IDF, Shanghai – Mobile – and specifically mobile Internet – seems to be the catchphrase at this year's Spring IDF as Intel today introduced five new Atom processors and the Centrino Atom platform for mobile Internet devices (MIDs).
And, according to Intel senior vice-president and GM of the Ultra Mobility Group, Anand Chandrasekher, customers such as Lenovo, NEC, Panasonic and Toshiba will have products utilising the new technology "on the shelves over the next 60 days."
"Today is a historic day for Intel and the high-tech industry as we deliver our first ever Intel Atom processor and surround it with a great package of technology," Chandrasekher says. "Mix in the incredible innovation coming from our fellow device makers and software vendors, and we will change the way consumers will come to know and access the Web.
"These forthcoming MIDs, and some incredible longer-term plans our customers are sharing with us, will show how small devices can deliver a big Internet experience," he says.
The importance of Atom was stressed by both Chandeasekher and Intel CEO Paul Otellini, who said in a video clip during the keynote: "Atom may be as important [to Intel] as Pentium was in the 1980s."
Atom (formerly codenamed Silverthorne) was officially announced last month and Centrino Atom (codenamed Menlow) will be the first Intel technology to incorporate the processor.
"We gave this product a brand because we think the growth potential is phenomenal and we think it matters that the user can tell when he's getting an Atom and when he's not," says Chandrasekher. "Atom is the smallest processor ever built on the world's smallest transistors – 47-million transistors on 25 square millimetres of real estate.
"Today we are taking the first steps to unleash the Internet and put it in your pocket," he says.
Chandrasekher demonstrated a host of new MIDs including the IdeaPad from Lenovo and a "robust-designed" Panasonic MID. "They said I could drop this and it would still work," Chandrasekher told disbelieving delegates, especially those that had heard the same story from certain IBM execs in the days of the Thinkpad.
But Chadrasekher did drop the Panasonic – from about shoulder level – and it did continue working.
Quizzed at a later press conference on why he was so confident that MIDs would sell where previous iterations such as the ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) had failed dismally to take off, Chandrasekher says that Internet usage patterns and, therefore buying patterns, had changed.
"The consumer is changing," he says. "These devices are not for us [our age group]." Alluding to the fact that a younger generation wants access to all the varied applications they use on one device.
"They want to do all their various things on a screen that is somewhat visible, that they can use and take advantage of," he says. "If you look at gaming devices, GPS … these are form factors that will evolve from the size they are today, to different sizes and shapes in the future.
"This is going to be a significant technology by 2011," Chandrasekher says.