Expect an Explosion of Connectivity

By David Needle

June 07, 2006

Intel reveals diverse R&D efforts and recommits to communications efforts.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Don't get too comfortable with wireless options like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Oh, no, they're not going anywhere. They'll just soon have a lot of company crowding your mobile PC.

In the next few years Intel predicts the number of radio technologies that connect mobile users to the Internet and each other to expand beyond Wi-Fi to include GPS, DVB (Digital Video Broadcast), WiMax, , UWB (Ultra-Wide-Band) and 3G.

"You can expect an explosion of radios in platforms by 2009," said Justin Rattner, Intel's chief technology officer, at an event here at company headquarters showcasing a diverse number of its research efforts.

Rattner said Intel is working in its labs and with partners on the many challenges of putting all that communications technology in a mobile PC. In addition to the physical issue of packing all the radios and antennas in a small space, engineers and developers have to be sure the communication pieces can all operate without interfering with one another. Also, each new technology requires power, yet Intel, AMD , and others are aggressively pursuing ways to reduce power consumption in mobile systems.

"You have to get much smarter about how you do it than we are today," said Rattner. Citing unnamed sources, a recent article in the San Jose Mercury News claimed Intel has lost billions of dollars the past several years on investments in various communications businesses and is now trying to sell the unit.

Specifically the report said Intel wants to shed its communications processor business. That includes the IXP network processor and its Xscale microprocessor business, which makes chips for cell phones and handheld computers. Other businesses are potentially for sale as well.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini announced in April that the company had started a 90-day top-to-bottom review of operations that it expects to result in a billion dollars in direct spending savings going forward.

But in an interview with internetnews.com, Rattner said decisions on different aspects of the company's communications businesses would have no effect on its core R&D in areas like Wi-Fi and WiMax.

"Our investment is holding steady," said Rattner. "Our view going forward is that radios will become more integral and more deeply a part of the platform."

Alan Crouch, director of Intel's communications technology lab, said he's confident technology advances will enable mobile systems to handle simultaneous transmissions and radio-to-radio communication without interference in the next few years.

"We think a digitally enhanced, multi-radio approach is the way to go," said Crouch. "It's a big focus of our efforts."

Comment and Contribute
(Maximum characters: 1200). You have
characters left.