Intel Developer Forum, Day Two

In our second-day coverage of Intel's Developer Forum, we see Sandy Bridge's graphics engine handle 3D Blu-ray on the PC, AMD's forthcoming Zacate processor in action, SSDs help improve gaming performance, and Boxee shift away from Nvidia's Tegra.

As Intel Developer Forum enters its second day, the romance starts to wear off a bit. Sure, Intel talked up new versions of Atom, aimed mostly at embedded applications. But for PC enthusiasts, the shininess simply isn't there any more, now that we’ve seen what’s inside Sandy Bridge. This reflects on attendance. Day two was clearly less crowded.

What’s really interesting about this IDF is how much of the emphasis revolves around mobile systems, ranging from Sandy Bridge’s obvious fit in laptop systems (even though there will be desktop versions), the widening product mix of Intel Atom CPUs, and even competitive efforts from rival AMD on pushing forward with APUs targeted at mainstream notebook PCs.

It’s true that the desktop PC of yore has slowly been fading as the center of the PC universe, but this year’s Intel Developer Forum seems to acknowledge that more tacitly than ever before. No one is running around saying “desktop PCs are dead.” But the lack of PC desktops even on the showcase floor was telling. Gone were the big, multiplayer gaming demos with rows of Alienware PCs. None of the boutique gaming PC vendors had systems we could see. Desktop PCs were striking in their absence.

Nonetheless, lots of interesting action is still going on at IDF, both at the show and in some of the hotel suites surrounding the show. Let’s start with Boxee.

Boxee Goes with Intel

Boxee garnered a lot of love with its streaming media software. Its easy user interface navigation and social media orientation made it instantly popular.

Early this year, Boxee announced the Boxee Box, a cute, compact Internet streaming media appliance. The initial announcement proved to be a design win for Nvidia’s mobile Tegra processor.

Unfortunately, Boxee couldn’t get 1080p H.264 working at acceptable frame rates. So the company made the difficult decision to change platform providers midstream. The Boxee Box now uses an Intel Atom CE3100. According to Andrew Kippen, Boxee’s vice president of marketing, the CE3100 supports all the codecs the company needs, including most audio codecs, H.264, MPEG-2, and others. The box still looks the same, and will still be distributed by D-Link.

The new Boxee Box, now delayed roughly six months from its initial targeted delivery date, can be pre-ordered from Kippen notes its already the number four consumer electronics item at Amazon. Deliveries are slated for the November 2010 timeframe.

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  • vns
    Good coverage, but is it justified to bring in "zacate" to IDF ? :)
  • rwmunchkin12788
    I think the article is right on the money when it says the Sandy Bridge based laptops will be marketed as premium mobile PC's, while the AMD Zacate will be cheaper.

    I personally think AMD will win out in the cheap laptop with integrated graphics battle. AMD just has a great chance to put a big dent in this market in their favor.
  • lamorpa
    It is very sad to see half of the 'local students' trying out the Classmate PCs are overweight or obese. There may be some more fundamental programs these kids need, like healthy living.
  • azcoyote
    I like the Boxee idea but seriously... Where the &%$# is anyone gonna fit a device shaped like that?
  • insightdriver
    @azcoyote, based on looking at the rear side of the box, I gather it sits flat, albiet, skewed, but is small enough that fitting it on a shelf won't be a problem. It's just "out of the box," in shape, so to speak. :-)
  • kilthas_th
    You'll want to take a look at Anandtech's updated notes on the Zacate chip. It appears that the "psychedelic" benchmark wins were due to the OEM driver for the Intel GPU. When updated, they scored basically the same. However, Zacate still trounced it in CoH and also Arkham Asylum.
  • milktea
    I don't want a Boxee. I want a flatee. :D
  • dowsire
    Speaking of graphics, AMD’s Dave Hoff also alluded to its next-generation graphics, code named Northern Islands. Little actual data was forthcoming, but the magic eight-ball says “sooner than you think.”

    What? I thought the new AMD HD 6800s were going to be southern island. Is northern island actually coming out earlier like 1H11 or in the beginning 2H11. The same time that Bulldozer and AM3+ comes out.
    2nd why is the "cpu" so important in fusion chips.I think that the AMD version, priced as mainstream, will be better than the sandy bridge. More and more software is being off loaded to the GPU, even MS is making software run from the gpu i.e. internet explorer 9.
  • eastcoaster
    When is Intel going to do a SSD refresh I wonder?? Me want!!
  • jimmysmitty
    vnsGood coverage, but is it justified to bring in "zacate" to IDF ?

    Why not? IDF is not just for Intel. Sure Intel started it and is the main attraction but its for developers everywhere to show stuff off.

    I like it that way. Lets Intel and AMD see whats coimng.
  • falchard
    AMD IGP verse Intel IGP will always yield the same results since Intel IGP is crap. Zacate verse Sandy-bridge in anything that involves the GPU will always result the same.
  • palladin9479
    Problem with all IGP's is they use the local system memory. Its already been demonstrated that a GFX cards memory bandwidth is critical to performance, it needs faster access to that data in order to crunch it. DDR-3 may be good and all for general memory access but its no where near fast enough for high performance / high demand graphics processing. All IGP's will be limited to the same performance as what their memory allows, upgrade the system memory to higher bandwidth and suddenly the IGP jumps up in performance too.
  • Tamz_msc
    falchardAMD IGP verse Intel IGP will always yield the same results since Intel IGP is crap. Zacate verse Sandy-bridge in anything that involves the GPU will always result the same.

    Head over to AnnadTech and look at the updated benchmarks, Intel IGP is not that crap, and Sandy Bridge graphics will be twice as good.
  • Tamz_msc
    I hope the new Intel SSDs are priced reasonably.
  • marraco
    I confirm it: "hitching" is a major annoyance, that is not reflected on FPS averaged over a second.
  • WR2
    Any chance you can have an expanded segment on the mobility emphasis? Thanks for the coverage.
  • Anonymous
    er I thought the Boxee box was using a ce4100 processor....? as per other sites....including anandtech?
  • youssef 2010
    AMD made Phenom II to comnpete against core2duo but intel was already shipping i7s by then as the core2 successor.So, AMD priced its new products according to the prices of Core2Duos and Core2Quads and the prices kept getting lower as intel lowered its prices on c2d.
  • dEAne
    noted. I'm quite impressed with SSD.