Stories by Tom Yager

  • Otellini's famous last words

    The leading quote from this week's news comes from Intel CEO Paul Otellini: "We're doing product refreshes every two years, which is the model we invented and then stopped doing after Pentium 4, shame on us," Otellini said. "We fell off it -- mea culpa, we screwed up -- and now we're back on that pace."

  • IBM's Power6 looms large

    AMD's Barcelona CPU is loaded with "invented here" innovation. It is also inspired by IBM's Power architecture. IBM's newest Power CPU, Power6, is due mid-year, along with quad-core processors from Intel and AMD. And while x86 will get more headlines in IT publications, Power6 is arguably more deserving.

  • AMD reinvents the x86

    AMD's next-generation processor line, code-named Torrenza, has gone from a block diagram to living, breathing silicon. The first incarnation of AMD's redesigned x86 CPU is Barcelona, that which your non-co-readers will call quad-core Opteron. Barcelona is genius, a genuinely new CPU that frees itself entirely of the millstone of the Pentium legacy. It'll do the same for you.

  • Dell's dicey fortune

    I wrote a column in 2005 called "How will Dell Offset the Loss of Intel's Generosity?". In it, I asserted that Dell needed to overhaul its strategy and focus to make up for the coming loss of Intel's ... oh, call it what you like: price supports, subsidies, loyalty bonuses, or what the business calls MDF (market development funds).

  • Don't stick a fork in AMD

    With all the vigour and exactness of stock market analysts explaining a one-point shift in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, pundits are penning obits for AMD in the aftermath of Sun Microsystems' recent decision to buy chips from Intel. Poor AMD: first Core microarchitecture, the looming doom of quad-core Core, and now the defection of its sole first-tier monogamous mate. Talk about your slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

  • Apple has urge to converge

    Steve Jobs delivered this year's Macworld Expo keynote to an over-capacity crowd. He boasted that the Mac's PowerPC-to-Intel transition had been completed in seven months, grinned about having sold half of new Macs to newcomers to the platform, and then he said "let's move on."

  • Ahead of the Curve: AMD consolidates the desktop

    AMD has coined a buzzword: megatasking. I'm still not positive what AMD means by it, but I'd use it to describe the work style of those on the verge of needing second desktops or workstations to accomplish their heavy mix of foreground applications and background tasks. I estimate that a genuine power desktop is replaced on cycles of eight months to one year. That rapid cycle is exactly what brought us to find server consolidation solutions, and we're getting to the point where desktop consolidation is needed.

  • Ahead of the curve: Microvell's big chill

    Microsoft has intentionally rendered unsafe all but one path to heterogeneity, that being the use of Novell's SLES (Suse Linux Enterprise Server) in networks with Windows. By immunizing Novell against future intellectual property actions, Microsoft tacitly notified other players in commercialized open source that Microsoft sets the rules for Windows interoperability from now on.

  • Virtualization and security

    It's a pity that discussions on the subject of security vulnerabilities associated with virtual servers tend to focus on Windows: If a virtual machine is running as a guest on a Windows host, an exploit on the guest VM can climb up to the Windows host, and then all hell can break loose. There's more to securing virtual servers than not running VMs as guests of a Windows host. If cyberfelons gain local or remote access to a VMware Virtual Center console, your world is their oyster. This seems like a fairly obscure potential risk -- Virtual Center is pretty easy to lock down -- but are there other risks unique to virtual servers?

  • Ahead of the Curve: Cut computing power?

    The green computing movement has gotten some traction; I'm glad. That was one of my earliest campaigns, a cause I fought before I had a voice. And until a few years ago, I was frustrated that others were overlooking the obvious: Corporations don't need to become champions of the environment to push for cooler, quieter, more efficient electrical equipment. I've said that they just have to look at their monthly electric bill. That was naive; how can a business tell what portion of its electric bill goes to computing and storage? There must be a way to figure out whether there really is a cost savings.

  • Transmeta takes on Intel

    Intel's legal staff might as well buy homes in Delaware. That's the venue for AMD's anti-trust action against Intel, and this month, Transmeta petitioned the same Delaware Federal District Court to find that Intel has violated 10 of Transmeta's patents. The killer patent of the group is the one granted Transmeta in August. It relates to adaptive power control, which, you may be aware, Intel claims to have mastered in Core microarchitecture.

  • Closeted genius of x86

    The outlandish requirements of gaming and media applications have not only changed the way PCs are configured, it has also driven an expansion of the x86 instruction set and on-chip registers that practically creates a CPU within a CPU (or a core within a core).

  • Chip wars go to the core

    Let me ask you: If your wildest dreams were realized, how many cores per CPU would you have in your servers, workstations and power desktops right now? How much Level 2 cache memory would you have in each core, or would you rather it be shared amongst the cores? Would you rather have memory controllers for each pair of cores that access a set-aside block of memory, or one memory controller that sees the entire address space?

  • Ahead of the Curve: Technology with no past

    To the extent that it's possible, I'm declaring today the beginning of recorded history in information technology. On this day, the phrase "information technology," abbreviated IT, came into being as shorthand for electronic devices that aid humans in storage and sharing of, analysis of, protection of, and access to significant amounts of digitized content. Content? That's anything you're capable of holding in your brain for even a nanosecond. IT is not a department or a group of people. It's a smart phone. It's a room full of SPARC servers. A telephone headset? A keyboard? I don't know. They're new terms. We'll work that out as we go. I do know that if we didn't have such things, information technology would be inaccessible.