Microprocessor design hit a wall in the first half of this decade with Intel unable to deliver a 4gHz Pentium chip and IBM unable to deliver Apple a 3gHz PowerPC G5 chip or a G5 at any speed suitable for laptop computers. And so, at the Intel Developer's Forum yesterday, Intel CEO Paul Ottelini showed off the future of microprocessing - the dual-core processor, which will allow a 10-fold increase in performance with lower power consumption.
From now on, Ottelini said, chip performance will be measured "per watt." The change in design philosophy may prove to be groundshifting. The San Francisco Chronicle reported:
Intel will have chips that use as little as 5 watts of electricity for small notebooks, he said. Soon after, the firm will have versions of chips that require 0.5 watt of power. That could open up opportunities for PC-makers to make computers that fit in the palm of your hand.
"In general, these would have 5-inch screens, weigh about a pound, have Wi-Fi ... USB inputs," Otellini said, holding a prototype. "This is capable of running a full (Windows) operating system. This isn't science fiction."
What could this mean for government? Think about the full range of government employees whose work could be made more efficient and productive by having mobile devices, wirelessly connected. Smaller, lighter devices with long battery life designed for wireless connections. First responders, meter maids, building inspectors. Of course this scenario depends on ubiquitous wirless networks, so it's not surprising that's also an area where Intel is making a big push.