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Friday, March 04, 2011
Intel Talks About Oak Trail, Sandy Bridge And Mini-ITX Motherboards at CeBIT 2011

Intel described some features of its second generation Sandy Bridge processors, the Oak Trail platform for tablets and also called for standardization of all-in-one PCs using Mini-ITX-format motherboards at CeBIT 2011.

Intel has already released the updated B3 revision the Intel 6 series-based motherboards (P67), after it had detected a design error in its new chipset as part of routine quality checks. As Intel indicated the design error only occured with certain SATA 3Gb/s ports.

In the following weeks, motherboard makers will start the release of their updated motherboards.

Intel talked about some features of the Sandy bridge chips.

Intel offers Intel Identity Protection Technology for hardware-based, two-factor authentication. Intel IPT is an additional layer of security that links your PC to the online account, VPN or application that you select, decreasing the ability of thieves to access account information from non-associated computers. It does this with two-factor authentication embedded directly into the chipsets that work with select 2nd generation Intel Core Processor-based PCs.

When you access your online account on sites protected by the Intel IPT ecosystem, two-factor authentication requires more than just something you know (one-factor) like username and password, but proof of something you have. That proof in Intel IPT enabled PCs is a six digit number that changes every 30 seconds and can only be computed on the PC and by the site you have an account with, and have selected from the Intel IPT ecosystem . Only when these numbers match is access granted to the account. Because it changes every 30 seconds, the code is difficult for thieves to hack.

The feature is powered by Intel' s hardware, VASCO, Symantec and VeriSign.

The 2nd generation Intel Core Processor-based PCs (socket LGA 1155) will also support the LucidLogix Virtu GPU virtualization technology. Virtu allows automatic graphics switching on desktops powered by Intel's Sandy Bridge processors. Virtu assigns tasks either to the CPU-integrated graphics or the available discrete GPU (from either Nvidia or AMD), depending on needs. However, in order to enjoy the feature, the motherboard should have a display output, which means P67 boards are no good. At first glance, Virtu looks a lot like what Nvidia is doing with its Optimus technology.

All-in-ones are a fast growing segment within the desktop market, but to date there are no standards for this form factor. They are built with custom motherboards, custom thermal solutions, and in many cases, custom power supplies, which drove up the cost of building these systems. Intel is trying to change the situation with the introduction of the thin mini-ITX form factor. The company is pushing the standardization for AIO based on Sandy bridge chips and Mini-ITX format motherboards.

A thin mini-ITX board has the same PCB size as a regular mini-ITX board (170 x 170mm) but with approximately half the height of the standard IO shield. This enables a low-profile board that is suitable for AIO integration. Intel's mini-ITX board features that make a thin mini-ITX board are:

- Desktop CPU support up to 65 watt TDP
- Internal display connectors (LVDS or eDP)
- SODIMM memory support
- External power supply (through back IO panel)
- Mini PCIe expansion

A small and thin board not only works well for AIOs but also for other form factors that can take advantage of a low-profile board like a thin media PC, a VESA mounted PC, or other vertical usages such as hospital carts, ATMs, and casino gaming machines.

Starting mid-2011, Intel claims that these boards will be available in retail just like mATX and mini-ITX boards are today.

Taiwan-based PC makers including Mitac International, Micro-Star International (MSI) and Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) showcased mini-ITX devices (G11, 21.5") at CeBIT 2011. Mitac showcased its Maestro 650 all-in-one PC that adopts Mini-ITX motherboards based on Intel's standard, while MSI, ECS and Gigabyte Technology also displayed Mini ITX motherboard-based all-in-one PCs. Gigabyte is also set to launch the USB 3.0-based Mini-ITX motherboard GA-H55N-USB3 at the end of July.

Intel also announced that Fujitsu's 10.1" tablet PC will be based on its of Oak Trail platform. Schedulled for release nect June, the device is using an Atom Z670 processor (1.50 GHz), 1Gb of RAM, it will run Windows 7 Home Premium OS and will feature an HDMI output and standard-size SD card ports.

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