I’ve been at IDF (Intel Developers Forum) in San Francisco for the past two days. Somehow, my picture showed up on the front page of the business section of the San Jose Mercury News. Quite a surprise to me, as I had to leave my house early and my copy of the Merc was sitting on my doorstep. My friend Kevin Susco emailed it to me while I was at the show.
Interestingly, below me is a photo of Intel CEO Paul Otellini. The photo of me is bigger and I’m at the top of the page, so apparently I’m more important. You can measure importance by the rapid growth of my blog… it started as a blog about cycling, then I added food with the article on Pizzoccheri, and now I’m covering technology.
So, the article was about Intel’s new “UltraBook” laptops. Here is Intel CEO Paul Otellini announcing the UltraBook laptops during his keynote address.
So what’s an Ultrabook? On first inspection, an UltraBook is:
- thin and light, (like an Apple, Intel is catching up)
- has long battery life, — I think they said 5 hours, very cool, I would appreciate this!
- secure, and
- affordable < $1k.
Here’s a photo of an ASUS laptop Intel was showing in their UltraBook booth area:
Ha! My photo is sharper and clearer than the one from the newspaper but is lacking the devastatingly handsome model.
So what are the specs on this ASUS laptop?
- Intel “SandyBridge” i7 processor — wow, a lot of compute power — that would be killer for photoshop!
- 4G RAM — didn’t say whether you can add on
- 1366×768 11.6″ display (nice)
- 0.67″ thick
- 2.4 pounds
Four manufacturers will have UltraBooks in the stores by XMAS:
Many more are in development.
The first batch of UltraBooks will use SandyBridge processors. The next batch (1H 2012) will use IvyBridge. Ivy Bridge is the same architecture, ported to 22nm. In 2013, Intel will announce “Haswell” UltraBooks. Haswell will be dramatically lower power. (20x!)
Here’s a photo of Mooly Eden, VPGM of Intel’s PC/client group, showing off a “Haswell” prototype.
Mooly went into more detail about UltraBooks in his keynote. Mooly is one of the best speakers I’ve seen in the industry. He is captivating, entertaining, transfers a lot of information, and is always a joy to listen to. IMO, he is Intel’s best salesman.
To illustrate the size advantage of UltraBooks, Mooly grabbed a conventional notebook.
and then pulled this UltraBook out of the Notebook. It’s like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Wow! He was so fast I didn’t manage to grab a shot of the two books.
OK, so it’s small and light. Big deal.
Turns out there are a lot of really cool technologies that will show up in these UltraBooks. In line with Intel’s goal to advance the user experience and make computing engaging, consistent, and secure, here are some of the new technologies Intel is putting in these UltraBooks:
- RapidStart — computer turns on in ~2 seconds
- SmartConnect — gets emails even when asleep — cool, does it answer them, too?
- SmartResponse — using a combination of HDD and SSD you get the latency of a solid-state drive (fast) and the capacity of a conventional hard drive — nice!
- Pair & Share — making the user experience consistent between PC and phone — you can immediately transfer anything (phone call, video, spreadsheet) from one to another — cool
It’s certainly time for me to upgrade my computer. I have both a laptop and a desktop. Intel upgrades their CPUs every year in a “tick-tock” strategy. One year they upgrade the architecture, like Sandy Bridge. The next year they do a process shrink, like Ivy Bridge. Like Intel, I have a “tick-tock” strategy. This year, I think it’s time to upgrade my desktop, but I sure will be drooling over those UltraBooks.
Oh yeah, after Mooly’s talk, they let the press onto the stage to see the new UltraBooks. Here’s a photo of the ensuing media scrum. I was one of the first on the stage. Even with a press pass, I couldn’t get close to the UltraBooks, but I was able to see the crowd. As more hordes arrived, one could barely stand on the stage.
Finally, remember that Mooly showed a prototype of “Haswell.” Haswell is claimed to reduce power consumption by 20x (!!!) to deliver all-day operation and 10-day standby on a single charge.
Today, Intel CTO Justin Rattner announced their development of near-threshold voltage (NTV) circuits. NTV circuits are still in development and no product announcement is yet planned, but they promise to dramatically reduce power consumption by reducing operating voltages to nearly the point at which gates stop working.
NTV may still be a long-way off, but on Monday, Paul Otellini showed a demo of a solar-powered CPU.
This CPU is claimed to be 20x lower power than existing CPUs and runs off a single solar-cell. The solar cell is small. Intel claims it is the size of a postage stamp. It is a relatively big postage stamp. Only the CPU runs off solar energy. The rest of the computer is power by normal AC.
While this is only a demo, it is a step in the right direction and something humanity really needs. Cutting our dependence on fossil fuel is essential to slow global warming and minimize conflict for resources. I’m very happy to see Intel research in this direction.
IDF was really fun! Hope you cyclists and foodies didn’t mind this diversion.