Bob’s Big Picture technology predictions for 2017

2016-17I couldn’t put it off any longer so here are my technology predictions for 2017. I’ve been reading over my predictions from past years and see a fundamental change in structure over that time, going from an emphasis on products to an emphasis on companies. This goes along, I’d say, with the greater business orientation of this column. That makes sense with a maturing market and mature industries and also with the fact that a fair number of readers are here mainly as investors, something that didn’t used to be so much the case.

Of course we begin with a look at my predictions from a year ago to see how I did. Almost nobody in […]

Why SoftBank is paying $32 billion for ARM Holdings

Mr. SonSoftBank is buying ARM Holdings for $32 billion. Why would a company not presently in the semiconductor business spend 32 times sales to enter a new industry? By traditional measures it makes little sense. But for SoftBank it makes perfect sense, because here’s a company that has spent more than 30 years making high-risk bets on entering new businesses by apparently over-paying for assets. It’s the way they’ve always done it and it has nearly always worked. In this case SoftBank is paying a 43 percent premium over the recent ARM share price because that’s how much money it took to overcome the resistance of ARM management. And it’s just a guess […]

Avram Miller on the death yesterday of Intel’s Andy Grove

groveAvram Miller, who is my friend and neighbor here in rural Sonoma County, wrote a very insightful post on the passing of Andy Grove. It’s well worth reading.

My own experience with Andy Grove was limited. I knew Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore much better. But I do recall a time when Grove and I were both speakers at a PBS national meeting and sat together. He corrected my pronunciation of the word Zoboomafoo, the title of a PBS animal series for preschoolers.

Prediction #9: Intel starts to become irrelevant

2016predictionsI know I promised that my next 2016 prediction would be Apple’s big acquisition, and I will publish that prediction soon as my #10, but right now I just have to say what a perilous position Intel is in. The company truly risks becoming irrelevant, which is an odd thing to say about a huge, rich outfit that would appear from the outside to pretty much dominate its industry — an industry the company created. Intel won’t go away, I just think there is a very good chance they’ll no longer matter.

We’re approaching the end of the closed, proprietary, single source technology era. ARM processors are freely licensed, more open, and much […]

IBM’s Power8 servers are less than meets the eye

ibm-nvidiaTwo weeks ago IBM told the IT world it was taking on Intel in the battle for server chips with new Power8 processors incorporating advanced interconnection and GPU technology from NVIDIA. This followed an announcement earlier in the year that Google was using Power8 processors in some of its homemade servers. All this bodes well for IBM’s chip unit, right?

Not so fast.

Some product announcements are more real than others. While it’s true that IBM announced the imminent availability of its first servers equipped with optional Graphical Processing Units (GPUs), most of the other products announced are up to two years in the future. The real sizzle here is the NVlink and CAPi stuff that won’t really […]