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Intel Developer Forum, Day One

Welcome To IDF 2010

It’s September in San Francisco, so it must be time for another Intel Developer Forum.

As is usual in these Intel technology love fests, we’re seeing new CPU rollouts, updates on memory roadmaps, new usage models, and the Showcase, the mini-tradeshow where you can find products and technologies ranging from cloud-based, distributed raytracing to tiny handheld computers.

The big chip news at this year’s  IDF is the rollout of Intel’s new Sandy Bridge architecture. In case you haven’t been following the rumors, Sandy Bridge is the latest “tick” in Intel’s tick-tock model of product development. The “tick” is the creation of a new microarchitecture, always built on an existing manufacturing process. The “tock” is pushing out enhanced versions of existing products, but rolling them out on newer (and ever-smaller) manufacturing processes.

But before we dive into the details of Sandy Bridge, it’s worth a brief visit to IDF, Day Zero.

Experience-Based Product Design? From Intel?

Dr. Genevieve Bell is one of the few Intel Fellows who is a woman. She’s also the only Intel Fellow with a doctorate in anthropology rather than an engineering degree.

Anthropologists study culture--how people interact, live in their environments, and socialize. Dr. Bell is focused on understanding why people love their gadgets and what it is about technology experiences that they crave on a daily basis. That, in turn, allows her and her team to help shape what new user experiences and usage models may become popular a few years from now.

Understanding what people really want to do, as opposed to what they have to endure to do what they want to do, is critical for today’s tech companies. As technology products become more like commodities ($300 laptops, $500 big screen HDTVs), making the right guesses about what products to build becomes as much a part of a company’s core competency as the ability to clone a $2 billion manufacturing plant. Guess wrong, and those big process plants go idle. Guess right, and you rake in the big bucks.

Intel thinks the idea of understanding future user experiences is important enough that it has funded an entire arm of its research organization to this, known as “Interactions and Experiences Research.” Split into design and technology elements, and headed by Dr. Bell, the idea is to understand how users worldwide experience their technology, what they love about it, and what frustrates them.

The key image Bell used in her presentation was an ad from the 1959 release of the Bell Princess Phone.

Nothing about this ad even mentions using the Princess Phone to actually make phone calls.

"It’s little, it’s lovely, it lights.”

But does it make phone calls?

Bell used this as an example of a product that was highly technological, but the marketing was decidedly non-technical. But the Princess phone brought the telephone out of the front hall and into bedrooms, made buyers want to have more than one phone line in the house, and, in an eerily prescient version of today’s smartphones, was sold as a service. You could only rent a Princess phone and had to install and pay a monthly charge for a second phone line. But it revolutionized communication in its day.

Intel’s Experiences and Interaction group is looking for usage models that might represent the next, similar leap. Whether they’ll succeed inside Intel’s engineering results-oriented culture is an open question, but it’s an interesting perspective on how one engineering company is trying to reshape how it develops products for the future.

  • dragon5677
    hope the day comes soon when sandy bridge is released with a surprisingly low price.
    Reply
  • letsgetsteve
    really not a fan of the pin change in mobo's but I guess I'm interested
    Reply
  • kashifme21
    No point of having such powerful hardware, when 95% of current games can be run on a dual core cpu and an 8800gtx gpu @ max settings.

    Intel, Nvidia and AMD should rather pursue game developers to make use of current hardware instead of throwing newer hardware which most likely will be unused.

    Sandy Bridge aint needed for Web surfing or using Word pad any 8yr old CPU is enough for that. Bring on the games or i am not interested in any more upgrades.
    Reply
  • Tamz_msc
    Overall, Sandy Bridge looks to be a solid mainstream offering. Performance enthusiasts should note that LGA 1366 is not going away, and Westmere-based hexa-core CPUs will continue to be offered. Intel even suggested that future LGA 1366 offerings may become available, but wasn’t prepared to make any definitive announcements.
    Unless they are offered at reasonable prices, I see no point in people investing in LGA 1366.
    Reply
  • jfby
    I don't think it's so much that people will want to invest in LGA 1366 but rather Intel will not support anything else.

    The argument to have only 16 lanes available doesn't seem legit; 'mainstream' gamers aren't going to buy a 1366 system at the moment.

    At least people who have bought a 1366 have a potential for an upgrade 2-3 years from now, though I'm sure the better choice will just be a brand new system, again.
    Reply
  • pjmelect
    Intel graphics even at twice the speed, no thanks. AMD could take a big lead over Intel if they integrate ATI graphics in their CPU's.
    Reply
  • ScrewySqrl
    dragon5677hope the day comes soon when sandy bridge is released with a surprisingly low price.
    Low priced? from Intel? You must be joking
    Reply
  • atdhe
    kashifme21No point of having such powerful hardware, when 95% of current games can be run on a dual core cpu and an 8800gtx gpu @ max settings.Intel, Nvidia and AMD should rather pursue game developers to make use of current hardware instead of throwing newer hardware which most likely will be unused.Sandy Bridge aint needed for Web surfing or using Word pad any 8yr old CPU is enough for that. Bring on the games or i am not interested in any more upgrades.
    You know, a computer can be used for more than just gaming, surfing or Word ;)
    Reply
  • Trueno07
    more info here:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3922/intels-sandy-bridge-architecture-exposed
    Reply
  • wolfram23
    Glad to be missing this generation, as I just got an i5 750 earlier this year. Won't need to upgrade until at the earliest Ivy Bridge.

    I don't really like how so much die space gets wasted on their P67 platform. Hopefully they make special CPUS that are a little beefier and no on-die graphics for that chipset... tho it's unlikely.
    Reply