Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Intel and AMD Have Two Years To Get Their Shit Together

My post from yesterday talked about how happy I am that the portable processing market is seeing an explosion of innovation and development so fast that it will soon threaten the traditional computing market. CES is doing more to evince that reality than anything in the past two years.

Samsung, Nvidia, and Qualcomm are all releasing new, super-powered versions of their processors. Samsung is wedging eight full cores into their new processor, Nvidia's Tegra 4 has 72 virtual cores, and Qualcomm's newest Snapdragon 800 will allow for 4K resolutions and graphics power that is more than double the previous generation. When was the last time we saw leaps and bounds like that in the traditional processor space? Oh right. Never.

As the video below points out, the new Tegra 4 already delivers graphics on par with the Xbox 360, and at a higher resolution to boot. At this rate, it will only be a matter of time before this architecture and paradigm eclipses the old, x86 paradigm and architecture for every consumer use.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Phones And Tablets Are Getting Faster. Thank god.

CES is going on as we speak... I mean write... and by we, I mean I, since you aren't writing. Well, you might be writing. I don't know.

One of the biggest companies that is presenting is Intel, who is showing off integrated television technology about which no one gives even a single shit, and their newest line of processors, about which almost everyone gives at least one shit. Their upcoming processors offer a performance increase over the previous generation of, at most, 15%. This may seem pretty cool, since desktop processors usually moved in increments that large, but it's not. It's boring.

Compare this to other technology markets. Hard drives halve their prices every year while seeing 25% increases in storage capacity. I have two 2TB hard drives in my desktop right now that cost me less than $300 in total. And yet an Intel processor released a year and a half ago is still selling for the same price.

I have frequently suspected that, at least recently, the reason for this comparatively slow progress was that Intel utterly dominated the processor market. Other companies just could not get their act together in any signficant way. Just look at the graveyard of broken processor companies: Cyrix, Transmeta, VIA, IDT. And in almost all cases, their performance lagged Intel's chips. Even today, with only AMD remaining, AMD's chips cannot compete clock-for-clock. Intel is king.

What is a consumer to do? Grin and bear it? That's what we've been doing with Intel for years. Unfortunately, we cannot simply refuse to buy their products. Those of us in the know can buy our own processors from AMD (which I have done), but for the average person who simply wants a laptop to watch Downton Abbey on, they're stuck. It's Intel or nothing.

This tyranny is one of the reasons I suspect so many companies are jumping all over the tablet/cellphone bandwagon. There is no Intel hegemony. Indeed, Intel can't crack into this market to save their life. And precisely because the other companies are tired of dealing with Intel is one of the reasons, I suspect, that they are being less than accommodating.

Another reason is that I think Intel has forgotten what it means to compete. AMD and Nvidia have been going at it for years, doubling their GPU performance nearly every year. We are seeing the same thing in the portable technology space. Processors and GPU's see gains of double, triple, quadruple, every year.

That's the reason why the tablet space is so exciting while the laptop and desktop market is contracting. Because it is energetic! Every year sees something new. Innovation is driving things ever forward. Games on a cell phone look like the first games that came out for the Xbox 360. In two years, cell phones will be more powerful than the Xbox 360. We aren't seeing anything even remotely like that coming out of the old-guard companies.

I am so excited about portable processing. Not because I use it extensively. Truly, I don't. I spend almost all of my time on a desktop and a laptop. But we need something, anything, to get AMD and Intel off their damned asses and really push forward -- really innovate. While I didn't expect it even only a year ago, it is now obvious; the motivation, the fear, necessary to get the old companies to step up their game in the traditional computing industry will come from portable technology. It will come from your pocket.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Of Rapists And Nazis

The recent video, uploaded by Anonymous, of the Steubenville "Rape Crew" is suitably mind-numbing. It shows a human being, seemingly too young to even be coherently using the words he is speaking, display a lack of empathy and consideration that would make a psychopath blush.

It is coincidental that I was reading an article about The Angel of Life, Gisella Perl, who described her treatment in the death camps. Men would gleefully kill babies, throw women alive into furnaces, and beat starving, helpless human beings to death.

After the war, psychologists took up the task of studying the behavior of the Nazis. How could humans possibly become so depraved, and do so in such large numbers? Even those who were involved would look back with shock at their own actions.

The core of that depravity is on display today in Steubenville. While the holocaust and the behavior of a small town's stupid population are in different leagues, what allows the two to exist is the same. In a different environment, the boy in that video would have been a Nazi, or a mercenary, or a murderer. That behavior is simply the manifestation of an internal characteristic that I don't think I need to even bother trying to explicate. It is apparent.

What we saw, for a brief moment, is the rotten core that can take hold that is held in check by society. Yes, we do not have bands of mercenaries rampaging around the countryside like it was 1300's Europe. But just because the behavior doesn't manifest in the ways that they previously did does not mean that the Freudian motivation is gone.

What society has done, and especially what the progressive movement of the past one hundred years has done, is make the display of this behavior incredibly unacceptable. It is the genesis of the term "politically correct" in the pejorative sense. People who use the word "PC Police" or something equally negative are essentially saying that they are angry that they are not allowed to be aggressive, violent, or bigoted in public.

But what every oppressed group in the country knows full well is that this rot, this toxin, is in full effect behind closed doors. This monster, this animalistic man-child, would have never dreamed of saying these words in public, but he did so in private. He even defended himself to those in the room who made wan efforts at arguing with him.

This is only the most recent case of the festering underbelly of our society bursting out into the daylight like some pus-filled boil. Apologists for this sort of behavior love to point to the very consequences of their loathed politically correct movement -- the lack of public behavior of this sort -- as proof that it doesn't exist. They claim that those who pull the racism, sexism, or classism "card" are simply paranoid and themselves bigoted.

No. This rot exists, and pretending that it doesn't because we have brow-beaten those that would act this way into some semblance of submission fails to address the wellspring of the poison. We must chase bigotry and anti-social behavior wherever it hides. There can be no apologies. There can be no toleration. We must go after it with a righteous fire and the profound desire to see justice done, no matter how painful. Because until we do, we will continue breeding those who would be well at home stoking the fires of Auschwitz.