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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?