Thursday, February 10, 2005

Digital Convergence

ON THE MORNING OF February 7, 2005, IBM, Sony, and Toshiba formally unveiled the multicore "Cell" processor, a chip that will top 4 gigahertz. The Cell will be the backbone of the trio's offerings for the home and industrial applications. A prototype chip includes eight cores operating in harmony, and designed to power a variety of operating systems.

"We are confident that Cell will provide major momentum for the progress of digital convergence, as a core device sustaining a whole spectrum of advanced information-rich broadband applications, from consumer electronics, home entertainment through various industrial systems," said Masashi Muromachi, corporate vice president of Toshiba Corporation.
In the lab, the trio of companies said they'd pushed the Cell over 4-GHz, although each individual OEM will decide how best to implement the chip. The prototype Cell chip is 221 square mm, integrates 234 million transistors, and is fabricated with 90 nanometer SOI technology at IBM's fabrication plant in East Fishkill, New York. Sony will begin fabricating the chip at its Nagasaki facility later this year. In total, the two interfaces combined can offer up to 100 Gigabytes per second of total bandwidth, an order of magnitude above some other devices, Warmke said. For example, Nvidia's fastest GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics chip allocates 35.2 Gbytes/sec through its dedicated memory interface, which uses a specialized version of standard double-data-rate (DDR) memory called GDDR-3.

Note from DC: Finally, the Cell chip was also designed to be an "OS-agnostic processor," capable of running real-time operating systems, "guest" applications, and Linux. The flexibility will allow the Cell to be designed into a variety of products.

A Paperless Office

ONE OF THE MAIN COMPONENTS of "extreme" technology is the true "paperless office" and a sophisticated computer network system that will allow workteam members to work from anywhere.

PAPERLESS OFFICE (If you cannot see this image in your browser, please click the refresh button.)
The technology, on which our paperless office will be based, will include a Digital Sender, scanning and voice-recognition software, and software that will convert scans into PDF (Portable Document Format) documents. This software will most likely come from ScanSoft, the leading supplier of speech and imaging solutions that are used to automate a wide range of manual processes - increasing productivity, reducing costs and improving customer service.
Many people are familiar with and use scanning devices, but a Digital Sender is slightly different in that it can be directly connected to a TCP/IP network. It's called a Digital Sender because it converts documents into images (like any scanner) but can then distribute them directly to a variety of destinations such as outgoing e-mail, faxes, or a printer.

A 100-page sheet-feeder is the starting point from which paper will be converted to TIF (Tagged Image Format) files and sent to an inbox on our main server. Anyone who opens the mail and finds an important document scans it. The key is to have everyone scanning as mail comes in. We do not want to perpetuate the problem with paper . . . that when one is searching for a document, they don't know whether to look in the file cabinet or the waiting-to-be-filed box.

However, the technology isn't the main point; the lifestyle that it makes possible is. On any given day, we want workteam members to be able to work from their home, from a restaurant or hotel, from their vacation house, or from our 10-acre campus in Potrero, California. We will all be connected to our Citrix server by a VPN (Virtual Private Network), and the scanned document database will be available to the entire workteam on a virtual network drive.

We will most likely use a technology similar to Samba, which maps a virtual drive (almost like flash memory) on its networked server. The server will be a dual-processor computer with hard drives in a RAID format (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks). The RAID setup will spread our important data across three hard disk drives, mirroring or creating redundancy from one disk to another. That way, if one disk crashes, the redundant disks contain a mirror image of what was on the crashed disk.

Because RAID doesn't constitute a backup system in the usual sense, we will be using a high-end tape backup, and backup software (like "Amanda") designed for the Linux operating system.

Most people have heard of, but don't use, Linux and may not know exactly what it is. It's a relatively new operating system believed by many to be more stable than the high-end Windows operating systems. We will use Linux in conjunction with a program similar to VMWare, which will create a virtual Windows computer on which we will run our client software.

Note from DC: All of this means that remote computing will be fast and secure. But working outside the office doesn't mean never talking to clients and/or customers. For that, we will have a phone system that allows each of us to forward to his own remote location his own individual line, so people don't know whether they're calling a cell phone or a phone at an office or a residence.

Extreme Nexus, Your Link To The Best Of The Web!

Part of the purpose of this blog is to document (in words and photos) new and emerging technologies that have the potential of influencing the design and development of the Internet mega-portal project that will be known as Extreme Nexus. Extreme Nexus will have the TLD (Top Level Domain) name of, and will be hosted by, the World's number one web host.

EXTREME NEXUS (If you cannot see this image in your browser, please click the refresh button.)
Note from Don Cook (soon to be the CEO of Extreme Nexus): This blog is for the exclusive use of the Extreme Nexus design workteam. However, all information contained herein is open to the public with the hope that others may benefit, also.