Nvidia Takes Cue from Star Trek
TAIPEI -- The future of wireless communications could be a world without mobile phones, where Wi-Fi signals pick up your voice commands from a chip-enabled lapel on your breast pocket, then Voice over Internet Protocol converts the voice signals to data and sends them across the Internet to powerful servers that identify the caller's voice and connect them immediately to the person they're trying to find.
The idea for such seamless voice communication isn't new. It's based on what was done in Star Trek, where most of the great technology ideas of today come from, said Jen-Hsun Huang, a Silicon Valley veteran and chief executive officer of Nvidia, during a speech at a Fabless Semiconductor Association meeting here on Wednesday.
Today's Tech Points the Way
It may seem odd for the head of one of the world's top graphics chip makers to forecast innovations in voice communications, but Huang said he was simply predicting possible innovations based on the technology available today, like Wi-Fi, VoIP and voice recognition software
Huang, who co-founded Nvidia in 1993, also predicted innovations in the graphics industry.
"In ten years, you won't see a difference between a video game and a movie," he said, after screening a film clip that showed how far computer graphics have come since his company opened.
Putting up a slide with a frame from one of the Spider Man movies, Huang said current technology requires a long time to render such a high quality graphic. But in a decade, such rendering will be done in real time, he said.
Powerful Chips Here
The chips required to handle such work would need billions of transistors. Nvidia sees its graphics processing units (GPU) crossing the 1 billion transistor mark around 2008, from just 302 million transistors in its latest GeForce 7 series GPUs, he said. By comparison, the company's first offering in 1993, the NV1, carried only 1 million transistors.
The number of transistors on an Nvidia GPU could grow to 5.4 billion by 2013, he said, but the chip industry needs to work on reducing the amount of power a chip needs in order to put that many transistors on one piece of silicon.
Cutting-edge chips with hundreds of millions of transistors are simply running too hot, he said. "We will have to create the devices to cool these chips," he added. There are several ways companies are reducing power leakage, such as using dual cores or using slower transistors, he said, adding he's confident the chip industry will continue to find new ways.