Low profile, high potential.
2014 will be the year that specialised ARM-based chips gather momentum in the server market. That was not good news for Intel as it scrambled at CES to maintain relevance in the mobile device market. The last thing it needs – but the next thing it’s going to get – is competitive pressure on server processors, an increasingly rare example of a growth market that it dominates.
ARM maintained a relatively low profile at CES, leaving center stage to companies, like Qualcomm, that license its microprocessor architecture and make the chips that rule the smart phone and tablet space. Or, like Samsung or Huawei or ZTE, that make those devices. It did have a small stand at the Pepcom press preview event, though, showing examples of wearable products – the breakout category at the show – that it powers.
“Our customers can build optimal solutions, that’s what happening in the server space”, said Jeff Chu, an ARM marketing executive. The idea is to build chips that are specifically designed for a particular kind of application: media servers, for example. The ARM architecture is more modular and adaptable than Intel’s x86 monolith, which gives it the flexibility needed to support the development of an increasingly complex server-side ecosystem.
Chu said that AMD will be shipping samples of an ARM-based server chip in the next couple of months, with full production expected later this year. Broadcom is also working on a server-optimised processor. The two companies have different takes on how to build chips that improve performance and reduce power consumption for particular server applications, according to Chu.
- New adult IPTV platform Fyretv.com sez 5K subs at launch a month ago, 27K more signed up & waiting for equipment. STB, basic lineup: $10/mo. Some biz models are recession proof.
- HD downloads caching on 1GB USB stick on Fyretv roadmap. Subs buy content but store it on Fyretv servers. Miami HQ, headend in Dallas colo.
- Fyretv OEMs STBs in China: Broadcom 7401 chip, mostly text & menu-based inhouse user interface on Linux kernel. No content storage, streaming only. All the standard gozintas and gozoutas, plus USB for expandability. But not for content storage.
- Tiki Tag puts RFID chips on cheap stickers, lets you attach metadata to your stuff, makes smart biz cards.
- PlasticLogic.com large format ebook reader, made out of plastic. Very cool. Unfortunately, not on market until 2010.
- AT&T CruiseCast is Sat TV to cars. 22 channels now, via 20 cm x 10 cm mechanically tracking antenna on car roof.
- CruiseCast runs off Intelsat Ku bird, managed by RaySat. In aftermarket now, targeting auto OEM eventually.
- CruiseCast competition: digital broadcast TV, mobile phone carriers, recorded content. How much backseat video is enough?
- Via Technologies is another player in the netbook game. Product looks good, not game changing.
- MeeBox. Home media center, 1TB storage with 1TB backup, does the usual movies, music, etc. thing.
- Autonet aggregates many cellular data carriers into single service, provides more robust Internet access in car. Biz play.
- HP showing netbooks. Product is pretty ordinary, but brand will carry it just fine.
From the Showstoppers event at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show.
Last to first, real time tweets from Las Vegas…
- Tethering is deciding battle between mobile carriers & CE industry. CE guys don’t get it, think it’s a tech problem. It’s the money!
- Novatel Wireless hasn’t signed any carriers yet. Expects to Real Soon Now. If they do, it’s a significant market signal re tethering.
- Novatel Wireless also into tethering. Selling gizmo combining mobile data card, embedded Linux, WiFi tethering. Serves 5 users at once.
- Blaupunkt has Internet car radio. Needs tethering-capable mobile phone. Don’t count on mobile carriers cooperating with the biz model.
- Buzzword Alert! iGo makes travel adaptors. Nice, same sh** different year. But now – pause for effect & wink knowingly – “we’re green”.
- Boxee talking to Sigma & Intel. Broadcom reportedly doesn’t care yet: he who is last is lunch.
- Boxee vs AppleTV. Good interfaces. AppleTV tied to iTunes. But Boxee runs on an AppleTV & pisses off Steve Jobs. Great business model!
- Boxee runs on 1 GHz processor or better now, working towards reducing code to run as embedded app with less horsepower.
- Boxee managed $4 mil in VC financing last month. In this market that’s like winning the Nobel prize. Nobody gets funded these days.
- Boxee runs on Mac, Windoze, Linux. Takes content from all sources, including your computer. Puts it on TV. TV, photos, music, whatever.
- Boxee only potential disruptor at this press event. Open source media center software. Takes content from everywhere, puts it anywhere.
- HD Radio has neat idea. Listen to song on radio, push button, tag song, sync with iPod, buy song from iTunes. GPS integration too.
- Lenovo on same track as MSI, good not revolutionary. When you have a hot category, take market share, not press clips I guess.
- MSI Wind product looks good, not game-changing. WiFi, but no WiMAX. When I asked, PR person thought WiMAX was a kind of hard drive.
- ASUS has best new stuff. Love the netbook with the swivel screen. Turns into a tablet PC or e-reader. Under 1kg. WiMAX on roadmap.
- Three netbook makers pushing hard at CES: MSI, ASUS, Lenovo.
- CES Unveiled, big turnout nice buffet. Open bar, but Powermat display has bigger line. This crowd is fueled by electrons, not booze.
- Make that ASUS chairman Jonney Shih
- Microsoft guy unveils a rad new concept: voip. Next hot idea from Redmond: padded laptop cases!
- ASUS hot on WiMAX, introing a 512GB solid state drive
- ASUS press conf packed, already learned something: it’s pronounced “ah-zeus”
- In car TV top product pick for young parents, other mobile TV products getting lots of attention. More dough for services and content for sure.
- Early leader for WTF award: HD diving mask.
- Services seen as integral part of media product sales, “wouldn’t make sense without”
- Mobile, cloud computing, green tech all getting serious attention. Squares with VC predictions for 2009.
- E-readers a top growth product in 2008, albeit from a small base
- Green products, mobile stuff, embedded Internet, input & display tech tagged as top trends for 2009
- Early leader for Alice in Wonderland award: “CE is a necessity not a luxury”. So are cars, and auto sales are zip.
- Early leader for understatement of the show: “consumer spending is in transition”
- CES state of the industry press conf: DTV, mobile phones, video games & PCs account for 70% of CE sales in 2008.
- @jodrell Truphone Anywhere uses GSM to make a plain old mobile voice call to a voip portal. Nice but not mobile voip.