Intel's Tick-Tock release cycle is between ticks with this year's Intel Developers Forum (IDF) highlighting software and partnerships rather than the latest processor technology. This is good and bad from our perspective. Obviously more hardware is fun to analyze but showing off what partners do means a look at real products based on the last hardware tick. There was some highlights in Intel CEO's Paul Otellini's keynote of Medfield in smartphones with a real reference design running Android. It is also possible to see third party Thunderbolt hardware that will make Apple and Intel happy.
I did a number of videos at IDF that you can see on here Engineering TV.
One thing I did like in the keynote was more discussion of security at least from McAfee's (and Intel since it acquired McAfee this year) standpoint. The problem I had is this presentation was from an antivirus standpoint with nary a mention of technologies like secure boot or the use of virtualization for sandboxing. These are the real solutions but obviously less applicable to Windows users that McAfee targets. The Trusted Platform Module (TPM) has been around for ages and actually ships on enterprise PCs and laptops but few tablets or smartphones. Lenovo has some tablets with TPM support but too many assume it is just for enterprise use.
As noted, highlighting real products was the name of the game. Ciscso's Cius tablet/phone demo was more realistic since it was tied into app stores from Cisco and Google. No hand waving here. These are products that have been available and shipping for awhile. On one hand this is great. It shows what is real. On the other, it does not show what to expect for next year.
Ultrabooks, very thin laptops, were out in force as expected. One feature on these, and most other systems, is USB 3.0 support. Actually USB 3.0 was one of the more interesting things at the show. Some were showing off USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UASP) support. This is a back-compatible replacement for the Mass Storage Class and the Bulk Only Transfers (BOT) opeartions. It is more efficient and allows mutiple queued commands that is not supported by the other protocols. One of the devices on display was Renesas' µPD720230 SATA3 bridge system-on-chip that supports UASP.
Another change in the winds is USB power. USB 3.0 upped the power limit but there are future standards we can talk about in a few weeks. They will allow up to 100W support. We are finally moving towards a single power supply standard for a very wide range of devices, not just smartphones. More on this later.
The Google and Intel partnership was in the wrap up with Google promising to continue to deliver versions of Android optimized for the x86 architecture. I suspect that this is the death knell for MeeGo, another Linux platform alternative. This just highlights the refinement in the smartphone/tablet market that is essentially iOS, Android and Windows. Microsoft Windows 8 is Microsoft's real entry into this arena.
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