SAN JOSE, Calif. – As I write this article, Brian Krzanich is reviewing demos for his second annual keynote at the Intel Developer Forum, the biggest event of the world’s biggest chipmaker. So all the details of what gets announced and what doesn’t are still TBD, but it’s looking as if, sans surprises, he won’t have the biggest headlines of the day.
Krzanich will be taking the stage about the same time Tim Cook is expected to hold up the iPhone 6 -- and maybe an iWatch and an iPhablet -- at an event just down the street. Apple’s chief executive is likely to command most of the attention next week for systems that won’t have x86 chips inside them.
Krzanich held up the first Quark CPU for IoT at IDF 2013.
1. Quark gets traction in IoT
At his first IDF last year Krzanich got his share of the limelight for announcing Quark, a Pentium-class processor, targeting the Internet of Things. This year Intel’s CEO needs to show Quark is getting some traction, and that’s expected to be one of his central themes.
Krzanich already showed Quark riding an Arduino board for the Maker community. Expect more focus on Maker IoT markets at IDF. Another IoT focus will be wearables such as the Open Ceremony bracelet Intel announced at the New York Fashion Week and expected to go on sale later this year. A few robots may even troop across the IDF stage to rally for Quark.
It’s all good theater, but not big news.
“If you go to a conference today and they don’t talk about IoT you are probably not on this planet,” says Nathan Brookwood, principal of market watcher Insight64, of Saratoga, Calif. “It seems like Intel will mainly be talking in greater detail about things we already know about and not a lot of ‘gee whiz’ new things.”
2. Broadwell powers converta-tabs
One of Intel’s biggest news announcements of the year came just a few weeks ago. The first versions of its next flagship processor, the 14nm Broadwell, are now shipping as the Core M for 2-in-1 notebook/tablets.
Intel’s Kirk Skaugen is formally releasing Core M at the IFA consumer event in Berlin Sept. 5. It’s Intel’s strongest play at the moment, powering fanless, thin-and-light x86 notebooks that turn into tablets, competing in a market increasingly dominated by ARM-based tablets that are starting to act like notebooks.
Way back at Computex in June Intel was already showing Llama Mountain, its reference design for the Core M systems. In Berlin IFA is already awash with Wintel tabs, some hitting price points as low as $120 using the Atom-based Bay Trail SoCs, and Microsoft’s new willingness to give away OEM copies of Windows in exchange of hopes for more eyeballs on Bing and its other online services.
Broadwell is all about lower power to enable Macbook Air and iPad-like designs, where all the action is. And that’s OK because “the x86 performance Intel offers is more than adequate for all but the most demanding mobile users,” says Brookwood.
Next page: 14nm process, 22nm servers