The iPhone Makes Semiconductors Fun Again!

For a while there, covering the chip industry was like covering a race run by a rabbit and a cheetah. AMD was the rabbit, while Intel — with its much larger market cap and greater profits — was the cheetah. Evey now and then the rabbit would fool you into thinking he was going to pull ahead, but we all knew who was going to win. In the past few years, however, two things have brought more runners and more diversity to the course: a challenge to the x86 architecture, and the iPhone.

I could probably find a way to credit the iPhone for changing the furniture industry if I tried hard enough (it could be the new Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game for tech journalists.) But in this case the iPhone pushed the real Internet — as opposed to a carrier-defined portal — out to mobile consumers and showed them how compelling such access could be. That made clear to carriers that data usage, which was already on the rise, could become a huge revenue booster if consumers were given the right type of devices. Which prompted chip makers to see gold in the form of the 33.2 million high-end handsets sold around the world. Read More about The iPhone Makes Semiconductors Fun Again!

Does UWB Deserve a Second Chance?

Mistake were made when hyping Ultra-wideband over the past few years. However, UWB may get a second chance as streaming media becomes more important and computers become more portable. I spent yesterday at the Portable Computer and Communications Association meeting in Austin learning about UWB as a wireless personal area network. I’m not a big believer in the technology so far, but was heartened by the admission of speakers who pointed out that the first implementations of the technology sucked.

UWB has its benefits. It’s low power and high bandwidth with theoretical limits of 480 Mbps over a really short distance. How short? With an external whip antenna you have to stand about a yard away to get the highest connection rates. With an embedded antenna, data rates are more than halved at around 150 Mbps, according to a presentation today from Dell. But at short range it’s a high enough speed to deliver decent video. Read More about Does UWB Deserve a Second Chance?