The other day I posted whining about the lack of competitive straight ethernet backbone connectivity and somebody pointed me to Cogent. Wow! I now have great faith in the future of my homeland, the USA. This is quite important to me because I'm planning on moving back permanently for the first time in many years and I was very concerned about the lack of decently priced broadband in rural areas. Here in Taiwan I get great DSL service (256K down 64K up) for about thirty bucks a month although for an extra ten bucks I can have twice as much although so far I dont' really need it. That seems like a pretty good deal to me. I have friends in the States in major urban areas still using modems, so I was quite concerned as I'd like to move to a rural area and I had heard a lot of horror stories.
Anyhow, thanks to Slashdot, I'm feeling a lot more optomistic about the future of broadband in the States.
Chips, however, I am a major pessimist on. That's why I'm leaving Taiwan although I love Taipei and have spent many years getting my Chinese in good shape. I wish the future looked bright for chips, but the mask costs are reportedly already going way high. Apparently they're already gearing up for the 65nm process in no more than a few months. That's too scarry. The end is not near, it is imminent.
According to IBM, that's the end of the line. What I find interesting is that Taiwan claims to be heading there as quickly as possible in that EE Times link above they say 24 months they will have a fab doing 65nm. The reports I have read from IBM seem to have assumed the industry would slow down as it got closer to the final limits of CMOS. IBM seems to make it a habit of pretending to control soon-to-be important technologies and then letting them slip away just as they become truly important. If Intel is to be believed, this SOI technology is SOL. Besides, nobody I've read at either Intel or IBM was ever promising CPUs beyond 400Ghz and most of the conservative estimates say 40Ghz is our current practical limit and we're staring it down pretty hard.
As a Taiwan resident by marriage, it's truly ominous to see the industry that this country depends on so heavily heading for a brick wall at a warp speed. I mean for Christ's sake, these researchers at Intel and IBM are talking about liquid nitrogen cooling as a feasible alternative to advances in lithography. I'm afraid that does not boost my morale. Aside from the energy consumption issues, having a PC dependent on a compressor, even a reliable scroll compressor, does not sound like a reasonable idea for the consumer market.
But that's just tech stuff which for me has become, once again, more or less a hobby. There's something about Taiwan that has not much directly to do with tech, though perhaps very much indirectly, that has changed and suggests to me that it is time to leave.
That is, college students who used to go to the States in vast lucrative droves have turned into a trickle. I have very inside track access to this knowledge as it's my bread and butter. It's not that student's have stopped studying overseas. No, the difference is that students from Taiwan are now going to Mainland China for graduate studies instead of the US.
This is not something you read about in the news, but in my business it's painfully obvious and the rate at which the shift took place was astonishing. It was like a school of fish suddenly dated in a new direction in unison. Locals who are generally independence minded tend to explain it away by saying that is was because of the 9/11 attacks and the fear of hostility towards foreigners in the States, but I don't buy that. That's a cover story as far as I know because in general people in Taipei will tell you that their biggest fear of the US is that it is boring to live there. I don't think people in Taiwan act out of fear, but I'm damn sure they're nationalistic as all hell and the culture is more Chinese than China will ever be. Essentially, now that the technology of the West has apparently been drained to the last dregs reunification has begun.
My personal perspective on all this is twisted to the degree that I find it amusing and part of a much larger drama that has taken place over many thousands of years. I think the Chinese people are still failing to overcome an essential element of racism that will continue to stunt their society for centuries to come. The end of CMOS is hardly the time to turn away from the heterogenous cultural wealth of the US where innovation springs eternal despite the worst practices of the monopolistic thieves that have become so abundant there of late, but this is apparently what is happening.
It seems that we are entering the dark phase of a great cycle. During this troubled period, I put my faith in the greatness of the American way. I'm well aware that there will be an abundance of conditions to test such faith. I hope that I can add to its strengths and I'm sure I will be required to strike against its weaknesses. It's a long road ahead.
After the third world war, perhaps we should enforce a giant bussing scheme on Africa, Europe and Asia not unlike that which was used to enforce school integration in the States. Those who resented such programs the most were obviously most in need of its effects.