Computex in Taipei Taiwan June 1-5th is going to be awesome. Last year was my first Computex show and it was a great experience. While last year, I was lucky to be the first to see Pixel Qi in action (2, 3, 4), I saw Android on laptops and tablets, I saw Smartbooks demonstrated by Freescale, Qualcomm and Nvidia (2). I interviewed ARM about the status of Mobile Computing. Now finally, all those products are actually going to reach the market. For the past year, advances and optimizations in Chrome and Flash support is showing consumer-grade web browsing experiences for these products. Here are some of the main topics that I hope to film at this year's Computex conference:
- Pixel Qi LCD in actual announced products "to be announced by half a dozen or more companies", this technology is going to be the basis for the combination of E-reader, Tablet and Laptop markets.
- Chrome OS and Flash support on ARM Powered Laptops, makes Smartbook category ready to be a massive success.
- Android Tablet Edition, I trust that Google provides the full Google Marketplace on a whole range of Tablets to be shown.
- Cheaper Android Phones, I want to see cheaper phones shown by other manufacturers than just HTC, Motorola and Samsung (although those companies make nice Android phones).
- Youtube HD on cheap set-top-boxes, right after the Google TV announcements expected at Google I/O, I would like to see manufacturers showing cheap sub-$100 ARM Powered set-top-boxes that stream Youtube in HD quality directly on the HDTV, that may provide HDMI pass-through and overlay interactive features to existing TV channels as well.
- Connected E-readers, e-ink devices are great for reading, they make people read more again. But it's important that all the worlds text contents reach those e-readers wirelessly.
Check back here on http://ARMdevices.net before, during and after the Computex trade show June 1-5th, to find me uploading 50 to 100 new awesome videos showcasing all those new ARM Powered devices that I think are going to change the world. If you are a blogger, subscribe to my RSS feed and make sure you check back here for the best Computex video coverage, you are of course welcome to embed my best videos on your blog with a link back to my blog post. If you are a fan of big technology news blogs and you like my videos, I appreciate if you submit my best videos to those sites.
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- Acer to launch Chrome OS laptops at Computex (armdevices.net)
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- Are Google Chrome OS Devices Debuting Next Month? (mashable.com)
In a conference call reported by theinquirer.net, Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia talks about following things:
Jen-Hsun knows where the competition will come from, but added that Tegra plus Android 3 will prove to be a winning formula. "Prior to Tegra, there are only two application processor companies out in the mobile space, right? Basically, it's Qualcomm and TI, and they both make wonderful application processors," he said.
"Our differentiation and our contribution to the space is where multimedia, high resolution snappy graphics [are] really necessary. And the first-generation smartphones had pretty low resolution displays. And so snappy graphics and high-performance multimedia and high resolution just wasn't as much of an issue. But [now] resolution's a huge issue. And so that's our contribution and that's our differentiation and that's what people are seeking out in the market."
That may mean Android 3 is being optimized for ARM Cortex A9 grade processors. Taking advantage of dual-core and quad-core high performance processing and especially of the much increased graphics and video processing features of these next generation ARM processors. Thus the optimizations of the OS code may look like this:
Android 1 = ARM9 and ARM11
Android 2 = ARM Cortex A8
Android 3 = ARM Cortex A9
Qt is a cross-platform application and UI framework for developing once, and deploying across lots of embedded Linux platforms, Windows CE, Symbian and Maemo without rewriting the source code. At Mobile World Congress, Qt was demonstrating their solution used in many different devices.
Qt Quick (Qt User Interface Creation Kit) is a high-level user interface technology that makes it dramatically easier for UI designers and developers with scripting language skills to quickly and easily create beautiful, pixel perfect UIs and lightweight, touch-enabled apps with Qt – all without requiring any C++ skills. It will be part of the Qt 4.7 release, which has had its first technology preview released in March.
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- Nokia Qt SDK beta has adorable mobile simulators (arstechnica.com)
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Venturebeat.com reports that it has heard from several sources that Acer is going to launch Chrome OS laptops at Computex in June.
Last year's Computex, Acer really disappointed me with their "fake" Android netbook, one that booted Android as a dual-boot with Windows on an expensive and power consuming Intel Atom based Netbook.
The big questions are:
- Will Acer's first Chrome OS laptop use an ARM Processor or will it be based on Intel?
- What type of price point does Acer plan to reach?
The answers to those questions I think could be found by answering following two other questions:
- Does Acer want to be innovative enough and be one of the first big laptop manufacturers to use an ARM Processor in a Laptop form factor to lower the price, increase battery runtime, lower the weight and size of their new Chrome OS line of laptops?
- Does Acer feel it needs to stay in bed with Intel and Microsoft, and thus keep any non-Wintel projects out of their marketing radar?
If they announce it with ARM and Pixel Qi at Computex, hear the drum rolls:
1. 50h battery runtime
2. Instant on, month of standby
3. Below 800gr, 1cm thickness
4. Below $199 retail, no contracts, they sell tens of millions?
5. Built-in 3G module (maybe not included by default) for always connected use
6. Native Code SDK and OpenGL for even advanced video-editing and 3D games
7. Maybe even a swivel screen and the device holds like an e-reader? Touch-screen not absolute necessity for cheap model. Next/previous page and enter/exit buttons on the side would be good enough.
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This could be how very powerful authoring applications like video and photo editing may work on ARM based Chrome OS laptops or in Chrome on Android laptops and tablets.
Imagine uploading all your rough video files from your camcorder to the cloud, then launch a web app that combine offline web app caching features of HTML5 (previously called Google Gears) together with Native Code features, this will enable to download to cache storage and stream the thumbnail video from the server while editing, then when the edit is done in the timeline, the full quality video encoding and publishing happens on the cloud in seconds. This could thus provide powerful video and photo editing tools to professionals and enthusiasts, and actually provide a more powerful rendering and encoding performance using a basic and cheap ARM Powered device than would be achieved using any expensive machine with powerful local processors.
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Marvell is announcing the plan to offer 40-nm multicore ARM processors in servers. This is big news. It means ARM may not only power all phones, tablets, e-readers, laptops, TVs and desktops of the future, it may also power the cloud computing that serves all those devices.
In terms of price, there is a huge gap between Intel's Xeon chips some of which sell for several hundred dollars and the typical multicore ARM chip that may sell for about $35. That gives Marvell plenty of room to carve out its own profits.
The new chips will offer more than a five-fold reduction in power consumption compared to x86 processors that dominate the server market, Marvell claims.
Marvell and ARM are working with "multiple Tier 1 companies" to build larger trial deployments to validate ARM as a server platform.
partners are working on ports to ARM of x86 virtualization software also strategic for the server market.
Google could be one of the "tier one companies building larger server deployments to validate ARM as a server platform". Torben Mogensen speculates:
I think Cortex A9 multicore would be fine for its purpose. But they may design their own chip built around this core. Server chips won't need the graphics and signal processors that most high-performance ARM chips have (as the latter are targeted at media applications), but may need larger caches and MMUs capable of addressing more than 4GB of physical memory. Even if ARM has only 4GB logical address space, you can let different processes have different 4GB chunks of a larger physical memory.
But, instead of designing their own, Google may just ask Marvell, Qualcom, Nvidia or TI to design a chip to their specifications. If Google promises to buy a million chips per year, I'm sure these companies would be quite happy to do so.
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Youtube HD consumes lots of bandwidth, Google wants to kind of control which devices can access that. I spoke with some Realtek based set-top-box manufacturers that told me it actually costs $1 Million in licencing to get Youtube API support on a device. Check my video: http://armdevices.net/2010/03/17/zinwell-cinematube-at-cebit-2010/
I don't really believe it's that expensive. It wouldn't really make sense. But anyways, I think it's got to do with something about Google changing the way the API works for devices to pull the Youtube videos to devices.
But that may change anyways and not be required anymore when Flash support is added in the next few weeks. That may be the solution for full Flash video support no matter about the Youtube API licencing issues.
Otherwise, I hope Google soon clarifies what they require for licencing out the Youtube HD access for devices, I wouldn't mind if they require users to be logged in and pay a very small amount,
Something like $1 per 10GB
= 10 hours of Youtube playback at 720p 2mbit/s
= 5 hours of Youtube playback at 1080p 4mbit/s
of authenticated Youtube HD access or something like that, and that this should work on any device. This would then cover Google's bandwidth costs for HD video streaming, and even provide the groundwork for Youtube to provide video-on-demand, video rentals, perhaps even scale up a new Live Youtube Streaming Service, also provide a one-click donation system and paying very small amounts to watch videos in HD quality without ads.
At Google I/O next week, Google is going to launch the Google TV initiative, I expect them to clarify the terms of Youtube access on devices by then.
Clearly defined specs of ARM Powered devices that may access Youtube in HD quality, and provide the full pay-per-view support with that, may provide a solid platform for one of the biggest revolutions for the TV media. People watch 3-4 hours of TV per day in average, the easy access to web video from Youtube on a sub-$100 set-top-box may revolutionize the content people will watch on their TVs. It may affect major election results. Youtube already represents perhaps as much as half of the worldwide internet bandwidth.
If Google makes this happen in the right ways, Google TV may become Google's new largest source of revenues and profits. At the same time, I think, it may revolutionize media and democracy for the better.
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ARM's marketing vice president, Ian Drew is quoted in an article at ZDnet.co.uk as saying:
"Our target is mostly internet machines — it becomes sort of a requirement that they run the internet," Drew said. "[The delay in optimising] Flash has stalled it".
Drew suggested that solving the issue of Flash optimisation had involved "lots of heavy lifting" but once the new version of Adobe's rich media software is in place for smartbooks, that would be "very powerful" for ARM.
"I actually think we're a lot stronger because of it," he said. "We now know what we didn't know two years ago. It has taught us a lot about how we work with software companies."
So we know from my Interview with ARM's Director of Mobile Computing and from my interview with Adobe Flash's product manager that ARM, Adobe and other partners including Google, Nvidia, Freescale, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm and others have invested hundreds and hundreds of engineers in working full time over the past many months to optimize and succeed in supporting the full Flash on the ARM processors of upcoming Smartbooks, Tablets, Phones and Set-top-boxes.
Now though with Google Chrome for ARM and Flash for ARM being finalized, and also even the dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processors starting to become available, performance for a full PC web browsing experience on ARM should be real.
Once full web browsing performance is working, once all major websites load instantly on ARM laptops, from then on, advances in processors I think will be more about lowering cost and lowering power consumption further, then there would even be the need for any performance increases. The performance increases can be used in server parks powering the processor intensive tasks in the cloud, but the web browser access terminal just needs to have a perfect web browsing experience to unlock an experience that all consumers will like.
ARM Laptops to even support heavy Multimedia authoring applications on the cloud:
Clever cloud computing should even allow for very advanced video-editing, image rendering, even 3D graphics acceleration and 3D games can be streamed to a thin client that just needs to run some kind of 3D engine. Even professionals and advanced users will prefer an ARM laptop for video editing, if they have a fast enough upload speed to store the original native video files on the cloud, display AJAXified video-editing user interfaces and thumbnails in the web browser or in an app that interfaces with the cloud, and then you can have a grid of servers on the cloud processing, rendering and encoding the videos much faster than any multi-core local processor could do it. Imagine clicking a button and having 2000 servers on an FFmpeg grid encode your hour-long HD video for you in a minute. All video editing and encoding professionals would love to have that setup.
Found via: Techmeme.com
So the Microsoft engineers have been working hard on their next generation of Windows for ARM processors, the next generation of Windows CE. Will it take advantage of all the ARMv7 features, ARM Cortex A8 and ARM Cortex A9 and other hardware acceleration features, such as using the GPU to accelerate its user interfaces? Windows Phone 7 Series is based on the Windows Embedded Compact 7 core.
I asked Olivier Bloch, Microsoft Embedded technical evangelist a few questions on how Windows Embedded Compact 7 is different from Windows 7 for x86:
Windows Embedded CE and its next version, Windows Embedded Compact 7 are not based on Windows binaries (vs. Windows Embedded Standard which is a componentized embedded version of Windows).
Windows CE has been developped from scratch with a different OS architecture and driver model ensuring hard real time and very small footprint. Windows CE is also disigned to run on different CPU architectures (x86, MIPS, SH, ARM). The other big difference is that you compile Windows Embedded CE when you design a CE OS.
Windows Embedded team is investing a lot in adding new features, creating new tools to support these new features, analyzing the Embedded market really seriously…
I also (jokingly) asked him if it was going to be open-source and free, to that he could not reply.
Anyways, it will be very interesting to see how much Microsoft is investing in this development of their embedded OS core that Microsoft would like to be used across ARM powered devices like Tablets, Laptops, Set-top-boxes, E-readers and more.
What will Microsoft price it at? And if they price Windows at a low price for future ARM Powered laptops, tablets and phones, as Android is free and open source, will the potential auto-cannibalization of Microsoft's x86 based PC/Laptop be a problem for Microsoft to be able to keep its overall revenue and profits?