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 Amazon.com. Kippen notes its already the number four consumer electronics item at Amazon. Deliveries are slated for the November 2010 timeframe.