Sunday, January 27, 2008

Back again with some time to post. There's been some interesting news I'd like to cover.

First, Apple introduced new products at MacWorld. The most controversial product was the MacBook Air, the thinnest notebook shipping today (maybe, the thinnest ever). I found the Air made too many compromises to be anything but an executive toy. I know something about sub-notebooks having owned a Fujitsu P2040 with the Transmeta Crusoe processor and an having recently purchased an ASUS Eee PC. Both of those laptops made compromises, but Apple chose the style, keyboard, and larger display over flexibility, connectivity, and expandability. While I will wait until I see one in person before casting my final opinion, I can't imagine that the one USB port on the Air is in any way sufficient for external mic/headset, wired Ethernet, external storage, etc. Beside, the Air turns out to be Apple's slowest notebook and is using Intel's older 65nm processor, not the latest 45nm Penryn processor.

The other big news (as far as I'm concerned) is the announcement of VIA's "Isaiah" processor (also known as the CN processor). This is a major leap forward for VIA's Centaur design team. The processor had been announced at the 2004 Fall Microprocessor Forum, back when I was still at Microprocessor Report. Glenn Henry announced the design at the 2004 Fall MPF and gives a detailed description at

In looking over the wafer pictures, I figure the die is about 65mm2 in size, larger
than I thought it would be in 2004, but then I didn't expect VIA to put a 1MB L2 cache on die. I also expected VIA would put an on-die memory controller in the design, but they did not. I guess VIA prefers a clean division of labor - processors in Texas and chipsets in Taiwan.

Overall the processor looks interesting, splitting the difference between the Core 2 processors (Penryn is 107mm2) and the upcoming UMPC/MID processor Silverthorne (at 25mm2). Performance should be right in the middle of those two Intel processor families. The question is: is there enough room for VIA to operate or is it too tight a squeeze.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

I've had a very relaxing vacation with stays in San Francisco and Carmel Valley. Lots of movies, but none were really outstanding - just entertaining. Monday it's back to work.

CES kicked off with Bill Gates' keynote. The best part was the comic video of Bill's last day on the job done in the style of "The Office."

So far, none of the CES product announcements has excited me - plenty of new HDTVs, PCs, Cameras, media players, etc. I'll keep looking this week.

Friday, January 04, 2008

I just got back from a couple of days away from the Internet. While catching up on things, I found out that Om Malik had a heart attack last week. Get well Om - you'll have to make some changes in your lifestyle now.

With the holidays, I've been distracted and haven't posted. I'll be back soon as we get set for CES. I'm watching CES from a safe distance - San Jose. There will be enough reporters and bloggers and analysts there that I can cover more territory by reading their reports than I could on foot at the show.

I got an iPod Touch for Christmas and hope to spend more time with it. The interface is very interesting, but I see more work that needs to be done to make touch screens more useable - Apple's work is not done yet.