At the Computex trade show recently held in Taiwan China computer component companies were out in force. And the general feeling of the exhibitors was that cheap, low power computers with days of battery life are the future.
Computer components are designed all over the world, but most are manufactured in China and Taiwan.
Among the notable exhibits — which may have an amazing effect on the China market — was the Nvidia Tegra design, shown here, a ‘complete system on a chip’ aimed at powering netbooks and even smaller internet connected computers.
Tegra combines eight different processors, each one dedicated to a specific task such as HD video decoding or audio playback, packing them onto a circuit board which is described as being ‘about the size of a pack of chewing gum.’
Each processor powers down when not in use which massively extends the life of the power in the battery.
Nvidia boss Jen-Hsun Huang claimed a Tegra system could play HD video for 10 hours, compared to 3 hours for a netbook powered by Intel’s rival Atom CPU, and an astonishing 25 days of MP3 playback, compared to 5 hours for current netbooks.
(Why anyone would want 25 days of MP3 playback is something to ponder but it does show the immense potential of machines designed around such chips.
Many manufacturers showed machines based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip. This is interesting because it works both in smartphones or compact computers further blurring the distinction between the two and this may be one of the ways of the future, a blurring of the distinction between the two.
Acer had an Aspire One machine on its stand at the show that was running Google’s Android operating system which was originally developed for mobile phones but runs small computers and is the first serious consumer competition for Microsoft Windows.
To show how far Microsoft is behind the pace on netbooks it announced at Computexit wanted people to abandon ‘netbook’ and use ‘low cost small notebook PC’ thus demonstrating it does not even understand either the product or the people.
In computing, we live in interesting times and most of the manufacturing action will be in China and Taiwan. And, more and more, so will the design.