If you have heard about any awesome stuff to be shown at the FTF, any cool companies that you think that I should interview, please post your tips here in the comments or send me your tips at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Submit news page.
Jem Davies is ARM Fellow, VP of technology in the Media Processing Division of ARM, he speaks at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit conference. He talks about Power, Heterogeneous computing, Moore's Law in the next decade, open standards for massive parallel GPU computing and more.
What do you think about ARM speaking at the AMD conference? First step before AMD announcing that they'll make an ARM processor? Why wouldn't AMD also make an ARM Processor? Post your opinions about this keynote in the comments. Jem Davies posted this blog post on blogs.arm.com a few days ago in preparation for his keynote at the AMD conference.
Check out this awesome video interview with ARM President Tudor Brown conducted by Rob Symes of Campbell Black, hear Tudor Brown talk about how ARM was founded 20 years ago, a sometimes hilarious interview about ARM's Cambridge British/European technology company attitude:
We assumed it wouldn't work. That was the nature of our British Cambridge attitude. Here we go again, this would never work. But never mind, it's fun, let's make a go of it. And that was kind of the attitude that had been bred into us at Acorn. Many of us had been working at Acorn for many years, we created some great technology, but commercialy it had been a flop. And indeed the first products that were based on ARM, when ARM set out as a separate company, were all flops commercialy. It was a set of sales flops, I can list them:
- the Acorn computers which were really not very successful,
- the Apple Newton which was the first PDA which was the whole raison d'etre for the company that was clearly a flop,
- the 3DO multiplayer first CD based games machine in the world, based on ARM, commercial flop,
- the Sega Dreamcast, games machine, flop
- and so it went on.. we were kind of used to that.
It was a very important point that we were running the company as a bunch of pessimists, very lean and mean, on the basis that we weren't going to build the company up on the hope of some future growth, we were going to run the company on the basis that what we had today had to last.
Both of the new amazingly priced Nook Touch ($139) and Kobo Touch ($129) seem to use the new Freescale i.MX508 (I first filmed i.MX508 a year ago) to facilitate smooth touch interfaces using Infrared Touch technology (first used in the Sony PRS-650) but also to easily enable those to be the first Android powered e-ink e-readers! Basically i.MX508 and Android makes first real useful use of WiFi and Touch on e-ink e-readers! Using Android on e-ink is awesome to provide for great files support, web browser, easily add apps like news readers, rss readers, Chrome-To-Phone functionality (just beam any article or any text from your Chrome browser on your laptop to your e-ink e-reader in one click!), synchronizing of bookmarks, wireless beaming of web based ebooks, all in one click. Android on e-ink just increases the e-readers potential greatly. Using infrared touchscreen technology is a great way to provide the best possible readability, not adding any layers on top of the screen.
An interesting thing to follow though will be to see how open Android i.MX508 e-ink e-reader makers will be towards allowing for alternative e-book stores, and allowing for full open Android apps installation and full unrestricted access to the web browser. As it may be that part of the profit margins on these new low-cost e-ink e-readers may be subsidized by the hardware makers expecting to make later huge profits on selling e-books, like Amazon does with their Kindle e-book store, it will be fun to see if all the e-ink e-reader makers will seize the opportunity to be open with Android on e-ink and at the same time find new interesting ways to monetize those. I for example would prefer paying less than $10 per month for unlimited legal access to all e-books, all newspapers, all blogs, all websites, everything, perhaps even certain 3G bandwidth included, but will content owners and hardware makers be open minded enough to let that happen quickly?
When will Google officially announce open source Android optimizations for e-ink devices and with deep integration of Google Books, Google Reader, Google Fast Flip and more?
Here's how I think those e-ink e-readers could be sold in the best way: $99, $10/month optional pre-paid plan gives 100mb 3G data (upgradable bandwidth for $1/100mb or less) and full unlimited access to all e-books, all e-newspapers, e-magazines, blogs through RSS/search and more. Full unrestricted web browsing on e-ink. And nice complete cloud syncing with your Smartphone, Tablet and Laptop. While e-ink e-reader market is doing great perhaps reaching 20 million units to be sold this year, if they price them right and open them fully, I think they'll do even better.
The Panasonic UniPhier MN2WS0220 is claimed to be one of the fastest to use for HDTV and Set-top-box will begin sample shipments this month.
Panasonic's new chip will open the way for a new generation of smart TVs that allow users to simultaneously enjoy two TV broadcasting channels, as well as Internet-based content and applications in high-resolution at the same time. In addition, the new chip is able to reduce power consumption of and the number of components used in smart TVs, which will help drive smart TVs to spread in the global market.
I would find it normal for Google to qualify this Panasonic UniPhier MN2WS0220 ARM Dual-core chip to be used to run the Google TV software, and I would find it normal for Panasonic to start using Google TV for their Smart TVs instead of that proprietary Viera SmartTV stuff. I think all future Panasonic HDTVs should include Google TV, to provide for the best software for WebTV, interactive features, I think it's the best full integration of the web in the TV.
Last I heard, Texas Instruments said it might start sampling OMAP5 in October already, in testing and demo development boards before Mobile World Congress in February and target to be launched in consumer commercial products by Christmas 2012, within about a year and a half from now. In the following video, Nandan Nayampally, ARM's Director of CPU Product Marketing says:
With ARM's Cortex-A15, the smartphone or mobile device can take the next step of becoming a Complete computing and content creation platform.
I find it amazing that with such amazingly awesome ARM Cortex-A9 designs, clocked higher, added cores, just barely reaching the market, we can already also look forward to even greater performance and more features to come in devices just a year or so later.
My question is for the type of "Complete computing and content creation platform" that someone could define as for example a basic laptop, for example running Chrome OS, Ubuntu, Windows 8 or an ARM version of Mac OSX, can we expect those ARM Powered Laptops to have enough performance in ARM Cortex-A9 designs or do we still have to wait for ARM Cortex-A15 for ARM Laptops to replace Intel?
While the promise of Cortex-A8 Smartbooks shown at Computex 2009 just over 2 years ago didn't actually launch on the market, probably because of a lack in performance, I hope we will see optimal Cortex-A9 and other custom Dual-core, Tri-core and Quad-core designs released this year that will hopefully feel to have enough performance to feel just as fast at least as an Intel Atom Netbook.
Once ARM has that level of "Complete computing" performance covered and actual products such as just basic Laptops and Desktops on the mass market using that and that consumers don't see those as "slower", then ARM can also bring forward all it's other advantages in being lower power, cheaper, simpler, customizable, etc.
I feel that the immersive internet computing interfaces like Tablets and Smartphones of course are fantastic and awesome, and kudos for ARM for dominating in that, but it would be nice also to see ARM power just some basic Laptops and Desktops also and have those replace a big part of consumer electronics "Complete computing" devices previously only based on x86.
Innovative new touch screen interfaces, eventual Kinect style gesture controls, voice commands, all that are cool, but perhaps it won't actually be possible to do the next "Complete computing" devices using anything more than just a basic Laptop keyboard, mousepad and screen, at least when it comes to being a "content creation platform".
My expectation is that the next devices based on ARM Cortex-A9 and other Dual-core designs such as OMAP4460/OMAP4470, i.MX6Duo/Quad, MSM8660/8960, Marvell 628, Ziilabs ZMS-20/40, Exynos 4210 (or a Laptop optimized higher clocked version of that), an Apple A5 optimized for Laptop use, of course the Nvidia Tegra3 Kal-El Quad-core, I expect all those to have fast enough memory bandwidth designs, fast RAM support, ample enough processing speed and other hardware acceleration required to run a full web browser centric OS like Chrome OS, Windows 8 and even ARM optimized versions of Ubuntu and OSX. I expect that the ARM Laptops can start to take 25% of Intel's x86 Laptop market this year with Cortex-A9 designs and that they can dominate with over 50% of the marketshare against Intel x86 sales with the Cortex-A15 designs performance reach next year!
The new Dual-core and Quad-core ARM Processors that are coming out in the newest ARM Powered Smartphones, Tablets and Set-top-boxes in the coming months can display more than 200 million triangles per second! The 5-year old PS3 does 250 million triangles a second. XboX 360 does 500 million triangles a second. So in terms of performance, the graphics improvements on ARM Powered devices are absolutely amazing. Graphics performance on ARM processors seems to be more than doubling each year. Consider that the ARM Powered device probably uses 100x less power than the PS3 or XboX 360! One theory why Sony disables HDMI output on PSVita may be because the $249 Quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 Powered PSVita may actually be more powerful for gaming than the 5-year-old $299 Cell Processor based PS3!
Here are some of the angles that may make of Android the near futures biggest home and portable console platform:
- Any small game developer can easily release their games to a global audience without asking anyone. Gamers can also install whichever game they want (legally or ilegally) just by downloading the .apk downloaded from any website.
- All manufacturers can make the Android gaming devices, not just Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.
3. Lower prices
- More manufacturers competing means lower prices and better features. Also, Google can start a global gaming all-access pass, something like $10/month for hard core gamers to gain access to all the games as much as they want. Who would want to pay $50/game through retailers anymore?
4. Remove intermediaries
- Games in the age of the internet are meant to be downloaded from the Internet. No more need to distribute physical disks at retail stores. Even for big games that take up several gigabytes, the games can be downloaded through p2p with no central distribution cost.
5. Emulation of all previous consoles
- New Dual-core and Quad-core Android devices can probably emulate all the previous Nintendo, Sony consoles, I expect even N64, Dreamcast and PS2 games to get emulated smoothly. This means tens of thousands of games are thus (legally or ilegally) available to all Android gamers. Even the oldest Nintendo NES console games released 25 years ago are as cool as Angry Birds, and SNES games released nearly 20 years ago have about the same quality level of graphics as Angry Birds. This means through (legal or illegal) emulation, from day 1, Android devices can have about 1000 blockbuster games as good as Angry Birds.
Nintendo is awesome.
Yet I feel they try too hard to hold onto old business models that consist of centrally distributing the games on disks through retailers. And they may believe too strongly that only themselves must control the gaming hardware, that they would not legally allow other hardware makers to play their games.
Nintendo needs to forget about retailers and they need to embrace everyone elses hardware. Nintendo needs to distribute all their games as downloads, provide legal access to all their games on Android for that sub-$10/month global gaming subscription plan. This would instantly provide Nintendo with Billions of dollars of pure new profit. They can still release new consoles, they can even release reference designs and certification branding "Certified by Nintendo" for how they think Android devices should be designed to provide the best gaming user interfaces and performance.
The Nintendo Wii U announced this week at E3, seems to be an upgraded HD capable Wii with a new controller that basically seems to be an ARM Powered 6.2" capacitive tablet, with perhaps not much local processing going on with most of the 3D game processing happening on the IBM Power PC powered Wii U console, thus the new Wii Controller may act most as some kind of remote input and display device designed to have minimal latency.
Wii U is going to be awesome and all. And I want a Quad-Core PSVita for $249 this Christmas, I just think both are kind of sad in their closed philosophy. Those are basically awesome ARM Powered hardwares which just aren't designed to take full advantage of their potential, they have features blocked or removed in them because Nintendo and Sony believe only in their previous-century business models, sad.
But who knows, Nintendo and Sony still have time to adjust their plans. They still both may take full advantage of Android opportunity and feel they need to open up towards it instead of ignoring it.
Here's TI's next OMAP4 processor, to start sampling around October 2011, it'll be sampled at 45nm process size, it features the new SGX544 for graphics, it increases memory bandwidth even further to 7.5Gbit/s
supporting resolution up to QXGA (2048x1536). The new applications processor drives still more unparalleled HD UIs with simultaneous support for up to three HD screens and up to 2x more layered imaging and video composition than competitive solutions
Archos hacker Bubu just released the multi-boot menu support for the Archos Gen8 Tablets, it reportedly works great on Archos 70 Internet Tablet and Archos 101 Internet Tablet, find the release here: http://www.openaos.org/archives/739
Then you can install alternative firmwares and have them right there available in your multi-boot menu on your Archos, so you could for example today choose between Archos official Android firmware, Debian Linux and Angstrom Linux.
If more software hackers contribute, Archos tablets may also run Ubuntu 11.4, Chromium OS, Gingerbread and any other embedded Linux OS through this multi-boot system.
Bubu and the team at OpenAOS.org previously released this solution for the Archos Gen6 and Gen7 tablets as well.
Huawei is holding a live press event at the Red Dot Design Museum Singapore at 5pm on June 20th, where they will unveil all the technical details of their new Huawei Mediapad Android tablet!
Watch my video talking about this product when it was just a mockup at Mobile World Congress last February (as codename then was Huawei S7 Pro):
Here is my speculation about some of the specs that the Huawei Mediapad may be presented with:
- Since Huawei has a long partnership with Qualcomm, I think they might actually use the new pretty awesome Qualcomm MSM8660 (CDMA+HSUPA) or/and MSM8260 (HSUPA) Dual-core 1.5Ghz processor, which as shown recently at Computex on the Asus Memo, can already run Honeycomb even though it's just 7", a 1280x800 screen might be required for Honeycomb to display correctly yet, but surely Qualcomm and Google are working to support Honeycomb 3.1 and Ice Cream Sandwich on smaller and lower resolution screens to keep prices low.
- Dual-core should be expected, Honeycomb can be part of the party. If they don't yet use Qualcomm's dual-core maybe they just have a Tegra2 in there for now.
- Expect it even lighter and thinner than the Huawei S7 Slim.
- Hopefully they don't impose their custom UI on top of Android again, and maybe they do target a sub-$400 price point even with 3G included.