In some cases those hinges cost $10. And while Worthen points out
that microprocessors cost around $100, these are the glam devices on
the printed circuit board. The nameless, faceless component workhorses of the
PCB often cost pennies (the ones that prevent system meltdown, for example). And here's the problem: An
industry with an average selling price of $1.37 can't extract the
value of a hinge.
[Get a 10% discount on ARM TechCon 2012 conference passes by using promo code EDIT. Click here to learn about the show and register.]
Cost pressure This is where the irony comes in. It costs billions of dollars to
make trillions of semiconductors. The world doesn't evolve without
them, yet their cost must be continually reduced if the market TAM
is to expand. And not everybody is Intel or ARM. Microsoft Windows 8
takes advantage of touch applications and can't do it without
capacitive touch technology. A Cypress Semiconductor PSoC 3
CapSense Plus device can cost as little as $4.29; a
SmartSense device? As little as $1.23.
I know, I know:
whaa-whaa...cry me a river. Electronics probably
take up at least 25 percent of any system BOM, so the
industry is extracting value. But individual vendors, in an hugely
capital-intensive business, in some cases are not.
There's no right answer, of course. Higher component costs would
prevent a lot of end products from ever seeing the light of the
consumer day. And without the intense competition the industry
grapples with every day, innovation likely would come more slowly.
But still... a $10 hinge? Is it because you can touch and feel it?
That it's not invisible to the user and not produced in a way that's
How about the connector cost? Even a simple DB-9 can run into few dollars--and multi-pin locking AMP and Canon connectors sometimes cost over $100.
I am surprised how power-efficient short-range wireless can be; maybe we'll see it replace many internal and external wired connections.
Am I the only guy who hates it when people paw at my PC displays?
Besides, one of our PCs at home is a dedicated TV/audio system STB, for Internet content. Is display is the 42" HDTV. So it would be a real inconvenience to have to get up from the couch every time I wanted to do anything! And then have to deal with everyone's greasy pawprints!!
I'm looking forward to really useful touch screen hardware, where the physical desktop at work becomes an electronic touch screen. And where you can realistically have multiple documents open at the same time and actually refer to them simultaneously. Instead of using touch screens only to make a useful PC feel more like a tablet.
To you it's a hinge, to me it's a HINGE! For a notebook / tablet that sucker has to both swing up and pivot around, include a path for display power and data, maybe incorporate pivot position sensing, last darn near forever, and look pretty spiffy. Oh, and the tooling for one-off production is trashed after only 6 months of use. For an experienced metal fabricater that's a lot to ask.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.