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IBM reveals vision of the next-generation PC

Posted: 08 Nov 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ibm? pc? ThinkVantage tools? RapidRestore? BlueBoard?

IBM Corp.'s Personal Computer Division previewed technologies intended to make PCs smarter and easier to maintain. The so-called "ThinkVantage" technologies are supposed to reduce the time and money required to configure, upgrade and repair PCs, the company said.

IBM said it wants to reverse the cost of ownership model for PCs, which today takes 20 percent of the cost to purchase a system and 80 percent of the ownership cost to maintain it. The current suite of ThinkVantage tools is a first step toward reversing that trend: RapidRestore will restore previously saved data and applications after a software failure; Embedded Security Subsystem helps protect data; Access Connections configures systems for wired or wireless communication; ImageUltra Builder, a toolkit, reduces the number of images stored on a PC; System Migration Assistant simplifies the transition from an old PC to a new one; and Access IBM automated service and support.

Other enabling technologies will involve the PC in collaborative computing. IBM's BlueBoard allows users to log on to a meeting and interact with projects by pointing and clicking on the PC screen, and dragging and dropping elements into another participant's mailbox. Other meeting participants are represented by photographs on the screen, which also serve as mailboxes. Early testing of the BlueBoards was conducted with NASA teams at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, with teams "handing off" crucial mission data to teams on the next shift using BlueBoard technology.

"We are about to make the technology available commercially," said Daniel M. Russell, senior manager of User Lab Computer Science at IBM's Almaden Research Center. "We are currently looking to test pilot more BlueBoards in a joint study between IBM and a company that has information-access needs that BlueBoard can satisfy."

IBM intends to extend the BlueBoard technology to eyeglasses that will be able to point to objects on a display for sharing with project collaborators.

Protection plans

IBM is pushing a PC-based fingerprint sensor technology that can authenticate users and all of their passwords under one security roof. The technology would free a user from remembering different passwords for each registered Web site or other password-protected areas within a company's systems. What's more, distributed wireless risk management software will enable IT departments to find rogue wireless access points - a common WLAN problem, with 30 percent of access points on a campus being unauthorized, according to statistics cited by IBM.

"What we are doing is extending the end-to-end scenario of doing e-business from the infrastructure to the PC," said Robert J.T. Morris, vice president of Personal Systems and Storage and director of the Almaden Research Center. "We have technologies cooking in our labs that are aimed at bringing this end-to-end scenario in place."

At the Monday tech review, Morris previewed one of the first fabricated Millipede chips that aim to replace disk drives when they become generally available in two to three years. "We are able to attain 400Gb/square-inch capacity on the Millipede," Morris said of the nanotechnology-based storage device. "That is the equivalent of 25 DVDs in the area of a postage stamp."

"Our entire ThinkVantage strategy is to provide the experience for users to use the technology in a transparent matter," said Morris. "The underlying technology base will be there, but it should be transparent to the average user."

- Nicolas Mokhoff

EE Times

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