CES 2013: Intel Keynote Rife with Ultrabook and Smartphone Rhetoric

Paul Lilly

Intel is ramping up its effort to be a major player in the mobile arena.

Intel's presence at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is heavily focused on mobile this time around, a theme that was evident during Paul Otellini's keynote speech that largely dealt with next generation Ultrabooks, as well as a separate press conference highlighting Atom-powered smartphones and Windows 8 Ultrabooks.

"The best of Intel is coming to a mobile device near you," said Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general mager of the PC Client Group at Intel. "We are set to deliver the biggest increase in battery efficiency in Intel's history with 4th generation Core processors, while adding broad new human interfaces to computing devices through touch, voice, facial recognition, and gesture-based interactions. We're also significantly extending the performance and power savings in Atom processors as we accelerate our mobile offerings in unprecedented fashion in 2013."

One of the major announcements Intel made was that touch support will be a "mandatory" feature for all Ultrabooks moving forward. Intel's hardware partners can still use 4th Generation Core processors (Haswell) in their thin and light notebook systems, but if they want that coveted Ultrabook designation, touch support is no longer optional. Intel's Wireless Display (WiDi) will also be required.

Speaking of Haswell, Intel says its next batch of Core processors are the first to be built with Ultrabooks specifically in mind. Low power parts promise all-day battery life (around 10-13 hours), which will be especially important if you detach an Ultrabook's display and use it as a Core i7-powered tablet.

Intel also appears enamored with the concept of table top computing. These are essentially evolved all-in-one systems that can lay flat like a giant tablet. In doing so, you can gather the family around the display and use it like a virtual game board to play Monopoly, poker, etc.

Last year saw the introduction of the first Intel-powered smartphones. In 2013, Intel will focus on value-oriented smartphones for emerging markets. These will be powered by an Intel Atom Z2420 processor (codenamed Lexington) and aimed at locations like Africa, China, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Processor speeds will ramp up to 1.2GHz, support hyperthreading, and include optimizations for Android applications. These phones will also feature HD video encoding and decoding, 1.3MP front-facing cameras, 5MP rear-facing cameras, 7 frame burst-capture, and other goodies.

During the press event, Skaugen also confirmed that Intel is working with Comcast to allow customers to view live and on-demand pay TV content to multiple screens, including Ultrabook devices, Intel-based AIO PCs, and tablets.

Cliff Notes Version

Intel was kind of all over the place with its announcements, so here's a succinct summary (including some highlights we didn't squeeze in above):

  • Value Atom platform for emerging markets (Lexington)
  • Bay Trail quad-core Atom processor tablets in Holiday 2013
  • Pull in and launch new 7W Intel Core processors for Ultrabooks and tablets
  • 4th Generation Intel Core Ultrabooks; all with touch, WiDi & delivering largest battery life increase in Intel's history
  • 2013 = adding natural human interfaces to computing; voice, touch, facial recognition, and gestures
  • Live & On-Demand premium pay TV content across Intel devices
  • Latest all-in-one computers to bring new shared computing experiences

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