Intel presents initiatives to make PC indispensable

Intel chairman and CEO Andy Grove introduced a new videoconferencing system and presented a rationale for power-hungry multimedia computing at the Intel Symposium on Monday. At the same event, Informix announced that it is working with Intel to ensure that its DataBlades multimedia database extension software will run up to eight times faster on Windows NT and Intel's MMX platforms than on Unix platforms.

Intel chairman and CEO Andy Grove introduced a new videoconferencing system and presented a rationale for power-hungry multimedia computing at the Intel Symposium on Monday.

Also at the symposium, Grove touted Intel's work in making PCs less expensive to manage.

At the same event, Informix announced that it is working with Intel to ensure that its DataBlades multimedia database extension software will run up to eight times faster on Windows NT and Intel's MMX platforms than on Unix platforms.

Intel's videoconferencing system, called TeamStation, includes all hardware and software necessary for videoconferencing (except for a monitor) at a cost of $US9,999. It is built on an MMX chip for fast video performance, and it is compliant with standards such as H.323 and T.120, which means it should interoperate with other standards-compliant conferencing systems. TeamStation is available now.

The TeamStation is an example of the "Visually Connected PC", which enables PC-based interaction that goes beyond the text and numbers interface of typical business applications by incorporating 3-D graphics, digital imaging, and video elements, Grove said.

Visual computing is a major trend which is enabled by Intel's new architectures including MMX, the Dual Independent Bus, 100Mbit/s Ethernet adapters, and built-in management software.

However, a demonstration of TeamStation showed that the video quality of TeamStation is still a bit jerky.

Meanwhile, Informix said it is providing a version of its DataBlade Developer Kit which has native support for MMX.

DataBlades are modules that let developers extend the Informix Universal Server database with new data types, such as images, maps and Web pages.

The kit will enable developers to build rich content applications that use MMX to achieve performance levels between five and eight times faster than on Unix platforms, according to Informix.

Also at the event, Intel announced several initiatives aimed at extending its Wired for Management plan to mobile PCs (Wired for Management aims to reduce the management costs of operating networked PCs):

· Mobile Component Instrumentation SDK, a tool that allows developers to write drivers between management applications and mobile PC.

· Mobile Supplement to Standards Group, a desktop management specification that addresses the changeable nature mobile PCs, such as the ability to swap a battery for a CD drive in a given port.

· A promise to support the new management standards in unspecified future versions of Intel's Lands Client Manager.

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