Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Daily Archives / Wednesday, May 4, 2011

  • May 04 / 2011
  • 5

Phones With Below Average Intelligence

I don’t quite understand smart phones. Are they phones you can use as a PC or PCs you can use as a phone? And what’s with M$? Now they have made a “partnership” with RIM to put Bing on RIM’s devices. If that’s just about search, why to they have to integrate stuff down to the OS level? How does RIM feel about M$ and Nokia? Aren’t they competitors?

Sigh. Life is so much simpler with Android/Linux. Everyone gets to use if freely and they add whatever they want to carve out a brand and gain share. No one is really competing because they are all taking share from Apple…

Are all the losers in smart phones really getting into the same leaky boat? I thought it was about Phoney 7. Now it’s Bing, which is losing money for M$ faster than ever (see Note 16).

  • May 04 / 2011
  • 2

Vapourware, From Intel

Intel does know how to make integrated circuits and microprocessors but they sure do leave a wake of confusion about their new design of transistor to be rolled out at 22nm.

The idea seems to be not only to reduce feature-size from 32nm to 22nm, a normal step of Moore’s Law, but also to make the transistors more than silicon sandwiches. The long-standing model has been a layer of silicon, a layer of insulator and another layer of silicon or metal to make a FET (Field Effect Transistor). The new model is 3D in that the features are not just layers but 3D features with horizontal and vertical components. This should permit better “off” condition and better performance at low voltages. Basically, the electric field which pinches off the current flowing through the transistor is stronger because of the geometry, the electrodes are closer to the drain and surrounding it. By Gauss’ Law you get a stronger electric field around a blade or a sharp point for the same or lower potential difference.

The normal step of Moore’s Law should give a transistor of half the area (22nmX22nm=484 nm2 while 32nmX32nm=1024nm2) allowing about 50% power consumption all else being equal. The new geometry allows the “all else” to be more optimal, mainly lower voltage. However, Intel is only hinting at “less than half” the power consumption.

It’s all very confusing. ARM is ahead of Intel at any resolution so far. This trick will improve Intel’s status in mobile and may help increase density in servers and regular processors, but ARM should still have an advantage, IMHO. Intel is out a factor of 3 or 4 at the moment. Both technologies will converge near zero power consumption eventually. At some point the power advantage will disappear. Nevertheless, long before that happens, ARM will have intruded into Wintel’s traditional spots. Neither Intel nor M$ can stem the tide.

To see the confusion in posts about this technology, read

  • ZDnet:“Intel noted that it couldn’t merely continue to shrink processors and keep Moore’s Law going”
  • The Register:“It will be used in PCs, notebooks, and servers, and Perlmutter indicated that chips will arrive in volume early next year. The company did not give a timeframe for Atom’s switch to 22nm.”, and
  • Intel and
  • Intel’s details

I am all in favour of improving technology but this seems to be hyped somewhat. For example, the 3Dness will likely hit the wall of Moore’s Law sooner than than 2D design. My point is that the 22nm is a “feature” size. The horizontal and vertical parts are both “features” so this transistor is not that small. Is this a one-time thing showing Intel’s desperation to catch ARM in power/performance? Will it scale to 14nm? I doubt it because atoms of silicon are a just about 0.1 nm in size… so the gates will be just a few atoms across. Intel states the technique will work at 14nm and 10nm but that remains to be proven. The technique will certainly permit a given chip to go faster but speed is not our problem currently. Mobile needs lower power and ARM can do that without resorting to a new design of transistor. The technique can certainly yield higher-performing chips and that is what Intel has announced. They will not immediately use this in Atom.

  • May 04 / 2011
  • 0

Windy Days

One of the advantages of being out of work is that I am at home to work on my garden. Over the years, the growing season has lengthened. When I was a boy, we planted our garden on the 24th of May but at the moment the forecast is for no more frost and the soil has dried enough to be workable… However, there is this wind. Yesterday I attempted to begin planting out seedlings. It didn’t work. The wind was so strong that stuff blew away. Several times I had to run after empty pots. It is a sad affair to see an old fat guy trying to race the wind.

Overnight the wind slowed only to 24 km/h. It is now 33-46 km/h. I guess I will stick with roto-tilling the quackgrass today. The forecast is for the wind to reach 60 km/h this morning. I will watch for any calm.

Indoors I have a bunch of seed ready and hundreds of seedlings. It is a shame I did not have another set of hands to hold stuff but my spies are off checking out China. No reports so far. Perhaps they are having too much fun shopping.

  • May 04 / 2011
  • 8

Motorola Atrix With Android/Linux Available

The world’s most powerful smartphone is available now for the price of a subscription to service. That will sell like hotcakes. It will be head-to-head competition for iPhone. In Canada, Atrix is slightly less expensive than the iPhone.

see Atrix $130 for 3 years or $600 outright (dock is extra).

see iPhone 4 $160 for 3 years or $660 outright.

  • May 04 / 2011
  • 0

Fierce Competition in Tablet PCs

The deluge of tablet PCs is under way. Fears abound that supply may exceed demand. Fears abound that upstream supply will be tight. There is enough fear around for everyone.

The natural consequence of the commoditization of tablets is that prices will fall. This will work for Android/Linux systems because there is extra margin there. Apple is selling lots of units and as the price falls Apple will have to lower prices to keep share. The net result is that the share going to Android/Linux will rise sharply. Apple will become just one supplier among many.

It will be a good year for buyers. Suppliers will have lots of stress. It will be a great year for Linux.

see Digitimes – Massive launch of tablet PCs may result in excess inventory for players

Asus alone will release multiple tablets for all occasions.