10 Years After: Intel's Itanic still striking bergs

Ten long and action packed years ago, I snapped the first pictures of the Merced microprocessor - later to be called the Itanium.

AMD posts controversial virtualization value math

Opinion – AMD has its hands full to counter Intel’s Xeon 5500 processor, which is considered the highest performing server processor these days. Intel’s chip has some obvious weaknesses which AMD could go after, but we haven’t seen much of that yet. Instead, there is a new post discussing the dollar value of virtualization performance delivered, in a way that is easy for Intel to attack and for server customers to scratch their head over.

Intel talks crystal balls

Up and coming semiconductor maker, Intel, whipped out its crystal balls in London last week in a bid to tell us what we'll all be buying in ten years' time. 

Microsoft is hoist by its Windows petard

Opinion - It’s something of a daft idea for Microsoft to attempt to square the Windows 7 circle by creating a “starter” version which will only run three applications on a netbook PC. Windows 7 is expected to launch this autumn. It's almost certainly a better Vista than Vista.

Apple, this isn't the Mac netbook we've been waiting for!

If images like these are to be believed, this is the Mac netbook Apple said would never see the light of day. Simply named MacBook mini, it looks representative and thin enough to attract attention. The $899 computer is allegedly aimed at competing with the higher-end netbook market, hence 10.4-inch LED-backlit display and integrated Nvidia 9400M GPU that also powers its bigger MacBook counterpart. Add in a 1.83GHz Intel Atom CPU, SSD and 2GB of RAM all packed in a unibody enclosure just 4 millimeters tall on its thinnest part and you probably get Apple's next big hit. The only problem is, this isn't the Mac netbook we've been waiting for. EXTRA: SLIDESHOW

Are Macs too expensive?

Opinion – I am sure you have seen one of those omnipresent new Microsoft commercials that aim to portray Mac products, in this specific case notebooks, as too expensive. There’s quite some buzz over the question whether Macs are really too expensive. At least for some, Microsoft’s new campaign might be a bit shallow, let alone leave the impression that Windows PCs are simply “cheap”. And even if we live in a recession, the description of being “cheap” might not work.

Is innovation enough for Cisco’s new servers to succeed?

Opinion – Like many of those interested in technology, I have been following Cisco’s integrated blade server announcement today. And there is no doubt that it is an enticing new approach that plays into current cost savings and sustainability trends. But it is unclear whether technology is enough to make Cisco’s UCS the iPhone of datacenters, a product that is so revolutionary that it will change the way we think about datacenters. So let’s calm down and give the Unified Computing System (UCS) idea some time – and rivals to catch up.

Marvell's Plug Computer: A tiny, discrete, fully functional 5 watt Linux server

Marvell announced today a new type of computer. It's about the size of an AC to DC converting wall outlet plug, but is really a full SoC with a 1200 MHz CPU, built-in 512 MB Flash, 512 MB DRAM, Gigabit Ethernet and USB 2.0 support. It runs small versions of Linux, consumes about 5 watts max while allowing remote users (presumably those authorized by the owner) to access data stored on the device from remote locations including local intranets or over the Internet. The $99 device opens up a wide array of extremely low-power, low-volume, always on applications.

UPDATED: AMD never did hold the highest 3DMark record

 Opinion - An Intel employee and well-known overclocker contacted TG Daily to point out that AMD actually never did hold the 3DMark record. FutureMark's website shows the 45474 3DMark AMD machine result was submitted on January 12, 2009. However, results from an earlier Intel Core i7 powered machine came on January 4, 2009 (8 days prior) and show a score of 46644, a full 1090 3Dmarks higher.

It's time to dump soft limitations

Opinion - Companies like Intel and Microsoft often impose what are called "soft limitations" on products. These limitations aren't due to limits of hardware or design, but rather are employed only to make sure a particular product stays within a given "niche market" or price point. I believe these limitations are stifling to innovation and keep powerful products away from end consumers, and it's time for these practices to stop.

Opinion: Modularity needed in all electronics devices

 Imagine a world where you could go down to the local cell phone store and choose the components you want inside your new phone. First you buy a sturdy frame with the right size and shape to support the options you want. Add your favorite resolution and type of screen. Next, buy the cell phone engine itself, one which works on any network you choose (cell phone networks are just services then). Do you need 3G? 4G? Maybe extra long battery life? What about special features that aren’t offered in traditional phones? WiFi? HD broadcast abilities? Router abilities? Maybe you want the ability to plug it into a USB port and have it also store up to 1GB of data? Modularity would make it all possible through innovation. Plus, it would bring prices down on the total cost of ownership.

Obama’s Mac: Will it accelerate the Mac move into the mainstream?

Analyst Opinion - Earlier this month, Windows dropped below 90% market share for the first time in over a decade and the beneficiary was the Mac, which has enjoyed a strong resurgence. This resurgence was driven by a number of factors  - the success of the iPod and iPhone, a continued focus on customer satisfaction (Apple has the strongest NPS scores of any PC vendor), and some compelling products like the Macbook Air. But the biggest accelerator could be a charismatic U.S. President who has, as his personal choice, a Mac.

Computers: Changing from power to experience

Analyst Opinion – This November has certainly a big month for technology and shifting trends. One of the most interesting news bits was a quiet change from Windows to Apple boxes in some of the largest and most powerful technology companies. Then we had the Intel launch of Core I7 and the launch of AMD's Shanghai platform, both of which exceeded expectations. I exited last week receiving a smoking triple-card Nvidia-based system running Core I7 and while I missed the flash drives I was blown away by all of the performance. But is technology really all about performance?

Nehalem: Intel gives the industry exactly what's needed

Opinion - I have been very surprised reading the commentary from other websites regarding Core i7. Many of those authors believe Intel fell short with this Tock cycle, essentially stating they did not deliver a commensurate successor as with Core architecture. I honestly have to ask the question, are those reviewers looking at the same chip I am? Do they not recognize what Intel has done with this iteration? I for one am most impressed with Intel's design and goals. In fact, I believe Intel has delivered exactly what the industry's needed - a high performing platform to steer the course between here and the next big thing.

AMD unlikely to gain ground on Intel at 32 nm. Does it matter?

Opinion – AMD’s 2008 Financial Analyst Day, held yesterday, saw a much more upbeat AMD than last year. The first 45 nm CPU is out of the gate, there is a fantastic graphics chip lineup, a new and compelling stream computing agenda and a thoroughly updated roadmap that had only one major gap – netbook processors. No doubt, AMD has gained strength and confidence, but there was a strangely inconsistent message about the migration to 32 nm. That was preceded by executives stressing that the Shanghai CPU was released early, which was not entirely correct. I would not care when AMD transitions to another process technology, but AMD seems to be making a big deal out of nanometers these days. Three executives talked about the 32 nm migration yesterday and gave three different time frames within three hours. Now I wonder: Should we care? EXTRA: SLIDESHOW, ROADMAP    

AMD Shanghai: We are back!

Analyst Opinion - Barcelona, which had been positioned as the product that would obliterate Intel in the server and workstation markets, went from a Weapon of Mass Destruction to Weapon of Self Destruction and came close to knocking out AMD for good.

AMD Shanghai: Is it enough?

Analyst Opinion - A lot hinges on Shanghai, AMD's replacement for Barcelona. It is the first major announcement since AMD decided to go fabless and the first real indicator of whether the company is back in the game or will be remain a player behind Intel for the rest of the year in the server and workstation space.

PC 3.0: Visions from the Phoenix Technology Annual Conference

Analyst Opinion - I am at an annual conference Phoenix Technology  puts on to discuss the future of the PC called Strategy 2009. This conference is relatively unique in the segment, because the general topics that are covered are less about products that exist and largely focused on what will exist about two to three years out. One of the wake up presentations was from one of HP’s CTOs, who showcased that the most powerful country in the world in 1900 was Great Britain and the most powerful country in the world is now becoming China, which will have the largest English speaking population shortly, and is already graduating students from colleges at 3x the speed of the U.S. (and, on this metric, India is a close second). Join me for some visions for the future PC landscape. 

AMD goes fabless, targets Intel

Analyst Opinion - AMD was in significant trouble: Up against a vastly larger and better funded competitor, the company was increasingly outmatched in recent months.   This is because it has simply become too expensive to keep up the technology race. Sony, Texas Instruments, and Freescale had to exit the microprocessor segment, because the costs of staying in remained too great. This massive drop in competitors put AMD on a very ugly list and created a situation where it seemed that only one vendor could be driving the market in future and limit the amount innovation in a quickly changing, critical market.

Why Acer can't be Apple

Analyst Opinion - I just came back from a trip to Budapest and a deep dive with Acer, which has about the same market share in the U.S. as Apple, but is substantially larger world wide. However, Apple is substantially more profitable and, particularly under the current market conditions, I’d put profitability and valuation ahead of market share as a way to measure the success of a company.   Others clearly don’t and given these two firms are actually very close to each in market share, I believe it is interesting to compare them with a closer look.