This is a catch-all category, intended to include ideafiles that don't fit well into any of the other computer-related areas. Fortunately, the topic of "computer systems" can be stretched to cover practically anything you can plug into the wall.
Today's PCs have one or two CPUs in a single functional block, plus one or two banks of DRAM in a separate functional block, creating a bottleneck in the connection between these blocks. Eventually it may be necessary to locate one CPU on the same chip with each memory device to eliminate this bottleneck, but semiconductor vendors are not yet capable of this level of integration. This idea describes a compromise between these two extremes that could be manufactured today, and describes some other generally useful features of MP systems.
The computer monitor business has kinda stagnated the last few years. The best monitors today support about two million pixels, which is where they were in 1993. Unlike 1993, however, the best monitors today demand only a slight price premium over midrange products. This Ideafile describes a display subsystem capable of displaying four million pixels with high color accuracy and a high refresh rate. Such a product would be very expensive to develop, but would demand and justify very high profit margins, just as the megapixel-plus subsystems of the early 90s.
The PCI bus is clearly the best expansion bus we've ever had for the PC industry... it's fast, processor-independent, reasonably easy to design to, and well-specified. However, in many applications it's rapidly running out of gas. Intel has proposed AGP, the Accelerated Graphics Port, to fix some of the drawbacks of PCI for certain graphics applications, but AGP is not a general-purpose bus. We need something better for the long run. What should this be? Will simple enhancements to PCI help?
It's true that computer displays could make use of virtually infinite computing resources. However, there are some limits to the resolution, color precision, and update rates of any display viewed by humans. I just wanted to go through these numbers, and suggest some implications for the computer industry.
Millions of PCs a year, maybe tens of millions, are rendered effectively obsolete by the inevitable march of progress. Or are they? Twenty years ago, even the cheesiest 286 machine would have been worth millions of dollars. Why? Are there still useful tasks these machines can still perform?
The Universal Serial Bus standard is quite good for its intended purpose, but like AGP, USB becomes much less useful when you diverge from what Intel intended. This note explains how USB could be extended to meet some additional needs.
There are already portable computers of virtually every size and description. It isn't quite a continuous spectrum, however. The gaps are almost more interesting to me than the products you can buy today. What's missing? Why? Should someone try to fill these holes?
Here I propose a simple standard for a docking mechanism suitable for almost any small handheld electronic device larger than a watch and smaller than a laptop. If you want to use it, it's yours. Like I said, I only ask for one of each product you make. :-)
We've got a couple of these already but they're all useless for high-performance devices. Here's how to do it right.
SCSI isn't exactly terrible, but it'd sure be easier to create a stackable peripheral standard if we only have to worry about power and a half-dozen signal lines. This is a fairly detailed proposal, with some measured drawings if you want to start making these things in your own workshop.
Some computer trade shows offer booth maps, vendor collateral, and conference proceedings on floppy or CD-ROM. This is better than just paper copies, but it's not really practical to use a laptop computer while you're walking around a trade-show floor. A PDA would be practical, however, whether it's a Palm Pilot, Windows CE palmtop, or my personal favorite, the now-discontinued Apple Newton. On the other hand, the only way to get data into these things is from another computer of some kind, and it doesn't seem particularly efficient to deploy a bunch of complete computer systems for this purpose. Instead, how about a small, cheap box that connects to a ZIP disk on one side and an infrared transceiver and/or serial cable on the other side? It would just constantly scan around for a compatible receiver and when it finds one, it would download the relevant data. A box like this would cost no more than $50, I think, plus $120 for a Zip drive. Much cheaper than a dedicated desktop or laptop computer.
There are two universal power supplies out there: AC power from the wall (universal by virtue of the autoranging 110V-240V power supplies that are widely available these days) and the nominal 12V (actually 13.8V+/- a lot) cigarette-lighter socket. Most laptop computers support both of these. Usually you get an AC adapter with the system, and 12V adapters are available options. Recently we've seen 12V power being made available in new places like airplane seats; sensible enough, since it's just not safe to provide 110V outlets there. Mostly to discourage people from plugging in cigarette lighters, and to save space, these outlets follow a new standard for smaller 12V jacks. Why not carry this concept further? How about building these 12V jacks into office furniture, especially conference-room tables? How about attaching these things to the tables at industry conferences? I know I'd use them.
Home | Ideafiles | Opinion | Toscana | Photography | About the Author | Sitemap
If you have comments or suggestions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All content copyright 1996-1999 by Peter N. Glaskowsky. All rights reserved.