March 2008 Archives

When I first saw the die of Intel's Silverthorne (now part of the Atom family), my initial reaction was: "It's the same shape as an old-style DRAM. I wonder why that is". However, that's not the curious thing about Silverthorne, once I worked out – with the help of the paper presented at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) – that the shape is pretty much governed by the memory bus logic.

The curious thing about Silverthorne is that it is just a processor – in a market where everything it will compete with will be a system-on-chip (SoC). OK, SoC is a bit of a misnomer in the context of a portable computer as you still need a stack of chips around the main one to make anything usable. The iPhone, for example, has them stacked and squeezed together to get everything it needs into a phone-sized package. However, Intel is looking at markets where devices such as Texas Instruments' Omap rule.

It is doubly curious when you consider Silverthorne's die size: 25mm2 is tiny. It is a little less than a quarter the size of the dual-processor Penryn, which clocks in at 107mm2. For a desktop Intel processor, the Penryn is surprisingly small. Intel has been known to go double that size for the first iteration of a processor.

Make your mind up

4 March 2008

In days of yore, there was a show at Olympia called British Electronics Week that involved an overweight bulldog in a tight-fitting Union Jack waistcoat (yeah, it was that tasteful). This year, it seems we're being treated to a reprise - albeit minus the hound.

A test company XJTAG is to sponsor the National Electronics Week in June that, like its near namesake, runs for three days. And the people at XJTAG are very keen on the idea:

"XJTAG urges the whole industry - from universities to PLCs - to support National Electronics Week and create a truly international exhibition in the UK."

Err....right.

Managed retreat

2 March 2008

There is a stark statistic in the presentation that United Business Media used in the analyst call and webcast from Friday, when the company said it had decided to split CMP Technology (formerly CMP Media) into four units. Headlined "the CMPTech print experience", the text alongside two graphs illustrating the slump in print advertising noted that the 29 per cent drop in ad sales from 2001 to 2002 was larger than the total revenue that CMP Technology (as was) expects to see during 2008.

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Think about that for a moment: print ad sales for CMP Technology this year will be less than a third of what they were in 2001, which was not a great year by any stretch of the imagination. If you assume a similar fall in print advertising sales to that seen from 2006 to 2007, the four units that made up CMP Technology will be lucky if they can achieve a quarter of the $388m total print-ad space sold in 2001.