Big Brother potentially exists right now in our PCs, compliments of Intel's vPro

 Opinion - Last week, Intel announced the third generation of its vPro Technology for PCs. Comprised of CPU, motherboard and networking components, vPro is essentially a set of technologies which enable remote monitoring, maintenance and management in a PC. Intel bills these as tools useful for IT professionals, which they are. But shouldn't we be looking deeper into the potential threat of such technologies?

Why the SSD will kill the HDD

Opinion – The days of the hard drive are numbered. I recently chatted with Samsung on their opinion of the state solid state disk drive (SSD) market and while Samsung seems to be very careful comparing their SSDs and their ability to replace traditional hard drives, it is now clear to me that there is no way out for the hard drive. Over the next few years, the hard drive may keep the edge in capacity and price, but it inevitably will be driven into shrinking niches. While the advantages of the technology are visibly melting away, it is obvious that the hard drive may not just die because of its inferior performance or higher power consumption – but simply because of its form factor. 

NVISION: Nvidia's quest for second place

Analyst Opinion - Intel has IDF and NVIDIA has NVISION. Both shows have some similar goals, but the two couldn’t be more different.  Intel’s show is button down and professional while NVIDIA’s is a little crazy.  Intel dominates the PC hardware space and, as it often was in the Olympics last week, the real competition is for number 2, or Silver and Nvidia clearly wants that spot.   AMD plays very conservatively generally leveraging partners like Microsoft who often have their own agendas.  Nvidia is taking a much more aggressive path and while the press room I’m writing this in is sponsored by Microsoft, there is no sense at all that this is anything but an Nvidia event. 

Can AMD survive another Core 2 Duo?

Opinion – IDF is just around the corner and Intel will provide a flood of new information about its upcoming Nehalem (Core i7) processor as well as its 32 nm and 22 nm successors, new architectures such as Larrabee, the ready-to-launch WiMax mobile platform, CE processors such as Tolapai and new partners such as Dreamworks. IDF’s marketing machine typically buries anything from AMD, but this year, AMD is reverting to a strategy from the past: AMD is setting up its camp in a hotel nearby in an effort to balance Intel’s messages. A first briefing discounting Intel’s current product line was given to journalists earlier today. And if the tone of this briefing is any indication, then Nehalem feels like Core 2 Duo all over again.

AMD’s server and workstation comeback

Analyst Opinion - This week I have been spending some time with AMD listening to an update of their workstation and server roadmap.  AMD’s message: We are healthy and we are executing once again.   However, they admitted that their misses in 2007 hurt the company a great deal in revenue, profitability and - even more importantly - credibility.

Graphics wars: The big summer battle

Analyst Opinion - Part of what makes this year somewhat different in graphics is that Intel has indicated that is now serious about graphics. There is a technology called Larrabee on the horizon that is promised to surpass the best that both AMD/ATI and Nvidia will have on the market in two years.  Having been down this path before, describing my feelings as a little skeptical would be an understatement. But Intel is a very capable company and they are executing very well at the moment. However, the first reviews of Intel’s new integrated part are available and, unfortunately, reality isn’t in line with expectations. 

Continuing a tradition at AMD: Leaving the sinking boat

Opinion – The decision of Hector Ruiz to step down from his role as CEO may not be a surprise to many, especially those who are reading TG Daily. But the timing of the announcement is surprising – in several ways. First, Ruiz leaves a company that is in shambles and way before the saving move, Asset Smart, is announced. Second, the departure is perfectly consistent with AMD’s history. But the question will be: Can Dirk Meyer repeat the cycle and get AMD out of trouble again?  

Dell channels old school Apple with a twist of Linux

Analyst Opinion - Before the introduction of Dell’s Studio Laptops, you really had only two choices when you were looking for a new PC. You could choose Apple and get a really good user experience, but take it in the shorts with regard to application selection, hardware choice and gaming.  Or you could go the Windows route and sacrifice user experience, but get access to all the other stuff.   The business market went solidly down the latter path, but around a third of the consumer market preferred the Apple route and currently this group is adding significantly to its ranks. Can Dell change the game? 

Nvidia: Graphics is dead? Yeah right.

Analyst Opinion - For the last several weeks, Nvidia has been at war with Intel over a statement of  one of Intel’s engineers made at IDF suggesting that GPUs could soon be obsolete. There is a fundamental difference in the opinion how visual computing will evolve between graphics companies and Intel: Nvidia’s latest graphics card announcement is a clear statement that the company plans to aggressively raise the performance bar and remain in the lead in this segment come Intel or high water.

The year 2020 according to Intel

Analyst Opinion - Intel held its Lab showcase at the Silicon Valley Computer History Museum this week. While many of the things shown may not make it to market, it is enticing to look at a future world that would exist if all those ideas and technologies became available. In any case, this may provide a view of what the developed Intel world may look like in 2020.  

All-In-One PCs going mainstream: Will Apple or Microsoft get multi touch first?

Analyst Opinion - It is clear that Microsoft and Apple take direction from each other. Both firms were known as the original “Pirates of Silicon Valley” after all. At the Wall Street Journal’s “D: All Things Digital Conference” Microsoft showcased what will be the cornerstone of Windows 7 - a Multi-Touch PC interface. This suggests not only a change in how we will interact with Windows but with Mac OS as well, since Apple is unlikely to give up their perceived leadership in user interface design.

Update: How many FLOPS are in game consoles?

Analyst Opinion - Floating Point Operations Per Second - FLOPS - one of the more obscure processor performance indicators, and one of the oldest ones. Over time, it has been modified with prefixes such as M (mega), G (giga), T (tera) and will soon get a P (peta). “Tera” describes a million millions - one trillion (1012) - which is a whole lot of anything whether it is cycles (Hertz), bytes, dollars, or FLOPS.

Fixing OLPC: Negroponte’s second-gen XO laptop

Opinion - Yesterday’s news that we will be seeing a redesigned XO laptop in 2010 has settled in and it has become clear that version 2 of the notebook is not just an update of the first generation model. OLPC has thrown out the entire design idea and is apparently starting from scratch to come closer to the goal of providing a world computer. But a successful XO-2 may need much more than new hardware.

The secret about secrets: Why you don’t want to keep them

Analyst Opinion - Imagine if you went to a car dealer and said, “What kind of an engine is in that RoadBlastor X500?“ And the car dealer said, “We don’t disclose the engine in our cars?” Or how about if you went to the local white goods store and said, “What is the horsepower of the motor in that Freezeyourstuff Z2000 refrigerator?” And you got a similar answer? I don’t know about you but my first reaction would be, “Oh, not too proud of it, huh? Got a bad Consumer’s Report?” So, what about cellphones?

The story of the missing journalist

Opinion – Last Friday, we tripped over some information that we felt could be used as great material either for the next James Bond movie or a cheesy TV soap: An American tech journalist tangled up between two big Taiwanese companies and suspicions of industry espionage. We did not end up with a James Bond story, but with a pretty interesting soap opera that provides some insight about the fine line journalists have to walk when dealing with 'embargoed' information, privileged treatment and to what great lengths tech companies go to secure coverage for their products. 

Dell/Alienware, HP/Voodoo, Gateway/FX: Branding power

Analyst Opinion - TG Daily recently took a look at the new Dell XPS 730 H2C and spoke about an interesting notion on how this new system was invading Alienware’s territory. Given the proliferation of performance products, I think it is time to take a closer look at branding in this emotional market segment. Can you differentiate a mainstream gaming PC from a more boutique-like gaming PC?

Nvidia and AMD vs. Intel: A new graphics war that should have been avoided

Analyst Opinion - I’m not a big fan of public wars between companies.   They tend to focus the firm on their competitor rather than their customers and these fights also tend to get people to do stupid things and miss big opportunities. For instance, if Apple had been focused on going to war with Microsoft at the end of the 90s they likely would have missed the iPod, which actually saved the company.  By taking the war with Microsoft off the table it potentially opened the firm to an incredibly lucrative additional opportunity.  

Sony’s crapware incident: The right idea gone terribly wrong

Opinion - Given the speed Sony reacted to the outrage over the company’s fee for removing crapware from one of its notebooks, I am pretty sure that the marketing folks are still trying to figure out what hit them and where this enormous wave of complaints came from. But now that we have chastised the company over its strange idea that consumers should actually pay for the privilege to get a clean PC, we wonder: Was Sony’s idea really so bad? Or did the company just screw up presenting it?

Is a crapware-free PC worth an extra $50?

Opinion – A “Fresh Start” is something many users give their PCs anyway once in a while. But why exactly would you need a Fresh Start with a new PC. Sony is offering that option for a $50 premium – and promises that you won’t get hit with loads of crapware in return.

Atom, Alienware m15x, and the next iPhone: The future of Super Devices

Analyst Opinion - Rob Enderle has a look at products that bridge categories, combining the usability of at least two different devices in just one box. Are there Super Devices in your future?