And should the low prices of the new Haswell-based Chromebooks make them the hugely disruptive force in the market that Pichai believes they'll be, Intel may have to rebalance those 1,000 engineers, and task more of them on optimizing for Chrome OS. Although Chrome OS may very well be finding a firm foothold, it has a way to go before catching up to its older brother. As Pichai pointed out, Android just passed one billion device activations globally, and Google is currently activating over 1.5 million new devices each day.IDF13 Intel wants you to know that Moore's Law is not dead. And to prove it, CEO Brian Krzanich rolled out his company's next generation of process shrinkage at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.I'm here to introduce the first 14-nanometer PC, Krzanich said during his Tuesday keynote. The Ultrabook he displayed to his audience was based on Intel's 14nm Broadwell microarchitecture, and was fully operational – and to prove it, Krzanich demoed the laptop playing ZeptoLab's Cut the Rope.
This is it, folks, he said. Fourteen nanometers is here, it's working, and will be shipping by the end of this year. According to Krzanich, 14nm Broadwell systems will provide a 30 per cent improvement in power consumption over today's comparable 22nm Haswell chips – but power saving may be even greater.The Broadwell chip playing Cut the Rope in Krzanich's demo will be joined by an Atom-based 14nm chip, he said, around the end of 2014.Intel president Renée James, who shared the keynote stage with Krzanich, was adamant about the health of the Intel cofounder's guiding legislation. Moore's Law has been declared dead at least once a decade since I've been at Intel, she said, and as you know – you heard from Brian – we have 14 nanometer working and we can see beyond that. I assure you it's alive and well.According to James, that alive and well status will allow Intel make it down to 7nm – although her presentation didn't include any projections beyond that node.As anyone who has been following the chip-baking industry knows, getting down to 7nm without the advent of commercially usable extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography will be a daunting task – Intel CTO Justin Rattner admitted as much to The Reg just this May.
But EUV is proving to be an elusive technology, as GlobalFoundries CEO Ajit Manocha told SEMICON 2013 this July. We all know that EUV is late, he said. We desperately need EUV, and EUV is still not ready.Another chip-process researcher, speaking at that same conference, has gone so far as to have given up on EUV. I'm not working on EUV at all, said Laurent Miller, CEO of Leti, the nanotechnologies arm of the French research-and-technology organization CEA. Absolutely not, because I don't believe in it.Exactly what inspires James to have such faith in the continuance of Moore's Law, she didn't say. Krzanich, in fact, put the kibosh on one alternative technology – graphene transistors – in response to a question about that candidate in a first-ever keynote-audience Q&A.
Graphene is totally exciting, he said. We absolutely have research going on in graphene. However, he noted that cost, reliability, and repeatability make manufacturing graphene chips problematic. I can tell you that in the next several generations you're not going to see a lot of graphene parts, but there's absolutely a lot of research going on.Will Moore's Law – which, as James recounted correctly, has repeatly been declared dead for reasons of both physics and finance – rise from its deathbed one more time? Who knows – but as Intel Fellow Shekhar Borkar once told us, The engineers, they'll find out a way to do it.If Borkar's confidence is well-founded, perhaps 10 years from now during Kzanich's IDF23 keynote, he'll proudly tell his crowd, I'm here to introduce the first graphene transitor–based PC. Although Krzanich and James' tag-team keynote was 90 minutes of hoopla, futurism, medical miracles, and starry-eyed optimism, the discussion of such a meat-and-potatoes topic as transitor scaling was inevitable. As Krzanich said, You can't have an Intel presentation without talking about Moore's Law.
Would you trust a tablet or a smartphone with a hard disk rather than flash storage? Seagate hopes its Ultra Mobile HDD will persuade you to trade rugged but pricey solid-state memory for 30 times more storage space than your average (16GB) tablet sports.Seagate claims the skinny, 96g 500GB UM HDD offers the same “power, performance and reliability of a flash device”. Reducing a drive’s power consumption to flash levels is doable, and you may get comparable read-write speeds - at least for sequential operations.But dropping a hard disk, shaking it while gaming, throwing it on a sofa afterwards or subjecting it to other sudden movements are bad news for the disk's spinning magnetic platters and their mechanisms.Seagate hasn’t said much about how its UM HDD can match the physical impact resilience of flash, which is entirely unaffected by knocks and bumps provided the chips are soldered in correctly. Seagate did tout the hard drive’s “zero-gravity sensors”, which provide “better shock management” than existing disks - we're told they “detect if a system is in free fall within 60ms” and react accordingly to protect the heads and platters. But there’s nothing to suggest it’s anything other than a more sensitive version of the motion sensors built into laptop drives and linked to the usual head-parking mechanism.
Curiously, Seagate also today offered a low-cost - $30 for two years’ cover - data recovery and hardware replacement services, Seagate Rescue and Replace, in the US. Are these its backup for punters who find that, after all, the UM HDD’s movement resilience wasn’t up to flash levels after all?To deliver flash-like performance, the UM HDD relies on... flash. The drive itself has 16MB of RAM cache on board, but Seagate suggests tablet makers chuck in 8GB of non-volatile cache too. This combo, not the drive alone, plus Seagate’s Dynamic Data Driver software, results in “power consumption equal to that of a 64GB tablet and the performance equal to that of a 16GB tablet - while costing less than either”.On its own, the 5400RPM 6Gb/s SATA drive’s peak data transfer speed is 600MB/s, comparable to sustained reads off as slab of modern flash. But the spec sheet quotes sustained rates of just 100MB/s.
A flash cache boosts the average data access speeds and it also allows the drive’s firmware to power down the rotating disks and heads more often, preserving the computer's battery charge. Seagate claimed the UM HDD’s average power consumption is “as low as 0.14W”, but it’s not clear whether that’s with the suggested cache present or not.Seagate also boasted that the drive is a tablet-friendly 5mm thick, but a visit to a specs listing [PDF] reveals its form-factor is classic 2.5-inch laptop drive - which will be too large for many a ten-inch tablet, let alone seven-inch models. That said, they could easily be crammed into Panasonic’s 20-inch monster.Seagate wants to get the UM HDD into Android-powered fondleslabs pronto, though the drive would be just at home in Ultrabooks and other skinny laptops. So far, though, it hasn’t said if any manufacturer of one or more of these devices has agreed to swap out flash storage for its hard disk. Nor has it said how much the drive will cost.
IFA 2013 Panasonic’s monster tablet – an 18-inch big boy with a 4K Ultra HD display – will come to market in November, the Japanese colossus has promised. The price? A beefy £3,335.The tablet now known as the Toughpad 4K UT-MB5 was first shown off, kind of, in January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Panasonic said it would “strive” to bring the 18.4-inch, Intel Core i5-powered superslab to market, and today it said that will now happen.The earlier incarnation had a dual-core 1.8GHz chip, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and an Nvidia GeForce GPU. The new, go-to-market model has the same broad spec, but expect a more up-to-date Intel chip and Nvidia GPU, and 256GB of solid-state storage. There’s an SD card slot for extra data space, and a 1280 x 720 webcam on the front.The half-a-metre display’s resolution is 3840 x 2560 pixels, so that’s a density of 230ppi. The whole thing weighs 2.4kg - much the same as a large laptop which is, of course, what it really is, minus a physical keyboard. It does come with a special active stylus, however.
Indeed, you might wonder, since no one is going to be carrying one of these Toughpad 4Ks around iPad-style, why a user wouldn’t opt for a big laptop anyway, or a no-less-portable 21-inch all-in-one desktop. Especially since the Panasonic lacks Ethernet and HDMI output, though both can be added with an optional cradle accessory. Maybe not so optional - the Toughpad’s going to need some kind of stand, after all.Panasonic contends that S&M folk will relish the beast for their presentations. It also has its eye on CAD folk, though they’ll want the souped up ”even more powerful” Performance model Panasonic will have out with fresh Intel and Nvidia chippery in Q1 2014, the company suggested. Absolute Software's second annual Endpoint Security Report records that stolen kit that had not been nicked locally had been recovered in an additional eight countries as far afield as Mongolia, Gambia, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. In the EMEA region (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), London is the top theft location, followed by Kampala in Uganda and Pretoria in South Africa.Across the EMEA region, businesses have become the top device theft hotspot, for both internal and external burglary. This is a change from figures covering 2011, where homes and cars were the top theft location for corporate devices.