Unfortunately client commitments meant I was unable to make Computex this year but I have been following coverage. There were a few interesting announcements that I think are worth sharing thoughts on including those from Microsoft, Intel, ARM partners and QNAP.
Microsoft Windows 8 Previewed
One very important “unveiling” that happened this week was Microsoft showing off the new Windows 8 user interface. One can clearly see from the video that it is meant to scale from tablets/ phones to PCs. Furthermore, it is more than obvious that the days of laptops and desktop PCs being solely mouse and keyboard driven is quickly coming to an end. Touch is going to be in-vogue with Windows 8. One thing that I would have liked to see was bringing Microsoft Kinect-based interfaces to the PC. Frankly, PCs have a ton of power and cameras are now common on PCs and tablets, especially since Apple has been saturating its lineup with them. Touch is something that Apple does better than Microsoft with given iOS experiences (and the fact that Microsoft Surface has not taken off in the consumer marketplace like Kinect.) Hopefully Microsoft looks at camera tracking based interfaces in Windows 8 SP1 because it is something they have a clear advantage in over Apple.
One of the other big showcases was that Windows 8 will not be consumer-centric on the x86 side anymore with working demos on ARM based devices which must make both Intel and AMD a bit worried. Although much of the talk around ARM’s Windows 8 debut being a threat to Intel, the bigger story is perhaps the low-end of the market where AMD does fairly well. The first portion of the market that will be cannibalized by ARM based CPUs is AMD’s bread and butter operations.
Intel is Facing an Onslaught of ARM Competitors
At Computex NVIDIA previewed Kal-El which is a new quad core ARM based offering with a significantly beefed up GPU over the current Tegra 2. Other vendors such as Qualcomm also showed off their offerings. As a response, Intel is significantly accelerating architecture and manufacturing node improvements on its Atom line over the next three years.
After seeing NVIDIA’s demo of Kal-El, NVIDIA’s roadmap for the future of ARM, and personally using a Motorola Atrix 4G with a Tegra 2 based ARM processor daily, I can easily see how Intel’s management must be shaking at the prospect of what happens if the Atrix 4G-style Linux desktop environment becomes a widespread reality with Windows 8. The “good enough” phenomenon that drove things like Netflix streaming, YouTube video, cell phone cameras and etc. may work against Intel in the near future.
QNAP Showcases New Products at Computex
QNAP is a fairly well known SMB storage provider that unveiled quite a few new products at Computex 2011. The QNAP Turbo NAS line saw the TS-x79 powered by Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge based CPUs and with raw capacities that can reach up to 100TB using expansion modules and 3TB drives. Other announcements included the TS-x59 Pro II Business series which feature the Intel Atom D525 CPU. Overall good upgrades for the company. I will say that prior to building my own storage years ago QNAP was a front-runner for my money if I had purchased an off-the-shelf solution.
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