Captain Kirk: What's going on?
- By John K. Waters
In the wrap-up presentation many attendees considered the highlight of last
week's Intel Developer Forum, CTO Pat Gelsinger's rode to the stage on a Segway
''human transporter,'' and then undertook some snappy banter with actor William
Shatner, best know for his role as Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek.
The theme of the presentation was the future of technology, which Gelsinger
underscored by carrying-and wearing-a host of electronic devices, including a
baseball cap with a monocle eye monitor, a PDA with a camera, a Bluetooth
headset, a universal remote control, a mobile phone, a personal video player and
an electronic vest ''infrastructure/data center'' with a server sewn in the
''Today,'' he said, ''I am the most technologically advanced person walking
the face of the earth.''
As Gelsinger took off his gear, Shatner elicited chuckles from the crowded
hall when he said, ''It's refreshing to be at a conference where all the
technology isn't made of paper mache.''
During a post keynote Q&A, Shatner said his favorite Star Trek
episode is ''City on the Edge of Forever,'' gave his thoughts on the possibility
of silicon-based life forms (he said that Gelsinger was the closest he'd seen to
such a creature), and promoted his new book about his attempt to understand
technology and science.
And Shatner admitted that he was mystified by the content of the keynote.
''You guys speak a different language,'' he said. ''I don't understand what
you're talking about.''
Other Intel announcements at the conference included:
networking: Intel will be improving optical networking technology, according to
Sean Maloney, executive VP of Intel's Communications Group, circumventing the
current limitations of copper wire connections.
* Tunable lasers: The
company plans to build its own tunable lasers, which can be adjusted to send
different frequencies of light over optical fibers. The lasers will be based on
technology from start-up New Focus, which it recently acquired, Maloney said.
* Dual processor chips: Intel's new dual-processor Xeon chips for servers
are now available. The new models run at 2.6GHz and 2.8GHz.
* 1.6GHz Xeon
processor: Designed for small systems, such as blade servers, this version runs
at a lower voltage and consumes less power, an average of 30 watts, Maloney
* The Plumas chipset: The company's new E7500 chipset, code-named
Plumas, is expected in the fourth quarter, according to the company. Plumas is a
collection of supporting chips that connects a computer's main processors to the
rest of the system. The current data-transfer rate of a Plumas system is around
400MHz, but the company expects future models to achieve 533MHz.
Multiple-gate transistor: Called the Tri-Gate transistor, it increases the
amount of electricity flowing through transistors and microprocessors, boosting
* Nanotech: The company announced that it is working with
Harvard and other universities on silicon nanowires and carbon nanotubes.
Nanowires are made up of self-assembling silicon; the nanotube consist of
self-assembling carbon atoms. One of these two experimental technologies could
eventually replace standard transistors and over time become the building block
of chips, according to Sunlin Chou, Intel's senior VP of technology and
* Wireless modems: The company is putting the finishing
touches on a PC-card modem, code-named Calexico, that will contain the first
802.11b and 802.11a chips made by the company. The company expects to see the
modems in notebooks and desktops as early as next year.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached