Intel followed up their R&D briefing with the Tech-a-Palooza panel headed by Dr. Andrew Chien, a new face in Intel holding the roles of Vice President of the Corporate Technology Group and Director of Research. Intel briefly disclosed a few research initiatives including Wireless Identification Sensing Platform (WISP), which from what we could tell was RFID without batteries and Distributed Communication, a research into overcoming wireless overpopulation through multi-hop relays (Mesh) or ensemble relays (virtual MIMO). Highlights of Tech-a-Palooza included announcements on some of the major initiatives Intel has their hands in and they are briefly outlined below.
For anyone following the news, a UDI (Unified Display Interface) SIG was formed in January 2006 to produce a next-generation PC display interface to replace VGA, DVI and HDMI or more commonly known as 'yet another display interface'; as if we do not have enough connection headaches of late. Intel has an update on UDI, stating that spec revision 0.8 has been published and they hope that revision 1.0 can roll out by Q2 2006. For those in the dark, UDI is basically HDMI for the PC, without carrying audio and supposedly has higher performance modes. Although UDI offers compatibility with both HDMI and DVI devices, the question on everyone's mind is clear. Why create yet another display connection interface? Why can't we stick with DVI? Well according to Intel, DVI only has about 30% penetration rate and there isn't a DVI group anymore, which renders the technology stagnant.
Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFI)
Intel announced a new initiative with its partners (which Intel was mum about who exactly these partners were as they said the group isn't officially formed yet) to define a uniform NAND flash component interface. Intel was quick to stress that this isn't a new flash card standard, but a unified raw NAND component interface. The problem, according to Intel is that there are many different flash technologies and controllers, which may not work with each other universally. This initiative is also closely tied to Intel's Robson cache technology, which uses NAND flash for storage enhancements. A standard flash interface would not only help accelerate NAND technology development but also product cycles.
The 802.21 standard is very similar to the Seamless Access technology previously reported. It deals with heterogeneous network operation, specifically facilitating roaming network connectivity. Imaging today's cellular networks with auto-roaming capabilities. When you travel to another country for example, your cellular network with roaming capabilities will automatically connect you to a foreign-compatible network. The IEEE 802.21 standard is trying to enable this same form of network interoperability expanded to cover both 802.x networks (WiFi and WiMax) as well as cellular. The latest draft specification has been released, but still do not expect this standard to proliferate the next generation of cellular or mobile products as of yet.
Intel first launched the CE-ATA standards initiative during IDF Fall 2004 as a small form factor storage standard for handheld and CE devices. Since then, this is the first news we've heard of its development and progress. Knut Grimsrud, Director of Storage Architecture shared with us that the CE-ATA interface is alive and kicking with Intel even having products available on showcase this IDF. However, he did not shed any more information on the subject, but hinted at Sean Maloney's Mobility keynote address tomorrow. Well, guess we'll just have to wait another day.
Certified Wireless USB
Intel has been feverishly working on the WUSB standards and was quite proud to announce the completion of the Certified Wireless USB Association Models Specification 1.0, a companion specification set to Wireless USB 1.0. Certified Wireless USB promises first time device association, better security features and interoperability within all devices that complies with its standards. Now, while you may not find WUSB products en masse out in the market, let alone Certified ones, Intel is confident that Wireless USB 1.0 will ramp faster than USB 1.0 initially did due to the success of USB 2.0. We on the other hand will have to wait and see how this turns out in the near future.