Custom PC, Issue 113

Custom PC, Issue 113This month’s Mobile Tech Watch column for Dennis Publishing’s Custom PC Magazine reveals a new direction for my regular two-page slot: rather than a look at mobile technologies, the column will in future focus on interviews with luminaries from the computer industry – and not just the mobile side of things. As a result, the Mobile Tech Watch moniker is going, with this issue marking the last time you’ll see the name appear in the magazine.

As a transition piece, the final Mobile Tech Watch column uses the interview format but looking at a mobile technology: specifically, Intel’s work on many-core processors for mobile devices. While the company’s efforts in exascale computing, with its Many Integrated Cores (MIC) architecture and Xeon Phi co-processor board, are well known, the effect the research is likely to have on future mobile devices is less so – hence my desire to shine a light on proceedings.

My subject for the interview was Jim Held, Intel Fellow and Labs Director for Microprocessor and Programming Research. Leading the team responsible for the Terascale Research Processor and Single-Chip Cloud Computer, both of which would feed directly into the development of the now-shipping Xeon Phi 50-core PCI Express board, Held certainly knows his stuff and was an absolute pleasure to talk to.

During the interview, Held touched on how his team’s research will lead to extremely efficient smartphone processors, with new power management features allowing applications greater control over processor states than ever before. The result, in theory, should be smartphones, tablets and laptops with significantly improved battery life – something that is already being implemented in Intel’s current-generation products.

“There’s a lag between when we begin doing research and when things appear in the marketplace,” Held told me. “You’re seeing the benefit – and you will in the Core line as well as the Atom line – the results of our research into how to improve the efficiency of the microarchitecture, and to improve the fine-grained management of the use of power on the die.”

What else does Held have in store for Intel’s future? Pick up the magazine and find out.

Custom PC Issue 113 is available in newsagents, supermarkets, delivered via subscription, and digitally through the Zinio service, so you’ve really no excuse not to read it.

Custom PC, Issue 88

This month’s Custom PC magazine includes a six-page feature on the technologies behind smartphones in addition to my regular ‘Download’ column and news snippets culled from the Bit-Tech website.

Designed to offer a comprehensive yet readable look at smartphone technologies, the piece includes box-outs on the history of British chip giant ARM, a look at each connection generation from 0G to 4G and a comparison of resistive and capacitive touch-screen displays.

Each of the major phone brands are also summarised in their own box-outs – Android, BlackBerry, Apple and Windows Phone all get a mention – while Mozilla’s Seabird concept product is analysed.

It was a fun piece to create; and while the requirement to provide accompanying graphics with publishing rights caused a few sleepless nights Googling frantically, I’m more than pleased with how it turned out.

The ‘Download’ column this month looks at ‘accidental-on-purpose’ leaking of pre-release data from graphics giants AMD and Nvidia, and bemoans the role that technology journalists – myself included – play in pandering to the hype machine.