IDF roundup and rumours
All the news unfit to print
From Intel's point of view, there are clear advantages holding its technical fest in San Jose rather than Palm Springs. One, it's more spread out - so you minimise the risk of journalists chatting to engineers and delegates. Two, it's half an hour's drive to Satan Clara's HQ in Mission College Boulevard, so Intel folk can't get a sly round of golf in when no one's looking. But Intel underestimates the ways of The Reg. Do its executives not know that we have a Ways and Means Committee, specifically held to overcome these grave obstacles to speculation and misdirected instructions?
Low key, or what. In the last six months, Intel has performed a complete UI (u-turn) on this technology, whilst still managing to fend off questions. The Intel Fellow was nowhere to be found, this time round. However, on the exhibition floor, we paid visits to both the Samsung and the Hyundai stands. Samsung gave equal billing to both DDR memory and Rambus memory, a telling thing, while Hyundai even had an Athlon running with a DDR based chipset on its stand. Micron demoed some DDR chipsets but the stand was oddly deserted, so we couldn't chat to our chums about how it was all going.
The Three Ss, as Pat Gelsinger described them at a previous forum, were also in low key mode. We stumbled across a small booth with around eight or nine Concept PCs, surrounding pictures children had drawn of the PCs of the future.
Intel's Beer-to-Beer Fest
Tuesday evening held high expectations for us, but sadly not as many delegates got drunk as usual. The beer tent was full of games to play, it was fun to see Intel engineers trying out scooters, but the event seemed strangely under-attended. This is because it was San Jose and people could get away from Intel pretty easily. However, it was nice to chat to some chap about MPEG 4, currently under development, and even nicer to go back to the San Jose and Towers Hilton with the whole backend of the bus full of Intel staff baying and a screaming that Katie, whoever she is, should stand up and be counted. We believe there are pictures of this occasion. At one point, your staffer had to stand up and ask the mob to calm down. We couldn't hear the conversation we were having with a senior Intel software engineer properly. This only seemed to incite the mob to greater heights.
AMD's 1.1GHz Athlon
Up in room 1026, the staff were demonstrating the 1.1GHz Athlon the firm will roll out tomorrow. OK, we know it's only 1.1GHz and not 1.13GHz, but it will be available in quantity and, as revealed here earlier, there will be a 1.5GHz Athlon in quantity, in January.
Craig Barrett's Horse'n'Ranch
We tipped off Vulture Central about the name of Craig's favourite horse, but the same source told us the real secret was the name of Craig's wife's favourite horse. Fires had affected some of Craig's ranch, and prior to his keynote, Pat Gelsinger told the assembled masses that he had effectively taken over fire fighting activities in the region. We've heard him screaming at Sindy, so can only guess the volume pumped up when his log cabin business was affected by the general conflagration and wildfires that have hit several states in the US.
Agilent's Wonderful Fan
Again, in the exhibition area, we had a chance to talk to the inventor of a fan. This chap showed us three solutions that HP (Agilent was spun off, remember), had originally developed for its own kit. One supports the 2GHz Willamette, out sooner than anyone expected.
International Journos elect PR spokesperson
There were quite a few hacks left in the San Jose and Towers Hilton, and everyone in the PR department had bogged off to a winery for the evening, to be followed by a worldwide PR meeting on the Friday.
This left us without flack support, and so we agreed to elect a PR representative from among our number to answer those questions which still remained, and to wander freely around San Jose, cornering Intel people at Katie's Bar, opposite the Fairmount, where most of the middle management were staying, one or two of them wobbling rather as they crossed the road. After getting answers to our questions, we returned to our room which was 810 - thank god we were staying in room 810 rather than room 820. Surprise, surprise, an Intel flack was staying there.
Spin Doctoring the Facts
A total of 5,000 people attended IDF, and a total of 502 of these were journalists, financial analysts and chip analysts, meaning that 10 per cent or more were dangerous types that couldn't be trusted. This probably accounts for the shallow nature of some of the technical tracks, and the superficial nature of some of the keynotes. IDF has turned into a monster and, as one co-hack commented, this means incremental information rather than revolutionary information. The event makes money for Intel, but surely some of the serious people attending the event were a little cheesed off that the info is a little dumbed down because of the PR nature of the event?
Some Pentium 4 engineers, for example, were gagging to tell us more, publicly, about their achievement and that would have helped counter the cynicism. But they were gagged, instead.
The spec 1.0 is slightly delayed but there were exhibitors showing solutions and we were assured that come Q1, we will see plenty more. We weren't allowed to catch the PCI-X bus back from the beer-to-beer fest.
More later. ®