If it Computes, Intel Wants it Wirelessly Connected

By Steve Anderson September 14, 2012

Just yesterday, Intel opened up the Intel Developer Forum, and the keynote featured a rather exciting concept. The keynote, delivered by Intel's own Justin Rattner, CTO, detailed a future that could be distilled to just one, eight word phrase: "In the future, if it computes, it connects." Those eight words carried a lot of weight, and a lot of exciting implications.

To back up the keynote, Rattner showed off what Intel is referring to as a "Moore's Law Radio", showing how a purely digital radio can follow Moore's Law--that computing power, as measured by the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles, roughly, every two years--thanks to improvements in digital chip processes, especially the new 22nm tri-gate model from Intel. This in turn allows for what has come to be called "system-on-a-chip" technology, which can offer many of the same services that a full-sized computer system would offer, yet do so in an extremely small space, like for smartphones and tablets. With digital radios steadily declining in both size and price, their use in other devices becomes not only possible but more likely, as an old concept called "The Internet of Things" comes into its fullest fruition.

Under the concept of "The Internet of Things", home appliances, complete with sensors, can communicate effectively between each other, and can even be operated via remote. This combination of features opens up a wide variety of potential uses.

But that wasn't all; Rattner also showed off a new wireless standard, dubbed WiGig. WiGig is a part of an industry-encompassing effort to bring several different 60 GHz wireless standards under the banner of the current Wi-Fi standard. But WiGig, meanwhile, can offer some impressive speeds all its own. Bandwidths over 5 Gbps are possible with WiGig, and the whole thing is sufficiently fast to not only allow for a wirelessly-docked Ultrabook, but also multiple displays at once.

Rattner went on to show improvements in battery life thanks to Intel's Smart Connect technology, which wakes up an Ultrabook just long enough to receive packet traffic and then return to standby mode, thus ensuring that the least power possible is used and the battery is prolonged. He also showed a new kind of biometric interface that would replace passwords--allowing users to essentially authenticate at the device level--for websites and cloud-based information, and even showed a cloud-based radio access network.

Naturally, this was material shown at the developer level. Looking for any of this to hit shelves by Christmas is likely going to end in disappointment. But where this has its truest value is in showing users, and developers, just what Intel hardware can do in no uncertain terms. They're opening up the concept of home appliances that can be controlled by remote, passwords that are tied to unique biological identifiers, and plenty more from there. The implications are almost dizzying in scope and represent the potential for technologies we can barely imagine.

Just how much of this will actually emerge, and how long it will take to do so, remains to be seen. But it's quite clear that Intel has some impressive plans all the same, and if they actually come to fruition, and public release, a lot more of consumers' lives will have Intel inside.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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