Electronic Design

What's Hot At Comdex

It's another show of refinements as novel technologies are combined to create products for the consumer. At Comdex, change is in the air for desktops with the announcement that VIA and Maxtor will enable Serial ATA/RAID integration with AMD's Athlon 64 processor. VIA will show off its K8T800 chip set with native SATA RAID support, while Maxtor will unveil DiamondMax and MaXLine Serial ATA (SATA) hard drives.

Software will be front and center as well, with keynotes from Bill Gates of Microsoft and Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems. Expect both to highlight their thoughts about open-source software, which will be in abundance at the show. That little Linux penguin seems to be popping up all over, although you may have to look under the hood to find it. There's even an Open Source and Linux Conference within Comdex addressing topics like "Choosing an Open Source Partner," "Open Source 101," and "Running your Business on Linux: Is it Safe?" A Power Panel moderated by Tim O'Reilly, president and CEO of O'Reilly Publishing, should prove interesting. It's open to everyone. Also keep an eye out for a number of successful open-source vendors like MySQL AB with its open-source database server and new graphical MySQL Control Center.

Windows will be getting a good deal of attention with the Windows 2003 Server being shown on high-end hardware. The Windows Platform Conference will be highlighting .Net and other software packages like SQL Server 2003. Expect to see Windows CE.Net out in force combined with a host of handheld devices, including products like Viewsonic's Tablet PC V1100 with a 10.4-in. display. The tablet has yet to move from the vertical market to the general populace, but better hardware and improved software may change minds. The V1100 runs a pen-enabled version of Windows XP.

Expect to see a few 64-bit systems on the pedestals. Intel's Itanium and hyperthreading Pentium 4 will be taking on AMD's new Opteron and Athlon 64. Take a look under the covers to find 32- and 64-bit MCUs from the likes of ARM and MIPS. Broadcom will have a number of communications-oriented MCUs, while Infineon will present a range of products that include wireless devices.

Wireless and automotive telematics continue to be important with hands-on demonstrations in many booths. Bluetooth is finally real, but 802.11 products will rule the roost. Wireless security is on the docket, and the whole issue of secure computing, from spam and viruses to identity management, is scheduled for the Security Conference.

Imaging and storage products will be on display, with discrete items like Benq's new DVD-RW drive and a host of SATA drives. American Megatrends will be showing off a number of NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices including the StorTrends 2104, a 1U system with support for up to four hard drives, a Pentium 4 CPU, and dual Gbit Ethernet. It comes bundled with StorTrends 2.1 NAS Software for Linux. Dell will also have a full line of products that range from the PowerVault NAS storage, a line of all-in-one printer/scanner/copiers, to desktop PCs with 20.1-in. LCD displays.

Large, high-definition, flat-screen displays will be everywhere, either new to the market themselves or showing off other products. Check out the NEC-Mitsubishi Electronics Display booth for some eye-catching videos. The new line of XGA plasma displays tops out at $19,995 for the 61-in. 61XM2. The line of displays can be configured into a large 2-by-2 or 3-by-3 matrix without the need for an external processor. NEC's Advanced AccuBlend scaling technology delivers precise presentation of 4:3 and 16:9 content.

Portable projectors continue to garner interest for business and in the home. Home-projection systems are becoming smaller and easier to set up, and prices are dropping.

If searching is a subject to see, then check out Google's own GB-5005 Search Appliance. This rack-mount system with multiple GB-1001 1U engines searches up to 3 million documents at a rate of 150 queries per minute.

As usual, a good deal of action will take place off the show floor. You may need a press pass or need to know one of the vendors, but events like [email protected]'s (www.patmeier.com) and ShowStoppers (www.showstoppers.com) will unveil a few products that won't be on the show floor until next year.

Even though Comdex may be hard pressed to return to its glory days, it's not a show to miss.

Comdex Las Vegas 2003

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