Intel

Intel’s Android Reference device gets a 3791 Quadrant score, battery life remains unknown

Here’s a video of Intel’s Android reference device running the Quadrant benchmark.  The device scored 3791 – not bad but not outstanding.  Unfortunately Quadrant was the only benchmarking app on the device and Intel’s show floor reps weren’t enthusiastic about allowing new apps to be downloaded on the device.  I also didn’t get a good sense of battery life on the reference device in the short time I was using it.

Intel’s Android reference device runs an Intel Atom Z2460 processor, which is a single-core chip running at 1.6GHz.  The version of Android was 2.3.7 Gingerbread.

The hardware design of the phone was pretty unremarkable, but again this is a reference device.

Intel’s Light Peak technology faces an uphill battle, even with support from Apple

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In case you haven’t heard, Apple is expected to announce an updated version of its popular MacBook Pro notebook within the next few weeks.  Along with a rumored update to Intel’s Sandy Bridge chipset, Apple’s new MacBook Pros will reportedly feature Intel’s Light Peak technology.

So what is Light Peak?

Light Peak was first announced in 2009, and was originally expected to ship in products by 2010.  The technology allows for bidirectional, multi-protocol transfers up to 10Gbps, with transfer rates of up to 100Gbps expected within the next decade.  With that bandwidth, you can transfer a Blu Ray movie in less than 35 seconds, and since Light Peak supports multiple protocols the technology can support a wide array of devices, from monitors to external hard drives, simultaneously.

Sounds great, right?  But here are a few reasons why Light Peak will struggle to win widespread adoption, even if the technology is implemented in Apple’s new MacBook Pros:

New equipment:  Like any new technology, Light Peak will require users to purchase new equipment.  To take advantage of Light Peak, you’ll need Light Peak hubs, Light Peak monitors, and Light Peak external hard drives.  That means users switching to a Light Peak environment will need to shell out quite a bit of cash, which would be fine except:

Who needs that much bandwidth?:  10Gbps sounds great, but really, who needs to transfer a Blu Ray movie from one location to another in 35 seconds?  If you want to watch a movie on a TV, DVI or HDMI works fine, especially if moving to Light Peak means you have to ditch your existing monitors and TVs for Light Peak-enabled viewing devices.  Light Peak might make sense if it were wireless, but:

Light Peak is not wireless:  I’d love to open up my notebook and automatically connect to my monitor, external hard drives and other peripherals without plugging in a cord.  But that’s not what Light Peak offers.  Sure, Light Peak can support all these devices simultaneously, but to do so, you’ll need to purchase a Light Peak-enabled notebook, along with a Light Peak hub and replace all of your existing USB devices with Light Peak devices.  That would be great, except:

We have a single cord solution already:  For most of us, USB cords and USB hubs work fine.  Plug in a single USB cord into your computer, and you can connect your keyboard, mouse, external drives and printer.  The only thing that doesn’t work well over USB at the moment are HD displays…but if I have to choose between plugging in a separate DVI/HDMI cable or replacing my notebook as well as all my peripherals with Light Peak-enabled devices, I think I’ll be able to deal with the additional cord.  Light Peak would make sense if I had 10Gbps of data coming in through my Comcast modem, but:

The Internet is too slow:  We don’t need Light Peak right now because we don’t have enough content to make use of Light Peak’s 10Gbps bandwidth.  With my Internet downstream speeds maxing out at 20Mbps on a good day (or more accurately during the middle of the night), I don’t really have enough content to make use of a 10Gbps connection.  Sure, if I had 4K content streaming over my Internet connection, Light Peak might make sense, but at this point the connection between my computer and my peripherals is not the weak link in the chain.

Still, it’s dangerous to take Apple for granted.  The company did kill off the floppy after all.  If any company could initiate a shift to a new standard, it’s Apple.  However, Apple doesn’t have a perfect track record – FireWire and DisplayPort are not adopted widely, and Intel has similar failures on its record, such as WiDi (which had some real potential).

Light Peak seems like great technology, it really does.  But the cost of replacing existing USB and VGA/DVI/HDMI peripherals is just too much compared to the value that Light Peak offers.  There’s no doubt that in the future we’ll be relying on high bandwidth technologies like Light Peak.  The problem is:

we just don’t need Light Peak now.

Giada Tech’s Slim i30 nettop PC passes through the FCC

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Chinese PC manufacturer Giada Tech passed their Slim-i30 nettop PC through the FCC today, and I have to admit the device is pretty impressive.  Measuring only 21mm thick, the i30 rocks a single or dual core Atom processor, and Nvidia ION GPU, gigabit Ethernet and 802.11 b/g/n WiFi.  The device also sports 2 USB ports, a combo USB and e-SATA port, and HDMI out.

No word on when or if the i30 will make its way to the US, but today’s FCC filing suggests that Giada has plans to bring the nettop to the States in the near future.

Lenovo U610 notebook appears on Intel FCC filing

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A new notebook called the Lenovo U610 appeared on the FCC today, thanks to a filing by Intel.  The U610 is listed as a host for Intel’s Centrino Wireless-N module that provides 802.11 b/g/n wireless connectivity.

Lenovo’s U-series notebooks currently offer Intel Core 2 Duo processors running at 1.3 GHz.  The naming convention for the U-series suggests that the U610 will have a screen in the 16” range.

We don’t know much else at this point, but today’s FCC filing suggests that Lenovo will soon announce a new addition to its U-series lineup.

Intel gets official with its next generation Atom platform

After months of hype, Intel formally unveiled its next generation Atom platform today.  The platform includes the single core Atom N450 and NM10 Express Chipset for netbooks, as well as the single core D410 and dual core D510 for desktops.

The N450, formerly known as the PineView, crams a CPU, GPU and memory controller on a single chip.  This means that the device will be 60% smaller and 20% more efficient than previous versions of the Atom.  However, the N450 won’t be getting any faster – its single core is still clocked at 1.66 GHz, with 512 KB of cache.

So far we are aware of 11 netbooks that will use the N450:

In total, Intel claims 80 netbook design wins for the N450 from vendors such as ASUS, Acer, Dell, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Samsung and MSI.   These systems will be available starting January 4, 2010, which coincides nicely with CES.

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