Intel Reminds Apple That It Is a Horse Around Company

January 19, 2021

I read “Intel Suggests It Will Wait for New CEO to Make Critical Decisions to Fix Manufacturing Crisis.” The headline suggests that Intel cannot manufacture chips as it did in the glory days of Silicon Valley. Wow, who knew?

There are a couple of other gems in this “real” news story too; to wit:

Intel allegedly embraces this view of Apple, another small outfit in the computing business:

“We have to deliver better products to the PC ecosystem than anypossible thing that a lifestyle company in Cupertino” makes,Gelsinger told employees Thursday. That’s a derisive, ifgood-natured, reference to Apple and the location of its corporateheadquarters.

Yep, lifestyle. Apple, I would remind Intel, has managed to enter the chip business without any of the quantum computing lynchpin baloney like the Horse Ridge innovation. That’s a technical achievement which strikes me as a combination of marketing, jargon, and horse feathers. Maybe a horse collar or a saddle blanket?

Another interesting passage asserts:

In a note to clients after Gelsinger’s hiring [the new CEO], Raymond James analystChris Caso said Intel doesn’t have time to deliberate.

Okay, time. There’s the ever chipper AMD, the Qualcomm outfit, a couple of eager beavers in lands which favor zesty spices. Oh, yes, and there’s the Apple operation, which sells products from pushcarts.

The article details the failures and fantasies of a company which has created Horse Ridge. Unfortunately instead of a stallion, the computational cowboys are riding Norwegian Fjord horses in the chip derbies.

Stephen E Arnold, January 19, 2021

Yikes! Fund People, Not Projects

January 18, 2021

Fund People, Not Projects III: The Newton Hypothesis; Is Science Done by a Small Elite?” addresses innovation, procurement assumptions, and MBA chestnuts. The write up is long, running about 6,300 words. Here’s my summary of the argument in the research paper:

You bet your bippy, pilgrim.

Here’s the academic version of my summary:

The Newton hypothesis seems true, as far as citations are concerned: science is advanced by a small elite. This is not just “Einstein-level” breakthroughs, the small elite may not be 0.01% but 1-5% of the total number of practicing scientists. Even 10% would still cohere with the idea of scientific elitism. Citations at least on a first pass do seem to correlate with “good science” both casually (Highly cited classic papers) and by assessment of peers (Nobel prize panels; Nobel-winning papers are highly cited, and cite highly cited research).

The write up also explains why some technology organizations decline; for example, the Google. The reason is that really good people leave for greener pastures either mentally or physically. The result? Gmail goes down, Intel can’t make chips, and IBM can’t get Watson to deliver that mythical billion dollar business. Common sense, yes. Will significant change take place in staff management, procurement, or MBA thinking about innovation?


Stephen E Arnold, January 18, 2021

More No Code and Low Code Action

January 11, 2021

I suppose AI is mainstream now, for here we have a version for users who are not computer scientists. “Blaize Launches Open, Code-Free AI Software Platform,” we learn from Australia’s IT Brief. No code, perfect for art history majors and MBA degree holders. We’re told the platform, named AI Studio, carries the user from the spark of inspiration, through deployment, and into software management. It even includes a digital assistant which, sensibly, answers to the phrase “Hey Blaize.” The write-up lists the platform’s features:

  • “Code-free assistive user interface (UI)
  • Workflow support for open standards including (ONNX, OpenVX, containers, Python, and GStreamer). Support for these open standards allows AI Studio to deploy to any hardware that fully supports the standards.
  • Marketplaces collaboration allows users to discover models, data and complete applications from anywhere – public or private – and collaborate continuously to build and deploy high-quality AI applications. It provides support for open public models, data marketplaces and repositories, and provides connectivity and infrastructure to host private marketplaces.
  • User friendly application development workflow, with optimized models for specific datasets and use cases. “AI Studio’s unique Transfer Learning feature quickly retrains imported models for the user’s data and use case. Blaize edge-aware optimization tool, NetDeploy, automatically optimizes the models to the user’s specific accuracy and performance needs.”
  • Additional MLOps and DevOps features, including deployment, management, and monitoring of edge AI applications”

AI Studio should be available to the general public in the first quarter of next year, though a few select customers can get their hands on it now. Located in El Dorado Hills, California, Blaize was founded in 2010 as Thinci. We do not know why the company changed its name in 2019; perhaps they simply did not like the sound of “Hey Thinci.”

Cynthia Murrell, January 11, 2021

The Mainframe Wants to Be Young Again

January 7, 2021

I know that the idea of a mainframe being young is not widespread. I am not certain that a TikTok video has been created to demonstrate the spring in the septuagenarian’s step. I learned about the mainframe’s most recent aspirations in “Big Mainframe Computing.” I noted this statement:

BMC is now aiming to help build what it (and everybody else in the industry) is calling the autonomous digital enterprise but putting the artificial intelligence (AI) in mAInframe. The company now refers to the joint BMC Automated Mainframe Intelligence (AMI) and Compuware portfolios… and this is the world of Ops plus AI = AIOps.

I quite like the realization that the letters “ai” appear in the word “mainframe.” From my perspective, innovations are chugging along. Companies like Apple, AMD, and nVidia are crafting solutions likely to create additional computing alternatives for “smart software.”

Would you pay to attend a ballet performed by the people in pharmaceutical advertisements on cable nightly news programs?

I know I would not because I am 77 and know that what was possible in the 1960s is a bit of a challenge.

Stephen E Arnold, January 7, 2021

Tape for Back Ups: What about Restore and a Few Other Trivial Questions?

December 31, 2020

I read “Fujifilm Created a Magnetic Tape That Can Restore 580 Terabytes.” Amazing. Remarkable. Incredible. Tape!

The write up reports:

The breakthrough, developed jointly with IBM Research, uses a new magnetic particle called Strontium Ferrite (SrFe), commonly used as a raw material for making motor magnets. Fujifilm has been investigating Strontium Ferrite as a possible successor to Barium Ferrite (BaFe), which is the leading material today.

Yep, strontium. Definitely a favorite among some laboring at LANL, Oak Ridge, and Argonne as well as among home experimenters with highly chemical reactive substances. Plus, there’s IBM in the mix. Yep, the Watson folk. Greetings, Blue folk.

I learned:

To put 580 terabytes in perspective, it’s roughly the equivalent of 120,000 DVDs or 786,977 CDs — IBM notes that stacking that many CDs would result in a tower 3,097 feet (944m) tall, or taller than Burj Kalifa, the world’s tallest building. All that data can now fit in a tape cartridge in the palm of your hand.

And how long will this wonder persist as usable media? 30 years.

I do have a couple of questions:

  • Write speed?
  • Read speed?
  • Actual restore speed for 500 terabytes (there is overhead on these puppies, right?)?
  • Mechanism to locate the specific blocks required for the restore?
  • In use error rate?
  • Storage environment required? (Faraday room, cavern in Kansas, in a pile on a metal rack in the junk closet?)
  • What’s the cost in fully loaded dollars for the software, device, and staff time for write and restore?
  • What’s the tensile strength of the medium in 29 years?

Ah, but there are no answers in the write up.

There you go. Let’s ask Watson or someone who has reported to a client, “Your tape backups are unreadable.” Ever heard that before? I sure have.

Stephen E Arnold, December 31, 2020

Plasmons: The Value of Pencil and Paper

December 18, 2020

I read “Physicists Solve Geometrical Puzzle in Electromagnetism.” I am not sure the title captures what the researchers discovered, but, hey, this is the era of the thumbtyper. Close enough for horse shoes. The technology focuses on the movement of electrons. The insights gleaned from the research will have some influence on new types of materials. But the write up contains a gem of an insight. Here’s the quote:

Guillaume Weick from the University of Strasbourg adds: “There is a trend for increasing reliance on heavy duty computations in order to describe plasmonic systems. In our throwback work, we reveal humble pen-and-paper calculations can still explain intriguing phenomena at the forefront of metamaterials research”.

Yes, indeed. Hands on, erasers, cross outs, and elbow grease have value.

Stephen E Arnold, December 18, 2020

Fixing the American Internet: Got the Plague? Burn Aromatic Herbs. Works Great, Right?

December 17, 2020

The underfed and poorly compensated research team upon whom I rely is beavering away on a pamphlet about my Arnold’s Laws of Online. Don’t worry. The pamphlet will be a freebie because as I approach 78 not too many people are into people like me who think thumb typing is genuinely stupid.

Here’s a preview:

Online presents the humans and systems using its functionality.

Those who know the difference between a high jumper and Heidegger are likely to want to argue. Spare me. I want to point out that online is not a cause; it is a part of the people and systems which use the technologies required to perform certain tasks. Yep, for those out of work due to disintermediation, you probably get the idea of “efficiency” intuitively.

In this context of this Arnold Law, I want to reference “In 2021, We Need to Fix America’s Internet.” The write up makes some remarkable statements in my opinion. As an old timer better suited to drooling in a long term care facility, I had to muster up the energy to identify this passage as interesting:

As FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel wrote for The Verge last March, as many as one in three US households doesn’t have broadband internet access, currently defined as just 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up — which feels like the bare minimum for a remote learning family these days. Even before the pandemic, that statistic might have been shocking; now, it’s the difference between whether millions of schoolchildren can attend classes and do their homework or not. Nearly 12 million children don’t have a broadband connection at home, the Senate Joint Economic Committee reported in 2017. And the “homework gap” hits harder if you’re poor, of course: only 56 percent of households with incomes under $30,000 had broadband as of last February, according to the Pew Research Center.

Let’s assume this paragraph is chock full of semi-real facts. What do we learn about the American Internet? How about these assertions:

  • This is one more example of unethical behavior by a large outfit
  • The Internet has become a way to split the population of the US into haves and have nots in a way which can limit learning, access to jobs, etc.
  • This marketing approach to technology spawns a perception of one thing whilst the reality is quite another; for instance, the SolarWinds’ misstep which makes clear that security theater may be forced to shut down just like local Comedy Clubs.

Fix the American Internet? Why not consider that the “Internet” is a cultural manifestation, not a cause of the culture itself.

Stephen E Arnold, December 17, 2020

Technology and Sociology: Excitement Ahead

December 11, 2020

I read “Falling Out of Love with Apple, Part 3.” I also read “Tech Research Becomes Hazardous Ground.” As it turned out, I checked both these articles back to back. No plan, just part of the newsfeed output.

I am fascinated with the shift from technology writing in the late 1980s to today. In the late 1980s, I worked for Ziff Communications, a publisher of computer and software related magazines as well as operating a flotilla of other businesses. The content, as I recall, was product centric, how-tos, and opinion pieces about the speed of processors or the quirks of software. A big picture story about the cost or complexity of managing an enterprise system or network would add spice to the flood of innovations. Today, the focus of technology writing is more varied. One of the techniques in use by “real” journalists is what I call “turkey basting.” The idea is that the “bird” (in this case a technology hook) is daubed or immersed in socio-politico broth.

Crank up the heat and let that recipe loose.

The Apple story focuses on an interesting point. Here’s a passage I noted:

This is a massively slippery slope, and especially worries me as Apple operates in so many countries across the world. If oppressive governments are able to work with Apple to censor anti-government speech, Apple could end up playing a key role in suppressing democracy across the world. I believe Apple should simply refuse to cooperate with oppressive governments – but this is an unlikely scenario, as they have extremely close ties and dependence to China, a current perpetrator of genocide against the Uyghurs.

Here’s a passage from the Google Gebru article:

The bottom line: Cynthia Yeung, an industry veteran who spent five years at Google, put it bluntly: “Maybe the trade-off should be more clearly spelled out so researchers can make informed decisions before they accept a job offer: You get paid academic salaries in exchange for intellectual freedom, and you get paid Silicon Valley salaries in exchange for allowing your name/likeness to be used for brand/PR purposes and your research to be censored arbitrarily.”

What’s happened between the late 1980s and the quite remarkable 2020s is that technology has become more than how to connect a printer to a personal computer or ways to reduce the cost of adding a new user to the corporate network.

More than half a century after the digital shift began, individuals are looking at the world and finding it is a datasphere. Better late than never or a convenient way to criticize what social structures exist. A hippie movement on bits and bytes?

Stephen E Arnold, December 11, 2020

Intel Whips Its Quantum PR to Horse Ridge II

December 9, 2020

I noted that China has out-Googled Google in the quantum supremacy horse race. The “real” news outfit South China Morning Post published “China Claims Quantum Computing Lead with Jiuzhang photon Test, Creating Machine One Trillion Times Faster Than Next Best Supercomputer.” I spotted this emission from Intel, the fabrication super company: Intel Debuts 2nd-Gen Horse Ridge Cryogenic Quantum Control Chip.

The question that came to me was:

Do the Jiuzhang engineers use Intel’s Horse Ridge?

I don’t know.

There were two thoughts which surfaced as I read these articles:

  • Google has been either equaled or surpassed by China
  • Intel’s quantum computing announcements seem out of step; for example:“With Horse Ridge II, Intel continues to lead innovation in the field of quantum cryogenic controls, drawing from our deep interdisciplinary expertise bench across the Integrated Circuit design, Labs and Technology Development teams. We believe that increasing the number of qubits without addressing the resulting wiring complexities is akin to owning a sports car, but constantly being stuck in traffic. Horse Ridge II further streamlines quantum circuit controls, and we expect this progress to deliver increased fidelity and decreased power output, bringing us one step closer toward the development of a ‘traffic-free’ integrated quantum circuit.” –Jim Clarke, Intel director of Quantum Hardware, Components Research Group, Intel

Quantum computing is a lightning rod for claims about supremacy and a convenient band wagon for companies take for a ride. (I really want to say “horse ride” but I will not. I shall trot peacefully along.)

Stephen E Arnold, December 9, 2020

Something to Remember: DNA Engine

December 7, 2020

Navigate to “Pallada-92/DNA 3D Engine.” The post and code explains how DNA can be used to perform computations. If you are a fan of Silicon Valley-type “solve death” and “human augmentation”, this GitHub post seems to be a small marker on what is going to be a long trip. But as one person remarked, “The longest journey begins with a single step.” Get those walking shoes on.

Stephen E Arnold, December 7, 2020

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