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

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

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

    Good article. I can see this as the beginnings of which content types and applications can be written once with delivery being device agnostic.
    • Agnostic? Not likely

      @Prognosticator - This mechanism allows servers to know more details, not less, about the recipient technology. If they were truly agnostic, they would not need to know.
  • My, how things change

    The intent of the original HTML design was that servers delivered information and that the browser handled presentation. The world seems to have yielded without complaint to the control freaks, particularly commercial marketers, and given them control over every pixel in the display.<br><br>Perhaps this is part of the change of intent. The web/html were designed to promote sharing of ideas and information that would be of benefit to the world. The primary use now is to make sales.

    The concept is well understood when considering "...enable other processor manufacturers to take advantage..." as a key point.
  • Reinventing the wheel

    Let's be clear here, this is not new; the need to understand endpoint capabilities date back to the earliest microbrowsers that utilized the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) standard. To suggest that this is a new problem that requires a new solution is to fail to understand the history of Web apps and the solutions that already exist.

    The overlap between what is described here is and the existing Wireless Abstraction Library (WALL) markup language and Wireless Universal Resource File (WURFL) database is significant to say the least. The WURFL contains over 500 capabilities for each device, broken up into 30 groups and covers everything from basic capabilities such as screen size through to more advanced features such whether or not a phone?s IMEI number is accessible or if support is provided for video playback or flash content.

    At the same time Intel isn't going far enough. WALL and WURFL look at device capabilities rather than real-time session state, Intel's approach extends this to real-time capabilities, but does not consider operational context i.e., it ignores time of day (do you want your web app to alert you to an event at 3 am), location (or if you are in a movie theater should that alert the audible) and other aspects of context that become increasingly relevant with ubiquitous availability of mobile endpoints.

    Intel needs to work a lot harder here both to support WALL and WURFL, and to extend this current initiative well beyond the low hanging fruit of the hardware.
  • I remember when ARM was just a module on old...

    old cell phones. It was because of Motorola Flex-X Technology and Sprint Data trend solutions that they were ever even able to create ARM. Now, it's got Hdd-reg capes and is fully loaded on the new Windows 8 phones. Well, yea...

    And, what's this about AMD now...? Having the boot on the integration with this chips future possibilities and the cloud technologies coming together here.

    The comments about the old style' client systems and the uses they offered are cool and this article was very interesting!
  • RE: Intel bridges cloud and client hardware: 'Client aware' web applications

    Listen, ZDNet: while I appreciate all of the opinions and information you strive to provide, and how quickly you provide it, would it be possible to hire some good copy editors? It is scary how poorly written this piece is. It violates a half-dozen basic rules of grammar and contains other errors that could easily have been caught with a simple re-read of the text prior to publishing.<br>For example: "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 dont have Flash functionality, and this is 2011."<br>Seriously? Does that "paragraph" really seem grammatically correct to you? Might I suggest Strunk and White's classic, <i>The Elements of Style</i>?<br>Or how about this: "Intel has developed a technology to for cloud-based web applications to recognise the hardware capabilities from client computers...." Can anyone spot the extra preposition here? <br>I realize my exposition is somewhat off-topic but I'm starting to get embarrassed for you guys.
    • RE: Intel bridges cloud and client hardware: 'Client aware' web applications

      @scrumptulensence Well, yeah... but when have this author's articles ever been up to any demanding standard? (As an aside, it seems to me that 'Honors' doesn't mean the same thing overseas as it does here in the States.)
    • RE: Intel bridges cloud and client hardware: 'Client aware' web applications

      @scrumptulensence I noticed the same thing, I think it's this generation. My wife is a college professor and you wouldn't believe some of the horrible writing she shows me. It's like they just don't think it's important. I have no formal education and I know my writing is far from perfect, but I see stuff that these college students write, and it is quite often many times worse than the informal posts that I make on these blogs. I'm talking about words that don't even exist and using "there" when they mean "they are" Instead of using "they're" and numerous other things.