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IBM to Unveil Major Tech Advances 165

mr wrote to us to point out an article on IBM in today's SF Chronicle. IBM, starting on Monday at the Internation Electron Device Meeting, will be disclosing eighteen new inventions coming out of their labs. IBM goes to so far to say that it will keep Moore's Law [?] around for at least another decade. The article also talks about some of IBM's recent advancements as well as describing some of the new stuff to be unveiled.
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IBM to Unveil Major Tech Advances

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  • by Anomie-ous Cow-ard ( 18944 ) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @10:06AM (#1485793)
    The link in the story is broken. The story is here []


  • by Anonymous Coward
    Try this []
  • Well, one day we will have our nano assembled cubic meter crystals [] of super conducting solid FPGA like computational powerhouses churning out trillions or teraflops with ease and having more L1 type memory at clock speed (10-50 gigahertz) than all of the information on the internet as a whole at this point. When that day comes, well, I will be one happy geek. So, anyone care to calculate according to mores law when this point will be reached? Its sooner than you think.. try it.
  • People sometimes seem to forget that IBM still has a lot of smart people working for it.

    It's a pity that they are so big and therefore a bit less focused than other tech companies. Allocating resources and capital for a $180 billion must be a real pain. Maybe I'll get the chance to try that some day :-)
  • I hate to whine, but this appears to happen quite frequently - I wish Rob would build something into the posting scripts for top level stories to automatically check the links.

    I would say that usually about 10% of the links given in a top level story can be counted upon to be broken - pretty poor.

    Sure, if you read the discussion someone usually figures out the correct link and posts it, but sometimes I would just like to read the link itself without having to sort through the comments to find the 'real' link.

  • here is a brief summary.

    Yada, yada, yada, Silicon-On-Insulators, yada, yada, yada, Moore Law's, yada, yada, yada, still valid, yada, despite what the cynics say, yada, yada, copper instead of aluminum, yada, Moore's Law, yada, yada.
  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @10:12AM (#1485799) Journal

    Motorola today said that they had found a way to make transistors 4 times smaller and be implementable in a short time-span. It reduces power consuption and allows for speed increases. This was on your favourite site [].

    The trench technology looks cool, burying the DRAM under the processor so it doesn't have to be next to it. That should increase yield whilst not compromising on capabilities of the processor. How much DRAM can you fit in 100mm^2? 400mm^2? That would be the amount of 2nd or 1st level cache your Athlon/Alpha processor could have built in, running at full speed!

  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 )
    Yes, their next great technological advances will include such incredible things as...
    • A new space age cereal that doesn't immediately become soggy in milk...
    • Revolutionary new system that doesn't crash (guess which one).
    • One-click power-on sequence for computers (, eat your heart out!)
    • An even *larger* harddrive to store pr0n and mp3s!
    • Harddrives now come in designer colors like "tangerine" and "rasberry" (You'll note the lack of a "lemon" color, however!)
    • Computers from Intel that actually boot.
    • A new Office clone that has REAL useable features like "Extend Deadline", "Make pretty graphs", and "Create Bollocks" instead of a stupid animated paper clip.
    Horrah for IBM - working for the common user. =)
  • by meckardt ( 113120 ) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @10:14AM (#1485803) Homepage
    This is great that IBM will keep the speed increase for CPUs going for another decade. But will it really make the computers speed up that much? As the article points out, memory on the chip is faster than memory not on the chip. Part of the new technology involves putting more memory on the chip. But what is not mentioned is that the computer bus (used in moving data from memory to the chip) is not the biggest bottleneck today. Even slower is the network connection between computers. Sure, there is progress here, but the rate of increase is no where near as steep as the speed increase for CPU cycles. The problem is that the amount if information being transfered over the networks is increasing too.

    Mike Eckardt []
  • Ok, the article says we get a 50% improvement. How does that translate to sustaining Moore's law for 10 years, which requires a 100% improvement every 18 months?

  • You should have a couple of weeks ago when they dropped to 90. Don't expect IBM stocks to start flying through the roof, though. They're a blue chip for a reason - slow, steady growth. There really isn't a bad time to buy IBM, just times that are better than others.

    Sure, this may not last forever, but what does? It will certainly last for the next few years, and that's what matters today. IBM is a long term stock, and should be treated as one.
  • by superid ( 46543 ) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @10:21AM (#1485806) Homepage
    adhereing to Moore's law for another decade? I think that translates into about 6 doublings ( doubles every 18 months ) So if you assume that "typical" current capacities are 128MB SDRAMs, 500MHz CPUs, and 20GB drives then we can look forward to 8GB SDRAMS, 32 GHz CPUs (and probably massively parallel SMP ones too :)) and 1.2 TB hard drives (and I'll wager that is on the low end too)
    "I'm not a member of an organized political party...I'm a Democrat" - My Brother, and Will Rogers
  • What Nazi efforts?

    Really, what Nazi technology in the 30s and 40s have anything to do with semiconductors?

    Now if we were talking about rocket engines or aircraft wings you might have some basis in fact...
  • by JackCat ( 110909 ) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @10:30AM (#1485812)

    Looks like all the money IBM has historically put into general R&D is paying off once again. That's one thing Big Blue has usually gotten right....and something other large tech firms can learn from. Fund your scientists, and don't necessarily expect products immediately from them. Let them do basic research, and the products will follow.

    -- JackCat

  • No single new technology will allow Moore's Law to continue for the next n years. However, a new direction in processor development will. For a while now, one of the primary areas that has allowed Moore's Law to continue has been the shrinking of transitors. As we already know, this can't continue forever [].

    By fundamentally changing the architecture of the chip (though it could be argued whether these advances are truly fundamental), IBM is giving a new area for improvement. Just as it's hard to double the speed of the chip by improving transitor technology when transitors have not yet been invented, it's also hard to improve the SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology unless it has been invented. Moore's Law is only partially about new technologies; it also helps to refine old ones.


  • by El Volio ( 40489 ) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @10:35AM (#1485814) Homepage
    Moderate me down if you wish, but it seems like a lot of folks (read: Slashdot readers who moderate) don't understand what the various moderation descriptors (especially "Flamebait" and "Troll") mean. The above post does not appear to be a troll -- constructive criticism of /. is just that.

    This is similar to calling the "first post" messages "Flamebait" (well, maybe hot grits and petrified are flamebait). They're not. Trolls at best.

    The above is NOT a ulterior plea to be moderated up by folks who want to prove how "fair" they are. I moderate every week or two, just like a lot of you, and I am NOT looking for extra karma points -- each of my posts stands on its own merits (good, bad, or otherwise :)
  • People sometimes seem to forget that IBM still has a lot of smart people working for it.

    Heh. Thanks, from all the IBMers on /.

    It's a pity that they are so big and therefore a bit less focused than other tech companies.

    Actually, that is IBM's greatest strength. If you look at any of the markets that IBM plays in, you will note that we are rarely #1, but we are pretty consistently among the top players. If you look at most of those folks in the number one spot, you will note that IBM is usually providing them a fair sized chunk of the technology they use. Lou Gerstner set up the concept of "Coopetition", which is fun, because even if IBM is losing, it is winning. IBM has more patents than any other player in the industry, and the numbers keep growing. For instance, Dell uses IBM hard drives, IBM customer support, IBM... It doesn't hurt too much when Aptiva sales go down, because Dell (amongst others) picks up the slack and IBM gets a cut of the profits.

    On the other hand, allocating resources is a royal pain. My manager was going home at 2 AM and coming in at 10 AM for two weeks while we were trying to set up the budget for 2000, and none of it is going to have any meaning by May... *sigh*

    B. Elgin

  • I'll add one more...

    A new ai-based patent generator that automatically gleens information off the net, generates patents from it, and submits it to the patent office.

    Damn, why aren't I an IBM executive!! We'd make a killing, and absolute killing!

  • Hard drives capacities are pretty much unrelated to Moore's law (which is more of a guideline - it was originally IIRC 1 year, but they couldn't keep that up - last time I checked Intel's web site they claimed 2 years, so I guess they're having problems with the 1.5 year law ;)
  • For those who have read a fair portion of IBM product announcements in the past few months:

    Not much new covered. The R&D folks announced most of this stuff a while ago. It just sounds more impressive if you talk about a bunch of advances together. This is the fundamental flaw and great success of marketing...

    B. Elgin

  • They also lead the world in hard drive research. Their research philosophies and methods are second to none.
  • A new ai-based patent generator that automatically gleens information off the net, generates patents from it, and submits it to the patent office.

    In all fairness, IBM has a reputation for actually creating the things they patent (additionally, those inventions are typically innovative)... unlike some other companies.

  • by El Volio ( 40489 ) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @10:55AM (#1485826) Homepage
    Extra thought: If Rob would post the latest SLASH code (even in an unorganized state) and thus bring home the benefits of Open Source (yay!), then we'd have two good results:

    All the standard benefits of Open Source (bug cleaning, extra features like URL checking, &c.)

    The warm fuzzy of knowing that /. is putting its money where its mouth is. IOW, as perhaps the discussion site for Open Source, /. would do well to directly and concretely support the ideals we all support as a community.

    So how about it, CmdrTaco? How about letting us take a crack at it?

  • (which is more of a guideline - it was originally IIRC 1 year, but they couldn't keep that up - last time I checked Intel's web site they claimed 2 years, so I guess they're having problems with the 1.5 year law ;)

    Actually, it started out at 2 years. For the last several years, we have been meeting the 18 month cycle. You know how it is with users, if you treat them better than they they are used to, eventually, they experct the better treatment, and complain bitterly once the original level is resumed.

    Also, the original statement said nothing regarding speed of microprocessors. The original statement was regarding complexity of the processors. It's just that the media, and therefore the majority of users cannot comprehend complexity, and substitute speed instead. For the most part, it works.

  • use the following instead
  • Harddrives now come in designer colors like "tangerine" and "rasberry"

    Mauve has more RAM.

  • Perhaps, Hemos, you should concentrate on articles that are more than marketing and advertising for companies. This remind me of the that trillion-giga-tera bit rounter from lucent that big comapnies couldn't even afford at this point and all those AT&T commercials a few year back with Tom Sellic(sp?) telling us how they were going to make heaven on earth with their technology. Lets have some articles with technical backing and insight.

    I'd rather talk about offtopic-topics like the WTO discussion the other day. Now that was interesting...around 800 posts!
  • I love the way IBM has turned itself around. People look at the 80's now and say "Big Blue's previous life ended when the government basically sat on them for 10 years and let their competition keep up." Now look at some of the stuff IBM is up to:
    • Wonderful commercials with a real sense of humor. ("Can I get realtime access to my inventory and legacy systems?" "I...don't know how to do that. Look! Your logo has flames.")
    • Adopting Apache.
    • Alphaworks [], probably the definitive resource for almost all things Java/XML.
    • Invention announcements like these.
    • Wearables.
    • Adoption of Linux.

    Now what I'm really wondering is this : at least one theory suggests that the government is in the process of doing to MS what it did to IBM back in the 80's. If that's true, and the DOJ keeps MS so tangled up over the next decade that competitors emerge, does anybody think that Microsoft will reinvent itself in a similar way? Sure, we can all hate MS as the big bad corporate enemy now, but we all did that 20 years ago, too, when it was IBM. Now we love them.

  • The most recent reference on the website I found (by searching on the phrase "Moore's Law") is Oct98, in the Technology Journal, where they state:

    In 1965, Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, was preparing a speech and made a memorable observation. He observed that device complexity doubles about every 18 months. This observation is now known as Moore's Law.

    So they were sticking to it a year ago... I'd be real interested, though, in seeing a reference to 2 years instead -- that would be quite a change...
  • Though I don't know what that link has to do with anything it just seems like that was want s/he was pointing to
  • Hm. I'm not a physicist, nor an engineer...

    Would heat dissipation be a barrier to adding more layers to a CPU? Letting the DRAM be basically underneath the rest would seem to increase power consumption per unit surface area... ?

    Or are there other barriers (manufacturing?) that mean that they're not looking at N-layer processors yet, N > 2?
  • I know this is off topic buttttt...

    "Who are you, to criticise me? Who are you, to despise me? If your slate is clean, than you can throw stones. If your slate is not, than leave me alone!"

    DoomHaven's listening to Jesus Christ Superstar. Damn good musical.

    Anyway, to the people who have problems with moderation: if you don't like it, ignore it! Nothing's forcing you to read all posts or even to filter the level of posts that you see!

    That said, if it's really a problem for you then you should make a civialized attempt to get it changed.

  • I don't know about you, but I'd REALLY enjoy faster & cheaper CPUs. I would LOVE to be able to compile my code faster, and part (not all, by any means) of that would include faster processors (the cheaper part is just so I don't go broke). While I am developing software, my debug->change->compile cycle is dreadfully slow sometimes. I would really like to have a very fast dual CPU system w/ Super-Ultra-Fast SCSI harddrive system (one of the other huge bottlenecks when compiling large projects) in order to reduce that cycle.

    Of course, if I were independantly wealthy, I could just get a Penguin computing 8-way Xeon system w/ IBM 10,000 RPM SCSI harddrives. Buy I don't happen to have $100k lying around...

    Of course network speed is important, but CPU speed is, too!
  • by pvente ( 89848 ) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @11:10AM (#1485842)
    Transmeta ? This was my first gut reaction to this story. I've heard whispers they have been working together (not to mention that IBM were lined up to fab the transmeta chips). I wonder about any connection between them (even though one is more hardware than the other), especially with the third advance mentioned in the article about mobile communications....hmmmm.

    Probably wrong, but fun to speculate nonetheless.

  • by arodrig6 ( 22052 ) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @11:10AM (#1485843) Homepage
    Very true, the primary bottle neck in computers these days is memory and network latency. I think that the advances IBM is showcasing here will really pay off though in decreased power requirements which are becoming increasingly important as embedded devices appear. and the combination of Processor and Memory is an extremely attactive option as it relieves requirements on the bus.

    intersting work is being done in this direction under the Processor-in-Memory (PIM) project. []

    Another mechanism to decrease the effect of this memory latency is to use large numbers of low-level threads (often automatically generated by the compiler) to mask latency. By decreasing the context switch penalty to a single cycle (or less with interwoven threads) and then switching on every cache miss substantial benifits can be made. One example of this is Tera computing MTA [] architechture. For certain common simulation tasks the 4-processor TERA machine blew away a multi-node Origin and Cray computer according to This NASA report [].

    Also, Sun's new MAJC [] architechture uses threads to mask latency.

    Interwoven threads (where the processor switches thread every clock cycle) has the benifits of removing branch and data dependancies from a processor pipleine, thus removing the need for processor complexity like data forwarding, speculative execution, and the like. An example of this technique can be found a the TIPSI Project [].
  • I imagine that DRAM is not the greatest generator of heat, I have never seen cooled DRAM except in 'large' computers a long time ago. So putting the DRAM (relatively cool at 0.1 micron) under the processor (hot, but not as hot as it was when it was 0.25micron (or even 0.18 micron (if this technology is introduced when we are down to 0.13 micron sizes (some years off yet (3?))))) should not increase overall heat output by an enormous amount.

    Of course, layering processor cores would be a problem, but we aren't doing that.

  • A lot of the article sounds pretty neat, but I admit I don't know if I like the bit about putting DRAM on the CPU...from a sheer speed perspective, it's obviously superior, but who wants to have to upgrade the CPU to put more RAM in the machine? Granted, I'm sure you'd still have DIMM slots, but those would be (of course) slower than the on-CPU memory.

    What it reminds me of most is the old days of trying to configure 640K of main memory to squeeze every last byte out of it to run things...personally, I've rather enjoyed that sort of fading into a quaint historical oddity. Putting memory on the CPU just means software (by which I mean games, at the moment) is going to require a certain amount of "CPU RAM," and a certain amount of system RAM, and a certain amount of video card RAM.


    Just $0.02 from someone who remembers reading the install guide for Falcon 3.0...

    "Let's see...if I don't run an OS, I can get 604K main memory free..."

  • Maybe, maybe not. Ask us again after the court battle is complete. I'd have to think it would be a Good Thing if MS was to become a force for good in the future.
    I have to wonder if a direct correlation between MS and IBM is possible though? IBM can do general hardware research with no specific application in mind, but will MS (or any other software company) beable to do general software research?
  • by Z0nk3r ( 121624 ) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @11:14AM (#1485848)

    These are all nice new technologies, but let' s hope IBM knows how to use them. Historically IBM has created quite a few technologies; unfortunately the management has, in the past, simply thrown the innovations away. Here are a couple examples:

    • Non-impact printing, i.e. electrostatic. IBM invented this in the 1950s, but the chief innovator got disgusted and left, forming a tiny company called Xerox.
    • Magnetic stripe recording. IBM engineers invented this in the 1960s for the BART train ticketing system. It was stolen from them by a French company.
    • IBM also created the first multisession WORM discs. Management killed the project, complaining that you couldn't erase old data.
    • Video cassettes as tape backups. IBM engineers figured out how to pack about 10GB onto one VHS cassette. Management didn't like it because it wasn't random access, like a floppy disk.

    On the other hand, many IBM innovations did make it, such as the magnetic hard drive. IBM still makes great hard drives.

    The article didn't say it, but allowing RAM transistors to exist below other circuitry effectively doubles the data density of existing DRAM chips. How does tens of gigabytes of RAM sound? The problem: how do you cool double the amount of heat coming from those RAM chips?

    I am looking forward to the faster and better computers and devices that will come from these innovations.


  • My Bad.

    According to

    Moore is widely known for "Moore's Law," in which he predicted that the number of transistors that the industry would be able to place on a computer chip would double every year. In 1995, he updated his prediction to once every two years.

    and e.htm

    In 1965, Gordon Moore was preparing a speech and made a memorable observation. When he started to graph data about the growth in memory chip performance, he realized there was a striking trend. Each new chip contained roughly twice as much capacity as its predecessor, and each chip was released within 18-24 months of the previous chip. If this trend continued, he reasoned, computing power would rise exponentially over relatively brief periods of time.


  • IBM is rolling this stuff out for several reasons:

    1) Processors for network equipment need REALLY fast processors to handle ever faster network links intelligently. (i.e. handling packets at the IP layer and above, instead of acting as switches)

    2) IBM believes in practical business applications for supercomputing. This is another step toward ever-faster machines for that purpose. This is part of Lou's "Pervasive Computing" initiatives.

    3) Some of these new innovations cut heat production and reduce power requirements, this makes them useful for mobile applications. (Another part of "pervasive computing".)

    No, these things aren't really needed for PC's. and IBM is not in the PC processor Biz. (Although they do perform a lot of fab work for those who are.)
  • I am really sure that this could happen but what will happen to being able to actually buy this?
    As I see this the more something costs in time and complexity the more it costs in terms of raw dollars. I really would rather not have to go back to the days of yore when computers had armed guards around them and required the use of a Phd in some obscure field to operate.
    Having the 5 richest kings of Europe have access to all the technology makes me sick. I want to have a chance. The only reason that things like the open source movement actually succeeded was because of cheap but powerful/functional computers that everyone could and can now buy. I would hate to think of the world without affordable computing. Now people m,ay not like to think this way but think just how happy all these purists could be if they could have their Ivory TOwer back? They could do all their little research without having all the "rabble" to prevent them from their task.
    If this can be done and actually have some useful stuff that can actually make the computer less of some kind of silly tool that still requires a great del of knowledge to get something working to it's full potential (for example to have say True AI, Instant linguistic translation, weather forcasting and the like). If people could write programs that did really interesting things then perhaps we would see an improvement in society. As it stands now most people would reason that *I* should spend the time/money/tallent/fatigue to write something that will do some socially enriching task. However most people don't have time time to go and get a Phd degree and then spend at least another 20 hours a day writing code and have just one area of a project take at least 120 years.
    That's why we have crummy programs and systems of programs. People expect anyone who wants to make their life better to actually do it themselves. The whole perpetuated idea is that happiness exists outside computers in something that cannot and will not last be that marriage, family, career, wealth, health, or life. I maintain that existence could be viewed in relation to how well of a computer experience. If I could exist inside a computer even 5 minutes after my own physical death I would say that it would be a welcome thing.
  • >DoomHaven's listening to Jesus Christ Superstar


    >Damn good musical.


    >Anyway, to the people who have problems with
    >moderation: if you don't like it, ignore it!
    >Nothing's forcing you to read all posts or even
    >to filter the level of posts that you see!

    Yes, I agree. I leave my threshold on -1, because I want to see everything, from the Top Ten comments to the "Hey, I just poured hot grits...". If you don't like moderatation, don't use it. If my comments don't deserve the moderation, it will come out during meta-moderation.
  • by Otto ( 17870 ) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @11:18AM (#1485854) Homepage Journal
    it seems like a lot of folks don't understand what the various moderation descriptors (especially "Flamebait" and "Troll") mean. The above post does not appear to be a troll -- constructive criticism of /. is just that.

    I agree. I think that the "overrated" and "underrated" should be used to simply mark a post up or down. The others should be used only if they're descriptive. Also, I wish that the term "Troll" was not a negative score. I'm not saying it should be positive, but not all Trolls are bad.

    This is similar to calling the "first post" messages "Flamebait" (well, maybe hot grits and petrified are flamebait). They're not. Trolls at best.

    Maybe there should be a "First Post Moron" descriptor. :-)

  • Ram density & clock speeds are only indirectly linked to Moore's law. There's also some indication that cpu power is growing faster than Moore's law currently.
  • I am really sure that this could happen but what will happen to being able to actually buy this? As I see this the more something costs in time and complexity the more it costs in terms of raw dollars.

    Do you really mean this? You're surely not implying that our 1*10^8 transistor/chip systems, which are infinitely more complex than early computers, are more expensive than their predecessors - are you?

    That's one thing I love about being alive right now. The faster and better my toys become, the cheaper they get. I mean, your run-of-the-mill Celeron system is practically a supercomputer compared to the old 808x machines, but only cost a fraction of the price (in current, not even adjusted units!). This is great! I suspected that the 3D petaflop box will cost about $30 2040 dollars. I'll be saving. :)

  • Don't forget, some other key things out of IBM research:

    • Fortran
    • The compiler
    • Relational database theory (ie. the daddy for just about every dbms being used right now) & SQL

    I read an article a few months ago which stated that IBM has issued more patents (whether that's good or bad is another question) than any other company for the last 5 or 6 years. They pumped as much money into IBM Research as is spent on venture capitaling in Silicon Valley in 1996.

  • from the Top Ten comments to the "Hey, I just poured hot grits...".

    The "hot grits" comments are witless and juvenile. I laugh every time I read one, indulging my witless, juvenile side

  • Microsoft does do research, apparently. Nathan Mhyrvold is supposedly their resident genius who is supposed to do nothing but think about the future of the technology. But I read an article earlier this year in MIT Tech Review about the so called research shop of MS that basically asked, "What has it produced?" and the answer was pretty much "Nothing yet."

    From what I've read about MS and their people, Mhyrvold apparently spends most of his time writing massive memos that nobody reads. :) This guy was around the company when Gates said the Internet was no big thing. You'd think he would have whispered something in Bill's ear :).

  • I agree that some of IBM's commercials have been pretty funny, but a few lately have given me the creeps. In particular, that 'getting to know you' made me shiver...
  • Well, I'd say RAM density is about as directly linked to Moore's law as a thing can be, after all, Moore's law is about surface feature density.
  • was a big nasty kafka-esque bug like the kind you find in win9x apps.

    I've been thinking about IBM's style lately, and I have a question. How long have they been producing subsystems? I know that other companies use IBM products/tech in their own offerings, which goes against the proprietary mentality I usually hold synonymous with Big Blue. Old Big Blue, anyway.

  • "Wow. Look at the markup on miniature vegetables."

    :) True. I'd probably be more worried about it if I wasn't surrounded by people who are very interested in that sort of thing. It's a fact of life that industry wants profiling information.

    At least IBM is taking the right approach -- "We want profiling information so that we can help streamline the information we're providing to you." If I know you play tennis, there's two ways you can look at it. One is, "Oooo good, now I can sell him more tennis balls." Everybody hates this, of course, because nobody likes to feel like a target. But the second is, "Hey, you know what? Maybe I really am interested in knowing whose got a deal on tennis balls." Sometimes targeted messaging does actually work. It's really the same thing that the demographics have always been, only with better profiling they really know. They're not assuming "Oh, because you're in group X, there's a Y% likelihood that you play tennis."

    There's a new movement in this area. That's to get away from the use of the word "targeting" and to start making use of expressions like "1:1" and "relationship". People are happier having a relationship with the businesses they use. The whole point of the IBM focusgroup commercial is a bunch of people being pissed off because the ad people don't know them.

    And just in case anybody is prepared to argue that "1:1 relationship" is just new marketing hype for the same old spam, let me put it this way. When my grandfather walked into the local hardware store, the shopkeeper could say "Hello, Dan! Getting ready to send the kids off to college pretty soon, aren't ya? Got a good sale on bookcases down in aisle 3." And he would never, ever say "Have ya seen our sale on house paint?" if he knew that my dad had aluminum siding. And service like that was *appreciated*. People go on to the internet today and they ask where all the service went. The optimist in me says that all this 1:1 relationship stuff is actually a way to try and bring that *back*. If I really thought that I was just coming up with a better mousetrap (or in this case, spamtrap), I don't think I'd be working where I work.


  • I like to believe that Rob *does* believe in Open Source, but he's just in the group of coders who believe that some projects should start in the cathedral, then move to the bazaar when they are a little more mature. You'll notice that "Beta is only a state of mind" or something along those lines is below every story.

    ...that, and the shame factor of bad coding style and/or adult language comments might be involved ;o)
  • The oft-repeated industry maxim, originally coined in 1965 by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, holds that the capabilities of semiconductors double roughly every 18 to 24 months.

    I always thought Moore's law said 18 months. Is IBM trying to fudge the numbers to make the article sound better?

    (OT) does anyone know the equivalant laws for RAM, hard disks, monitor size, etc?
  • Well, you are sort of comparing apples and oranges. See your grandfather went to the shopkeeper, so the shopkeeper wasn't a spammer. He was a website with cookies enabled :) (That could incidently be sued by if he kept your credit card number on file).
    I think we would appreciate the shopkeepers "service" significantly less if he just busted up in your house yelling "I've got bookcases I've got bookcases" when the two of you have never even met before.
    Quite frankly if someone just invaded my house (including spammers if I ever find one of the rat bastards) I don't care what they are selling whether it is bookcases or siding. If I want bookcases I will go to the shopkeeper who has given me such good service and never busted up in my house. On the other hand the house buster/located spammer is going to find an irate home owner holding a baseball bat ready to Laissez les bon temps rouller, let the good times roll!

  • A lot of the article sounds pretty neat, but I admit I don't know if I like the bit about putting DRAM on the CPU...from a sheer speed perspective, it's obviously superior, but who wants to have to upgrade the CPU to put more RAM in the machine?

    If the price is cheap enough, why not buy a faster CPU just to get more memory?

  • > Wonderful commercials with a real sense of > humor.

    Best commerical I ever saw went like this:
    2 minutes of computer chips being put into life support systems and pacemakers, old people running around, celebrating 100year birthdays, with cheesy music in the background and a voice over saying "We have the power today, to help people last longer, the computer chips needed to make life support systems. With our new chips we could save lives, but we thought, Nah, forget it, lets play games" All the chips were removed from the pacemakers, the old people started having heart attacks mixed in with shots of Quake and racing games.

    It turned out to be an advert for 3dfx's stuff.
    I only saw it once, but it was hilarious.
    It was probably axed for being offensive.
  • The story of IBMs comback has been pretty fun to watch. I believe that the antitrust suit did have a lot to do with IBM's decline in the 80's, but so did IBM's own corporate stupidity.

    Pick up Robert X. Cringely's "Accidental Empires" for some fun stories about how IBM squandered it's early lead in the PC business. Most of the stories are pretty true.

    Having said all of that, let me also defend IBM by saying that big companies faced with radical changes in technology almost always get killed, and IBM did what most other companies couldn't have done: somehow ride out the problems and rise from the ashes to play a new role in the techonology world. That's something to be respected, along with all of their recent initiatives mentioned above.
  • by Chalst ( 57653 ) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @12:19PM (#1485873) Homepage Journal
    It occurs to me that if a post really deserves the rating `troll',
    then everyone who replies to it should automatically be moderated
  • Actually, good point. I used the word spam far too much in my reply. Almost that whole time I was thinking "You've come to my site voluntarily and I want to direct useful messages at you", but I kept saying "spam". My bad.

    You're right. Spam sucks in all flavors. But if you've voluntarily walked through the door of my, I'm hoping that you will appreciate me knowing that you have kids ready to go off to college so I can point you to the deal on bookcases.

    And now I bet somebody's gonna moderate me down as being overrated. I hate it when that happens. :) It's not my fault I'm posting at a natural 2!

  • I thought that it went something like this:

    "The ratio of transistors to area doubles roughly every 18 months."

    Now, whether this directly translates into performance is to be debated. But by and large, Gordon was right...
  • ...what IBM can do: basic research; or large scale research and development?

    My list includes:
    Sun Microsystems

    any others?
  • I suspect more the latter. Yes, more than a few coders believe in starting off as cathedral, but just as many defected to the "go to bazaar ASAP" after Netscae's Mozilla release.

    (Mozilla was proof, to many people, that isolated coders can NEVER produce the same standard of code as a large, bazaar-style group. When it was first released, it was remeniscent of the mold in coffee mugs left out for several months.)

  • Motorola announced great advances today.
    IBM says they can keep up with Moore's law for 10 more years.
    Intel has said they don't know how they will increase speed after 2000 or so

    IBM and Motorola make PowerPC
    Intel makes x86

    This could be fun for us Mac users.
  • More layers will lead to more lost dies, so the performance would have to be much better for someone to do that.
  • Let them do basic research, and the products will follow.

    True.IBM also has the distribution and manufacturing channels in place.
    Having dealt with a lot of retailers, I know that (from a reseller's perspective) a supplier with those two solid is worth it's weight in customers.

  • It is obvious that as an organization IBM has had a long and storied history of pursuing this kind of research such that it has long been institutionalized within that culture. I can't for the life of me see the same sort of sub-culture seriously being promoted within microsoft.

    I took a look at the microsoft Research site [] which just struck me as more of an after-thought than a real effort to "instutionalize" a dynamic and relevant research culture. Of course this is an "outsider looking in" perception of microsoft, but with that same sort of outsiders view of IBM its pretty clear they have always taken this approach.

  • A new space age cereal that doesn't immediately become soggy in milk...

    the cereal you refer to is sold by phillip morris' as "grape nuts".

  • Here it is []; the page also contains links to two other ads in the same campaign.
  • Oh, is that what that means? Hmmm. shows what I get for not r-ing the fm. :)
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday December 02, 1999 @12:40PM (#1485888) Homepage Journal
    A penguin, disguised as a Furby, managed to sneak into IBM's Managerial Bunker. With their super-secret hi-tech recording devices, they captured the following snippet of conversation:

    "I'm worried. We have those press announcements on Monday, and you -know- Slashdot'll cover them. Our servers will never cope!"

    "It's ok. I've just put up some web pages, pre-announcing the announcements. If the servers melt down this week, we'll still have the weekend to replace them, and Slashdot readers don't care about repeat announcements."

    "That's cunning! Do you think they'll fall for it?"

    "I think so. The system load was showing 490% CPU usage, and rising fast, the last time I looked."

    * In the distance, the sound of a hard disk spinning out of the drive bay and colliding with a UPS unit. An IL&M techie is on-hand to supply the effects *

    * Outside the building, the T1 link is glowing red, then blue, before finally exploding as the energy from the packets causes the fibre to undergo nuclear fusion. *

  • A new space age cereal that doesn't immediately become soggy in milk...

    the cereal you refer to is sold by phillip morris' as "grape nuts".

    I believe the actual innovation is that it's edible. Can't say the same for grape nuts.

  • I love the idea of open sourcing /.

    I can think of a couple different forums that
    I regularly read/post to that could seriously
    benefit from a /. like moderation style.

    The benifits to /. would be great, but I think
    lots of others would benefit even more.

    we could put a powered by /. on each implementation :)
  • by taniwha ( 70410 ) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @12:54PM (#1485891) Homepage Journal
    Heat disipation in rams has normally been in the sense circuitry and pads - and while hopefully accesses are spread randomly across a die dram manufacturers have to be carefull about hotspots (like when you loop reading the same location for ever).

    In fact reducing the number of off-die memory accesses may reduce the power (no need to source/sink to those external bus signal's caps)

    The more complex anything gets - the lower the yield (basic rule of nature - I suspect it applies to life too :-)

  • That would be great, except half the messages marked "Troll" really aren't.
  • The only complaints with releasing the latest /. source code, as Rob supposedly has been planning to do for a while now:

    The code page claims it's not in a state ready for release - well then, tarball it up and that's good enough for me. It may not work right off the bat on another site, or there may be too many slashdot-isms hardcoded into the scripts, but we'll get things ironed out and smoothed out soon enough. Nobody wants to try and clone slashdot's style, just to use the cool forum design, customizability, and user moderation for sites covering other topics.

    There is the security concern involved with open sourcing something suddenly - don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating "security through obscurity" - but while open source software may have fewer security flaws than closed source software, closed source software that suddenly is liberated is bound to have more bugs, more visible, for a while after the initial code release.

    I don't think either of those things are a really convincing argument for keeping the code to the epitome of open source advocacy sites under wraps, though. I don't suppose Andover is against releasing the code, worried about competing web portals taking your ad revenue?
  • As time passes, manufacturing processes become cheaper. New, cutting-edge technologies drive down the price on older, almost-as-good, technologies. When these meter-cube computers first come out, yeah, they'll cost out the wazoo. But the refinements to the manufactuing processes needed to make them will have improved to the point of putting the 10 cm cube, which puts all the power of the Digital Domain Titanic rendering farm under your desk, well within reach of the average hobbyist.
  • If you don't like reading troll posts, then why would you read the responses to them? Sometimes people (well, not me) have funny or informative responses to troll/flamebait posts. I for one prefer no moderation, I like to think for myself when it comes to other people's opinions.
  • >Nathan Mhyrvold is supposedly their resident genius who is supposed to do nothing but think about the future of the technology.

    Except that Nathan is one of the MANY people who have left/taken a long leave from Microsoft.

    His leaving was hadly mentioned by anyone....which is shocking, IMNSHO
  • No way... Microsoft will never relinquish their stranglehold on their market. They will either go down in the deep, deep flames or continue lording over the rest of us. They are too smart and will weasil their way out of this little predicament. Don't expect the government to bail us out of this problem.
    Only by creating superior products can we defeat this monstrosity.

  • There are a lot of smart people at Microsoft, and they do a lot of things well. My personal opinion is that a lot of the problems with their software comes from making a deliberate effort to lock competitors out. If MS took half the time, energy, and money it appears to devote to keeping its competitors down, and focused on simplifying their software and supporting open standards, they'd be producing a lot better products.

    Never make a technical decision based upon the politics of the situation. Never make a political decision based upon technical issues. The only place these realms meet is in the mind of the unenlightened.

    -- Geoffrey James, The Zen of Programming
  • The article mentions much more than a 50% increase.

    The "silicon on insulator" advance combined with using copper gives the 50% increase that you quote, but that is only the first advance mentioned in the article.

    The second advance, embedded DRAM, is claimed to increase performance two to three times, or 200% to 300%. Combined with the SOI and copper advances, that is enough to meet Moore's law for the next couple of years. It isn't enough to meet it for the next decade however.

  • This was exactly was I was thinking when I read this article as well... hmmm...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yet systems will feel no faster because these 32 Ghz CPU's will be completely stalled on the still abysmal performance of rotation magnetic secondary storage. My P3-500 doesn't feel 2.5 times as fast as my old P-200. What most consumers need is faster secondary storage, not faster CPU's or 100 gigabyte hard drivers.
  • A lot of good things have come out of IBM, but one of them is not SQL.

    Compared to the now-vanquished QUEL from ingres it's pretty weak.

    And, of course, it has an icky COBOL-like look+feel.

    All, in all, it's the EBCDIC of DB languages.

  • Yes, this is a definite possibility. Microsoft has a lot of very intelligent people working for them, particularly in Microsoft Research. About two months ago, Microsoft and MIT announced a long-term collaboration for innovation in higher education []. At the same time, they celebrated by holding a small technology fair for MIT students on campus. It wasn't a sales pitch or a recruiting event. It wasn't taken very seriously by a lot of MIT students (copies of Office 2000 raffled off were promptly thrown on the ground and stomped upon by many), but it did illustrate many new technologies that Microsoft Research [] is working upon. Among some of the highlights are voice recognition, image processing, video processing, facial recognition, 3-D graphics, audio technologies, and portable devices. One thing that they were showing that was very cool was an electronic pen that used tiny accelerometers to detect movement of the pen and record it as hand-writing recognition, available to pump straight into some PDA, if the pen isn't already a PDA. If you ask me, the real value of Microsoft is not in its browser, applications, or operating system. It's in the products from Microsoft Research.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I strongly suspect that Andover management is against releasing the latest code. They probably look at it like the golden egg and are willing to kill the goose to get it. Guesswho
  • Hopefully, one day, not all PowerPC's will be Macs.
  • Yes, but will these new technologies give that much more room for growth i.e. doubling every 18th months for the next 10 years? Switching to copper doesn't help, because it just gives an instantaneous boost but doesn't help to sustain Moore's law over an extended period of time.

    I don't know what SOI does, but it sounds like a wildly exaggerated claim by IBM.
  • Actually, IBM did create SQL. It was originally designed for an experiment relational DBMS called System R.

    To the A.C. in the other post Larry Ellison didn't come up with the idea for relational databases. It was a fellow named Ted Codd in 1970, quite a while before Oracle was founded. IBM developped several relational dbms-es in the 70s, so they didn't appear to think it was a silly idea.

    Just happened to have my old databases textbook handy :)


  • and Office will be how big by then?

    Windows 2010 (aka 2005, 2002, NT6) will ship by the end of the year, MS promises, if it can just get the billion lines of code debugged.

  • The only problem with that, is that software manufacturers will take advantage of the hardware, instead of optimizing, and fixing bugs in-house. Like the post says, "and office will be how big by then"?

    That puts the average software program at about 3.2 GB installed, with only minor functionality upgrade.

    Until we can get software manufacturers to stop putting out bigger and more bloated materials, then we're going to need bigger and better hardware.

    I know it's nice to have the biggest and the fastest, but for a lot of people (myself included), it's not feasible. I buy about 3 - 6 months behind the times, after the prices have fallen. And sure enough, every time I upgrade, there's a wave of new Win-compatible software packages claiming to be better, and improved, while really only offering me just that much more bloat.

    Don't have the problem as much on my Linux box, but it does still occur.

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @03:17PM (#1485926)
    AT&T: Perhaps, but I am not aware of what basic science things they have invented aside from some applied computer science stuff (C, Unix, etc).

    How about the transistor? Or the laser? Or Information Theory? The solar cell, and perhaps the communications satellite? Cellular phones? How about the first photonic computer? How about Radio Astronomy including the Big Bang remnant radiation? The application of statistics to the social sciences? Or waveguide optical fibre (making transoceaninc optical cables possible).

    AT&T had the best industrial labs in the world before they spun them off as Lucent. No other lab in the world has come close to contributing as much. Eleven workers at Bell Labs have been awarded Nobel Prizes.

    Schawlow and Townes Invent the Laser

    The invention of the laser, which stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, can be dated to 1958 with the publication of the scientific paper, Infrared and Optical Masers, by Arthur L. Schawlow, then a Bell Labs researcher, and Charles H. Townes, a consultant to Bell Labs. That paper, published in Physical Review, the journal of the American Physical Society, launched a new scientific field and opened the door to a multibillion-dollar industry.

    The work of Schawlow and Townes, however, can be traced back to the 1940s and early 50s and their interest in the field of microwave spectroscopy, which had emerged as a powerful tool for puzzling out the characteristics of a wide variety of molecules. Neither man was planning on inventing a device that would revolutionize a number of industries, from communications to medicine. They had something more straightforward in mind, developing a device to help them study molecular structures.

    The beginnings at Bell Labs Townes, armed with a Ph.D. degree in physics from the California Institute of Technology, joined Bell Labs in 1939, where he worked on a variety of problems, including microwave generation, vacuum tubes, and magnetics. He then moved on to solid-state physics, studying electron emissions from surfaces. One day, about a year after Townes arrived at Bell Labs, Mervin Kelley, then director of Townes' laboratory, informed the group, "On Monday, I want you to start a radar bombing system." Townes wasn't enthusiastic about the assignment, but realized that World War II had invaded the quiet hallways of Bell Labs. "We worked at it pretty hard, and after about a year we had a system which we put in an airplane, and actually used. It worked.

    For those who are interested in the history of the first transistor, here is
    an excerpt from "The TRANSISTOR - A Crystal Triode" by Fink and Rockett in
    ELECTRONICS 21, 68-71 (Sep 1948), describing the work at the Bell Telephone

    "Although investigation of semiconductors at BTL dates back a number of years,
    with the end of the war a concentrated basic research progrm was undertaken."

    "The group on semiconductors, led by William Shockley, one of this country's
    leading solid-state physicists, was seeking answers to three basic questions:
    (1) physically, what is a semiconductor, (2) how doers its physical nature
    produce its observed properties, and (3) how does the fabrication and
    processing of the material affect its physical nature? Among the
    semiconductors studied were silicon, copper oxide, and germanium."

    "A great deal of empirical information had been amassed on these substances
    during their use, particularly as detectors in microwave equipment ("Crystal
    Rectifiers", H.C. Torrey and C.A. Whitmer, Mcgraw-Hill, 1948). In particular
    it was known that their resistivities were determined chiefly by impurities,
    and furthermore that their resistivities could be varied over wide ranges by
    applying various external influences (light in the case of photocells,
    electric potential in the case of rectifiers and detectors, or temperature
    in the case of Thermistors)."

    "Likewise, a high potential applied externally (without making contact) to
    a semiconductor should change its resistivity. Using a sheet of germanium
    as one plate of a capacitor, Shockley and his colleagues measured the change
    in resistance produced by changing the voltage across the capacitor. The
    change in resistance was much smaller than anticipated in the light of
    prevailing theory. Conclusion: something wrong with theory. So John Bardeen,
    a theoretical physicist in the group, devised a theory of surface states that
    would account for the measured change as well for older known effects
    unexplained by previous theories."

    "The new theory suggested new experiments, which, when performed, called for
    refinements in the theory. While W.H. Brattain and John Bardeen were following
    up the consequences of the refined theory of surface states they invented the

    The discovery was made in December 1947, but not announced to the world at
    large until July, 1948, after additional devices has been fabricated and

    ------------------------------------------------ ------------------------
    Further details are given by J. Bardeen and W.H. Brattain themselves in
    their introduction to "Physical Principles Involved in Transistor Action",
    published simultaneously in BELL SYSTEM TECHNICAL JOURNAL 28, 239-277
    (Apr 1949) and PHYSICAL REVIEW 75, 1208-1225 (1949) as follows:

    "The properties of germanium as a semi-conductor and as a rectifier have
    been investigated by a group working under the direction of K. Lark-Horovitz
    at Purdue University. Work at the Bell Telephone Laboratories
    was initiated by R.S. Ohl before the war in connection with the development
    of silicon rectifiers for use as detectors at microwave frequencies. Research
    and development on both germanium and silicon rectifiers during and since the
    war has been done in large part by a group under J.H. Scaff. The background
    of information obtained in these various investigations hs been invaluable."

    [A summary of the wartime weapons research can be found in "Development of
    Silicon Crystal Rectifiers for Microwavve Radar Receivers" by Scaff and Ohl,
    BELL SYSTEM TECHNICAL JOURNAL 26, 1-30 (Jan 1947)]

    "The general research program leading to the transistor was initiated and
    directed by W. Shockley. Work on germanium and silicon was emphasized because
    they are simpler to understand than most other semi-conductors. One of the
    investigations undertaken was the study of the modulation of conductance of a
    thin film of semi-conductor by an electric field applied by an electrode
    insulated from the film. [described in "Modulation of Conductance by Surface
    Charges" by Shockley and Pearson, PHYSICAL REVIEW 74, 232 (July 15, 1948)]
    If, for example, the film is made one plate of a parallel plate condenser,
    a charge is induced on the surface. If the individual charges which make up
    the induced charge are mobile, the conductance of the film will depend on
    the voltage applied to the condenser. The first experiments performed to
    measure this effect indicated that most of the induced charge was not mobile.
    This result, taken along with other unexplained phenomena such as the small
    contact potential difference between n- and p- type silicon and the
    independence of the rectifying properties of the point contact rectifier on
    the work function of the metal point, led one of the authors [Bardeen,
    "Surface States and rectification at metal semiconductor contact", PHYSICAL
    REVIEW 71, 717-727 (1947)] to an explanation in terms of surface states.
    This work led to the concept that space charge barrier layers may be present
    at the free surfaces of semi-conductors such as germanium and silicon,
    independent of a metal contact. Two experiments immediately suggested were
    to measure the dependence of contact potential on impurity concentration
    and to measure the change of contact potential on illuminating the surface
    with light. Both of these experiments were successful and confirmed the
    theory. [Brattain & Shockley, PHYSICAL REVIEW 72, 345L (1947)] It was while
    studying the latter effect with a silicon surface immersed in a liquid that
    it was found that the density of surface charges and the field in the space
    charge region could be varied by applying a potential across an electrolyte
    in contact with the silicon surface. While studying the effect of field
    applied applied by an electrolyte on the current voltage characeristic of
    a high-back-voltage germanium rectifier, the authors were led to the concept
    that a portion of the current was being carried by holes flowing near the
    surface. Upon replacing the electrolyte with a metal contact transistor
    action was discovered."

    "The germanium used in the transistor is an n-type or excess semi-conductor
    with a resistivity of the order of 10 ohm-cm, and is the same as the material
    used in high-back-voltage germanium rectifiers." ["Preparation of High Back
    Voltage Germanium Rectifiers" by J.H. Scaff and H.C. Theuerer, NATIONAL
    DEFENSE RESEARCH COMMITTEE 14-555 (Oct 24, 1945)]

    "Our discussion has been confined to the transistor in which two point
    contacts are placed in close proximity on one face of a germanium block.
    It is apparent that the principles can be applied to other geometrical
    designs and to other semi-conductors. Some preliminary work has shown
    that transistor action can be obtained with silicon and undoubtedly other
    semi-conductors can be used."

    ------------------------------------------------ ------------------------

    Later that year, William Shockley extended the theory from simple metal-
    semiconductor junctions to full semiconductor-semiconductor junctions,
    and suggested that the behavior of a transistor made from such junctions
    would be easier to predict than that of the point-contact transistors
    made so far. From the introduction to "The Theory of p-n Junctions in
    Semiconductors and p-n Junction Transistors", BELL SYSTEM TECHNICAL JOURNAL
    28, 435-489 (July 1949):

    "As is well known, silicon and germanium may be either n-type or p-type
    semiconductors, dependig on which of the concentrations Nd of donors or
    Na of acceptors, is the larger. If, in a single sample, there is a
    transition from one type to the other, a rectifying photosensitive p-n
    junction is formed. The theory of such junctions is in contrast to those
    of ordinary rectifying junctions because, on both sides of the junction,
    both electron flow and hole flow must be considered. In fact, a major
    portion of the hole current may persist into the n-type region and vice-
    versa. In later sections we show how this feature has a number of
    interesting consequences" ...

    "A p-n junction may act as an emitter in the transistor sense, since it
    can inject hole current into n-type material."

    "The p-n-p transistor has the interesting feature of being calculable
    to a high degree. One can consider such questions as the relative ratios
    of width to length of the n-region and the effect of altering impurity
    contents and scaling the structure to operate in different frequency

    ------------------------------------------------ ------------------------

    With the assistance of several others (Morgan, Sparks, & Teal), Shockley
    went on to produce a working p-n junction transistor in 1951, and in 1952
    he went on to develop the theory behind the field-effect transistor, which
    is the type most commonly used today in computer chips. ["A Unipolar
    Field-Effect Transistor", PROCEEDINGS OF THE I.R.E. 40, 1365+ (Nov 1952)]

    -George Fergus

  • Revolutionary new system that doesn't crash (guess which one).

    But I thought OS/2 was about to be declared dead. Again.

  • except that people who have a natural two have it because other people who have moderation think that these people tend to make good posts and that other people might be more interested in reading their future posts than they would be in reading the inate ramblings of a habitual first poster that always gets offtopic'd or a 3733t hax0r füvvα that trolls in AC mode all day.

    you've proven an ability to post good material, enjoy that trust while you can, just don't abuse it.
  • I was awakened this morning by a telephone marketing call, and talked for over a half an hour.

    Why is this? Because it was Pixels: the little company that makes Pixels3d [], a modeller/renderer etc for the Mac. I already knew them- in fact I keep a copy of Pixels3D 2.1.4 around because they are one of the many Mac vendors who have taken to releasing their last-year's model at no cost, and I grabbed it. Being allowed to fully use something like that left me with a good feeling about them, and they are the antithesis of a big vague corporation- it's a bunch of computer geeks running a company, and their product kicks butt (except that I hate the Lightwave-like interface :) )

    I wasn't able to take 'em up on their promo, won't be buying anything today- but, you know, I am _very_ used to shutting off telemarketers. I don't give them three seconds. I interrupt, I firmly say I'm not interested and then hang right up. Yet in this case these people were able to keep my attention and get my sympathies- why?

    Partly because they were ready to put some serious effort towards getting me what I wanted. I learned that the scripting language was like Renderman shaders. I learned people write plugins in REALbasic- hey, I have that! I even ended up talking to the main programmer for about ten minutes on how many semitransparent layers you could stack to simulate volumetric clouds (a POV trick I've been playing with), and he had all the techie details. It was so deeply about what _I_ wanted to know, rather than about what they wanted to sell.

    I hear people saying IBM is also taking this approach. Well, good for them! The predatory thing only works when you have a lock on people. Pixels doesn't- they do Mac software, and compete with everything from Metacreations (Poser, Bryce, Infini-D) to Lightwave itself and who knows what else? Seeing this glimpse of how they work with their customers gave me a bit of insight into why they're still around at all. Did you know that you can go to their community page and they will put up _pictures_ of their users? (one wonders if it's pictures of _most_ of their users! ;) ) Looking down the row of faces, next to banner links to the respective websites, was a lesson in PR.

    It doesn't always stay- that language I use, REALbasic, is very neat but the marketing people have taken to trying to get people to link to the RB site by offering space on the CD in exchange for posting 'Made With Realbasic' logos on things. That's a 'what can we get' approach, not a 'what do you want?' approach. I don't mind it but I'm not doing it. Pixels is smarter- or wiser. As, apparently, is IBM...

  • *turns on Royal DS2260 organizer* (bip!)
    *hits backlight* (bip!)
    *turns it back off, closes cover* (bip! clik)

    This was $30. I once wanted an old Powerbook- just something that could take text notes and be carried around. B/W screen, some tiny amount of ram- never could get one, too expensive.

    Now I have a toy with 256k of ram (that's an awful lot of little memos!). It has a backlight, which is more than the old Powerbooks had. It's got chiclet keys that go (bip!). There's a fourway arrow key thing that is occasionally relevant. The text editing is rather like vi or something- hell, the whole thing is extremely modal, and yet it's such a little thing that it doesn't matter- I don't need a trackball or color for this. So where a few years ago I could only wish for an old Powerbook (which wouldn't fit in my pocket without _serious_, er, percussive redesign ;) ), now I can actually have a little toy 'laptop' that goes (bip!) and takes notes and shows what time it is in Hong Kong or Berlin.

    And this is totally cool- and I can't wait until I get to have one for $50 that's the same size, the same lcd screen with blue backlighting- but has 4M, bash, and vi ;)

    That would just feel so good tucked into your pocket. Imagine. Hip-nix ;) (poc-nix?)

  • I for one prefer no moderation, I like to think for myself when it comes to other people's opinions.

    That's the beauty of the system. You can turn off moderation for you as an individual. Set the preferences to sort based on date, or something, then turn off scores in your preferences. Easy.

  • I'm not fully up to speed on semiconductor fab capabilities anymore, but I'd guess that if te transmeta chip is a reasonably complex CPU requiring state-of-the-art fabs, then there are only about four places they can get them: IBM (can build pretty much anything), Intel (of course, plus they own the weird fab for Alpha chips), TI (right up there with the other two - they fab the UltraSPARCs for Sun), and Motorola (perhaps lagging a bit, but they've announced recent advances in process technology, and I think they and IBM are the only ones doing copper yet.)

    There are others, Cypress/Ross (I think they're still around...), AMD, and the Japanese, but they're mostly not on the same plane of process technology as the big four, and excess capacity is harder to come by among those folks - It's definitely a big boy's game now, what with a cutting edge fab costing in excess of $3 BILLION!

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