Archive for the ‘Devices’ Category

Online

août 15, 2007

While I use a dial-up connection, the remote desktop is hopefully plugged on a broadband. Hence this blog’s interface displays rather quicker. Though, I’m typing through my dial-up, but that has never been a problem.
I really wonder if a desktop as a service could take off. It could be an appealing offer for the ISPs if one can pack all that in the modem. A thin-client modem/router.
The big point is the economic behind all that. Is it scalable faster than the cost per customer, and so on ?

killroy

A good enough PC?

mars 29, 2007

What could be a good enough PC? Well, it’s not a computer, rather an offer tagerting people who just want internet, writing, accounting, but they’re not gamers and technologies aren’t their favourite topic.
I don’t think that’s a matter of age, excepted for the games. It’s for people who avoid complexity, who will rather like the consumer device than the computer which can do everything. A question of perception: the device is the usage.

Of course, music, picture and video are part of our life and flow from the net anyway. Hence, a good enough PC should handle that, at least for viewing and playing. Maybe converting file, though, it could take a long time because for such a product, there are two constraints: the design and the price.

The design. Since the device is presented to fullfill the minimal needs, its dimension should be as well minimal, one wouldn’t want a tower for that. Similar to an external cd burner in size, thus, one can’t invest in a special and costly heat dissipator and so the processor can’t be very fast (between 800Mhz and 1Ghz)

The price. That’s simple. Currently a low-end computer starts at 500$, hence the cost saving should be interesting, that is to say, the product should cost no more than 300$. What do we have inside for this price? Certainly a mini-itx motherboard, though, I don’t know if the most suitable of them are yet good enough, and a 2.5″ hard-disk. 256 Mo of RAM, usb, at least one fire-wire, stereo audio in-out, a modem, ethernet and a wi-fi card, for the graphical part a VGA would suffice. All that could stay in the range, I guess.
Yes, there’s no internal cd/dvd burner. An external one isn’t so costly nowaday and one better even has to offer it as an accessory, with certainly a better margin and one still stays far below the 500 bucks. So, the buyer takes it or delays his purchase without regret in regard to the money saved.

What will be the OS? Sure, can’t be Vista! Will be Linux. Of course there is there a hiding cost which isn’t reflected in the product’s price since a distro wouldn’t run on it out of the box without some developement, moreover, one better has to keep the control on the OS than letting the buyer alone. Besides that, a distro invested in a given hardware could bring some interesting stuffs that somebody could adapt or reuse more widely.

Since it will be Linux (or FreeBSD) the external peripherals should be recommended, but the targeted people won’t buy more than a printer, a multi-fonctional one. Maybe they could be interested to buy this kind of printer with a computer embedded? One touches there to the representation of the computer.

Web services -follow up

novembre 5, 2006

When I considered the web services, I thought that something was missing: a terminal instead of a client, or just a modem. The trend seems to keep the client, though, either reduced to the minimum, either packed with a modem-router.
The first is Linutop. the idea is to provide a tiny and cheap central unit with the mostly used softwares (browser, wordprocessor and viewer). In its concept, the user with such a product could rely on web services to extend its abilities and capacities (storage and additional web applications). Moreover, the product is opened to some other usage (point sale,…etc)
The second, Easy Gate, is rather a rich client, though it is remotely maintained. It’s like the former with more softwares but combined with a dsl router. And yes, it is offered by a ISP included in the subscription fee. Don’t know yet if that runs well, but, despite the client solution, the whole unit is by this way a service.

I would rather like a slave device, something like a network storage, and a remote desktop somewhere.

Web services

octobre 29, 2006

Thanks to the asynchronous technics, one can enjoy a lot of web services: office services, storage services, content services and even web services of web services. However all that needs the power of the client, running a browser isn’t enough, one also needs all the support related to the different kind of format providing through the internet, and the hardware has to follow.
Hence, I wonder where is the real benefit for the end-user ? Beside the fact that it’s a service, that is to say, somebody do it for me and so there’s less to do for me, I still have to cope with a computer and its operating system. Worst, relying on a browser has always been the big avenue to some sureptitious annoyances. So, I can understand that a gamer would be really satisfied with these web services. Since he or she is mainly interested in games only, he or she has a consequent computer which fits likely to these services. But for an everyday life usage, that don’t really lift the burden, and having a computer seems consequently to be disproportionate.

The real point here isn’t the end-user, rather the principle of the client-server relation. Through the history this relation looks like a balance and as an antagonism between the client and the server. As the capacities grown up, the shift moved from the server to the client; nowaday as the bandwidth grows up the server side gains a renewal, but the previous antagonism has gone, it’s now an option among some other.

client-server pendulum

Hence, the real question now is to know what’s the most efficient relation as a whole ? The client against the server, something which could be a pure peer to peer network; the server against the client downsized to a terminal or the both ? Of course this question depends from the current state of art and at a first view, one can argue that sharing the capacities will be always the best way to share the overall cost, the client and the server should better has to work in a complementary way. That sounds good, though, this can be achieved without necessarly implied a personnal computer. In this regard, the mobile phones present an interesting situation, simply because the device enables an usage completely different from those of a computer and mainly because it can’t really fit to this PC-like usage. Moreover the computing capacities are constrained while the bandwidth capacity has far much room, hence, in such condition the mobile phone will be more likely a terminal concerning the office and the internet. Of course, the pricing scheme will or won’t support the move, but that was the question since the most efficient relation as a whole will certainly enable the most affordable cost.

So, between the web services’ asynchronous technics and a remote desktop on a sessions server, what is the most efficient ? Assuming that the former is the best, would it be odd and counterproductive to consider a remote browser ? Obviously, I got a preference for the server against the client, more exactly it is about the end-user by having the choice between a PC or a simple box which just give the access. This could be the ISP’s box as well, included in the subscription cost. Will the consumers take the grip ? As far as the service is reliable, they will, simply because the majority doesn’t buy IT for the sake of IT but just for the usage and the related necessities of the everyday life without the technical implications.

Transferring graphics stuff from the PC to the monitor

août 18, 2006

Sometime the innovation comes from a re-organization, not from a new technology. Why a monitor wouldn´t have a graphics card inside it rather than in the PC ?
One takes a monitor and removes its board; from the computer one takes the graphics card and puts its stuff on the monitor board as shown below.

transfer

Then, one has something which could be called a graphics board and one places it in the monitor in a removable way as a graphics card. Thus one can upgrade the monitor or save the graphics board if the screen takes a hit.

graphicsb

This is the general idea which certainly has a lot of technical involvements. The first implication is the choice of the link between the monitor and the computer : USB, Firewire or Ethernet ?

ethlink

USB is widely known and supported, Firewire is as well supported but on mid or higher-end PC. Nonetheless, both have a bandwidth limitation over the distance. Ethernet is better on this point and even a low-end PC has a T-100 Ethernet port, moreover that opens some network capacities. This choice involves a micro-controller or a low power CPU to support the TCP/IP stack. So, in the end, the graphics board has some similarities with a thin-client.
Does one need to add something on the PC side ? Personally I don´t know, though, that could be handle by a driver : either a new graphic driver, either an additional driver which makes the bridge. Frankly, my concern is rather about the BIOS since it should be able to catch the monitor through Ethernet. One has the same problem with USB keyboard and mouse on workstation, they´re not detected at boot, hence one cannot access to the BIOS setup. I have seen some console which leads to the BIOS after the boot, but it´s not a real solution. This is the downside of this new organisation and there are maybe some others, though, what are the benefits ?

Concerning the cost, it would be a little bit higher than the cost of a graphic card, but that´s not sure. One doesn´t make a big saving upon the connectors but the Bill Of Material is simplified since one would just need some Ethernet connectors and gears, and then one benefits from the economy of scale. That´s true for the graphics board maker as well as for the motherboard maker. Moreover the latter better has to build two RJ45 on-board, one for the network and one for the monitor; otherwise that would imply a switch which is not a good argument of selling for an OEM. So in the end, the overall cost could be reduced.
In fact this organization brings some new opportunities. Since the graphics board is removable, this allows the offer of a standard monitor case on the market, thus giving more room for the OEMs. Chipset and graphics card makers can invest the monitor market or use it to enlarge their offers. Motherboard makers get more flexibility in their design, for low-end PC this transfer is the more profitable and for mid or higher-end one can arbitrate upon the number of PCI slot.

stdmonitor

Some opportunities are also given to ISPs and content carriers since the monitor relies on Ethernet. Hence, either the DSL box get more gears to drive the monitor, either the latter becomes a terminal, though it could be a mix as well. And since one can get the TV through the net, it´s also an opportunities for TV maker.

There are also some technical benefits. On the PC side the overall heat is obviously reduced and the graphics gears get a better cooling since there are in a separate case. Thus, in some case, one could avoid the use of a fan and then the overall noise could be reduced. As well one saves a little bit in power consumption. PC could be more compact, especially low-end computer which could gain in graphics power. It´s true as well for virtual or emulated machine which can not exploit plainly the host machine´s hardware. The main benefit indeed is that computers and graphics gears could be more independent.