Intel Talks Software And Demos Local File Syncing, Standby, And Hibernate Tech At Investor Meeting 2011
Intel held its annual Investor Meeting today, where the chip maker talked software, the state of the business, as well as new hardware and leveraging microarcitecture leadership. This installment focuses on the software side of things.
During the various keynotes that were held throughout the day for the Investor Meeting 2011, one ideal seemed to present itself in some form or another, and summarized the message Intel presented to the world. The idea was that of a consistent user experience across every computing platform accomplished by leveraging Intel software applications with Intel hardware advancements to deliver a productive and easy to use computing experience whether it is on a cell phone or a dual CPU production workstation. Intel is a market leader in micro-architecture and x86 processors, as well as in sold state drives and high performance computing. Soon, thanks to advancements in transistor technology, Intel will also have a large presence in the mobile market with low power x86 SoCs. Their dominance in desktop computing hardware, along with their good relations with many software developers allows the chip maker a great deal of influence in the technology industry. On the software side of things, Intel has a team of engineers who work inside Microsoft's closely with their software engineers to ensure that the popular operating system delivers a solid experience for x86, and specifically Intel, powered computers. Intel is also heavily invested in open source software and has helped in creating open source operating systems and applications. In the mobile market, Intel is still a proponent and developer of MeeGo, for instance.
This influence and investment in both hardware and software research and development has made Intel a leader in the technology industry. Intel plans to leverage this influence to deliver the most consistent user experience across all platforms, and the process has already begun. Intel has several software technologies that are capable of harnessing their architecture technology to make computers easier to use and more productive. They showed off three (new) pieces of such software during one of their keynotes, including PC Sync, and Fast Flash Standby which encompasses an active standby/sleep mode and fast recovery hibernation modes.
PC Sync is a program much akin to Dropbox in that it promises to keep all of the files that you select in sync between all of your different devices. David Perlmutter and a co-worker showed PC Sync working live as they synced files between two computers. The program differs from Dropbox; however, in the fact that it only works over your local network, and thus it is inherently more secure and faster than services that must first sync files to an Internet server before downloading to the target computer(s).
The other interesting software demonstrated was Intel's Fast Flash Standby technology. This software improves upon the traditional sleep and hibernation modes in Microsoft Windows. The standby mode will put the computer to sleep by saving the system state to RAM and entering a low power mode just like the standard Windows' affair; however, the software will also automatically wake up the system at periodic intervals to download updates such as email, tweets, and Facebook messages, and then will return the computer to its sleep state so that once the computer is woken, the system is already updated and ready to go. Intel has also improved upon the hibernation sleep mode by utilizing flash memory to greatly reduce the time necessary to enter hibernation and resume from the sleep mode. In the demo, the system state was saved to a fast flash drive, and not only did the computer quickly hibernate but it resumed from hibernation in 5 seconds.
Intel also talked about mobile software. Android and MeeGo are both software platforms that Intel is interested in powering with its mobile processors. The 7" tablet and concept smart phone they showed off were both running android. Intel's Senior Vice President and General Manager for its Software & Services Group, Renée J. James stated that Intel is well positioned to create an application ecosystem when it enters the mobile market, and that developers have stated that they plan to develop for them. Further, Renée stated that 90% of Android applications are a run-time and can easily be made to run on Intel's mobile devices.
Intel also addressed the shareholders' concerns of how Windows 8 on ARM would affect Intel. The Windows 8 SKU for ARM will be a ARM focused operating system, and will run ARM applications. The SKU will be well suited for ARM powered mobile devices where mobile and cloud applications can be used. On the other hand, there will also be a "full" Windows 8 with Windows 7 mode that will offer the full featured Windows experience, including backwards compatibility with legacy applications--which the ARM SKU will not offer. Because of this full featured Windows 8 operating system version is tailored for x86, Intel believes that it will have the "best of both worlds" for the consumers in being able to have the full fledged OS and ability to use existing Windows applications made for x86. Renée remained confident in Intel's continued position despite an OS version for ARM chips.
Further, Intel recognized its McAfee acquisition. The president of McAfee then took the stage to explain that the company was committed to delivering security products across the Intel line. He also stressed that with the ever increasing presence of malware on the Internet, the current method of security programs using "blacklisting" techniques was not sustainable. The cloud, he surmised, was both a security concern as well as a resource for security programs, and that he expects to have software that is backed by large Internet databases cataloging malware definitions to be the standard in the coming years until a technique stronger than blacklisting becomes usable.
For a hardware company, Intel has also delved heavily into software by working with developers and acquiring software companies. They recognize that it takes more than hardware to create a quality computing experience and only with the right balance of both hardware and software is a consistent user experience across all of their devices possible.
Intel Talks Mobile Hardware And Shows Off 32nm Medfield Android Smart Phone At Investor Meeting 2011
Intel held its annual Investor Meeting today, where the chip maker talked software, the state of the business, as well as new hardware and leveraging microarcitecture leadership. This installment focuses on the mobile hardware aspects.
Partway through the Intel Investor Meeting 2011, David Perlmutter stepped on stage for his keynote speech. As the Vice President and General Manager of the Intel Architecture Group, he delved into the advancements that Intel has made in smaller transistor manufacturing, and how those advancements will help Intel to break into the mobile and handheld computing market with low power and high performance SoCs (System on a Chip). During the meeting, Intel stated that it has always been known for performance, but not necessarily for being low power. With their recent advancements in moving to smaller manufacturing nodes; however, Intel has positioned itself to have power efficient processors that are low power and with power to deliver a fluid user experience in mobile devices. David explains that power efficency follows along with Moore's Law in that as the transistors get smaller (and with Intel's advancements such as 3D transistors), the chips become much more power efficient. With each successive shrink in manufacturing nodes, Intel has seen higher transistor switching speeds and lower current leakage compared to previous generations:
What as these new power efficent chips amount to, is Intel's new ability to break into the mobile market and become extremely competitive with the ARM architecture(s). David showed off two examples during the Investor Meeting 2011 in the form of an Android smart phone and 7" tablet powered by 32nm Medfield mobile chips.
The Medfield powered Android smart phone.
An Intel powered Android tablet that will be available to developers soon.
The phone is a hyper threaded, 32nm Intel Medfield mobile processor that runs the Android 2.x operating system and is poised to compete with the current dual core ARM powered smart phones. A dual core version of the mobile SoC is also planned in the future. When questioned if the rumored quad core ARM smart phones would pose a problem for Intel's planned single and dual core phones, David responded that the number of cores is only one aspect of performance, and is a measurement "much like megahertz was in the '90s" and hinted not to count Intel's processors out even when competing against quad core ARM processors.
The tablet did not recieve as much attention as the concept phone; however, we do know that it is capable of running Android Honeycomb, is 7", and will be powered by a very similar 32nm Medfield chip.
Intel projects that by 2015, not only will they have passed 14nm manufacturing nodes (which are planned for 2014) but the SoCs will have 10 times the graphics and computational power as their chips released this year.
From the keynotes at this year's meeting, Intel is both enthusiastic and confident in their ability to finally dive into the mobile market in force and become a heavywieght competitior to ARM. Their plans to bring the x86 instruction set and power sipping chips to the handset and netbook markets is a bold move, but if their projections hold true may result in a massive market share increase and further innovation in an even more competitive mobile market.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 12, 2011 - 09:32 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: subscription, mobile, Chromebook
Maximum PC recently reported details regarding just what the Google Chromebook subscription will cost for the various models and what each subscription entails. While you can read about the Chromebook and the various subscriptions in this previous article, specific pricing for the subscriptions for each of the launch models are detailed below:
|Enterprise (monthly)||Education (monthly)||
Consumer (no subscription)
|Acer Chromebook (WiFi)||$28||$20||$349|
|Acer Chromebook (3G)||$31||$23||$TBA|
|Samsung Series 5 (WiFi)||$30||$20||$429|
|Samsung Series 5 (3G)||$33||$23||$499|
Futher details that were clairified regarded mobile data and minumum orders. Each subscription will include 100MB of 3G data with those Chromebooks that have 3G hardware. Also, in order to recieve a subscription contract, both businesses and schools must order a minimum of 10 devices.
Just as with cell phone plans, there are early termination fees for those schools and/or businesses that wish to back out of their contracts. Google has stated that the early termination fee will be equal to the remainder of their contract. For example, if a small business has twenty users and five months left on their contract, in order to get out of said contract, the business would need to pay $2800 if their users all had the base Acer WiFi model.
Needless to say, it would be smarter to just ride out the contract (if possible for the institution), because at least then the business would still retain support for the devices versus buying out the contract for the same amount of money and losing all support for their devices. It will be interesting to see if Google will hold businesses and schools to this ETF or if they will renege and change their policy to appear more enticing to the market.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 12, 2011 - 01:52 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mobile, laptop, Chromebook
First there was the laptop. Then the notebook. The netbook is the most recent addition to mobile devices with hardware keyboards. That is, until today. Google has officially launched a new cloud OS based mobile device dubbed the ChromeBook.
As a netbook with an operating system that amounts to little more than a web browser, the device purports to not only match the functionality of a "normal" netbook, but surpass it thanks to file storage residing in the cloud, automatic updates to the OS, virtually unlimited applications, and an eight second boot time.
Google further states that the device is capable of all the promises feats while remaining secure. Security is accomplished by several independent strategies. The OS splits up system settings and user settings, and each ChromeBook allows only one "owner" per device. The owner is able to allow other users to log in to the device as well, whether it is with their Google account or as a guest. Guest Mode does not sync or cache data, and all system settings are kept out of the session, including network configuration. Each process is sandboxed in an effort to reduce the likely hood of cross-process attacks. Further, the browser and plugin processes are not given direct kernel interface access. Toolchain hardening seeks to limit exploit reliability and success. The file system has several restrictions, including a read-only root partition, tmpfs-based /tmp, and User home directories that can not have executable files.
Further, ChromeBooks utilize a secure automatic update system and Verified Boot that seeks to eliminate attacks tampering with the underlying code. All updates are downloaded over SSL, and are required to pass various integrity checks. The version number of updates is not allowed to regress, meaning that only updates with a version number higher than those already installed on the system are allowed to install. Further, on the next boot-up, the updates undergo a further integrity check in the form of what Google calls "Verified Boot."
According to Google, Verified Boot "provides a means of getting cryptographic assurances that the Linux kernel, non-volatile system memory, and the partition table are untampered with when the system starts up." The process depends on a "chain of trust" which is created using custom read-only firmware rather than a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) device. The read-only firmware checks the integrity of the writable firmware, and if it passes then the writable firmware is used to check the integrity of the next component in the boot up process. While Verified Boot does not protect against dedicated attackers, it does allow a safe recovery option when re-installing as well as detecting changes made by a successful run-time attack and files or write-able firmware changes made by an attacker with a bootable USB drive.
In future iterations of the OS, Google is pursuing driver sandboxing as well as implementing a secure method for auto-logins. Further, Google states that they are interested in pursuing biometric security if they are able to ensure their authentication software is secure when using low cost hardware. Also on the agenda is implementing a "single signon" system that would allow users to log into third party sites using credentials generated by their Google account.
Hardware running Chrome OS is not new, however. Google's CR-48 notebook has been in the wild for months, allowing thousands of users the chance to try out the new operating system and its accompanying hardware. Both Acer (11.6", $349) and Samsung (12.1", $429 wifi only) have stepped up to the plate and are offering ChromeBooks at launch. What is new; however, is the way in which users are able to purchase the hardware. While consumers will still be able to purchase a ChromeBook from retailers, Google has announced a new subscription option for school and business users. The new subscription service would allow students to receive a ChromeBook for $20 a month, while business users would pay $28 a month. In order to get the subscription price schools and businesses must enter into a three year contract. The subscription price includes the "hardware, operating system, updates and cloud-based management" along with online, email, and telephone support directly from Google. The monthly subscription further includes regular hardware refreshes.
It is apparent that Google sees its largest market for ChromeBooks as being large businesses and schools, which can then manage a fleet of ChromeBooks for their users for a much lower cost versus maintaining hundreds of traditional computers. While large IT departments are likely to see the cost benefits, It remains to be seen how consumers will react to this subscription based model. Subscriptions have become more prevalent, with the majority of the US using cell phones with monthly contracts. On the other hand, users --students especially-- are used to buying a computer outright. Will the lure of low cost subscription ChromeBooks be enough to break consumers' traditional thoughts on purchasing computers? Will students accept remotely administrated computers in exchange for a low cost subscription?
HP Mini 210 Review: Introduction
With all of the talk about tablets and smartphones it’s easy to forget just how popular netbooks are and remain. The days of absurd 800% market share growth numbers are over, but netbooks remain a part of the mobile computing market and are not likely to disappear any time soon.
That may mean the end of excitement over netbook, but it also means the opportunity for refinement. New, revolutionary products often have rough edges. Many older netbooks had poor keyboards and so-so build quality. My old Samsung N10, which was considered the cream of the crop in its day, looks cheap compared to today’s models – and I paid just over $400 for it.