Page 2 – The Tech News Debris for the Week of September 12th
The Computational Dominance of Mobility
We know the iPhone is 64-bit and fast. But the dominance of certain technologies has put a premium on computational performance in a mobile environment. That includes encryption, Apple Pay, camera image processing, facial recognition, motion tracking, fingerprint recognition and all kinds of things that a desktop computer, or even notebook, typically isn’t tasked to do.
This very thorough article at The Verge explains how the requirements of extreme smartphone mobility are threatening Intel. See: “The iPhone’s new chip should worry Intel.” One section points out, with respect to the Geekbench score of the A10 Fusion:
The A10 chip inside the iPhone 7 comfortably outpaces its predecessors and Android rivals, and even outdoes a wide catalog of relatively recent Mac computers (including the not-so-recent Mac Pro). The iPhone’s notoriously hard to benchmark against anything else and this is just one metric, but it’s illustrative of Apple’s accelerating momentum and mobile focus.
And that brings up a natural question. Is there a class of desktop activities that would benefit from these tremendous advances in computational power? Or is the usage profile of the desktop/notebook doomed to always be a second class computational citizen compared to mobility, falling further and behind? It’s something to think about.
One class of desktop activities that comes to mind is extreme computation for science and engineering. An astrophysicist friend of mine ponders the idea of 128 or 256 A10 processors set up in a massively parallel computational engine on the desktop. Such a super Mac would be, perhaps, a cubic foot in volume and provide supercomputer power far beyond what we’re accustomed to on the desktop. The performance might be a good fraction of a petaflop. Of course, there are many technical and marketing details to attend to, but it remains an exciting thought.
We are interested in Tesla because we think that Apple might be building an electric car. Tesla’s affordable Model 3 won’t be available until late 2017 at the earliest, but later this year you’ll be able to buy a Chevy Bolt with the same range, about 240 miles. Road Show at CNET liked this new Bolt a lot. “Testing the Chevy Bolt’s real range in the real world by driving it like a real car.” I’ve always kept my eye on this car, written about it, and I think it’s going to be a winner.
Along those lines, The Verge took a ride in Ford’s autonomous car.
Unlike the rite of passage of becoming a student driver, taking a ride in an autonomous car means mean putting your life in the hands of the machine. But in actuality, riding in Ford’s well-behaved self-driving car was an unremarkable experience. Ford has programmed its cars to drive in a manner one might expect from a nervous student driver.
Things are moving fast. All the car makers are in top gear with their technology. Apple must feel like it’s racing to keep up and confronted with a myriad of major engineering tasks. I surmise that Apple’s inexperience in the automotive market is now coming home to roost.
It looks like Sony has stumbled with its 4K/UHD Blu-ray player. This not the player we were looking for, according to CNET
I’ll be researching these players in the coming months, especially with regard to HDR and studio support for HDR and Dolby Vision on 4K/UHD Blu-ray players. As will everyone else as we approach the December holidays. Why? 4K compression during streaming won’t provide the full exploitation of the 4K/HDR experience that a physical disc can.
Apple tends to keep its product lines relatively simple compared to other companies. A confusing line of products makes it hard to choose, and a wrong, confused choice can lead to buyer’s remorse. But maybe that doesn”t apply with carrier wireless plans. See: “Mobile phone plans: When marketing goes too far.” Alert. Your head will hurt after reading this.
Finally, here’s a fascinating story and theory about why Apple replaced the mechanical Home button on the iPhone 7. I had never heard of this phenomenon (and theory) and assumed that Apple just wanted to eliminate a mechanical failure mode. But this article digs into something completely different. And astounding. “iPhone 7 release: Home button may have been removed because people in Asia don’t press it…”
Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.