50 years ago today

Posted by – May 25, 2011

May 25th 1961, President Kennedy did this speech.

Why doesn’t Obama do a speech today about sending Humans to Mars within this decade?

Read Robert Zubrin’s suggestion to build a transorbital railroad posted today in the Washington Times

We should set big goals to do really big things fast. Because we can.

What big projects would you like us to take on and how can we convince our leaders to make more of those speeches?

Intel spreads FUD on ARM based Windows 8

Posted by – May 21, 2011

Intel spreads FUD

Intel spreads FUD

Intel spreads Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). It is a practice that Intel is famous for using against competitors when they feel threatened. Intel does it by getting some of their top executives (but usually not the CEO) to say all kinds of negative things about competitors in more or less official setting (you don’t always find a video of the event). Intel did the same against AMD. Intel used FUD to slow the One Laptop Per Child revolution to try to control it with their Netbooks. Now that Microsoft is officially working on Windows 8 for ARM, Intel is using FUD against the ARM powered version of Windows 8 that is rumored to be a top priority investment at Microsoft with over 1000 of their top engineers working on full ARM support for Windows 8.

Windows 8 on ARM is the biggest threat to Intel ever.

Here’s how I expect Microsoft will solve the software compatibility issue for ARM version of most x86 Windows software to work:

Microsoft will launch the Windows Appstore for Windows 8

I believe the Windows Appstore will be central to Windows 8 on ARM and will provide for functionality that will make software compatibility between ARM and x86 versions of Windows seamless. If you click on an x86 compiled .exe file in Windows on ARM, it will simply link you up with the recompiled ARM version in the Windows Appstore.

This sounds like Piece of Cake, doesn’t it?

Quite simply, Microsoft can make a database of .exe file IDs based on hash tags, file size, file names, etc. if such x86 version of an .exe is clicked on, it can offer 3 choices:

1. Download ARM version in Windows 8 Appstore (if available, if not available, Microsoft gets an alert to hurry up and recompile themselves or to contact the developer to make it available, the user can get an alert about the status of ARM support on each app)
2. Launch in Virtualized Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) mode. x86 software virtualization may even be provided by Microsoft in the form of software as a service from the Azure cloud. Meaning, if the .exe is recognized it can instantly be run in this remote desktop virtualization service, otherwise the .exe is uploaded to the server and installed to be virtualized safely from there.
3. Basic x86 software could get emulated.

While Microsoft may not themselves be able to process the recompiling of all Windows .exe apps, they can certainly automatically do it on hundreds of thousands of existing open source Windows x86 apps and they can provide a one-click ARM recompilation software for all Windows app developers, that can take their closed source code, click one button to submit the ARM compiled version in the new ARM based Windows Appstore. Offering developers all kinds of new monetization features in the new Windows 8 Appstore, including also easy ways for users to keep over on ARM their eventual already purchased x86 software licence.

Short of launching a direct competitor to Chrome OS (could Microsoft launch an Azure OS?), Microsoft will likely make of cloud grid computing in combination with cloud virtual desktop a new type of service with ARM based Windows 8. I see it like that, I think Microsoft can provide APIs for app developers to hook into the Azure cloud to accelerate processing and rendering features. For example, the ARM version of Photoshop could render images automatically through the cloud, or the ARM version of Avid could also use a grid of cloud servers to speed up encoding. And user’s software licences, and user data, could be in general stored on the cloud, and Internet Explorer on ARM would be fully optimized for full HTML5 online/offline/native/3D accelerated web apps support.

This is how Ubuntu on ARM has about 100% of all the same Ubuntu Software Center apps available for Ubuntu on both ARM and x86, over 30 thousand apps are available to run fully on the ARM version of Ubuntu. It really is a piece of cake to recompile an app from x86 to ARM support, no need to require only the use of emulation or virtualization although those tricks will also be there.

Following is a video demonstrating Microsoft’s RemoteFX Virtual Desktop Infrastructure technology running on a Texas Instruments BeagleBoard xM ARM Cortex-A8 platform. Consider the VDI technology that Microsoft probably is working on for Windows 8 on ARM is probably to use some of these Virtualization features and serve them when needed from the Azure cloud, thus no need for local servers taking care of things. The VDI tricks can also be considered as temporary as the optimal thing is for all the apps, even advanced games to be ported to native ARM support. Though the hardware and cloud based VDI as well as hardware accelerated emulation are temporary solutions during this transition away from x86.

Microsoft supposedly has over 1000 engineers working on Windows 8 for ARM, it’s a big project. It’ll actually bring up desktop/laptop computing to also work in Smartphones and Tablets, it’ll be a bunch of user interface tools for that.

With ARM chips being “fast enough” to run most Laptops, Desktops, Servers, Set-top-boxes, the truth is ARM is becoming the biggest threat to Intel’s core business.

Nokia/Microsoft to use ST-Ericsson U8500 ARM Cortex-A9 in Windows Phone 8

Posted by – May 20, 2011

Forbes reports from Carlo Bozotti, the Chief Executive of European semiconductor maker STMicroelectronics, that Nokia will use the ST-Ericsson U8500 dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 with Mali-400 in at least some of its upcoming Windows Phone 8 devices to be released as soon as Nokia and Microsoft are able to make them ready. Here’s a video I filmed with ST-Ericsson showing this processor platform:

The move marks a major shift for Windows Phone devices, which up to now have used chips from wireless technology giant Qualcomm. Even the HTC Trophy, which Verizon Wireless announced today — making it the latest Windows Phone to launch in the U.S. — has a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

The uniformity is the result of Microsoft’s precise design guidelines for Windows Phone manufacturers. In the run-up to its big Windows Phone launch in the fall of 2010, Microsoft asked handset makers including HTC, LG, Samsung and Dell to utilize the same chipsets, display size and number of camera megapixels to give users a consistent experience across devices.

Earlier this year, however, Microsoft indicated it planned to open up Windows Phone development to other chipmakers. It now appears that ST-Ericsson, a joint venture between Geneva-based STMicroelectronics and Swedish telecom equipment and services supplier Ericsson, has been admitted to the Windows Phone ecosystem.

Another crazy rumor from Eldar Murtazin (who has been right before..) has been suggesting that Microsoft may be in talks to try buy Nokia’s Mobile Phone business flat out, probably for a bunch of tens of billions of dollars. Can you believe that?

My opinion is that Microsoft knows the ARM Powered mobile device space is where the future of technology is at, so short of yet releasing a Windroid fork of Linux based Android (that could launch Bing, own apps store etc..), Microsoft is probably going to do everything that they can to try to remain relevant in the smartphone and tablet space. Even if that might mean a $40 Billion buy-out of Nokia. Should the Finnish Nokia owners sell out to Redmond?

Eric Schmidt talks about why Android gets more volume and more investments in the platform

Posted by – May 17, 2011

He has said it before, but perhaps not as explicitly when talking about tablets, and it’s always fun to see Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google, explain Android’s strategy vs Apple.

Eric Schmid:
It’s a classic contest in high-tech. In that contest, you have a very well run, very focused, closed competitor who builds a great product that does something that is very usefull. That would be Apple. You have another competitor who makes all the technology available to everybody else, and using various creativity and various partnerships gets the benefit over everyone else’s creativity. Because there are more people involved in the open side of that, that side will eventually get more volume, have more investment, therefore have more creativity, more innovation, and ultimately the end user will choose the open one over the closed one.

Fareed Zakaria:
Except right now, the open one, all these tablets that are Android based, let’s be honest, they are not as good as the iPad and they are more expensive, which strikes me as unusual.

Eric Schmidt:
Which product will produce a lower cost product quicker? One manufacturer for a product or many manufacturers competing? The matter of fact is that we are just at the beginning of this fight. And the fight between two very well run, very large, very significant ecosystem companies, will ultimately produce great value for consumers because the fight between them will keep prices low, keep these systems honest and open and encourage the kinds of investments that people want to see. One of the greatest things about this contest is that people who win in this are the consumer.

(…)

There is pride in both approaches but they are completely different. In Apple’s case, they can continue to build beautiful and excellent products. The ecosystem that Google represents will continue and already has more volume, more users and will have more investment in the platform. Ultimately that will produce cheaper, better and faster products for everybody.

Posted by Fareed Zakaria on CNN GPS

ARM Powered Google TV now confirmed officially by Google

Posted by – May 14, 2011

You got the tip from me from an anonymous source here since January (I have been speculating about it (2) (3) (4) for over a year), clues about it from ARM President Tudor Brown last year in November, and re-confirming rumors through Samsung in February, Google announced at Google I/O this week that Ice Cream Sandwich combines Android, Honeycomb and Google TV into one release (thus Google TV features on ARM), now it’s being reported by PC World that Google TV product manager Rishi Chandra is confirming the ARM Powered Google TV platform like this:

for the price issue, Chandra said that Google has now qualified ARM chips to be used to run the Google TV software, instead of just the Intel Atom chips that currently power the Revue. Moore’s Law–the inevitable increase in chip performance driven by increasing transistor density–will push the performance of the cost-optimized ARM chips up high enough to compete with Atom, while helping drive down the overall platform price, Chandra said.

I have thus far video-blogged over 60 ARM Powered Set-top-boxes from all the consumer electronics trade shows over the past 2 years, most are running Android, all of which could in theory run the Google TV software.

Of course, it is up to Google to decide what kind of hardware requirements they want to enfore for Google TV on ARM, if they want those to only feature the full suite of HDMI pass-through features, meaning HDMI input and output, Infrared blasters (to change the channel on your cable/satellite set-top-box), USB hosts, Bluetooth and more, then that would disqualify just about all of the ARM Powered set-top-boxes that I have filmed thus far. I wouldn’t know how much more those hardware features require, and perhaps that requires an ARM Cortex-A9 at the minimum to run all the overlay user interface features and preferably 1080p at 60fps support at the minimum.

I think it is more likely and more logical that Google will decide to be as open as possible about Google TV on ARM, and thus support all the SoC that are currently being used and that will most likely be used. I think that means Google TV on ARM could work in “AppleTV/Roku mode”, meaning no HDMI inputs, just the Google TV experience of bringing the Web and WebTV on the TV on this separate HDMI port to your HDTV. That is why I expect there to be two kinds of Google TV on ARM:

1. Basic Google TV on ARM, this is HDMI output only, Bluetooth or RF/USB keyboards with mouse pad accessory can be used. This solution could work on 100% of the ARM Powered Set-top-boxes that I have filmed. And I believe this will be included turning every Android Smartphone/Tablet with Ice Cream Sandwich and every Tablet with Honeycomb 3.1 into a Google TV “for free”. See the Google Android Team’s response to my question submitted on the possibility of turning all Android devices into free Google TV devices when HDMI is used:

2. The Full ARM Powered Google TV experience, including HDMI pass-through, IR blaster, USB hosts, Ethernet, etc.. Since Chris DiBona answers to my question above “There’s all this other stuff that goes into a Google TV that isn’t in a phone”, well then, the Full ARM Powered Google TV will be that type that does it all. But that should not prevent an Android device with a basic HDMI output and not much else to still display many if not most of the Google TV UI features right there on the HDTV.

3. There is also a third scenario that I am envisioning, Google might use their Android Hardware division to plan out a new type of Multimedia TV Docking system for Android, using nothing more than HDMI, USB slave/host and evt MHL (that combines both into one Micro-USB connector). Basically the idea here is a cheap TV Dock that should work with most if not all Android Smartphones that have HDMI, USB (or MHL) to turn those into full Google TV, thus using the USB slave/host to transmit the right infos back and forward and feature in that Dock the right HDMI input and output, IR blaster, USB host duplicators, Ethernet connector, charging and more. The idea is a new Google Open Accessory design that could sell for $49 to dock any Android Smartphone with HDMI/USB or MHL and thus turn those into full Google TV. A solution which could evt also turn any ARM Powered Set-top-box into a full Google TV box also with adding the HDMI in/out, IR and more to those. Maybe it could be called the Google TV adapter, converter or extender.

Here’s the 56 minute session on some of the Google TV Honeycomb 3.1 upgrades and development tools at Google I/O:

Worlds first Solar flight from Switzerland to Belgium underway

Posted by – May 13, 2011

Watch the live video now here: http://www.solarimpulse.com

The flight should be 12 hours, 438 kilometers from Payerne Switzerland to Brussels Belgium. This is the worlds first attempt to make an international flight using a 100% solar powered airplane.

You can follow the flight live with video and metrics with the Solar Impulse app on Android Google Marketplace and Apple Appstore.

I’d like to know this from an aeronautical expert:

Could we build an electric airplane, no solar, just big batteries, how many people can be transported, how far and how fast? What if the range of an electric jumbo jet with 100 passengers was only 2 hours, that’s enough for half of all the short range gasoline powered flights.

Android robot funky dancer at the Google I/O party

Posted by – May 13, 2011

Here’s some nice behind the scenes at the Google I/O party, you get to see the world famous funky Taiwanese Android robot dancer as he makes fun with some of the Google people:

Samsung has released a nice looking HD video of the Chromebook experience (to be ARM Powered soon):

Chris Pirillo says Chromebook just killed the PC industry

Posted by – May 13, 2011

My take on it is that the Chromebook is the first serious challenger to Windows/Mac in terms of being installed in a mass market retail product. It’s the first ever mass market Linux laptop (after the One Laptop Per Child non-profit reaching 2.5 million children with Linux Laptops in the developping world since 2007). It’s the first ever mass market ARM Powered laptop. It can be configured to be the cheapest laptop to make, the safest, the fastest, the thinnest, the lightest and the easiest to use. Chromebook may be the first successful carrier subscription based laptop.

For Chromebook to sell more than Windows, here’s what I think Chromebook needs to be:

– $199 or less in an ARM Powered configuration
– Use Pixel Qi with ARM and you’ve got 30 hours battery runtime in a sub-1kg 11.6″ or 12.1″ super slim form factor
– They should subsidize these in partnership with the carriers to do a subscription model for normal consumers like this:
1. Sell it for $99 or less on a 2-year contract with $10/month/100mb or $20/month/1GB 3G/LTE data plan
2. Bandwidth upgrades should be max $10/GB, $20/5GB, $30/10GB on-demand one-click
3. They can use carrier billing (thus carrier revenue share) for bandwidth upgrades, for cloud media subscriptions, on-demand, Chrome Web Store web apps and for all Google Checkout based online shopping
4. Provide an optional hardware upgrade once a year with contract extension. Used devices can be resold refurbished.
5. Provide 100GB or more cloud storage and full Google Apps for consumers with the subscription, offer guarantee of available of advanced web apps such as HD video editing (with many or most of the features of Avid/Finalcut), photo editor. And all these web apps must feel near instant to load and work offline, a web app should only need to get reloaded if it detects that there is a new version available. Gmail should load instantly for example.
6. Obviously, Google Voice and Google Music needs to be worldwide. They should also expand with a Google Video cloud storage. Basically they can allow people to upload 20’000 songs and 1’000 movies for free, the reason being, Google only needs to store one copy of each song or movie, and if the upload client (also on Chrome OS) detects that the file you want to upload already exists on Google’s servers in equal or better quality, it should instantly beam it to your account without actually requiring you to upload anything. Google should not care to try to filter out any “illegal” Mp3, Flac, DivX, MKV files. Eventually they can introduce unlimited music/movies subscription plans like Spotify/Netflix but they should aim at being able to include access to everything in those unlimited subscriptions, this might only be achievable through Government regulation of online content subscriptions.

If Google can deliver on those things and quickly, which is what I expect them to be able to do, then I think it’s obvious Chromebook could become the number 1 PC/Laptop OS as quickly as they became number 1 OS in smartphones since the Nexus One was released.

Can we expect to see some ARM Powered Chromebooks (or Chromiumbooks) at Computex in Taiwan at the end of May from all the Taiwanese notebook designers (Inventec, Pegatron, Wistron, Foxconn, Shuttle, Gigabyte etc..) who design upwards 90% of worldwide notebooks?

Android@Home enables 100 Billion new ARM Powered devices

Posted by – May 12, 2011

Android Open Accessory Development Kit

Android Open Accessory Development Kit

Android@Home enables the Internet of Things.

The biggest announcement at Google I/O was the launch of the Android@Home Open Accessory Development platform. This is the platform for a whole new world of accessories and connecting everything through Android to the Internet. Suddenly, we are smart about all things and all things become smart.

Now we are not only talking about about connecting 7 Billion people to the Internet with Android Smartphones, now it becomes about connecting 100 Billion things through Android to the Internet.

Why the Internet of things? Why using Android?

The cost to add an ARM processor such as one of the ARM Cortex-M series, with sensors, switches and wireless connectivity in every appliance in your home may cost as little as few cents or a few dollars per device. It’s so cheap that as soon as an open standard is established and as soon as applications are planned out, all devices will get connected with this technology. Watch my video with Nuvotron NuMicro at Embedded World 2011 about the cost ($0.50-$2) and use of ARM Cortex-M0 32bit microcontrollers in all types of devices.

Here are some of the infinite amounts of uses for putting ARM processors in everything:

– Put a smart control in every lamp and the lights follow you, if you move to another room the lights automatically turn off, you save power. They automatically dim if they detect you’re relaxing or watching TV.

– Put a smart control in all your doors, in all your windows, in all your power outlets, integrated with your heating systems, water systems.

– Add sensors, ARM Processors in your pillow, blanket and in your bed, to monitor your sleep and wake you up at the right time between the right sleeping cycles. You’ll feel better the whole day and you’ll optimize your sleeping times. It’s more healthy, makes you more productive and saves you time.

The trick is that even as the Internet of things has been possible for a while, and even as prices to add smart controllers and sensors in each thing costs $3, people haven’t been doing much of it yet just because the control, management, interactivity systems around this have not been standardized and open yet. If you want to build the Internet of things it has to be built around you and for you and not among each thing and only for each thing. That is why Android is your interface into that world of things, and Google supports the open Adruino platform to enable these developments in an open industry. Android is the UI for the Internet of Things. Android is how you guide it, how you see it, it’s how you control your things.

Expect the next consumer electronics trade shows to showcase more and more ARM Powered things to connect with the Android ecosystem, look forward to an industry about to get really creative in how to use and feature that Internet of Things most efficiently.

ARM President Tudor Brown talks about the Internet of Things at the ARM Technology Conference:

Andy Rubin’s former co-founders on Danger (Sidekick, see these videos from 2004) Matt Hershenson and Joe Britt demonstrate and launch the new Android Open Accessory API and Android@Home platform at the Google I/O 2011 Day 1 Keynote:

IBM’s video on the Internet of Things:

Solar Impulse to attempt worlds first international solar flight tomorrow

Posted by – May 12, 2011

Tomorrow May 13th 6AM Swiss Time, weather permits, Solar Impulse will attempt to fly a 100% Solar Powered airplane from Payerne Switzerland to Brussels Belgium. The prototype, piloted by André Borschberg, will take off from Payerne airfield and climb to an altitude of 3600 meters. The plane will head for France, pass over Luxembourg and land at Brussels Airport. Here’s my Interview with Solar Impulse co-founder Bertrand Piccard:

Schedule Friday May 13th 2011 (UTC +2) (liftoff is scheduled for 6AM Central European Time, this Midnight EST (New York), Thursday 9PM 12th May PST (San Francisco)):
06:00 approximately Take-off from Payerne aerodrome bound for Brussels Airport
20:30 Hangar doors open/ building 117 (logistical details below)
21:00 approximately Land at Brussels Airport
22:00 approximately Briefing in the hangar with Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg
23:00 End of the event

Although the flight has been confirmed, the Flight Director may still decide to postpone it or alter the route up until a short time before takeoff.

Tomorrow, you will thus be able to track the flight live on http://solarimpulse.com and via the Smartphone app “Solar Impulse Inventing the Future” available in Android Google Marketplace and Apple Appstore. The airplane’s position, altitude and speed will be shown live and cameras fitted inside the cockpit and at “Mission Control Center”, the mission’s nerve center, will allow you to experience the adventure live.

The purpose of Solar Impulse is to inspire all of us to think big, to become more ambitious, that we can as Humans pretty much do whatever we want. Solar Impulse is a philosophy. We can reach the moon, send Humans to Mars, fix global warming, make all new cars electric, feed the hungry and solve poverty.