IDF Mobility Update

Sean Maloney gives us an update on Intel's mobility strategy.

Maloney also announced the latest development in Intel’s XScale processors for handheld devices, codenamed Monahans. Monahans will take PDA and smartphone performance to the next level, bringing with it new features such as Wireless Intel Speedstep, Wireless MMX2 and Intel VideoMax technology. Together these new features should greatly improve battery life and performance of handheld devices as detailed in the graph below.

But despite the improvements that Monahans will bring to handheld devices, Maloney was keen to point out that a handheld device still can’t give the end user the same fully featured experience of a PC. With this in mind Maloney highlighted a new device category – the Ultra Mobile PC. With the new developments in power efficient mobile platforms, Maloney thinks that a fully functional PC that’s larger than a handheld but smaller than a notebook will become a reality.

Of course it could be argued that this category already exists, in the shape of the OQO model 1, but the model 1 doesn’t use an Intel platform, instead sporting a Transmeta Crusoe chip. That said, Sony’s VAIO Type U also seems to fit the Ultra Mobile PC bill, and that is equipped with a standard Pentium M CPU.

Finally Maloney touched on the latest developments with WiMAX, a technology that can’t come fast enough in my opinion. As well as showing off some WiMAX hardware that’s already in use, Maloney also announced a new radio chipset offering multi-band WiFi and WiMAX functionality. We should see PC Card based WiMAX devices later in 2006, with radios built into notebooks sometime in 2007.

Intel is putting a massive amount of resource behind WiMAX and is working closely with governments around the globe to produce seamless roaming around the world for the mobile workforce.

I later had a meeting with Mooly Eden, Vice President & General Manager, Mobile Platforms Group, and asked him when we would see WiMAX being the standard in notebooks. His reply was interesting but hardly surprising – Mooly figured that the future of mobile connectivity will be diverse, with WiFi still in use, but WiMAX being an option at a city wide level. He also figured that wireless WAN will be utilised when outsite WiMAX coverage areas. I pretty much agree with Mooly’s vision and the fact that notebooks are already appearing in the UK with integrated 3G data SIM slots adds weight to the argument.

There’s no doubt that the future of mobility looks good, but the question is whether you should be buying a notebook now, or waiting for all the goodies around the corner – I know what Intel would like you to do!

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