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Comment Doesn't seem hard (Score 1) 118

Intel's latest creations are basically x86-themed Transputers, which everyone (other than Intel) has been quite aware was inevitable. The only possible rival was processor-in-memory, but the research there has been dead for too long.

Interconnects are the challenge, but Infiniband is fast and the only reason Lightfleet never got their system working is because they hired managers. I could match Infiniband speeds inside of a month, using a wireless optical interconnect, with a budget similar to the one they started with.

Hard drives - you're doing it wrong. The drive should be battery-backed and have significant amounts of RAM on the controller. By significant, I mean enough to ensure that typical users will not be capable of distinguishing the hard drive from a RAM disk AND to ensure physical writes are delayed long enough that you maximize the number of writes that can be done as a sustained burst. (This reduces drive head movement, simultaneously making writes faster and drives longer-lasting.) Since this requires smart drives, you might as well have an OS on there. No sense wasting your main CPUs on filesystem work that can sensibly be offloaded.

For chips, for chrissakes get with the picture! Wafer-scale integration is the only way to go! There was also recently talk of some new gallium compound-on-silicon approach, with the gallium compound providing the transistors, silicon the connections. Interesting, but the US has outsourced almost all chip manufacture. If they want the new materials, they'll need to train a new generation of engineers and build new plants. If they're going to do that anyway, go wafer-scale. The initial costs will be high, when using the new materials, so you might as well go for broke and make the new stuff just too damn good to not get.

What's left? Ah yes, software. Easy. Pass a law stating that in order to get government funding, schools should teach Occam-pi and not Java. Big government? Too bad. Code quality out there is shite. The only way to fix that is to break bad code. Well, that or put the worst 10% of students likely to turn professional against the wall. However, that would produce a backlash. You could put bags of skittles in their pockets, I suppose.

There. That's the supercomputer industry fixed for another couple of decades. Do I get paid for this?

Comment Re:Human nature? (Score 1) 239

Corporations are duty-bound to maximize revenue for their investors. If the laws permits them to behave in a particular way, they are entitled to behave that way.
Every corporations now is building up defensive patent portfolios because they have all at some time or another being sued by patent trolls, either when they were small companies or because they saw another company being sued.

Comment Re:Money again... (Score 1) 239

The French had a system during the 1800's, where f a person had an idea that would be of benefit to the country at large, he or she would be given an state pension in exchange for sharing that knowledge. The benefits of having the whole country know about something like automated punch-card loom weaving meant that the entire country could be taken out of poverty through knowledge, and the person would have a secure retirement.

The patent system in the USA and UK granted a person the right to collect royalties in exchange for sharing knowledge. They'd write down the main design, and then have the ability to allow other individuals to license those ideas.

Comment Why there are patent trolls (Score 4, Informative) 239

The patent troll industry exists because, in the last decade, it's become much tougher for inventors to enforce patent rights. Four changes in law did this:

  • (2006) "eBay v. MercExchange " The patent holder can't get an injunction against infringement any more, except in extreme cases. This destroyed the concept of a patent as property that only the patent holder could use.
  • (2007) "In re Seagate" The patent holder can't get triple damages unless there is "reckless infringement", which means the worst that can happen to an infringer is that they have to pay a royalty, the same royalty they might have negotiated. So infringement by a big company is risk-free.
  • (2007) MedImmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc. If a patent holder writes to an infringer asking them to pay royalties, they can be sued for a judgement that the patent is invalid, in a court of the infringer's choosing. So, as a patent holder, you have to file suit before you can negotiate. This is why "patent trolling" became necessary.
  • (2011) The "America Invents Act" The "America Invents Act" added "post-grant opposition" proceedings, so now infringers can harass patent owners and stall infringement claims in multiple forums. Note that one of the "features" of HR 3309 is to limit estoppel so that similar issues can be raised once in a post-grant opposition and then re-raised in an infringement case. This makes it clear it's all about raising the cost of enforcing a patent by wearing down the patent holder.

Because of those changes, enforcing a single patent is no longer financially feasible in most cases. A big patent portfolio is needed. You either have to be a big patent holder like IBM or Google, or you have to deal with a company that aggregates patents to monetize them. This created the "patent troll" industry.

HR 3309 is an anti-inventor act, designed to make it more expensive to enforce a patent. After the removal of the "covered business method" patent section, patents are as strong as ever. You just have to be richer to enforce them. That's why this is supported by Google, Facebook, etc.

The current Senate bill on patent trolls, S.1720, the "Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013" is much more narrowly focused than HR 3309. It has most of the anti-trolling provisions, but not loser-pays fee shifting. (Loser-pays means if a little guy sues a big company, they can get stuck with the big guy's big-law legal bills. That's a killer.) Instead, S.1720 has a study for a patent small claims court for small patent cases to get litigation costs down. That could work.

Comment What "obvious" means. (Score 4, Informative) 239

1. Fix "obviousness."

Unfortunately, I think you're asking someone to prove a logical negative: the applicant has to prove that something isn't obvious by showing... what, exactly?

I hold six patents, and a few times I've had to prove obviousness to an examiner. The gold standard of obviousness is showing that others tried hard to solve the problem and failed. Sometimes, on problems where others have beaten their heads against the wall and there are failed products and projects in the field, you can point the examiner at prior art which shows obviousness. I was the first person to build a ragdoll physics system which could handle the hard cases. Back in the 1990s, early ragdoll systems tended to have characters flying off in random directions, sometimes with the body parts detaching. (Some physics engines still do that, which is lame, because, fifteen years later, several solutions besides mine are known now.) By pointing to previous failures that extended up to and past my patent application date, I was able to demonstrate non-obviousness.

"Obvious" does not mean "obvious in hindsight".

Submission + - Graphine Condom Revolution (

kodiaktau writes: University of Manchester scientists have been working on a new composite of latex and graphine to make condoms. Scientists believe that the single atom thick graphine will make the condoms stronger and increase sensation. Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan a materials scientist on the program says: "This will be achieved by combining the strength of graphene with the elasticity of latex to produce a new material which can be thinner, stronger, more stretchy, safer and, perhaps most importantly, more pleasurable."

The ultimate goal of the project is to increase use and help reduce sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Teens everywhere rejoice that condoms won't wear out as fast in their wallets.

Comment Re:What is the greatest lower bound? (Score 1) 194

Theoretically, it can't be any lower than 2. The fascinating thing is that as prime numbers become larger, they are found further and further apart, which plotted as a graph is more like a log n curve. But every now and again, you find a couple that are just two units apart. Usually one of them is something like (2^n)-1 and the other is (2^n)+1 . If the first one is written out as binary, it would form a prime number of 1's eg. 31. The only way such a binary number could have factors is one with 2^(n-1) number and the other being an odd number with 1 spaces a prime number distance apart.

Simplest example would be 3 and 5. 3 = (2^2)-1, and 5 = (2^2)+1

Comment Re:Human nature? (Score 5, Insightful) 239

It's probably because most large corporations are run by sociopaths. Sociopaths, because they have no empathy or conscience, are more easily able to rise to the top of power structures (if they're smart; the stupid ones become criminals and go to prison), so most of our political and corporate leaders are sociopaths. And since they have no conscience, they don't give a shit about anyone else except maybe immediate family, and happily use their power to try to fuck over everyone else for their own gain.

Comment Re:Work smarter, not harder. (Score 1) 118

FPGA's are slower than ASIC's. And an ASIC processor can always be made to be programmable. Beyond ASIC's are systems-on-a-chip: memory, CPU, vector processing, internetworking all on one chip. Perhaps even thousands of cores and blocks of shared memory everywhere.

Moving to optical computing seems to be the most likely move, unless something completely different comes in - maybe processors could store bits in electromagnetic fields between electrodes rather than that actual moving electrons. There was some research going on into magnetic storage that used individual magnetic vortices to store bits rather than millions of atoms. So it would seem logical that they could extend that to logic gates.

Comment So what? (Score 2, Interesting) 118

So what? Much of supercomputing is a tax-supported boondoggle. There are few supercomputers in the private sector. Many things that used to require supercomputers, from rocket flight planning to mould design, can now be done on desktops. Most US nuclear weapons were designed on machines with less than 1 MIPS.

Supercomputers have higher cost/MIPS than larger desktop machines. If you need a cluster, Amazon and others will rent you time on theirs. If you're sharing a supercomputer, and not using hours or days of time on single problems, you don't need one.

Comment Re:No they would not move away! (Score 0, Flamebait) 172

I think courts should strike down these special tax deals as a violation of the equal protection clause.

Considering the courts have said it's perfectly legal for the government to force people to hand over their money to private companies or have the money extracted from their bank accounts, I can't see a scenario where these same courts would say it's illegal for a community to put taxpayers on the hook for the lost taxes.

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