> "The demand for storage is growing so fast, that:
> -- If it takes a company one year to use one terabyte of storage
> today, it will take only 30 days to use the same capacity in
> -- In 2003, it will take one day to use one terabyte of storage;
> -- in 2004, just one tenth of a day."
Geez. What are companies using all that storage for? Email??
n Behalf Of Harrow, Jeffrey
Sent: Monday, March 19, 2001 5:40 AM
To: "The Rapidly Changing Face of Computing" distribution (E-mail)
Subject: RCFoC for March 19, 2001 - My First Supercomputer?
The Rapidly Changing Face of Computing
March 19, 2001
My First Supercomputer?
by Jeffrey R. Harrow
Principal Member of Technical Staff
Corporate Strategy Group,
Compaq Computer Corporation
Insight, analysis and commentary on the innovations and trends
of contemporary computing, and on the technologies that drive them
(not necessarily the views of Compaq Computer Corporation).
Copyright (c)2001, Compaq Computer Corporation
In This Issue:
* RCFoC Radio!
* Quote of the Week.
* My First Supercomputer?
* Storage Update.
* Why Pockets Are Reaching Out And Touching...
* USB On The Go.
* From Out of the Ether...
* Along The Convergence Road...
* About the "Rapidly Changing Face of Computing..."
As always, the RCFoC is also available as a "radio" show in three
Web-based audio-on-demand flavors: "RealAudio" technology from
RealNetworks, ToolVOX from VOXware, and MP3. It's easy to set up and
use, and works over even slow modems -- give it a try by clicking on
the "RCFoC Radio" icon next to this issue on the RCFoC home page at
Need help acquiring or setting up the players? Information is a click
away at http://www.compaq.com/rcfoc/rcfoc_radio_help_general.html .
Quote of the Week.
"One in 33 voice phone calls were transmitted via the Internet last
year... The International Telecommunication Union estimates that
by 2004, up to 40% of all international telephone traffic will be
March 7, 2001
My First Supercomputer?
We're used to having incredible computing power at our fingertips --
not only if we work in a government laboratory or at the heart of a
huge corporation, but on the desks of the most humble of businesses,
and in our homes. Today, commodity systems run at 1 GHz or above, and
crunch out 3 billion instructions per second (.003 TeraOPS -
http://www.compaq.com/rcfoc/20010129.html#_Toc504916683). Not bad. Yet
these systems are but a hint of what's to come, and it's rather
fascinating to consider where this will be coming from:
Because according to the March 12 IDG News
(http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,44121,00.asp), Sony and IBM
and Toshiba are jointly investing $400 million and 300 engineers to
build what, today, would be called a desktop supercomputer chip. But
its goal is to power future Playstations, PDAs and more!
Code-named "Cell," this chip will be made with elements smaller than .1
micron (compared to the .13 micron elements common in today's chips).
The smaller the elements, the closer that "active devices" on the chip
can get to each other, and that reduces the effects of that nasty old
"speed of light" limit. And so the chip can operate faster -- in this
case, at one trillion operations per second, or "1 TeraOPS," and
In five years.
According to IBM
"The result will be consumer devices that are more powerful than
IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer, operate at low power, and access the
broadband Internet at ultra high speeds. Cell will be designed to
deliver "teraflops" of processing power."
So if there's anything that you'd "like" your computer to do, but it's
just not fast enough, don't give up the dream (or product, or service)
-- because that will change. Soon.
And remember -- these are just the chips to power our "games!" Imagine
what the really powerful stuff will do!
It wasn't too long ago when we thought of disk storage in "megabytes."
But with the faster-than-Moore's Law increases in commodity disk
storage price/performance (storage has dropped from $60/megabyte in
1984, to $0.003/megabyte in 2001), we rarely now see a disk drive that
doesn't hold at least several gigabytes. Indeed, 80 gigabyte disk
drives -- that's almost one-tenth of a terabyte -- are now available
off the shelf for under $300.
Given this type of growth, I can easily foresee the day when the term
"gigabyte" follows "megabyte" into the annals of disk drive history --
soon, we won't be able to recall disk drives smaller than a terabyte!
Indeed, following along that path, an article in the March PC World
considers that, "we could see drives with capacities of 200GB by the
end of the year."
(To get a sense of what these many gigabytes of storage really
mean, PC World estimates that a single 40 gigabyte disk drive can
hold: the text from a stack of paper 2,000 feet high; or 27 days of
CD-quality MP3 songs; or 3 hours of digital video; or 10 DVD
movies, in MPEG-2 format.)
But this week, we're NOT going to explore the next "latest and
greatest" storage advancements that will bring the "day of the
terabyte" closer to hand, such as the evolutionary path to 100
gigabits/square inch magnetic storage from IBM's labs, or the
revolutionary potential of almost 14,000 gigabits/square inch from
Keele High Density (that's almost 11 terabytes in a credit card -
Instead, today, we're going to explore why these seemingly "ridiculous"
amounts of storage are actually on the path to arriving -- just in
According to a Yankee Group study mentioned in the Feb. 26 TechWeb News
(http://www.techweb.com/wire/story/TWB20010226S0026) and brought to our
attention by RCFoC reader Jeff Brielmaier,
"The demand for storage is growing so fast, that:
-- If it takes a company one year to use one terabyte of storage
today, it will take only 30 days to use the same capacity in
-- In 2003, it will take one day to use one terabyte of storage;
-- in 2004, just one tenth of a day."
In fact, as terabytes make it to our desktops, we're going to have to
add a new unit of measure for when we talk about the high end disk
arrays that power commercial servers and storage farms: the "petabyte
array." ("Disk arrays" are special collections of disk drives that
sometimes appear as one logical storage unit, often with built-in
redundancy and fail-soft capabilities)
In the mind of Enterprise Storage Group analyst Steve Duplessie,
petabyte arrays will be needed by "at least 200 companies ... three
years from now."
According to IDC
(http://www.idc.com/Hardware/press/PR/CP/GCP020501pr.stm), by that year
"storage" will be a $53.3 billion business growing at a compound annual
growth rate of 12%, driven by new data-intensive applications such as
Customer Relationship Management systems and the dramatic growth of
We are certainly building a data-intensive world. And based on
history, the amount of digital data we're going to want to store will
continue to increase dramatically. Of course -- I do hope that as we
move all of our civilization's information online, we also develop a
backup strategy at least as good as the stone tablets and paper books
that still illuminate our past. Our history would be a terrible thing
Your Feedback is Important!
I'd like to understand your interest in the RCFoC, how you make use of
it, and the value you feel it provides to you, your career, and to your
Please send your comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to hearing from you!
Why Pockets Are Reaching Out And Touching...
Pocket Internet access, using WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) or
other technologies, is really about saving time, and money -- we'll get
to in a moment. But first, let's review the much-maligned WAP's
Poor WAP -- it tends to take the brunt of the blame for the mobile
Internet, where most pocket Web users are frustrated by tiny numeric
pushbuttons and seemingly smaller monochrome alphanumeric screens.
Also, WAP phones can only directly access Web sites that have been
specially coded in WAP's Wireless Markup Language (WML) -- normal Web
sites, coded in HTML, are unavailable. Furthermore, there are some
security concerns with how encrypted WAP pages are decrypted at certain
server boundaries on their way to your phone.
Yet even through some of these criticisms are valid, WAP itself doesn't
deserve much of this blame -- it's simply a protocol specification that
made some hard tradeoffs to work in the extremely
hardware-and-bandwidth-constrained environment of the pocket phone.
Happily, that protocol is evolving, this year. According to the Feb.
12 TotalTelecom (http://www.totaltele.com/view.asp?ArticleID=36831&
pub=tt&categoryid=0), the forthcoming "WAP 2.0" will be based on X-HTML
rather than on WML, and that will open the door to far more Web sites.
According to WAP Forum CEO Scott Goldman, "WAP and iMode [Japan's
ultra-successful mobile Internet system] are on a convergence roadmap
That's probably good news, in that a converging standard means more
interoperability between iMode and WAP sites. And as we're about to
see, "anywhere, anywhen" Internet access to certain information can be
valuable indeed. Consider, for example, shipping company DHL.
They added a WAP gateway to allow pocket phones to track DHL shipments
-- the implementation cost them $18,000 and took six days.
In its first year, DHL's WAP gateway received a quarter-million queries
(compared to only 36,000 queries to their normal Web gateway during its
first year), and they figure this has saved them money -- a lot of
money: A voice inquiry to a human operator costs DHL about $2.50. A
WAP inquiry costs one-tenth of one cent.
So, for certain applications, it would seem that people do like the
flexibility of being able to access information, such as package
tracking status, from their pockets.
And for such focused tasks, people do seem willing to put up with
today's, shall we call them "challenging," user interface constraints.
For example, when it comes to "thumbing-in" short text messages, or
SMS, the Feb. 14 NetNews describes how people were willing to do that
during December to the tune of 100-million messages on GSM phone
networks! During 2001, people are expected to send 200 billion SMS
messages -- from their cumbersome cell phones!
The Bottom Line.
The bottom line is that people are taking to pocket data with a
vengeance. The Feb. 20 Nua Surveys
describes that 9.6 million PDAs will be sold this year, and that 27% of
those people surveyed said that their next PDA would "do wireless."
And as we've seen, Convergence is in the process of melding our
favorite pocket devices, PDAs and the cell phones
(http://www.compaq.com/rcfoc/20010305.html#_Toc507925601). Indeed, by
2005 according to Jupiter Media Metrix, there will be 96 million people
in the U.S. using the wireless Web. They'll be broken down this way:
75 million using Web-enabled phones, 7.3 million using phones enhanced
to work better with data, 4.4 million using online PDAs, and another
9.4 million using PDAs that don't directly access the Internet.
A bit to my surprise though, a recent Yankelovich Partners poll found
that 53% of those surveyed would prefer to carry more than one wireless
device, rather than an "all in one" combo. And 25% said they'd carry
three or four!
tml) Go figure...
No, pocket Web surfing, by phone or by PDA or by whatever, isn't (yet)
the same or as flexible as using a desktop's large screen and keyboard.
But for specialized tasks, the money saved and the flexibility offered
by pocket Internet access, via WAP or through other technologies, is
not "pocket change" at all!
USB On The Go.
We'll soon be seeing USB V2.0 in PCs and their peripherals, and that
boosts the speed at which data can travel over this wonderful,
self-configuring connection scheme from 12 megabits/second to 480
megabits/second. Which is quite fast enough to catapult USB into use
for better video, backups, and even for some external storage needs
01/z20f-1.asp). But this isn't really "new" -- it's just the very
valuable evolution of the current USB standard, which has been
connecting PCs and their peripherals for a couple of years.
What IS new, though, is a USB scheme called "USB On The Go," which
works without a PC at all!
As more devices want to share data among themselves, sometimes in
settings where a PC might not be available (such as in a car, on a
plane, etc.), USB Onthego plans to let devices interconnect with each
other in an ad hoc manner. So, for instance, your digital camera might
easily send pictures over your cell phone, or your cell phone might
easily download a music file to your pocket MP3 player.
A new cable with a tiny connector will provide these plug and play
capabilities, and wireless Bluetooth connections might also be a USB
Onthego connection option.
We won't be seeing these capabilities tomorrow; the specification isn't
quite ready yet. But the first USB Onthego products may show up
beginning in 2002.
I've been a huge proponent of USB since it first came on the scene, and
these moves to the faster V2.0, and then to the less constrained
Onthego versions, seem very good directions to me. The easier it is
for us to "plug and play" our various devices together, the happier
we'll be (and the more devices we'll likely buy, since we'll be able to
combine them in new and unintended ways!)
Just imagine the uses people will come up with once we can simply
"expect" to be able to share data between all the active devices around
us. I suspect that the synergy will be fascinating, and quite
* The Unwanted Cell Phones -- We recently discussed the
"technological escalatio" being waged in some quarters against
those ringing cell phones
(http://www.compaq.com/rcfoc/20010219.html#_Toc506708908), and now
the March 9 TechWeb News Daily demonstrates that unwanted cell
phone calls aren't just a plague of the concert halls, but are
plaguing the global halls of power as well:
"India's parliament has installed jamming equipment after six
phones interrupted a presidential address.
And according to recent reports, Croatian Prime Minister Ivica
Racan told ministers that if their phones ring during meetings,
they'll have to buy lunch for the whole cabinet and press
corps. "If it rings a second time, you will treat us to lunch
for the whole week," Racan added."
Canada too, it seems, just isn't going to take this anymore!
According to the March 10 ZDNet News
Industry Canada is actually considering legalizing cell phone
jammers, such as we talked about in the past
We will, eventually, learn cell phone etiquette. But it may be an
expensive, and a difficult lesson...
* The "Paper Cell Phone," Revisited -- Following up on our recent
discussion about the purported "paper cell phone" from Dieceland
RCFoC reader Claus Borchardt brings our attention to a March 8 LA
Times article by their "personal technology columnist," Dave
Wilson, who indicates that he has not only seen one of these "print
it up, fold it up" $10 paper marvels, but he has actually used it!
[Image - Fold-up, printed-on-paper cell phone, from LA Times
If it turns out that this is, as Dave indicates, quite "real," and
that such devices can indeed be sold for $10, then the future of
consumer electronics, and of other electronic devices, may never be
the same. This could get most interesting...
* Watch What You Forward, Down-Under -- It seems, according to the
March 4 Australian Sunday Telegraph
tml) that a new law makes it illegal to forward a received Email
without the sender's permission, since the originator holds a
copyright on his or her message. According to Attorney-General
Daryl Williams QC, that's breaking the law, which carries a maximum
penalty of $60,000 or five years in jail!
Y'all be careful, down there... (And, for the record, you are
welcome to forward the RCFoC to any and all!)
* Share The CPU Wealth - Or Else! -- That seems to be what Juno, a
company that has been offering free Internet access, is now saying
to its members. According to the Feb. 2 Wall Street Journal
Juno may turn its 840,000+ subscribers into a giant distributed
supercomputer using technology similar to that used by the
SETI@HOME project and by other commercial ventures, which turn the
idle time from many computers into a useful (and valuable)
commodity to be donated, or sold.
The difference here, as discussed in the Feb. 8 LangaList
(http://www.langa.com/newsletters/2001/2001-02-08.htm#1), is that
this will be a required tradeoff if Juno customers wish to continue
to avail themselves of free Internet access. And it appears that
Juno's free subscribers will be required to leave their computers
on 24-hours per day to crunch for Juno.
Of course, this still may be an acceptable tradeoff for some
people, while others may choose to pay Juno for more traditional
access, or to move on to another ISP. But it is, in any event, a
very interesting example of the "creative" ways of doing business,
fostered by the Internet...
* Interpreting The 'Tower Of Babel' -- Technology, especially the
computing and communications technologies that almost overnight
tied millions of PCs together into the society-changing Internet,
has brought us many good things. But one less appealing thing that
has come along with all this technology is the alphabet soup of
choices we now have. When it comes to broadband technology, for
example, there's DSL, T1, ISDN, Cable, Satellite, Fixed-wireless,
and more. Whew!
Happily reader Larry Boufford points us to a PC Magazine series of
articles titled "Broadband: Special Report," which does a nice job
of helping us get our hands around the pluses, and minuses, of
these very different ways to get bits into our homes and offices -
From Out of the Ether...
* The Darker Side Of "Connected Appliances"? -- Commenting on our
recent discussion around washing machines and other home appliances
that may one day connect to the Internet as a matter of course,
RCFoC reader Mike Bruce reminds us that such a "connected
household" is not without its dangers:
"This reminds me of the software that emails an administrator
an alert message when the server has a problem. Good concept,
but when the server is your Email server, it falls short on the
practical side. Likewise, if the electricity goes out in your
house, you would have to have an Uninterruptible Power Supply
(UPS) for your connected appliances, servers, routers, modems,
etc. to send email alert messages or make calls to report the
Also, just think about all the nuisance messages and false
alarms as the systems are being installed, configured, and
their reporting is fine-tuned.
And think about the capability for abuse from disreputable
service companies that can connect to your appliances and
generate malfunctions right after the warranty runs out.
Paranoia? Maybe, but well within the realm of possibility. We
already see many high tech and durable goods manufacturers
turning to service to bolster their bottom lines. What better
way to ensure continued income? The consumers of connected
appliances would have to pay for expensive service agreements
or pay even more (to the same people) when the appliance
mysteriously breaks down right after the warranty period.
The company could contract with hackers around the world to
take out appliances past their warranty period! I've heard of
firewall appliances, but firewalls FOR your appliances will
soon be a financial necessity. Will home insurance companies
then require them in order to insure your household contents?
It makes you wonder where it will lead..."
One wonders indeed, although we can all hope (and we will have to
assure) that such disreputable practices are not tolerated. Thanks
* First "Music," Then "Objects," And Finally "Personalities?" -- In
recent weeks we've been exploring the Napster controversy that
became an issue once millions of people could easily exchange
intellectual property (music) over the Internet without regard to
copyright rules. We then peered forward to a possible day when
"stereolithography" and other "3D printing" technologies might
evolve to allow the creation of not just solid MODELS of "things",
but through molecular-level "printing," creating actual working
imagine the copyright issues if we could "print" the newest clock
radio or cell phone from a file downloaded from the Internet!
Now, taking our previous discussion of the Final Fantasy movie's
strikingly good 3D animation of human actors a step forward
reader Andy Weller ponders what might happen if these
computer-generated, believable actors begin to appear suspiciously
similar to real actors in likeness, gesture, and perhaps voice:
"Fascinating how computing is progressing - the "Final fantasy"
film clip certainly shows promise.
I'm wondering if this might have important ramifications for
our concept of "copyright". At the moment we think of
copyrighting things like music, text, speech etc.
What happens if in the search for more lifelike animation, we
use computers to analyse (or "sample") the WAY that famous
people move, their mannerisms, the way they speak (intonation,
accents, timing, style etc)? If this is then used to "style"
the computer generated characters - maybe overlaid over another
speaker/avatar etc, then whose copyright has been infringed?
I think this will open a whole new area of "what is mine" and
what should be copyrightable (or marketable)!"
I think Andy is right. This can of worms is only just being
* On Replacing Human Actors -- Of course, not everyone expects
computer-generated actors, no matter how good they may be, to "take
off" and be accepted in place of their human counterparts. For
example, consider these comments from RCFoC reader Mark Steelman:
"In short, I do not believe that animated characters could ever
remove the need for actors, but instead the perfect animations
will become a tool in the tool box of movie makers.
First, while animated features are fun and have been a part of
the entertainment experience for a very long time, they have
not replaced shows with people in them. In the viewers mind,
there is a big difference and it isn't just that the animation
is not as "realistic." [But] perfect artifice will be great for
producing stunts... For the action sequences, you cut from the
actor to the avatar and then back to the actor.
The things that can't be replaced are the subtleties about
people that make them unique. You could completely copy
someone, like Tom Hanks, right down to his smile, but you
really have gone around your elbow to get to your thumb. Why
not just film Tom Hanks? This leads to a second question: why
hire 10 computer programmers to make a fake actor when you can
just go hire 1 actor and film them? If you hire 10 programmers
to duplicate an actor, the actor still has legal right to
his/her likeness and Tom Hanks would sue your butt if you made
a fake Tom Hanks and put the avatar in a movie without paying
This idea of actors becoming obsolete is heard again and again
on the web and in programmer circles, but I can tell you that
it is looked on as, "Yeah, right" among those in the movie biz.
It is just what I would call a programmers ... dream."
As I responded back to Mark, I can easily imagine two additional
areas where it would be beneficial for Mr. Hanks to have "perfect"
avatars: One, is that he could then make multiple movies at the
same time, maximizing the potential of his time in the spotlight.
And the other is that avatars would not (have to) age, as humans
But as the rapidly changing face of computing is constantly
teaching us, we won't really know what endlessly inventive people
will do with a technology, until it arrives. And then -- Don't
Along The Convergence Road...
Finally, as our pocket devices get even more powerful, and as they
integrate with the ever-more-pervasive cellular phone network, we're
going to continually find that yesterday's science fiction becomes
today's off-the-shelf product. For example, brought to our attention
by Finish RCFoC reader Jussi Normi, here's a new variation of a cell
phone that might be called "heart-smart."
[Image - Vitaphone/Benefon GPS/ECG GSM phone - http://www.benefon.com/
Beginning with a GSM cell phone that has a nice graphical display and a
built-in GPS receiver (http://www.benefon.com/eng/pdf/BenefonESC.pdf),
Benefon and Vitaphone plan to add a built-in electrocardiogram sensor,
and call it "The Herz Handy."
It will use the "Mobile Phone Telematics Protocol" to instantly send a
concerned heart patient's ECG to a medical service center for analysis
(the back of the phone, with the ECG sensor, is held to the chest to
input the ECG).
If doctors in the service center determine that a medical emergency is
in-progress, they can use the phone's GPS location information to
dispatch an ambulance to just the right place. Details are at
Fascinating, the tools that can now fit in our pockets...
About the "Rapidly Changing Face of Computing..."
The "Rapidly Changing Face of Computing" is a weekly technology journal
providing insight, analysis and commentary on contemporary computing
and the technologies that drive them.
The RCFoC is written by Jeffrey R. Harrow, Principal Member of
Technical Staff with the Corporate Strategy Group of Compaq Computer
The RCFoC is published as a service of, but not necessarily reflecting
the opinions of, Compaq Computer Corporation. Copyright © 1996-2001,
Compaq Computer Corporation. All rights reserved.
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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Apr 27 2001 - 23:14:36 PDT