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Intel reinvents the PC as giant 'Black Brook' fondleslab

'All-in-one' reference platform and 20th anniversary Pentium revealed

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GDC Intel has shown off its vision for the next generation of PCs, in the form of “Black Brook”, a reference design for a “desktop all-in-one” computer.

The new class of device is a PC built into a touch-screen that appears to be up to about 20 inches on its diagonal dimension, packs a battery and nestles into a docking station.

The video below shows off a prototype machine. Intel says it expects such machines to reach the market during 2014 and 2015. Chipzilla's Ready Mode technology, which helps devices to operate in a light nap mode in which they require very little power but still resume operations swiftly, is expected to be a big deal in the new all-in-ones.

Chipzilla's also talked up three new pieces of silicon, namely:

  • A fourth-generation, eight-core, 16-thread, Extreme Edition Core processor;
  • A 20th anniversary Pentium featuring “unlocked multipliers that allow the ability to increase the core and memory frequencies independently from the rest of the system”
  • A "Devil's Canyon" CPU said to offer "improved thermal interface and CPU packaging materials that are expected to enable significant enhancements to performance and overclocking capabilities."

Outlined at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco yesterday, the new all-in-one reference and the new chips are part of an effort Intel says is aimed at revitalising the desktop. Chipzilla's plans to do so will focus on accelerating development of the all-in-one market, satisfying enthusiasts, finding new things for its Next Unit of Computing small form factor PC to do and then finding other growth markets.

The company thinks the first of those goals can be achieved by making sure all-in-ones are a lot of fun out of the box. To that end it's helped bring new touch-enabled applications to market, in the form of a Wheel of Fortune game, a Crayola app and ten others aimed straight at the lounge room.

The company has also pointed out that while the PC market is a mess, 2013's fourth quarter saw year-over-year desktop volume rise seven per cent. That's an isolated number, but one that in concert with the Black Brook design shows there may be life in the old dog yet. ®

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