Posted by Allen Watson on October 25, 2011
There was a time when you got your new computer home it was likely to be an HP and it ran Microsoft Windows on an Intel processor. You knew what to expect. Well, not anymore. At Microsoft’s BUILD conference for developers in Southern California, they unveiled their next operating system on a machine that didn’t have an Intel processor inside. At the same time, a few hundred miles north in San Francisco, Intel was unveiling a software partnership for an operating system – and it wasn’t with Microsoft! A few weeks ago, HP said it was spinning off or getting rid of its PC business, or not. What’s going on! Can’t we trust the status quo anymore? What happened to the Old Order?
Microsoft’s announcement of Windows 8 is showing a Windows that doesn’t look much like the old Windows we know and love. It has ‘tiles’ and ‘charms’ and ‘snapping’, but not much in the way of actual windows. Applications run full screen. It works on desktop PCs, laptops and tablets. Interestingly, Intel’s announcement with Google wasn’t for a PC operating system, but one for smart phones and tablets. It was Android, of course.
In the more strictly embedded world, we‘re used to seeing a multitude of processors and operating systems. There was a seismic shift to Linux a few years ago and one, more recently, to Android, in all kinds of devices. But, changes like this, in the PC world, are not common. Intel is working hard to re-invigorate the PC market with their Ultrabook™ category. These are sleek, lightweight, but powerful laptops that will be manufactured by companies such as Samsung and Acer. They are very cool.
So, the next few years will be very exciting for the new devices that we’ll all be using every day. PC’s, phones and tablets with new form factors and new (and new-looking) operating systems. And what has caused all this disruption to our lives? The one company I haven’t mentioned: Apple.
At the age of 10 Mike begged his father to get him a computer. Never mind that at the time computers were the size of a large office and cost millions of dollars. Yes, Mike is no spring chicken and he didn’t get the computer, although his father did give him an abacus telling him that it would enable him to use the computer that he already had between his ears, which was not appreciated. Whether it was due to the trauma that resulted from using an abacus or just Mike’s love of anything electronic he has spent the last 30 years or so designing, building, and programming computers, microprocessors, and microcontrollers and developing applications that run on them. And his fascination continues with the definition of new processors and architectures in his search for the holy grail of computing: infinite performance at zero power consumption. Statistically speaking he is convinced it is just a matter of time.
Allen started in the ‘semiconductor IP industry’ before it was called the ‘semiconductor IP industry’. Back then, it was about ‘megafunctions’, ‘megablocks’ or MegaMacros™ (as trademarked by the pioneering UK IP company Allen was with… no, not that UK company). The biggest of these ‘mega’ things was an 8051! Today, of course, IP blocks are much larger and much more complex. And, it’s about the software, as well as the hardware. It’s also about working with a set of partners, sometimes called an ecosystem or community. Allen has been doing that for many years and is enjoying working with old and new friends on the ARC processor ecosystem.