Sunday, March 16, 2008

Laptop Technology

INTRODUCTION

Well, I can say with relative certainty that I was largely off with my prediction for 2006 in what would happen with the notebook market. That's okay; this is a screwy market and certainly we shouldn't be relying on manufacturers to release products on time and as publicized. The sign of a good marketing department is being able to take a lame duck and make it look like it's swimming.

There are other factors I didn't account for in my predictions for the past year, and then there were just random surprises and shifts in the marketplace.

Ultimately, 2006 was an odd but nonetheless exciting year for technology, albeit less so for the notebook market which will have to wait until 2007 for all this crazy desktop technology to make the transition.

2006 IN PROCESSORS

DUAL CORE AND X64

I described these two as "no way back" technological milestones for processors, and that's for the most part the case. Superficially.

64-bit technology is, I'm convinced, fairly stillborn. For certain, the transition in the mobile market was made this year from Core Duo to Core 2 Duo, and the Turion 64 X2 hit the pavement face first.

The problem is that 64-bit processors have been around for a while now, existing entirely as glorified 32-bit chips, and this year didn't do anything to change that. Windows Vista has been frequently delayed, and early reports of the 64-bit version haven't exactly been stellar, citing it as incrementally better than XP Professional x64. The consensus from beta testers has been that even if you can run it, run the 32-bit Vista instead. Ouch.

Multi-core chips, however, have had a much smoother ride and have successfully trickled down to the budget market. Multi-threaded applications haven't been surfacing as much as we'd hoped, but the technology has a foothold and at least the benefits to it have been immediate.

The bonus to notebook users, however, has been that now you can have 64-bit dual core processors, sealing that future-proofing deal in case either technology ever becomes truly relevant.

Bitter? Naw. But my experience with dual core processing coming off of a high-powered single core chip has left me somewhat wanting. It's not revolutionary, only evolutionary.

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