Intel’s mobile moves

Ultrabook, phones use next-gen chips

Amid appearances from an array of executive partners and none other than hip-hop artist Will.i.am, Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini demonstrated a new generation of high-powered mobile devices, including smartphones, Ultrabooks and prototype hybrid notebook-tablets, all powered by next generation Intel chips.

Otellini drew loud applause with his long-anticipated announcement that Intel chips are coming to smartphones, heralding the arrival of phones with power and speed akin to that currently found in laptops during his keynote on Tuesday at CES.

But the overarching theme of Otellini’s speech, from the Venetian hotel, was the Ultrabook, the slender, high-powered category of laptop computers driven by Intel chips, especially the next generation Ivy Bridge processors.

Liu Jun, senior VP of Lenovo, took the stage with Otellini to announce that the first Intel-powered smartphone, the Lenovo K800, will go on sale in China during the second quarter of this year. It features a 4.5-inch 720p screen, and can stream wirelessly to TVs. The phone will run on China’s Unicomm’s network.

“We are transforming Lenovo from a leading personal computer company to a leading personal Internet device company,” Liu said. The K800 will be on display at the Intel booth and the Lenovo demo area.

Otellini moved on to demonstrating Intel Reference Design prototype smartphones. Staffers streamed Disney’s “John Carter” trailer in high-def from the phone to the ballroom’s cinema screens; they showed up smooth and clear.

The prototypes feature an 8 megapixel camera that can shoot 10 frames per second at full resolution 1080p video, six hours of video playback, 45 hours of audio playback, eight hours of talk time and 14 days of standby time.

Sanjay Jah, CEO of Motorola, came onstage to announce that Motorola and Intel have entered into “a multi-year, multi-device strategic partnership around mobile devices and smartphones.” The first Intel-based Motorola smartphones are due this summer.

Will.i.am delivered the big finish to the event, joining Otellini to talk about “The Ultrabook Project,” in which he will tour the world, collaborating with local musicians to make music on Ultrabooks.

“I have a whole year planned,” said Will.i.am. “We’re going to 12 countries, 12 songs, 12 collaborations, 12 philanthropic ventures trying to help relieve these inner cities that are underdeveloped.” The next stop on the tour is Mexico City.

He also announced the Japan song from the project is available for download on the Intel site — but only 10,000 downloads are available before it’s removed.

Asked how technology has affected music, Will.i.am said, “It’s amplified the creative community. Travelling, sharing, socializing — that is the most beautiful thing. The music business has never seen that. Is that the music or technology? I say it’s technology.””In the music industry, you make a song and two months later it comes out. That’s over,” he added. “We used to make music in studios and listen to it on the radio. Now we make music on a computer and listen to it on a computer.” He compared the Ultrabook to the big boom boxes that people used to let others know what music they liked. “Today it’s the Ultrabook. This is the new ghetto blaster.”

Dell vice chairman Jeff Clarke showed off his company’s ultra-light XPS13 ultrabook, which is “always on, always connected,” similar in that respect to a smartphone.

Intel staffers also demonstrated a family of prototype hybrid laptops that fold into tablets with touchscreens. One demo showed an Intel phone used as a game controller with a game running on the notebook. Another showed an online purchase made with near-field communications — the purchaser needed only to tap his Visa card on the touchscreen to enter his data and swipe his card.

The tech underlying all this is the “Ivy Bridge” processor, with its 22 nanometer architecture, which makes possible very tiny, efficient, powerful chips. Otellini said Intel is within sight of an even more powerful 14 nm architecture.

Of interest to Hollywood is another feature on the hybrid laptops: With a Thunderbolt connection, one demo showed a 1.45 Gb HD movie copied from one machine to another in about 20 seconds. In fact, the Ultrabooks and the chips they’re built on are created with large file sizes in mind. In other words, the day when movies can be copied and moved as easily as songs is growing very near.

The demos made a point of showcasing the M-GO app from Technicolor. Otellini announced a partnership with Technicolor and Dreamworks Animation for M-GO content, coming this year. The M-GO app is a video store (with movies, TV and other content) that can also provide second-screen bonus content.

Another demo from Addidas VP Chris Aubrey showed a wall-sized video screen for selecting and ordering athletic shoes, with video and reviews built in. The transaction can continue on a tablet. The screens will be demoed further at several London locations during this summer’s Olympics.