WAVE Report

Computex 2006
By John Latta, WAVE 0624 6/16/06

Taipei, Taiwan
June 9, 2006

Computex opens its 26th year in a very strong position. It is THE PC hardware show in the world. This year had increasing presence by Japanese and American companies. Over and over, as we talked to show floor attendees, the common comment was that this is the place to be for the latest in PC hardware.

Taiwan is riding on its success in leveraging China as the production base. Statistics also released provide a context.

Global PC market grew at 14.5% to 188.5m units
Taiwanese IT Hardware industry grew 15% to $80B US.
Notebooks account for 37% of the value in 2005.
Taiwanese makers in 2005

Have 72.4% notebook market share.
Made 20m units of LCD monitors
Have 96.5% of the Motherboard market
Shipped 194,000 IP Phones
Have 79% of the PDA market

VIA Technology Forum

VIA puts on an event in conjunction with Computex which lays out its vision of the future. We highlight key points.

Wenchi Chen, President and CEO, VIA Technologies, showed their effort at making smaller and more power efficient PCs. One is the latest chip code named John which is a PC SOC including the core logic. When this is integrated into a board, there is a complete system on a card 3.5” square.

A three-step plan for the evolution for Digital Intelligence happens on 3 levels:

Silicon level – more performance/watt
Platform level – more features/sq inch
System level – more functionality/liter/lb

AMD Strategy in Multi-core Future

Phil Hester, SVP and CTO, AMD provided the AMD strategy for extending the x86 architecture. The future will not be the same PCs of past. His presentation was entitled “The Next Wave of x86 Innovation.”

They seek to integrate software, architecture, process and manufacturing for the best solutions on a customer basis. In terms of the design efforts they will balance single thread vs. multiple thread performance and seek to have rapid designs to meet market needs.

Production in Dresden will rise 4X in 3 years with 65nm on line 4Q 2006 and 45nm mid-2008.

Rather than focus on the core as the design center AMD sees10 modular elements:

C = Comache
L3 = L3 Cacpute Core
MC = Memory Controller
HT = Hyper-Transport
CB = Cross Bar Switch
IO = I/O Interfaces
C1 = Clocks
CO = Controls
L1 = L1 Cache
L2 = L2 Che

The intent in the future is to use these modular technologies as the foundation for creating multi-core solutions. A key element of this is to achieve higher performance per watt.

An example of a 2 core server and desktop chip was shown. This integrated the direct connect architecture with the Northbridge to achieve significant transfer performance via HT. This is not a simple core and includes a 128bit instruction fetch and out-of-order load execution.

Power management is a part of the multi-core strategy and examples were show of power-down states on a 4 core chip. It was predicted that 150% improvement in performance/watt would be achieved by 2008.

The future is more complex with significant diversity of workloads. This creates the need for tailored solutions per customer or application. Examples where specific needs for co-processors improvements include: Java, XML, Vector Floating Point and Media Processing. As disparate cores are placed on a die high speed data movement is critical. AMD expects that its HyperTransport technology, at the die level, will provide this.

AMDs focus for what it calls a “customer-centric” innovation platform is Torrenza. This is an open silicon platform which uses the Direct Connect Architecture.  It will even use customer centric accelerators for XML, gaming and more. Solution space examples include: teleco, enterprise technologies and media.

It was shown where Sun, IBM, HP and Cray are part of this “innovation community.”

AMD ended by stating that the “opening up the architecture to benefit the entire ecosystem” will provide a platform for innovation.

WAVE Comments

We came away stuck by the implications of such a heterogeneous multi-core strategy.

Not one word was said about Moore’s Law. AMD does not care about pushing the envelope of compute performance over time. This is now secondary. If anything is primary, it is performance/watt.

This architecture says much about the future of the PC as seen by AMD. The future is not about replicating the X86 architecture NX but about matching the die with the applications. By implication, most PCs will not need all the power present with NX cores but there are potential applications that do need the equivalent compute power. AMD wants to seize on this. Their strategy is engagement with the buyers of the chips themselves.

There is really not a multi-core strategy but a chip strategy which uses modular components to assemble multiple processing elements based on need. In really this is very different than a pure multi-core strategy.

By implication, the burden of supporting a chip lies with the customer and assumed application holder. Yet, the presentation seemed oversimplified in terms of the burden carried by the customer to make such products work. It would seem that, as the solutions get more complex, such as the number of processing elements on a chip increases, transport management will become much more important. One only has to look at the IBM cell architecture to see this. It is not clear how much the customer of these chips will have to get involved in making a chip actually work in an application. Put in another way, will the software support burden dramatically rise and potentially hold back the apparent value of this strategy?

Technology Abounds - From the Floor

If there was one common measure that surfaced over and over – it fits into the palm of the hand. The other was excellent ID. This is no longer the big white box PC era.


3Jtech has a show special for a plug and play IP cam – only $50.

A-Zone International

One of the most ironic products seen at Computex – an iPod plug in stand for a vacuum tube audio amplifier with side speakers. Beautiful ID but a contradiction in technology.


Aspire 9000 is just what Acer describes “Way beyond the notebook norm.” With a 20.1” WXSGA+ display, 240GB SATA drive, Intel Centrion Duo, NVIDIA GEforce Go 7600 graphics, and Dolby Digital Live this is one massive notebook. In the booth it was playing a movie trailer.

The Ferrari notebook series has outstanding design and this has been extended with the 5000. This notebook has a 15.4” display with WSXGA+ resolution. It has VVoIP – video and voice of IP embedded in.

Aichi Steel Corp.

Shown was a 6 DOF sensor which detects rotation and XYZ velocity. It was being demonstrated with a simple hand held device while watching the movement on objects on the screen of a notebook. Primary application is in cell phones in Japan – 2m Vodafone phones in Japan have them. The “flip” phones.


Its Pocket TV, T1, supports a 3.5” display, channel scanning and EPG. They also claim the world’s smallest set to box, STB-1, which fits in the palm of the hand. This supports DVB-T where one can see and record programs. One can output also for display to any AV device.

AMtek System

They had the only Origami UMPC seen at the show. It supports: MP3.WMA, MPEG 2/4, 7” TFT LCD touch screen and Wireless 802.11 b/g. There is add on support for digital TV and navigation.

ChengHolin Technology

pTrac is another personal GPS/GSM tacker. Well integrated with an emergency reporting capability.


Called a Digital Signage monitor this was a walk up touch monitor that responded directly to touch – big at 47”.

Double H Technology

Showing was a palm sized solar powered Bluetooth GPS receiver in either 14 or 20 channel models.

Eversun Electronic Co.

ESI-001 is an IP camera. Cost is only $50, FOB HK for 1,000 units.


Two Bluetooth presenters were show. One of the most intriguing is eDlo with a beatifically integrated mouse and laser pointer. Excellent ID and fits into the palm of ones hand.

iRiver and Nvidia

Nvidia showed a hand held device by iRiver for Korea which uses Windows Mobil 5.0 and connectivity with WiBro. Two units were seen, one with a keyboard, Very impressive.


Its View Touch technology allows for laser pointer interaction with displays up to 80”. Impressive.


Promoting the “world’s first real time HD wireless solution” it is claimed that Liberte Fly-V-Over will support 1280 X 720 wireless distribution in the home.


MSI was showing a family of handheld devices of which Pocket TV was the most noticeable. The model D310 supports:

DVB-T Support with embedded antenna jack
MPEG4 and MPEG3 Playback
EPG support
AV Out
Remote Control
4.2 TFT LCD – QCIF resolution
Size of the unit is literally the size of the display.
Channel auto scan
SD/MMC Card slot
MPEG 4 playback from card slot

Also shown was Crystal 945, an all-in-one LCD PC. similar to the Apple PCs which are integrated into the display, the ID was excellent.

NSP Technology

This company is doing the vacuum tube amplifier discussed previously by A-Zone International. The cost is $210 FOB Southern China. A unit was playing in the booth. Crowds and more crowds. Audio quality very good.


Webtrac-4 is a web based tracking GPS/GSM device. It fits in the palm of ones hand and can be tracked via PDA, Mobil, web or phone.


Sinox has a security system based on locks for notebooks. They have gone beyond this to support cameras, port locks for notebooks, iPod locks and luggage for IT and other equipment. Very good ID.

Stars Navigation Technologies

This is personal tracking technology. Attach the small device to anything personal including children and one can track their movements via GPS. In order to work, one has to place a GSM sim card into the tracker. Major limitation. The US retail is also expensive $250 retail.


Sunwave is showing a suite of remote control products based on soft displays. For example, the SRC-3020 is a universal remote with learning and online upgrades. It also has a macro capability and backlit LCD.

V-Gear (Asiamajor, Inc.)

LiveCom is a cute and well integrated IP cam. Due to go on sale by the end of June for $250. Built in microphone, and video and audio monitoring. Web browser set up and control. 4X digital zoom and infrared motion detection. E-mail warning. USB port for image storage. This camera will pan and zoom but only by control. Missing are alerts based on movement other than e-mail and the inability to track movement. Excellent ID.

Vantec Technology

One of the most interesting notebook add-ons looks like a docking station but Piano 101 is a cooling pad, USB hub and an innovative speaker system. The speakers are attached to Piano and rotate to align with the screen. Excellent ID. $55 - $60 FBO 1000 unit quantities.


The X-VDO MP4 F610 is a music video player. It supports a 1.5” OLED and MP3/WMA playback. There is also a photo viewer, FM radio and voice recorder.


Using Windows CE.NET 5.0 X-ten has combined a 3.5” display with a DAB/DMB dual band receiver, Bluetooth and built in navigation system to provide in car television and navigation. Excellent ID.


Touting an Electron-Luminescence keyboard.


USB 2.0 digital television receiver in a dongle with a small whip antenna. The DV-B1-U2TV allows for full screen review and play, real time digital recording in MPEG 2, display of up to 9 channels, time shifting and still frame capture. The package of components fits into the palm of the hand.

IP Communications

As we probed those selling Skype products, here are some interesting data points.

With 100m users Skype is VoIP. SIP may be interesting technology but it is the customer base that drives the market not technology. The fact that Skype does not use SIP is to their market advantage. Skype is not open and there is no reason to be so. In terms of VoIP, Skype is the only effective player in the market.

From a supplier standpoint, getting on the Skype Shop is a big deal. This is also a major source of Skype revenue, in addition to Skype In. Suppliers strive for the Skype logo gain and it gives them considerable competitive advantage.

Skype rules it market, from a supplier perspective, with an iron hand. As one vendor said: It is time consuming, difficult and costly to gain the Skype Logo.

Skype can be seen as just IP-based voice and signaling Transport, BUT Skype does not want this as it will diminish its competitive position. Further, if Skype offers a service, such as, Skype Voicemail, no Skype label product can offer voice mail.

Unified messaging, using Skype as transport, is inconsistent with Skype’s control of the market. Thus, products which would normally be telecommunications feature rich will be truncated based on Skype’s own best interest and especially its control of the subscriber base.

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