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Monthly Archives: February 2014

19
Feb
2014

Moores Law Alive And Well But No Longer Thanks To Intel?

by Bill

CPU“Moore’s Law,” the famous prognostication coined in 1965 by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, predicted that computing power would double every 18-24 months. The Law has more or less been proven true for decades but has recently been widely reported to be reaching the end of the line soon, due to the simple fact that transistors have gotten smaller and smaller and have become too densely packed.

Many experts have gone on record to say that engineers are reaching physical limitations of power consumption and cooling, including Bob Colwell, Intel’s former chief architect stating that by 2020 Moore’s law will cease to be a viable paradigm, with a bold prediction that its passing will also have significant repercussions to the continuing development of the information economy.

That would be 50 years in a row of computing power doubling every two years more or less like clockwork suddenly screeching to a halt. Consumers accustomed to ever-increasing sophistication of computers, software and mobile devices would be left for the first time wondering what to do now that computers have reached a perceived physical limit.

Enter the “NanoFSM,” developed by a team from Harvard University and the non-profit military contractor The MITRE Corporation.

NanoFSM is an ultra-small, ultra-low-power processor—termed a nanoelectronic finite-state machine that is smaller than a single human nerve cell. It is composed of hundreds of nanowire transistors, each of which is a switch about ten-thousand times thinner than a human hair. The nanowire transistors use very little power because they are “nonvolatile.” That is, the switches remember whether they are on or off, even when no power is supplied to them – which has significant advantages in terms of heat dissipation. The team behind it believes it to be “the densest nanoelectronic system ever built” and that looks like it might allow Moore’s law to continue onward, just not under Intel’s stewardship any longer.

Others working to stave off the end of Moore’s Law at the University of California at Berkeley are working with nanoribbon graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms, just one layer thick that researchers are promising could lead to transistor densities on a computer chip as much as 10,000 times higher than what is achievable today, aided in large part by the unique material’s superconductivity.

Making predictions is a dangerous business, but just as the technology we take for granted today would seem like magic or science fiction a few short years ago, there are still brilliant minds working on maintaining the pace of innovation, and pushing it to new heights unimaginable by consumers today. The real lesson here is that any time someone tells you something is not possible, in Hosting, Computing, Cloud Software, Business, or Life… remind them, it’s only not possible… yet!

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14
Feb
2014

Facing Inaction on the Part of Entrenched Broadband Interests Mozilla Acts

by Bill

Fiber to the homeInsiders have been seeing negative reports about the state of the US internet surfacing nearly every day, from our declining competitiveness compared to our overseas competitors to the collapse of Net Neutrality, but for a change of pace, there’s some good news to report.

The Mozilla foundation, the non-profit behind the wildly popular open source web browser Firefox, in an effort to push improvements in internet speed, has launched the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund in conjunction with the National Science Foundation and US Ignite to provide grants to software developers in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Kansas City, Kansas, cities that are currently served with gigabit fiber services.

While the $300,000 is being provided by the National Science Foundation, the funding will be disbursed by Mozilla, 10 grants to each city, in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $30,000 for local software and application developers to come up with “killer apps” that will make use of the truly voluminous, up to a billion bits per second, super-broadband deployed in those cities.

The deployment of gigabit service which provides over 50 time the internet speeds of today’s standard cable and DSL services, has seen the entrenched players dragging their feet, preferring to harvest profits from their existing infrastructure, rather than investing in the new tech that will replace it. Google Fiber, the search giant’s fiber service has already rolled out in Kansas City, Kansas and Provo, Utah with Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City already announced as the next cities on Google FIber’s agenda.

Verizon for its part rolled out a fiber internet service, Fios, but has since ceased expanding its coverage, and there are some who say that there really isn’t enough demand for the truly blazing speeds that gigabit fiber service provides, a situation the Mozilla Fund is aiming to change. The fund will award money to projects that “demonstrate how emerging gigabit technologies are relevant in people’s everyday lives.” But in keeping with the Mozilla Foundation’s Manifesto, it wants to fund applications that are “rooted in the local community, and that are pragmatic, deployable in the near term, have measurable impact, and are re-usable and shareable with others.”

One sure way to answer the complaint by carrier that ‘high speed broadband isn’t needed because there is a lack of applications that use it’ is to do exactly what Mozilla is doing, by providing incentives to break the logjam. Now when someone asks what needs to come first, connectivity or applications that use it, developers can give the correct answer – Mozilla deserves the credit for coming first instead of waiting for either or both.

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06
Feb
2014

Net Neutrality May Find Resilience In Consumer Advocacy

by Bill

net neutralityMuch has been made of the recent court decision striking down the FCC regulations commonly referred to as ‘Net Neutrality’ which until recently required carriers to provide bandwidth in a manner that was completely agnostic to what kind of content it is, the source of the content or any other ancillary factors. In the wake of the court decision many industry participants, including NationalNet, posted an array of viewpoints about the impact the decision may have on eCommerce and the way the internet is priced for consumers.

One thing that seems to have been overlooked is the growing ability of consumers to advocate for themselves, band together quickly, and collect support effectively. Now there are several groups sprouting up with websites, online communities and tools designed to hold carriers to task as a matter of free market economics rather than governmental regulation.

As one example, the site http://netneutralitytest.com has posted a simple ‘throttle checker’ that allows anyone to test their actual bandwidth speed across a variety of different cloud services including AWS East, AWS California, AWS Oregon, Linode, Newark, NJ, Linode, Atlanta, GA, Linode, Dallas, TX and Linode, Fremont, CA with more to be added in the near future. In seconds, a consumer can see for themselves whether or not their carrier has decided to throttle down the internet speed they are being provided for some forms of internet usage as compared with others.

The purpose is simple and the impact may be profound. In the lead-up to the court decision that ended Net Neutrality many think-tanks presumed that consumers would be unable to know if they were being affected, or would mistakenly blame entities like Netflix for degraded video quality without understanding the big picture of what is happening to their packets as they are piped from Netflix services to their own device by carriers seeking to add new service tolls along the information highway. That presumption is being quickly disproved and may be proof of something even more fundamentally important, that the internet has come of age and that society as a whole now has at least a functional understanding of how it works.

If consumers take enough of an interest in which companies do or do not throttle access and vote with their choice of provider, it very well may be the invisible hand of the economy that spanks the wrist of carriers seeking greater revenue, rather than any governmental agency or Congressional action. After all, it’s an informed and actively engaged populace would likely be the fastest way to get greater pricing competition, marketing of  ‘unlimited neutral access’ and things of that sort on the horizon from companies like Comcast and Verizon.

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