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Enlist, Boot Up, Change Fewer Batteries 105

BigBragger writes: "Upside has an article declaring that ViA will begin using the Crusoe chip in the wearable computers it currently designs for the US Army. Crusoe will debut in the next version. There's hope for a Transmeta PC yet, but will I have to enlist to get one?" WillSeattle points to C|Net's story on the same thing and adds harshly: "Soldier, when was the last time you compiled this kernel! You are a disgrace to the uniform! Give me 10,000 lines of code, pronto!"
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Enlist, Boot Up, Change Fewer Batteries

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  • While it would be cool to have linux running natively on curusoe, this would be very bad. If we can compile linux naviely, we can compile any other random program natively, and tmta ends up in the same situation that intel may get themselves into with merced^H^H^H^H^H^Hitanium, where they cant make large changes to their chips without breaking every program compiled for it.

    Dave Ditzel [sic] discussed this at the press confrence in Jan. and he said that there is and there will never be a way for anything but the code morphing software to run natively

  • If the Army keeps doing things like this, along with things like their 33% across the board pay raise to tech workers, they could slowly be working on a better rep.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ViA lost out on the Land Warrior contract. Short story: their version had a fan, the current one doesn't---no moving parts, in fact. Runs off a flash disk, everything's solid state. Your information is at least a year out of date. The complete Land Warrior package, everything the infantryman carries, weighs a pound or so less than an infantryman carries now, and was a tremendous success at the JCF/AWE this summer. Read what the soldiers say about it at: http://www.monroe.army.mil/pao/awe/BoxLive.html http://www.fayettevillenc.com/foto/news/content/20 00/tx00jul/n20land.htm
  • Even if you break all the encryption, modern tactical equipment jumps radio frequency hundreds or thousands of times a second. The frequency jumps are more or less random, you would need to do quite a bit of work just to listen in. Then you would have to break the encryption and keep up with the freq jumps.

    Additionally, this data has a very short lifespan. The location of a platoon should change within a day, so you would 24 hrs to decrypt a transmission about a platoon's location before that info became obsolete.
  • [EDB] [everything2.com] uses [Everything] [everydevel.com].
  • I've seen a bog reference in there you need to look harder.
  • Please see my real-world experience - I have provided office-type tech support to infantry officers, it is not fun.

    Now, these are bold strides that the military is trying to make in advancing thier state of technology. But technology alone is no *magic bullet* which will enable soldiers on the ground to be more lethal, if they can't move or don't have the intelligence to work the equipment they have been issued. We've barely got enough time to get people to be really effective as regular infantrymen and can't even afford enough fuel and bullets to have soldiers learn their basic jobs. So, now were going to buy all this neato technology that goes beyond the current (and future) warfighting need?

    The fundamental questions of modern land warfare are: where are they? Where are we? Whoever has more success in answering these questions will probably win.

    The US forces in the Gulf War would have been lost in the desert without their GPSes. The Iraqis assumed that the coalition forces would be unable to maneuver in the desert - everything looks the same, all that terrain association crap they teach you becomes useless. Probably a good assumption. But GPSes allowed midwesterners to run circles around arabs in their own desert.

    Also, soldiers still move from point a to point b by pointing a compass the direction they want to go and counting their paces. This is a very crude system, and if you're not very good at it (like me) you neve end up in the right spot. While I'm not an infantryman, the spatially-uninclined ones will probably be much more lethal with a HUD that tells them where they are.

    A test of this stuff indicated the time needed to consolidate an airborne unit after the drop was reduced significatntly (no URL in my head, sorry.)

    We're talking like 45 extra pounds of technology, a heavier, albiet, more capable weapon system with things like rangefinders, Laser Target Designators and thermal sights all built into a rifle, with a grenade launcher and 5.56 round capablity, all in a single system.

    The good thing about this new toy is that it will make suppressive fire much more lethal, assuming it ever gets light enough to be practical. Supposedly, it'll let suppresive fire create a burst effect and kill people. Right now, most bullets are fired not to hit someone, but instead to keep them from moving quickly. Watch saving private ryan and notice how much complicated it is to move 5 feet under fire. This gizmo is supposed to make suppresive rounds explode, which means that most shots will now actually have the chance to hurt somebody.

    Of course, anything that or gives the Signal Corps more $ or makes the Signal Corps seem more important is a good thing from my perspective...
  • Odd you should ask...just had ADSL installed today (YES!) and the tech had this neat little laptop. What he told me was that Telus (formerly BCTel) had bought a bunch of these years ago, and were only now thinking of upgrading. Bad: They were running Windows 3.1. Good: It can survive a 6-foot drop with the HD running. He used his to verify my connection...a little slow, but it worked just fine.

  • erm stupid keyboard That should be borg not bog
  • All these comments so far and not one Borg reference!

    Amazes me that you call yourselves geeks!
  • Ahh my bad. One can only hope a policy maker will read this and up the mil salaries :). Thanks for the correction.

    P.S. Yeah I know LBE - load bearing equip : ). Heavy as *#&$ on long runs :(.

  • Please accept my humble apology for condescending "translations" and other down-talking stuff. I thought that no slashdotter other than myself would know what the hell I was talking about - guess I was wrong.
  • I think it's illegal to order soldiers to use Windows. From the Uniform Code of Military Justice:

    Any person subject to this chapter who is guilty of cruelty toward, or oppression or maltreatment of, any person subject to his orders shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

    Clear maltreatment. Enough said.
  • by tap ( 18562 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @12:36AM (#633362) Homepage
    It's not a 33% across the board raise, it's more like 2% to 33%. If you're a GS-5 (that's pretty low level, like 20k a year or so) in San Francisco, you get the 33%.

    When I started my current job in Seattle three years ago while still in college, I was a Computer Specialist, grade 7. These guys are getting something like 20% raises. Now I'm a Computer Scientist, grade 11 and I'll get something like 4%. If I were a Computer Engineer, which would require nothing more than having a degree in comp E instead of comp sci, I'd have been getting the extra pay all along.
  • the new black beret standard will last just about as long as the air force's uniform changes did five years ago. i.e., until the next change in the chief of staff.

    but to keep on topic, I am amused by the Army's attempt to get their ground troops to a new technological level. Military acquisition projects are amusing, sometimes.
  • For the last time, obscurity is not security! The enemy military can probably crack an instruction set real fast. Yes, and I'm sure the top brass knows this. Plus, given any wartime scenario, one of these will fall into enemy hands. So the main point is not so much "Can they reverse engineer this?" as much as "If they get one of these still working, are they going to use it to gain lots of intelligence?" I would imagine that they will have the encryption setup similiar to what they already have... tamper with it, and the keys are erased, possibly to include whatever hardware is controlling the encryption. This way, they could keep the system reasonably secure.
  • That's funny. The project also uses a MicroOptical display and a dataglove from Anthrotronix.
  • Okay, test subject, Crusoe 600MHz. I believe that it was reviewed by CNet, among others, but all I remember are the details:

    Battery life improvement: 10% to 20%

    Relative performance: equivalent to a Pentium II

    Notice that just which Pentium II was not specified. It could've been the lowly 266 or the 450, the last one made for the laptop. What matters that the Crusoe just doesn't stand up to the P3's performance, MHz for MHz.

    Furthermore, the battery life improvement was a measly 20%. What happened to that doubled battery life promise?

    Either way, the Crusoe just doesn't stack up well against the mobile P3. Intel will be releasing a new mobile P3 which uses even less power, so Transmeta might be given a real challenge now.

  • The straight dope: Win2k. I should qualify this by saying I am a ViA employee and I am working on this project.
  • From Semiconductor Business News: http://www.semibiznews.com/sto ry/ OEG20001109S0050 [semibiznews.com].


    Dear Voters in Tennesee and Arkansas:
    Apology Accepted.

  • This has nothing to do with the laws of physics, more the laws of economics which describe why certain technologies are chosen and used. Pure performance is only one factor considered by those that make intelligent commercial choices about technology - though I could conceed to you that there are many non-intelligent choices being made.
  • WIM? Do you mean WID? Most of the WID team left, but that is another project.

    This project is still on track.

    Disclaimer: I am a ViA employee and I am working on this project.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    A friend of mine used to work for ViA a couple months ago and worked on this project. According to him the team designing all the software for the WIM all left very recently, and the project has died along with their departures. It sounds to me like ViA is just announcing vaporware and hoping they can pull their act together and put something out eventually (and get some good press at the same time). Don't hold your breath.
  • Disclaimer - this will be my last post to this story, I promise, sort of.

    In the Army we do Pre-Combat Inspections (PCIs) a lot. These aren't done before combat really, the name is misleading. It's basically checking to make sure everybody has everything. Of course someone is always missing something or they have something that's broken, whatever....

    PCI circa 2003:

    Platoon Sgt: "Hold up your extra boots", "hold up your poncho", "hold up your kevlar", "boot up from LILO"

    Pvt: "My MBR is malfunctioning, Sgt, I can't get Windows to load..."

    "We don't use that unstable shit in my outfit, soldier!!!"
  • by D_Gr8_BoB ( 136268 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:35PM (#633373)
    Is anyone besides me saddened by the continuting trend of new and promising technology being immediately conscripted for use in war? I realize a lot of money stands to be made by selling to the military, but it seems as though the computing field as a whole is drifting slowly towards being less a tool for creation and more a tool for destruction, which raises ethical questions.

    Precisely because of the versatility of computers which has made them such a success, nearly any work done in many areas of the field such as hardware, security, or even graphics could easily be adapted for military use without the knowledge of the engineers or programmers who did the work. While a machinist can refuse to work in a shop which manufactures guns, it's not so easy for an principled engineer to avoid developing hardware with military applications. Worse still, any GPL software which the military of any country finds useful might easily be adapted into a tool of destruction, completely against the wishes of the people who developed it.

    I'm probably taking the issue a bit far, but it is something to think about as you're writing that clone of Scorched Earth.
  • Getting Goverment contracts are looks very good for invertors. This is a smart move for the Government.
  • I beleive they are running a MS Win varient with a second processor controlling an "instant boot" functionality.

    this was in a previous story but I have no links.
  • if you're an enemy, will you have an easier time figuring out software running on a Linux OS running using an x86 variant or a completely closed system?

    For the last time, obscurity is not security! The enemy military can probably crack an instruction set real fast.

  • by Goonie ( 8651 ) <robert.merkel@noSpaM.benambra.org> on Thursday November 09, 2000 @10:33PM (#633377) Homepage
    No, they may not be using a general purpose computer, but Linux is already starting to be used on embedded devices.

    The *interface* may or may not be a variant of X (an embedded graphics toolkit such as Qt/embedded would probably be more appropriate), and you're certainly not going to bother with a full posix environment, let alone KDE or GNOME, but why reinvent the wheel and write your own kernel? I'm not saying that Linux is the only or even the best choice, but it would probably be a quite viable one.

  • by Throw Away Account ( 240185 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @10:39PM (#633378)
    Oh, there was a "toilet seat" bru-ha-ha a few years back. Which ignored that it was "toilet seat" for a combat aircraft; a Home Depot toilet seat wouldn't have fit. And it was a prototype; when production was set up, each was of course much cheaper than the the first hand-tooled one.

    Similarly, there was a "hammer" controversey. To be used on reactive metals. Using an ordinary steel hammer from a Home Depot would have been a very good way of causing thousands of dollars of damage to high-performance aircraft and risking serious injury to the person using the hammer.

    So, ignorant deficit-reduction organizations horrified by the Reagan defense buildup did an outside examination of a military procurement bugdet and found those items, and then sent press releases about these "$$$$ for hammers and toilet seats" to ignorant reporters who contacted ignorant PR people in the DoD PR offices who couldn't explain things. So the reporters ran their stories without having talked to anyone who knew what they were talking about, and Americans were told that the military pays hundreds of dollars for toilet seats.
  • Well I don't know about the US army, but this Brit civilian sure likes his Crusoe (Sony Vaio C1VE)

    I don't see why some people are saying "what use is a computer for every grunt in the field".

    Surely they have heard the maxim "knowlege is power" and surely the more powerful your armed force is the better.

    The amount of information that could be transmitted to them, along with tracking prediction (ie digital camera with motion prediction and rangefinding) - allowing cross hairs to be shown where the target will be, not just where he is.

    Who cares what OS it would use/not use, recognise the technology for what it is - the 600Mhz Crusoe will quite happily play-back MP4/DivX movies, play Quake 3 and various other functions, and hive a battery life of 2.5 hours or greater, and only weighs 2.2Kg.

    I am looking forwards to getting a quad battery and being able to use my Vaio from London to Osaka without having to worry about the battery going flat.

    In short -

    Transmeta Crusoe = GOOD
    Low Heat = GOOD
    Reduced loss of life in combat situations due to increased battlefield intelligence = VERY GOOD

    Well thats my tuppence (2 cents ) worth


  • I have a hunch that this fascination with Transmeta has more to do with the fact that they sponsored Linus's H1-B than anything else. It's called reflected glory (or something).

    If I want a low power consumption 350MHz Pentium I can get one from Intel.

    Soft instruction set computers have been around for > 25 years. I've never seen one that didn't end up hardwiring the instruction decode at least to get reasonable performance.

    And who says the Army will use Linux? I don't see that happening on a wearable battlefield computer.
  • But errors in databases like the Army Master Data File still occur.

    I had to explain how an engine oil dipstick for a Detroit Diesel 6V53 engine, used in APCs, cost $113. The unit motor sergeant didn't figure it out either, but told me to order it anyway.

    I contacted the folks near Harrisburg to report it and was told that another soldier already did. (Darn, no reward!)

  • We all know the ARMY will be rewmoving Linux and installing xMach because well... xMach is cool... it boots on some systems... err it supports Linux 2.4 devices... uhh... well.... it's not Linux!

    Well, on that score, BSD isn't Linux either.

  • but can they use it to prove the P=NP conjecture?
  • Is Embedded Linux for Transmeta.

    Put it together and you get ...
    Linus is coding kernel that meets the spec you refer to. No need for SMP, slimmed down, trim, and ready to fight ...

  • by WillAffleck ( 42386 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @01:38AM (#633385)
    I can see it now, distro wars between the services.

    Navy: Windows. Yeah, unfair, but it's huge, it's a battleship, it's slow as hell.

    Army: Embedded Linux. Clean, mean, and green, stripped down and ready to fight.

    Marines: Embedded BSD. Secure but limber. Fewer apps.

    Air Force: Windows 2000. They crash and burn.

    Green Berets: Since they're fazed out, Windows 98. Buggy as hell, but it usually works when it's not drunk.

  • Look out... with the new hardware the army etc will be sporting. during a time of war they may be more likely to come to us first and issue a draft notice =/
  • One problem. The market is not responding to anything right now. Go take a look at cisco at www.nasdaq.com [nasdaq.com] they will show you a company doing well tha is getting murdered.
  • A related question... What is Transmeta's MIPS-per-Watt rating?

    This was the metric used by Psion [psion.com] to select the StrongARM processor for the Series 5 and successor PDAs. A rather enlightened means of guesstimating which architecture to tie oneself into, I thought...

  • Is anyone besides me saddened by the continuting trend of new and promising technology being immediately conscripted for use in war?

    I can understand your point of view, but having been in the military I intensely disagree with your post. If we can make something that can save the lives of our troops in battle, I think we have a moral obligation to do so.

    The point is that others will not stop building more efficient weapons of war. Which means we can't either or we will send our troops in at a disadvantage.

    Consider that ethical dilemma of not building something that you know could save soldiers' lives.

    I agree it sucks, but it is reality.

  • I admit that I may have exaggerated on some aspects of my presentation, however, I am fairly confident the overall gist of it is correct.

    • The Army does not have the resources to keep go-to-war combat forces properly trained.
    • At the end of each fiscal year, the amount of fuel and ammo available to conduct training is very low, to the point that training tempo's are difficult, if not impossible to sustain.
    • That the Army did lower it's recruitment standards to get more folks in the door.
    • That soldiers, due to decreased training tempo's and increased peacekeeping tempos, won't have enough time to develop and maintain proficiencies with their issued, new-technology equipment.
    • That the disparity in these tempos and budget constraints will not allow the soldier to develop and maintain the proper proficiencies.

    I can accept that Transmeta's chip may not be involved in the Land Warrior project specifically, however, the basic point here is that we don't need to load soldiers up with even more gear, when they can't even maintain proficiencies with the other gear they currently have. I'm not speaking of pounds of gear, I am speaking of the complexity of the gear to the operator. You can make the equipment lighter, but if someone has to stop and screw with it, they can get killed while trying to get their enhanced capability equipment back on line.

    I'm sure there is plenty of positive press out on the recent exercise held at Ft. Polk. My own discussions with participants are that it involves a lot of waiting for engineers (PM's - are you a PM?) to figure out how all the equipment interfaces together. Then, the forces start moving again, then wait to ask where is the data, and resolve more technical problems.

    The fact still remains that those who are moving more quickly and shooting more effectively (right target, right ammunition to service the target), are more likely to survive and win. More intel and ability to deliver the ammo to the target + "where are they" coupled with "where am I" as another person pointed out, is also critical to the equation of battlefield survival. The problem, and the happy medium would be to accomplish the latter, without hindering the former.

    Better Technology to accomplish the mission should not be at the expense of speed or provide distractions to the soldier on the ground. If you can figure out a way to do that, then I say BRAVO. But if you cannot and soldiers are distracted from looking down the street and instead focus on getting their technology back on-line, then you have done a disservice and will cost lives.

  • by hedley ( 8715 )
    Maybe TMTA can get toilet seat prices for the device, limit up at that point :)

  • I don't know about you, but I think a great number of us could use a good workout... I'm not advocating the military, but it is one hell of a fitness program :) :) :)
  • by rich22 ( 156003 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @08:59PM (#633393) Journal
    The use of Crusoe pieces in a military (or any government) contract is a guarantee of not only of millions of orders for the product, but also repeat business for years to come. This should go a long way on Wall Street.
  • Oh because Transmeta is so ereet, I mean Linus worked there and he's k-r4d 313370. So I want one so I can use my Red Hat UNIX with it, then I can be cool.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:00PM (#633395)
    because these Crusoe chips have enough horsepower to run minesweeper.
  • Troll? Stupid expression.

    I'm perfectly serious. And what's inaccurate? Where's the crap? Soft machines like Crusoe share the same inherent design problem which I haven't seen change for more than 25 years.

    Linus' H1-B? Is he an illegal, then?

    Let's hear you.

  • that soldiers recompile the kernel of their battlefield computer. I think the version number pissing match has gone much too far.
  • this is my transmetta. there are many like it...but this one is mine.

    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • Nonsense.

    Look, every time you introduce a pseudo-emulation layer, you introduce inefficiency over a direct execution engine. To quote another famous Scottish engineer, "Ye canna change the laws o' physics, Captain!"

    The benefits offered by variable instruction set processors are illusory. You have a similar problem with the Java VM. Somewhere, somewhen, a hit has to occur with performance. You either do the work at compile time, at run time, or you fudge the issue with JITs and/or code-morphing (read: same thing).

    It seems like a great idea which raises its head every time there is a new generation of engineers who forget the bitter lessons learnt by their forebears.

    I'm accepting bets on this.

  • Like with Linux, anything Linux is associated with takes forever to deliver. *yawn* If I were a large corporation I might care.
  • What kind of weable computers did they use now ?
    and who says it's gonna run linux anyways ? for all you know (thanks to code morphing and all) it might use some new instruction set with its own simple embedded OS and applications.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    will linus torvalds be named secretary of defence then?
  • Now that everything about each soldier will be transmitted, what would happen if an enemy broke the encrpytion (assuming they ARE using some), a la Enigma.
  • I can tell you from personal experience that an infantry officer cannot properly use Microsoft Word without extensive tech support...

    I fear I will go crazy one weekend a month, two weeks a year if this stuff ever makes it into the Guard...
  • You do realise that 99% of the kewl stuff in the world was developed for the military/goverment or at least with grants from the goverment. The Internet, Computers, cell phones, satalite communications, Radio communications, Aerotech (the jet engine), Nucular Power, ENCRYPTION, Swords, Full Plate Armor, The Rifled barrel. umm, I got off on a tangent here, sorry. But anyway i hope you get my drift.

    And just to worry you even more, I work at the 552 CSS at Tinker AFB in support of AWACS (cool bird btw, come here I want to Irradate you!!!!) and we have heavy use of software that its later versons are GPLed, alot of the stuff we run is older the the GPL its self. Scary

  • by GrouchoMarx ( 153170 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:52PM (#633406) Homepage
    This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "boot camp."

    Sargent: This is the chip for me and you.
    Troops: This is the chip for me and you.
    Sargent: And its software is GNU.
    Troops: And its software is GNU.
    Sargent: And if the OS code should crash.
    Troops: And if the OS code should crash.
    Sargent: Recompile and kick some ass.
    Troops: Recompile and kick some ass.
    Sargent: We all code for Uncle Sam.
    Troops: We all code for Uncle Sam.
    Sargent: And our army runs a WAN.
    Troops: And our army runs a WAN.
    Sargent: Sound off.
    Troops: Zero, One.
    Sargent: Sound off.
    Troops: Two, Three.


  • You have the words smart and Government in the same setence. More so that setence gave credit to the Government for being "smart". that is one thing that I thought I would never see on slashdot

  • I don't know, AIM voice chat seems like a very cost effective way to keep a commando unit in contact with each other. :-)

    My other account is CmdrTaco

  • I dont know where you think the Government gets their toilet seats at but we (the military) get them 15% off at home depo as with every thing else there.

  • A Transmeta PC I mean. It'd perform worse than an Intel or AMD PC, correct?

  • by RandomPeon ( 230002 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:59PM (#633411) Journal
    Couple thoughts, from a highly biased perspective:

    1) It works both ways. Many technologies, nuclear power, penicillin, jet aircraft, SUVs, food preservatives, etc. were developed for military use. These technologies were later adapted for use in civillian life. The Internet is probably the best example here.

    2) It doesn't matter whether your software is GPL or not. The military can circumvent copyright, patents, and trade secrets without trouble.

    The DoD is more or less exempt from copyright laws - read the fine print on say, the JDK license, and it talks in extensive legalese about how the license applies to non-DoD fedl agencies....

    Also, patents and trade secrets are worthless protections against military exploitation of technology. Patent infringement is not a war crime. If the military wants to violate a patent (especially one held by an enemy national) nothing can stop them really. What would we do, execute an enemy signal officer for running Windows on his machines?

    Trade secrets ain't worth anything either. Any military also probably has the resources to reverse engineer any technology of real value. That's why critical systems are supposed to be destroyed instead of captured - any nation-state can mount a succesful reverse-engineer. Reverse-engineering is resource-intensive, but that's not an issue here.
  • Excellent post, but just to nitpick: The only code that runs natively on curusoe is the code morphing software. Linux is compiled normally for the i386 ISA, and doesnt know that its running on a vliw chip.

    So, whenever transmeta develops a new chip, they have to rebuild their code morphing software, but thats all.

  • Wearable computers are also useful for such things as forward observers (linking the GPS and the laser range finder), more reliable comms links (digital data is more resilient to noise than ananlogue voice) and overlaying tactical information on the soldier's FOV.

    Overlays could include waypoint diamonds for nearest friendlies and spotted enemies. Don't you think that would help the poor Grunt and her squad mates stay alive for just a few more minutes?
  • There's no risk of modern encryption systems being broken fast enough for the data recovered to be relevant under battlefield circumstances; nobody has enough computing power.

    Unless a fast factoring algorithm is being kept under wraps by an intellignece agency out there, of course; possible, but in that case everything that isn't OTP is being read anyway and we're already in deep shit.
  • This sounds like the same core problem as the US Army's Apache / Longbow upgrade suffered

    The Longbow radar adds a similar degree of sensor improvement and comms. capability to the attack helicopter as Landwarrior is attempting to do for infantry.

    Cost considerations aside, however, it was found that the average pilot/gunner under the current training / experience regime (especially in the National Guard) was having enough trouble keeping the helo in the air, let alone exploiting the sensor suite. The crashes in the Kosovo with the night sight equipment are for roughly the same reasons - insufficient preparation & experience leading to excessive workload & disorientation.

    The net outcome was/is that the US Army per se is incapable of exploiting the capabilities provided by the Shiny New Toys. I believe current doctrine has now 1 Longbow radar equipped Apache per flight, with the others data-linked in - i.e. there's effectively a command & control Helo and "n" supplementary weapons carriers.

    Can anyone see the parallels here?

  • I think you'll find that the technology demonstration gear in current use does indeed use off-the-shelf OS technology.... Certainly the UK's similar efforts were based on Windows OSes: You could see the logo in the eyepiece the guys were using on boot up.

    However, recognise that there is a world of difference between the stage this equipment is at now - tech.demo / concept validation - and what'll get deployed.

  • by matthew_gream ( 113862 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @03:12AM (#633417) Homepage

    From a risk management perspective, the Crusoe is very important - it provides a bridge from the old world to the new world, and eventually, in the history of computing will be seen as such.

    What Crusoe does is add an intermediate layer, that can adapt to various upper layers and therefore emulate different types of chips. Also, this intermediate layer, can be optimised and adapted to different firmware implementations that sit underneath - and as the marketing blurb tells you, in such a way to reduce power consumption as well.

    In an age where computing is moving to a distributed, connected, more homogeneous type of environment, this is brilliant.

    What I could expect to see is various different forms of firmware, with tight multiprocessing, and other custom features - and VLIW layers that can adapt. Also, VLIW adaption for intel, motorola and other processors which would be excellent as a migration path for existing software. Perhaps also, custom VLIW instructions can be useful for high performance applications.

    It would be good to see Crusoe as the end for Intel, Motorola and others. I think the ARM may still have a price/benefit advantage in embedded systems, what many people don't remember is that ARM is often used as a ASIC core within silicon next to other functionality (e.g. RF, in communications chips) - I don't expect to see Transmetta offering Crusoe as an ASIC core in the immediate future, but who knows! ARM has a different market segment to Crusoe, and designers will know that.

  • The pay raise is for civil federal employees. All military personnel are paid based on rank and time in service. Pilots, lawyers, and doctors are paid extra. IT professionals are not paid extra, at least not yet. This will prob have to change, see below.

    Needless to say, the Army has a tough time hanging on to techies. The Signal Corps (archaic Army-speak for IT) has a serious problem retaining soldiers, and an even more serious problem retaining officers. The whole army is currently critically short on captains, and so I would assume the SC is insanely short on captains. (English translation: a captain is a college graduate w/ 4-10 years of service.)

    Additionally, the Army still does suck sometimes. As I write this, I am polishing my combat boots for this weekend, no kidding. Like any non-standard occupation(or part-time job) it has pros and cons that you won't find in a cube (or a computer lab...). For example, in the Army, you get to learn a whole new set of acronyms, which no geek will understand. If you ever need to sound like you're smart, you just tell somebody you executed a PCI on your LBE this weekend and it was succesful. This will impress any geek and he will be too embarassed to ask what the hell it means. (Translation - I made sure my canteens were full of water. I also managed to not lose my compass)

    I'm a part-timer, believe me, I don't do it for the money. I like being something more than a regular techie. If you have a degree and are willing to take some off to go to Officer Candidate School and Officer Basic Course you can get a pretty good setup. I believe the OCS folks would sell their soul for a CS major right now.
  • One correction - the weight is 2.2lbs - 1 Kg

  • uhhh defense company stocks are suffering tremendously in the bull market. a government contract is not a guarantee for shit. it can make you actually design something before you get paid a dime, then tell you congress changed it's mind. then a year later you get funding, after all the original designers quit. they probably also have a lower profit margin, but because the military isn't going to be buying as many as say sony they will end up paying more. this won't go a long way on wall street. i'd say it's better than nothing, but not anywhere as good as an industry contract
  • > The fundamental questions of modern land warfare > are: where are they? Where are we? Whoever has > more success in answering these questions will > probably win. Back in cadet land, I often answered this question with my handy TI-85. I realized it was roughly the same size as a 30-round M16 magazine, and it fit quite nicely in my Vietnam-era ammo pouch. So, I waterproofed it and programmed it to do map work. Since I'm good at pencil and paper map work, I often got tapped to do so during exercises. I pretty much just used it to check my work during the planning stages, but it was really handy when calling for indirect fire. Determine azimuth to target, estimate distance to target, give current location, ta-da. It beat the hell out of whipping out a map and a protractor while you were supposed to be seeking cover from a couple of machine guns firing blanks. Of course, the sight of a cadet diving for cover behind a tree, putting down his weapon, and whipping out a calculator amused the other cadets tremendously.
  • Of course there's a use for this. Go and read "Starship Troopers" (not the movie, silly, the BOOK!). The use of computers is crucial to modern warfare. As one other person pointed out, it can be used for communication between soldiers and their platoon leader, thus ensuring a very organized attack on the enemy. Now, I'm not a war buff, but the book was very interesting, and went into some detail about the hardware used. Besides, everyone knows that bitchin' technology originates on the battlefield. That's how we got GPS!
  • by MathJMendl ( 144298 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:03PM (#633423) Homepage
    rm -rf enemies
  • I wonder what OS and/or chipset the Borg use??? "But sir, I can't fire, I am rebooting!!!"
  • Spooks and spies. Right now, there is no real reason (or technological application) for the average soldier to have a small, wearable battle computer for his preservation of that of his mates. The only use is spying on other computer users, most of which will be civilians. To whom else will a soldier come so close in modern warfare? Yes, other armies have computers or satellites but we dont need a mobile, wearable computer to spy on that. Why should this be encouraged? A technology that frees us in our own hands enslaves us in other hands.
  • ok, you're hearing me.

    If I want a low power consumption 350MHz Pentium I can get one from Intel.

    There's the crap, genius.

    The Crusoe performs on par with a slightly lower speed P-III. I should know, I've tested one (the 700Mhz version) and the benchmark results are about 20% lower on average on the Crusoe than on a P-III 700. But at the same time, I've gotten close to 300% more battery life. Quite a nice trade, IMO.

    "Soft machines" isn't a completely accurate term because it leads one to think of the Crusoe as old technology. I am not aware of any "soft machine" that performs the same functions as Transmeta's Code Morphing layer. Not to mention that the Crusoe emulates a 32 bit x86 on a 128 bit VLIW architecture, something that previous "soft machines" have not done. This results in quite different performance than you may be used to.

    I considered your post a troll because of the obvious inflammatory tone in your writing. If you were in fact serious, I apologize.

    As far as the H1B thing goes... I don't know. In fact, I don't care. If he's staying, good for him. I hardly think his financial security rests on him keeping an H1B though. He's already a millionaire. If they sponsored it, that's nice. I don't see how it makes any difference though.

    you may quote me
  • A soldier pretending to be in a delayed bathroom situation is actually getting mp3's off of napster and OOB nuking his kernel.

    yea yea i couldnt think of a good reply for this topic...heh
  • that was gay as hell. maybe if you weren't in such a rush to make a shitty cadence related to slashdot topics you could learn to spell "sergeant".
  • They have already beaten the VLIW problem.

    That the transmeta chip has some vliwish elements in it is merely an implementation detail. 95% of software will use the code morphing layer, and not know what chip is underneath.

    This is 1) good 2) important.

    When you compile natively to a VLIW, you completely lose all binary compatability. If a pipeline length changes, if the number of EU's change, if _anything_ about the implementation of the processor changes - your binaries break. All of them.

    Once intel moves to a VLIW architecture, evolutionary changes from 486->pentium, pentium->ppro are no longer possible. Each of these represented new EUs being added or pipeline changes.

    The transmeta approach is different. Instead of breaking all the software for a new transmeta chip, you just change hte code morphing layer for the underlying physical processor. THe user-level (and emulated OS level) stuff never really knows the difference - it just runs (presumably) faster.

    Of course, stuff running natively against transmeta chips will break, but it is expected this will be a small amount of software. If its just the linux kernel, it wont even matter - people tend to build kernels alot more often than transmeta releases chips :)

    It will be a shame if transmeta doesn't make it in the market. They've got a lot more big names and big brains than linus, and for reasons i mentioned above, they do actually have a solid advantage over intel's strategy going forward.

    Time will tell.
  • And you'll get 50 squats for not taking a can of compressed air to "Charlene"

  • dd if=/tmp/.tricks/poison of=/dev/enemy bs=1 count=`cat /proc/enemy/population`
  • by aprentic ( 1832 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:07PM (#633432) Homepage
    I'd much rather get ahold of a wearable. Does anyone know of any such plans? I've seen the PC104 based wearble that Charmed Technolgies makes but it's still a bit clunky. Maybe someday I can get a Microoptical display [microopticalcorp.com] and set of datagloves, attached to a Transmeta wearable. Check out weracam [wearcam.org] for some really cool uses of wearables. Steve Mann has a system that let's you take notes on people and if the mounted camera recognizes them it automatically pops up the notes in overlay. He also has a high speed camera that lets him read the writing off the sides of tires on moving cars.
  • by spartan ( 30665 ) <joe.samolian@com> on Thursday November 09, 2000 @10:00PM (#633433)
    Yeah, Ok, so I guess the keeper of the Kernel will get a silver beret instead of a black one, that way, instead of fooling that everyone is high speed, we'll know who really is.

    Now, as far as what these chips will be used for, there is a project called the "Land Warrior" project. The goal of this project seems to be to try and load a soldier up with almost every ungodly amount of sensory equipment as one can pack onto an individual human. We're talking like 45 extra pounds of technology, a heavier, albiet, more capable weapon system with things like rangefinders, Laser Target Designators and thermal sights all built into a rifle, with a grenade launcher and 5.56 round capablity, all in a single system.

    The soldiers will have to also contend with sensory equipment integrated to thier helmet and a head's up display that can communicate terrain and other types of intel. The commander will be able to see what each soldier sees and intel can be shared from any one element on the battlefield to almost any other point.

    This program assumes, in my view as an *infantryman* that the average soldier, who they just lowered the entrance standard (ASVAB - GT score) on so that they could get recruitment numbers up, will have a clue as to operating all this crap while still maintaining eyes on that critical 40-65 feet in front of them in an urban environment.

    Uh, just a minute Bob, I have to reboot. Or "my head's up display got smudged from my camoflauge, and while I'm cleaning it so I can see what the heck might be around the next corner, I get whacked from some 3rd world irregular who leaned out the window across the street.

    Now, these are bold strides that the military is trying to make in advancing thier state of technology. But technology alone is no *magic bullet* which will enable soldiers on the ground to be more lethal, if they can't move or don't have the intelligence to work the equipment they have been issued. We've barely got enough time to get people to be really effective as regular infantrymen and can't even afford enough fuel and bullets to have soldiers learn their basic jobs. So, now were going to buy all this neato technology that goes beyond the current (and future) warfighting need?

    But hey, I hear they sure are going to be wearing neat hats pretty soon. Goes to show you, when someone was thinking "Can we do this", someone else forgot to ask "should we"?

    But hey, good for Transmeta and all that. I'm sure those who got in at the IPO will be happy. As for the everyday soldier who has to content with all this stuff and doesn't even have the resources to maintain basic proficencies it won't mean a damn, not now, and surely not after they get loaded up with a lot more crap that their units will let them use about once a quarter.

  • by D_Gr8_BoB ( 136268 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:10PM (#633434)
    The machines will almost certainly not run Linux or another other current OS. In a combat situation, it simply doesn't make sense for the computers the troops are using to have more than basic functionality, as the more complicated it is, the more attention will have to be put into using it.
    I would imagine the basic idea of a wearable military computer would be to transmit terrain data and specific messages from commanding officers, and as such would be built to do just that with a minimum of user interaction. The machine will probably run a custom bare bones OS/application combination and will function more like an advanced GPS device than a desktop machine.
    After all, do we really need our soldiers to be checking their email, buying stocks or talking to their buddies on AIM in the middle of a fight?
  • I like the Encryped RF that they use now

  • by GrouchoMarx ( 153170 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @10:01PM (#633436) Homepage
    Transmeta: Low cost, low power, low heat, respectable speed, code morphing.

    Palm: Low cost, low power, low heat, passable speed, huge user and programmer base.

    I wonder what would happen if Transmeta and Palm ever hooked up? Could Transmeta's code-morphing answer the question that Palm users have been asking for months about Palm's eventual move to StrongARM chips? (Specifically: How to do it without locking out the millions of existing users and 100,000 existing developers.)

    My other account is CmdrTaco

  • Well, i mentioned linux running natively because its been rumoured that linus might do that, to get the last bit of performance out of the system.

    But yeah, for now you'd be running linux for i386 ontop of the code morphing layer.

  • "Soldier, when was the last time you compiled this kernel! You are a disgrace to the uniform! Give me 10,000 lines of code, pronto!"

    So that's how Microsoft products get so big!

  • I cant speak for the Army, but the Air Force's Encryption is changed quite often, it's probally classified.

  • Now that everything about each soldier will be transmitted, what would happen if an enemy broke the encrpytion (assuming they ARE using some), a la Enigma

    Strong encryption is already used in the field to such an extent that if the enemy broke it, we would be buggered. They will just have to use strong enough ciphers and be extremely paranoid all of the time.

  • This is kind of old news. The army has always had great success drafting doctors and other professionals.

    However, upon being drafted, doctors become medical officers. They don't become infantrymen or tankers or redlegs, etc. A similar situation would apply in an ultra-high tech army - geeks would become signal officers. In the event there is a draft, it is a good thing to have a skill which the military considers valuable.

    What do you think will happen to the people in marketing? They go sell the enemy white flags? Think Gladiator.... Maybe we could use them as decoys and kill two birds with one stone...
  • And I thought I was the only one who noticed that in January! :)

    Honestly, the number of people who don't read these days...

    you may quote me
  • I find it quite annoying when trolls like this get moderated up. Why do I browse at +2 if I'm going to get crap like this?

    That aside though, in case anyone took that seriously.. it's completely inaccurate. Anyone who's read the pertinent information would know better. So just go on to the next post, and hopefully this will be mod'd down soon.

    you may quote me
  • Here is some more info [mvispages.com] on Land Warrior. Some cool stuff but how far will it go?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Shouldn't it be

    Zero, One. Zero, One.

  • I'm not a radio engineer, so I don't claim to know the answer to this. But won't these packs give off a variety of detectable radiation? Radio waves from the wireless tcp/ip, infra-red from the circuitry and power supply, and possibly others (maybe even sound?)? Can a passive reciever triangulate the location of this kind of broadcast?

    The 3rd world has scientists and engineers too. If it costs us $10K to $100K to outfit our soldiers with all this experimental gear, that doesn't mean it won't cost them some time, money, and US/Soviet surplus or scrap to piece together a "US grunt detector". It doesn't preclude more advanced nations or terrorists groups from developing such a thing to sell on the black market, raise some funds, further their goals against the US. They'd just be addressing a real market demand...

    Think of the technological gap between our soldiers in the 60s/70s and the Vietnamese. Bombs, napalm, jets, and M-16s against punji stakes, tripwires, snipers, etc. So what if the transmissions are encrypted if lets the enemy know where you are? Or if not that, just the fact that a US soldier is near?
  • I would prefer SpecInt / Watt. MIPS is a fairly meaningless benchmark.

  • by RandomPeon ( 230002 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:11PM (#633451) Journal
    No, there are real uses for information technology of this type. I read about an airborne drop where soldiers transmitted their locations (computed throught GPS) to their platoon leader after they hit ground. (encrypted, of course.) The PL then looked at his map, picked a rally point, and transmitted the RP to all his troops... (encrypted again, of course).

    One of the big problems with modern armies is that we don't make big formations anymore - people move in wedges and columns with 10-20 meters between each soldier. Multipy that by 200, and an infantry company will take up a square km of terrain. It's very easy to get lost/separated, wearable computers might solve this.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"