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A couple of weeks ago one of my oldest friends in the industry, Godfrey Cheng, announced his resignation from AMD. Godfrey came over from the ATI side of the house to be a Director of Technical Marketing for AMD's client technologies. In the past I worked with Godfrey on everything from All in Wonder to UVD to CrossFire. Today I just got word that Godfrey joined Rick Bergman, another ex-AMDer, at Synaptics as a VP of Marketing.

I never quite understood the move to Synaptics, even when Bergman made it, until Godfrey's call to me today. He brought up an interesting point. A couple of years ago I wrote about an internal AMD project to build a first-generation Holodeck by 2016. The project was spearheaded by another ex-AMDer, Carrell Killebrew. At the time I was focused mostly on the compute aspects of making it happen, but Godfrey and Bergman's move to Synaptics finally clicked with me today.

I was in an unrelated meeting earlier today where I was discussing an extremely compute intensive problem with an engineer. Much to my surprise, the engineer told me that the problem we were discussing didn't require more compute than we had available today - it just needed an unbelievable amount of memory. In other words, the innovation necessary to solve this particular problem was secondary to compute.

That brings me to the Holodeck and a recent trend in the sort of innovation we've seen in the computing industry. The hard computing problems will continue to be solved by the AMDs, Intels and NVIDIAs of the world, but they've done such a good job over the past decade that the auxiliary players will now need to start playing a bigger role. We've seen this with the rise in importance of display technologies, but I suspect that companies like Synaptics that build touch and human interface controllers will also have the opportunity to move into the spotlight. Whether or not they do is another question, but the need for better interface technologies will only increase in the coming years.

I'm sure Synaptics pays well enough to attract good folks from companies like AMD and elsewhere, but I have to believe that a a not insignificant part of Godfrey and Bergman's decisions were motivated by the potential for a company focused on the human interface side of the problem. 

Good luck and we'll be here to cover the progress.

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  • Sabresiberian - Saturday, April 21, 2012 - link

    The idea that "augmented glasses" could provide the sensory input of a true holodeck is dumb. A holodeck experience is far more than just what you see.

    What, are you going to go around room to room while you pretend you're in another world? Good luck not tripping over the kids' toys.

    If you want to get some decent ideas about what a "holodeck" type experience will really look like, read Tad Williams' "Otherland". Not only does it point out the limitations of glasses, it points to better solutions for movement than a large room you wonder around in. In any case, there are huge technological advancements to be made before that kind of experience can really be possible.

    That being said, research is being done in all of those areas, and it will become possible; it will be done.

    ;)
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