iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






IDF 2002 Fall: San Jose, September 9 - 12.
Illustrated Commentary, Part 1 (continue)

By Alexander Medvedev (unclesam@ixbt.com)

[ Beginning ]

When the workmate at last came, he was truly sent for coffee. He also brought an elderly man wearing an apron from the well-known coffee network Starbucks Coffee: 

...and, having made himself comfortable in the coffee-house arranged right on the scene, he spoke about wireless access points they installed in their cafes so that their visitors could access the net from their notebooks or Pocket PCs while having a cup of coffee. 

At present the network is available in 50 coffee-houses and they are going to provide its support in several hundreds by the year-end (!). Meanwhile, a legendary employee of Microsoft popped into the cafe: 

After a cup of coffee he started speaking about innovations of the company. First off, he focused on the Windows XP Tablet Edition equipped with wide capabilities of hand-written text input and handling of objects with a stylus:

The prototype of the tablet is a reference platform developed by Intel and Microsoft which allows writing smoothly, doesn't lose minor details and can adjust the pressing strength:

Although this flourish was written very quickly, its shape follows accurately the move of the hand. The performances were built so neatly and interestingly that even an elderly photographer sitting on the floor in front of the scene was easily carried away with the speeches and forgot about his camera:

The humor, demonstrations, and complexity of the information are well balanced; the way they deliver it to the audience is excellent, although the level of knowledge and a range of interests of the visitors differ considerably. Such performances are prepared by a large groups of experts, and believe me, they are worth visiting at least once.

We were also shown how it's possible to circle a part of a web-page and send it via e-mail with a hand-written note:


The platform (OS and tablets) will be widely announced and made available in the near future. We were also told which new technologies of Microsoft allow correcting errors faster thanks to the feedback with users:

But I think it's a very complicated problem who and to which extant must trace errors - users or company. They also demonstrated a new technology of smoothing video streams coming from the net which will be available in the new media player:

Unfortunately, I couldn't show you this video record, but believe me, at 10 fps the result was striking - the video made an impression of a smooth 25fps playback. 

One more new solution is Windows Home Media Edition. It's not a new operating system but rather a shell running over the XP Professional which interacts with an external TV and satellite receiver, as well as with other multimedia devices of a computer and can be handled with a remote control:

You can look through a TV program, tick off some programs for auto recording, pause a currently broadcast program (time shifting), look through information and listen to compositions from a CD or a network, show photos on a TV screen from a memory card of a photo camera etc. Note that all those things can be done from a sofa with a remote control in the hand:

What do you think about the Power button? Here are some photos of a HP's system working under this software suite:

Above is a TV and satellite receiver. From behind it looks like a usual PC equipped with a sound card, a video capture card and connected to a receiver which is used to "catch" not only TV programs but also commands from the remote control:



In front you can see LEDs informing about the current mode (probably for a situation when TV turns off or just to make it closer to consumer equipment) and slots for 4 main memory card types. Inside we certainly have the "most" multimedia Pentium 4 processor. Meanwhile, the show goes on. 

They also performed a show from a secret room which was actually located not far behind the scene (don't ask me where I know it from). The fact that the room was secret came to my mind from a big paper board Secret Room hanging on the wall =) 

There was a processor (of course, it was Prescott, though it wasn't mentioned officially), that worked at 4 GHz with a standard cooling system. An Intel's man started lifting up the frequency and the screen displayed that the overclocking was fulfilled by the purposely trained people and warned against repeating it at home. At 4.7 GHz the processor failed, and the dump of the operating system appeared on the screen: 

Well, now we know an approximate frequency range for the senior Prescott models which have a greater cache and the Hyper Threading oriented balance of the internal execution units and command decoders. This processor will likely to be 30-50% faster than the Northwood at the same frequency, especially with the HT enabled. 

They paid a great deal of attention to advantages of the HT demonstrating a usual processor and its HT sibling both working at 3GHz:

The marketing department of Intel managed to find 4 examples of combined usage of widespread tasks where the difference was not just 25-30 % which is typical of HT but could reach several hundreds of percents. In that case the difference was demonstrated by a heavy Exel macro together with deletion of unnecessary information and letter sorting in a post program. That is what I didn't expect at all. 

They also demonstrated new dynamically configurable and replaceable servers on the Itanium 2; the compatibility was proven by quick replacement of the Itanium based server with its brother, with all other modules left the same, such as a storage array and a network router: 

The server started up immediately and the Windows Data Center allowed for on-the-fly rearranging of logical servers on the hardware cluster. It took just 4 minutes including explanations. Well, these guys can be irreplaceable in a fire-brigade as all their movements and steps are polished. 

The announced LaGrande technology (which actually consists of several technologies and projects) is meant to increase the overall protection level in PCs. This includes data protection as they are transferred from one part of a motherboard to another and via various system buses, physical shielding of cables, for example, a monitor cable, a unique identification key flashed in a special chip which can't be taken from there but it's possible to generate an open one having combined a user password with it in course of generation. 

This is a hardware protected (i.e. very reliable) system of asymmetric cryptography and can create certificates or e-signature which are valid only if they are created on a given PC and by a user who knows his/her password. Loss of one of these two components is not a failure - a true certificate embraces the two. It's important primarily for wireless networks where strangers must be separated off, and many solutions based on the Banias will have not only a wireless adapter but also this protection chip.

That's the end of the first key note; I hope you will enjoy other conferences and other events taking place within the IDF 2002 Fall, including a concert and parties:

And we are going now to the showcase of the electronic economy achievements.  

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