Intel bridges cloud and client hardware: 'Client aware' web applications

Summary:A new technology built by Intel can bridge the cloud-based web application and the base hardware of any device you use, scaling the experience to suit the device down to a tee.

Zack Whittaker is in Portland, Oregon.

This week I attended the Intel's 'Day in the Cloud' event in Portland, Oregon, which focused on the latest happenings in cloud computing and the next generation of datacenters. In this series of posts, I explore cloud computing and the affect and impact it has on the next generation IT worker and in the educational setting, and the consumer perception of the cloud by the Generation Y.

Intel has developed a technology to for cloud-based web applications to recognise the hardware capabilities from client computers, leading to a better optimised experience for end users.

The increasingly changing landscape of devices from tablets and smartphones, all the way through to high-end PCs, is causing a greater headache for those creating web applications and websites, from Facebook through to your web-based email.

Simply put, there are so many devices with different platforms and wide ranging capabilities, web applications only half the time work at their full potential. iPads still don't have Flash functionality, and this is 2011.

Intel has created a set of APIs lets web developers to add simple JavaScript to their websites and applications, accessing information about the processor, bandwidth, screen resolution and other device-specific information.

This is in the hope that applications can automatically adapt to the client based on the capability of that device.

If YouTube, for example, implements this technology, it would allow the website to detect low bandwidth or that you are using a netbook and therefore not very capable of streaming high definition 1080p content, and automatically switch to 480p video; all invisibly to the end user.

Equally, if you are on a mobile device in a free Wi-Fi area but are using a 3G connection, a website could advise you to switch to the money-saving alternative.

But it works both ways. The greater spectrum of technology that you have on your device, the web application or website could display the very best of content based on your hardware capability, whereas devices with little capacity could be given the same but different interface to optimise for lower-capacity hardware.

Servers already carry out this function by fitting large pages into optimised mobile screens, making them viewable on mobile devices.

But this isn't enough for Intel, which wants to enable computers and devices running its processors to be able to dynamically react to the ever changing capability of the cloud web application.

At this stage, though the APIs are available to work with and a client-side browser plugin is needed, the vision is greater than the success that has already been accomplished. Though witnessing a working model, it is clear to see that the technology works, and by far reaches the vision intended by the company.

However, Intel is rightfully aware that not everyone uses a device running their processors, which leads to an entire demographic of users who are not able to take advantage of these new APIs.

As a result of this, Intel is working towards industry standardisation to enable other processor manufacturers to take advantage of this technology.

Though still in an early stage, this technology has no official name and is not much more than a proof of concept. Yet the path to success will be shown with universal adoption as well as openness and co-operation with other chip manufacturers, like AMD and ARM.

Disclosure: Intel provided flights and a hotel for my time in Portland, and was under no obligation to write anything - let alone anything nice, for that matter.

Topics: Software Development, Browser, Cloud, Hardware, Intel

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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