A looming clash between Intel Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. will take center stage at the Consumer Electronics Show next week in Las Vegas, with both chipmakers seeking to control the future of mobile devices.
Qualcomm Chief Executive Officer Paul Jacobs will demonstrate notebook computers based on his company's chips on Jan. 10, highlighting a push into an area dominated by Intel. Later that day, Intel CEO Paul Otellini will take the same stage to announce phones featuring his chips, renewing a decade-long push to get into a market that Qualcomm controls.
I had profiled an earlier version of the machine used in the field in the chapter on BP in the New Polymath. Here is its latest incarnation.
“Starting at only 5.6 pounds and delivering up to 10 hours of battery life, the Toughbook 53 provides mobile professionals, such as inspectors and claims adjusters, a highly reliable and versatile device that delivers high performance computing. The latest in the line of products that created the semi-rugged category, this new notebook is the first Toughbook device offering optional 4G LTE mobile broadband and a host of other features designed to improve productivity and maximize return on investment.”
“..few people know much about ARM, the British company whose technology is central to so many of the devices seen at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.”
“ARM doesn’t build the chips itself; it designs the cores–or central brains–used on those chips. I like to compare it to selling a basic cake recipe. If you’re a baker whose expertise is making really great frosting, why bother dreaming up a brand-new cake recipe when you can use an existing one, and instead use your time and effort to make great frosting? A lot of semiconductor and electronics companies have reached the same conclusion, and paid to license ARM’s recipes for chips, and then built their own custom enhancements around the ARM core.
It’s a pretty popular recipe. The company issued more than 700 licenses as of last year to some 250 chip companies, which then turned around and sold the chips to more than 1,000 manufacturers. ARM estimates that in 2009 four billion chips based on its designs were sold, and that more than 20 billion have been sold in the two decades since the company launched.”
“Otellini has been subtly remaking the company: aligning with Apple, in a step away from the company's PC-only heritage; pushing the Atom mobile chip, in a dogleg pivot from Moore's Law, the founding axiom behind Intel, that chips get exponentially faster; and embracing new territory, new markets, and new ways of playing with others. The goal is to better compete in a world in which computing is everywhere, from laptops to tractors.”
Steve Hamm at BusinessWeek has written a new book: The Race for Perfect. As he says on his blog "It’s a
popular history of portable computing and also a narrative of a single,
contemporary product (Lenovo’s X300) as it travels from conception to
Books that track innovation always get mentioned on this blog.
But here's what else is innovative:
"One of my purposes was to get young people interested
in being engineers, designers, inventors, and entrepreneurs. With that
goal in mind, I convinced my editors to allow me to publish an unusual
excerpt in BusinessWeek magazine: We adapted one of the story lines,
the tale of Alan Kay’s seminal role in portable computing, into the
manga form. Here’s the manga.
I understand that this is the first time a magazine has adapted a book
excerpt into a cartoon. So it’s fresh. Help me out with viral
distribution and send the link along to friends and
colleagues—especially to young people who are just starting out on
their careers or still in school."
"Since the invention of the transistor, silicon semiconductors have been
king. But now silicon-based transistors are nearing the limit of their
potential. Excess heat and manufacturing hurdles are impeding the
development of ever-faster and -smaller processors. Advances in
materials and chip design to resist extreme heat and move huge amounts
of data, quickly, will be crucial. Experts are exploring three
technologies to overcome these challenges: spintronics, graphene and
memristors. They are what will someday make ultra-energy-efficient
supercomputers small enough to fit anywhere—even in the palm of your
"That pushed the chip world into viewing these devices as mini
computers requiring their very own processors. Obviously these
processors need to be small, use very little energy and still cycle
fast enough to load and display web pages, pictures and other mobile
computing tasks. Chip firms had been thinking about those functions for
years, but the success of the iPhone showed how important the mobile
computing experience could be. So Intel begat Atom, a chip designed not
for a mobile phone but for a smaller laptop that Intel calls a mobile
The column then talks about Via, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Nvidia and IBM in mobile computing.
"If you want a super-light laptop, you have to pay for it, and you
have to use Windows. That’s been the (frustrating) conventional
wisdom—at least until late last year, when the Taiwanese company Asus
rolled out the Eee PC (pronounced as though it were a single long “e”),
a two-pound, seven-inch laptop starting at a mere $300. The tradeoff:
It comes with just two to eight gigabytes of flash memory instead of a
conventional, larger hard drive, and a simplified Linux operating
system that essentially is usable only for e-mail, Web browsing and
But then the hackers got hold of it. Within days of the Eee’s release, forums on a fan site, eeeuser.com,
were buzzing with homebrew upgrades to remedy its shortcomings—users
discovered ways to solder extra memory inside, attach additional
gadgets, and install other operating systems. If you’re willing to do a
little tinkering, you’ll find that big things will come from its small