I recently celebrated my 12 year anniversary at Intel. In Intel speak that's 2 years towards my second sabbatical, but today I also realized I've hit another milestone - participation in 30 Intel Developer Forum events. I am not one to freely wax poetic about my company's achievements, but the inner-geek in me just loves IDF. This is the event where the industry gets together to plot the future of computing, where vendors show off next generation technology prototypes, and new ideas for technologies not yet invented are conceived. It was at IDF that I first heard the word "Google" when Andy Grove invited the then unknown Larry Page to the stage for a chat on the state of internet search. It was here that I saw Moira Gunn interview Gordon Moore about what it felt like to be behind computing's most famous law. It was also here where I've seen an endless litany of geek innovations from the introduction of USB, PCI Express, DDR 2 and 3 and WiFi (and WiMax). Needless to say, I'm always anxious to see what's coming next.
Today's IDF event was held in Beijing, the new norm for the spring event for the past few years. To give you some inside perspective on an event like this, engineers spend months in the labs of Intel preparing demonstrations on the latest and greatest microprocessors and technologies to ready for this day. Often working on pre-production silicon, sometimes one of the first chips of their kind out of the fab, they construct configurations to highlight the capabilities of our latest products. This work is joined by countless industry participants who build computing solutions with us.
Today, we knew we'd see a lot of Xeon 5500's strutting their stuff, and the demos didn't disappoint with wide ranging workloads from medical imaging to financial analysis to pure benchmarking like SPECPower on display. I spoke to my co-workers from Beijing's performance benchmarking team as they presented demonstration after demonstration of record breaking performance capability. We've been talking a lot about the processor, but to see it in action provides new perspective for what a true leap ahead this platform represents for datacenters.
IDF is known for new standards announcements, and this event was no exception with the announcement of the new SSI Forum, led by AMI, Intel and SuperMicro and featuring 32 members as of this writing. SSI builds upon many years of industry standard delivery as an informal Intel effort. As a fully functioning standards body, SSI is expected to deliver modular computing specifications to open the growing blades market segment to a broad host of component and system vendors.
And, true to its history, IDF offered a world's first. This time only a little over a week after the launch of the Xeon 5500 series processor Pat Gelsinger showed the first Nehalem EX (that stands for MP processor in Intel nomenclature) processor. The demo was crude, bits were only wiggling, but the promise of Moore's Law's continued cadence was there.
All of these provide great examples of the continued health of the server industry...and wonderful testament to our latest generation of products...but the inner geek in me wanted more and I found it when I visited my collegue Mei Chen's demonstration. Mei is a PhD at our Intel lab at the University of Pittsburg, and she was showing some new technology that can scan human skin to detect pre-cancerous conditions. This technology has the promise of providing excellent remote scanning for people living in rural environments, and Mei promised that the same technology could be applied to a wide host of medical conditions. Of course, in true IDF form, this demo was straight out of the laboratory...I can't wait to see how Mei and her team develop it for San Francisco in the fall...
Stay tuned on the server room to see some highlights of IDF for yourself. Over the next few weeks we'll be bringing you some interviews with many of the technologists that made this event happen.