Intel is working on another SoC radio that operates in the 60-gigahertz range–a range for which no standards yet exist. At this frequency, the device could send and receive wireless data rates of up to three gigabits per second, Krishnamurthy says. This would make the platform ideal for streaming high-quality video and instantly syncing a collection of computers, mobile phones, and other gadgets.
Another paper that will be presented at the conference details an energy-saving graphics processor targeted at mobile devices. It processes multiple pixels at once–something that only power-hungry desktop chips are capable of today. Krishnamurthy says, “We want to bring this capability to mobile devices and make them in our next gen of SoC.” He adds that traditional techniques don’t work well at low voltages, but Intel engineers tweaked the design to drastically reduce the voltage required.
About an on-chip digital temperature sensor, Krishnamurthy says, “We’d like to be able to sense what’s going on at various spots on the die.” This is important because certain parts of the chip heat up faster than others do. A future chip could be smart enough to off-load some tasks to different parts of the chip so that it doesn’t suffer heat damage.
Tom Halfhill, an analyst at research firm In-stat, says it is not surprising that Intel wants to enter the market for smaller mobile computers with its own SoC architectures, given the growth that it has seen in recent years. “You’re seeing a second generation of personal computers: smart phones, netbooks, and these mobile Internet devices–personal computers you carry on your person,” he says. “That’s where the growth market will be in the future, and that’s where Intel hasn’t traditionally had good solutions.”
Halfill says that Intel will need to catch up quickly with ARM, which supplies chips to the majority of the mobile market. “Intel is late to the game in some cases,” he says. “ARM was the first for low-power, embedded chips.”
But Krishnamurthy is optimistic about Intel’s chances of taking the lead. “We see no show stoppers as we proceed with our goals,” he says.