There has been a couple of reports on the Internet about a link-up between ARM Holdings and Google forming an alliance to create low energy use and high power servers. The Register bills it as Chipzilla versus The Chocolate Factory, in this article.
The last paragraph of the article, wich refers to the reports, is significant.
Such a scenario would be far worse news for Intel than merely losing a few million CPU sales each year.
So has Intel finally met its match in a small Cambridge company?
I think the answer is yes and we must make sure that this amazing UK company stays independent.
I’m a great fan of disruptive innovation. It summed up in Wikipedia as follows.
A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology.
In some ways the classic disruptive innovation is iTunes, where Apple changed the music industry totally.
I, of course, would be a fan, because my first great success was Artemis, which took the project management industry out of the domain of large mainframe computers and cumbersome management structures into a computer that fitted under a desk.
But I have given this post, the title I have, as the NHS and other health systems is coming under pressure from disruptive innovation.
My other big innvation success was also disruptive innovation.
I was one of the backers of the technology that led to Respimat, a metered-dose inhaler.
That device seems to be too disruptive, as despite many years of development, I don’t think it is in general use.
It doesn’t use any batteries, compressed gases, nasty chemicals and is affordable to be throwaway. But despite their HCFC propellants, the incumbents in the healthcare industry, have not given market share.
But I have the satisfaction, that because of my scientific knowledge and practical experience, I spotted that the guys I backed could do something special. At least too, when I sold my share, I was well rewarded.
I do feel though that the NHS doesn’t do things in the same way as perhaps John Lewis would, when it comes to handling new methods of working.
As an example I was talking to my excellent GP about how having my cholesterol results on my blog, helped the doctors in Hong Kong when I had my stroke. I said it would be great if all our medical records were searchable on line. We were also discussing a small operation I had on my nose ten years ago and wondering if it should be done again to stop the nose bleeds I sometimes get.
We then both said that computerisation had been an expensive farce, but we were both agreed it would be a good thing, especially if like me you travel a lot. He did say Google launched something called Google Health, but that has now been discontinued. Read about it here.
So did the general conservatism of health professionals and a lot of the general public kill the project. Google don’t have many failures.
Reading about it, it seems that it would have been something I would have used.
If I look too at my Coaguchek, that is classic disruptive innovation. I don’t know how many use the device in the UK, but I suspect it’s not a large proportion of those who could benefit from such a device.
I suspect though that in a few years this device and its probably simpler successors will be as accepted as the monitors used by diabetics.
Small personal patient used technology like this will become more common. After all, we now have a population, who love their gadgets and what better gadget is there, than one that helps you improve your health.
The NHS is going to have to get used to new technology and especially where that technology shows substantial cost savings. But a lot of it, will mean changes in methods and management structures.
Disruptive innovation will improve the NHS, but it will be an NHS with a different number and type of hospitals, and staff not always deployed as they are now.
In all the hot air talked about fracking, wind power and nuclear power, very rarely does the argument stray into energy usage. The only thing people seem to worry about is the cost of their household energy bills and filling up their car.
But accpording to this academic report from Stanford University in 2010, over ten percent of all US electricity was used to power computer and IT equipment. Here’s the relevant part.
In 2010, over 10% of electricity in the U.S. was due to computer and IT equipment usage. At the current rate we’re going, analysts and experts figure that 10% of the world’s power bill will be spent on running computers. To give a more concrete example of how much energy this is, Dixon shows that one 50,000 square feet data center uses about 5 megawatts, but continuously. This energy output would satisfy the needs of 5000 homes. In another staggering example, assorted US data centers use a collective 7000 megawatt data centers from seven different plants; this is more power than is used by the State of Mississippi. Even more surprising is that this astronomical power consumption is just by the plants themselves – cooling systems use as much energy as the plants.
Also in this article in the FT. it says that in 2010, Goggle used about 258 Megawatts continuously.
Since this refers to 2010, I wonder how much of the UK’s energy usage goes in that area now.
According to this article, in 2012 average demand for electricity was 35.8 Gigawatt. Just imagine having to pay that bill!
So let’s assume that only five percent of that energy is used for computer servers, so that is 1790 megawatt. Bear in mind that the UK’s largest power station, Drax, has a capability of generating 3960 megawatts or seven percent of the UK’s electricity. So nearly half of its output and the enormous amount of CO2, Drax emits could be used to power computer equipment.
I need better figures here, but it would seem that a substantial part of UK electricity is used in computing.
But help is at hand in this area. To make computers use less power, you can do many things; like write better software and install more efficient cooling systems.
The biggest fight though is in the area of making chips that consume less electricity and there’s a war going on there, between the dominant Intel and the upstart from Cambridge called ARM. Whether Intel can hold off ARM is a subject for debate, but in a year or so, the average server will consume a lot less power than it does now. Unfortunately, the search, social networking, data storing and other IT companies will be a lot bigger, so all we will be doing with better technology is eating into the growth in energy usage.
I think though, this will mean that many large server farms will relocate to countries, where energy costs are lowest.
This morning, the BBC is running a story about revamping the West Hackney Burial Ground.
I’m not sure whether you would describe Dalston as West Hackney, but it struck me that it could be near where I live. If it is, then it would be worth a visit for before and after photos.
So I typed West Hackney Burial Ground into Google Maps and got a load of useless information and adverts for places around Hackney including Jury’s Inn Hotel halfway between the Angel and King’s Cross. If I were to score the information I got, to give it zero out of ten would be generous.
Google seems to be getting less useful as the years go by, as it concentrates too much on making money and inventions such as driverless cars. Incidentally, I could probably drive the latter, but here in London, I prefer the big red taxis.
I buy a lot of things on-line.
As when I want to go to any of these companies web site, I know where to look, surely displaying their embedded adverts in other web sites is a waste of time for me and that advert won’t get me to use their company, as I would anyway.
So they are just preaching to the converted!
Interestingly, I’ve only ever got train company adverts from companies that I use.
So how much of the money paid by companies to Google to promote companies and products is wasted?
Incidentally, I think, I’ve only ever bought one product because of an advert on a web page. I have though thought, that I won’t use that company or product because of their intrusive adverts.
But then i like to think I’m not susceptible to advertising. Or at least in the way that advertisers want me to be!
Google’s Eric Schmidt says he is perplexed in this article about the debate on his company’s tax status.
I’m not, as what these companies do is fraud.
Not necessarily on Corporation Tax, but with respect to VAT.
If say I go into John Lewis and buy say a television, I will pay VAT on the purchase. If I buy it from Amazon, I’ll probably pay some fiddled VAT rate, which will make it cheaper.
My belief is that by doing transfers like this, companies like Amazon are hurting genuine UK businesses. Andy Street of John Lewis is saying just that here.
So it should be that if you buy a television and it’s delivered in the UK, then the VAT rate should be 20%.
But Eric Schmidt is against this and is quoted in the BBC article.
The Google chairman has previously argued that corporate taxes should be paid on a company’s profits, not revenues, and should be levied in the country where it conducts economic activity and takes risks, rather than where products are consumed.
The trouble with Google, is there is no alternative, to some of the things they do.
On the other hand, I don’t use Amazon, Apple, Starbucks and quite a few other companies.
There is a good review of peer-to-peer lending in The Times today. One of the most significant things of the piece is that Google has taken a small stake in Lending club. There’s more on the Google deal here.
The banks might not like it, but the writing is on the wall.
Today, I’ve started to move my working deposit account to Zopa.
I have a Google News alert for Crossrail and today, it flagged up nine stories on the web.
Eight of these were about the story I reported on yesterday, about the finding of a cemetery for plague victims.
Usually, companies try to disassociate themselves from death and other dark stories.
If you’re wondering the other story, was about Crossrail driving up residential property prices. But then rising property prices are a good news story in many peoples’ minds.
Someone just tried to put a link to an on-line payday loan company in this post on my blog. As you can see the post is about wind power, so why would someone interested in wind power and Ireland, click away from the page to some dubious on-line loan provider?
I deleted the comment, as I always do with those that aren’t constructive to the blog.
But it got me thinking!
So I typed.
online loan application
Into Google to see what turned up.
The first page had about twenty links, of which only half were for legitimate sources in my view. The rest were in my view the on-line providers, that I find dubious.
I’ve also looked at my spam and note, there are quite a few payday loan companies trying to advertise using my site, but they have been stopped by the spam filter in WordPress.
A new search engine called Million Short has arrived on the Internet.
You search, just as you would with Google or your preferred search engine, but it cuts out a required number of results, like a million or a thousand, from the most used web sites.
Click here to try the search.
It might tell you something useful, but on the other hand it’s fun!