SAN FRANCISCO -- Intel Corp. CEO Andy Grove admitted today that Plug and Play
technology hasn't lived up to all of its promises and the Universal Serial
Bus probably won't, either.
Grove, speaking at a press conference at the Windows NT Intranet Solutions
show here following his keynote address, blamed the breakneck pace of software
enhancement for the disappointing reality of Plug and Play.
The technology, which promised to simplify the installation of peripherals
through such functions as hot-swapping and automatic device detection, doesn't
always work properly when a user loads new, complex applications, Grove said.
Even Windows NT, which Intel is loading on all of its in-house servers and
desktops, does not fully support Plug and Play and will not until at least
Grove said that if software had stayed at the same level of complexity it was
at in 1994, Plug and Play would have worked as originally planned. But it
"We've pushed computers to the edge of usability," he said. "We load new
applications on machines in ways we could never have dreamt of, and we're
moving that boundary forward aggressively.''
Having learned this lesson, Grove predicted that USB will not be a panacea
for the difficulties and frustrations of device installation and management.
Intel is building USB support into its chip sets, and USB desktops will hit
the market by the end of this year, Grove said. USB will let users plug new
devices into a single exterior cable; it will eliminate the need to open the
PC chassis each time a new device is installed_at least for the time being.
"But two or three years from now, we'll come up with something that USB can't
handle, and we'll have to open the chassis again,'' said Grove.
Grove's comments threw some cold water on Microsoft Corp.'s plans for a
sealed-chassis PC, a crucial element of the Simply Interactive PC architecture
that Microsoft is pushing to hardware vendors.
In his keynote speech, Grove also outlined the steps of integrating the MMX
(Multimedia Extension) multimedia instruction set into the Intel chip line.
Intel is currently merging the MMX specifications into the Pentium chips.
Multimedia applications that have been optimized for MMX show a 20 percent to
50 percent performance improvement, he said.
Starting in early 1997, Intel will integrate the MMX technology into the
Pentium Pro chip, adding another 20 percent to 40 percent performance boost.
By the beginning of 1998, all of Intel's P6 chips will include the MMX
The next step in the evolution, which will begin to appear in 1997, is
arcade-quality graphics technology for the Pentium Pro. This technology,
called Accelerator Graphics Port, will add yet another performance boost of
about 50 percent, Grove said.