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Comment: Apple's numbers make sense (Score 5, Insightful) 198

by RalphBNumbers (#39318887) Attached to: NVIDIA Challenges Apple's iPad Benchmarks

We recently saw a graphics benchmark of the A5 vs the Tegra3 posted to /., and the A5 beat the Tegra in real-world-ish benchmarks, and more than doubled it's score in fill rate.

The A5X is basically just the A5 with twice as many GPU cores, and graphics problems tend to be embarrassingly parallel, so unless it scales up really poorly with those extra cores (due to shared bandwidth limitations, or poor geometry scaling) it should have no problem beating the Tegra 3 by 2x, especially in terms of fill rate.

And when you quadruple the number of pixels on your screen, as Apple just did, which measurement matters? Fill rate.

Comment: Re:Lenses (Score 1) 177

by RalphBNumbers (#39124389) Attached to: Google Heads Up Display Coming By the End of the Year

Heck you could even possibly replace the lenses themselves with a modified display that uses a camera and alters the image to your prescription.

Nope, sorry, optics don't work like that. At least not with the kinds of displays we have now (I suppose we might eventually have some sort of light-field display, to be used with a light field camera, that could recreate all of the incoming rays of light, rather than one or several flat images).

However an uncorrected conventional display may work fine for nearsighted people simply because it would be close to their eye.

Comment: Are you looking at the wrong metric? (Score 1) 681

by RalphBNumbers (#34000118) Attached to: Are Consumer Hard Drives Headed Into History?

Hard drives may still be much cheaper in terms of $/GB, but that is only the important number for geeks who actually care about big drives.

The important number for the mass market is the minimum price for a new drive of minimally usable size (call it 32-64 GB for now, it's drifting up, but not terribly quickly by the standards of exponential tech progression). And I suspect that SSDs will surpass HDDs in that metric fairly soon. A hard drive has a certain amount of unavoidable manufacturing complexity and materials requirements, no matter what the capacity, whereas a SSD is basically just chips and can be made almost arbitrarily cheap as fabrication technology leads to fewer and smaller chips being required for the same capacity and performance.

In a five years or so, I expect the "drive" on most new computers to be just another $10 chip on the motherboard.

Comment: Re:Well I don't think it'll be a problem like that (Score 1) 764

by RalphBNumbers (#33544148) Attached to: German Military Braces For Peak Oil

Adaptation may be the solution in the medium-long term, but it is also the problem in the short term.

Building new power plants and alternative fuel cars (and alternative-binder-asphalt roads to drive them on) and such takes time and money and politicking. If the falloff in oil supply is rapid, there will inevitably be shortfalls in the transition. And even if the transition to other energy sources can keep up with oil's falloff rate, the transition itself will cause massive shifts in required job skills. Some new jobs will be filled by the new generation, and some current generation workers will take the trouble to get trained for new positions, but what about all the workers who can't or won't get qualified for a new job to replace their old one in a dying industry? Even if you're hard hearted enough not to care about them personally, imagine the damage that huge numbers of newly unemployable people could do to society (especially if they line up with the retirements of the baby boomers as closely as they would now).

These sorts of concerns are why we need to start adapting asap, before oil prices go through the roof. The more we can decrease the rate of transition, by stretching it out across more time, the less disruptive it will be at any given time. When real trouble arrives, more plants will already be built, more alternative technologies will already be developed into marketable products, and more people will already have secure post-peak-oil jobs and the skills that come with them (including the ability to pass those skills on to others).

Simple supply/demand curves need to be made a trailing indicator rather than a leading indicator in this case for the good of civilization.

Comment: Re:Patent Problems? (Score 0, Troll) 171

by RalphBNumbers (#32847354) Attached to: OLPC's XO-1.75 Laptop To Have a Multitouch Screen

Steve Jobs at one point offered to donate MacOSX licenses for every OLPC, and was turned down because the project's leadership at the time was dead set on free as in FSF software.
It'd be interesting to see if he'd do the same with iOS and all it's associated multitouch patents, but somehow I think that the OLPC project's visionary potential may have faded too far to attract such an offer again (even as their arrogance may have faded too far to reject such an offer again).

Comment: Re:Yeah, but... (Score 4, Informative) 501

by RalphBNumbers (#31826536) Attached to: Google to Open Source the VP8 Codec

I expect there are some programable components, but adding whole a new codec to existing hardware decoders may be asking a bit much.

However, On2 already offered VP6 video decoder hardware designs like this one: http://www.on2.com/index.php?549
And, as I understand it, one of the big factors in the VP8 codec design was correcting issues with VP7 that made it hard to implement efficiently in hardware (or parallel software for that matter). So, I would expect them to be working on VP8 hardware decoders.

Comment: Re:Voice data is relatively small... (Score 5, Interesting) 71

by RalphBNumbers (#31716336) Attached to: US Mobile Data Traffic Usage Exceeds Voice

Ok, first off, loading Yahoo takes about 900 kilobytes (kB), not kilobits (kb).
Your 10minute conversation at 15kbps works out to 9 Mb, which is only 1.125MB.

And in reality cell phone codecs only take even close to 15kbps when they're running at full quality (and cell carriers being what they are, it's my understanding that they almost always skimp on that quality by at least half).

Wikipedia says AMR (the codec used in GSM and UMTS) varies between 12.2kbps and 1.8kbps.
Even the full 12.2kbps works out to 915KB for a 10minute conversation, the 1.8kbps rate only uses 135KB.

Of course, I think those are single channel rates, and you'll normally send as well as receive and thus double the data transmitted.

Overall I wouldn't call the voice call's relative data size minuscule, but it could easily wind up being less than a large-ish page load requires.

But in this case, it might be more appropriate to compare bandwidth needs. And in that measure the voice call really could be minuscule in comparison, since it's load is spread out over minutes instead of seconds.

Comment: The Skiff looks nice, except for who controls it (Score 1) 684

by RalphBNumbers (#31138576) Attached to: It's 2010; What's the Best E-Reader?

The Skiff Reader has a flexible touchable screen with more viewable area and resolution than the Kindle DX, while still being thinner and lighter.
Unfortunately, it's still a bit vapor-ish, and I don't think the consortium of publishers backing it are the right people for the job. Online distribution needs a strong device maker and/or store manager to keep the old media types in line, otherwise they'll just keep raising prices and restrictions, trying to make sure there is no threat to their traditional businesses, until the new market is completely strangled.

The iPad is at the other end of the spectrum, it handles color and refreshes in miliseconds instead of seconds but it's also heavy and thick (what do you expect with a big glass covered IPS LCD screen and ~5x the battery capacity of any of it's competitors to power it). But it does have an extremely strong device/market centered backer, and I kind of expect it's descendants to prevail in the long run as low power and high power/contrast/speed/color display technologies converge.

Comment: Branding over functionality... (Score 4, Informative) 369

by RalphBNumbers (#30856796) Attached to: Vimeo Also Introduces HTML5 Video Player

It seems that both Youtube and Vimeo have both chosen to use their own custom controls, and disable the default controls native to the user's browser.

That wouldn't be such a big deal, except for the fact that full screen mode can currently only be entered using those default controls (making full screen mode available via a scripting api is considered a security risk, and thus discouraged by the HTML5 spec). So they're sacrificing that functionality at the alter of branding.

Comment: Re:Read the FTC release (Score 1) 230

by RalphBNumbers (#30466616) Attached to: US FTC Sues Intel For Anti-Competitive Practices

Ok, given the prices listed here, it looks like the un-discounted components of a common 1.6Ghz/945GSE Atom chipset are $44/$26/$13 for the processor/northbridge/southbridge, for a total of $83.

Intel doesn't seem to show bundle discounts anywhere I can find on their public site, so I can only guess at what exactly they are. If only the CPU received any discount at all, the discounted bundle bundle would cost $64, but if we assume the other components are discounted at the same rate needed to bring the Atom itself down to $25, that means the whole bundle would cost about $47. That's more than the $44 the Atom alone would cost but not by much, especially on the low end.

If my exact statement was untrue I apologize, but the core fact remains that Intel was using their processor pricing to undermine their chipset competitors.
That may be business as usual in some circumstances, but it's a problem if the business doing it is considered a monopoly, and even if they're not a monopoly it can be a problem if they're found to be dumping (ie, if the price of an Atom with a chipset bundle minus the price of an Atom alone is greater than the chipset's production costs, iirc).

Comment: Read the FTC release (Score 4, Insightful) 230

by RalphBNumbers (#30461734) Attached to: US FTC Sues Intel For Anti-Competitive Practices

The FTC press release says:

"To remedy the anticompetitive damage alleged in the complaint, the FTC is seeking an order which includes provisions that would prevent Intel from using threats, bundled prices, or other offers to encourage exclusive deals, hamper competition, or unfairly manipulate the prices of its CPU or GPU chips

That sounds like a pretty direct strike against Intel's moves in the graphics market lately. Selling an Atom alone for more than the price of the same Atom bundled with a chipset, trying to prevent Nvidia from making chipsets for their Nehalem CPUs, bundling their own GPU on the package of all of their low to mid range next generation CPUs, etc...

It should be interesting to see how Intel responds to this. It's probably too late to make any major changes to Clarkdale/Arrandale before they ship, so on-package GPUs are definitely coming. But imagine if Intel were required to sell bare dice at fair prices (surprisingly enough, packaging a die is one of the most expensive steps of chipmaking), so that others could do the same thing. Imagine an intel chip with an on-package Nvidia or AMD GPU...

Sometimes I wonder if computers will always be built around motherboards as we know them. As motherboards shrink, and we start seeing multiple dice on a single package even in low end consumer gear, could the motherboard eventually be replaced with one big multi-die package? It would certainly reduce size and bring part counts down, and I expect it would allow for lower power consumption and higher speeds as well (although, of course, it would make building your own as an enthusiast impractical).

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