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Another downloading thread . . .

Old 03-26-07, 05:41 PM
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Another downloading thread . . .

Every couple of weeks we seem to debate whether or not downloading media is coming sooner rather than later and how that affects our future of collecting our beloved shiny discs. Anyway most seem to feel its years away. Then I read this today. Might be some interest to us.

IBM to unveil fast download technology
New chipset allows for quick transfer of video and data.

By Bob Keefe

WEST COAST CORRESPONDENT

Monday, March 26, 2007

SAN DIEGO It can take an hour or more to download a full-length feature movie from the Internet today. In the near future, it could take only a second.

IBM Corp. today plans to unveil a new type of processor technology it says can move data such as video at a superfast 160 gigabits per second.

At that rate, computers, televisions and TV set-top boxes could download high-definition video from the Web almost instantaneously and easily move it from one device to another on a home network. Businesses could transfer mountains of data without delays.

"What we've been able to do is pack an unprecedented amount of bandwidth into a little chip-like optical transceiver," IBM researcher Marc Taubenblatt said. "We think this could be cheap enough where TV vendors (and other electronics makers) could very easily" incorporate them into their devices.

The new IBM chipset, which will be revealed as a prototype at an industry trade show in Anaheim, Calif., could be years from hitting the market. Even then, it faces plenty of hurdles, not the least of which is compatibility with more traditional equipment in use today.

IBM isn't alone in searching for solutions to solve technological problems that are just beginning to surface as the use of video explodes on the Web and in home PCs.

"I think there's going to be a whole plethora of new equipment we're probably looking at in the next couple of years to help distribute video, make it work better and make sure you're watching at the highest quality possible," said Eve Griliches, an analyst with technology research firm IDC.

Some problems, such as poor quality and slow transfer rates, already are starting to occur as the Web's broadband "pipes" get increasingly clogged with space-hogging video, Griliches said.

As the volume of video on the Web continues to increase, problems could hamper the industry's growth potential, she added.

IBM's new chipset essentially relies on the technology behind fiber optics to move video and other data quickly.

Instead of using traditional hair-thin wires to transmit data with electrons, the new semiconductors use various polymer materials to move data with pulses of light.

As a result, IBM claims its new chipsets can transfer data at speeds more than eight times as quickly as similar optical components today.

And because they are are made using the same low-cost, high-volume semiconductor manufacturing techniques in use today, they can be produced quickly, relatively cheaply and in large volumes, Taubenblatt said.

Ironically, the new technology, developed in IBM's labs in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., wasn't originally intended for video and everyday consumer Web applications.

The company started working on it about four years ago as part of a project for DARPA, the Defense Department's research arm, which was looking for new ways to transfer large amounts of data more quickly.

Only after the recent surge in video usage on the Web did IBM researchers begin to consider adapting the technology for commercial applications too, Taubenblatt said.

"All the sudden we started looking at this and saying, 'Hey, this is going to be cheap, easy to build and could easily be used in a home network or high-definition TV,' " he said.

There's little doubt that Web-based video is becoming increasingly popular.

According to technology research company ComScore Inc., nearly 123 million U.S. residents about 70 percent of the country's Internet users viewed more than 7.2 billion videos online in January alone.

Most were short flicks from YouTube and other video-sharing sites, averaging about 2.6 minutes each, according to ComScore.

But media, technology and entertainment companies are increasingly betting that many consumers will want to get full-length movies, television shows, video games and other entertainment off the Web as the lines separating PCs and TVs continue to blur.

Just last Thursday, NBC Universal and Fox networks owner News Corp. announced they are teaming up with some of the biggest Web sites to distribute television shows, movie clips and other video online.

The new service, which also involves Time Warner Inc.'s AOL, Microsoft Corp.'s MSN, Yahoo and News Corp.'s MySpace, is scheduled to launch this summer.

Separately last week, Apple Inc. the current leader in movie and music downloads started shipping its long-awaited Apple TV device. The $300 gadget lets users wirelessly transfer video and music downloaded from the Internet and stored on computers to their television sets.

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Old 03-27-07, 07:40 AM
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But I want it now.
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Old 03-27-07, 08:58 AM
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I'm not going to hijack this thread but look at where movie downloading was ten years ago. Many movies were encoded using ASF which was the equivalent of a slightly bigger YouTube video. Legitimate on-demand downloading didn't exist outside of test markets and to download something the size of a DVD you often had to wait a couple of days. HD didn't exist. Movie sites selling movie downloads were limited and often had movies that were only public domain.

Fast forward to today: I've got three ways to actively download movies: through my cable box (Comcast, also HD), through my Xbox 360 (also in HD) and through my computer (I use Amazon Unbox but there's other services, iTunes etc).

Video on Demand is going to win if the studios can handle it properly. There is no doubt in my mind that VoD is ultimately more useful.

If you doubt VoD is the future, I urge you to find a place to demo Kaleidescape. Now, imagine a system like this in 10 years.

A lot of people have done this with music already. I know I barely ever handle CDs. I buy them, rip them, them store the discs. If I ever want to listen to the CD, I usually burn a CD to take with me and I don't need to worry about it scratching or anything. I keep notes, etc on each release in the computer in case I need to reference the album and for some reason I don't have an internet connection.

It'll happen with movies. At some point, your options are going to be to have a room in your house dedicated to store your 5000 HD/BD/DVD collection or to have a small box that either stores those movies and/or lets you access them. In ten years, 32-64TB of storage is not going to be out of the question.

I don't want to paint some idyllic 1950's-version-of-the-future were we can see the new Space Bond on our digital eyeless Neuro-projectors. I'm just speaking logically. if you had a service where you could see 10,000 movies on demand on HD, would you pay $30 a month for it?

I'm not saying people are going to stop buying whatever format we have for discs in the future. But those discs will go the way of the CD, which is slowly and surely dying. But it's a process that takes years, if not decades.
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Old 03-27-07, 07:07 PM
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CDs are dying because they are ridiculously overpriced. I don't download the music that I don't want to pay the asking price for, I just do without it. I'll go back to 8-tracks before being forced to download.
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