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IDF wrap: NVIDIA, ATI doomed; SSDs to take off; Atom announced but unavailable; Nehalem on track

by Tarinder Sandhu on 5 April 2008, 00:23

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

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Larrabee and Atom

Looking back at the two-day Spring Intel Developer Forum held in Shanghai, China, Intel's senior executives repeatedly informed the assembled masses - numbering some 6,000, all told - that they were collectively wonderfully enthused and excited to be at the event.

So wrapped up were they in their obsequious reaffirmations of why China really was a great place to be for IDF, that most forget to bring any fresh, new, ground-breaking content. An egregious lack of announcements was covered, unsuccessfully, by reiterating what Intel has already disseminated months before.

Keeping the roadmap ticking along

That's not absolutely fair, though. Pat Gelsinger, IDF doyen, covered much well-trodden ground in his keynote on Wednesday, reminding the 500 assembled press contingent of Intel's commitment to continually increasing performance whilst, at the same time, keeping a keen eye on energy efficiency.

Larrabee - the harbinger of NVIDIA and ATI's doom?

Gelsinger also touched on Intel's visual computing plans and made fleeting mention to Larrabee - the CPU-derived architecture that Intel plans to unleash in 2009, to run amok in the discrete graphics-card market currently owned by NVIDIA and ATI (AMD). Pat was keen to point out that the incumbents' rigid-pipeline approach was failing to deliver the necessary advances in visual computing, and that an all-new design, bringing together the virtues of the IA platform and many-core raytracing-based processing, was the only way to go.

The raster-masters, NVIDIA and AMD, have time and considerable engineering talents at their disposal before Larrabee hits the shelves: Intel isn't the only player in town looking at raytracing, you know. The question that remains unanswered, for now, is just how hard Intel's introduction of discrete graphics SKUs will impinge upon the long-held dominance enjoyed by the green and red outfits.

Intel may not get Larrabee right first time, of course, and the immutable key to unlocking the potential of quality hardware remains efficient, tight software.

Atom, where are you?

Anand Chandrasekhar was positively refulgent in his praise of the Atom processor, announced a month ago but officially launched at IDF. Atom, he said, would define and substantiate the burgeoning MID (mobile Internet device) category which is currently characterised by rather-too-large devices.

Atom, too, is a multi-purpose processor, capable of being leveraged in low-cost netbooks and nettops, he hollered with glee. If that's true, Anand, why is it that Intel's 'new' Classmate PC still uses the archaic Celeron M processor, huh?

Intel is banking on Atom to succeed, massively so, in the next 12 months, and it rolled out a bunch of high-profile partners whose praise of the platform and processor stank more of sycophantism than heartfelt recommendation. Still, given the hullabaloo surrounding the ever-so-efficient CPU, shipping Atom-based devices were wonderfully conspicuous by their absence. Atom is cool, no doubt, but we, the public, really do need to have the devices in our hands really soon, Intel.