By John Latta, WAVE
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
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
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
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
We came away stuck by the implications of such a heterogeneous
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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