CES 2013: Intel Pushes Home and Mobile Platforms Further
At Intel's press conference for CES 2013, the theme of the presentation seemed to be "further." Smartphones were pushed further into the emerging markets. Intel Atom is being pushed toward platforms that do more. Fourth-generation Intel Core (Haswell) is helping push ultrabook prices further down the price scales, while you can go further on a charge. And Intel is hinting at further features for its all-in-one and ultrabook wish lists and requirements.
First off, the Intel Atom Z2420M (Lexington) processor is bringing the smartphone to developing markets like Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Like e-ink feature phones and hand-crank phone chargers, we're unlikely to see this technology in the states, but it shows Intel isn't leaving the rest of the world to Qualcomm and other mobile chip makers.
While 32nm dual-core Intel Atom Z2760 (Clover Trail) is coming into its own with Windows 8 tablets from the top 10 PC makers, Intel is continuing to introduce new platforms with the next generation Atom (Bay Trail). Bay Trail will shrink the technology to 22nm and bring true quad-core to the Atom platform. Intel showed off several reference designs from manufacturers like Compal and Wishtron, heralding tablets that are capable of running both Android and Windows. Look for these tablets closer to the holidays in 2013.
Intel Core processors for ultrabooks and all-in-one desktops were next. Third-generation and fourth-generation Intel Core processors are dropping to #$%$ power consumption on certain SKUs, leading to much better battery life. Kirk Skaugen, VP and general manager of the PC Client group touted 9-plus hour battery life. Fourth-generation Intel Core (Haswell) is expected to bring the price of entry level ultrabooks down to the $599 level, a far cry from the $899 introduction price for the first ultrabooks in 2011. Also shown were a 12.8mm (0.5 inch) thick 15-inch NEC ultrabook, with a three-year-old 15-inch laptop that was almost three times as thick. However, the most notable design was a reference model 18mm-thick detachable ultrabook that has 13 hours of battery life as a clamshell, but once detached, the screen turns into a full Windows 8 tablet that's only 10mm thick. A few hours are lost, but the tablet alone still turns in about 10 hours of battery life.
All-in-ones like the Sony Tap 20 and Lenovo's new IdeaCentre Horizon 27-inch all-in-one were shown next, with the Intel folks highlighting a Hold'Em poker game where the table is the IdeaCentre Horizon and the "cards" can be held in your hand using Android smartphones. Intel is highlighting the large all-in-ones as shared PCs that can be used to play virtual board games like Monopoly, without having to worry about stepping barefoot on a stray green house piece.
Xfinity and Comcast are going to leverage Intel technology with their new XG5 home gateway. Intel said that new Intel ultrabooks and all-in-one PCs and tablets will be able to view premium channels and content without having to use a decoder like a cable box or CableCard.
Last but not least, the Intel Perceptual Computing SDK Beta was demonstrated, using an USB-connected 3D camera with voice, gesture, and facial recognition built in. This Kinect-style camera was shown in both a tech demo (grabbing and throwing a stream of gold coins flowing from a genie's fountain), as well as aspects of gameplay in Portal 2. Intel will be encouraging OEMs to build this technology into the next (or next next) generation of ultrabooks and all-in-one PCs. Taking the interface further, eye tracking was shown to play a game of Where's Waldo without using a mouse, trackpad, or even the user's arms.