Page last updated at 02:26 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 03:26 UK

Intel boss answers your questions


Intel chief executice Paul Otellini tells Rory Cellan-Jones silicon is here to stay for the foreseeable future

Intel chief executive Paul Otellini answers your questions about the future of computing and the chip making firm. BBC News technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones put your questions to the firm's leader.

Q: Jess Gleason asks what impact the downturn is having on the PC industry?

Paul Otellini: Although the downturn is not yet over, it's very likely the industry will see volumes in 2009 similar to those in 2008, which considering the breadth and depth of the recession is a pretty good result.

Q: Sandeep from Bangalore is interested in how Intel can reinvent itself when the line between the mobile phone and the laptop is becoming increasingly blurred?

Paul Otellini: I think we reinvent ourselves every year. The products we ship at the end of this year, we were not shipping at the end of last year. Intel's business model is always to be building new chips.

Sandeep is right in that we are now aiming to take our architecture into the below-PC level - into netbooks, into mobile internet devices and ultimately into handhelds. We are also pushing it into consumer electronic devices. And there's an entire world of embedded computing that is invisible to most of us - computers in your thermostat, in your car, in your cash machines, that we are also moving our architecture into.

Q: Carlos Medina from Southampton asks, regarding Intel's newly-signed alliance with Nokia, how closely are you going to work with them and what kind of projects is that alliance going to produce?

Paul Otellini: In general, we want to collaborate on the evolution of the handset, to put more intelligence into it, to make it available for the full variety of internet access - all the capabilities in computing today we want to put into machines that you can put into your pocket.

Paul Otellini
Mobiles will become more intelligent said Mr Otellini

Q: On Moore's Law - ie, that as time goes on, chip speeds get faster but making them gets cheaper - Chris from Chepstow wonders for how much longer can chips keep getting smaller and more powerful, and apart from gamers, who really needs all that computing power?

Paul Otellini: Our newest product takes the most advanced silicon technology which allows us to build the smallest silicon chip to be able to build ultra-portable machines - netbooks, mobile internet devices and consumer electronic devices. So you can use that Moore's Law template to build the highest-performing servers, gaming machines and the devices we all use every day.

Q: Richard Lowe asks, with the doubling of the number of cores on chips - dual-core, quadruple-core - when are we likely to see 128 core machines on people's desktops?

Paul Otellini: Well, it'll be a while. It's not a technical problem, we've demonstrated a number of many core devices, they are well above 30 today. The problem is going to be programming and software for those, and we are working with some research institutions around the world so that we can advance programming to take advantage of machines like that and we are also working with people like Microsoft.

Q: Alex in Weymouth wonders whether Intel sees a use beyond silicon for computer processing?

Paul Otellini: It's a continued evolution. We see silicon scaling for at least four more generations, that's eight years. That's about as far out as we've ever been able to see what we can build.

We have large investments in silicon photonics and our first use of that technology will be to have chip-to-chip connectivity, to be able to have high-bandwidth activity between processors. Over time, we'll build that circuitry onto the chips, but that's a way off.

Intel silicon
Intel is making chips smaller and more power efficient

Q: Sam Gardner from Brooklyn New York wants to know, regarding mobile connectivity, when will he be able to use Wimax and get rid of all the cables?

Paul Otellini: Intel was fundamental in establishing wi-fi. For wide area connectivity, Wimax is a very viable fourth-generation technology. It's proven, it's up and running in countries like Japan, the United States, Russia, parts of Europe. It's coming, I'm not sure when, city-by-city, but the intention of provider Clearwire is to blanket all the major cities in the US by the end of 2010.

Q: David Over from London asks what your thoughts are on internet access for all in the coming decades?

Paul Otellini: It's a function of economics. For example, there are now cell-phone infrastructures throughout Africa. Once you have a cellular network, you have an internet network - not the fastest to begin with, but some connectivity is better that none.

Q: Mike Smyth of Farnborough wants to know what you think the computing world will look like in 25 years' time, after all the changes of the last 25?

Paul Otellini: I think the big change that we have seen, the change to more personal computing, will continue.

It becomes more proactive rather than reactive, though, over time - machines that you carry with you will be cognisant of what your needs are and where you are.

Location-based services will bring information to you without you having to ask a search engine for it. It's that kind of proactivity that will make computers more productive. We can make that more seamless over the next decades.

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