Intel announced a slew of new products at the annual Intel Developer Forum this week in San Jose, California, touching off a year of massive upgrades that the company says will further distance it from the competition. Intel plans upgrades and new products in virtually every product category it covers, including processors for every type of hardware from PDAs to the most massively scalable server products in the world. Some of the more interesting announcements include the following:
3GHz Pentium 4 for Desktops. As expected, Intel will ship a 3GHz Pentium 4 chip for desktop PCs by the end of 2002. And that product will include an exciting new feature called hyperthreading, which lets discrete parts of the chip operate simultaneously, effectively giving it the power of two processors. Essentially on-chip multitasking, this feature will boost chip performance by 25 to 30 percent, Intel says. And although applications must be modified to take full advantage of hyperthreading, some products--such as Windows XP Home and Professional Editions, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows Media Encoder 9 Series, and Adobe Photoshop 7--are already hyperthreading-enabled.
4.5GHz to 5GHz Pentium 4s. Intel will continue ratcheting up the core processor speeds in its desktop processors, and the company expects to hit 5GHz in the first half of 2003.
LaGrande Security Technology and Prescott. A processor chipset code-named LaGrande--Intel's hardware counterpart to the Microsoft Palladium initiative--is due in the second half of 2003. LaGrande will be a user opt-in technology that supplies protected execution, protected memory, and protected storage environments for data. The chipset encrypts data on your system, curtailing a problem users have today when they get encrypted data from the Web and store it locally in unencrypted form, leaving the data vulnerable to intruders. LaGrande can also interact with Digital Rights Management (DRM) in other technologies, such as Palladium. LaGrande will debut as part of Prescott, the next generation of desktop CPUs from Intel.
Madison. Intel's third-generation 64-bit Itanium processor, code-named Madison, will debut in 2003. The processor offers a 30 to 50 percent performance boost over today's Itanium 2.
Banias. In the first quarter 2003, Intel will release a new microprocessor (code-named Banias) for ultraportable laptops. Banias will provide significantly better battery life and processing power than today's Pentium III-M designs. Initial Banias chips will run at 1.3GHz, 1.4GHz, 1.5GHz, and 1.6GHz, the company says, and will feature integrated 802.11a and 802.11b wireless networking capabilities. The Banias processor will also run cooler than today's Pentium 4-M chips, which are targeted at the midsized and desktop-replacement laptops that contain better heat-shielding and bulky-cooling technologies.
Handheld Chips. Intel seeks to extend its performance lead in the PDA market by expanding into the communications market with chips for smart cell phones. "The ultimate goal, and the thing that we are working toward--and what all of us in the industry should be working for--is bringing computing to everyone, anytime, any place in the world," said Intel President Paul Otellini during his Intel Developer Forum keynote address.
Rambus. Although Intel will continue to support the much-reviled Rambus memory on its desktop designs, the company says that Rambus is dead on workstations and that it will no longer develop Rambus-capable workstation chipsets. "We're moving our workstations to \[Double Data Rate\] DDR \[memory\]," said Lisa Hambrick, director of enterprise processor marketing at Intel. DDR memory, incidentally, is royalty-free and thus less expensive to manufacture than Rambus memory. DDR is also the volume leader on desktop designs, leading me to guess that Intel will simply let the market decide Rambus's fate.