Intel talks up telecoms, TV and Stephen Hawking

IDF: Intel chief technology officer Pat Gelsinger kicked off the IDF Solutions Conference in Barcelona today, outlining Intel's ambitions in the markets for telecommunications and home entertainment

In a reprise of his recent speech at IDF in the US, Gelsinger said that the technology industry had been through a period of "irrational exuberance" during which growth was unsustainable, resulting in the bubble that burst in 2000. After that turbulence, Intel was finally seeing sustainable growth, he said, with Intel's contribution to that growth being ever larger and faster processors.

Itanium 2, Intel's 64-bit processor, is No.1 in performance, according to Gelsinger, but relatively slow uptake of its next-generation architecture has led Intel to produce a version of its Xeon processor with 64-bit addressing extensions. This allows the 32-bit processor to handle greater amounts of memory without needing to recompile existing applications. Microsoft is working on a version of Windows that uses these extended processors but no launch date was given at the conference.

Intel is keen to tap into the telecoms sector of the market, and sees wireless and optical technologies as the key. Gelsinger pointed out the rapid growth of Wi-Fi and was keen to stress how WiMax wireless broadband would simplify building out network infrastructure.

Optical communications -- not known as one of Intel's strong points -- is also an area for innovation. The company has recently created an silicon optical modulator chip that works at up to 1Gbps, 50 times faster than previously achieved, as reported by ZDNet UK. Using silicon for the modulator makes fabrication cheaper. He reprised the demo of the prototype given at IDF in the US earlier in the year.

Intel also sees a lot of growth in consumer technology, particularly digital home entertainment. The new breed of entertainment PCs are generally based around Intel's desktop processors. Gelsinger said that the Digital Home Working Group is working to create a set of standards allowing interoperability between PCs, digital video recorders and other consumer products. Intel sees technologies such as Ultra Wide Band (UWB) wireless and Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCOS) as real opportunities for growth in the home. UWB allows high-speed communication over short ranges, making video over wireless a possibility, which LCOS brings the benefits of silicon-based fabrication to displays, the aim being to bring down the cost of large LCDs.

"We want to bring Moore's Law to TVs," said Gelsinger.

There was a 15-minute delay to allow delegates to pass through the tightened security at the conference centre. Gelsinger was accompanied on stage by video clips of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Professor Stephen Hawking, who revealed that his wheelchair computer is Intel-powered.