Intel shows Sandy Bridge and 22nm

IDF 2009: Otellini’s keynote

INTEL KICKED OFF IDF in the traditional way, a keynote by Paul Otellini. The topics were the usual, where they are going, new chips coming up, and all the ways Intel is making things better.

22nm wafer 

Paul and the wafer big small wafer

The first interesting part was process technology, with Paul Otellini showing off the first 22nm wafer from Intel. It was an SRAM test chip with other structures there to try out new circuits. Since 22nm is about 2 years out, you will be able to buy products based on this process in 2011.

Sandy Bridge PC

Sandy Bridge up and running

It wouldn’t be an IDF keynote without a future Intel CPU, and this one did not disappoint. A desktop used for a demo was running Sandy Bridge, the architecture following Nehalem and Westmere. It will of course be the second generation 32nm part, but nothing more was said about it. We are not supposed to say that the north bridge functionality, GPU, MMU, and PCIe, that is now an MCM, will be on die this time around. Don’t tell anyone.

Other than that, not too many big bangs. Convergence, ubiquitous mobile connectivity and Atom were all mentioned, and Atom moving to phones was discussed as well. To make this happen, Moblin 2.1 now has a phone variant called, wait for it, Moblin 2.1 for Handhelds. When the Moorestown Atoms come out next year, Moblin 2.1 for Handhelds should be right there with it.

If this kind of thing excites you, the new building blocks for Atom based mobile stores should get you almost giddy. Acer, Dell and Asus have signed up, so look for more crapware forced down your throat on MIDs soon. This is progress? Wanna buy a calendar widget that slows your machine down for only $3.99? If you don’t, we will keep asking you in a popup every 17 minutes until you give in.

Those of you who want to write such crapware, I mean make a usefull app store that will show users opportunities that they didn’t know they needed, you can check it out at the new Intel Appdeveloper site. Remember though kiddies, even though Intel does begin with the letter ‘i’, it couldn’t copyright that. If you try and use the ‘i’ prefix in your store name, say iTunes for a music store, Intel won’t come after you, but others may not be so nice.

On to the Vpro side of things, Intel Anti-Theft has made it to version 2.0. The main feature discussed this time around is not just remote disable, but remote enable, including remote enable through the use of KVM over IP. Arrandale, the Westmere based laptop chip, also has encryption hardware on the CPU, so it can offload full disk encryption on the fly. If Anti-Theft bricks a laptop and the HD is encrypted, pulling the HD will get you nowhere.

Lastly, while it is not a product per se, Intel finally admitted that Atom will be opened up to anyone who wants to put IP into it and fab their own variant or System on a Chip (SoC). We told you about this months ago, and despite a lot of doubt, it is real. If you want to make your very own Atom to take over the world with, you now can. Don’t expect it to be cheap though.

Otellini did a good job of pointing out that things were looking up, and better yet, 2009 wasn’t as bad as some people had projected. People still want, and increasingly need computers, and Intel is there to fill those needs. Amazing how that works out.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate