Intel expects rise in tablet and smartphone share

Intel predicts it will power industry-leading tablets and phones in 2011

Tags: Context awarenessIntel AtomIntel CorporationMicroprocessor
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Intel expects rise in tablet and smartphone share Intel CTO Justin Rattner made his predictions for technology trends in 2011. (ITP Images)
By  Mark Sutton Published  December 13, 2010

Intel is looking to dominance in the tablet space, according to its chief technology officer. Speaking to media in Dubai, Justin Rattner, Intel CTO, VP and senior fellow, Intel Labs, said that the company now has the processors to deliver in the tablet and smartphone space, where rivals chips have taken the lead.

"I think it is about to change dramatically, we are very bullish in the tablet space. You are going to see 35 Atom-based tablets at CES [the Consumer Electronics Show], so we think we are very close to what could be a near clean-sweep in terms of tablets," Rattner said.

Rattner said that the previous Menlo and Moorestown generations of Intel processors had not been able to match all of the power consumption features of ARM processors, but that the company's upcoming Medfield processor will outperform its rival.

"We have been working our way to the point where we could be competitive in the smartphone space. We think we can meet or beat ARM from a battery life energy consumption point of view and clearly beat them in terms of performance," he added.

The introduction of the Medfield processors early in 2011 will lead to the emergence of industry-leading Intel-based smartphones, Rattner predicted, with at one ‘hero' phone released next year.

The 37 year Intel veteran, who was the company's first Principal Engineer, was presenting the company's predictions for developments in the technology industry for 2011, including discussions of Moore's Law, smart TV, security, energy consumption and context-aware mobile devices.

On Moore's Law, which says that the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years, Rattner said that the principle still holds, but that chip production is entering a period of dramatic change as innovations such as HiK metal gate and non-silicon surface transistors come into play.

"This is a very interesting time in the evolution of chip technology, we are seeing a rapid evolution of the fundamental transistor design architecture. In the next two or three processor generations, you are going to see more dramatic changes in the way we build transistors. There is a rapid change going on," he commented.

In the smart TV sector, Rattner pointed to the launch of smart devices that include a lot more computing power than conventional TVs, such as products from Sony, Logitech, Boxee and Cisco, and how they will change the viewing experience. Homes are also likely to see more efforts to easily monitor, and reduce power consumption, through the use of easy to install monitoring devices, that will make households more aware of which appliances are using energy, and the potential to reduce the environmental impact of that.

In security, Intel is focused on developing solutions which will be based on hardware capabilities, to be able to stop previously unseen attacks as they happen, rather than relying on software to block vulnerabilities once they have been exploited.

"We want to make security a part of the Intel brand proposition," Rattner said. "That will come in the form of both a better silicon defense, so improving the detection capability for anti-virus systems, essentially providing them with a zero day [defence], which cannot be done in software, can only be done in hardware."

Rattner also expects to see the first wave of context aware mobile devices in the coming year. The concept centres around mobile devices drawing data from both ‘hard' sensors, like compass, gyros, GPS, accelerators, cameras and so on, and ‘soft' sensors such as personal data input into the device such as calendar data, interests, social network and so on. The data can then be processed by software, in this case the Intel Context Engine, which then allows the device to make suggestions to the user about activities, events and so on.

Intel completed a pilot project with Fodor's Travel in New York earlier this year, using mobile internet devices to give recommendations to tourists, which Rattner said was highly successful. The device had a rich set of hard sensors to know the users location and activity, coupled with soft sensors that registered the user's calendar, preferences for food, leisure interests and so on, and was then able to make suggestions on places to visit, or to trigger suggestions when the user was close to things of interest to them. The device also automatically blogged on the user's trip.

"We believe that in the very near future, as earliest as the middle of next year, you will see devices that can tell you who you are with, what you are doing, where you are going, whether it is time for an appointment, and they can even tell you how you are feeling, by looking at things like facial analysis. These devices, in the next few years, will know so much about you, they will really become like your closest friend, your personal assistant," Rattner said.

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