IDF 2014: PC Is Alive And Well, In The Middle Of Transformation

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Kirk Skaugen announces new PC architecture codenamed Skylake, while Michael Dell tells the audience to “hug a PC”

The PC is alive and well, and its “journey has just begun”, according to Kirk Skaugen, Intel’s senior vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group.

During his keynote at this year’s Intel Developer’s Forum (IDF) in San Francisco, Skaugen said that the  desktop was simply evolving into a greater number of devices like tablets, ultrabooks, 2-in-1 and All-in-One PCs. He announced the name of the next PC architecture – Skylake – scheduled for release in the second half of 2015, although he didn’t provide any more details.

This keynote was followed by a surprise appearance from Michael Dell, who presented one of the company’s upcoming devices – the Dell venue 8700, set to become the thinnest tablet in the world.

Hug a PC

Part of the reason why desktops are still in demand is gaming – Skaugen said there were around 700 million PC gamers in the world, this number much higher that the number of gaming console owners.

Mod-2bHe set out three short-term targets for Intel’s PC business. The first is to eliminate wires from the desk, something Intel is helping achieve by promoting the WiGig technology – which can wirelessly connect displays, peripherials and storage – and Rezence wireless charging.

The second is to eliminate passwords with the help of biometrics. The third is to advance touch, gesture and voice interfaces through hardware solutions like RealSense – Intel’s own IR camera module that can measure depth, similar to Microsoft’s Kinect controller but much smaller.

Skaugen was full of praise for the new Core M chips built on the 14nm process, which were now in volume production and should appear in devices later this year.

“Simply put the 14 nanometer technology is the most advanced semiconductor manufacturing technology in the world, it’s our second-generation 3D transistors, it’s lower-power process. You’re getting 8 hours of video in a fanless machine, improved scaling and higher levels of integration.”

Next, general manager of Intel’s Software and Services Group Doug Fisher presented a new reference design for an Android tablet, proving that the company is still very much interested in building devices for Google’s mobile OS.

At the end of the keynote, Michael Dell came on stage to announce Dell Venue 8 7000 – an 8.4-inch Android tablet that’s just 6mm thick but offers an edge-to-edge screen capable of displaying 2K resolution. This is the first tablet to feature RealSense, which allows users to refocus their pictures after they have been taken, among other things. It will appear on sale in early November.

“I’m really excited about the growth that’s coming back into the PC space,” said Dell. “In fact, so far this year we’ve seen growth of over 15 percent in unit volumes in our PC business. I think as people have gotten back to real work and productivity, whether its the tablets, the gaming, the workstations, the virtual PCs, the secure commercial PCs, the rugged PCs – now, we absolutely do all of those – there’s real excitement there.

“You know, when you get back to your PC – give it a hug. It’s OK. It’s OK to love your PC.”

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