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IDF Fall 2006

There were no big surprises from Intel at the Fall IDF, 2006. The overwhelming message, distilled to a single sentence: Core 2 is a powerful power-efficient platform, and Intel will keep pushing the performance boundaries with multiple cores while keeping a tight rein on energy consumption. Tech news web sites are already full of details, I am sure... There were a couple of interesting bits and pieces, however, including:

  • Intel's million dollar contest for sexy, stylish, small and quiet PCs. Details on the contest here.
  • In keeping with Intel's power efficiency theme, the Tango Urban Car is on display at IDF: A meter-wide, 2-seater electric urban car that promises the perfect commuter experience and does 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds. Just a tad over $100,000 for the base model. Hollywood stars like George Clooney are all over it for their LA expressway commutes, along with the billionaires at Google. (As for the rest of us, think bicycles. They're healthier, cheaper and even more energy efficient.)
  • A couple of the educational sessions were detailed examinations of methods to measure energy consumption (kw/hr) used by a computer while completing a specific series of real tasks in its working environment. Comparing computers in this way, Intel engineers have found that a computer that demands more power while delivering higher performance can get a job done faster and with less overall energy consumption than a less power-hungry but slower computer. The end result can be that for data center / server farm applications, fewer, faster computers can do the same job, thus leading to a net decrease in energy consumption over a larger number of slower computers. More on this later when the session content becomes availble online.
  • The session, Intro to Platform Acoustic Characterization Methods, Metrics, and Limits was a welcome echo of my recent piece, What is a Silent Computer? AFAIK, it was the first time that the concept of sound quality was mentioned in a formal Intel document or presentation. Binaural recording for best human hearing simulation, subjective analysis and jury study results were also discussed. More on this after I've had a chance to chat with the authors of this presentation.
  • Then there was the call by Google for the industry to standardize on 12V only PSUs, reported in detail by the New York Times. Chris Calwell of Ecos, which runs the 80 Plus high efficiency PSU certification program, was cited in the article.

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