Personal Computers will be thousand times faster in the near future

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Personal Computers

Unimaginable Speed

Hard disc capacity will increase by six times

Scientists are trying to boost up the computer disc capacity. Singapore scientists have discovered a process through which data storage capacity of the computer hard discs can be expanded six times using an ordinary substance – table salt that is used while dining. This important discovery was made by Singapore’s national research institute called Agency for Science, Technology and Research, in collaboration with the National University of Singapore and the Data Storage Institute. Through this process, the data storage capacity of the computer hard discs can be increased to 3.3 Terabits per square inch. This important discovery has already been published in Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology B and also in Nanotechnology. How was this process achieved? Scientists packed more bits of miniature structures holding information in neater patterns as compared to random configurations presently used. In other words, the efficiency in data storage has been achieved through efficiency in packing the data. Addition of table salt to the solution used for bit imaging makes the outlines clearly visible. The PC industry is expected to adopt this process in 2016.

F-35 fighter planes use a computer chip developed by an Indian

An IIT-Kharagpur alumnus Raj Dutt has developed a next generation computer chip that is energy efficient. Pentagon, the defence headquarters of US is testing this chip in its F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. It is also 60% faster. Raj Dutt is the Chairman and CEO of the privately held APIC Corp and Photonic Corp. The new chip consumes 90% less energy. What is the secret of this efficiency? Information transfer on the semiconductor chip as well as between the components will be done through light particles called photons instead of electrons. This new technology will revolutionize the PC manufacturing. Size, weight and power consumption of the PCs in future will be reduced very much. There is no need to add separate fans inside the PCs to cool it as photons do not generate heat. The heat generated by sunlight is not due to photons but because of infrared rays. Cooling consumes considerable cost in electronic circuits. This revolutionary technology will reduce the cost of the PC also as there is no need to provide for cooling. At present, some of the PCs carry two fans for efficient cooling, particularly in tropical countries. For defence, this means a boost in the capability of striking at the enemy targets efficiently. It will boost bandwidth capability also in addition to processing power. Hundreds of separate signals can be reduced. More number of transistors can be packed inside the circuit.

Weak rupee may push up the cost of the PCs

In India, the weak rupee may push up the cost of PCs. The computer manufacturing industry is unable to absorb the full input cost increase. At least a part of it will have to be passed on to the customer in future. A 5%-10% increase in the price of the PCs is on the cards. In the financial year 2011, total PC sales in India increased by 16% to 9.31 million units. The price increase may be effected for all types of computers namely tablets, desktops, laptops, notebooks, netbooks and computer monitors. Most of the important components like hard drive, memory and display in the manufacture of computers are imported. The cost of branded computers may increase more than the cost of assembled computers. Notebooks and netbooks sold together 3.28 million units in 2010-11. This was 31% higher than the previous year of 2009-10. Worldwide sales of PCs increased by 3.8% in 2011 as against a forecast of 10%.

Acer overtakes HP

Among the branded computers, Dell Computers tops the market share in India with a share of 17%. H.P. was second, but after its decision to hive off its PC segment, its market share has dropped by 1% in India. Its place has been taken up by the Taiwan company Acer. Acer relies on tie-ups with educational institutions for its growth strategy in India. On the other hand, Sony has relied on slashing prices. These strategies are effectively paying off rich dividends to the respective companies. For example, Acer has gained a market share of 40% within a short time in the educational sector. It has received large orders from government bodies and educational institutions. But there is a hitch in this strategy. Payments from the government departments are slow to come. Acer will have to put up with it. Lenovo, the Chinese player is number four in Indian PC market after Dell, Acer and HP. Lenovo is almost sure of bagging the Tamil Nadu State government’s orders to distribute laptops to the students free of cost as its bid was the lowest received. Among the top five PC companies, Lenovo is the fastest growing company in India. In the last one year, Lenovo has increased its market share from 7.2% to 10.8%. In the last quarter, its shipments increased by 55% as compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. Indian PC market offers the best growth rate in the world. While other economies like US and European countries are affected by the debt crisis, Indian economy has only suffered from drop in growth rate and there are no recessionary trends visible. Japanese players are trying to penetrate the market with their quality as well as cheaper price. Ironically, Sony had always priced is products high in India. Now it is changing its strategy because of the acute competition and has slashed the price of its laptops by nearly 10%. Toshiba is also offering its latest technology products to Indians at a reduced price. Previously, the Japanese companies, whether it is automobile or computer, used to offer only old products in Indian market. Even Maruti Suzuki delayed the introduction of Alto car in India after it was introduced in Japan. Now things have changed. The only shrinkage in the Indian market is the drop in sales of laptops in the last quarter from 1.03 million units to 0.97 million units.

Thousand times faster

Computer major IBM is developing “skyscraper” computers using huge sandwiches of silicon chips by sticking the chips covered with layer after layer covered with tiny components together. The glue maker 3M is also involved in the process. This new technology will make PCs and smartphones thousand times faster than the existing one. They are expected to be available in the market by 2013. All these things depend on the successful development of hi-tech glues being developed by 3M for the IBM project. 3M has vast experience in making heat-resistant glues and adhesives used in aerospace industry. It also makes sticky tapes. Increasing the speed of the computers involves generation of heat. The computer may stop working or hang on if excess heat is developed. This is the reason the PC manufacturers have not been able to increase the processor speed beyond certain limits. But with the development of heat resistant glues by 3M, IBM may succeed in bringing a revolutionary product to the consumers in just a year’s time. If this technology comes out, downloading a 100 MB file from the Net may take only about a fraction of a second. You can upload five hundred of your family photos in the face book in a second’s time.

Smartphones and tablets threaten PCs

Another threat to the PC is from smartphones and tablets. A user cannot carry a PC to wherever he goes. A laptop can be carried, but it is painstaking to take it to every place one travels. A tablet is still easier to carry but it is no match to a smartphone in convenience. A smartphone can be carried in one’s shirt pocket conveniently. It can be switched on and there is no need to switch it off, thereby keeping communications open for all the times. Therefore, smartphones are increasingly penetrating into the use of PCs. Silicon Valley is feeling that the glorious era of the PC is in its twilights. One indicator that is watched carefully by PC makers and analysts to determine about the PC market is the Windows sales of Microsoft. For the third straight quarter, sales of Microsoft Windows fell. Intel has also reduced its forecast of PC sales. Apple sold a whopping 9 million tablets, which ate into the PC market. Intel has so far concentrated in producing chips for the PCs and laptops only. Now it is beginning to produce chips for the smartphones and tablets, in order to retain its revenue and profit. Consumers feel that the iPad and similar tablets can replace much functionality of a laptop and desktop. It is expected that tablet sales world over will cross 300 million units in 2015. By that time, sale of PCs will be still higher than tablets at 480 million, but the trend is clearly a declining one for the PCs. The writing on the wall is clear. What the typewriter industry experienced two decades back, the PC is experiencing now. Today typewriters can be seen only in museum. The same fate may fall on the PCs in the foreseeable future.

Large number of Indians use assembled computers

But it will take some time for this to happen. Simply because Microsoft Windows’ sales is declining does not mean PC sales are affected. There is sizeable number of people using pirated Windows software. But this is possible only in the assembled computers and not in branded computer. A branded computer is sold with Windows preinstalled in the computer. Therefore, Microsoft’s sales figure indicates clearly the declining sale of branded computers. There is no reliable statistics for the assembled computers. In India, a majority of the PC users have assembled computer with them. Assemblers install only pirated Microsoft Windows software in these assembled PCs as a vast majority of the individual Indian users do not want to spend money in buying genuine Windows software for their computers.

PCs are still indispensable

Even though users are preferring smartphones and tablets, I personally feel that PC will never die a complete death as typewriters. Journalists like me type their articles in the PC and post it in the Net for publication in various websites. I can type a 1500 words article in 30 minutes on a PC. But my finger skill will not work on a tablet or smartphone. I can type a few sentences with great difficulty in a smartphone SMS or email. But typing a full 1500 words article in a smartphone or tablet is very difficult. Fingers and hands will ache by doing so. Therefore, it is unlikely that I will discard the PC in favour of other substitutes as these substitutes are no real substitutes for my need. Therefore, in my opinion, PC sales will not stop. PCs are used in banks, insurance companies, financial institutions and all other offices. Imagine, a bank employee at the counter attending to a customer’s needs by using a smartphone. The process is slow and time consuming. Customers will get irritated. The bank may use smartphones for sending SMS to the customers about their banking transactions. Beyond that, the PCs cannot be substituted to any level.

Android may no longer be available to mobile phone makers

Stock market is another reliable indicator for what is happening in an industry. Apple recorded a 21% gain in the Wall Street in 2011 so far. Intel has not performed badly by gaining 10%. But Microsoft dropped by 3%. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is worried about its lack of progress in mobile computing technology. Even Microsoft is waking up. It has come out with its Windows version for the mobile phones. Samsung is thinking of adopting it to its mobile phones, after Google has taken over Motorola’s mobile business. In future, Google’s Android may not be available to mobile phone makers like Samsung and LG freely as Google itself will be venturing out to manufacture mobile handsets with Android software loaded in it. Microsoft is also coming out with a Windows version for the tablets. The writing on the wall is clear. If you do not adopt yourself to consumers’ taste, you will become a part of history.

Tablets are no threat to PCs

Can tablets erode the sale of PCs to a great extent? Tablets are no doubt a great innovation and conveniently used by the computer freaks. But it has many defects. Tablets do not have USB ports, which are needed for plucking third party devices to the PCs. Even a pen drive cannot be used with a tablet. Even a mouse cannot be plucked to a tablet. A tablet does not have a CD or DVD drives. So, users cannot copy lengthy files or view movies in a tablet through DVD. Tablets can be used for playing games, download apps, social networking etc. But their content creation capacity is limited. Their storing capacity is also limited. You do not have Microsoft Word, Power Point, Access, Excel etc in a tablet and store voluminous data. Only a PC will fit in handy for this purpose. Wireless broadband and Wi-Fi hotspots are very rare in countries like India. What is the use of possessing an iPad if you do not have Wi-Fi facility to use? Of course one can purchase Internet facility from the existing telecom operators like Airtel, but these are very costly and cannot be used for hours together. Similarly, 3G services cannot be used for long duration in these tablets as they are very costly. Therefore the conclusion is clear. Tablets cater to the gadget freaks and games lovers. It is not for others. Indian PC industry need not fear tablets eating into their domain.

Computers in future can recognise and communicate with you

The future of computers is breathtaking. The computer will be able to flip your photos. It will be able to understand your gestures and body language. Moore’s law which states that computation power doubles every two years still holds true today. Through increased processing speed, multi tasks can be accomplished in a jiffy. Laptops can become supercomputers overnight. Smartphones can send fifty thousand SMS messages in a second. The next three years are crucial. It will witness fundamental changes in how we compute. The new chips that are being developed by AMD will combine the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and the Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) into a single chip. AMD called this chip as Accelerated Processing Unit (APU). In future, the smartphone in your pocket may become a super computer. That is the next stage of development. Fast video games, High Definition video streaming, 3-D graphics will become quite easy. The PC will recognise you and adjust itself according to your preferences automatically. It will communicate with you, it will interrogate you and answer your questions. Phones will resemble like computers and computers will resemble like phones. The gap between them will be narrowed and at one stage completely eliminated. Even typing a 1500 words article in a smartphone will be easy with the help of speech softwares that perform more efficiently. Today’s speech softwares are for the namesake only. One has to struggle with them to get even a sentence typed. In fact, I can even write an article in Chinese language even though I do not know Chinese language, with the help of translation softwares that are highly efficient.

World’s smallest computer to detect glaucoma

Scientists have created the world’s smallest computer system that is just one square millimetre in size and can fit into one’s eyeball to treat glaucoma. It was developed by a team of scientists at the University of Michigan. It has an ultra low power microprocessor within its small area. It has a pressure sensor, memory and a thin film battery. It also has a solar cell and a wireless radio with an antenna that can transmit data to an external reader device. The system will continuously track the progress of glaucoma by measuring the pressure. Glaucoma can blind the person, if neglected. Glaucoma cannot be cured, only further spread can be prevented through medicines or surgery. The battery consumes a power of 5.3 nanowatts. The system is kept in sleep mode where power consumption is almost zero. It wakes itself once in 15 minutes and measures the pressure. Even storage is provided in this system. It can store a week’s data for usage. The battery needs to be exposed to 1.5 hours of sunlight or ten hours of indoor light. The same principle can be used for tracking other illness in the body. In future, we may have this mini PCs installed within the body to detect kidney failure, heart attacks, lever complaints and lung problems for effective cure.

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