WiFi Chips Competition

WSJ looks at Intel’s WiFi strategy, and where it stands vis-a-vis some of its competitors like Broadcom and Atheros.

Though relatively new to communications, Intel hopes to exploit its investments in manufacturing technology to pack more features on new wireless chips. The company, for example, has discussed new chips that can automatically seek out different portions of the communication spectrum, adapting by changes in software. By avoiding the need for chips tailored to specific frequencies, such flexible technology could make it easier for cellular phones to use Wi-Fi networks to quickly move digital photographs or other large files.

Patrick Gelsinger, Intel’s chief technology officer, says the key to such advances will be its ability to manufacture chips with multiple chunks of special-purpose circuitry for processing tasks in parallel. “We think that is the breakthrough that will really make software-defined radios work,” Mr. Gelsinger said.

The same basic concept — packing many separate brains on a single piece of silicon — is also increasingly important to Intel’s core microprocessor business. Among other things, Intel is expected this week to give the first details of a follow-on to its Itanium chip line, code-named Tanglewood, that may have up to 16 built-in processors when it is delivered in 2006.

But Intel is behind competitors such as International Business Machines Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. in delivering multiprocessor technologies. It is also behind rivals in Wi-Fi.

One must give credit to Intel for having jumpstarted the WiFi boom, with its Centrino and “Unwire” branding.

The Best Way To…

WSJ has a special report on the best way to:

Research a Consumer Product
Communicate With Employees
Dig Up Information on Someone
Run a Board Meeting
Create Buzz for Your Product
Recruit New Workers
Find a Job
Start a Blog
Display and Develop Photos
Tap Into Government Contracts
Trace Your Family Tree
Organize a Protest
Protect Your Wi-Fi Connection

An excerpt from the “communicate with employees” article:

Corporate portals — essentially Internet sites created by companies to be a gateway to all types of applications and employee information — may be one of the best ways to communicate with workers and to create a sense of community among employees. While public portals like Yahoo Inc. (www.yahoo.com) were a dime a dozen during the dot-com boom, many closed down in the ensuing tech flameout. But despite that bust, corporate portals have slowly been spreading, with more companies adopting the sites in the past few years.

Portals have now evolved to the point where employees can perform tasks on the sites, such as enrolling in benefits programs and completing numerous other actions. And over the next five years, workers are likely to be able to complete more-complex tasks through portals, such as accessing sales figures and other financial data and generating their own reports using such information.

The benefits of all these new portal uses are manifold. A portal eliminates the need for numerous intranets and multiple Web sites. By allowing employees to enroll in benefits, file expense reports and access other information through the site, a company can also cut down on paper forms and administrative layers. In other words, not only can a portal increase communication with employees, it also saves on costs.

When constructing a portal, Ms. Rager Wise says, certain features should be incorporated to attract employees. The ability for workers to compile lists of tasks they need to complete, receive alerts about schedules and deadlines, and personalize the information they get from the portal, for instance, is popular. And posting relevant reference materials — for example, putting health-care brochures online — saves workers from having to make the extra phone call to the human-resources department. “In surveys, we found that the big satisfiers of portals are when workers can start a task, understand it and then accomplish it without having to go outside the portal for help,” she says.

Visualising Business Models

Phil Wolff points to Nanomix as an example of how a picture can make a big difference in explaining what a business does:

the Nanomix business chart

This 7k image is chock-full of information. It explains:

– How products emerge.
– The core activities and deliverables (and organizations? and talent mix?)
– The rate of weeding out needed along the way.
– That the process stops at creating the new product. They don’t bring new things to market. Suggesting marketing partners or customers.
– Key opportunities for productivity improvement (earlier in the cycle)
– A basis for competitive comparison (how many ideas do you generate, how many designs can you model, what is your cost at each step)
– That computational design comes before lab work, different from how research was done only ten years’ ago.
– The 1000-to-1 ratio is clearly hypothetical. But can’t you see a quarterly report with real numbers and the funnels sized in proportion to the real levels of activity?

What’s your business? Do you have a simple diagram that reveals your business at a high level?

We need to do something similar for Emergic and RISC.

Hindu article on Info Aggregator

Satya pointed me to Monday’s write-up in The Hindu by J Murali on the Info Aggregator:

Info Aggregator is an `RSS-IMAP service’ that enables you to `receive and read RSS feeds’ with a mail client like Eudora or Outlook. After signing up with the service, it will provide you an IMAP e-mail ID (IMAP Internet Message Access Protocol is one of the methods used to retrieve mails from a mail server) of the form your name@rss.blogstreet.com.

Once an account is registered with the service, log-in to it and subscribe to your favourite RSS feeds using the `Add Subscription’ option. Apart from subscribing to the RSS feeds by directly entering the URL of an RSS feed the service also provides several other means to help you populate the subscription list. For example, it provides a link to `Top 100 Blogs’ which can be used to view and subscribe to the RSS feeds of any of the popular blogs contained in the list.

Once the required steps to subscribe to the relevant feeds are over, you can start receiving the RSS feeds through your mail client. Of course, to pick the RSS feeds from the mailbox given to you by the Info Aggregator service, you need to configure the mail client using the details explained in the e-mail received from the service during the registration process.

That explains the spate of new registrations we got!

Continue reading Hindu article on Info Aggregator

Sun’s Holistic Approach

News.com writes about ths subtle shift in Sun’s philosophy, which is likely to be reflected in the SunNetwork conference this week:

Sun Microsystems is preaching the message that customers prefer pre-built packages of hardware and software over piecemeal components.

In the past, Sun released various components when they were ready–new computers, updated operating systems, bigger storage systems, expanded software packages and so on. Beginning this year, CEO Scott McNealy ordered the switch to a synchronized release of pre-built packages once every quarter, with all the components designed to work together harmoniously.

With this holistic strategy, Sun pays for integration that customers would otherwise have to do themselves or pay a third party to do.

When it comes to computing, McNealy argues that customers want pre-built equipment, just as they want fully operational cars and not a collection of piston rings and other components. The quarterly release is analogous to the auto industry’s annual debut of new models.

“The ultimate product really is a system, not a chip,” declared David Yen, executive vice president of chips.

Continue reading Sun’s Holistic Approach

Contact not Content

Douglas Rushkoff writes:

In an interactive space, content is not king. Contact is.

What made the internet special was not the newfound ability to download data from distant hard drives. No, none of us were so very excited by the idea of accessing Newscorps’ databases of text, for a fee. What made the internet so sexy was that it let us interact with one another. First asynchronously, through email or bulletin boards, and then live. It was the people.

In this sense, our content choices are just means to an end – social currency through which we can make connections with others.

TECH TALK: Next Billion: Innovations Needed (Part 2)

2. USD 50 Thin Client

Home Users and SME employees need the simplest, cheapest device that can connect to the server and provide a graphical desktop to users. This is similar to the network computer idea that was put forth by Larry Ellison some years ago. In that case, they targeted the wrong market the focus needs to be on the new users, not on existing users. To make this thin client, the need is for a USD 10 CPU as part of a USD 30 motherboard in a box which has an aggregate cost of USD 50. The processing power of the CPU needs to be about 66-75 Mhz, the memory on the box needs to be no more than 2 MB RAM. The box needs to be able to run any OS which can support the vnc (virtual network computer) software. What vnc does is project the full desktop from the server.

The USD 50 thin client needs five connectors: for keyboard, mouse, monitor, network and power. A new keyboard and mouse will cost about USD 10. A refurbished monitor should be available for USD 40-50. To make matters simple, it should be able to work on 12 volts DC power through an adaptor. Thus, it should be possible to assemble a complete thin client computing solution for about USD 100-110 for every user.

The thin clients need no management and never need to be upgraded. It is computing at its simplest. It leverages the fact that networks are becoming faster and unwired. In fact, the second generation of the thin client should have embedded WiFi support. Broadcom recently announced a single-chip WiFi for USD 12-13. This way, even the need for cabling in an organization or residential colony will be eliminated.

3. The New Desktop

The computer desktop has barely changed in the past decade. The Windows monoculture has limited our world to files, directories, icons and double-clicks. This is even as the Internet and Web have taken over our lives, and created new interfaces the web browser, the email client, the instant messaging client and now, the emerging RSS reader and aggregator.

There is a need for a change on the desktop. The need is for richer web clients, ideas from computer gaming to make visually rich interfaces, and dashboards to provide us an integrated view of our digital lives and information. The volume of transactions that we do on a computer have skyrocketed in the past decade a few hundred emails a day, dozens of IM sessions, tracking an ever-increasing number of websites and blogs with their microcontent, and the need synchronisation with the other device in our lives (the cellphone).

It is time to rethink and re-engineer the desktop. What needs to take its place is not clear, but what perhaps comes closest is a mix of three ideas: a web services browser, a microcontent client and a digital dashboard.

Tomorrow: Innovations Needed (continued)

Continue reading TECH TALK: Next Billion: Innovations Needed (Part 2)