Thursday, November 08, 2007

on AMD and Google.

Recently somebody asked me how I felt about AMD and Google. While I've gone after Microsoft, Intel, Nvidia, and other vendors before, I have been relatively quiet on the subjects of AMD and Google. The associate wondered if my silence on Google was driven by the fact that the blog is published on a Google site.

The short answer is that no, Google hosting Blogger doesn't have anything to do with a lack of posts about Google. It more is the fact that I really do not have anything to say about Google. Yes, in some aspects Google creeps the living daylights out of me. Their whole "Don't be Evil" mantra on a corporate level, their explosive rise to power, and their less than ethical dealings with China and other socialistic countries, all are factors that make me nervous.

In one case specifically somebody doing a search for myself came across a document I had uploaded containing my home address, phone number, and other information in my resume. I surprised that associate by being unconcerned about the information being available through such methods. Thing is I put my mailing address on the MepisGuides site.
My resume with more contact information is located somewhere on Monster, although I haven't been there in a while. My phone number and other contact information is one file with the state of Georgia for Anybody who wants to do a background check on me can obtain that information simply by calling the State department that handles business licenses.

So why didn't Google being able to turn the information bother me? Google is a search company and they are really, really, really good at searching. However, mastering the techniques to search for information means mastering the material that is being searched to begin with.

For example, if somebody wanted to effectively search mass emails? The best way to determine the most effective search methods are to build a test email system from the ground up. That way the engineers get practical experience on how a mail system works by putting one together at the same time getting the developing the most practical way of searching that email. Of course, once you've built the email system, why junk it? Thus you have Google Mail, or rather Gmail.

Google took the searching one step further with Gmail by using the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) System developed for searching text in books to search images embedded in mail. Considering that many scammers use embedded .png or .jpeg files with the text they want to be seen while slipping the text past a purely text based scanner systems, Google came up with an effective way of identifying such spams.

Google Docs is another such entry. If Google is going to go through the trouble of building a document and spreadsheet system from the ground up in order to learn how to best search the saved files and how files are generated, why not put that coding to work in a practical sense?

Just a quick overview of all of Google's products reveal strong ties towards developing effective search techniques. Of course, once you have a whole bunch of coders in place who are experienced in building programs other than strictly search based applications, why not turn those coders to other tasks? Suddenly development of systems like Android don't really seem that odd coming from Google. In becoming a search powerhouse, Google has also become a software development powerhouse.

Google also gives a lot back to the communities, both Closed-Licensed and Open-Licensed. Google employs Linux Kernel Developers. Google funds the Summer of Code, a running project to pay students to develop Open-Licensed Software. Google's funding of Mozilla has enabled the Mozilla Foundation to go toe to toe with Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

As I see it, Google strikes a balance between being a standard multinational corporation, and being a good community member. Most of the times I wind up having no opinion, or no viable opinion on Google's direct actions. I do not feel that I am qualified, or capable, to discuss Google's behavior with Socialistic Countries. I really don't feel I have much of a place to comment on their corporate mantra, and their rise to power is logically explained by simply being good at their job.

AMD, for me, is much of the same thread as Google. AMD does a lot to get involved with Open-Licensed software and Open-Licensed Hardware. Because of AMD employees many server and consumer motherboards are not restricted to using a proprietary BIOS as users can boot with LinuxBIOS instead. AMD has opened up specifications and driver information for a lot of their own hardware. AMD involved Linux developers with the creation of x86-64, and for a long time Linux was the only option for those running x86-64. AMD has a long history with funding Open Source efforts, and is behind the paychecks for developers pushing out Open-Licensed drivers for Radeon graphics cards.

AMD also pushed out Hypertransport, a bus connection technology that Intel still has no answer for. Already in it's third Revision Hypertransport allows for cable connections of computer systems at processor latencies. AMD is also responsible for Torrenza, which I believe I have blogged about before. Using Torrenza IBM could put a Cell based processor on the same motherboard as an Athlon64 processor, giving the user the benefits of both processors without having to have two different chassis.

Now, I'm not saying that AMD is completely pure in their dealings. AMD also at one time was running Presidio, a technology that mirrored Intel's TPM (Trusted Platform Module, also known as Treacherous Platform Module) that would remove users control over hardware. However, the last time AMD talked about Presidio was back in 2004... and the last time the topic was brought up by AMD developers was back in 2006. So, right now, it seems that AMD is not on the same boat with Intel and TPM.

About the only legitimate complaint I can level against AMD is that AMD/ATi has joined up with those offering HDMI output on Graphics cards. HDMI in itself is not a bad idea since it offers high bandwith video transfer rates with high bandwith audio transfer rates. However, HDMI implies utilization of the Intel Developed HDCP format to remove content control from end users.

But, AMD is also involved with DisplayPort, a license-free and royalty-free standard from the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA). While AMD did develop DisplayPort Content Protection (DPCP), the usage of DisplayPort does not require the usage of DPCP. With HDMI, the specification reads as though it requires the use of HDCP. HDMI is also a licensed format and is not freely available to implement.

From my point of view AMD made the best of a bad situation. AMD doesn't have the market strength to tell the RIAA and MPAA the equivalent of HELL NO when it comes to removing users control over content... But AMD has taken steps to insure that those who avoid Digitial Rights Management (DRM) are not punished for by being unable to use the latest video technologies.

So, that's why you don't see a lot of writings about Google or AMD in my posts. I just really don't have a lot to say, and when I am given something that should be commented on... generally its in an area where I would not feel right making comments.

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