Intel rounds off IDF with news of wireless and 3D

IDF: As its developer forum comes to a close, Intel has released news of ultrawideband, wireless standards, 3D and Serial ATA

Intel finished off IDF with a short burst of news updates from around the company.

First up was 3D Industry Forum news. Intel started this forum in 2003 with a focus on the computer-aided design market, currently the largest user of 3D. By now, it has broadened its scope to consider business and other applications and has members from outside the computer and engineering industries. It is currently developing a specification not just for representing 3D objects, but also for ways to efficiently transfer them and make them usable by a wide variety of different applications and non-technical people. The proposed standard, U3D, should be "the JPEG for 3D data", according to the company. First proposals will be published later this year, with public open source software available in the first quarter of 2005.

Ultrawideband was next, with four companies -- Intel, NEC, Texas Instruments and Wisair -- demonstrating different products exchanging data over Wireless USB, the group charged with making the Multi-Band OFDM Alliance's broadband wireless data standard into a commercial success. "These technologies are on track for introduction into the market in 2005," said Intel strategist Jeff Ravencraft, who heads the Wireless USB Promoter group. However, the company also reported that as far as they could tell, the IEEE 802.15.3a standards group was still in deadlock and no official specification would be forthcoming in the foreseeable future. The MB-OFDM alliance is locked in combat with the Direct Sequence UWB group, led by Motorola spin-off Freescale who announced development of mini-PCI adaptor cards earlier this week.

Intel is also involved in another wireless data standard, 802.11n, which is in the early stages of the standardisation process. The company said that the 100Mbps Wi-Fi derivative was currently on course for the first draft of the completed standard towards the end of 2006 or the beginning of 2007, with three complete and 26 partial proposals on the table. It expects the final standard to be an amalgamation of ideas from a variety of these, and for the technology to be most useful in the digital home for file and video transfers. Intel is a member of the TGn Sync Alliance, together with Cisco, Philips, Sony, Nokia and others. Its companion in MB-OFDM, Texas Instruments, is not in this group -- it is a member of a rival 802.11n consortium called WWiSE.

Serial-ATA is growing apace, the company said. A 3Gbps specification was agreed at the beginning of July, and products are already available. S-ATA's industry supporters have now formed a new group, SATA-IO, which will continue to develop the standard and organise the logo and compliance testing. Meanwhile, another new storage interface initiative has been launched, this time aimed at consumer electronics. CE-ATA will move some of the ideas of S-ATA - efficient interfaces, ease of connection and high performance -- into the world of very small disk drives, and brings together Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, Marvell Semiconductor, Seagate Technology and Toshiba America Information Systems.