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29 posts • joined 4 Jun 2010

The Great Smartphone Massacre: Android bloodbath gathers pace

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Android OEMs are copying Apple in all the wrong ways

Apple phones and gadgets are fashion icons. Yes through marketing and hype, but there is also a critical factor that most companies seem to ignore or not understand.

Apple is able to make fashion icons because of a simple thing: it releases ONE or at most TWO devices. That means that they are distinguishable and easily recognised. Someone says "I have the iPhone" or "I want the iPhone".

Now try to do that with other brands. Try to say "I have the XPERIA". What the heck are you talking about? Which of the myriad XPERIA phones do you have? 'I want the Galaxy". Which Galaxy? The S, the One, the... the... . Crap.

Furthermore, in focusing on one ro two devices, it means HUGE economies of scale. Now what is important to understand, is that these economies of scale are not mostly for components. No. They are economies of scale for development, thoughts. ideas, effort, software, services. Instead of distracting through a myriad devices, focusing on a single design, makes a huge difference in producing a product that is clearly well thought of. How can you do that when you ship at the same time a line of 10 to 50 different phones in all sizes, features, hardware etc that can be imagined?

How do you support all those platforms?

Do you want a quick answer? You cannot and you dont. Sony is great for NOT supporting its phones at all. The Sony experience I had was a terrible one. No updates, a lot of crapware, full of bugs in the firmware and fast deprecation.

Google goes exactly the other way around: one device per category - it is copying Apple in exactly the way it should. This is what it did with Motorola and it made a splash with Moto G and Moto X.

So if Android vendors want to survive, I would say that they should forget the whole 100 phones strategy, forget that they will manage to cover all market needs and forget those awful skins and stupid things with the software.

Instead they should focus on producing a couple of solid devices, keep the Android software as close as possible to stock Android, make sure they can provide good response to issues and updates and try to make profit through services rather than loading the phone with crapware that everyone tries to remove.

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Report: IBM to peddle its chip wing

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Tower of cards

I think it is easy if you look some raw numbers and isolate them from the rest of the universe, to make financial decisions. Also it is fairly easy to make financial decisions if you do not have proper insight into technology, engineering and research.

So looking at how much money the semiconductors division is making, it seems to be a good sense to sell the division. I could not argue that. However, looking closer - and understanding better the technology and how each division of IBM makes money, suddenly such a decision is not as sexy...

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Microsoft: Office 2013 license is for just one PC, FOREVER

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Piracy the better choice

A paying customer should be rewarded for actually buying a product, rather than punished.

I mean look at this situation. You decide to actually buy the software. If you have more than one PCs in your house, you need to buy it multiple times (it does not matter that you are a single person and can only use it in one PC at a time). If your hardware breaks, if you upgrade, if you need to reinstall, well even if you fart, best case scenario, a terrible inconvenience of getting into the whole fuss of contacting and resolving the whole case, worst case scenario you have to buy the same thing again.

Meanwhile in the piracy land, you just use the bloody software mate. No worries. No troubles. No paying extras all the time. No phone calls and frustration to talk with the representatives and sales persons. Free to make copies for safety and backup reasons.

And now... multiply this for every piece of software that you have... perfect.

I cannot advocate for piracy as I am a developper myself, but I feel that you have to treat your customers with respect. If they pay you, you have to make them feel first class. The pirated versions should be all the hussle. The paying one should be the easy ride.

Furthermore, these wordings make all the arguments for piracy fall apart.

The most obvious and most frequently used argument about piracy, is the theft of a product. But hey! If you go to a store and buy a toaster, then you BUY it - not LICENSE it - and you or anyone else can use it the way you/he want (fuck I can use it, my girlfriend can use it, my mother can use it, my CAT can sit on it). With software.... no... By the way... the toaster has a guarantee if it breaks, does Office has something similar? Silly me...

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Nokia's Elopocalypse two years on: Has Microsoft kept its side of the bargain?

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This would be a nice article....

... if it was for a company like HTC or a boutique shop...

However for a company at the size of Nokia??? No way.

I think there is one rule... dont put your faith in the hands of another. Nokia had internally whatever they wanted and also had the ability to license multiple other operating systems. Throwing away in virtually one night all the work that they had done with Symbian, Maemo/Meego and whatever else was something that one should put Elop to stand trial.

Even Samsung which now is the king of the mill with Android, is always looking for alternatives (they have internally Bada and are involved in the name-of-the-jour Linux flavor Meego, they use Android, Windows etc).

Nokia had massive R&D. What do they have now? How can they be at the forefront again? By simply putting together a nice package? Come on...

It is just a shame to see the demise of a company like that...

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'This is Apple. It will take them 2 weeks to alter their website, will it?'

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Correct me if I am wrong

but...

" A U.S. jury also found Samsung guilty of infringing on Apple's design and utility patents, awarding over one billion U.S. dollars in damages to Apple Inc. So while the U.K. court did not find Samsung guilty of infringement, other courts have recognized that in the course of creating its Galaxy tablet, Samsung wilfully copied Apple's far more popular iPad."

Wasn't the same US jury that found that the galaxy tab did not infringe on Apple's design patents and the same US judge that in the beginning of October lifted the ban of Galaxy Tab in the US?

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Study finds file sharers buy more music

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Re: We've seen these people before...

First of all, I think that you are making a terrible mistake. A musician is not supposed to live by the streaming services. A musician is supposed to live by that AND by giving concerts, by playing live, by licensing his/her music for commercial use, by being hired to write music for different occasions, by providing merchandize based on his/her music, by making public paid appearences, etc etc etc. So in that chain of possible incomes, streaming music is just one - and to my understanding its main purpose is to serve ALL the rest. Which are far more profitable and let's face it -closer to what a musician is supposed to do: perform music LIVE.

On the other hand, people are erroneously made to believe that if you download a song, it is a lost sale because otherwise you would have paid for it. This is absolutely not true, because it is based on an assumption that one would pay for something that he acquired for "free". For example, suppose that a friend of yours gave you his car and you drive it for free. Is that a lost sale for the car manufacturer? We dont know!! Because if you had to pay for the car then maybe you would have decided that you didn't need it or cant afford it. Or maybe that the public transportation services are just fine (call me air radio). Or maybe you would value your money differently and decided to buy a different brand car. Or that you buy a motorcycle. Or whatever. The thing is that by having a driving experience with the car, yourself, for an unrestricted amount of time and being able to test it in your everyday life, you have a MUCH MUCH MUCH bigger chance to actually go and buy that particular car or a car by the same manufacturer (making the basic assumption that it is a car without any major drawbacks).

That is also valid to music. I cannot afford to buy any given record that comes out. However in the course of years, I have legitimetely bought ALL records that I consider worthy and music companies have got a considerable amount of money from me. At the same time, I have also spent even more money in concert tickets, also to listen to bands that otherwise would have never known. Sorry, but my money are not enough to rush into any record store and give 15 to 20 euros to buy any unknown band. And radio, well fuck it, record companies are "buying" the playlists and I seem to hear the same things over and over again. So, I end up using youtube, myspace (at least in the past) and other streaming services to get to know new music. And then I go and buy it. IF it is worthy.

By the way, in different parts of the world there exist different laws. Globalization does not let us consider this. Let me give you an example. Human to human copies of music is absolutely legitimate in my country and protected by law. Music is considered a cultural commodity and people are free to make copies for personal use and for their "normal social surroundings" (albeit non-profit). That means I can make a copy of a few songs for a friend or a relative - I cannot though go out and make a thousand copies and give them for free to anyone who passes in front of my house. Musicians and record labels are compensated for this by a specific tax. This tax is applicable to all mediums that can be used to copy music (e.g. blank CDs, CD recorders, hard disks, PCs, etc etc etc). So even if I have an office and never listen to music or copy it, I pay for these. (It should also be noted, that record labels that use copy protection mechanisms that prevent me from making these legit copies, are in clear violation of the law).

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And the latest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is ... the EU?

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Re: I can't be the only one thinking that maybe the Germans *should* just take over...

Ok, let me get this right on the topic of Germans working better.

Siemens found guilty of bribing its a** off and getting all the manufacturing contracts in Greece.

MAN was similarly found guilty for transport vehicles.

Submarines sold in the Greek navy were found defective and Germany forced Greece to accept them.

Do you want me to continue? Of course Germans work better!! (and the Greeks are also stupid, so responsibility is equal).

Since we are talking about a nobel prize, Greece and Germany... why has Greece been forced to pay the largest percentage in Europe for military expenses? Oh yes... we *europeans* havent managed to work things out with Turkey, so.... Greeks buy all the military equipment from Germany, France etc. Yay!! Peace rules!!!

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Flashboys: HEELLLP, we're trapped in a process size shrink crunch

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Spinning disks

So I am wondering, spinning magnetic disks were released in ancient history ( :P ) and continue to have a far greater roadmap ahead than NAND which was released far later and comes to an end far sooner... Interesting...

The main question is why we can't see spinning disks really improving performance. We are stuck at 7200 rpm for as many years I can remember, while there are both 10000 and 15000 rpm drives for many years. Prices should have become reasonable by now to bring them to more consumers. I can see the awfully small 8 - 16 - 32 MB cache in HDs staying the same while the sizes have grown enormously. Why dont we have multiple times that capacity (it should boost performance and help reduce latency for frequently accessed data), since DRAM is constantly less and less expensive?

I guess the situation of having the whole HD market consolidated to just two players is not working in our favor.

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Oracle nudges Sparc T5s back out to 2013

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Let's not accept all marketing...

From the article:

"Oracle's edge will still be that it owns the whole stack. "We are the only company in the world that can take application knowledge down to the silicon," Fowler said as he ended his keynote. Until Microsoft or SAP get into the hardware biz, or IBM or Hewlett-Packard buys SAP, he has a good point."

I'm not sure that this is totally right... IBM for example does have most of the things inhouse... Be it OSes or databases or analytics software or management, compilers etc. So in that sense this is really a true statement.

On the other hand, IBM has much more on the silicon side. For more advanced semiconductor and architecture research as well as fabs. So they are far better positioned to excel in the silicon side (see example their eDRAM).

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AMD engineering another Opteron-like leap

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Intel is the 800 pound Gorilla in the room

So if AMD wants to survive, it has to outsmart Intel rather than outdo or compete directly.

That exactly was the case back when AMD introduced its initial Opteron processors and those were the best days of AMD. Intel tried to shift the 64-bit world towards Itanium and AMD made a smart move to go with x86 in the 64-bit game as its resources could not suffice to compete with a different ISA. Intel stuck with the stupid front-side bus in order to sell more chips, AMD introduced HyperTransport and the memory controller in the CPU. Intel was strictly proprietary, AMD chose a more open path with HyperTransport by engaging others to the game. Intel developed its own processes, AMD collaborated with IBM. Intel could pursue the hot magehertz race by being really aggressive on the process front, AMD could not and chose a wiser path of higher IPC - less megahertz that proved correct.

At some point, one would expect Intel to put its act together (as it did) and at that point AMD fell behind expectations. It seemed that its engine lost its steam. One failure after the other. The biggest mistake is that when AMD started to do well, it thought it could be Intel in the place of Intel. Unfortunately that was not the case.

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Intel comes out swinging against $1.3bn European fine

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It does not really matter what happens

We have already lost. When AMD filed the original complaints it really stood a chance in the market. Now it has been downsized and has lost critical assets (which by the way are based on european soil). And above all much of its competetiveness. Which I think it will never regain - if Intel could, AMD now would be history.

On the other hand, this is taking way too long. If Intel has been saving since the original case began (that means around 2000 or 2003) then this seemingly large fine would result in about or less than 100 million per year. For a company that makes around 50 billion per year, it is pocket change. On the other hand, the fine is loosing its value day by day and EU is spending a lot of money on these trials, investigations etc etc.

So in the end, the fine accomplishes nothing. (or at least much much less than what it is supposed to mean).

This is a sorry state of things.

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Win! a Samsung 830 SSD

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You are an international site...

... so post the damn thing outside UK!

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IBM taps new execs to run Power Systems, mainframes

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Where is the Power 7+ ?

Where is it??

Is IBM going to do something for the low to mid end embedded or will it let ARM and MIPS rule all the way?

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Intel came a-knockin' for Cray super interconnects

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The short term versus the long term

The article concludes brilliantly. In the short term, Cray will see a profit. But in the long term what is the key differentiator of its systems? If they dont come up with something really brilliant, how can they compete with much larger boys such as HP, Dell (IBM will be on a different league by then)?

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Intel comfortably conquers chip market in 2011

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How do they make those numbers...

For example what is the cost of a Power chip, since IBM sells only systems? Or to scale down, what is the percentage of the Apple A5s since you cannot buy them unless you buy an idevice?

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Elsevier's backpedalling not stopping scientist strike

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Re: Cost Analysis

Ok, lets suggest this model.

Governments every year spend thousands of dollars/pounds/euros so that public and university libraries have access to journals like Elsevier's. So what if they set up an academic non-profit organization that occupies a few editors and the infrastructure (which could use university infrastructure and networks therefore it is already paid for). All the rest work (which academics provide already for free) will remain the same.

In the end universities, libraries, governments, grant bodies could save A LOT more money and tunnel all these money saved to actual research. Furthermore, access will be provided to anyone. The whole thing is insane if you consider it. Due to my country's financial problems there are times that I cannot have access to research work and papers written by my fellows and sponsored by my government. Epic fail of the whole system.

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Tilera preps many-cored Gx chips for March launch

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Core is MIPS

Correct me if I am wrong but I think that the core implements some version of the MIPS instruction set. I'm not sure if they have added any special, custom or whatever instructions, but I believe that they didnt go as far as "invent" a totally new ISA.

Not that this bad, just for the correctness of things.

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Lenovo to ship first Intel smartphone – in China only

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how much Intel is paying

The real question is how much Intel is paying Lenovo and Motorola to produce those phones... If that cash is enough, then nothing else matters for those companies.

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IBM's mainframe upgrade cycle weakens

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Wall Street

So IBM remains highly profitable and makes 26.2 billion $ per quarter. It misses a target set by Wall Street (by whoever idiot analyst) by only 0,4% and things are rough??? Have we lost any sense of logic?

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Apple annihilates Wall Street performance estimates

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Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland

With all those money Apple is making per quarter, I guess it could finance all those countries instead of EU...

On the other hand... maybe all these countries could build an iPhone of their own and save themselves?

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Behind Microsoft's $15 Samsung Android royalty claim

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Questions that need to be investigated

First of all, we should find out what are patents that MS is asking royalties for.

Secondly, Oracle sued directly Google for said patent infringements in Android and not the handset manufacturers that were shipping products based on this OS. What is the difference with the MS case?

It appears to me that MS is gradually approaching all handset/tablet manufacturers that ship products based on Android. This is a divide and conquer strategy. If there is an actual case in favor of MS then there is little to be done by the other companies. However, if it is disputable, then all other companies should try to work together and have the related patents invalidated. That means that the trial cost and risk is significantly lowered.

To be honest though, MS plays its cards smartly on this one, because it went first for the small fishes and built a case and an argument through their licensing.

Another thing that should be mentioned, is whether MS is using its Windows hegemony to threaten companies like Samsung. Being a convicted monopolist that should be a trench knife. If I remember correctly MS has been convicted in both US and Korea.

The point to take home is that building a patent portfolio is no more protecting your idea and making (legitimate) profit for it. Building a patent portfolio is primarily a defense mechanism against cases like this one or so many others.

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HP dubs Oracle 'bitter antagonist' in Itanic spat

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Shouldn't Intel be the one to complain?

I keep on wondering why Intel is not behind HP and it let's the former complain about Itanium. If Oracle was actually wrong and Intel is not going to EOL the Itanium platform, then it would have gone full straight to combat Oracle. Now, all we have seen is just a press release and a commitment to products that have already been announced and work has started on them.

While I dont doubt that Oracle is trying to force customers to its SPARC processors, I feel that Itanium is dead and Oracle is partially right.

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Apple nemesis sues iOS, Mac, and Android devs

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Apple legitimized Lodsys

I dont really understand the whole bully thing that you request Apple to be. Is patents, intellectual property and the rest an ego competition to measure pockets? Well this is what it has eroded to be but I dont feel we should legitimize it by asking Apple to act like that.

In my opinion, Apple has made a terrible mistake here. If the patent is stupid, there is prior act or whatever other reason, then it should have thought of it in the first place and challenged it in a court of law. Instead, by licensing the patent, Apple itself legitimized it. I feel that Apple will be in a very awkward position if it presented itself before a court, asking to invalidate a patent that it has already licensed. Apple here covered its own ass and that's it.

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HP rocks Redmond with webOS PC play

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Driver issues

Although I think that having multiple operating systems available is a good thing, there are a few things that bother me. The market is following Apple's example and thus we are moving to closer and closer systems. Since there is no software compatibility between platforms means that once we make a choice we are locked. And even if software can be acquired for free (or "free") the same is not going to be true for hardware. Do we really expect hardware manufacturers to support so many different OSes? Unless there is some kind of standard (e.g. write a single driver for all Linux, Unix, OS X, Android, Meego, etc etc variants) and offer a single support package for all those we'll be simply at the mercy of Apple, HP, Google and whoever else.

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Intel to acquire wireless chipmaker for $1.4bn

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software

Till now, the greatest advantage for x86 was compatibility and software. But this is not true for the smartphone case which is dominated by ARM. Therefore what made x86 dominate other markets despite its technical merits does not exist in this case. As a result, Atom can't be simply on-par with ARM in terms of performance and energy consumption. It has to offer something significantly better.

On the other hand, in smartphones and similar devices, it is not only the CPU core that matters. It is also everything else - either what is integrated on the same chip or external chips that communicate with each other. Especially for the first case (SoCs), ARM has an incredible ecosystem. Practically almost every IP core available has an interface to connect to the AMBA bus (or other ARM related buses). Intel is nowhere there and if it is not willing to license the Atom core and provide an open interconnect, it will be ill-positioned as it will have to do everything in house. Buying Infineon's WLS, it shows that it is working in this direction. Which is bad IMO.

Last but certainly not least, smartphones manufacturers have a choice with ARM. There are ARM based SoCs by Qualcomm, TI, Freescale, Marvell, Samsung, etc etc and as such they are not vendor locked-in. This gives them flexibility, low prices, easy migration paths (software compatibility) and other advantages. Is this going to be true with Intel?

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AMD, GlobalFoundries, and the Intel gap

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How much does it matter

I dont think that anyone at this moment of time, can beat Intel on the manufacturing side of things. Simply, with such a high cost associated with the R&D and the facilities, machinery and tools for a process node, a company 10 times smaller cannot run the process race with Intel.

That means that AMD will have to get smarter. Which means a couple of things:

1. do better on the architectural level so that you wont be so dependent on the performance of the lower levels of the designs. This is what IBM does on the high end and what ARM does on the low/power-sensitive level. Currently IBM is a process node behind but its Power7 is proven faster than Intel and ARM is one or two nodes behind and yet its processors are more power efficient.

2. get the best of the process you are on. Being kinda late, could potentially offer a number of advantages, such as more stable tools, more developed equipment, safer. Yes there are a lot of disadvantages as well (the cost per IC being the most important) but at least you have more chances to make the most of the process you are working on.

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AMD muscles Nvidia with fanless GPU coprocessors

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225 watts and passive cooling?

How can this be?

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IBM tries to break into mobile operators' back rooms

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wire-speed processor

I think a few months ago, IBM presented a "wire-speed" processor at ISSCC. Along with its embedded and high-performance processors, I believe they are pretty serious about getting involved in that infrastructure.

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Project Mojo – the server rack that packs petaflops

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Programming and special purpose hardware

It is one thing to make a computer have a theoretical performance of 1 petaflop and another to be able to make actual use of the computing power. My (limited) experience with GPU programming shows me that we are not there yet. The peak numbers are impressive but in practice we cannot achieve that performance easily.

The biggest problem with parallel computers so far, is how to write effective software for them on one hand and the time required to do that. So if we take a current day super-duper 1000 core machine and it takes three years to properly write management s/w and tune compilers and applications in order to fully exploit its performance potential, then... I guess we have missed our target.

So SGI trying to mix and match such a number of technologies, without telling what will be the tools and their maturity is at least problematic. Maybe not for them, if they are paid by DARPA money, but for everyone else trying to make actual use of the machines.

On the other hand, I believe that at some point we'll have to revisit the hardware accelerator part in order to get a certain performance level at a certain power budget. FPGAs are moving fast, maybe faster than what was believed, and I believe that we can see a clear alternative here. Maybe an FPGA cannot provide the peak performance numbers as stated by GPUs, but they can provide more acceleration, as they can pack more integrated functionality (e.g. better data handling, moving, processing). With hardware description languages and dev environments able to produce hardware from typical high level software programming descriptions things are looking better.

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