Intel outs new chips, aims for phones, TVs, cars

Intel CEO Paul Otellini
Intel CEO Paul Otellini says the chip giant needs to break into new markets

Intel CEO Paul Otellini's opening keynote at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) today confirmed what we already knew.

Intel dominates the PC processor segment but desperately needs to break into new markets.

Confirmation of Intel's advantage in CPU tech came in the form of an impressive demonstration of the new Sandy Bridge processor.

The new chip was shown tearing through an HD video encode job in seconds while its existing Core i7 required minutes to complete the same task.

Sandy bridge

Due out early next year, Sandy Bridge sports several further exotic new features that promise to increase Intel's dominance of the PC processor markets. The highlights start with AVX, a new 256-bit vector instruction set. AVX promises to make Sandy Bridge twice as fast as existing PC processors for software such professional rendering.

Better graphics

Sandy Bridge will also be Intel's first modern PC processor with a fully integrated graphics core. Intel claims the new core pumps out as many as 32 times more pixels per clock than its existing integrated graphics solutions, making it fast enough to render low-end discrete graphics card redundant.

Otellini further underlined Intel's advantage in chip production by announcing a new 10-core server processor for 2011 and confirming that its first 22nm PC processors are currently navigating their way through Intel's high tech fabs. Arch-rival AMD has yet to release 32nm processors, much less begin producing 22nm chips.

As good as Sandy Bridge will undoubtedly be, however, Intel knows that the market for PCs has effectively plateaued. Factor in tough market conditions thanks to the global financial crisis and the prospects for growth in the traditional PC market are poor.

Intel inside...your phone

Instead, the real action in the chip market over the next decade is expected to come from embedded and ultramobile platforms. In others words, HDTVs, cars and, most importantly of all, smartphones. Indeed, Intel says consultancy IDC predicts there will be 31 billion internet connected devices by 2020. That's a lot of chips for somebody to sell.

Unfortunately, Otellini had little prove it would be Intel selling those chips. No new design wins or alliances in the smartphone or HDTV markets were announced.

Intel inside devices

Instead, Otellini briefly rehashed Intel's well-worn commitment to produce chips across what it calls a "continuum" of devices from desktop and server PCs through ultra mobile and embedded devices. That said, tomorrow is the big day for announcements related to Atom, Intel's crucial low-power chip for embedded and mobile platforms. Maybe there's better news to come. Watch this space.


Technology and cars. Increasingly the twain shall meet. Which is handy, because Jeremy (Twitter) is addicted to both. Long-time tech journalist, former editor of iCar magazine and incumbent car guru for T3 magazine, Jeremy reckons in-car technology is about to go thermonuclear. No, not exploding cars. That would be silly. And dangerous. But rather an explosive period of unprecedented innovation. Enjoy the ride.