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Mon 8 Jan 2001 04:00 AM

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The PC is dead? Not so, says Intel's Barrett

Intel CEO Craig Barrett has used his appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to criticise the perception that the PC is dead, calling it "dead wrong."

IntelCEO Craig Barrett has used his appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show in the United States to criticise the perception that the PC is dead. Hitting back at reporters who had suggested that the PC’s demise was just around the corner, Barrett tersely commented that the assertion was “dead wrong.” Clearly, Barrett’s opinions have much to do with the fact that Intel’s core business is the manufacture of the chips that operate inside most of the world’s computers. “I won’t hide it,” said Barrett. “I want to sell lots of microprocessors.”Barrett’s alternative vision sees the PC as becoming the data exchange point for the dozens of new electronic devices which are currently proving popular with consumers worldwide. Barrett promoted the concept of the “eXtended PC”, which he characterisd as a PC multiplied by itself X number of times. The speech was built upon new PC-dependent consumer products, including an MP3 player and a Web pad, which Intel has just displayed in the States. The company sees the PC as being a central data exchange point for such devices. Intel's prototype Web pad, for example, shares the PCs Internet connection. If it encounters a task its browser can’t handle, the task is shunted to the main PC for processing. Barrett described the PC both as the “centre of the digital universe” as well as the “centre of the Internet”. “What we’re seeing today is more and more devices surrounding the PC and extending the PC’s influence," he concluded. Barrett demonstrated a range of technology that used the PC as its central hub, including a “media centre” example that used a specially-designed PC as a sort of home server, storing both static images as well as digital video that the media centre transmitted wirelessly to another display, which could be part of a digital home. In addition, Barrett showed off third-party software, including one which smooths the jagged pixels caused when a high-resolution image was transmitted across a low-bandwidth connection. In perhaps the most impressive presentation, an application called “Skyline” accessed satellite pictures, then mapped them onto the topography of the landscape. Barrett zoomed the image from a 3D model of the entire United States down to a tiny corner of a Los Angeles neighbourhood, complete with individual houses and a golf course. Later, in a press conference, Barrett addressed questions on a variety of topics, most dealing with how Intel will coexist with the variety of Web pads, tablets, cell phones, PDAs, and other devices appearing at the show. He put down the notion that a portion of Intel’s revenue might actually shift to devices such as its new MP3 player or its Web pad, a product Intel has created and demonstrated, but has not completely committed to. “We want to promote new users and new uses for the PC,” Barrett said. “We’re not trying to move our business into consumer electronics.”

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