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Author Archives: Mark Van Name

More, faster, better: The future according to Mobile World Congress 2019

More is more data, which the trillions of devices in the coming Internet of Things will be pumping through our air into our (computing) clouds in hitherto unseen quantities.

Faster is the speed at which tomorrow’s 5G networks will carry this data—and the responses and actions from our automated assistants (and possibly overlords).

Better is the quality of the data analysis and recommendations, thanks primarily to the vast army of AI-powered analytics engines that will be poring over everything digital the planet has to say.

Swimming through this perpetual data tsunami will be we humans and our many devices, our laptops and tablets and smartphones and smart watches and, ultimately, implants. If we are to believe the promise of this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona—and of course I do want to believe it, who wouldn’t?—the result of all of this will be a better world for all humanity, no person left behind. As I walked the show floor, I could not help but feel and want to embrace its optimism.

The catch, of course, is that we have a tremendous amount of work to do between where we are today and this fabulous future.

We must, for example, make sure that every computing node that will contribute to these powerful AI programs is up to the task. From the smartphone to the datacenter, AI will end up being a very distributed and very demanding workload. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been developing AIXPRT. Without tools that let us accurately compare different devices, the industry won’t be able to keep delivering the levels of performance improvements that we need to realize these dreams.

We must also think a lot about how to accurately measure all other aspects of our devices’ performance, because the demands this future will place on them are going to be significant. Fortunately, the always evolving XPRT family of tools is up to the task.

The coming 5G revolution, like all tech leaps forward before it, will not come evenly. Different 5G devices will end up behaving differently, some better and some worse. That fact, plus our constant and growing reliance on bandwidth, suggests that maybe the XPRT community should turn its attention to the task of measuring bandwidth. What do you think?

One thing is certain: we at the Benchmark XPRT Development Community have a role to play in building the tools necessary to test the tech the world will need to deliver on the promise of this exciting trade show. We look forward to that work.

MWC18 and technology on the brink

This year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona bristled with technologies on the brink of superstardom.  The long-awaited 5G high-speed mobile standard again dominated the conversations, and is one year closer to creating a world of high-speed connections that will make possible mobile usages we’ve only begun to discover.  Intelligent, connected cars promise a self-driving and highly interconnected automotive experience that should ultimately make driving better for all of us.  Artificial intelligence, already a star, showed glimmers of its vast and still barely tapped potential.  In keeping with the show’s name, mobile devices of all sorts proved that phones and tablets and laptops are nowhere near done, with new models and capabilities available all over the many halls that comprised the MWC campus.

Each of those technologies will continue to evolve rapidly over the coming years, and each will create new opportunities for us all to benefit.  Those opportunities will appear both in ways we understand now—faster connections and quicker devices, for example—and in fashions we don’t yet understand.  The new benefits will lead to new usage models, change the ways we interact with the world, and create whole new markets.  (When the first smartphones appeared, they changed photography forever, but that wasn’t their primary goal.)  These new technologies will help us in ways we can now only glimpse.

These changes and new capabilities will breed both competition and, inevitably, confusion.  How are we to know which of the new products deliver the best implementations of these technologies heading toward stardom, and how are we to know when to upgrade to new generations of these products?

Answering those questions, and clarifying some of the confusing aspects of the always shifting tech market, are the reasons the XPRT community and tools exist.  New tech creates new usage models that require new tools to assess–XPRT tools.

If there’s one last lesson I learned from MWC18, it’s that our work is only just beginning.  The new technologies that are on the brink today will become superstars soon, and we’ll be there with the tools you need to assess and compare them.

Mark

VR and AR at Mobile World Congress 2017

Spotting the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) demos at the recent Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona was easy: all you had to do was look for the long queues of people waiting to put on a headset and see another world. Though the demos ranged from games to simulated roller-coaster rides to simple how-to tools, the interest of the crowd was always high. A lot of the attraction was clearly due to the tools’ relative novelty, but many people seemed focused on using the technologies to create commercially viable products.

Both VR and AR involve a great deal of graphics and data movement, so they can be quite computationally demanding. Right now, that’s not a problem, because most applications and demos are hooked directly to powerful computers. As these technologies become more pervasive, however, they’re going to find their way into our devices, which will almost certainly do some of the processing even as the bulk of the work happens on servers in the cloud. The better the AR and VR experiences our devices can support, the happier we’re likely to be with those technologies.

Along with the crowds at MWC, many of us in the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community are enthusiastic about VR and AR, which is why we’ve been monitoring these fields for some time. We’ve even worked with a group of NC State University students to produce a sample VR workload. If you have thoughts on how we might best support VR and AR, please contact us. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to track both closely and work to get the XPRTs ready to measure how well devices handle these technologies.

Mark

Mobile World Congress 2017 and the territories ahead

Walking the halls of this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC)—and, once again, I walked by every booth in every one of them—it was clear that mobile technology is expanding faster than ever into more new tech territories than ever before.

On the device front, cameras and camera quality have become a pitched battleground, with mobile phone makers teaming with camera manufacturers to give us better and better images and video. This fight is far from over, too, because vendors are exploring many different ways to improve mobile phone camera quality. Quick charging is a hot new trend we can expect to hear more about in the days to come. Of course, apps and their performance continue to matter greatly, because if you can do it from any computer, you better be able to do at least some of it from your phone.

The Internet of Things (IoT) grabbed many headlines, with vendors still selling more dreams than reality, but some industries living this future now. The proliferation of IoT devices will result, of course, in massive increases in the amount of data flowing through the world’s networks, which in turn will require more and more computing power to analyze and use. That power will need to be everywhere, from massive datacenters to the device in your hand, because the more data you have, the more you’ll want to customize it to your particular needs.

Similarly, AI was a major theme of the show, and it’s also likely to suck up computing cycles everywhere. The vast majority of the work will, of course, end up in datacenters, but some processing is likely to be local, particularly in situations, such as real-time translation, where we can’t afford significant comm delays.

5G, the next big step in mobile data speeds, was everywhere, with most companies seeming to agree the new standard was still years away–but also excited about what will be possible. When you can stream 4K movies to your phone wirelessly while simultaneously receiving and customizing analyses of your company’s IoT network, you’re going to need a powerful, sophisticated device running equally powerful and sophisticated apps.

Everywhere I looked, the future was bright—and complicated, and likely to place increasing demands on all of our devices. We’ll need guides as we find our paths through these new territories and as we determine the right device tools for our jobs, so the need for the XPRTs will only increase. I look forward to seeing where we, the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community, take them next.

Mark

Mobile World Congress 2016 and the need for more

Nothing shows you how much more bandwidth we need than a techie trade show like Mobile World Congress 2016. No matter how much the show’s organizers made available, the attendees swamped it with data from their many devices—phones, tablets, and PCs.

This show also demonstrated that we’re going to need a lot more of something else: device performance.

Some people like to say that our current devices are fast enough, but those people either weren’t at MWC or weren’t paying attention. New, demanding workloads were on display everywhere. High-end graphics. Support for an ever-growing range of wearables. Virtual reality. Augmented reality. The ability to act as a hub for all sorts of home automation devices. These and other new capabilities place ever-increasing demands on devices—and they’re all just getting started.

As I walked all of the MWC buildings—and I did at least walk by every single exhibit—I was struck again and again by how many cool technologies are on the cusp of being ready for prime time. They’ll bring nifty features to our everyday lives, and they’ll place heavy demands on our devices to support them and enable them to run well.

Some devices will handle these demands better than others, but we won’t be able to tell the winners from the losers just by looking at them. We’ll need reliable, relevant, real-world benchmarks to sort the winners from the posers—and that means we’ll need the XPRTs.  We’ll need the XPRTs we have today, and we’ll need new XPRTs and/or new XPRT workloads for the future. We’ll need help from everyone—members of the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community and vendors yet to join it—to create these new tools, so that buyers everywhere can make smart purchase decisions.

It’s an exciting time. The future for tech, for devices, and for the XPRTs is bright.  Let’s get busy creating it.

Meeting the old fashioned way

As Bill discussed last week, we work in many different ways to build the community. Facebook, Webinars, Twitter, this blog—all of these social media venues help connect those of us in the community.

Sometimes, though, it’s nice to sit down in person and chat.

Which is precisely what I’m inviting fellow community members to do at the upcoming Intel Developer Forum (IDF). IDF runs from September 11 to 13 at the Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco. While I’ll be busy attending the show for part of each day, I’d love to spend some of my free time talking with people about both HDXPRT and TouchXPRT. We could do it informally, by simply running across each other on the show floor, or we could schedule some meetings.

We could even make a group lunch of it. If a few folks can agree on a day and time, I’d be happy to set up and host a lunch at a nearby restaurant so we can share ideas while enjoying a meal.

If you’re interested, feel free to email me, and we’ll arrange to get together. I hope to have many good conversations with community members at the show!

Mark Van Name

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