PALO ALTO, Calif. – Researchers demonstrated personal robots, Oracle debuted its latest server processor and Cisco described an Ethernet chip on the last day of Hot Chips here.
"As an industry we've basically saturated what you can do with a robot behind a cage for industrial uses—the next 50 years will be about personal robots," said Steve Cousins, chief executive of Willow Garage, in a keynote describing and demonstrating the company's latest robot.
A video of his demo is online on YouTube here or at the EE Times video site here.
The robot uses two eight-core Intel Westmere processors in its base and a Microsoft Kinect sensor on its head as a navigation aid. The components are less than ideal.
The processors require a loud fan for cooling and are easily swamped by still nascent programs for object recognition and robot decision making. The Kinect is useful but "we need better sensors—it's hard to get a camera that's even close to what the human eye sees," said Cousins.
Besides the Kinect, the robot uses nine video cameras and two laser scanners taken from garage door controllers. "All we get are hand-me-downs," said Cousins.
He called for low power, high performance processors that support large shared memory operations. He also called for specialized processors that could work in tandem with a variety of touch and camera sensors.
For its part, Oracle gave the first look inside the T4, a next generation Niagara family server processor using a new out-of-order, dual-issue core. Engineers got a stunning five-fold integer and seven-fold floating point boost on the T4, despite ratcheting back from 16-cores on the previous T3 versus just eight cores on the new chip.
Oracle's T4 uses a new dual-issue core that accepts eight threads.