Multihoming mobility treat won't wait for Redmond


IDF We've seen many neat innovations in Intel's labs over the years, and many which didn't survive the journey up to Redmond. But Intel vows that its latest mobile initiatives - to bring the PC up to, and beyond the multihoming capabilities of new Macs - won't meet the same fate.

Hacks were treated to an impressive multi-homing demo today in which a notebook switched seamlessly between two wireless and one wireline Ethernet network without skipping a beat. That's thanks to Intel Labs-brewed software codenamed 'Skamania'. Neat stuff, and the slickest such demo we've seen.

But wouldn't this initiative offend the "we do the software" creed of a certain large Pacific North Western software company? The antitrust trial gave us a blow-by-blow account of one such earlier Intel initiative, in graphics, and as Stephen McGeady testified, this particular project was killed at Bill's request.

"This software will come out this year," a Labs spokesman promised us. "It doesn't require anything in the operating system."

We asked Kurt Sehnert if this was something that Microsoft would feel encroached on its turf? "There's end to end infrastructure needed for that, and we're investing in IA to supports this. And there is some hardware, too."

Intel's demo showed Skamania (cute name) hopping between 802.11, 802.3 and fixed Ethernet, but Sehnert said that Bluetooth PANs and wireless packet data, such as GPRS, were part of the picture too.

One other part of the Intel presentation will sound familiar to The Register's Mac readers, and that's power management.

A couple of weeks ago, Apple's Darwin chief described how X achieved its three second sleep/wake feature, and he talked about "power graphs" - hierarchies of power states. That's what Intel's Anand Chandrasekher introduced today: only Intel calls them "Device Performance States".

Sehert said the CPU only accounted for seven per cent of the typical power consumption of a mobile device (although the chipset accounted for another 13 per cent). With the LCD sucking up a third of the power consumed, that's where the problem lies.

"If we had a chip and a chipset that consumed zero power, we'd still have a power consumption problem," he said.

In the medium term, he suggested intelligent screens, which know when you're looking away and dim accordingly, will help.

An appropriately Paranoid solution, we thought.

You can read more on what Skamania tells us about the Wintel relationship in an analysis here

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