My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Intel and LightPeak - Race towards the Sun

Monday, August 23, 2010

Intel and LightPeak - Race towards the Sun


Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!
You cataracts and hurricanes, spout
Till you have drench’d our steeples

Shakespeare, King Lear, II, 2

Like a supernova burning brighter than a exploding star of 100 Solar masses, coalescing into a rapidly spinning X-Ray pulsar, history has been made with Intel’s sudden announcement of its intention to purchase Computer Security and Anti-Virus firm McAfee for a handsome, fetching price of US$7.68 billion dollars, possibly the biggest stock equity purchase in their forty two (42) year old history as stated in the article “Intel to buy McAffee for $7.68 billion”, published August 19, 2010 5:43 AM PDT by Lance Whitney, CNET News - Business Tech.

Not to mention the size of that gigantic piggy bank the Intel Executives had to push, with the McAfee Executives dragging it by the tail from out of their vault all the way to Wall Street, as at US$48 per share, McAfee might as well have been paid in platinum bars and just carried it themselves on gigantic trolleys.

Finally, Intel, my darling company I admired from the nineties, just like Nintendo and their Nintendo Wii, has awoken from her slumber. With the popularity of the Apple iPhone 4.0 and the Apple iPad and their A4 Processor, the magical White Unicorn that is giving Silicon Valley CEO’s sleepless nights trying to dream up an Apple iPad killer, the new device from out of nowhere now occupying no-man’s-land as so succinctly opined by Erica Ogg, Senior editor at CNET in her article “The clock is ticking for iPad competitors”, published August 17, 2010 4:00 AM PDT by Erica Ogg, CNET News - Circuit Breaker.

 Intel is nowhere to be seen, but may be the knight in shining armour that captures this graceful white Unicorn.

The Apple iPad and the Apple iPhone 4.0 is making a mockery of analysts predictions of its sales since both products debut, Apple iPad on the weekend of Saturday April 3rd and Sunday April 4th 2010 AD and the Apple iPhone 4.0 on Thursday June 24th 2010 AD and Tuesday June 29th 2010 AD.

News of component shortages affecting the competition as stated in the article “The Summer of the Smart Phone Shortage”, published July 13, 2010 4:00 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength and confirmed by the article “HTC Evo 4G, incredible Shortages make room for Droid X”, published Monday July 12 2010 by Jared Newman, Yahoo! News does not help Intel.

This as mobile smart phones use mostly chipsets, all in the 1 GHz clock cycle range, from Motorola, Nvidia and the ever popular Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor, which is found in the HTC Google Nexus One, as Intel’s Atom chips are mostly utilized in Netbooks as stated in the article “Snapdragon chip powers itself into Nexus One”, published January 5, 2010 6:00 PM PST by Brooke Crothers, Nanotech - The Circuits Blog.

So how does this move help Intel? It does so by shining a path towards a revolutionary microchip design moving at the speed of light.

The Apple iPad and Amazon Kindle Effect, which I shall now call the White Unicorn and the Black Panther, are killing Netbook sales as stated in the article “Apple ponders iPad cannibalization of PC's”, published July 20, 2010 8:43 PM PDT, by Brooke Crothers, CNET News Nanotech - The Circuits Blog.

With sales of roughly a million (1,000,000) Apple iPad’s  per month since its debut and news of a 7-inch business friendly version coming by Christmas 2010 as stated in the article “More 7-inch Apple iPad Reports Emerge”, published Tuesday August 17, 10:42 am ET, Mark Hachman - PC Magazine, Yahoo! News, it has drawn both admiration and annoyance by those who are its adoring Fanboys and the Barbarians at it Gates.

It is already sending chills down the computer industry’s spine due to its cannibalization of Laptop, Netbooks and even desktop computer sales and has resulted in sluggish sales of these products and fears of order slumps and stock price plunges for AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) and Intel as stated in the article “Demand dichotomy: PC's down, iPad up”, published August 11, 2010 3:58 PM PDT by Brooke Crothers, Nanotech - The Circuits Blog.

 Worse, with the biting reality of the Recession before a new up and coming school term, with students showing more of a preference for this zippy ultra-portable Apple iPad and its would-be Assassins, there is an almost world-ending urgency to the Silicon Valley companies, obviously caught off guard, with new brigades of Netbook killers being announced almost on a weekly basis.

Suddenly Intel and AMD are all alone in the wilderness, left standing while the CEO’s have formed a posse with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer leading them on a merry chase around Silicon Valley to round up CEO Steve Jobs and hopefully capture the Apple iPad before this device puts them out of business.

Intel’s purchase thus appears therefore, to not only a lifesaving move to make themselves more attractive to the tablet and smart phone minded handset manufacturers by having Computer Security software and Anti-Virus software built into the microprocessors and integrated in the operation of the processor in a firmware and McAfee antivirus tandem software combination to enable real time virus and malware detection. It is also a stroke of genius that may finally solve a nagging problem bedeviling the PC industry and that is the lack of progress on the development of microchips that can break the 3.6 GHz barrier.

Currently, all PC makers are aware that chip makers, like Intel have reached the zenith of how close they can make the distance between the conductor traces on a microchip, often quoted as the nanometer level of the chip e.g.  Intel Pentium’s are made at the 20 nanometer (20 nm) level.

Traces on the silicon substrate any closer than this will result in increased incidence of quantum tunneling where electrons jump between the nanometer distances between the conductive traces, thus shorting out the microprocessor and causing and associated Processor Overheating.

Already supercomputers built below this level i.e. 5 nanometer process, require exotic cooling systems, often involving having liquid Freon flowing over the circuit boards. The use of exotic superconducting materials such as carbon nanotubes, X-Ray trace and etching techniques, Nanoparticle Epitaxial Deposition techniques.

Fiber Optic connections whose Optical Data is not converted to electrical during transmission but processed while still as pulses of light, thus significantly reducing power consumption and increasing throughput into teraflop and exaflop regions of processing power, a flop referring to a float point operation. In fact, these computer systems consume huge amounts of power.

Even just simple 128 bit servers with multiple cores, the only innovation thus far to come out of Intel, consume phenomenal amounts of power.

Thus Intel’s purchase of McAfee may mark firmware integration into the processor to allow for real-time scanning possibly via firmware updates into Intel’s line of processors and may be due to the coming of consumer Fiber Optic being integrated into electronic devices, the first coming to mind being the recently launched Xbox 360 from Microsoft, which has an integrated Fiber Optic port.

This means bigger and faster memories and hard drives, possibly solid state, thus necessitating an improvement in Computer Security and Anti-Virus protection, a branch of IT most Jamaicans tend to ignore, due to its software based nature, which an Intel-McAfee integration would achieve.

This as at these larger hard drive sizes and faster speeds, Third Party Anti-Virus software would have a hard time spotting viruses in such a vast pool and no PC customer is willing to sit down for two (2) plus hours to scan a 100 TB hard drive, the potential size of hard drives given today’s media savvy younger generation that naturally require larger memories and of course faster processors.

More signposts of a coming necessity for faster processor speeds and thus necessitating the McAfee purchase include Intel’s push of its LightPeak standard with possible theoretical speeds of 100 Gbps, a replacement of every conceivable cable technology on a regular PC similar to as it exists for most high end Servers as stated in the article “Intel's Light Peak: One PC cable to rule them all”, published September 23, 2009 12:54 PM PDT by Stephen Shankland, CNET News - Deep Tech.

Recent announcements by Telecom Provider Verizon of testing of a 1 GBps FIOS service that utilizes their GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Network) as stated in the article “Verizon demos 1Gbps FIOS connection”, published August 16, 2010 2:55 PM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

So an Optical Processor is in the works at Intel. Finally!!

Faster processor speeds with the current silicon based technology is not possible. However, with the use of an All-Optical MotherBoard, Intel Processor, Memory and External Peripheral devices where data is processed in the optical realm with LightPeak as the Fiber Optic connectivity standard, component manufacturers and partners would have to radically redesign the current computer architecture to fit any such new chip design in this new optical low power design.

Thus solving the heat problem by using Light Channeling (Fiber Optic uses IR wavelengths by the way!!) and conventional cooling technologies as opposed to electrons traveling in electrical traces on a microchip and suffering quantum tunneling and the associated side effect of Processor Overheating.

Also, Intel could take a leaf out of the page of its competitors in Japan and Apple and integrate the use of solar power into the power systems of their microchips, thus making computers power efficient, and possibly reducing the power consumption to power levels closer to 32 Watts as opposed to the current 320 Watts typical of most PC’s.

Solar power is definitely coming to all of Apple’s products in its Fall of 2010 line-up in refreshes for the Apple iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle, Apple iPod Touch and Apple iPod as well as its Summer of 2011 Debut as stated in the article “Apple eyes gadgets with built in solar panels”, published January 22, 2010 7:46 AM PST by Martin LaMonica, CNET News - Green Tech.

Solar power could be used to power the processor under ambient lighting conditions, based on Japanese research and manufactured in the People’s Republic of China or Taiwan even functioning when there is no power as stated in the article “Report: Asian firms eye alternative to Intel”, published September 9, 2009 3:00 PM PDT by Brooke Crothers, CNET News - Nanotech - The Circuits Blog.

Thus, it appears Intel’s purchase of McAfee is strategic and future proof. They are not concerned about the measly short term billions to be had from being more secure with Anti-Virus technology baked into ever faster processors in smart phones and  tablets as suggested in the article “With McAfee deal, Intel to bake in security”, published August 19, 2010 3:10 PM PDT by Elinor Mills, CNET News - InSecurity Complex.

Rather, they are going after the ultimate prize, pulling Microsoft and their other long time partners along for the ride. A ride into a future of ultra-fast computers at speeds that can easily and energy efficiently reaching stable speeds of 5 GHz and even 10 GHz without need for over clocking by a radical change in computer architecture as groundbreaking as the above deal brokered after forty two (42) years of dormancy and sitting on the sidelines, begging for scraps.

They are going back to their roots of innovation involving Research and Development, with help from a combined research team involving themselves, McAfee, Microsoft and their computer hardware partners.

They are going to change the whole PC Hardware Architecture game altogether with an All-Optical Solar Powered Computer System. Apple may soon have to come up with new advertising, as a chip maker that can break the 3.6 Gbps artificial barrier would be not only be an Apple iPad killer, they could potentially kill Apple altogether…………in a Race towards the Sun………..
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