Saturday, October 30, 2004

Flash based iPod for Apple?

Rumours abound that suggest Apple will be making a flash based iPod in the coming months to capture the low end music player market.

Unfortunately, that makes little sense. Steve Jobs has repeatedly said that low capacity flash based players are fairly useless, and that's a reasonable assessment. High capacity (2+ GB) flash based players would be more useful and are technically feasible, but they would probably be at least as expensive as the 4 GB iPod mini. If new lower capacity iPod minis were to appear in the near future, it is likely they would be hard drive based as well, just like the current one. However, what's more likely is that a new 6 GB iPod mini would become the new $249 model, and the 4 GB version would simply drop in price, to $199.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Showdown: iPod Photo vs. iBook

Unless you've been living under a rock, no doubt you've heard about the new iPod Photo, which costs $600 for the 60 GB version. This little unit has the ability to play images and slideshows, both on its own colour screen and on external TVs. You can also store images on it, downloaded from memory cards via a third-party flash reader costing $100. However, contrary to popular belief, you cannot actually view those images. Thus, the iPod Photo represents a less than stellar photo accessory, and is best described as an excellent music player, with some extra photo features thrown in for good measure.

Now, has recently started selling the 1.2 GHz 12" iBook with a $150 rebate, effectively pricing the unit at just $850, only $250 more than the iPod Photo (or even less than $250 more if you factor the flash card readers into the equation). This wonderful photo accessory has a huge 12" colour screen, and supports direct flash card downloads (with a $15 add-on), photo viewing, photo editing, photo management, and even photo archiving onto CD-Rs. And the iBook plays music too, and can surf the internet wirelessly. The only drawback is that the iBook has just half the hard drive capacity of the full-sized iPod Photo.

It should be obvious by now that the above comparison is facetious, but it's always good to keep things in perspective. The iPod Photo is nice, and will sell well this Christmas season. However, I think my next iPod purchase is going to be an iPod mini (when it hits 6 GB in 2005), especially if Apple cannot improve the photo support of the so-called iPod Photo.

Monday, October 25, 2004

IBM G5 supercomputer hits 14.55 Tflops/s

The October 25th edition of the interim Top 500 Supercomputer list includes a new entry, IBM's Blade Center JS20 G5-based cluster. This machine hits 14550 Gflops/s, utilizing 2520 CPUs at 2.195 GHz. That represents an efficiency of 65.8%, which is higher than Virginia Tech's 60.5% efficiency.

The IBM cluster lands in 5th place on the list, and pushes the VT system down a notch to 7th. That puts two G5 supercomputers in the top ten for the next list, which will be unveiled in a few weeks.

Update October 26, 2004:

IBM is now listed at 20.45 Tflops/s, with 3564 2.2 GHz G5 processors (65.5% efficiency). That puts them in 3rd place, behind Japan's Earth Simulator.

Virginia Tech: Apple doesn't plan to release 2.3 GHz Xserves

Virginia Tech has formally announced that it has achieved 12250 Gflops/s. However, it also made the statement that "These systems were custom built by Apple for Virginia Tech utilizing dual 2.3GHz G5 processors. This configuration was developed specifically for Virginia Tech, and Apple currently has no plans to offer 2.3GHz processors in the Xserve G5 product line."

Despite their statement I would not be surprised to see these 2.3 GHz machines released in early 2005.

In addition, VT states the upgrade cost them an additional $600000, including an additional 50 nodes (which did not appear to be utilized for the benchmark).