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It's all go on the Intel front

The future's mobile, wireless and still contains the P4 processor says chip maker

Chipmaker Intel has given hardware developers at this year's Intel Developers Forum a taste of things to come, revealing prototypes of its so-called Manitoba chip for mobile devices, generating interest in its digital media adapters and adding further fuel to rumours over the purpose of its Nehalem chip.

The company's senior vice president Ron Smith (pictured), showed two samples of the Manitoba chip, which incorporate an XScale processor core, a DSP (digital signal processor) and flash memory on a single piece of silicon. Having the DSP and core on the same piece of silicon will allow handset makers to reduce the size and power consumption of their products. The ultimate goal is a wireless internet on a chip.

"This is fresh out the factory," Smith said, holding up a 200mm wafer containing samples of chip.

Designed for use in phones and handheld devices that support GSM (global standard for mobile communications) and GPRS (general packet radio service) networks, Manitoba is a key component in Intel's drive to create processors for mobile devices.

Intel also showed its support for the PC's future by unveiling digital media adapters.
Based on a reference design developed by Intel, the adapters are a part of a wider initiative to connect the PC with other electronic devices inside the home.

The adapters will allow users to share music, video and images stored on a PC with consumer electronic devices such as TVs and stereos. Computer manufacturers Dell, Legend, Mitac and Gateway are just a handful of the companies due to release the adapters next year.

"Those platforms will come out in a variety of flavours," said Louis Burns, the company's vice president. "Low-end models will connect over wire ethernet networks while more sophisticated models will incorporate wireless networking technologies."

Intel is working with Microsoft and Sony to create an industry standard.

"None of this can happen with a single company driving its own proprietary view of how it will work," added Burns.

Finally, in a bid to play down its earlier mistake of posting information about its new Nehalem chip a little prematurely on its website, Intel assured users that there is still life left in the current Pentium 4 chip.

The information concerning Nehalem was quickly removed form Intel's site, but not before setting tongues wagging that it would supersede the Pentium 4.

"Nehalem is a fine word that people have tried to associate things to but we won't comment on it," said Burns. "It's our future, we'll just leave it at that."

Burns insisted there was still headroom in the P4 and said it plans to develop additional chips based on the existing design. In 2003, the company plans to launch an updated version of the P4, codenamed Prescott, which will be produced using a 90-nannometer processor and incorporate several improvements over existing P4 models.


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