IDF: Intel gets serious about low-power computing

Announces Google collaboration on x86 Android
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Intel boss Paul Otellini took the stage at the firm's annual Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco and talked up Intel's leadership of the IT industry, unveiling plans to improve power consumption as well as a new effort to bring Android to the Intel architecture.

"Computing is in a constant state of evolution," said Intel chief Otellini. "Intel is innovating and working with our partners to deliver computing experiences that are more mobile, secure and seamless," he added.

The chipmaker revealed a "new class of platform power management" for the firm's emerging ultrabook category of thin and light notebooks which, Intel said, paved the way to cut idle power by as much as 20 times.

Otellini said he expects that the power design change, combined with industry collaboration, will result in more than ten days of 'connected standby' battery life by 2013 as the technology arrives in Intel's new 'Haswell' chip line.

Otellini also highlighted collaboration between Intel and Microsoft, adding that Windows 8, presented today by Microsoft at the Build conference, would be appear on a range of Intel-powered devices such as tablets, hybrid devices and new form factors such as ultrabooks.

Presenting Andy Rubin, Google's mobile chief in charge of the Android platform, Otellini and Rubin set out plans to bring Android to Intel's low-power Atom processors in a move that is aimed at speeding the arrive of Intel-powered smartphones.

Intel had previously announced plans to port Android to the x86 architecture, and indeed it has already been demonstrated, but the collaboration with Google suggests that the very bleeding edge of Android operating systems such as the up coming Ice Cream Sandwich will be ready for Intel chips.

Assuming manufacturers find them an attractive proposition versus chips based on the ARM architecture which has so far dominated low-power computing.

As if demonstrating just how seriously Intel is taking the low-power mobile market, Otellini pointed to future advances that would bring power levels down to levels that are 'difficult to imagine today'.

Intel researchers have created a chip that can be powered by a solar cell the size of a postage stamp, he said. Described as a "Near Threshold Voltage Core," the Intel research chip "pushes the limits of transistor technology," he said.

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