IDF Spring 2007: Intel reinvents the handheld

Ultra Mobile Platform revealed but real fireworks for 2008

Intel's Ultra Mobile Platform (UMP) has been given its debut in a keynote address at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Beijing. The chip giant also took the wraps off the new line of associated A100 and A110 processors - previously codenamed Stealey .

As well as the new chips, the platform is based on the Intel 945GU Express Chipset and the Intel ICH7U I/O Controller Hub.

The announcement represents a half-year advance on what most in the industry expected, although devices with this new design have already appeared - Samsung's revised Q1 , the Q1 Ultra, appears to be based on the new standard as is the previously shown HTC Shift . Indeed, the new platform doesn't debut a whole load of new silicon, the 945GU is a chipset derived from existing product, as are the processors - likely to be based on previous generation Intel Core chips.

Anand Chandrasekher, manager of Intel's Ultra Mobility Group, talked up the "evolution of the personal mobile Internet" and outlined Intel's roadmap for increasingly efficient processors in the space.

Chandrasekher then formally introduced the Intel Ultra Mobile platform 2007 (formerly codenamed McCaslin) for what Intel calls mobile internet devices (MIDs) as well as the basis for a new generation of the existing ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) line. He said systems will be available over the summer from Aigo, Asus, Fujitsu, Haier, HTC and Samsung, though expect to see around half those names make UK releases.

"Today's environment is primed for a truly personal, mobile Internet experience and the Intel Ultra Mobile platform 2007 combines the flexibility of a PC with the mobility of a handheld device," said Chandrasekher.

The real fireworks will happen next year, as Chandrasekher explains: "Intel will deliver an entirely new platform based on Intel's 45nm low-power microarchitecture designed from the ground up to let people to carry their personal mobile Internet in their pocket."

Next year's new platform is codenamed Menlow, of which Chandrasekher already had a prototype to show the gathered delegates. Unlike this generation, that will be designed from the ground up. He said the new platform will be based on a new 45nm Hi-k low power microarchitecture-based processor, codenamed Silverthorne, alongside a new chipset, codenamed Poulsbo.

Intel chiefs reckon that 'personalization and content are key drivers behind increased demand for notebook PCs and mobile Internet devices (MIDs).

"The Internet is one of the driving forces in today's PC market and there is a desire for the Internet to be mobile," said David Perlmutter, top dog at Intel's Mobility Group. He also confirmed that WiMax would definitely hit notebooks next year. "Intel is serving the market today with notebook PCs, and will expand its reach by adding WiMax to notebooks as well as small form factor MIDs in 2008."