Windows 10 is in the news continually with impressive features like Cortana as your personal digital assistant founded on deep, machine learning where computers mimic the brain’s neural networks, which is a testimony of the rapid progression in AI. We see this as an idea in the movie “Her”, but it is increasingly becoming a reality. Bill Gates cemented this thought in his recent Reddit hosted AMA, “The idea that you have to find applications and pick them and they each are trying to tell you what is new is just not the efficient model, the agent will help solve this.”
Project Spartan is an all-new browser where you can write directly on webpages, read articles distraction-free and save your favorites for offline reading. There are Universal Apps, including Office and one exciting transformational technology which overlays your world with holograms through Microsoft’s self-contained HoloLens augmented reality head-mounted display, with its own processor. As examples, HoloLens allows seamless augmented reality with a photo realistic Martian landscape where you can use your fingers and voice to interact with the environment. The interaction is so effective that NASA will use it to work with their Mars rovers with scientists appearing as avatars.
This now brings me to Roy. With his background, I wanted his take on all the techno-buzz and its impact on the enterprise. Roy brings a long history of highly successful innovation, entrepreneurship and strong leadership with AMD, Rightware, NVIDIA; as founder of Addtron working with semiconductor leaders such as Aureal, IBM Microelectronics, NEC, Nexgen.
He has a very good perspective of technologies to watch so here is my chat with Roy.
Q: Can you talk about your role change with AMD and what you will accomplish in the next several years?
A: “Leading the Global Channel Sales team and efforts has been an amazing journey; working closely with our customers and end users has always been a passion of mine. But the idea of working closely with industry giants like Microsoft and Google and also games publishers and developers, whose impact on how we reshape the PC ecosystem is tremendous, is an exhilarating one.”
Q: Why are you excited about Windows 10 – can you get into specifics?
A: “I am a huge fan of Windows 10 and have been using the Tech preview version for some months. I think that Microsoft has done a really incredible job of integrating a seamless experience for smartphone to tablet to notebook to desktop. I will be buying my first Windows phone when Windows 10 versions are available.”
Q: What are the benefits of DirectX12?
A: “I’m super excited about DX12 for a number of reasons, mainly because it embraces multi-threading in a way that developers have been asking about for years. Its low overhead nature will unlock graphics performance in a way we haven’t seen before, much like our own Mantle. DX12 games will perform better on a wider range of hardware, making a great experience possible for more people.”
Q: Why is 2015 the year for virtual reality?
A: “By the end of this year I believe we will see consumer versions of HMD’s (Head Mounted Displays) widely available. So far Oculus has done an amazing job with the beta/developer HMD versions DK1 and DK2 and they have proved amazingly popular. Once we see retail/e-tail availability of consumer HMD’s I think we will see the start of a new industry.
At the same time AMD is solving many of the issues for VR, specifically the need to deliver 2k per eye at 90fps with <10ms latency and so the desktop PC needed for a great experience will be available too. Combine comfortable consumer headsets with AMD tech and VR really gets started.”
Q: How is security a key area for 2015?
A: “Our robust security solutions – currently available on select AMD APUs and coming soon to new generations of AMD processors – merge a comprehensive ecosystem of hardware and software, building in trust from the start. Through a built-in platform security processor (PSP) that enables ARM TrustZone to partition the processing of sensitive data, we help ensure a secure platform for service and content.
By implementing a hardware security platform in this manner AMD not only gains a relatively quick turnaround time on the hardware, but on the software side too. AMD is specifically looking to leverage existing ARM applications for their tablet ambitions by taking advantage of the fact that existing TrustZone application cores can easily (if not directly) be ported over to AMD’s APUs. Developers would still need to put in some effort to write the necessary x86 frontends (in all likelihood written in scratch for Win8 as opposed to any kind of Android), but the hard part of implementing and validating the TrustZone functionality would simply carry over, leaving the new x86 frontend to talk to the existing ARM TrustZone application core. AMD isn’t in any position to talk about specific software yet, but we’re told that they’ve been working with select software partners even before this announcement in order to get a jump on developing applications.”
Q: Tell me more about Wi-Fi personal identification, CAC, tap to pay, NFC?
A: “Also known as wireless PIV-I (Personal Identification) or CAC (Common Access Card), this is a system whereby any employee can easily access data using an identity badge or credit card by ‘tapping’ a screen. This will save users entering forms or remembering passwords or credit card numbers. Combined with biometric face detection the combination will be fast and very easy but also secure.
We all want simplicity but we all also want to be safe with our identity and security. I am personally very excited about developments here.”
Q: What are you doing in the 4K and streaming space?
A: “I have had a 4K monitor from Asus for 6 months and couldn’t imagine going back to a lower resolution. 4K gaming is just beautiful. 4K TV is the same. At AMD we focus strongly on 4k and are already working on 5K and 8K for the future. Our drivers and our GPU’s are optimized for higher resolutions; for example, we use wider memory bus widths and offer more options for larger frame buffers. In fact for 4K our GPU’s beat NVIDIA’s in most games most of the time.
For streaming we are working hard on HEVC (H.265), the new CODEC standard. For example, our next generation APU’s have hardware accelerated HEVC. We are working with the major streaming companies in Hollywood and will have some exciting announcements this summer. HEVC allows either reduced bandwidth for 1080P or support for 4K and this will be great for consumers everywhere.”
Q: What about other innovations with media?
A: “Without doubt, VR movies are creating a real buzz in Hollywood. The announcement by Oculus of their new VR movie studio got a lot of attention. But VR will bring challenges to the storytelling medium as directors will need to find innovative new ways to hold the viewers’ attention. At the same time, the interactivity of the medium will also open up new possibilities. We are working with BAFTA and some of the leading producers and directors right now and will have more to share on this later in the year.”
Q: What is the future of immersion reality and post VR world?
A: “If VR is a sign of things to come in how we consume content (and it clearly is), you can probably expect the fidelity to increase, the ease of consumption to increase, and become completely independent of location. Current VR devices require a few cables to be connected to a powerful PC to play a game. Imagine where these boundaries don’t exist anymore, and you’ll be able to consume content at extreme resolutions without something bulky on your head.”
Q: You are in many parts of the world. What are the pros and cons of each region, including Asia?
A: “This question could cover a range of answers from business to tech adoption to cultural. Let me assume to answer on the basis of technology adoption since many of the questions above are about this. In America we see fast adoption of new technology with a great tolerance for beta experiences. That’s wonderful for a tech company, although it perhaps encourages us to go public earlier than might always be wisest. In Europe consumers tend to be more skeptical and they can be demanding for companies who are sometimes unready for a fast ramp of something successful. Asia is slower to pick up new technology but tolerant of changes and once adopted volumes can become very large quite quickly.”
Q: What are your broader top 5 predictions for the next five years?
A: “First, VR is going to be a huge success. It will mutate and change and take us to new places and deliver new experiences but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind it will be an enormous new industry. Second, AR (augmented reality) will also be successful but to a lesser extent as we have to learn to meld the real world with overlays. I feel the challenges here (legal, physiological and technical), will be a little harder than with VR. Third, we are going to have drones enter every aspect of our lives both good and bad. They are going to get larger, smaller, faster, more accurate and cheaper. Whether they become a nuisance that we learn to hate or a blessing we cannot live without is going to be interesting. Fourth, we are seeing the beginning of a ‘world without wires’ – the new WWW. Wireless charging, combined with gigabit wireless connectivity and seamless experiences for IoT means that cables are going to increasingly seem very old fashioned. Last, I believe that Windows 10 is going to teach us about seamlessness. The integration of voice interaction, maps, calendar management, travel, search, productivity and entertainment is going to delight us but also bind us. This isn’t getting much attention now but I believe it will be a big deal in the next 5 years.”
Q: You are an authority in media, please provide your top 5 predictions.
A: “First, that we will see a new understanding that humans have a deep and abiding love of storytelling and that movies and TV shows meet that experience but the medium is not the message. By that I mean that streaming is going to rise and rise and rise. The enormous success of Popcorn Time should have the attention of everyone in media. Second, that good reporting trumps the medium. The Economist has shown that excellence in journalism can still sell at the news stand. I predict that we will see a rise in high quality reporting that transcends gossip as news we see so much of today, because quite simply it sells. Third, that cheap HD cameras with high bandwidth wireless connectivity will give us access to more content, more of the time, in real time. Media companies will have low cost access to a new volume of content that they hardly seem prepared for. It is coming. Fourth, that users as reviewers with aggregated viewpoints will bring a new kind of product analysis. Instead of sampling ‘personalities’ with new products for review, companies will start to sample widely to selected end users and then aggregate the reviews. Fifth and last, that it will become increasingly difficult for companies to hide product deficiencies in any way shape or form and this is a very good thing.”
Q: How can executives act on your predictions?
A: “By paying attention. Most executives I meet are so busy hitting their numbers and making sure of the current quarter that often times the chances for some horizon thinking and planning are missed. It is difficult when we are all so starved of time to remember the importance of planning and taking time to think but the best companies do just that.”
Q: As a successful senior technology executive, what are your best leadership lessons that can be used by executives?
A: “Book time with yourself to think. Multitasking is a great skill but your brain needs some time away from the everyday to think about problem solving and planning. Spend more time on culture and surround yourself with good people. And pay them. Don’t scrimp on good people, the ROI on the top 10% of performers works, just look at football. Last, take time to read, I am shocked at how many leaders say they are too busy to read. That’s the same as saying you are too busy to exercise. Make time.”
Q: Do you feel computing should be a recognized profession on par with accounting, medicine and law with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, personal responsibility, public accountability, quality assurance and recognized credentials? [See http://www.ipthree.org and the Global Industry Council, http://www.ipthree.org/about-ip3/global-advisory-council]
Q: You have many interests. Can you talk further as a Hollywood producer, writer?
A: “Yes with pleasure. I am co-producing a movie called ‘The Proxy’ based on a real life conversation I had with a top Silicon Valley executive some time ago. The script is now finished, it was written by Nick Lyon (a good friend) and we have our first reading coming up in a couple of weeks with some very talented young actors and actresses. It is an exciting project and I am thrilled to be getting great support and advice from the folks at BAFTA and locally in Hollywood.”