Showing posts from March, 2006

What a thrill! How disappointing!

This afternoon at 2:30 PM Pacific Time the Falcon 1 rocket successfully lifted off from it's launch pad at SpaceX's Kwajalein launch site on Omelek Island. This is the first commercial / private venture to get payloads into LEO (low earth orbit) this year and higher over the coming years. I opened my browser at 5:00 PM to monitor the webcast and tried to concentrate on work while I listened to the microphone chatter from 'mission control' in the background. I didn't want to miss the 5:30 PM launch. I was nervous. As they counted down the last few seconds my heart-beat increased making me wonder what this lucky bunch of entrepreneurs must be feeling. Lift-off was right on time! The webcast cut from a ground-based camera to one mounted inside the vehicle looking down through a glass portal. When the webcast failed seconds into the launch it seemed as if all was going well. I later learned that the launch vehicle and payload were lost. What a …

A Tribute to Einstein

I'd like to comment on some of Einstein's quotes over the following weeks. Why? He was a thoughtful man.
"I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves -— this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth."
If you subscribe to pleasure as an end in and of itself, although somewhat opposed to Einstein's thinking you remain in famous company. You feel much as the Marquis de Sade.

The Cell Processor and Octopiler


I am going to talk about an area in which I consider myself pretty much an idiot - computer programming (my wife says I shouldn't call myself an idiot and she's really smart so maybe there's something to it). I have written C (anyone remember Borland Turbo C?), 68000 assembler, and Clipper programs but that's the extent of it (and clearly also a long time ago) so don't exepect great depth and insight.

I'll tell you why the Cell is significant after I first tell you what it is. The Cell processor is made up of one 64-bit Power Architecture core and 8 additional CPU cores called Synergistic Processor Units or SPUs. The SPUs are built to handle computationally intensive applications like video or signal processing, and cryptography among others. Here's what the chip looks like:

IBM designed it in partnership with Sony and Toshiba. The Cell's first application will be to power the heart of Sony's new gaming console, the PS3, which is due o…

More High-Tech Investments Move Overseas

The US continues to farm out jobs overseas as Intel announces plans to invest $300MM in Vietnam:

Intel Corp., the world's largest chip maker, said it would invest $300 million to build a factory in Vietnam to package and test microchips that power personal computers and mobile phones.

It marks the biggest investment in Vietnam by a U.S. company, and Intel has an option to double its investment in the country.
Jobs are moving overseas but mostly those at the bottom of the food chain. Research is still primarily done in US companies and universities. Offshore research has the same challenges as offshore coding - communication and cultural challenges result in only non-core work being pushed out of North America. Better get on top of the food chain if you aren't already. The shift of jobs is not likely to stop anytime soon.