Wednesday, August 7, 2013

In Depth: IDF 2013: what to expect from this year's conference

In Depth: IDF 2013: what to expect from this year's conference

In Depth: IDF 2013: what to expect from this year's conference

IDF 2013 in San Francisco is fast approaching. How fast? Try just over a month away.

The Intel Developer Forum, more commonly called IDF, kicks off Sept. 10 and runs through Sept. 12. We anticipate a conference close to Build 2013, with few if any announced hardware products and a lot of time spent on the nitty gritty.

Does that a boring conference make? Not in the slightest. Intel has had a bustling first half of the year, and we expect that trajectory to continue through IDF.

We're sure to hear plenty on Haswell, plus where PCs fit (or don't) next to mobile devices. There's Intel TV to talk about, and potentially some words on wearables. We're gearing up for it, so read on to find out what we think you should expect from this year's proceedings.

1. Intel TV time

Perhaps the most intriguing, out-of-box product cooking at Intel right now is its internet TV service.

It was way back in February that the company confirmed it was indeed working on a web TV product, with Corporate Vice President at Intel Media Erik Huggers offering this as to why the chip maker wanted to get into the TV biz:

"[You] need to control everything - the chip, the operating system, app layers, the sensors. That's sort of the reason why we're there. If there were platf orms that could deliver exactly what we had in mind, we would work with that."


Things, however, have been fairly quiet since. The last real news related to ITV came at the end of July, when it was revealed in a Wall Street Journal report that an accompanying set-top box won't have facial recognition capabilities.

We hope, and fully expect, Intel TV (or whatever it's called) to be laid on the table during IDF. In announcing the service, Huggers said the group working on it was comprised of people from Apple, Netflix and Google. Add Intel's own tech savvy to the mix, and this sounds like a product with a lot of potential.

Like all good ecosystems, deve lopers will need to be at Intel TV's heart, so look for some courting and coursing on how to develop for the platform at the Forum.


2. PCs make room tablets and smartphones

In case you haven't heard, PC sales are flagging, while sales of tablets and other mobile, not-quite-traditional computing devices are going strong. With that in mind, expect tablets, smartphones and the like to grab some spotlight time at this year's IDF.

Mobile devices have already gotten some billing in IDF's schedule of technical sessions, including a "Extending PCI Express Architecture to Smartphone and Tablet Devices" talk. What we'd really like to see is some news regarding fanless 4.5W Haswell variant that Intel has teased as becoming available in the coming months. After what Haswell did for the MacBook Air, imagine what it could do for the iPad.

3. Walking into wearables

There's no way around it: Wearables have sunk into the collective tech conscious. We need only turn to Google Glass, the rumored iWatch and recently trademarked " ;Galaxy Gear" to see this is the case.

For its part, Intel has confirmed its experimenting with "novel display devices," with Intel CTO Justin Rattner talking about a situation where you could look to your wrist to read a text message instead of yanking out your phone back in June. Intel is aware of the potential need to change silicon to match new types of tech, Rattner said, so the company's mental cogs are already turning on that conundrum.


Will we see a new smartwatch at IDF? The chances are slim. However, wi th Genevieve Bell, an Intel Fellow at Intel Labs and Director of Interaction and Experience Research is heading the Day 3 keynote, we could hear plenty about the future tech.

Bell leads a team of social scientists, interaction designers and others in researching "new computing experiences that are centered on people's needs and desires," according to her IDF bio. Could she hold the key to the wearable conversation?

4. State of the Thunderbolt address

The introduction of Thunderbolt promised a universal port with amazing data transfer speeds, and the recent bump up to Thunderbolt 2 pushed it to rates of 20GBps. Now that we're entering the age of 4K video, those transfer speeds actually have a practical use, besides trying to trump USB on a spec sheet.

YouTube :

Despite its raw power, Thunderbolt hasn't taken the world by storm. It's not on a lot of everyday devices, but Intel has managed to sell Apple on it. The Mac maker has been one of its biggest proponents, putting the little port that can on its MacBook Air, and six of them on the dramatically redesigned Mac Pro (the one that looks like a shiny black cylinder).

Still, Intel has more selling to do, which is likely it has multiple sessions of its "Thunderbolt 2 Technology: New Capabilities and Features" talk scheduled. Godspeed little port, godspeed.

5. Unmasking more with Ultrabooks

Ultrabooks are sure to be a focus of this year's IDF. There are a few, not-so-subtle clues pointing us toward this expectation.

For one, on IDF 's homepage, there's a dedicated link to the wonderful world of the two-in-one device. In a series of short clips, we see why Ultrabooks trounce traditional laptops. OK, it's a hokey marketing ploy, but every 'book shown is running Windows 8. Perhaps IDF holds a new Windows 8.1 product for expectant consumers? The timing would line up with W8.1's anticipated fall release.

IDF 2013

What's more, Kirk Skaugen, a senior vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group, is due to speak during Day One's keynote. According to his bio, Skaugen is "leading Intel's efforts in once again transforming the personal computer industry with the Ultrabook."

Once again? Transforming? Sounds like there's some product-related potential here, and we wouldn't be surprised if Haswell chips are leading the charge.

6. Haswell in the house

Speaking of Haswell - as if we haven't touched on it enough already - Intel can't let IDF pass without spending plenty of time on its latest and greatest chip.

Sure we'll hear about it's power saving prowess, but in a world where chips are sprouting more cores and competitors are nipping at its heels, how does Intel intend to keep Haswell competing for the long haul?

Part of that equation centers around new devices, such as the fanless tablets we discussed earlier. Intel teased these would be ready by year's end - could we get our first taste during IDF?


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