I started at my new job at Nvidia past Monday, and my first thoughts are these: oh boy, there's a lot happening in the world of computing right now! Apple may have spearheaded the current wave of innovation, but Google's Android has gained ground at an unprecedented speed, and right now, there's a lot of stuff happening all at once. Steve Jobs stepped down as the CEO of Apple, and the old big players like HP are cutting down and restructuring their core business, leaving plenty of room in the playing field. HD video, 3D gaming and quad-core processors used to be what sold high-end desktop computers. Soon these will be the new hot features of mobile devices. It feels great to be closer to the center of it all, at a company with strong engineering culture and ties to everyone else in the industry.
Post-PC era is a trendy buzzword right now, but the concept behind it is real: tablets and mobile phones are getting so good that they can outright replace PCs in some tasks plus compete with traditional print media better than ye olde computers ever could. My morning routine used to involve reading news and checking email on the computer - now I do the same things on my Android phone, and can continue that on my way to work. Many of the newfangled smart phones are based on the very technology I'll be working on. And the products based on Nvidia's system-on-a-chips don't stop there, with Asus Eee Pad Transformer being one of the most interesting recent developments. It's high time someone took a pleasurable tablet, combined it with a detachable keyboard, and put smartly designed hardware inside. 16 hours of battery life with the keyboard dock isn't too shabby either. The open collaboration of Android helped this happen, and the true revolution is only beginning.
Of course, the competition is not staying still either, and staying on the edge will take a lot of effort. The amount of horsepower inside mobile phones has developed at an amazing speed these past few years, but physical boundaries will be hit sooner or later. We're getting a lot out of 40nm manufacturing technology, but shrinking the half-pitch is still the biggest single driving force behind the growth of performance. Of course, a lot also remains to be done on the software side of things: game developers need tools that match the capabilities of the devices, and we're seeing lots of big things happening in web technology too with HTML5 leading the way. My job is in the intersection of mobile SOC technology and the web, which makes the pace of change doubly insane. To wrap up, here's an example of what is possible on Nvidia's upcoming Tegra 3 platform: