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IDF Spring 2008 - Day Zero - Research at Intel

It's all pretty exciting stuff and with the imminent arrival of Atom-powered MID devices, we're a step closer to this reality. However, there's still some significant hurdles to overcome.

Foremost among these is the wireless challenge. For a device to effectively participate in these massively interactive untethered environments, it needs to have all the wireless connections we're used to, e.g. Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Max, etc. The trouble is, while larger notebooks can fit multiple radios into their chassis, the small form-factor of MIDs or mobile phones means they simply can't fit all the different radios in - and even if they could they'd use too much power. Thus Intel is putting a huge amount of effort into developing single chips that contain as much of this circuitry as possible, which will simultaneously save power and reduce the size requirements. Unfortunately, as with a lot of the research mentioned, we've still yet to see anything like working examples and Intel has been banging on about this technology for a couple of years now. Fingers crossed, next IDF we'll see some working silicon.

It's a similar affair with the image recognition software. In this case there are working examples but they currently require teraflops of computing power and this level of performance still consumes power at the rate of thousands of Watts, which would drain the battery of a mobile device in minutes.

So, for the most part, Intel was high in concept but low on deliverance. However, there was one shining beacon of brilliance being demonstrated amongst all this conceptual stuff.

The so called Cliffside technology is the epitome of a simple idea done well. In essence it enables you to use a single Wi-Fi adapter as both an access point and a client device simultaneously. So, with one notebook, you can connect to a proper wireless access point, for browsing the web and such like, but at the same time you can use the same notebook as an access point for a multitude of other Wi-Fi enabled devices, like cameras, printers, and Portable Media Players (PMPs). The best bit, though, is that this technology is ready to go and will be arriving with the new Centrino line of products later this year. So, it looks like there is something to look forward to after all.

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