Intel CEO Calls For More Convergence

Craig Barrett leads the charge for combining the micro world of the company's processors with the real world products like cell phones and optical networking.
Posted February 18, 2003
By

Michael Singer


SAN JOSE, Calif. -- When Intel CEO Craig Barrett talks about the great convergence, he says he's thinking in terms of microprocessors and macro applications.

"I want you to think of convergence as any aspect of our technology coming together," Barrett preached to the crowd at the Intel Developer Forum here. "The desire for technology is alive and well. Perhaps we have to carry over the hangover of the dot-com bust, but growth will come from investments we make in innovations."

Like a rancher in the old West, Barrett says he's surveyed the IT landscape and is pleased with how fertile spending in the land could be.

"I feel there is a pent up demand with all of those computers still running Windows 95 or 98 that Microsoft says it will not support at the end of the year. It's not just that we have an aging base in the telecommunications or other sectors. There has to be something there. What we need to do is bring technology to the marketplace in a user-friendly environment."

The forecast for growth this year is averaging between 4 to 7 percent this year depending on which analyst you listen to, but the mastermind behind the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant is seeing an uptick of sorts coming during the second half of 2003.

For his part, Barrett said his company is replacing 35,000 (about a third) of its own computers and pointed to the decision by telecom Lucent to replace all of its PCs as "an encouraging sign."

Intel seems to be in good shape in the proliferation of digital technology, a world Internet build-out and new opportunities in the wireless WAN and LAN marketplace on the horizon. But what Barrett sees mostly is his company's role in converging computing and communications, whether it is in the multimedia space, telecommunications or networking.

The No. 1 chipmaker is on a tear to fit itself into as many markets as possible. A prime example is the PXA 800F or "Manitoba" "wireless-Internet-on-a-chip" that combines a processor with GSM/GPRS technology and Flash memory on one die.

The company also demonstrated the first transmission of silicon photonics through optical fiber. The demonstration highlighted how Intel chips could be used as a gate to phase optical signals into on-off configurations.

The company is currently building its strategy around the silicon-ization of photo electronics and the optical communication on one die using CMOS configurations with silicon-based optical modulators, additional channels, passive alignment, silicon-germanium (SiGE) and a photo detector.

As for size, Barrett said the company was on track to release 65-nanometer chips (nm) by 2005, 45nm ones by 2007 and 32nm in 2009.

Barrett also pointed to multimedia convergence such as the company's work with the movie and recording studios on its LaGrande technology as well as previously seen demos like its Personal Media Player, which it co-developed with Microsoft late last year.

The company also teased the crowd with two new prototypes including a combination laptop-Tablet PC device Intel calls the Newport. The 14-inch screen was equipped with a next generation mobile chip and a separate touch activated LCD screen that lets the user manage e-mail and other files from the docking station. Intel said it would provide more details on the 2004 prototype later this week.

Another prototype slated for next year -- Marble Falls -- has Nu Card technology, support for USB 2.0 and dual independent screens. The system was demonstrated using Intel's concept design for the desktop. Identified as Parisville, the digital media adaptor that lets applications to run on multiple devices. Currently, Intel's R&D Lab is looking at ways of making their chips more developer friendly; ones that allow applications to be written once and played back by the three major screen sizes: television, PCs and PDA/mobile phones.

But most of that technology is in the planning stages and Intel will have to wait for more tech spending to pick up before it lassos more users.

"We'll know that the mood has swung after it has swung," Barrett said. "After you see corporate profitability come back and unit numbers build for a couple of quarters, then you'll know. We are at the bottom now, so there is only one place to go and that is up."






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