IDF now stands for Intel Ditches Frisco: Chipzilla axes annual tech conf

Processors are like sausages, uh, you don't need to know how they're made, apparently

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For the past 20 years, Intel has held its annual Intel Developer Forum in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. It is supposed to be a technical conference for system programmers, application writers and hardware engineers.

Well, not no more it ain't: Chipzilla has scrapped the event for good. IDF 2017, due to take place in August, isn't happening. Instead, nerds are invited to check out the documentation on intel.com while the x86 CPU giant focuses on trying to be something other than an x86 CPU giant.

Intel held the first get-together in 1997 with a smallish Intel Developer Forum in San Jose, Silicon Valley, close to its headquarters in Santa Clara. As the event expanded it was moved up to the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco. It also began holding mirror events in China and Taiwan a decade ago, however those were cancelled recently and now the US show is gone too.

"Intel has evolved its event portfolio and decided to retire the IDF program moving forward. Thank you for nearly 20 great years with the Intel Developer Forum!" the chip factory said on its website today.

"Intel has a number of resources available on intel.com, including a Resource and Design Center with documentation, software, and tools for designers, engineers, and developers. As always, our customers, partners, and developers should reach out to their Intel representative with questions."

Intel can have all the webpages it likes, however IDF was an opportunity to grill Chipzilla's engineers during deep-dive sessions and Q&As – and network with likeminded techies during the event and in the bars and restaurants outside. You could ask for clarifications on instruction sets, performance stats, memory access timings; all the nerdy stuff Intel now finds too tedious, embarrassing or irritating to discuss in public – and would rather you poke it with a stick privately.

As well as all that, don't forget: chip rival AMD used IDF to do a bit of guerrilla marketing of its own. One year AMD set up free coffee stalls for delegates at all four corners of the Moscone Center hosting IDF and handed out free t-shirts – a move that enraged Intel staff. AMD was also notorious for setting up briefings for members of the press Intel had flown in from around the world for the show.

In recent years, IDF has suffered from Intel's slowing product cycle and a dearth of meaty news. The processor manufacturer is obsessed with restyling itself as anything other than a processor manufacturer in a weird bid to be hip and cool, as if it was ashamed to be a cutting-edge chip assembly line: previous shows have highlighted IoT gizmos, drones, wireless bracelets, and so on, with only quick mentions of its Core family.

Too many tech goliaths are doing this today, trying to ditch apparently boring words like "software" and "hardware" and reinvent themselves as digital lifestyle transformation platforms.

It's a pity. This hack has been to nearly a dozen IDFs, under three different CEOs, and the shows did still have value, as well as the odd funny moment when product demos failed on stage. And sadly there'll be no more IDF betting pools on how long the keynote speaker would talk before mentioning Moore's so-called law. ®

PS: Yeah, we called it Frisco. Fight us.


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