Intel used its recent developer’s forum to call attention to its latest mobile device initiative. The company is putting the finishing touches on the processors needed for what it considers a new class of devices.
This isn’t the first time Intel has tried to re-define mobile computing. Last year, it and Microsoft unveiled the Ultra Mobile PC, a class of products designed to be used like handhelds but with the computing power of a full laptop. UMPCs, however, haven’t really taken off, though a number of companies, most notably Samsung, have embraced the platform.
Intel’s next idea is being called the Mobile Internet Device (MID). One of the primary differences between this and the UMPC concept is that MIDs will not run Microsoft Windows. This will allow them to be considerably smaller, and theoretically less expensive.
At the IDF last week, Anand Chandrasekher, the head of Intel’s ultra mobility group, showed off several prototypes, most of which strongly resemble traditional handhelds or the Nokia N800, with tablet shapes and large touchscreens.
Naturally, Intel will not be making its own MIDs. Instead, other companies will build devices around an Intel chipset, code-named Menlow. This will supposedly use a tenth of the power needed by the processors used in current UMPCs.
Of course, anything called a "Mobile Internet Device" will need high-speed wireless capabilities, and Menlow will include the chips needed for Wi-Fi and WiMAX.
Companies that are interested in developing MIDs include Asus, Benq, Compal, Electrobit, Fujitsu, Inventec, Samsung, and Quanta.
The operating system of choice for these might be Linux. At the IDF, Canonical demonstrated a version of Ubuntu running on a prototype MID.
Intel says the Menlow chipset will be ready in the first half of 2008. When the first MIDs will debut is unknown.