Future Of Computing

The increased use of multimedia in business
applications is driven primarily by the growth and maturity of Electronic Marketplaces
(EMs). EMs have come as an alternative to reach new customers and open new markets with
minimal increase in fixed and operational cost. During the next few years, as more goods
and services are purchased through EMs, customers will begin to expect immediate answers
to their queries regarding a product’s price, availability, and shipping dates. If
customers are not happy with the responses they get, they will like to be presented with
immediate alternatives.

A new paradigm, e-business will enable the
execution of real-time business processes, both hard and soft transactions, with the
assistance of Internet technologies. What’s behind the excitement over e-business is the
potential to re-evaluate and transform core business processes such as manufacturing,
marketing, sales, accounting, and customer service in light of Internet connectivity,
within a business, between businesses, and between businesses and consumers. Deploying
e-business systems is about removing geographic and time barriers; it’s about streamlining
business processes to reduce overheads and increase the speed of execution. This will
allow companies to conduct virtual transactions and create new ways of delivering value
and service to customers. Most importantly, it’s about gaining competitive advantage.

Ecommerce is not new. It has been around
for over 20 years. It originated in what is known as electronic data exchange. But due to
the exorbitant cost factor and the proprietary nature, its use remained confined to large
companies and financial institutions. This typically involved the batch or the bulk
transfer of data from one proprietary system to the other, and it required the use of
expensive, value-added proprietary networks. What is new is the pervading availability of
the Internet. It is this that promises to change the landscape and provide possibility of
a great equalizer for ecommerce. With the availability of the Internet, we see a
transition from ecommerce to Internet commerce. The other noticeable trend over the years
has been the growth of connected PCs. The process of networked PCs has been speeded up by
the pervasiveness of Internet, the international global universal network. It would not be
out of place to state that in the future all computing will be networked computing. And
that computing without becoming part of this global network, the Internet, will cease to
exist. A look at the number of PCs, at home and at businesses, with Internet connection
illustrates this. The numbers have been growing steadily and the projections indicate that
by the year 2000, 150 million PCs around the world will be connected through this network.
Given this, one can say, with reasonable assurance, that in the next decade we would see a
community of about a billion computers that will send and receive messages to and from all
other computers connected to this network. But again, in order to reach the benefits of
this connected universe, you have to be connected. This implies being connected in every
country and in every office and in as many homes as possible. Internet commerce, by
reducing the minimum economic scale required for the deployment of ecommerce, allows small
companies to become part of the electronic community. Besides, it allows for real-time
matching of buyers and sellers on the Internet. And consequently, it reduces the cost of
infrastructure and business processes involved.
The key benefit of ecommerce is twofold. On one hand, it reduces the cost of sales and
distribution for the sellers. And on the other, due to the ease with which one is able to
do shopping sitting in front of the computer screen-switching between several vendors,
evaluating various quotations-it turns buyers, both commercial and individual, into more
efficient purchasers.However, in order to do these from desktop, one needs PCs which are
powerful machines, since all of these will be visual computing. There will be more and
more screen-based computing and communication. Sufficient bandwidth to the PC to transfer
multimedia data is still a luxury. This data has to compressed to a size that can be
effectively transferred on the bandwidth available. All compression activity is
MIPS-intensive. The receiving PC has to decompress the information and also playback
content seamlessly. Enhanced multimedia software performance, requires not only good
processor performance but also platform performance. The general platform bottlenecks are
the throughput of the L2 cache and also the local bus performance (as shown in the
figure). This has been resolved with the implementation of DIB (Dual Independent Bus
architecture) as shown in the figure. Over the years we have seen local buses like ISA,
PCI, and the latest being AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port). PCI raised the performance of
the local bus to 132 Mbps, this was not enough because a number of devices like network
card, graphics card, and HDD card shared the same bus. This led to degradation of graphics
and video performance since the PCI bandwidth was not sufficient. There was need for a
dedicated bus to support the needs of high quality graphics performance. A consortium of
companies, of which Intel was a part, defined the AGP specification and established a new
standard to raise bar in graphics performance for the high-volume desktop PC.The new
platform with Pentium II processor and motherboard with support for AGP-enabled graphics
cards, will support business applications like video and data conferencing, 3D data
visualization, and good network throughput. These applications will change the paradigm of
doing business. Businesses which will hook their PCs on the Internet will be able to reach
a billion consumers and other businesses in a decade. I am sure that business will have
focussed strategies for this new geography. Today, with tens of millions of powerful,
Internet-ready PCs connecting businesses, the very fabric of business is being radically
transformed. With this, the way of carrying mundane tasks over the desktop too will
change. Moving back and forth from images, text, and sound while making business or
purchase decisions, and all in real time, will no longer seem difficult. It will simply
come to be accepted as ‘the’ way of doing business.

Shrikant Patil,
Multimedia Program Manager, Intel

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