This article is brought to you by ComputerworldUK in association with Intel IT Center
Intel's CEBIT presence highlighted everything from workplace transformation to wearables via the reengineered data centre. Here is a brief overview of how the processor giant is innovating in these vital areas.
Wireless technologies caused a buzz at CeBit this year, with WiGig (multi-gigabit speed wireless communications) and Intel’s ProWiDi technologies laying the foundation for Workplace Transformation. (Workplace Transformation refers to changes in the workplace that will lead to higher employee productivity through things like wire-free working, mobility and collaboration.)
WiGig will enable workers to share large volumes of data quickly, videoconference in high-definition, and stream TV- quality media, among other things. Ten times faster than Wi-Fi, WiGig could become fast enough to let users transfer the contents of a 25GB Blu-ray disc in less than a minute.
Intel Pro Wireless Display (ProWiDi ), on the other hand, lets you securely share content from tablets, PCs, and Ultrabook devices on your conference room displays without wires. It’s another piece in the jigsaw of wireless working, with Intel promoting both its ease-of-use and administration, and security features.
Also on display on Intel’s CeBIT stand, and promising to transform the workplace, were a number of new device form factor innovations from vendors including HP, Fujitsu and Dell.
These included 2-in 1 devices: notebooks that can be turned into tablets with a twist - or removal - of a lid, or a detachable keyboard; super-thin-and-light tablets, phablets (smart phone tablets), more powerful laptops and all-in-ones: high-definition touch-screen computers with everything included.
As well as these new devices designed for workplace transformation, Intel demonstrated technologies aimed at helping businesses to create value from IoT - connected smart objects; analytics that make use of complex big data; and cloud technologies that will transform the enterprise.
Also on its stand, Intel showcased a development project with Germany’s E.on SE, part of the energy giant E.on, using ‘smart grid’ processors and technologies. These help power generators and users to monitor usage, so utilities firms can adjust their supply to meet consumption; also cutting costs by saving energy.
Talking about IoT, Intel’s VP and GM EMEA, Christian Morales, said: “[Intel] were in embedded applications about 35 to 40 years ago. We were the first company to introduce embedded application microcontrollers. The big change is that those applications are becoming connected to the cloud and the Internet.”
Data centre transformation
As well as workplace transformation, data transformation was also a key theme at CeBIT. Intel showcased its Xeon server processors and its ability to build manageable cloud services on top of this core product.
For example, Intel has designed its Xeon E5-2600 v3 processors to be used with data centres built on a software defined infrastructure (SDI) model: where data centre resources, such as compute, storage and networking, can be managed and manipulated through software to get the most efficient usage.
So, compared to a typical 4-year-old server, server platforms based on the new Xeon E5-2600 v3 processors offer up to 8.7 times the performance; up to three times the virtual machine density, and three times the energy efficiency of the older server systems, according to Intel.
Intel’s strategy with the latest Xeon processors is to encourage enterprises to use them to power their hybrid cloud infrastructures, and utilise the accompanying management tools and technologies. Among these are intelligent workload placement through automated provisioning; thin provisioning of storage; and tiered storage orchestration.
Alongside its Xeon processor developments, Intel is also making advances in rack-scale architecture using Silicon Photonics. This isa new approach to make optical devices out of silicon, using photons of light to move huge amounts of data at very high speeds – up to 100Gbps. This happens over a thin optical fibre at extremely low power, rather than using electrical signals over a copper cable.
Other notable innovations that Intel showcased centred on wearable computers. For example, Intel showed the ProGlove on its stand. This sensor-based ‘smart glove’ can boost productivity for manufacturing jobs by enabling manual workers to work faster, and through scanning and sensing, collecting data that can be analysed for production management purposes. The ProGlove team won third place for the Intel Make It Wearable Challenge in November 2014.
Intel recently ran the contest to encourage entrepreneurs, universities and schoolchildren to design wearable computers that could be used for practical purposes, based on Intel’s Edison technology. Among these were a wearable camera drone, and sensor-equipped items for pregnant mothers and parents of newborn babies.
Another exciting development on display was Intel Real Sense 3D, based on 3D camera technology. This features the first integrated camera that sees more like humans do, with the system able to understand and respond to natural movement in three dimensions. Consequently, users can interact with the device with natural movements. In addition, 3D scans can be manipulated and altered , shared, or printed with a 3D printer.
The system works by using a conventional camera, an infrared camera, and an infrared laser projector. Together, the three lenses allow the device to infer depth by detecting infrared light that has bounced back from objects in front of it. This visual data, taken in combination with Intel RealSense motion-tracking software, create a touch-free interface that responds to hand, arm, and head motions as well as facial expressions. Consequently, 3D technology also has the potential to be used for security purposes, for additional biometric input such as face recognition.
On show were HP’s Sprout computer which uses the 3D technology. Although it’s targeted at consumers, employees are likely to find uses for it, with the vendor talking about parts manufacturing when Sprout is linked to a 3D printer. Dell also demoed its 3D enabled, Venue 8 7000 series tablet, based on the Intel Atom Z3500 processor. This super-thin device fits in a jacket pocket, and will allow enterprises to seek new uses for 3D technology, by makign it mobile and comparitively cheap.
With its involvement in the workplace, the data centre and end-user computing, Intel used CEBIT to showcase the breadth of its innovation and its deep and broad reach inside enterprise computing.