February 06, 2006
Format Wars, Overseas Investment and Apple iPods
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on EDACafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor


by Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor
Posted anew every four weeks or so, the EDA WEEKLY delivers to its readers information concerning the latest happenings in the EDA industry, covering vendors, products, finances and new developments. Frequently, feature articles on selected public or private EDA companies are presented. Brought to you by EDACafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

The following formats are part of the specification:
  • BD-ROM - read-only format for software, games and movie distribution.
  • BD-R - recordable format for video recording and PC data storage.
  • BD-RE - rewritable format for video recording and PC data storage.
  • Both Blu-ray and HD DVD systems use the blue-violet laser which has a shorter wavelength that a red laser. This makes it possible to fir more data than on a CD or DVD even though it has the same physical size.


    The two approaches differ in terms of track pitch. Blu-ray has a tighter track pitch and consequently can hold more data than a HD DVD disc of the same size. This difference in pitch translates into a difference in pickup aperture - 0.85 for Blu-ray and 0.65 for HD DVD. This difference makes the two pickups technically incompatible. The larger aperture value means that Blu-ray will require less recording power and lower disc rotation speed to achieve the same transfer rate. Further the two disc have a different surface layers. HD DVD uses a 0.6mm thick layer which is the same as the DVD. Blu-ray, on the other hand, has a much smaller 0.1mm layer to help enable the laser to focus its
    aperture.


    A DVD has a capacity of 4.7GB and can hold about 2 hours of standard definition (SD) television images.


    Type Single Layer Double Layer
    Blu-ray 25GB 54GB
    HD-DVD 15GB 30GB

    Since history has consistently shown that content will expand to fit available space, Blu-ray with its larger capacity should be the winner. However, there are additional factors, namely costs. HD-DVD is seen more as an extension of DVD rather than a technological revolution. It uses the same physical disc structure as the DVD. Supporters of HD-DVD claim that this will keep initial investment low for disc replication and media manufacturing operation to modify existing production equipment used to create the discs. Further a special coating must be applied to protect the 0.1mm surface layer of the Blu-ray Discs. The consumer price for Blu-ray recorders and the discs themselves will be
    higher than the HD-DVD version.


    On December 16th HP, who is a member of the Blu-ray group, announced it will also support the HD-DVD high-definition DVD format and join the HD-DVD Promotions Group. HP had requested that the Blu-ray Disc Association adopt two customer-friendly technologies, Mandatory Managed Copy and iHD, which are already included in the HD-DVD format. Only the former was adopted.


    There is little likelihood that one side will unilaterally withdraw from the marketplace for the greater good. Too much has been invested and the revenue opportunity at stake is too great for such a grand gesture. Also there is no organization in place that can dictate a solution.


    None of the firms mentioned above are EDA companies but they are among the largest end users of EDA tools. Moreover, there are lessons to be learned that can applied to the EDA arena. Being first and/or having superior technology, format or specification is not a guarantee of success. To ensure widespread adoption it is better to be open than to be proprietary. One needs to form alliances even with existing or potential competitors to promote adoption of what you have to offer even if you have to donate it to the alliance. If you developed it, you will have an advantage through that experience that others will not. There are a number of alliances and consortiums in the EDA arena.


    Salesforce.com Oops!


    In earlier columns I have covered Software as a Service (SaaS) as an alternative to traditional sale and delivery model of software wherein a vendor hosts their software modules and client access them through an Internet or Intranet. Salesforce.com is best the best known SaaS provider. The firm offers Customer Relationship Management (CRM). According to their latest report they have 18,700 clients. Unfortunately, Salesforce.com had a 5 hour disruption of service on December 20th and several slowdowns near the peak demand at the end of the month. What is an acceptable level of accessibility? Stated another way, what is an acceptable level of downtime?


    %

    Accessible
    Days

    Accessible
    Days

    Down
    Hrs

    Down
    Mins

    Down
    99 361 4 96 5760
    99.9 364.6 0.4 9.6 576
    99.99 364.96 0.04 0.096 5.76
    99.999 364.996 0.004 0.0096 0.576

    According to Murphy's Law any disruption will come as the worst possible time. Add to this the fact that it seems to be human nature to wait to the last possible minute to do something. This means that user demand will not be evenly spread over a given time period but will have significant peaks such as month end, quarter end and year end.


    The cost for the vendor to provide greater accessibility, approaching 100%, is considerable. Think of redundant systems. What is the benefit to the clients and how much extra would they be willing to pay to add another decimal place? Of course, if one relies totally on internal IT resources, there is no guarantee that the accessibility will be any higher or even as high.


    How much will concern over potential outages impact the growth of SaaS and Salesforce.com in particular? Many customer and prospects particular small firms may not have a reasonable alternative if they wish to use CRM capabilities.


    Apple


    In a recent editorial I commented about customer electronics becoming a primary driver in the semiconductor industry and about the convergence of many devices into multifunctional platforms. As evidence of this trend consider Apple. On January 18th Apple announced financial results for its fiscal 2006 first quarter ended December 31, 2005, reporting the highest revenue and earnings in the Company's history. Apple posted revenue of $5.75 billion and a net quarterly profit of $565 million.


    1Q06

    Units K
    RevM 1Q05

    Units K
    RevM Delta

    Units K
    RevM
    Desktops 667 $912 623 $1,001 7.1% -8.9%
    Portables 587 $812 423 $604 38.8% 34.4%
    CPU Total 1,254 $1,724 1,046 $1,605 19.9% 7.4%
                 
    iPod 14,046 $2,906 4,580 1,211 206.7% 140.0%
    Other Music   $491   $177   177.4%
    Peripherals   $303   $284   6.7%
    Sw/Service   $325   $213   52.6%
        $4,025   $1,885   113.5%
                 
    Total   $5,749   $3,490   64.7%
    Table Apple's Financial Results for 1QF2006


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    -- Jack Horgan, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.


    Reviews:
    Review Article
    • October 09, 2008
      Reviewed by 'RichardP'
      The Format Wars was an interesting article in the recent EDAWeekly but compared to its length it didn't say too much new and did not take the conclusions far enough. The EDA angle at the end came accross as vaguely relevant but a bit too artificial. The large number of typos and grammatical mistakes was disappointing. Sometimes engineers are reputed to be not good communicators and unfortunately, sometimes it is true but anybody in the technical profession who was involved with design and worked with or written specifications can attest to the importance of correct language use in the technical field. In case of journalists, it is their bread and butter and the readers' expectations are high by definition.
      The Format Wars article had plenty of potential and strong relevance to our industry. Unfortunately, it somehow wasn't up to the high standard we accustomed to have in EDAWeekly.
      Richard

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