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Intel CEO previews next generation chip

In his opening keynote at last week's Intel Developer Forum, Intel president Paul Otellini told a packed auditorium at the San Jose Convention Center that his company plans to continue boosting chip performance and adding features despite the downturn in PC sales. Intel, he maintained, will maintain its market dominance by utilizing technologies such as hyperthreading, the performance-enhancing server technology his company plans to bring to the desktop later this year. He also promised new technology for securing data on hard drives during 2003.

Hyperthreading allows different elements of the chip, such as the integer unit for graphics processing the floating-point unit for complex calculations, to be active at the same time. Otellini called the performance improvement such multitasking yields (25 to 30 percent by Intel's estimates) a ''free boost'' because the circuitry to enable it is already on the Pentium 4. Hyperthreading will be part of the 3GHz Pentium 4 for desktops, due later in Q3, Otellini said.

Otellini used the forum to outline Intel's plans to unveil new security technology he claimed can prevent hackers or viruses from obtaining or corrupting data on a PC. Code named LaGrande, this technology places a secure wrapper around selected hard-drive data, the keyboard, the display and the interconnects inside the box, he said.

''[LaGrande] will minimize the ability of people to steal credit card numbers or break into your hard drive to snoop,'' Otellini told his audience. ''Protecting users' data, protecting users' identity, protecting transactions are all on the list of things we want to do.'' Otellini said LaGrande will be part of Prescott, Intel's next gen desktop chips, expected later this year. He added that it will be will be ''opt in'' technology, allowing users to turn it off.

Otellini also demoed the next version of its Itanium processor, code named Madison, on computers from NEC. The Madison chip contains approximately half a billion transistors, compared with the Itanium II's approximately 220 million, Otellini said. The processor, scheduled for release next year, will outperform the current Itanium II by 30 percent, he added.

Otellini also demoed a new notebook chip called Banias, due in the first quarter of next year. The Banias chips are expected to run at up to 1.6GHz, and Intel says that notebooks running it will have longer battery life than standard Pentium notebooks. They will also come with integrated 802.11a and 802.11b wireless technology, Otellini said.

The four-day conference drew a record crowd to the San Jose Convention Center (Sept 9-12), according to conference organizations. The event was future-focused, covering such topics as nanotechnology, wireless networking, gigabit Ethernet, advances in graphics programming and a dual-core Itanium.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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