@Zagzagel: Now that we are on the verge of making the Dick Tracy watch a reality, it is unclear how many people really want it or need it.
The idea of the Dick Tracy watch is very cool. The reality that we now know is that it is only as cool as the people who are using it. I want a Dick Tracy watch, but once I have one I need cool friends who also have Dick Tracy watches. Otherwse it's pretty pointless, or worse (just think of when the telemarketing calls start coming in).
But seriously, I think you're spot on with addressing the larger questions of what people want and need.
Reading this article reminded me of a Forbes Magazine piece published back in 1998 called "25 Cool Things you wish you had...and will" (http://onforb.es/QaX4zB). In particular, I thought of the quote from Gene Frantz from TI: "The goal is the Dick Tracy watch."
Now that we are on the verge of making the Dick Tracy watch a reality, it is unclear how many people really want it or need it. I think the larger question is, "What do human beings want to do that can't be accomplished with existing semiconductor technology?" Are human beings becoming more interested in things that don't require new semiconductor technology?
No need to live in the real world! Software people don't optimize... fast hardware takes care of performance issues! They also don't care if it works out of the gate. No recalls to worry about... just put out a patch.
Software is still hard... just has a different set of things that matter. Nowadays it seems that UI is #1.
Oh, I agree 100%! As a die-hard hardware guy, I never miss a chance to bag on the (mostly deserving) software weenies! No way are any of use going to even scratch the surface of what most software can do. Note to software weenies: concentrate on making stuff that works rather than adding useless features (those two objectives tend to be mutually exclusive)! Also, make user interfaces so that simple, often used things are readily accessible and easy and simple to do. If the user wants to get deeper into it, fine, but don't force us to jump through hoops just to do the simplest, most common things. To their credit, this principle is starting to be followed; smartphones are fairly easy to use, despite the level of complexity.
I think that there would be bigger opportunities in fiber optic networking for wireless backhaul and Internet infrastructure where you're passing multiple people's video streams simultaneously than in trying to connect fiber to every house. I don't think fiber makes sense in the "last mile". Now, although I officially work for the Mobile and Wireless Group, I do have a background in F/O and hope to do some more work on it in the near future. Optical comms really took a dive with the dot bombs back in 2001, but it sure is a good area now.
Yes, the software needs to catch up with the hardware once again. Software people just don't seem to live in the real world... Sigh.
Bloated, lazy software drives the need for PC hardware upgrades. You could argue that there are more features as well but I'm not sure how many users care about the kitchen sink kind of features that tend to get added to justify upgrades. Is Word today really that much better than Word 5 years ago?
Around here, the fiber op company is desperate to sign up subscribers. I suspect that most are happy with 20 Mbps cable (at least they aren't willing to pay more for fiber op). I believe that there's a rather low bandwidth limit that consumers will be satisfied with. A substantial bandwidth improvement with the applications to go with it will be needed before consumers care. Surfing the web and watching Netflix can be covered pretty will without any insane bandwidth reqs.
Being able to surf high-def on-demand shows as quickly as you can with regular cable would be a killer app.
Interesting that you bring up the fact that people are keeping old PC's longer than ever because I've just had to replace one at work and one at home recently. We upgraded the one at work a few weeks ago because it was just too slow; I'm talking >1 minute between mouse clicks - unusable! The one at home, a ~10 year old generic PC that I use in my home lab running Win 2000, would not install software for programming an RF synthesizer eval board because of a missing .dll, and then when I installed the software for my new USB microscope, it wouldn't run, IIRC also due to a missing .dll. So I sent that PC to Goodwill since the price I could get for it wouldn't be worth the bother of selling it and replaced it with my 8-year old HP tower running XP. Maybe it was Win 2k that was the problem?
The point in both cases is that we upgrade to new hardware not necessarily because we need the faster clock rates or more cores or whatever because we are doing more and need more computing power but because we're running into software compatibility and performance issues. This doesn't bode well for us in the chip business.
Fortunately for me and my employer, the falloff in rate of increase of need for computing power has little effect on us. The need for faster, better electronic communication shows no signs of falling off anytime soon. Mostly we're worried about keeping up with demand, the fierce competition, and internal politics.
Don't forget that advancing technology doesn't necessarily drive the price up. We get far more powerful gadgets for less money than ever! It's also possible for advanced technology to be undervalued. Look at PCs... speed increases used to be voraciously consumed but now people are keeping old PCs for longer than ever; they simply don't need an upgrade.
Maybe we should be optimistic that as it is harder to advance to new technology (because of cost), it is also harder to copy. Whereas the cheaper mature technologies are quite easy to copy. In this sense, for the choice between moving forward and staying behind, your point is well-taken that choosing to stay behind may actually not be the safe choice.
This is a great interview, Rick. Sanghi is always a good interview because he is blunt and straightforward. I do, however, remember a few years ago, when Sanghi asked me, "Why does a toaster need to be connected?"
Well, it doesn't need to.
But definitely, he is coming around on the IoT concept when he checked the temperature inside his Tesla!