in Bytesize

Bytesize 0x16 (2015).

While everyone was going crazy over Android M, Brillo and other announcements from Google I/O 2015, I kept my eye on the prize.

And there have been so many prizes this week.

  1. Avago to buy Broadcom for $37 billion in biggest-ever chip deal by Liana B. Baker and Supantha Mukherjee, Reuters – Oh boy! It started with a rumor that quickly turned out to be fact (a rare occurence these days). It was only last week that I was going over a list of all the recent M&As and other strategic partnerships in semiconductors: Intel-Lantiq, Tsinghua-RDA, Intel-Rockchip and Spreadtrum, Samsung-Bluetooth from CSR, Qualcomm-the rest of CSR, Broadcom-Renesas Mobile, Fujitsu+Panasonic (=Socionext), Avago-LSI Logic, Cirrus Logic-Wolfson, NXP+Freescale, Microchip-Micrel. You look at the list and start ot wonder: will global players become the only influencers? Does SoC complexity mean only the largest can compete? Are we headed towards an industry of “go big or go home”? It might seem that way, but I think it’s really the first step in an evolution. Tier 2 players and start-ups need to become more than simple silicon providers; they can (and will) win too, but only based on providing a complete stack of hardware and software. Services will matter just as much as chips – or even more.
  2. Spreadtrum Guns for Intel’s 14nm FinFET in 2016, by Junko Yoshida, EE Times – The article that confused many. Will they or won’t they go the x86 route? But does it really matter at this point? I like Intel – they make great products. I bought a swanky Motorola RAZR i when people were saying they have no chance of competing in mobile. Next week I’m about to test the incredibly good Asus Zenfone 2 – and people are still saying they have no chance of competing in mobile. I don’t understand why some can’t accept the reality of two (or more!) architectures living together in one healthy symbiosis.
  3. Google Glass Is Edging Toward A Reimagining—And A Relaunch, by David Nield, ReadWrite – Good, it’s about time. Surely you remember reading all about how Google Glass was dead, smart glasses were dead, wearables were dead, everything was dead. Then Microsoft launched HoloLens and Apple started selling the Watch and all of a sudden smart glasses and smartwatches became good, wearables were better, everything was the best! Well, make up your minds analysts. Deal or no deal? If you ask me (and nobody ever does!) smart glasses will indeed capture only a niche consumer audience (initially); however, industrial applications still represent a significant and yet to be explored avenue. Also, the industrial space for IoT and wearables seems to elude the mainstream press who refuses to analyze (or even mention) this side of the market.
  4. How GameBench provides a different (and sometimes opposite) view to traditional mobile benchmarks by GameBench (mysterious) staff (?) – Thou shall not mention GameBench to performance analysis engineers. Even so, everyone agrees that synthetic benchmarks are commonly misused by mostly everyone in the press. I constantly see reviews for mobile devices where system or component-specific (e.g. CPU, GPU, memory, etc.) benchmarks are used to compare different classes of gadgets. Smartphones, tablets, dev boards, set-top boxes – they’re all lumped in together for the sake of… well, I really don’t have a scientific reason. The sake of showing diversity comes to mind but that is fundamentally flawed. Even though some SoCs get reused in more than one category of device (a bad idea), you surely agree that comparing the performance and thermals of a phone with those of an AIO device can be a bit confusing to the average consumers. I don’t see PC reviews (or if I do, I don’t read them) comparing laptop processors with high-end desktop PC parts – unless they’re trying to be funny. If anyone is reading this, please use the comment section of these websites, email the reviewers and badger the publications on Twitter and Facebook. Let them know that what they’re doing is not right.
  5. Self-driving car slams into man while testing its ‘pedestrian detection’ feature by Ollie McAteer, Metro – “But Alex, why are you posting some random article from a website that tries really hard to be kinda, sorta like Buzzfeed, only with less money?” Alright, I admit, I followed them on Facebook once so I could win an iPhone! Is that so bad!? But I digress. I’ve talked last week about the future of self-driving cars; now it’s time we look at the present. While I can accept the it-almost-works approach for a phone or a watch app, cars (and transportation, in general) are a completely different matter. Strip away the sensationalism of that story and the ugly truth rears its head: we are not there yet when it comes to self-driving cars – and we won’t be for a while. Anyone who tells you otherwise either a) has no clue about ADAS b) works in marketing or c) both. In addition, notice how the business model of adding different ADAS features to the same car model (in this example, pedestrian detection) can confuse consumers – and potentially lead to serious consequences. You can’t approach driver or pedestrian safety the same way you do digital radio.
  6. Moose Worm Compromises Routers for Social Network Fraud by Softpedia – I love a good social network thriller; that’s why to this day I still want my money back from going to the cinema to see The Social Network. But going back to the story: the moose is loose! – and it’s following everyone on Twitter. I’ve written an article about security where I’ve touched on IoT and gateways too. I think the situation will not change until security becomes a standard feature in every connected product akin to having a camera on a phone. Until then, stories like these will likely reappear.
  7. Samsung Project Valley is a dual screen, possibly foldable, smartphone by Abhijeet M., SamMobile – I don’t know if this is true or not but I do know I’m getting sick and tired of my phone sticking out of my pocket or poking my pelvic area whenever I bend the slightest. A foldable device would be nice, please. If there is something I’d pay (extra) for, it would definitely be that.
  8. Fixing China’s Coal Problem by Richard Martin, MIT Technology Review – I often find myself reading the Technology Review these days; it’s the New Yorker of tech publications – and their cartoons are just as good. Jokes aside, fixing our pollution problem is something I care deeply about. Speaking of which, I don’t understand why conservatives have the worst track record when it comes to environmental policies. Isn’t their brand name supposed to imply they care about CONSERVING the world we live in? Yet, for the past five decades, conservative policies in the Western world have chosen to ignore global warming (I refuse to call it climate change) while other countries considered less progressive and/or libertarian have made monumental progress in this field. It’s true that China, India and other fast-growing economies pollute more, but they also seem to clean up faster. Screw it, let’s all frack ourselves into extinction.