CMOS Radios

Barron’s writes about Texas Instruments’ breakthrough:

Before now, cellular phones and other wireless gadgets have required radio chips made of relatively expensive materials like silicon germanium, in order to handle the “analog” waves of radio signals. The rest of a handset’s silicon is made with the same inexpensive stuff used in digital computers — a technology known as CMOS. In its announcement Monday, at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, TI will show how it has put virtually all of a cellular radio’s functions into the same CMOS technology used in TI’s cellphone processor chips.

The digital CMOS radio uses only half the power, and half the space, of existing products. For almost no additional cost in manufacturing or testing, TI will be able to equip its processors with a radio for cellular telephone or another wireless technology like BlueTooth or WiFi. The company hopes that its radio advance will head off competitors who’ve been making a run at TI’s 25% share of the wireless signal processor market — competitors like Qualcomm, Philips, Analog Devices and Intel.

For about 35 cents, TI could add these digital radios to any of its wireless processor chips. The Dallas-based chip maker hopes that its technical splash will rock the boats of a wide range of wireless competitors, ranging from Intel and Philips, to Conexant and Silicon Laboratories.

Social Software

Haig Shahinian makes an intersting point: “Reading the notes everyone has been blogging from ETech, and listening to one of Tim O’Reilly’s speeches on ‘What’s on his radar’, it seems clear that socially driven technology is coming to be the killer app of the internet. I don’t mean the new breed of social networks like Friendster, I mean the social interactions provided by customer feedback and open discussion. If we just take a look at the top performers of internet based companies like Amazon and Ebay, it becomes plainly obvious that the competitive advantage is in the ability not only to create customers, but communities.”

After improviding individual productivity, the next focus for IT in enterprises is group productivity and this is where social software comes in. How can people work better in teams – that’s the next challenge.

Digital Aristotle

“Can a computer be loaded with the world’s textbook-science knowledge, reason through it and then answer questions in plain English?” It is hard to say if it will pan out, but the concept is interesting. The Seattle Times has more on Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s project:

What is it? The goal is to create a reservoir of textbook scientific knowledge in a computer, which can then synthesize it into clear, understandable answers, like a tutor, or a “Digital Aristotle.”
Who’s paying for it? Paul Allen’s company, Vulcan, is financing three competing teams from 11 organizations with technological expertise and experience in artificial intelligence. The project budget is undisclosed.

How long will it take? The current phase will last 30 months, and if the work makes incremental progress, it will continue. Vulcan says an early version could be available in 10 years; others say it could take decades.