Intel senior VP and general manager of the Digital Home Group, Erik Kim, outlined his company's plans for the consumer and enthusiast segments of the market today at IDF. The focus of Intel's desktop and consumer-oriented platforms from the second half of 2007 onward is squarely on media and entertainment, and specifically on Internet video.
Intel's 3 Series chipsets (a.k.a., "Bearlake") will start things off with a debut this quarter, with support for a 1333MHz frontside bus, Microsoft DX10, DDR3, PCIe 2.0, Intel Turbo memory, and Intel Clear Video technology. The next-gen iteration of Intel's Viiv platform, codenamed "Salt Creek," will be based on a version of Bear Lake when it debuts later this year.
There's are also software and networking components to Intel's assault on the living room. One example of the former is Intel's desktop-to-laptop media sharing software, which enables a Viiv box to serve up streaming or downloaded media files to a Centrino-based laptop. On the networking front, Intel will make HomePlug AV powerline networking technology available as an optional part of its desktop platforms in 2008.
Skulltrail: Intel's answer to QuadFX
Moving from the home to the enthusiast segment, Intel unveiled its answer to AMD's QuadFX platform: the scarily-named Skulltrail platform. Skulltrail, which sounds more like a metal band than anything else, will let enthusiasts with lots of money to burn drop two quad-core QX6800 processors into a dual-socket system—one with four PCIe slots that appear to be intended to host graphics processors. Eight cores and four GPUs is ridiculous amount of horsepower, and you'll probably need 1.21 GIGAWATTS! worth of power to run such a system.
There's no mention of which specific graphics cards Intel intends for gamers to use with the new products, so we'll have to wait for further announcements to find that out.
SoCs for consumer electronics and media processing
Eric Kim followed up on Gelsinger's earlier "enterprise-class SoC" revelations by discussing Intel's plans to market SoCs for consumer electronics. According to Kim, Intel will debut a line of x86-based SoCs in early 2008 that will feature integrated graphics and media processing. In addition to its x86-based products, Intel will also launch the Intel CE 2110 Media Processor, a 1GHz XScale-based part that's aimed specifically at A/V applications.
Kim didn't give out much more detail on the XScale part, but Intel will be making a separate announcement about it later. So stay tuned.
Taking vPro home
Kim revealed that Intel is also planning to incorporate manageability features based on vPro into its home-oriented platforms, giving consumers the ability to have their home computers remotely managed, repaired, and updated. This way, if you're somehow able to delete all of the annoying adware and "craplets" that Dell installs by default, the company can helpfully reinstall all of it as part of their routine remote maintenance…. ok, Kim didn't say that, but one wonders if this is exactly what will happen.
Intel is insisting that the remote management features will be strictly opt-in for home users, and I hope they stick to their guns on this. I also hope that desktops from retailers and mail order houses don't nag users to "Let us manage your PC remotely! (Click "yes" to accept, or "later" for us to remind you again five minutes from now)."