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IDF 2009 Opening Keynote

As well as the development of Intel's Core architecture, Otellini was very keen to point out that there is a second platform that is just as, if not more important - Atom. There's no doubt that Atom has been a huge success for Intel, with the meteoric rise of the netbook platform playing no small part in that success. But there's a lot more to Atom than lightweight, low cost mobile computers.

The architecture behind Atom is set to become entwined with just about any and every technology device. The ability to create small, low cost SoC (System on a Chip) parts, means that we're as likely to see derivatives of Atom in TVs and set top boxes as we are in mobile computers.

To help facilitate this Atom based SoC revolution, Intel has partnered with TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company), allowing it to produce custom SoC parts based on the Atom core. What that means is that a consumer electronics company like, say, Toshiba, could commission TSMC to create an SoC to drive its latest TVs.

But when it comes to Atom integration in the consumer space, Otellini singled out the automotive industry as the most important avenue. Intel is working with Harman International, which is already developing Atom based in-car technology systems for both BMW and Mercedes.

This kind of in-car embedded technology can't come soon enough as far as I'm concerned, and it may finally put an end to factory fit in-car technology looking woefully outdated compared to after market products. It should also mean that new features and updates can be easily added to infotainment systems.

Staying on the Atom theme, Otellini also announced the Intel Atom Developer Programme. This will allow prospective developers to not only learn how to create applications for Atom, but also give them somewhere to sell them. Part of the programme will be the creation of app stores where Atom users (netbook users at first) can purchase new applications and consequently increase the functionality of their devices.

According to Otellini Asus, Acer and Dell are already in the process of creating app stores for Atom based netbook users, with Asus even announcing the name of its particular store - the slightly unimaginative e-appstore.

What isn't clear is whether each manufacturer will have a dedicated app store, with apps that will only work on their devices. Hopefully that's not the case, because the obvious model would be a centralised app store library that anyone with an Atom based netbook could access and buy from.

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