Intel Corp., Santa Clara, CA, is using integrated silicon technologies in an attempt to drive the convergence of computing and communications over the next decade, enabling a digital future that makes electronic devices simpler, less expensive, and easier to use.
At the Intel Developer Forum, Fall 2002, Intel CTO Pat Gelsinger and Intel Senior VP Sunlin Chou said silicon technologies that integrate computing and communications functions would bring the benefits associated with Moore’s Law to areas such as wireless and optical communications. They also disclosed that Intel would extend the life of Moore’s Law well into the future through advanced research in silicon nanotechnology.
“We believe that integrated silicon will deliver innovative, ubiquitous and low-cost technologies to enable a world in which all computers will communicate and all communication devices will compute,” Gelsinger said.
Some of the technologies Intel is pursuing include the development of “silicon radios” based on the company’s low-power CMOS manufacturing process. Over the next few years, these radios will be integrated into future Intel chips, so any device powered by one of those chips would have wireless radio communication capabilities, the company said.
In addition, Gelsinger demonstrated a tunable laser using silicon photonics and said Intel’s research is on track to apply Moore’s Law toward building highly integrated components that marry digital functionality and silicon-based optoelectronic devices on a single chip. The goal of this research is to dramatically lower the cost of optical networks by integrating component technologies into low-cost silicon building blocks.
Finally, referring to a technology known as “sensor nets,” Gelsinger said the benefits of low-cost sophisticated silicon sensors that can compute and communicate are already being realized today in real-world field tests. One such field trial is currently in place in Great Duck Island, ME, where researchers from Intel Research Berkeley Lab and the College of the Atlantic are deploying and using wireless sensor networks — sensor nets — to study the microhabitats on the island.
The sensors, which consist of chips with temperature, humidity, barometric pressure and infrared sensors, allow scientists to do non-intrusive monitoring of wildlife and habitats, according to the researcher. The environmental data is sent to the Internet via a satellite link, so that researchers can download the information in real-time. The sensor net technology provides a new way to track environmental data that is less disruptive to the microhabitats than using humans.