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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 11:23 GMT
Intel looks to the future
By Mark Ward
BBC News Online technology correspondent in San Jose

The future for your desktop computer and many of the gadgets that you carry around with you could be decided this week in San Jose, California.

Chip giant Intel is holding its annual forum for technology firms that work on processors for home computers, phones and data network components.

About 4,000 hardware and software developers are converging on the San Jose Convention Center to hear about what the chip maker is planning to unveil over the next few years.

Intel is expected to talk about ways to squeeze more processing power out of the chips that go inside desktop computers, improvements in wireless network chips and the new markets that the processor maker is looking to enter.

Chips with everything

The steady shrinking of components on computer chips creates all kinds of problems for companies that make a living manufacturing processors.

San Jose Convention Center
Thousands go to the Intel forum
Smaller components crammed together generate a lot of heat and are hard to cool effectively.

As more components are put on a chip the relative distance across the silicon wafer increases and making it difficult to co-ordinate the actions of all the pieces on a chip.

At the developer forum, Intel will talk about ways to overcome some of these problems and about its success manufacturing chips that have components barely 90 nanometres across.

These manufacturing techniques are expected to be used for Intel's next generation processor called Prescott.

On the move

As well as more powerful chips for home PCs, Intel is also expected to talk about ways for people to turn their desktop computers into media hubs that are very easy to hook up to stereos and televisions.

To help people connect computers to other devices, Intel will tell developers about what it is doing to fit on a single chip everything needed to help a gadget join a wireless network.

Intel will also talk about the work it is doing on 'mesh' networking technologies that automatically create networks for passing data around using any nearby radio data network and which also instantly work out the best way to get data to its intended destination.

One of the most important announcements at the forum will be Intel's detailing of its plans for chips that go inside mobile and handheld computers and cellphones.

Intel is planning to unveil its product roadmap for these mobile phone chips and its market ambitions.



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