For anyone who wonders what next year's computers will look like, it's comforting to realise that Intel doesn't know either. But it wants to find out. To that end, the company unveiled a new idea at IDF on Wednesday, the Concept Platform PC. Named Lecta, this fully working model shows how Intel surmises home computing may develop. It brings together many of the company's ideas and drops features that may have made the transition from legacy to useless, but its intent is not so much to lay down the law but provoke a reaction.
The plan is that during this year, anyone with an interest in PC design can comment on Lecta's mix of attributes. By autumn, Intel will take this industry feedback and crystallise it in a reference platform, code-named Statesboro, which it will then offer as a basic guideline for people developing software and hardware.
"We've dropped the floppy and some legacy connections" said Tom Quillin, Strategy and Marketing Manager in Intel's Desktop Platform Solutions Division, "but do we know the time is right for this? No. We want the industry to tell us what it thinks."
Although Lecta lacks a floppy drive, it bristles with other features designed to give it a central point in the home.A DVD Multi Drive plays and records DVDs and CDs, a TV tuner sucks in live entertainment and a Digital Video Interface and 6 channel audio blows it out again. And this being Intel's baby, it also has 802.11a wireless networking, gigabit Ethernet, multiple 1394 ports for digital video, and no fewer than eight USB 2.0 connections. Some of these are external for keyboard, mouse, scanner, camera and so on: some are internal and support options such as a Flash Media drive or Bluetooth modules -- although Bluetooth is not in the specification, it was mentioned as a possibility at Lecta's launch. Serial ATA handles the hard disks, Intel Integrated Graphics takes care of the desktop and everything's coordinated with a Prescott next-generation Pentium 4 chip.
At the launch, Lecta was shown sending still pictures and digital audio to a wireless browsing device plugged into a TV -- Intel hopes that promoting this sort of potential will encourage other companies to develop the hardware devices that make this possible. "You can have the PC in your study and use it to do your taxes or whatever," said Quillin, "while the rest of the family is using it from the front room."
Previously, Intel and Microsoft had collaborated on a set of yearly PC standard reference platforms: Microsoft has continued to offer guidelines that allows a PC to sport a Windows sticker, and contributed to Lecta's feature set alongside other industry companies.
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