All posts by Tekla S. Perry

Coming Soon: Augmented Reality Glasses for the Masses

Post Syndicated from Tekla S. Perry original https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/consumer-electronics/portable-devices/when-will-we-see-ar-glasses-for-the-masses

A lot can change in seven years. Google Glassa wearable display with a camera and other tools that feed wearers information and allow them to capture photos and videos, began shipping to selected developers in 2013. It was released as a more open beta test in 2014. Then, in early 2015, Google withdrew the product. It has since reemerged, along with a variety of competitors, as a specialized product for use in industry—often for training or displaying diagrams or other information during specific tasks.

As a consumer product though, the technology stalled.

Until now, that is. Facebook last month confirmed that it’s building augmented reality (AR) glasses. Apple is rumored to be getting ready to release its own version of AR glasses next year.

But are AR glasses finally ready for prime time?

I asked Nandan Nayampally, vice president and general manager of ARM’s Immersive Experience Group, to consider whether the technology—and consumers—are ready for AR glasses. Here’s what he had to say.

Forget Moore’s Law—Chipmakers Are More Worried About Heat and Power Issues

Post Syndicated from Tekla S. Perry original https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/semiconductors/design/power-problems-might-drive-chip-specialization

Power consumption and heat generation: these hurdles impede progress toward faster, cheaper chips, and are worrying semiconductor industry veterans far more than the slowing of Moore’s Law. That was the takeaway from several discussions about current and future chip technologies held in Silicon Valley this week.

John Hennessy—president emeritus of Stanford University, Google chairman, and MIPS Computer Systems founder—says Moore’s Law “was an ambition, a goal. It wasn’t a law; it was something to shoot for.”

U.S. Semiconductor Industry Veterans Keep Wary Eyes on China

Post Syndicated from Tekla S. Perry original https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/semiconductors/devices/semiconductor-industry-veterans-keep-wary-eyes-on-china

How might the U.S. chip industry solve a problem like China?

A panel of semiconductor industry veterans took up this question at a Churchill Club event this week. The group generally expressed worry about the impact China will have on the future of the U.S. chip industry, and the lack of good ideas about how the U.S. industry can respond to threats posed by China.

“China is the ultimate conundrum,” says Stanford president emeritus and MIPS Computer Systems founder John Hennessy. “It’s a large market that U.S. companies need access to, together with being what will become a major technical competitor. We have never faced that.”

The consolidation of silicon manufacturing into two main foundries raises the threat level, pointed out Diane Bryant, former Intel and Google Cloud executive.

“You really just have TSMC and Samsung left,” she said. “And TSMC is in Taiwan, so you have to be thinking about China and the threat to Taiwan, and what will happen to TSMC.”

China will take over Taiwan “the same time North Korea takes over South Korea,” quipped Hennessy, giving it control over most of the world’s semiconductor manufacturing capabilities.

“What do you do tomorrow if TSMC and Samsung are off limits?” he asked his fellow panel members.

“You can’t go to Global Foundries,” which indeed has some U.S. semiconductor manufacturing capability, said Bryant, “unless you really want Moore’s Law to be dead.” (Global Foundries recently stopped developing the most advanced semiconductor processes.) 

Rodrigo Liang, CEO of SambaNova Systems, argued that fixing this problem can only be done at the level of the U.S. government.

Pradeep Sindhu, founder of Juniper Networks and founder and CEO of Fungible, agreed. “The U.S. government needs an industrial policy,” he said, “and it doesn’t have one.”

The foundry issue is a long-term problem. Perhaps a nearer term question is how the growing capability of China’s tech industry will impact U.S.-based companies.

“China is talking about becoming tech independent, becoming net exporters,” said Bryant. “We can talk about how many years [it will take], but it is inevitable.”

Companies in China will catch up for several reasons, panelists indicated. For one, said Sindhu, they are very hungry to learn.

For another, said Navin Chaddha, managing director of the Mayfield Fund, China’s huge market gives Chinese companies a boost. “Usually innovation happens when you are close to a market,” he said. To date, the U.S. companies and Samsung have benefitted from the boom” in the Chinese tech market, but now “we are seeing Chinese companies benefitting from their local market… and China is the biggest market when it comes to broadband users.”

A solution?

“Invest in that market,” says Chaddha.

That strategy is not without pitfalls, Hennessy indicated. “What happens to your technology when you ship it over there?” he asked.

“To the extent that we can protect it, we will,” Sindhu said.

Hennessy remained skeptical. “Just wait until you sign the deal and send it over,” he said.

“This isn’t a redo of semiconductor wars with Japan in the 80s,” he concluded.  “This is a country that has scale, that has entrepreneurial zeal. They will give us a run for the money.”

Next-Gen AR Glasses Will Require New Chip Designs

Post Syndicated from Tekla S. Perry original https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/semiconductors/design/dramatic-changes-in-chip-design-will-be-necessary-to-make-ar-glasses-a-reality

What seems like a simple task—building a useful form of augmented reality into comfortable, reasonably stylish, eyeglasses—is going to need significant technology advances on many fronts, including displays, graphics, gesture tracking, and low-power processor design.

That was the message of Sha Rabii, Facebook’s head of silicon and technology engineering. Rabii, speaking at Arm TechCon 2019 in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, described a future with AR glasses that enable wearers to see at night, improve overall eyesight, translate signs on the fly, prompt wearers with the names of people they meet, create shared whiteboards, encourage healthy food choices, and allow selective hearing in crowded rooms. This type of AR will be, he said, “an assistant, connected to the Internet, sitting on your shoulders, and feeding you useful information to your ears and eyes when you need it.”

Want a Really Hard Machine Learning Problem? Try Agriculture, Says John Deere Labs

Post Syndicated from Tekla S. Perry original https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/robotics/artificial-intelligence/want-a-really-hard-machine-learning-problem-try-agriculture-say-john-deere-labs-leaders

What’s the world’s hardest machine learning problem? Autonomous vehicles? Robots that can walk? Cancer detection?

Nope, says Julian Sanchez. It’s agriculture.

Sanchez might be a little biased. He is the director of precision agriculture for John Deere, and is in charge of adding intelligence to traditional farm vehicles. But he does have a little perspective, having spent time working on software for both medical devices and air traffic control systems.

I met with Sanchez and Alexey Rostapshov, head of digital innovation at John Deere Labs, at the organization’s San Francisco offices last month. Labs launched in 2017 to take advantage of the area’s tech expertise, both to apply machine learning to in-house agricultural problems and to work with partners to build technologies that play nicely with Deere’s big green machines. Deere’s neighbors in San Francisco’s tech-heavy South of Market are LinkedIn, Salesforce, and Planet Labs, which puts it in a good position for recruiting.

AI Faces Speed Bumps and Potholes on Its Road From the Research Lab to Everyday Use

Post Syndicated from Tekla S. Perry original https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/robotics/artificial-intelligence/rigid-it-departments-jobhopping-data-scientists-implementing-machine-learning-isnt-easy

Implementing machine learning in the real world isn’t easy. The tools are available and the road is well-marked—but the speed bumps are many.

That was the conclusion of panelists wrapping up a day of discussions at the IEEE AI Symposium 2019, held at Cisco’s San Jose, Calif., campus last week.

The toughest problem, says Ben Irving, senior manager of Cisco’s strategy innovations group, is people.

It’s tough to find data scientist expertise, he indicated, so companies are looking into non-traditional sources of personnel, like political science. “There are some untapped areas with a lot of untapped data science expertise,” Irving says.

Lazard’s artificial intelligence manager Trevor Mottl agreed that would-be data scientists don’t need formal training or experience to break into the field. “This field is changing really rapidly,” he says. “There are new language models coming out every month, and new tools, so [anyone should] expect to not know everything. Experiment, try out new tools and techniques, read, study, spend time; there aren’t any true experts at this point because the foundational elements are shifting so rapidly.”

“It is a wonderful time to get into a field,” he reasons, noting that it doesn’t take long to catch up because there aren’t 20 years of history.”

Confusion about what different kinds of machine learning specialists do doesn’t help the personnel situation. An audience member asked panelists to explain the difference between data scientist, data analyst, and data engineer. Darrin Johnson, Nvidia global director of technical marketing for enterprise, admitted it’s hard to sort out, and any two companies could define the positions differently. “Sometimes,” he says, particularly at smaller companies, “a data scientist plays all three roles. But as companies grow, there are different groups that ingest data, clean data, and use data. At some companies, training and inference are separate. It really depends, which is a challenge when you are trying to hire someone.”

Mitigating the risks of a hot job market

The competition to hire data scientists, analysts, engineers, or whatever companies call them requires that managers make sure any work being done is structured and comprehensible at all times, the panelists cautioned.

“We need to remember that our data scientists go home every day and sometimes they don’t come back because they go home and then go to a different company,” says Lazard’s Mottl. “That’s a fact of life. If you give people choice on [how they do development], and have a successful person who gets poached by competitor, you have to either hire a team to unwrap what that person built or jettison their work and rebuild it.”

By contrast, he says, “places that have structured coding and structured commits and organized constructions of software have done very well.”

But keeping all of a company’s engineers working with the same languages and on the same development paths is not easy to do in a field that moves as fast as machine learning. Zongjie Diao, Cisco director of product management for machine learning, quipped: “I have a data scientist friend who says the speed at which he changes girlfriends is less than speed at which he changes languages.”

The data scientist/IT manager clash

Once a company finds the data engineers and scientists they need and get them started on the task of applying machine learning to that company’s operations, one of the first obstacles they face just might be the company’s IT department, the panelists suggested.

“IT is process oriented,” Mottl says. The IT team “knows how to keep data secure, to set up servers. But when you bring in a data science team, they want sandboxes, they want freedom, they want to explore and play.”

Also, Nvidia’s Johnson pointed out, “There is a language barrier.” The AI world, he says, is very different from networking or storage, and data scientists find it hard to articulate their requirements to IT.

On the ground or in the cloud?

And then there is the decision of where exactly machine learning should happen—on site, or in the cloud? At Lazard, Mottl says, the deep learning engineers do their experimentation on premises; that’s their sandbox. “But when we deploy, we deploy in the cloud,” he says.

Nvidia, Johnson says, thinks the opposite approach is better. We see the cloud as “the sandbox,” he says. “So you can run as many experiments as possible, fail fast, and learn faster.”

For Cisco’s Irving, the “where” of machine learning depends on the confidentiality of the data.

Mottl, who says rolling machine learning technology into operation can hit resistance from all across the company, had one last word of caution for those aiming to implement AI:

Data scientists are building things that might change the ways other people in the organization work, like sales and even knowledge workers. [You need to] think about the internal stakeholders and prepare them, because the last thing you want to do is to create a valuable new thing that nobody likes and people take potshots against.

The AI Symposium was organized by the Silicon Valley chapters of the IEEE Young Professionals, the IEEE Consultants’ Network, and IEEE Women in Engineering and supported by Cisco.

U.S. Job Market for Autonomous Vehicle Engineers Flattens, But Job-Seekers Still Have the Edge

Post Syndicated from Tekla S. Perry original https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/at-work/tech-careers/us-autonomous-vehicle-engineering-job-market-flattens-slightly-but-jobseekers-still-have-the-edge

The availability of U.S. jobs for developers, engineers, and other tech professionals with autonomous vehicle expertise grew 833 percent in the past four years, according to job search site Indeed. The boom in job openings in the robo-car industry far outpaced the growth in the number of searches for such jobs, which climbed 450 percent during the same period. Indeed considered autonomous vehicle tech job postings as a share of all job postings in calculating these numbers. And in spite of a 19 percent dip in that share of job postings over the past year, it’s still a good time to be looking for a job involving autonomous vehicle technology.

Which Tech Leaders do Tech Professionals Admire? Elon Musk Heads the List

Post Syndicated from Tekla S. Perry original https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/at-work/tech-careers/which-tech-leaders-do-tech-professionals-admire-elon-musk-heads-the-list

In a recent survey of 3,600 tech professionals—including software developers, data scientists, and project managers—job search firm Hired asked respondents to select a “most inspiring” leader in tech.

Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla and SpaceX and founder of the Boring Company and Neuralink, came out on top. And while Musk has made missteps, there’s no doubt that his big ambitions for tech’s future serve to inspire.

Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO with a reputation as a harsh boss, took the number two spot; Microsoft’s Satya Nadella came in third place; and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg placed fourth. Jack Ma, who just stepped down as chairman of Alibaba, was the only non-U.S. leader to make the top ten.

Four women ranked among the most inspiring leaders in Hired’s rankings: Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (who recently founded AI start-up incubator Lumi Labs), and sisters Susan Wojcicki (CEO of YouTube) and Ann Wojcicki (founder and CEO of 23andMe).

In Their Dreams: Where Tech Professionals Long to Work

Post Syndicated from Tekla S. Perry original https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/at-work/tech-careers/in-their-dreams-where-tech-professionals-long-to-work

It’s the salary. And the location. And the mission. And the reputation. It’s a combination of these things—as well as, let’s face it, the coolness factor—that make a tech company a dream employer for a software engineer, product manager, data scientist, or other tech professional.

Job search firm Hired surveyed 3,600 tech professionals to come up with a list of top employers. They did this by creating a positivity index—a number based on a mix of survey respondents who either would “love to work” or “might like to work” at a particular company. Hired also asked respondents what factors played into their choices.

Some of the usual suspects—Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft—made the top 15. But others, particularly on the list of privately held tech companies—were a bit of a surprise. I didn’t realize engineers dreamed of working at Virgin Hyperloop One or Instacart; and stock-trading app Robinhood hadn’t even been on my radar until it ranked seventh on LinkedIn’s list of hottest startups released earlier this month.  Overall, the top 15 public companies pulled higher positivity indexes than all of the private ones except Airbnb, SpaceX, and Hulu—perhaps simply because they are better known.

Silicon Valley companies dominated Hired’s dream employer rankings—of the top 30 (15 public, 15 private) companies that Hired identified, 19 call the San Francisco Bay Area home. With another five based in Los Angeles and two in Seattle, that left only four tech dream companies with roots beyond the west coast of the U.S.: three in New York and one in Austin, Texas. And in spite of this being a global survey, no non-U.S. company made the top rankings.

Companies Most Loved by Tech Professionals (Private)

RankCompanyLocationPositivity Index*
1AirbnbSan Francisco Bay Area76
2SpaceXLos Angeles Area70
3HuluLos Angeles Area66
4RedditSan Francisco Bay Area59
5KickstarterNew York City55
6WeWorkNew York City54
7IndeedAustin52
8RobinhoodSan Francisco Bay Area50
9StripeSan Francisco Bay Area48
10SquarespaceNew York City47
11Virgin Hyperloop OneLos Angeles Area46
12QuoraSan Francisco Bay Area45
13JPLLos Angeles Area44
14InstacartSan Francisco Bay Area40
15CoinbaseSan Francisco Bay Area40

*based on number of respondents interested in working for a company

Source: Hired

Companies Most Loved by Tech Professionals (Public)

RankCompanyLocationPositivity Index*
1GoogleSan Francisco Bay Area87
2NetflixSan Francisco Bay Area82
3AppleSan Francisco Bay Area77
4Linked InSan Francisco Bay Area76
5MicrosoftSeattle Area75
6SlackSan Francisco Bay Area72
7AmazonSeattle70
8GitHubSan Francisco Bay Area70
9DropboxSan Francisco Bay Area68
10TeslaSan Francisco Bay Area67
11AdobeSan Francisco Bay Area65
12LyftSan Francisco Bay Area63
13FacebookSan Francisco Bay Area63
14The Walt Disney Co.Los Angeles Area62
15TwitterSan Francisco Bay Area60

*based on number of respondents interested in working for a company

Source: Hired

U.S. Engineering Salaries Jump; Smartphone Developers Win Big

Post Syndicated from Tekla S. Perry original https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/at-work/tech-careers/us-engineer-salaries-jump-smart-phone-developers-are-biggest-winners

US $145,000: That’s the key number reported in the just-released IEEE-USA Salary & Benefits Survey. It represents the median income for U.S. engineers in 2018, up $6,200 from 2017 and $15,000 from 2014. That figure includes salary, commissions, and bonuses. (When income from all sources is added, including overtime pay and side hustles, the 2018 number jumps to $150,000.) In constant dollars, the gains over the past year are still significant.

However, these income gains weren’t evenly spread among engineers of all specialties, regions, race, gender, or age. The 63-page report is full of fascinating data; here’s what stood out for me.

Who’s Hiring? Google’s Wing, Facebook’s Libra, and Uber Competitor Ola

Post Syndicated from Tekla S. Perry original https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/at-work/tech-careers/whos-hiring-googles-wing-facebooks-libra-and-ubercompetitor-ola

And who’s firing? Huawei and IBM

The last three months have been a busy time for engineering job news, with a number of companies opening new development centers around the world. Silicon Valley, meanwhile, was mostly quiet. There was not a lot of bad news, but only a few bursts of hiring activity. Here’s a sampling of the latest tech hiring and firing announcements.

The most recent news came from Chinese tech firm Huawei. The company said that it would lay off 600 tech workers from Futurewei, the company’s U.S. R&D subsidiary with offices in California, Texas, and Washington. The subsidiary currently employs 850. The layoffs aren’t particularly surprising, coming after the U.S. government in May added Huawei to a blacklist that prevents U.S. companies from supplying it with technology without a special license; Futurewei’s reason for existence is to develop technology for use by Huawei.

Microsoft, meanwhile, is looking to hire about 20 engineers for Your Phone development. Your Phone is an app that allows Windows PCs to mirror some aspects of Android phones, including text messages, photos, and notifications. Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters are less than five miles from Futurewei’s Bellevue labs, which could be good news for at least a few just-fired mobile phone developers. 

Does the Repurposing of Sun Microsystems’ Slogan Honor History, or Step on It?

Post Syndicated from Tekla S. Perry original https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/computing/networks/does-repurposing-of-sun-microsystems-slogan-honor-history

“The Network is the Computer” catchphrase has a proud new parent: Cloudflare

“The Network is the Computer.” That phrase, coined by John Gage in the mid-1980s, was the tagline of Sun Microsystems for decades. Ray Rothrock, Sun’s former director of CAD/CAM marketing, in an interview with Cloudflare CTO John Graham-Cumming, explained the concept of “The Network is the Computer.” According to Rothrock, “[It] essentially said that you had one window into the network through your desktop computer…. And if you had the appropriate software you could use other people’s computers (for CPU power). And so you could do very hard problems that that single computer could not do because you could offload some of that CPU to the other computers.”

In early 2010, Oracle acquired most of Sun’s assets, including both software (Java) and hardware (the SPARC line of processors). The famous tagline, it appears, was never discussed—or used or defended.

Maybe Oracle just didn’t like it. Maybe it got lost in the shuffle. Or maybe people at that time thought it was so tightly linked to Sun that it wouldn’t be worth anything to anyone else. Imagine another food besides Wheaties calling itself the Breakfast of Champions, or another airline besides United urging people to “Fly the Friendly Skies”

Nevertheless, if you abandon a trademark, it’s up for grabs. And so this month, Cloudflare, a decade-old company that runs the most popular content delivery network—second only to Amazon’s Cloudfront—grabbed it, announcing that it has registered it for itself.

John Gage, in another interview with Graham-Cumming posted on Cloudflare’s blog, says he’s fine with the slogan being picked up. Cloudflare’s existence and efforts in networked computers, he indicated, is a sign that Sun’s efforts were a success. “The phrase, ‘The Network is the Computer,’ resides in your brain. And when you get up in the morning and decide what to do, a little bit nudges you toward making the network work.”

What do other former Sun employees think? Are they happy the slogan, at the very least, carries some of Sun’s energy forward? Or do they think it’s odd to associate it with another company? I reached out to a Facebook group of Sun alumni to find out.

Larry Wake, who spent more than 20 years at Sun in various positions, recalled that “When Sun originated that tag line in the early 1980s, it was actually quite audacious. It was a stake in the ground [stating] ‘Computers should be networked, or they’re… not computers. Well, at least, you’re missing their potential by a country mile. They’re “islands of automation,” and you can do better than that. Join us!’”

“Sun,” he continued, “put a network interface in every computer they built from day one. That was not even remotely the norm at the time. But the part people tend to overlook is that Sun didn’t just say ‘networks are good.’ They wanted it to be *open* networking.” Wake recalls that at that time, if you wanted to network your computers, you paid extra for proprietary, non-interoperable networks: “SNA for your IBM mainframes, DECnet for your DEC minis, Novell Netware for your PCs. But Sun said, ‘Nah. Let’s all use Ethernet and TCP/IP. Those are open standards.” Sun, he says, “Kept pushing the envelope throughout our history.”

“So,” Wake concluded, “all props to Cloudflare for recognizing a great tagline when they see one, but ‘The CDN is the computer’ is not quite as world-changing as what Sun did.”

To Larry Rutter, also a long-time Sun employee, The Network is the Computer  “will always be a Sun slogan—trademark or no trademark. If I see someone else use it without attribution [to Sun], I’ll view it negatively.”

Christian Funke, a former Sun employee from Germany, is more forgiving. “They could have taken the slogan and never mentioned Sun,” he says, and “just some old nerds like us would have noticed. But they did mention [Sun] and by that appreciated the original genius, which is even more alive these days than it maybe was at that time. So I guess I am OK with it.”

So is Jonathan Lancaster, Sun employee #126, who was in the room when the phrase was coined.  “I am OK with it having a new owner,” he says. “Sun was a pioneer in networking, open systems, [and] open source; and the concept and the idea continues to become more apparent with each leap forward in networking. I started with ‘bleeding edge’ 3 megabits per second Ethernet on a Sun 100u; now 5G wireless deployment is happening, and the difference between network and computer will be a blur.”

Lancaster pointed out that “The Network is the Computer” wasn’t the only slogan coined by Sun. It was predated, he says, by “Open Systems for Open Minds.” Sun’s rights to that phrase have likely also lapsed; I wonder if we’ll see any takers.

Semiconductor CEOs on Computing’s Big Role in Slowing the Advance of Climate Change

Post Syndicated from Tekla S. Perry original https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/semiconductors/design/semiconductor-ceos-on-life-after-moores-law-climate-change

The end of Moore’s Law will drive a renaissance in chip innovation, CEOs say. But the semiconductor industry must face the existential question of power consumption driving climate change

We have entered a “Renaissance of Silicon.” That was the thesis of a panel that brought together semiconductor industry CEOs at Micron Technology’s San Jose campus last week. This renaissance, the executives indicated, will lead to an exciting—but not predictable—innovation in chip technology driven by applications that demand more computing power and by the demise of Moore’s Law.

“I’ve never seen a more exciting time in my 40 years in the industry,” said Sanjay Mehrotra, CEO of Micron Technology.

“I hadn’t heard semiconductor and Renaissance in the same sentence in 20 years,” said Tammy Kiely, Goldman Sachs global head of semiconductor investment banking. Kiely moderated the panel, which was organized by the Churchill Club.

The driving force behind this renaissance is “burning necessity,” said Xilinx CEO Victor Peng. Arm CEO Simon Segars agreed.

“For last 15 years, the driver of growth was mobile,” Segars said. “Over the last five years, the industry was in a bit of a lull. Then all of a sudden there is this combination of effects.” He listed cloud computing, handheld computing, IoT devices, 5G, AI, and autonomous vehicles as contributing to the boom. “Lots of things are coming together at once,” he said, along with “fundamental algorithm development.”

All these things, Xilinx’s Peng said, mean that the industry will have to come up with a way to improve computing power and storage by a factor of 100—if not 1000—over the next 10 years. That will require new architectures, new packaging—and a new way of looking at the entire ecosystem. “The entire data center is a computer,” he said, pointing out that computation will have to happen all over it, in memory, in switches, even in the communications lines.

Getting a 100- to 1000-times improvement in processing power will also require innovation in software, Peng continued. “People got used to Moore’s law enabling them to throw cycles away to enable abstraction. It’s not that simple anymore…. When you need 100 times [improvement], you don’t evolve the same architecture, you start all over. When Moore’s law was chipping away every year, you didn’t rethink the entire problem. But now you have to look at hardware and software together.”

Concerned About Climate Change

The panelists reminded the audience that it’s also no longer just about making chips better, faster, and cheaper (or these days, as Peng points out, getting one or two of those things at best). The semiconductor industry also has to drive power consumption down.

“Power consumption is an existential question, [considering] climate change,” Peng said, noting that data centers now consume about 10 percent of the world’s electric power. “That cannot scale exponentially and be sustainable.” Getting power consumption down is, he said, “not only a huge business opportunity but a moral imperative.”

Climate change, Segars said, will be a big driver for semiconductor innovation over the next five years. The industry, he said, will have to “create different computing engines to solve things in a more efficient way… [and innovate] on microarchitectures to get power down. In the long term, [we have to] think about workloads. The ultimate architecture might be dedicated engines for different commonly executed tasks that do things in a more efficient way.”

Segars also suggested that we ought to consider the bigger picture when weighing the power costs of computing. “Smart cities,” he said, “may result in more energy getting burned in data centers to process the IoT data, but their net could be energy savings.”

Don’t Expect a Startup Surge

This boom in innovation is unlikely to lead to a boom in startups, the panelists agreed. That may be counter to what we expect from Silicon Valley, but it’s the reality, they indicated.

“The cost of taking a chip out at 5 nanometers is astronomical, so unless you can amortize costs over multiple designs, nobody can afford it,” Segars said. “So we will need the large semiconductor companies to keep progress aggressive. Of course, the more expensive it is, the fewer that can afford to do it. But unlike other industries, like steel, I don’t think innovation is going to dry up.”

“Larger companies have a greater ability to invest in future innovations, to make big bets,” Mehrotra agreed. However, he said, “there are startups that are forming that are working on silicon aspects. Certainly what Simon [Segars] said about increased complexity and the time and money [involved] compared to the past is true.” But, he said, at least some architecture innovation is happening outside the big companies—though “not the way it was when I joined the industry 40 years ago.”

“There has been a lot of VC money going into AI chip companies,” Segars concurred. But, he predicts that, “unfortunately I don’t think we are going back to the days where Sand Hill Road is going to hand out wheelbarrows of money to people to design chips.”

Where Are All the Mobile Developers?

Post Syndicated from Tekla S. Perry original https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/at-work/tech-careers/where-are-all-the-mobile-developers

Job openings for mobile developers are booming while interest from job seekers trails off, says a new study from Indeed

Job search firm Indeed this week released an analysis of the mobile developer market, based on data gathered from the site from May 2018 to May 2019. Indeed researchers found that while the number of job listings for mobile developers increased by 4.93 percent year over year, the number of mobile developers looking for jobs dropped by 32.89 percent for that same period.

Breaking down the numbers, Indeed concluded that demand for Android developers is increasing faster than demand for iOS developers, and was up 10.61 percent compared with 1.79 percent for iOS. Job seeker interest fell at similar rates for both, though, and was down 26.34 percent for Android development jobs and 25.61 percent for iOS development jobs.

Tech Workers Are Finding Jobs Outside of Traditional Tech

Post Syndicated from Tekla S. Perry original https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/at-work/tech-careers/tech-jobs-boom-outside-traditional-tech-companies

Banks, agricultural companies, and utilities are hiring more tech employees than ever before

Where are the tech jobs? Not necessarily where you would think.

That’s the conclusion of Indeed economist Andrew Flowers. In his latest analysis for the job search firm, he found that while tech jobs as a share of all jobs rose 17 percent between 2012 and 2017, from 2.8 to 3.3 percent, in high-tech industries, the ratio of tech workers to all workers fell. Meanwhile, the share of tech workers in other industries grew, according to Indeed’s numbers.

“Retailers are employing more web programmers to build ecommerce sites, banks are staffing up with data scientists for auditing, and utilities are hiring computer hardware engineers to build systems to monitor energy use,” he stated in a blog post.

One Driver Steers Two Trucks With Peloton’s Autonomous Follow System

Post Syndicated from Tekla S. Perry original https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/transportation/self-driving/will-autonomous-following-be-a-game-changer-for-trucking

The technology is currently being tested on closed tracks, the company says

A host of companies are working to develop autonomous driving technology, but Silicon Valley startup Peloton has put its focus on autonomous following. The company today announced technology that uses computers, sensors, and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications to allow one driver to drive two separate trucks. 

Last year, Peloton began selling technology that enabled closer and safer truck platooning, using sensors, V2V communications, and automatic powertrain control and braking. That version of its product, Platoon Pro, requires a driver in the second truck to steer. The new version will take the second driver out of the equation.

Here’s how it works: In the front truck, the driver drives normally. Whenever he adjusts his foot on the throttle, touches the brakes, or maneuvers the steering wheel, digital details describing that action are wirelessly transmitted to the computer in the following truck. Using that information, along with data gathered from its own collection of radars, cameras, and other sensors, the second truck can safely trail close behind the first, forming a single-driver platoon.