Intel CES 2013 Press Event: Dual-Core Phones, Quad-Core Atom, Low-Power Ultrabooks

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 Today at Intel's CES 2013 press event, the company showcased a number of its upcoming technologies, including its new phone platform, "Bay Trail" quad-core Atom processor and Ultrabooks running on a low-power version of its Sandy Bridge platform.

To start the event, Intel's Mike Bell took the stage and talked about phones. First, he recapped 2012's launch of the first Intel-powered smartphones, pointing out how well-reviewed they were by sites like Anandtech and the Verge.

Then, Bell announced the Atom Z2420 processor for phones, otherwise known as "Lexington." The goal of the Lexington platform is to provide low-cost phones to emerging markets. The CPU can encode and decode 1080p videos, capture photos at 7 frames per second and offer speedy graphics. He then showed a reference Lexington phone and shot the audience at 7fps. 

Lexington handsets also support dual-sims, FM radio, microSD Card slots and Intel's Wireless Display (WiDi) standard for streaming to TVs. Bell then announced that Acer, Lava and Safaricom will be releasing Lexington phones. He then showed the roadmap for Atom phone CPUs, the next of which is Clovertrail+, a dual-core CPU for phones.

Bell spoke about the Atom platform for tablets, touting the benefits of the Atom Z2670, which promises 10+ hours of battery life. He then announced the new "Bay Trail" platform for tablets, which features a quad-core CPU based on 22nm. He pointed out three tablets on stage that are Bay Trail prototypes, and said that shipping systems will be available by holiday 2013.

Intel's Kirk Skaugen took the stage to talk about Ultrabooks and their Core series processors. He announced that, starting today, 7-watt Sandy Bridge CPUs will start shipping to OEMs so users can soon buy even longer-lasting notebooks right away. He then took out an Acer detachable Ultrabook that's coming out this spring and said it's much lighter than current-gen Iconias.

Skaugen then took out the newly-announced Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11s and said it would run with this new, low-power Sandy Bridge because OEMs don't have to wait for the next-gen Haswell chip to start selling thinner, lower-power devices.

He talked about the success of Ultrabooks, saying the company has more than 140 design wins and pointing out that you can now get an Ultrabook for $599. He predicted that by the end of the year, you'll be able to get a touch-screen Ultrabook for $599.

"Every single day, we're getting more and more mechanical innovation," he said, then held up a new incredible thin NEC 15.6-inch notebook.

Skaugen then talked about 4th-Generation Intel Core Series CPUs, aka "Haswell." He said Haswell is the "first product line that was designed grounds up" for Ultrabooks. He also said 4th-gen Ultrabooks will be required to have touch.

He said that, with 4th-generation Core, Intel is going to be able to deliver the longest battery life increase in Intel history. He said the new Ultrabooks will last all day long and then some, allowing you to leave your power brick behind. He also announced that all 4th-gen Ultrabooks will be required to have Wi-Fi and antivirus.

He took out an Intel reference convertible design based on Haswell, which is called Northgate. The reference design is 17mm thin and said to deliver 13 hours of battery life with the CPU behind the screen. When detached as a tablet, Northgate  should provide 10 hours of battery life, with a Core i5 or Core i7 CPU. He showed the tablet playing a high-end racing game.

Skaugen then turned the conversation to All-in-One computing. He pulled out a Sony VAIO Tap 20 all-in-one that can lay flat and run on battery. He said that new all-in-ones will "bring back family night" by folding into table mode so multiple people can use the screen at once. He pulled up a list of partners, including HP, Lenovo and Sony. 

He then pointed to a Lenovo IdeaCenter Horizon, which was set up in table mode at the right side of the stage with a family seated around it. He brought out a Lenovo rep to demonstrate the Texas Hold 'Em game, which lets you see your cards on a phone while you play on the Horizon's screen.

Skaugen then announced that Comcast will start selling an Atom-powered Xfinity gateway that streams premium content (aka video on demand) to all the devices in your house, including your tablet and your laptop.

He changed the topic to Perceptual Computing, saying that in 2013, PCs will take more input than just keyboard and mouse. He then called a product manager on stage to talk about Perceptual Computing, who said Perceptual Computing is all about giving your computer human senses like ears and eyes. The product manager announced that Dragon Voice Assistant, which is already available on Dell XPS notebooks, will come to many more lines of Ultrabooks in 2013.

Skaugen then talked about facial and voice recognition for security. The product manager stared at a Windows 8 PC and watched it log in by recognizing his face. He said the new Intel facial password technology is much more resistant to spoofing than previous-generation facial recognition software.

The product manager talked about Intel's gesture-control software development kit and camera, which the company started shipping to developers last fall. Skaugen said a similar gesture control camera will be sold to consumers at retail later this year. Because the camera has two lenses, Skaugen said it can capture all 10 of your fingers in three-dimensional space, allowing for richer gestures than an ordinary webcam.

They then showed a demo of Portal 2 being played with hand gestures. He showed how he could manipulate an onscreen cube by moving his hand around. The product manager pulled up a video conference window, where he talked to a friend offstage. With the 3D gesture-control camera, he was able to separate his friend from the background behind her without using a green screen.

He demonstrated eye-tracking by pulling up a "Where's Waldo" book. As he moved his eyes to look for Waldo on a page of the book, a pointer followed his eye movements.

Skaugen then closed the event by summarzing all the announcements and thanking the audience.


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Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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