to help turn their ideas into entrepreneurial ventures. It's already been running in the US, but will now take place in the UK, too. "In the next decade, another half billion people will enter the workforce, and we will need to create the conditions to generate meaningful jobs for them and for the existing workforce," said Otellini.
Intel also demonstrated a prototype smart home dashboard device that looked like an iPad, but with software from CapGemini. The device shows you what energy you've used (and where) and also has a master switch so you can 'power-down' your home.
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