June 20, 2013

Work from Home

Posted by Scott at 06:23 AM

I needed to work from home yesterday. It just made a few things easier. Still… the weather outside yesterday with sunshine and mild temperatures made it a nice day to do so.

First thing: I needed to drop Claire and the twins off at school. This past week Abby has been taking the bus, but the third car, Pearl, was going in for its annual NH inspection. Once I got the kids to school, I swung over to the mechanic and picked up Michelle who had dropped off Pearl there.

Second: As a result of a recent visit to his general physician, Timothy had a chest x-ray to review how his spine was progressing since his last check as a young boy. It's been half a dozen years or so and it was time to review. So Michelle and I took him to the new Dartmouth-Hitchcock facility at exit 8. There is more curvature but not concerning. He's still considerably away from a point where intervention is called for. Since it was an 8:45 appointment, we still got him back to school in time to do most of his day.

As we were wrapping up at the hospital, we got a call from the mechanic. The car would not pass inspection without a few items, but most notably, Pearl needed a new wheel bearing on the front driver side. That might explain a noise Michelle was telling me that she and Claire were hearing. Ugh! Wheel bearing replacement is never cheap.

Because Timothy's appointment was early, we got back home at a reasonable time so I could get back to work. I had a difficult assignment to debug. Later in the morning Michelle went to pick up Claire early from school. Around 12:30 I took both of out for some lunch at Cafe on the Oval. And as usual on our way back we stopped by Donut Fresh Express to pick up some iced coffees.

While getting deep into some new code that I had not seen in our previous generation of GPUs, I kept getting emails about the tech media's positive response to our newest chip, the SnapDragon 800, featuring our Adreno 330 GPU. This site said:

“Next, we’re testing the graphics capabilities of the Snapdragon 800, and just like Qualcomm predicted, it offers about 50% more performance than today’s fastest smartphones (!). Many will be surprised that Snapdragon 800 scores a clear win against NVIDIA’s Tegra 4 in GLBenchmark 2.5”

while another said:

“On the GPU side, we have a new king. Adreno 330 delivers huge performance improvements over Adreno 320 and everything else we've tested thus far.”

There's also articles from Engadget: Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MDP benchmarks: prepare for ludicrous speed and Ars Technica's Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 benchmarked, sports extremely fast GPU and CNET's Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 incinerates the competition.

The hard part for me is the latency between when we finish a design and when it sees public consumer parts. In my ATI desktop graphics days it was less than a year. But there you're only talking about something that will be on a card to drop into a PC. When you're talking about mobile phones, the certification process by the phone OEMs, the carriers, and FCC adds much more delay. I haven't given much thought about the Adreno 330 since we've been long done with its development and my usual focus is on the Adreno 400 and 500 series designs. So it's weird for me to think of the 330 as "new".

Among my peers a funny news item was going around. It turns out that if you type "the xbox one is" into Google, the auto-completion of common searches shows "terrible", "ugly", "a joke", and "not backward compatible". Meanwhile if you type the same search into Microsoft's Bing search engine, the only response you seem to get is "amazing". Not that Bing would be biased in any way.

The Xbox One is

Because of the difficulty of the bug I'd mentioned I was working on, I worked past 7:30. As we get this close to the first day of summer, it's deceiving because of how long the sun is up. When I wrapped things up, Claire, the boys, and I watched a couple of episodes of season two of Duck Dynasty on DVD. We especially liked the episode where the daughter Sadie had a timeout from using her cell phone because of an expensive bill due to text'ing surcharges. Sounds like someone I know here who has handled about 4000 text messages in the past 24 days.

I think back to my days at ARC. We had an engineer from the U.K. headquarters stay with us for several weeks and he would periodically text his girlfriend back home. I was wondering at the time if text'ing would ever become popular here. It had been available for a while but had seen no uptake. I think the slider style phone was needed before it became mainstream in the US. Phones like the iPhone also helped make it common.

I sent the boys to bed and did the same. I set my phone's Audible app on a sleep timer to play 15 minutes of my current audiobook. As I dozed off, Michelle returned from a visit to a friend who helped her with her medical power of attorney. Filling that out has been a difficult thing to deal with. It brings up too many scenarios that are hard to talk about. "Well, what if…" I pray we wouldn't need to use it for a long, long time.