With the increasing popularity of both multimedia and the Internet, Intel is touting the use of hybrid applications as the next software computing paradigm.
According to Andy Grove, Intel's president and CEO, who was touring Asia last week, such applications make use of data stored locally as well as information that can be downloaded on-line.
"Hybrid applications recognise that there are two sources of data in a personal computer -- local resources and whatever the PC is connected to. What we're talking about is a computer where the complex content can be delivered from the CD-ROM and the updated or interactive content be delivered via a connection scheme later," he says.
"For example, most of the information in an encyclopedia like Encarta can be accessed locally through a CD-ROM or hard disk, but the information is often outdated quickly. So, updates are posted on the Web and those can be downloaded through the Internet," Grove says.
However, unlike the strategy of a lower-cost and less powerful Internet PC or device promoted by Oracle and some PC vendors, Intel's vision requires networked PCs to become more powerful.
"The megatrend driving today's PC is increasingly faster microprocessors," Grove says. "With multimedia applications, networked PCs in the future will require technologies that will accelerate the performance of such applications."
The power needed to run browser software like Netscape Communications's Navigator and the lack of bandwidth are two reasons Grove cites that limit the appeal of a strictly Internet PC.
"Browsers are complex software, and today's Internet requires both storage and high-performance processors to improve user performance. Netscape 3.0 alone takes 15Mb to 17Mb of hard-disk space, half of Win95," he says.
"Also, the speed at which you can get information over the Internet is nowhere near the speed of a local device like CD-ROM," Grove says. "The reality is that it is going to take an enormous amount of time and effort before you can have the transfer and access time that you can have on every computer today."