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News :: Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor : Media : Organizing : Politics : Race : Social Welfare : Technology
MIT's $100 Computer -- They want to keep it out of US -- Just for China
12 May 2006
The end of Moore's Law is in sight and $100 computers are coming from Asia.

This is the 900-pound gorilla everyone in the computer and semiconductor industries is trying to avoid.
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Intel's (Moore's) Law and Microsoft's Lawlessness Ending -- Economic Crisis

Transistors-per-chip growth (Moore's First Law) is ending (soon, see graph), and it could be very bad for the economy. The good news is that Gordon Moore's Second Law is finally coming into effect. This "forgotten" part of his famous article was about "handy" "sale"-priced computers (see his cartoon).

The end of periodic transistor-per-chip doubling (First Law, see graph) could be as bad for Silicon Valley and companies like Intel, Microsoft, and Dell as Peak Oil is for Detroit, GM, and Ford. As for Gordon Moore's Second Law, which presaged the $150 computer you see here, I'll bet even he, the founder of Intel, doesn't want you to know about it. I know Bill Gates has criticized the idea. "They" want the super-cheap computer to be a secret, or just for the Chinese, but it is "exposed" (shown) below.

A whistleblower in the computer industry has written an article on all this. It is long, but the "sound" bites below give you the gist of it.


Sound Bites from Article
"Moore's Law ending -- $100 Computer coming, to U.S. too."
by Clayton Hallmark

"The article shows two related outcomes -- Moore's Law ending and $100 computers coming. It's as earthshaking as Peak Oil, economically and socially."

"Watch the news on Intel and Dell."

"The Chinese can have a $150 computer (the Longmeng) -- but you can't"

"Intel has bought and paid for its founder's (Moore's) law, making it a self-fulfilling prophecy. But not for much longer."

"PC history is about Intel's (Moore's) Law and Microsoft's lawlessness."

"$100-$200 computers are not just for developing countries, as Nicholas Negroponte of the MIT Media Lab thinks. 'How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm' in China once the American consumer sees them?" (Nick is the brother of US spy chief John.)

"Moore's Law's J-curve (showing doubling of transistors on a chip every year or two) will start looking like an S-curve next year (2007), starting to level out on top."

"It's so obvious. Moore predicted this also: Computers will go the way of transistor radios -- book size or less, disposable, anywhere use. Their processor performance will be secondary. They will be made in Asia, not by Dell, with lots of hand labor."

"There are crazy people running around to conferences telling people we will have PCs with the computing power of the human brain. (Oh, no. The "electronic brain" is back. Does it meet the Turing Test yet?) Personally, I have a hard time matching wits with the electronics on a new car. And I once wrote a book about it."

"Cheap computers mean cheap, or free, software."

"Capital-spending cuts by Intel suggest Moore's Law is ending."

"Intel could chase the shrinking transistor to the vanishing point, of profits. But they won't."

"An under-$150 computer with DVD -- without Microsoft or Intel -- is available in 2006 in China (the Longmeng). Woe are Intel, Microsoft, and Dell."

"The transistor can't shrink many more years. What follows (spintronics, photonics, quantum devices) will not be electronic, not faster, not cheaper, and definitely not Moore's Law."

"Miniaturization has driven progress in electronics since radios were scaled down for strapped consumers in the Great Depression of the 1930s."

"Smaller-cheaper, or miniaturization-commoditization, is the Electronics Way."

"In electronics, the emphasis on smaller-cheaper will return for computers."

"With notebooks, there's less reason for continuing with Moore's Law and pushing more performance."

"Some don't want to admit this (no need for much more speed), and no one wants to admit to being an 'average' computer user."

"What I need is a small-cheap computer to carry on my infinite-gas-mileage bicycle. One I can just throw away if I break it."

"In the future, computer performance will be sacrificed for portability and power savings."

"In a world of shrinking resources and growing demand, products get made smaller and cheaper."

"Computer makers should preload free software for 99 percent of uses."

"A $100 computer will be a long time coming as long as a $70 operating system is involved."

"Microsoft is a publishing company that patents what should be copyrighted."

"In Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, etc., ignoring monopoly patents is not piracy."

"Is piracy even possible against a monopoly?"

"Hardware trumps software -- economically, legally. Remember the VCR wars between Hollywood (publishers) and VCR makers (hardware)? Hardware won."

"It is hard to tell people how to use things (VCRs, computers) in the privacy of their own homes."

"Software prices have declined hardly at all since computers became transistorized."

"Diehr (the court ruling allowing software patents) makes computers 'dear.' India's Parliament prevents such rulings there."

"Microsoft's monopoly is enforced by 7000 minor patents. Can you name one? A company called Hazeltine once did the same thing with radios. Who remembers THEM now?"

"Harness the promise of technology without becoming slaves to technology." (President George W. Bush) "End slavery to Microsoft and Intel." (Me)

---------------------------------------------


"Moore's Law is just an example of the S-curve of natural growth that comes from biology (rabbit population growth)."

"Moore's Law of transistor doubling follows an S-curve, not a J-curve ever-upward as most think. There are only so many rabbits (new materials, new fab processes) Intel can pull out of its hat to overcome obstacles to Moore's Law."

"The hardest thing to forecast about technology is how people will use it. However, Moore's paper did also predict palm-sized, handy, super-cheap computers as a result of integrated circuits. Most people don't remember that part."

"It's products (computers, etc.) that need to be miniaturized further, not transistors."

"We need cheaper, not better."

"Future computer progress will come not from the likes of Intel but from computer makers, in Asia."

"Hedonic pricing (performance-adjusted pricing) is a 'cheapening trick."

"Moore's Law is not just about max transistors on a chip -- but MINIMUM COST PER TRANSISTOR. It's economics as well as science."

"Shrinking transistors start behaving like the old thermionic tubes. Thermionic emission: physically, that's what will stop Moore's Law."

"Future logic devices won't be faster or cheaper than CMOS (transistors) and might not even be general-purpose."

"The baton for PC progress is passing from the component makers like Intel to equipment makers -- in Asia."

"The first microcessor was made by Americans, for Japanese, to make smaller-cheaper calculators. Then Japanese manufacturers took over calculators."

"All we are waiting for is a manufacturer in Asia to make a $100 computer. (We're close.)"

"Computers have gotten cheaper as their guts have followed Moore's Law and their manufacture has followed other gadgets to Asia."

"Microsoft merely replaced Kildall's DOS with Windows copied from Xerox and Apple."

"'To promote the progress of science and useful arts....' (U.S. Constitution, on intellectual property.) Have Microsoft patents done that?"

"Could gunboat diplomacy assert Microsoft's rights against Asian 'pirates'?"

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Re: MIT's $100 Computer -- They want to keep it out of US -- Just for China
12 May 2006
I'm not sure I see what your point is?

From a practical stand point it doesn't matter to many people if the number of transistors per chip increases at the same rate much longer. Current (heck 2-3yr old) processors are plenty fast for just about any application. I say this as someone who builds high performance computational clusters for a living, so I know it matters to some people, but not to laptop & desk top users, or even web service providers (which I also do professionally and avocationally).

Perhaps you're suggesting that big business is keeping prices artificially high? I don't know if that's true but it would hardly be surprising.

The "MIT" $100 laptop http://laptop.org, to me does not seem like it will live up to expectation, sounds like a bunch of hot air spouted around a good idea, I hope I'm wrong and I'd love to get my hands on one to see if it's any good as I've recently been involved in developing and deploying a donation of $800 laptops that are actually available today to rural communities in the developing world.

The Longmeng I don't know much about (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longmeng), but I do know it's a MIPS compatable rather than Intel compatable chip which restricts your software choices a bit (ie no flash for you, amoung other things).

You can however go out today and get a Dell desktop with 17" monitor for about $300 http://www.dell.com/content/products/features.aspx/featured_basdt?c=us&c, I'm not personally a big fan of Dell, but it's got everything you need for a bout as cheap as you'll find, and has a 17" (rather than 9") screen and a 2.3GHz processor (rather than 500Mhz).

FYI, I do work at MIT though I don't work with anyone involved with the "$100 laptop" project...
Re: MIT's $100 Computer -- They want to keep it out of US -- Just for China
13 May 2006
Very good comments all.

As you know, notebooks are replacing laptops. You mentioned a Dell for $300, and I would buy one if I didn't also want compactness with my low price. The beauty of commoditization, is that this price will give people a handy little laptop in the not-too-distant future.

You hit it on the head when you said 2-3 old processors are good enough for most.

It pains me to see people getting ripped off by advertising that convinces them to buy speed that they don't need.

The economic displacements of End of Moore's Law worry me. They come at a bad time, coinciding with the end of cheap oil: double whammy.

I hope Mr. Negroponte at MIT realizes that there are many people here in his own country who are not sharing in the computer phenom. About 25% of US households have no computer. Some old folks don't need one, but many could benefit from what he is talking about, if it goes beyond hot air, as you call it.
Where's The Free Trade?
13 May 2006
There's no trade barriers anymore. Right? What about GATT, NAFTA, CAFTA and all the other bullshit trade laws past, in the last 20 years?
$100.00 computers that have WI-FI built in? Would be good for the poor in America.
Forget any other lame excuse.
GIVE THOSE COMPUTERS TO THE U.S. CITIZENS, FIRST! Since OUR college invented them!