Twenty years ago, Intel began holding an event it referred to as the Intel Developer Forum. The purpose of the conference was to showcase the future of the computer industry from Intel’s perspective, with information on topics ranging from future DRAM support and chipset features, to demos of new Intel CPUs or major product initiatives the company intended to debut. Technologies like Optane, Broadwell 14nm benchmarks, Intel’s Quark CPU, Thunderbolt, the Pentium 4 Northwood, and RDRAM all debuted at or were discussed heavily at various IDF meetings for the last two decades.
Today, all of that comes to a close. A short message posted to the IDF 2017 board states:
Intel has evolved its event portfolio and decided to retire the IDF program moving forward. Thank you for nearly 20 great years with the Intel Developer Forum! Intel has a number of resources available on intel.com, including a Resource and Design Center with documentation, software, and tools for designers, engineers, and developers. As always, our customers, partners, and developers should reach out to their Intel representative with questions.
Intel had previously announced that it would not hold an IDF this year in China, but had stated that the event would have a “new format” in San Francisco. Intel will probably hold some kind of press events and unveils in the future, but these conventions obviously no longer map cleanly to the company’s extended product introduction cycles. In the old days, Intel would move its products to new process nodes fairly quickly, and those chips would launch in fairly short order once the new nodes were ready. Now, we see a different pattern. New nodes are only introduced after several “+” iterations (14nm, 14nm+, 14nm++, etc).
Intel recently released more information on their 10nm process; the slides below detail the improvements the company has made, but also show how 14nm++ is expected to offer higher performance than the initial run of 10nm, at least as far as desktops are concerned. This drawn out schedule may be part of why we’re seeing a shift to different timing and events.
One possibility, therefore, is that Intel has decided IDF no longer fits its needs because it doesn’t really launch desktop or mobile parts the way it used to. With that said, the point of IDF was always the “Developers” in the Intel Developer Forum. Other companies used IDF to showcase technology they were developing, from next-gen platforms, to low-cost OLPC-like systems back in 2008 and 2009, to MIDs (remember those?), to Thunderbolt. Intel also used the conference to talk about new hardware features with associated instruction sets or capabilities (think SSE, AVX, and so on).
This information will obviously still be disclosed, but in a different way or conference. Presumably Intel will announce some kind of replacement event at some point, but for now, IDF as we knew it is headed for the great bit bucket in the sky.