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Rattner wraps up IDF with a next-gen tech preview

  • An informally dressed Justin Rattner welcomes attendees to the closing keynote of IDF in San Francisco.
  • Yorgos Palaskas demonstrates the first all-digital wireless radio transceiver chip.
  • A WiGig-equipped Ultrabook (sitting closed on the table) drives two wirelessly-connected monitors and plays video from a wireless external hard disk.
  • Charlie Tai shows how Spring Meadow cuts CPU activity – and hence power consumption – during network operations.

By Darien Graham-Smith in San Francisco

Posted on 13 Sep 2012 at 21:37

Intel CTO Justin Rattner has closed the 2012 Intel Developer Forum with a demonstration of several new technologies that we can expect to see in coming generations of computing devices.

Rattner – wearing radio-controlled bunny ears for reasons not satisfactorily explained – began with a demonstration of a project visualised a decade ago by then-CTO Pat Gelsinger to integrate radio capabilities directly into processors. Rattner explained that the project had been an extraordinary challenge partly for reasons of scale: “Analogue performance actually gets worse as the transistors get smaller,” he explained. “It’s much better at 100nm than it is at 10nm.”

A prototype design named Rosepoint integrates two Atom processor cores and a functioning Wi-Fi transceiver onto a single chip.

Research leader Yorgos Palaskas was then welcomed on stage to present the world’s first wholly digital radio unit – dubbed the “Moore’s Law radio” – representing a new approach that will enable future wireless devices to be smaller, cheaper and more power efficient.

To demonstrate the potential, Palaskas introduced a prototype system-on-a-chip design named Rosepoint which integrates two Atom processor cores and a functioning Wi-Fi transceiver onto a single chip.

“We’ve implemented this on a 32nm process,” Palaskas explained. “We already have power efficiency on par with best analogue designs – and this will shrink when other radios won’t.”

Faster wireless with WiGig

The next technology to be introduced was WiGig – a gigabit wireless connection currently being developed by the industry-wide Wireless Gigabit Alliance.

Alliance president Ali Sadri explained that WiGig aims to provide not merely a conventional network link but also a general-purpose wireless connection for peripherals. He demonstrated a completely wire-free laptop streaming video from a WiGig-connected external hard disk – and displaying it wirelessly on a WiGig monitor.

WiGig operates at a much higher frequency than current wireless technologies, using a 60GHz signal to minimise interference. Though Sadri wouldn’t promise launch dates for WiGig products, he suggested the technology was little more than a year away: “Hopefully right after certification, mid-next year, we will see more and more devices in the market,” he predicted.

A WiGig-equipped Ultrabook (sitting closed on the table) drives two wirelessly-connected monitors and plays video from a wireless external hard disk.

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