It is geeky but true: An Intel technology called “Thunderbolt” is creating quite a storm in the computer and gadget worlds this week. The Thunderbolt will allow you to transfer photos, videos and files from other devices to a computer faster than ever before.

Intel’s new Thunderbolt cable and port system claims to be 20 times faster than USB 2.0 and 12 times faster than FireWire, both of which are its main competitors. For tech-heads in the audience, Thunderbolt transfers files at a rate of 10 gigabits per second. Its closest competitor, USB 3.0, allows for file transfers at a rate of 5 gigabits per second — so Thunderbolt is twice as fast.

The big catch, though: Intel developed this technology in coordination with Apple. So, for now, it’s only available on Apple’s new MacBook Pro line, which debuted on Thursday, the same day Intel announced Thunderbolt (boy, how much did Apple pay them for this? ;)).

In this demo from CES, an Intel rep shows us the coolest thing to happen to Lego toys since tiny rubber wheels. What you will see in this video is a blurring of the line between real and virtual toys, as digital enhancements change the way we might play with Legos.

Research scientists at Intel’s lab in Seattle have figured out how to use 3-D image recognition software to create new, virtual play spaces and actions for physical Lego toys, as well as physical gestures. You can set a Lego house on fire with a Lego dragon, or you can watch tiny passengers board a Lego train for its journey around a virtual track.

This type of image and gestural recognition would work with non-Lego toys as well; toy franchises from My Little Pony to G.I. Joe could benefit hugely from these kinds of enhancements.

But for now, these toys are still very much in research stages. Intel built and runs the programs on Gentoo (a Linux (Linux) distro) with an Intel Core i7 processor.

Check out the video below and share your thoughts. Is this a cool new way to play? Something that might soon make its way to a mass market? Or do you think that toys like these might erode what is left of our youngsters’ imaginations?

While surfing Yahoo!’s news site, some article caught my attention. Talk about a new meaning for “Intel Inside”. Intel Corp. wants to be inside your television. And your cell phone. And your car. And pretty much any other device that could one day connect to the Internet and require a computer chip.

And with its deal to buy McAfee Inc. for $7.68 billion, the world’s No. 1 semiconductor company now wants to sell you security software as well – in all those places.

The all-cash deal announced Thursday marks the biggest acquisition in Intel’s 42-year history, an expensive example of Intel’s commitment to sell more than chips for personal computers and servers. It is the sixth biggest deal globally between two technology companies over the past 3 1/2 years, according to Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor’s.

But the deal is also a reminder of Intel’s inconsistency in finding new ways to grow. The company is an infrequent acquirer with a history of dabbling in, and retreating from, markets outside its core business. It once even had a toy division that made microscopes and other gadgets – a project Intel eventually gave up because of poor sales.

Here is hoping Intel’s move is a smart one. But knowing McAfee, I believe it will be brighter days ahead for Intel.

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