Tag Archive for Hardware

USB Mario

Perhaps former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was right, the Internet is just a bunch of tubes and finally the plumber we need to fix the tubes is here!

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This handcrafted Nintendo (7978) hero, stores 4GB of memory inside Mario sitting atop one of Mario Bros. famous question boxes.  You can also store your data with Luigi, Koopa, a Gooba or a shroom (when not sold out). Mario and is buddies are available at Etsy, from sgedra but you will have to wait since they are currently sold out.

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Wireless Power Gets Closer

intel_logoIntel has been working on wireless power transmission technology for several years, which I wrote about earlier, that now works over longer distances. At its Intel Research Day at the Computer History Museum in Mt. View California, on 06-18-2009, the company showed off a new variation of the idea that power can be transmitted through the air to run a speaker without any other power source.

Intel now calls the technology Wireless Resonant Energy Link (WREL). Intel’s goal of the WREL project is to cut the power cord. Building on principles proposed by MIT physicists in 2006, the WREL team has lit a 60W light bulb at a range of several feet and with 70%  efficiency.  WREL works in a fashion similar to the old 1970′s Memorex commercial staring Ella Fitzgerald where a singer can shatter a glass by hitting  its natural frequency, at which it absorbs energy efficiently. In the case of WREL, a coil of wire with a natural frequency around 10MHz takes the place of the glass, and a similar coil takes the place of the singer. The technology uses two flat copper coils tuned to resonate at a particular frequency. One wire releases electromagnetic energy and the other picks it up in much the same way an opera singer can shatter a wine glass by singing at just the right pitch, said researcher Emily Cooper. The wireless transmission shows efficiency of 90 percent at distances of up to a meter, she said.

Intel hopes the technology will be useful for charging devices like netbooks or smartphones in a room without wires. Intel also predicts the technology could be used within devices such as a laptop.  to replace the fallible wires that connect laptop screens through a hinge, Cooper said

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Intel admits that the next milestone for the WREL project is to build a rectifying circuit that can convert the RF power to DC power without upsetting the carefully tuned pair of coils. Intel has demonstrated they can charge a light bul with 60W of wireless power, which should be sufficient to charge a laptop. However to power a laptop or charge a battery, Intel will need DC power, not a 10MHz AC signal. The need to drive down the power requirements for the next generation of computing devices is also helping drive Intel’s latest attempt to break into the UMPC process market with the Atom chips  and the next-generation “Moorestown” processor which boasts lower energy consumption requirements. It is also notable that Intel has a stated long-term plan of 60watts power for mainstream desktop processors, down from a maximum consumption 130 watts of the new Pentium Extreme Edition 840, according to Benson Inkley, a senior processor applications engineer, with Intel in an article at Tom’s Hardware.

While it seems that Intel is on a trajectory to cut the power requirements and costs of owning and operating a PC fleet, it will be a while. It is much more likely that Moorestown processors are going to aided by the pending IEEE 802.3at POE+ specification which will allow up  to at least 30W which can be used to charge devices. It is my guess that the reports of the demise of wired networking are greatly exaggerated until Intel figures out how to economically and safely deliver 60W through the vapor.

Low Cost Desktop Virtualization

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On Thursday (06-18-09) LG, and NComputing announced an agreement where the Korean manufacturing giant will include NComputing’s desktop virtualization hardware on a new line of LCD  monitors slated for release in June 2009.

NCompncomputinguting’s desktop virtualization product includes both a proprietary hardware access device and Vspace desktop virtualization software. The hardware piece will be integrated in the LG monitors that will enable a single PC or server to be virtualized. Two LCD sizes will be available in the U.S.  on the LG SmartVine N-series line: a 17-inch and 19-inch monitor. The monitors can also be used as traditional monitors that connect using VGA.

lglogo“LG is integrating the access device into these monitors themselves,” Stephen Dukker, chair and CEO of NComputing says. “So, instead of being a stand-alone, PC-like device, it becomes an all-in-one computing device, and you just plug your keyboard, mouse and microphone into the monitor,” he says. The solution will be priced below $200, and will offer both NComputing’s L series which connects via Ethernet and the X series access device, which requires a local PC connection.

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The partnership is the next act in the migration away from desktop PCs to portable computing (laptops, netbooks and mobile device). The traditional PC makers don’t realize that desktop virtualization allows the owner to save money throughout the life-cycle of the device. There are savings in up front acquisition costs; there are operational savings by reducing the management costs and the risk of obsolescence. Long term savings can include reduced power consumption and e-waste problems. NComputing indicates that by using LG’s monitors, customers can lower their computer hardware costs by 60%, maintenance costs by 70%, and electricity costs by 90%.

The combined capabilities of the two firms should make the rest of the industry take notice of their progress (or lack). LG shipped more than 15 million monitors in 2008, and NComputing claims over a million seats sold in over 140 countries.  NComputing won the Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation award, the Gartner Cool Vendor Award and the Frost and Sullivan Green Computing award.  NComputing CEO Stephen Dukker was previously co-founder and CEO of low-cost PC maker eMachines.

Server Sales Slide

recessionLike the most of us (except the bankers) global sales of servers have taken a beating since the first quarter of 2008. Server sales have declined over $3 billion due to the economic slowdown meltdown recession and the growth of virtualization. Today, the global server market stands below $10 billion.

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ibm_logoSince Q1 of 2008 IBM‘s server revenues has declined over $1 billion from $3.946 billion to $2.913 in Q1 2009. Big Blues market share also declined from 30% to 29.3% during the same period. On the other hand HP (HPQ) revenues grew from$2.904 billion to $3.624 billion and grew their market share to 29.3%, matching IBM in Q1 2009. Dell’s (DELL) revenues dropped from  $1.590 billion in 2008 Q1  with a 12.1% market share to revenues of $1.093 billion and a 11% market share in Q1 2009.

According to the ChannelInsider article:

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  • No quick recovery for server sales until general economy recovers (CI)
  • End users continue to extend life of existing servers (CI, other sources)
  • Servers remain among the least profitable for solution providers (CI: Market Pulse)
  • Demand for conventional and blade servers by end users continues to shrink (CI: Market Pulse)
  • •Popularity of data center virtualization technologies have had the collateral effect of shrinking server hardware demand (CI)

Cut Calories While Computing

steelcase-Updated 05-13-2010- The May 03,2010 print edition of BusinessWeek included the Walkstation in an article in which professor Galen Cranz at UC-Berkley says, “Short of sitting on a spike, you can’t do much worse than a standard office chair.”

The Walkstation by Michigan based Steelcase is a combination of a fully integrated electric height-adjustable work surface with an exclusively engineered, low-speed commercial grade treadmill that allows  users to burn calories, feel healthier and more energized all while accomplishing the work they  normally do while seated.

The Walkstation (video) with  a maximum speed of 2 mph, lets you walk comfortably, while keeping up with work. The Walkstation is based on the NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) research of Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic.