Intel seeks collaboration, open protocols and a 3D Web

Posted by Rick C. Hodgin

San Francisco (CA) - On the third and final day of Fall IDF 2007, two keynotes were given which really drove home Intel's adoption of open community collaboration and social environments.  Discussing primarily the software side of things, Renee James, VP & GM Software and Solutions Group, spoke of Intel's recent actions in the open communities.  Justin Rattner, Intel's CTO, finished up by giving us a vision of the "3D Web," in which he also called for collaboration and open standards.  Are we seeing a new face at Intel?

Open sourcing

In recent months, Intel has taken, for the company, unusually aggressive steps by releasing some major software products and endeavors as open source.  One such example is called Thread Building Blocks, or TBB.  It's a C++ based library designed to make multi-core programming easy.  James stated that by giving the community TBB for free, a faster adoption of multi-core programming techniques could be realized.  And this, in the long term, would allow Intel to sell more processors.

James spent about an hour on stage talking about the many open source, open community, collaborative efforts taking place at Intel.  She explained that Intel no longer works solely behind closed doors.  In fact, she stated that she'd been at Intel 20 years and never expected to see what's come about only in the last year or so.  The multi-core revolution, and the success of collaborative efforts is the driving force.

Linux

inux appears to be the biggest driving force at Intel these days.  The Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) announced recently by Intel, are slated to run a mobile form of the Ubuntu Linux distribution rather than a Windows based OS. TG Daily spoke with one of the Ubuntu exhibitors on hand, who told us that while Ubuntu carries with it the lightweight footprint of Linux making it a more desirable OS for smaller devices, Ubuntu is also making efforts to ensure a base software framework exists at the core. If someone develops a desktop Linux application, there's about a 99% chance it will also work on those portable devices without any changes, we were told.

The open-source nature of the Linux community seems to be having a real rub-off effect at Intel.  They're taking previously unprecedented steps into openness and collaboration.  No longer part of propietary endeavors, Intel now seeks open advice and guidance from the community.  The company is looking at selling its products in a way which makes the most sense, and it is finding out with the speed at which things are moving today thanks to social networking and the Internet in general.

Collaboration

The open atmosphere continued on as Intel announced the new whatif.intel.com and softwarecommunity.intel.com websites with online forums, alpha code, upcoming concepts available for public comment and scrutiny.  Basically, it will be a social hot spot for developers.  A place where they can meet, discuss, contribute, try and even compete on best programming practices and ideas in various contests.  There were several slides showing the various communities that are already engaged in collaborative open initiatives.  While some of these were linux based, others were decidedly more generic

3D Web

Justin Rattner closed out IDF 2007 with a keynote address focused around what Intel is calling "the 3D Web".  While Intel made it clear in an after-keynote Q&A session that they are not leading these initiatives, the company did make the point of saying that the reason it's being spoken of now is because it's possible today.  Rattner explained there is enough compute capacity, bandwidth, CPU and GPU abilities to allow a full immersed 3D Web experience.

So, what is the 3D Web?  No solid definition was given, though it involves higher server-side computation, more bandwidth, greater client-side computational ability and many new protocols to replace HTTP with something suitable for HT3D.

The 3D Web will take the traditional model of clicking on a URL, having the server send back data for a browser to assemble, and move it to the next level.  Much like a gaming engine, the 3D web will be creating point-of-view observations of the website's content.  Each user will have an avatar or character they wield through this virtual web.  There will be new security and trust features to make sure that a new arriver who appears to look like someone familiar is actually that identity.

The 3D Web will convey data via a complex set of real-time protocols.  Each connected user will be receiving object data from characters and the environment surrounding them.  They'll then, each one, draw a perspective from their point of view as the user moves about the environment.  Interactions will take place, transactions, discussions.  The ability to use all of the separate tools we do to communicate today will coalesce in this new interface that Intel is calling the 3D Web.

Conclusion

Intel presented itself throughout the 3-day event as a strong believer in its products, goals and visions.  Each keynote highlighted a portion of the overall message the company was conveying.  When viewed in completed form, there was a very solid picture of what Intel sees for our future.

Comparable to the changes we have seen in the last 15 years with the Internet explosion, the future of computing will undergo a similar growth explosion.  New compute abilities, graphics, high-speed networking and wireless technology will enable a world as different in 15 years as today's world is from 15 years ago.

Everyone at Intel conveyed this same degree of excitement.  It's as if this was truly the real door that's now opening, the one which leads to the valued interconnected experience that we've always wanted but haven't yet achieved, what Intel calls the 3D Web.

Intel's message is simply this:  It's coming, it will be real, it will be built around IA-32, and it's not far off.  Intel is simply asking the question of how it will come about, and then waiting for the community to answer them.

On a closing note, we are aware that some of our readers will agree with Intel's direction, some will not agree. Some of our readers will agree with our observations and some will not. And actually, we do not mind at all the very critical discussions that are surrounding our articles, as this communication sheds an interesting light on the different opinions that exist.

For IDF in general, we however must say once again that Intel has put together an impressive show that allows journalists and developers to get up to speed on the new products the company has in the works. There is no doubt in our mind that the  professionalism, dedication and comprehensiveness that goes into IDF contributes to Intel's success. Intel enjoys its current success and it isn't shy flaunting it.

Time will tell, if the promises made during IDF will in fact come true, if the company's direction is right, if it is able to keep its advantage over AMD or if it has become too cocky and will provide its rival with an opportunity to catch up and take the lead. For now, however, we would like to say thank you to Connie Brown at Intel for going out of her way to make sure that we were able to meet up with all the engineers and executives we wanted to talk to. 

 

Read all stories from TG Daily in our IDF Fall 2007 Wrap-up.