SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Don’t get too comfortable with wireless options
like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Oh, no, they’re not going anywhere. They’ll just soon
have a lot of company crowding your mobile PC.
In the next few years Intel
predicts the number of
radio technologies that connect mobile users to the Internet and each other
to expand beyond Wi-Fi to include GPS, DVB (Digital Video Broadcast), WiMax,
“You can expect an explosion of radios in platforms by 2009,” said Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer, at an event here at company headquarters showcasing a diverse number of its research efforts.
Rattner said Intel is working in its labs and with partners on the many
challenges of putting all that communications technology in a mobile PC. In
addition to the physical issue of packing all the radios and antennas
in a small space, engineers and developers have to be sure the communication
pieces can all operate without interfering with one another. Also, each new
technology requires power, yet Intel, AMD
, and others are
aggressively pursuing ways to reduce power consumption in mobile systems.
“You have to get much smarter about how you do it than we are today,”
Citing unnamed sources, a recent article in the San Jose Mercury News claimed Intel has lost billions of dollars the past several years on investments in various communications businesses and is now trying to sell the unit.
Specifically the report said Intel wants to shed its communications
processor business. That includes the IXP network processor and its Xscale
microprocessor business, which makes chips for cell phones and handheld
computers. Other businesses are potentially for sale as well.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini announced in April that the company had started a
90-day top-to-bottom review of
operations that it expects to result in a billion dollars in direct spending savings going forward.
But in an interview with internetnews.com, Rattner said decisions
on different aspects of the company’s communications businesses would have
no effect on its core R&D in areas like Wi-Fi and WiMax.
“Our investment is holding steady,” said Rattner. “Our view going forward
is that radios will become more integral and more deeply a part of the
Alan Crouch, director of Intel’s communications technology lab, said he’s
confident technology advances will enable mobile systems to handle
simultaneous transmissions and radio-to-radio communication without interference in the next few years.
“We think a digitally enhanced, multi-radio approach is the way to go,”
said Crouch. “It’s a big focus of our efforts.”