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Wed, Sep 15, 2010 - Page 10 News List

Content-shifting key for chipmakers, Intel CEO says


The semiconductor industry hasn’t fully cracked the challenge of making chips that help people move content seamlessly between their devices, Intel Corp chief executive Paul Otellini said on Monday.

That capability will be critical because there are 5 billion devices connected to the Internet and that number will rise, Otellini said during a keynote at Intel’s annual developer conference in San Francisco.

Consumers increasingly demand technology that lets them start a movie or TV show on a smartphone and finish it on a home personal computer or TV, for example.

The industry is exploring those challenges as engineers develop chips for new Internet-connected devices. Otellini’s keynote focused on Intel’s efforts to get its processors into those devices.

Intel also showed features of Intel’s new line of chips, which will start appearing in computers next year.

One of those features: Putting a graphics processor onto the same piece of silicon as the processor that handles general computing tasks. Previously, they had been separate chips. Putting the two processors together cuts the time it takes to produce images, as it removes bottlenecks between the graphics processor and memory.

The new chips had been code-named “Sandy Bridge,” but will be sold under Intel’s Core branding.

“It delivers amazing performance, particularly in the area of media,” Otellini said at the Intel Developer Forum.

Things that used to take hours will now be completed in seconds, he said.

Intel faces increasing competition in graphics from Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD), which is using its 2006 purchase of ATI Technologies Inc to add more capabilities to processors. AMD and Nvidia Corp also sell stand-alone graphics chips — a market that’s now under threat from all-in-one processors, Intel said.

The new approach consumes less power and improves performance because the chips ­communicate more efficiently, Intel said. It also provides a cost advantage because once-separate components are included on one piece of silicon.

Intel, which has spent more than US$9 billion on acquisitions since last month, downplayed the idea of making more big deals soon. The company doesn’t have any large transactions planned and will concentrate on integrating the acquisition of McAfee Inc and the wireless chip business of Infineon Technologies AG, Otellini said.

Intel is likely to go back to its historical practice of making deals of less than US$250 million, Otellini said. Still, the company remains on the lookout for ways to fill out its product line and get its chips into more devices, he said.

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