Intel’s Sean Maloney becomes the comeback kid

Senior Intel executive Sean Maloney kicked off the company’s keynote here in Old Taipei today, after recovering from a stroke that put him virtually out of action for over a year. I got in a bit early and was fascinated to see the minute preparations Chipzilla makes, including testing a capsule which emits steam.

Maloney, tipped at one time to be the successor to current CEO Paul Otellini, opened by saing he was glad to be back after his stroke around 15 months ago. He has, according to sources, trained himself to speak again, and he has done a great job. He has obviously re-hearsed and rehearsed again and is almost word perfect. Good for him!

He said that Intel expects continuing growth for computing including for smartphones. The mobile experience cuts across devices and it’s not about one device doing it all. Intel will offer a range of silicon and software that will address everything from notebooks, to tablets and to smartphones.

Cedar Trail, Intel’s first 32 nano platform will bring new capabilities to the netbook and support numerous OSes including Windows, Chrome and Meego. The Atom Z670 is supported by a number of ODMs. Intel showed an Oak Trail tablet that lets people choose from Android and Windows. As well as Meego. Intel demoed a dozen or so Oak Trail devices that will be launched very soon.

Medfield will ship in the next six to nine months and is its first 32 nano smartphone and tablet platform. He showed off a tablet and a phone. Intel has produced reference designs. “We expect to have product shipping in the next six to nine months using Medfield designs,” he said. Intel will launch one new processor generation every year for the next several years. At 22 nanometres there will be a reduction of active power by two times with density improvements of about twice.

Intel has the Sean Shrinkinator, that’s the steaming capsule we mentioned earlier on in the show and shrink Maloney to 22 nanometres. The demo team put Maloney into the capsule. Steam came out and Maloney said he was now 100 nanometres tall. “Way smaller than one human hair, but obviously not mine,” he said. This was all by way of introducing the tri-gate transistor Intel announced about a month ago.

Maloney stepped out of the steaming capsule full size. He really is the come back kid, then.

He said that shrinking the tech will help PC growth. A million PCs are shipping every day and that will double in about five years. That means PCs will be more affordable. The sweet spot for buying a PC is about three to four weeks of income, but in 2015 the emerging markets will represent the market and the number of people that will be able to buy a PC will be considerably more. “The PC must undergo a major change again,” he said.

The industry learned from tablets the vital importance of system response time. People get frustrated by the slowness with which PCs boot. Intel showed a video that seemed to show booting Windows is so slow people can be run over by cars and suffer multiple injuries while they’re waiting for their PCs to boot.  This, of course, is a direct dig at Intel’s friend Microsoft.  While Intel’s Rapid Start technology will allow PCs to respond in five to six seconds, it does seem to be Windows that is the real culprit here.

Be that as it may, Maloney rolled on Microsoft man Mike Angelo who said the two companies had worked together for 20 years to give industry leading performance. Angelo said Microsoft had released that people wanted to do more multitasking.  We think maybe Microsoft protests too much. Angelo, we think, has been brought on to cool down the increasing spat between the two companies.

There is a tiny elephant in the room which neither Microsoft nor Intel seem to be seeing. Angelo came to praise Intel in a very Mark Anthony sort of a way.

Maloney said the ultrabook will have the attributes of a tablet, and the performance of a PC. He said that ultrabooks might represent 40 percent of consumer notebooks sold by 2012.

Ivy Bridge, he said, will come in 2012 and is the second step in re-inventing the PC. It will be built at 22 nanometres and will give better encryption and malware protection. Intel’s Thunderbolt will help reduce the IO bottleneck.

He said that in 2013 Intel would introduce its Haswell platform in 2013 which he claimed would reduce power consumption by about 50 percent, obviously intended to push the adoption of the ultrabook form factor.

It’s really quite an impressive job Maloney has done.