Archive for the ‘google’ Category
But it is early days yet. Google has made it clear that this is only the initial stages of Project Glass and it is seeking feedback from the general public on what they want from these spectacles. While these kinds of heads-up displays are popular in films and fiction and dearly wanted by this hack, the poor sales of existing eye-level screens suggests a certain reluctance on the part of buyers.
The video of the Google Glass interface is kind of interesting and problematic at the same time. Stuff floats in and out of few kind of like the organism that live in the mucous of your eye. And the the latency delays of when you see something and issue a command give it a kind of halting staccato cadence when interacting with it. It looks and feels like old style voice recognition that needed discrete pauses added to know when things ended. As a demo it’s interesting, but they should issue releases very quickly and get this thing up to speed as fast as they possibly can. And I don’t mean having the CEO Sergey Brin show up at a party wearing the thing. According to reports the ‘back pack’ that the glasses are tethered to is not small. Based on the description I think Google has a long way to go yet.
And on the smaller scale tinkerer front, this WordPress blogger fashioned an older style ‘periscope’ using a cellphone, mirror and half-mirrored sunglasses to get a cheaper Augmented Reality experience. The cellphone is an HTC unit strapped onto the rim of a baseball hat. The display is than reflected downwards through a hold cut in the rim and then is reflected off a pair of sunglasses mounted at roughly a 45 degree angle. It’s cheap, it works, but I don’t know how good the voice activation is. Makes me wonder how well it might work with an iPhone Siri interface. The author even mentions that HTC is a little heavy and an iPhone might work a little better. I wonder if it wouldn’t work better still if the ‘periscope’ mirror arrangement was scrapped altogether. Instead just mount the phone flat onto the bill of the hat, let the screen face downward. The screen would then reflect off the sunglasses surface. The number of reflecting surfaces would be reduced, the image would be brighter, etc. I noticed a lot of people also commented on this fellow’s blog and might get some discussion brewing about longer term the value-add benefits to Augmented Reality. There is a killer app yet to be found and even Google hasn’t captured the flag yet.
- Google[x] and Sergey Brin wearing Augmented reality glasses (nextbigfuture.com)
- Move aside, Google: Oakley has been testing augmented reality glasses for 15 years (digitaltrends.com)
Tilera’s roadmap calls for its next generation of processors, code-named Stratton, to be released in 2013. The product line will expand the number of processors in both directions, down to as few as four and up to as many as 200 cores. The company is going from a 40-nm to a 28-nm process, meaning they’re able to cram more circuits in a given area. The chip will have improvements to interfaces, memory, I/O and instruction set, and will have more cache memory.
I’m enjoying the survey of companies doing massively parallel, low power computing products. Wired.com|Enterprise started last week with a look at SeaMicro and how the two principal founders got their start observing Google’s initial stabs at a warehouse sized computer. Since that time things have fractured somewhat instead of coalescing and now three big attempts are competing to fulfil the low power, massively parallel computer in a box. Tilera is a longer term project startup from MIT going back further than Calxeda or SeaMicro.
However application of this technology has been completely dependent on the software. Whether it be OSes or Applications, they all have to be constructed carefully to take full advantage of the Tile processor architecture. To their credit Tilera has attempted to insulate application developers from some of the vagaries of the underlying chip by creating an OS that does the heavy lifting of queuing and scheduling. But still, there’s got to be a learning curve there even if it isn’t quite as daunting as say folks who develop applications for the super computers at National Labs here in the U.S. Suffice it to say it’s a non-trivial choice to adopt a Tilera cpu for a product/project you are working on. And the people who need a Tilera GX cpu for their app, already know all they need to know about the the chip in advance. It’s that kind of choice they are making.
I’m also relieved to know they are continuing development to shrink down the design rules. Intel being the biggest leader in silicon semi-conductor manufacturing, continues to shrink its design, development and manufacturing design rules. We’re fast approaching a 20nm-18nm production line in both Oregon and Arizona. Both are Intel design fabrication plants and there not about to stop and take a breath. Companies like Tilera, Calxeda and SeaMicro need to do continuous development on their products to keep from being blind sided by Intel’s continuous product development juggernaut. So Tilera is very wise to shrink its design rule from 40nm down to 28nm as fast as it can and then get good yields on the production lines once they start sampling chips at this size.
*UPDATE: Just saw this run through my blogroll last week. Tilera has announced a new chip coming in March. Glad to see Tilera is still duking it out, battling for the design wins with manufacturers selling into the Data Center as it were. Larger Memory addressing will help make the Tilera chips more competitive with Commodity Intel Hardware shops, and maybe we’ll see full 64bit memory extensions at some point as a follow on to the current 40bit address space extenstions currently being touted in this article from The Register.
- Startup Tilera Turns Out More Many-brained Chips (blogs.wsj.com)
- Intel Responds to Calxeda/HP ARM Server News (Wired.com) (carpetbomberz.com)
- Tilera preps many-cored Gx chips for March launch (go.theregister.com)
SeaMicro’s latest server includes 384 Intel Atom chips, and each chip has two “cores,” which are essentially processors unto themselves. This means the machine can handle 768 tasks at once, and if you’re running software suited to this massively parallel setup, you can indeed save power and space.
Great article from Wired.com on SeaMicro and the two principle minds behind its formation. Both of these fellows were quite impressed with Google’s data center infrastructure at the points in time when they both got to visit a Google Data Center. But rather than just sit back and gawk, they decided to take action and borrow, nay steal some of those interesting ideas the Google Engineers adopted early on. However, the typical naysayers pull a page out of the Google white paper arguing against SeaMicro and the large number of smaller, lower-powered cores they use in the SM-10000 product.
But nothing speaks of success more than product sales and SeaMicro is selling it’s product into data centers. While they may not achieve the level of commerce reached by Apple Inc., it’s a good start. What still needs to be done is more benchmarks and real world comparisons that reproduce or negate the results of Google’s whitepaper promoting their choice of off the shelf commodity Intel chips. Google is adamant that higher clock speed ‘server’ chips attached to single motherboards connected to one another in large quantity is the best way to go. However, the two guys who started SeaMicro insist that while Google’s choice for itself makes perfect sense, NO ONE else is quite like Google in their compute infrastructure requirements. Nobody has such a large enterprise or the scale Google requires (except for maybe Facebook, and possibly Amazon). So maybe there is a market at the middle and lower end of the data center owner’s market? Every data center’s needs will be different especially when it comes to available space, available power and cooling restrictions for a given application. And SeaMicro might be the secret weapon for shops constrained by all three: power/cooling/space.
*UPDATE: Just saw this flash through my Google Reader blogroll this past Wednesday, Seamicro is now selling an Intel Xeon based server. I guess the market for larger numbers of lower power chips just isn’t strong enough to sustain a business. Sadly this makes all the wonder and speculation surrounding the SM10000 seem kinda moot now. But hopefully there’s enough intellectual property rights and patents in the original design to keep the idea going for a while. Seamicro does have quite a headstart over competitors like Tilera, Calxeda and Applied Micro. And if they can help finance further developments of Atom based servers by selling a few Xeons along the way, all the better.
- Intel Responds to Calxeda/HP ARM Server News (Wired.com) (carpetbomberz.com)
- AnandTech – Applied Micros X-Gene: The First ARMv8 SoC (carpetbomberz.com)
- HP hooks up with Calxeda to form server ARMy – The Register (carpetbomberz.com)
- Dell resells SeaMicro ‘Atom smasher’ servers (go.theregister.com)
- SeaMicro Puts 256 Xeon Cores in Server (pcworld.com)
The number of U.S. government requests for data on Google users for use in criminal investigations rose 29 percent in the last six months, according to data released by the search giant Monday.
Not good news in imho. The reason being is the mission creep and abuses that come with absolute power in the form of a National Security Letter. The other part of the equation is Google’s business model runs opposite to the idea of protecting people’s information. If you disagree, I ask that you read this blog post from Christopher Soghoian, where he details just what exactly it is Google does when it keeps all your data unencrypted in its data centers. In order to sell AdWords and serve advertisements to you, Google needs to keep everything open and unencrypted. At the same time they aren’t too casual in their stewardship of your data, but they do respond to law enforcement requests for customer data. To quote Seghoian at the end of his blog entry:
“The end result is that law enforcement agencies can, and regularly do request user data from the company — requests that would lead to nothing if the company put user security and privacy first.”
And that indeed is the moral of the story. Which leaves everyone asking what’s the alternative? Earlier in the same story the blame is placed square on the end-user for not protecting themselves. Encryption tools for email and personal documents have been around for a long time. And often there are commercial products available to help accomplish some level of privacy even for so-called Cloud hosted data. But the friction point is always going to be the level of familiarity, ease of use and cost of the product before it is as widely used and adopted as Webmail has been since the advent of desktop email clients like Eudora.
So if you really have concerns, take action, don’t wait for Google to act to defend your rights. Encrypt your email, your documents and make Google one bit less culpable for any law enforcement requests that may or may not include your personal data.
- Google Reports Surge in Government Requests for User Data (blogs.wsj.com)
- Government requests to Google for information on users has spiked. (ritcyberselfdefense.wordpress.com)
- Pioneering Campus CIOs Say Necessity Drives Shift to Cloud – Campus Technology (carpetbomberz.com)
Cameron said in an interview posted on the ID conferences website last month that he was disappointed about the lack of an industry advocate championing what he has dubbed “user-centric identity”, which is about keeping various bits of an individuals online life totally separated.
CRM meet VRM, we want our Identity separated. This is one of the goals of Vendor Relationship Management as opposed to “Customer Relationship”. I want to share a set of very well defined details with Windows Live!, Facebook, Twitter, Google. But instead I exist as separate entities that they then try to aggregate and profile to learn more outside what I do on their respective WebApps. So if someone can champion my ability to control what I share with which online service all the better. If Microsoft understands this it is possible someone like Kim Cameron will be able to accomplish some big things with Windows Live! ID logins and profiles. Otherwise, this is just another attempt to capture web traffic into a commercial private Intraweb. I count Apple, Facebook and Google as Private Intraweb competitors.
Calxeda in the news again this week with some more announcements regarding its plans. Remembering recently to the last article I posted on Calxeda, this company boasts an ARM based server packing 120 cpus (each with four cores) into a 2U high rack (making it just 3-1/2″ tall *see note). With every evolution in hardware one must needs get an equal if not greater revolution in software. Which is the point of the announcement by Calxeda of its new software partners.
It’s all mostly cloud apps, cloud provisioning and cloud management types of vendors. And with the partnership each company gets early access to the hardware Calxeda is promising to design, prototype and eventually manufacture. Both Google and Intel have poo-poohed the idea of using “wimpy processors” on massively parallel workloads claiming faster serialized workloads are still easier to manage through existing software/programming techniques. For many years as Intel has complained about the programming tools, it still has gone the multi-core/multi-thread route hoping to continue its domination by offering up ‘newer’ and higher performing products. So while Intel bad mouths parallelism on competing cpus it seems to be desperate to sell multi-core to willing customers year over year.
Even as power efficient as those cores maybe Intel’s old culture of maximum performance for the money still holds sway. Even the most recent Ultra-low Voltage i-series cpus are still hitting about 17Watts of power for chips clocking in around 1.8Ghz (speed boosting up to 2.9Ghz in a pinch). Even if Intel allowed these chips to be installed into servers we’re stilling talking a lot of Thermal Design Point (TDM) that has to be chilled to keep running.
- Calxeda shows off new partners and will launch with Ubuntu as its OS (gigaom.com)
- Calxeda Readies Low-Power ARM Servers (datacenterknowledge.com)
In short, big data simply means data sets that are large enough to be difficult to work with. Exactly how big is big is a matter of debate. Data sets that are multiple petabytes in size are generally considered big data (a petabye is 1,024 terabytes). But the debate over the term doesn’t stop there.
There’s big doin’s inside and outside the data center theses days. You cannot spend a day without a cool new article about some new project that’s just been open sourced from one of the departments inside the social networking giants. Hadoop being the biggest example. What you ask is Hadoop? It is a project Yahoo started after Google started spilling the beans on it’s two huge technological leaps in massively parallel databases and processing real time data streams. The first one was called BigTable. It is a huge distributed database that could be brought up on an inordinately large number of commodity servers and then ingest all the indexing data sent by Google’s web bots as they found new websites. That’s the database and ingestion point. The second point is the way in which the rankings and ‘pertinence’ of the indexed websites would be calculated through PageRank. The invention for the realtime processing of this data being collected is called MapReduce. It was a way of pulling in, processing and quickly sorting out the important highly ranked websites. Yahoo read the white papers put out by Google and subsequently created a version of those technologies which today power the Yahoo! search engine. Having put this into production and realizing the benefits of it, Yahoo turned it into an open source project to lower the threshold of people wanting to get into the Big Data industry. Similarly, they wanted to get many eyes of programmers looking at the source code and adding features, packaging it, and all importantly debugging what was already there. Hadoop was the name given to the Yahoo bag of software and this is what a lot of people initially adopt if they are trying to do large scale collection and real-time analysis of Big Data.
Another discovery along the way towards the Big Data movement was a parallel attempt to overcome the limitations of extending the schema of a typical database holding all the incoming indexed websites. Tables and Rows and Structured Query Language (SQL) have ruled the day since about 1977 or so, and for many kinds of tabbed data there is no substitute. However, the kinds of data being stored now fall into the big amorphous mass of binary large objects (BLOBs) that can slow down a traditional database. So a non-SQL approach was adopted and there are parts of the BigTable database and Hadoop that dump the unique key values and relational tables of SQL to just get the data in and characterize it as quickly as possible, or better yet to re-characterize it by adding elements to the schema after the fact. Whatever you are doing, what you collect might not be structured or easily structured so you’re going to need to play fast and loose with it and you need a database of some sort equal to that task. Enter the NoSQL movement to collect and analyze Big Data in its least structured form. So my recommendation to anyone trying to get the square peg of Relational Databases to fit the round hole of their unstructured data is to give up. Go NoSQL and get to work.
This first article from Read Write Web is good in that it lays the foundation for what a relational database universe looks like and how you can manipulate it. Having established what IS, future articles will be looking at what quick, dirty workarounds and one off projects people have come up with to fit their needs. And subsequently which ‘Works for Me’ type solutions have been turned into bigger open source projects that will ‘Work for Others’, as that is where each of these technologies will really differentiate themselves. Ease of use and lowering the threshold will be deciding factors for many people’s adoption of a NoSQL database I’m sure.