Rupert Goodwins' IDF Diary

Wednesday 8/3/2006This is the day I start to lose it. We've had the Core architecture overview in the keynotes.

Wednesday 8/3/2006

This is the day I start to lose it.

We've had the Core architecture overview in the keynotes. We've had the Core architecture overview in the press briefings . We've had the Core architecture overview in the Technology Insights. And now we're promised the very technical side of how it all actually works… which starts with a Core architecture overview and roadmap. An hour in, that's still all we've had.

This is why they don't let journalists carry concealed weapons.

However, I have discovered the answer to the Mystery of the Beard, through the mystic journalistic technique known to adepts as 'asking the man at a party'. Gelsinger grew it in competition with his son, who came back from first year in college covered in chin moss. Moreover, Mrs G managed to pronounce Gelsinger Junior's beard "better" but Gelsinger Senior's "more elegant", thus avoiding any nasty intergenerational warfare. The beards remain, at the pleasure of her indoors. It may happen, says Gelsinger, that he will sacrifice the experiment if his team hit a target, but it'll probably be insufficiently humiliating to count as decent motivation.

I also overhear the following conversation, which can only happen at IDF. There are two engineers, one from Intel, one from Network Appliance.

"Do you know Lincoln Myers?" says Intel Man."I think he's with you."

"Lincoln Myers?" says NetApp. "I know a Linc. Might be him"

"Works only at night." says Intel Man.

"Yeah!" says NetApp, suddenly enthused. "That's him. Cool guy!"

"I know him," says Intel Man. "We play D&D."

"Oh, way cool! He runs the test lab, you know. Is he a good DM?" [Dungeon Master. If you want to know any more about D&D, feel free to ask. Someone else. RG]

"Nah, he just plays. We hang out and drink beer mostly..."

"Waaaaait! Time out! Linc drinks beer?"

"No. I drink the beer."

"Oh, wow. That would have ruined my image of him"

We've been promised seamless access to the wireless network, and at last it's started to work. I know it's working, because every time I want to see a Web page having moved between access points, it says "Well done! You're on seamless access! Press the button to continue!".

Then there's a quick tour around the Technology Showcase. Things that made me go hmmm: lots of working Ultrawideband stuff, all of which is due to be launched in the second half of this year. Not all of it is in pretty packages, but there's cool stuff like portable hard disk drives that whisk your data away in the blink of an eye. There's also an incredibly clever antenna — well, two antennas just a few millimetres apart from each other, but which are unaware of each other's presence. What's broadcast on one isn't picked up on the other, or at least nowhere near as much as it should be. This should be impossible: that the thing's made from a couple of patterns on a printed circuit board makes it twice as weird. For people wanting to put two different wireless systems in one box and have them not interfere with each other, it'll be the bee's knees. I did ask how it worked — apparently it's a slot antenna (good, know about them) next to a dipole (ditto) but the E waves and the M waves are so constructed as to avoid mutual inductive effects. Er, yes. Well, they'll be publishing details in the IEEE Review Of Clever Wireless in the summer, so I'll get back to you then.

Then there was the laptop with a very clever screen hinge that means you can use it in economy — I want one of those, although there'll be a helpful hint on how to double your space in the back of a Virgin 747 at the end of the diary — and any number of Ultra Mobile PCs. The Intel people seemed vaguely embarrassed by Microsoft's Origami push into UMPC territory: "This is clever, but it'll be very difficult to make" said one demonstrator of the pink one with the swivelling keyboard, and "Next year, the batteries will be better and the platform will use less power."

So put your purse away, madam. Don't touch that wallet, sir. 2007? Think again then.

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