Chipmaker Intel and its partners showed off a range of new technology at the Intel Developer Forum. ZDNet UK's Rupert Goodwins reports from San Francisco.
IDF keynote presentations normally end with the press invited up to photograph the demo kit, but ZDNet UK has never seen a scrum as insanely dangerous as this. Possessed by one impulse — to photograph the Dell Inspiron Duo flippy-twisty netbook-tablet — the pack surged forwards with such ferocity that they temporarily managed to invade the back of the stage, an area normally guarded by Intel's most massively muscled employees.
Photo credit: Rupert Goodwins
Here, one netbook is running some simple image-recognition software to educate young children. The computer asks the kid to slide the right combination of coins into the field of view of the webcam to add up to a sum the computer sets.
Researchers have also built an authoring system for teachers to create their own tests. They said that while it can take hundreds or thousands of hours to make one hour of a normal multimedia interactive teaching aid, this takes just one hour to build an hour of output.
The company is now collaborating with other companies to bring this to market, but components will be available as open source, directly from Intel.
Face recognition for security purposes is nothing new. However, Intel's experimental system puts sophisticated, highly CPU-intensive software on very low-power netbooks. The idea is to use cloudy concepts to offload tasks to other computers people own or control on their own home or small-business network.
he future of TV? Perhaps. But Intel and Google have worked hard at creating a simple interface that combines live video with applications and other functions, and have involved many years of anthropological and cultural research in trying to make it something people will actually enjoy using. The simplicity of the interface belies the intense work that's gone into it.
This image shows a selection of DisplayLink USB video adapters from a variety of manufacturers. With USB 3, these can deliver very high-quality video from any USB-equipped netbook, notebook or PC. They are made by HP, Fujitsu, Lenovo and many others.
DisplayLink monitors are also available, with some now even capable of being powered by the USB link itself.
This is Stellarton, one of the more intriguing variants of the Atom chip, shown off at IDF on Tuesday. A repackaging of the Atom E600, itself launched at the show, Stellarton includes an FPGA (field programmable gate array), which is a large chunk of hardware logic circuitry that can be reconfigured in software.
This sort of chip is most often used for small-run, high-value specialist hardware, or for performance-sensitive purposes such as data encoding or decoding, where a hardware codec is needed but must be updated while in service.
This image shows an example of Canoe Lake, an experimental laptop platform designed and manufactured by Intel.
The laptop has three interesting attributes: it's ultra-thin, it runs on Atom, and it can play 720p HD video on its 10-inch display. Such experimental platforms are developed to encourage manufacturers to build their own versions.
LG has produced this cordless phone and tablet combo, in which the tablet act as a large smartphone display whenever it is docked in the stand. The Atom-powered combo is an example of the sort of new form factor that Intel is trying to encourage — although experience of such combination devices in the past throws up few successes.
At Intel's showcase, an anonymous Atom tablet was outshone by the Ocosmos OCS-1, a handheld gaming device that is powered by Atom and runs Windows 7.
The OCS-1 is by no means the first handheld device to run full desktop Windows — IDF has featured a range of these for the last two years and beyond, including the ill-fated MID (mobile internet device) class of gizmos — but to our knowledge, this is the first intended for gamers. It also plays video, of course, and while it does not have 3G connectivity yet, this is planned for the future.
"So, tell me, Gigabyte, what do you think is the most exciting attribute of your new x86 motherboards? High memory speeds? Integrated graphics? SATA-2?"
USB 3 was much in evidence in the Intel Tech Showcase. However, there is still no evidence that Intel itself will be particularly supportive of the standard, as it may prefer to push its own Light Peak optical-link technology.
Vidyo does high-definition video conferencing, with the special twist being that it works across a very wide range of platforms and the public internet. As such, it wants to go up against the expensive systems from companies like Cisco — which may or may not work, but at least the ambition of the company is laudable.