Intel pushes core arrays, WiMax
SAN FRANCISCO -- Intel unfurled a vision of processors this morning that goes well beyond its traditional markets, pushing into verticals such as financial services and high-end graphics, as well as global wireless communication via WiMax.
The efforts put Intel into some new competitive arenas. It will be competing head-to-head with Sun Microsystems and IBM, for example, in the financial arena. Sun has been a key player in financial services for years, and IBM has made a push in the past month with its eight-core Cell processor, touting its raw performance in mathematical calculations.
Intel has made overtures into this market in the past, but largely in partnership with companies using multiple arrays of its chips as a low-cost alternative to Sun’s Sparc and servers from IBM that feature both Power and Intel chips. Paul Otellini, Intel president and CEO, said the new multicore “Larrabee” chips that Intel will begin demonstrating in 2008 will offer arrays of highly parallel cores on a single chip. If the chips work as promised, that could make Intel a serious force to contend with in this market instead of just a lesser option.
The company also plans to use the Larrabee platform to tap other markets such as graphics, where it is pitching its compatibility with existing software applications, and to further cement its presence in health care, where Intel chips coupled with Linux are considered the standard for such areas as bioinformatics.
Intel’s push into global wireless communications via WiMax has been more of a leap of faith for developers, however. While Intel rolled out its first WiMax product in 2005, WiMax itself has been relatively slow to catch on. Otellini predicted rapid change and widespread adoption of WiMax over the next few years because of its ubiquity, low cost and enormous user capacity. He said there currently are 120 trials worldwide, and said 150 million people will be covered by WiMax in 2008. That number will rise to 750 million in 2010 and 1.3 billion people in 2012, he said.
As proof, Otellini pointed to new PCs and motherboards that will be released next year containing a new Intel module with integrated WiFi and WiMax, code named Echo Peak, from Lenovo, Acer, Asus, Toshiba and Panasonic. He said that in addition to the publicized trials by Sprint and Clearwire in the United States, Intel is investing with KDDI in a trial in Japan.
“We are on the cusp of a new global network,” Otellini said.
For related IDF news, see "Intel's 45-nm Nehalem hits silicon, Otellini says 32-nm test chips in production."