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IDF Spring 2004 Update Part 2
By CPU-zilla
Category : Events
Published by Jimmy Tang on Thursday, 19th February, 2004


The Enterprise Client – The Digital Office

IDF continued on to its second day with a keynote this morning by Bill Siu, VP and GM for Intel’s Desktop Platforms Group. Siu talked about new technologies and capabilities that will power computers in future digital offices. As we can guess by now, at the heart of the digital office is the upcoming Grantsdale chipset, along with their recently launched 90nm Prescott processor.

Obviously, much of the technologies found in today’s Pentium 4 processors would benefit the digital office, such as Intel’s HT technology. We know how the productivity of an office worker would effectively be increased through better responsiveness of the PC under a multi-tasking environment (let’s face it, most of us have more than 10 windows opened at any one time), especially when HT technology is present. Siu further outlined Intel’s plan to further extend the desktop processor’s capabilities with dual core designs (two processors in a single silicon die) in the future.

Bill Siu, VP and GM for Intel’s Desktop Platforms Group.

Besides that, Siu believes that a wireless office environment would further improve collaboration and that is one reason why Grantsdale would feature an integrated access point within the platform itself. Siu further demonstrated how the wireless access point can be used with mobile devices for data transfer and synchronization. Besides that, the SATA RAID capabilities of the ICH6R southbridge would help create better data redundancies through the use of RAID arrays.

In the digital offices of the not-so-far future, PCs based on the latest BTX (Balanced Technology Extended) form factor would grace our cluttered office desks. The beauty of the BTX form factor design lies in the way how components are arranged within a small chassis while utilizing the same type of components found in today’s PC. Although it contains standard hardware, the BTX form factor is relatively smaller than most of today’s microATX-based systems. In addition to that, Intel has further redesigned the BTX layout to accommodate high performance components (such as the latest high-speed Pentium 4 processors and graphics cards) while ensuring that noise is kept to a minimum level. This is achieved through placement of high-performance hardware into an in-line airflow stream that is driven by a single large low-speed fan located at the front of the system. Here’s a table comparing the different form factors :-

BTX vs. ATX
  picoBTX microBTX BTX microATX ATX
Slots 0 - 1 4 7 4 7
Size Range (liters) 6 - 10 10 - 15 15+ 10 - 25 15+
3.5-inch Bays 1 1 3+ 1 3+
5.25-inch Bays 1* 1** 3+ 1** 3+
* mobile 5.25-inch drives for 6L designs ** mobile 5.25-inch drives for 10L designs


The PicoBTX reference design.


Reference PCs based on the microBTX (right) and PicoBTX (left) form factors.

In the secure computing areas, Intel will introduce NX (No Execute) and LaGrande Technology (LT) to further improve security. The NX feature (already found in Itanium 2 processors) provides memory protection for applications and it will be made available in the second half of 2004. Other than that, the upcoming virtualization feature known as Vanderpool Technology (VT), discussed in last IDF, will help increase the platform’s resilience and reliability. In a demonstration, Siu showed the audience how Vanderpool Technology could be put to use in a hybrid environment where old legacy applications (executed under an old legacy operating system, such as Windows 98) can co-exist and co-executed with modern operating systems without the need to reboot the PC.

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