Times Article 004
Interesting Technology Data
my wife and I sat down last week to make up our Christmas shopping
list, I was truly amazed at the numbers of new technologies that have
popped up over the past year that even my four-year-old granddaughter
can use. I've been
involved with computers in one way or another since 1959, and now
spend at least 100 hours each month reading the 453 trade publications
I receive, tracking 22 different technology areas for my Clients.
As most of you don't have this much time (or at least aren't
crazy enough), let me share with you some of the most interesting
factors in technology that I see on the horizon.
first take a quick look at Intel's latest processor: the Pentium II.
Currently available in 233-, 266-, and 300-MHz clock speeds,
all Pentium IIs come with 32 KB of on-board (integrated) cache and 512
KB of external Level-2 cache. You
can think of this chip as
a Pentium Pro with MMX (Multimedia Extensions)
technology but without an internal Level-2 cache. MMX adds 57 programming instructions designed to process
multimedia video, audio, and graphics data.
But unless your specific software uses these MMX
instructions, you may be paying more for processing power you can't
use. Programs like Adobe
PhotoShop, Macromedia Director, and a few other high-end applications
currently use MMX, but as Intel plans to keep these instruction sets
in all of their new CPUs, my guess is that most software vendors will
add this functionality in their next major release.
of the most frequently asked questions I get is "What is Intel
planning for next year?" Well, Intel refuses to comment on unannounced chips, but
here's some info provided from one of my favorite industry
newsletters, Microprocessor Report.
The Intel chip code-named Deschutes is expected to appear in
early 1998, is a low-voltage cousin of the Pentium II, and should
debut at 300- to 333-MHz. The Katmai chip will appear by mid-1998 with what I call
"MMX-2" technology consisting of more 32-bit graphic
instructions, and even faster clock-speeds.
Willamette processor is expected in late 1998, and reportedly
incorporates an enhanced Pentium Pro core that will outperform the
Pentium II by close to 50 percent.
Last, but certainly not least, the Merced chip will usher in
the next Intel millennium in mid- to late-1999 with the "IA-64
architecture," which is a 64-bit instruction set developed
jointly by Intel and Hewlett Packard.
case you blinked, those of you who are running Windows 95 or NT, or
any Macintosh operating system since 6.0, are now running 32-bit
instructions. If you're
still back in the DOS/Windows 3.X genre, you're limping along with
only 16-bit instructions. The
math on these operating systems may not be easy to describe, but just
remember that 32-bit operations are four times faster than are
16-bit, and 64-bit is, again, four times faster than 32-bit.
These speeds have little to do with your processor (as long as
it will handle them, of course), but are rather how efficiently your
programs will run.
interesting piece of fairly recent news is that Intel has purchased
the manufacturing rights to the Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) Alpha
chip. The DEC Alpha has
been far and away the fastest processor I've ever worked with, and
zooms along with 64-bit data and address busses, compared to the
Pentium II's 32-bit busses. This
almost surely means that Microsoft will put lots more effort into
developing a 64-bit operating system (probably NT 6.0), now that there
are two industry-standard processors that can use it.
Currently, only UNIX users are capable of reaping full 64-bit
operating system power, along with mainframe O/S's.
processor type, you face other decisions when buying a computer.
One common question is whether to purchase a multiprocessor
system. To gain any significant advantage from such a computer, you
need to either run multiple (simultaneously active) programs, or run a
Multi-threading is complicated to explain, but you can think of
it as leveling the average load across multiple CPUs.
One of the newest multi-threaded programs is Autodesk's new 3D
Studio Max Release 2. Max2
can be searching the drawing database, updating the video display,
performing rendering calculations, and doing many other simultaneous
operations, each of which can be "threaded," or assigned, to
two or more CPUs under Windows NT 4.0. If you're doing this kind of work, then the extra few hundred
dollars you will pay for a dual-processor-capable motherboard is
probably worth the investment.
move on to computing devices that you will be sticking into your aloha
shirt pocket within the next 18-24 months.
Cellular telephones, pocket pagers, and notebook computers will
be passť to many of you by the year 2000.
Rather than talking through phones, you will be talking to
your phone, issuing voice commands such as "Call my wife" or
"Read my e-mail." Microsoft
recently invested $45 million in a Belgian speech-recognition company,
with the specific intent to make voice-control capabilities standard
fare in portable machines and desktop computers.
palmtop computers are moving to pen-based handwriting-recognition
features, instead of the awkward itsy-bitsy keyboards that can't be
used by many of us. Similarly,
Microsoft wants to replace pen-based technologies with speech
recognition. And can
computers that can read your mind be far behind...?
of you remember Dick Tracy's two-way wristwatch radio.
MicroDisplay Corp. in San Pablo, Calif. is developing an even
smaller version of that wrist display, and by this time next year,
those of you who will brave the cutting-edge of technology will be
able to peer into a tiny telescopic lens built into Motorola phones to
read a full page of your e-mail.
And many manufacturing firms are already investing in
backpack-type portable computers that are both voice-controlled, and
offer a two-inch-square visor-mounted virtual video screen that looks
just your 17-inch VGA monitor hung out in space.
Operators can use these systems to perform maintenance without
hauling around a few hundred pounds of manuals.
you would like to see a local example of what technology is doing for
advertising, contact Fernando Diaz at 6D (533-1919) and ask him to
show you how he created a "virtual world" that allows
potential customers to view their products and services in ways you
would never even imagine. At
the Computer Expo last month, I used a "space-ball" to
control my motions in six dimensions while exploring a virtual
space-station that showcased over 20 different companies, local and
international, that not only kept my attention, but also allowed me to
get lots of information, too.
some of these technologies may seem applicable only to the computer
nuts among us, even your family automobile may be acquiring a
technology backseat driver. Intel
plans to put PCs in cars starting in early 1999, but these computer
systems won't be your standard notebooks at all.
Instead, they may read e-mail aloud to drivers, tell you your
location, warn you of traffic jams and suggest alternate routes,
search the Internet for specific news topics, and even entertain your
passengers with games.
driver will be looking at a picture-type interface when the car is
stopped," according to Ganesh Moorthy, GM of Intel's Appliance and
Computing Division in Chandler, Ariz., "and it will switch to
voice-based when the car is in motion." Intel's
PC will be unobtrusively located in the dashboard, with a 6-inch color
LCD screen, and, within certain geographical areas, will also be
configured to synchronize with local cellular phone protocols.
Potential add-ons include a navigational GPS system that will
tell you the fastest way to get to your destination, and a Web-bot that
enjoys reading you your favorite book from the Web in a voice of your
short, we live in a wonderful age where technology is doubling every 18
months, and where anything you purchase today will be obsolete before
you even get it home. (Just kidding!) I hope this article has provided you with some useful ideas
that can keep you a bit more current.
you have topics that you would like to see discussed in High Tech
Times, please feel free to call me at (808) 521-2259, or you can
e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next year.
Kalikimaka and Hauoli Makahiki Hou!!