LAS VEGAS—As tech vendors unleashed a barrage of 3-D HD TVs, smarter smart phones and home energy management systems on the public this week here at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Intel could not have been happier. All of these high-performance communication and entertainment gadgets generate a lot of data, and someone needs to provide the horsepower to make sure that data flows to where it needs to go.
Intel wants to be that someone. To that end, the chipmaker has introduced more than two dozen new processors at CES as well as a prototype chip called "Moorestown," designed specifically to power smart phones. Moorestown, which will become available by the middle of this year, is a new chip based on Intel's successful Atom processor, which is used in many netbooks.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini demonstrated some of Moorestown's capabilities during his CES keynote on Thursday with the help of a new LG Electronics GW990 smart phone. The GW990 has a 13 centimeter high-definition screen and is powerful enough (thanks to the Moorestown processor) to host a multi-point video conference among three parties. As Otellini presented his keynote, two colleagues listened in, with both men visible on a split screen on the phone. Intel also plans to make Moorestown available for tablet PCs as well as new devices coming to market, such as the Internet Protocol Media Phone being developed by OpenPeak, Inc.
The content explosion ignited by multimedia social networking sites including YouTube and Facebook has created a demand for faster networks that require faster computers. In 2006, YouTube saw 100 million downloads daily. Last year, that number jumped to 1 billion per day, according to Otellini. Movie studios are also ramping up the content thanks to their renewed interest in 3-D. Otellini said that 50 3-D movies will grace the silver screen this year, up from 20 last year. Creating and managing 3-D content takes a lot of computing power, he added.
Of course, this increased computing horsepower will also require larger amounts of electricity. Demand for energy is expected to grow 19 percent in the US over the next decade, while the capacity to meet these needs will grow by only 6 percent, Otellini said. "The only way to (manage) this is to add intelligence into systems," he added. This intelligence, in the form of processors, will enable Internet-connected smart grids and energy-saving appliances to communicate with one another and dial back energy usage whenever possible.
Intel also became the latest tech vendor to unveil an "app store" where programmers can go to write software that will operate on devices using the Atom processor. Unlike app stores opened by Apple, Samsung and countless others that focus on a particular device (such as the iPhone), Intel's AppUp Center is expected to feature apps that run on a wide variety of consumer electronic gadgets, including smart phones, PCs and Internet-connected televisions.