Five years ago: Intel wants a Pentium in every car

Not content with making its chips ubiquitous in PCs, Intel wants to put a Pentium in your car

In a press release sent out last Friday, the firm detailed plans to put PC technology into vehicles for communications, entertainment, emergency and navigation systems. According to the chip giant, emerging trends will be ideally suited to in-vehicle systems. For instance, users can get multimedia information from the Internet through voice commands processed by MMX Pentiums, and store huge amounts of navigational, weather or other data on DVD drives.

"This is not a futuristic concept. The basic technology that could enable these applications in the vehicle is here today", said Ron Smith, vice president of Intel's semiconductor products group. " The automobile is the next logical venue to adopt this technology."

Intel said that using PC technology made sense as it is cost-effective, allows drivers to access a huge software base that is compatible with PCs used in offices and in mobile PCs "on the road", and can easily be upgraded.

The starting point is a new reference platform for hardware and software developers to create native applications or port existing applications. Intel also plans a developer conference in 1997.

PCDN Comment: This may not be as bizarre as it sounds. Sales forces already use mobile PCs with AutoRoute or a similar journey planner and chips control several in-car functions. The key question is whether the Pentium's PC compatibility can justify its high price compared to dedicated devices that could achieve similar tasks at a lower price. One to watch.