Feature Articles

IDF Spring 2008 Update

IDF Spring 2008 Update



Montevina, Calpella, Security and SSDs

Montevina, Calpella, Security and SSDs

Intel is still on track to deliver Montevina, their next generation Centrino Duo platform to be called Centrino 2. There's really nothing much to say about Montevina itself as the technologies behind it are well known and have been revealed since last IDF. For the uninitiated, the Montevina platform will still be Penryn-based, but will have a chipset update to the Intel Mobile 45-series (PM45/GM45) codenamed Cantiga and wireless upgrade to support WiMAX. What's really interesting about Cantiga is the level of graphics performance that it is supposed to bring. In our technology showcase yesterday, we already gave a sneak peek at two working demos of Cantiga graphics, DisplayPort for notebooks and full Blu-ray HD decoding capabilities. The other is its DirectX 10 graphics compliance and gaming performance upgrade. Intel's own 3DMark06 tests show 2x performance improvements over previous generation GMA X3100, but this time we got to see live demos running Call of Duty as well as World in Conflict. The good news? The games actually run decently at 800x600 resolutions. However, every in-game graphics setting still has to be set to its lowest.

To be honest, this is already the best we've seen for Intel GMA graphics, but its still not going to make ATI or NVIDIA shake in their boots anytime soon.

While Montevia is basically running on its own steam now, Dadi Perlmutter, Intel Senior Vice President and General Manager, Mobility Group gave a small glimpse of Calpella platform, Montevina's 2009 upgrade. Calpella will bring Nehalem computing to the notebook and will include some radical advancements in radio power savings. A technique called Adaptive Snoozing was demonstrated that is able to dynamically throttle Wi-Fi radio power even under load, significantly reducing power consumption over time.

The other thing that Intel is taking into their own hands is Solid State Drive storage. Intel announced that they will be getting into the SSD business as well, delivering drives between 32GB to 160GB in 1.5-inch and 2.5-inch formats. Of course, when Intel develops hardware, you can be sure that it will somehow be optimized for their own platform and technologies. A tech demo between three systems, running on a combination of 65nm Core 2 Duo, 45nm Core 2 Duo, HDD and Intel SDD showed that the Intel SSD solution offered much faster performance, and it scaled with processor technology.

Another vertical that Intel will focus more on in the mobile space is security, remote manageability and a new Anti-Theft Technology that will work with and enhance current and available data protection technologies. Some features include asset protection through platform disabling, and data protection through embedded disk protection and data access disabling. Implementation will depend highly on partner ISV integration and we'll probably see more of it with the next generation mobile vPro codenamed McCreary.

High Performance Computing and Visual Computing

IDF Day 1 wasn't all about mobility however. Pat Gelsinger, Intel Senior Vice President; General Manager, Digital Enterprise Group talked in length about Intel's big guns for High Performance Computing (HPC) like Dunnington, Nehalem, Sandy Bridge, AVX instruction set as well as Intel's push for Visual Computing. Gelsinger said that current graphical rendering techniques that rely on rasterization is dead and ray-tracing is the future. In yesterday's technology showcase article, we provided a glimpse into a demo of a ray-traced Quake 4 engine running on both a desktop and a UMPC. To realize their goal for Visual Computing, the Larabee Architecture will be a stepping stone in that direction. Actual demonstration of Larabee in action is not yet available, though we should be able to see something by the Fall IDF.

We won't actually go into any of these technologies however, since we've already covered them in-depth in our Intel CPU Roadmap article. You can check out the article here if you're interested in the technical details of Dunnington, Nehalem and the Larabee Architecture.