SAN JOSE, Calif. Intel Corp. will unveil at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF, Feb. 17-19) a hybrid I/O architecture that melds ultrawideband, USB and new ingredients to create a multimedia interconnect for consumer and computer gear. The so-called wireless USB specification will be supported by a new alliance to be unveiled at IDF.
Separately, Intel will discuss the company's first communications chips to use its 90-nm process, and some details about its thinking on a 64-bit x86 at the event in San Francisco.
Wireless USB will support 480 Mbit/s transfers over four meters and 110 Mbits/s over 10 meters. Backers include many of the companies currently supporting the wired USB 2.0, said an Intel spokesman.
The interconnect will include new streaming media enhancements to the existing wired USB spec. Proponents see the new specification as the first multimedia interconnect that could be broadly embraced by consumer and computer systems including PCs, digital cameras and camcorders and MP3 players.
Wireless USB will be based on the multiband OFDM technology backed by an industry alliance that includes Intel. It also blends in the common UWB radio platform defined by the WiMedia alliance.
The UWB and wireless USB specifications are in the early stages of definition. Systems using wireless USB are not expected to ship until sometime in 2005.
The Intel spokesman would not confirm or deny reports that the company will demonstrate a 64-bit x86 at IDF. However, he did say "the subject will be brokered," probably in the keynote address of Craig Barrett, Intel's chief executive.
Intel could damage market potential of its emerging 64-bit Itanium processor co-developed with Hewlett-Packard by disclosing too soon its 64-bit plans for the more mainstream Pentium, said Nathan Brookwood, market watcher with Insight64 (Saratoga, Calif.).
"Right now Itanium is at a very fragile point. Its gaining momentum, but it has not had a big impact on the collective conscious of the IT community yet," Brookwood said.
John Davies, vice president of Intel's sales and marketing group, said more than 100,000 Itanium systems were sold in 2003, hitting Intel's market goal. "You'll see significant [Itanium] growth this year," he added.
In other news, Davies said Intel will announce its first 90-nm communications processors at IDF with plans to apply the in-house technology across its portfolio of wired and wireless parts. Previously, foundries such as TSMC made at least some of Intel's communications chips, Davies said.
In total, Intel will make as many as 16 new announcements at IDF. Third parties are planning about a dozen more, said the Intel spokesman.
Other news at IDF will include new tools to ensure interoperability of digital home products, new NOR flash technology and the creation of a memory implementers' forum to address issues with DDR II and a front-side bus in-line memory module.
Intel holds IDF twice a year. This marks the eighth year for the conference.