My Thoughts on Hardware


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  1. sic4672

    sic4672 Well-Known Member This Topic's Starter

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    Before I begin, a little background:

    While I was in school, I had decided that I wanted to work in the silicon design and fabrication industry. I specialized in device theory and design as much as possible hoping to work for one of the big chip designers after I graduated. Unfortunately not everything we plan in life comes to pass. Don't get me wrong, I love my job and I am very thankful for what I do; however, my passion still lies in silicon. I am a computer enthusiast and love to build my own systems and tinker with most electronics. I have been following the mobile industry for a little over a year now, and there is an issue on which I would like to comment. Many praise the industry for its current direction, but I feel they are taking huge steps backwards. Now onto my soapbox...

    For many years, I have built and upgraded my desktop computer. I have been able to make my desktop last for many years longer than most people keep a computer by upgrading key components to keep up with technology. People today seem more inclined to buy laptops. I can understand this because I own a laptop as well for portability and light web browsing. The problem I have with my laptop is that it is virtually impossible to upgrade. Sure I can add more memory or a new hard drive, but those upgrades will only take you so far. To truly see improvements in my computing experience I will have to buy an entirely new laptop.

    This brings me to the mobile industry. Phones today are becoming as important as, if not more so than, standard computers. Phones are very personal and people carry them everywhere. I actually feel very naked without my phone. Hardware advancements in the mobile sector have been growing in leaps and bounds over many other areas. A phone feels like a relic only two years after it has been released! I am still amazed when I think back to what was considered top of the line even last year compared to today.

    Unfortunately for anyone who likes to stay on the cutting edge of technology, or even just try to keep current for that matter, this rapid development becomes disheartening. As soon as our dream phone is released, another phone is announced or rumored that makes us forget what we had been pining over just a few days ago. This is an endless endeavor that can get very depressing, unless you have much more money than you need.

    Now imagine if you could simply open your phone and drop in RAM, or even replace the SoC in your phone. You could keep current with only a little effort and much less money. The OS would only need updated drivers that conform to the same API calls that existed in the previous driver, or a simple OS update to access additional functionality of the new drivers. This would be very similar to current desktops that can have new hardware added and replaced with little more than a software update needed to be up and rolling.

    I am not naive, however, so I know this will only be a pipe dream for me and other like minded enthusiasts. The technology industry is ecstatic that people favor laptops over desktops since much more money is made from a brand new system than by selling replacement parts or upgrades. The mobile sector is no different. A company would rather make money from customers buying complete systems then lose revenue to third party hardware makers (see apple as a prime example). People applaud companies for making "tightly integrated" products that are more consumer friendly. This may be better for the average consumer who does not want to use his/her brain and the companies who produce the hardware and software, but many tech savvy people are left in the cold. Buy the newest product or get left behind. Every mobile company is moving toward tight hardware and software integration with little to no flexibility for future hardware improvements. Everybody believes this paradigm shift will lead to a new and improved future in user experience, but I fear it is the beginning of the end for power users and enthusiasts.

    I cannot blame the industry for taking this path. These businesses exist to make money. They will produce what consumers desire so they can be successful and profitable. I also don
     

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  2. MikeMcG

    MikeMcG Well-Known Member

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    Very well written. I like your ideas, but like you, don't see it happening anytime soon. I guess I'll just have to keep buying phones evey few months....:)
     
  3. deman89

    deman89 Well-Known Member

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    Wow! Great idea sir, I would buy into this in a heartbeat this way I could pick my phone for the form factor and add my own faster processor and more ram along the road!
     
  4. sic4672

    sic4672 Well-Known Member This Topic's Starter

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    Thank you for your kind words and support. I know it's a fairy tale land, but we can dream cant we?
     
  5. mrqs

    mrqs Well-Known Member

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    there are technical problems beyond the current situation simply being more favorable for manufacturers:

    the physical:
    there isn't much space to play around with inside a mobile phone, so for them to be upgradable like desktop computers, the layouts would need to be seriously unified
    also, making a component relatively easy to detach and reattach requires additional adapters, which take up more precious space

    the immaterial:
    all the devices would have to support an ever increasing plethora of components, which means devs would be forever coding new drivers, most of which would inevitably have loads of bugs (they seem to have a hard enough time getting stuff to work on a single unified platform)




    that said, i don't think picking a form factor and specs separately is just a pipe dream
    printable electronics aren't that far from commercial viability, and when they come along i can easily see different hardware specs available for the same phone model, plus the ability to swap the inside (tho' probably only fully, not piece by piece as it is with desktop computers atm)
     
  6. sic4672

    sic4672 Well-Known Member This Topic's Starter

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    Thank you for your feedback. I agree that the physical dimensions would make internal upgrades difficult. I know everyone wants a paper thin phone, but I would be willing to accept a slightly thicker model if I could upgrade the hardware. SoC and RAM sockets would not take too much space so I think the extra bulk would be worth the hardware options.

    I'm not sure that I agree with the idea of devs constantly updating drivers for their programs. As long as the driver support is handled in the API for android, why would the developer need to concern him/herself with hardware support? I'm sure it would affect the user by limiting the more advanced applications that could be used with the phone, and it would cause the entire mobile environment to change from its current form. I personally don't like how closed and focused the entire philosophy of mobile development has become. Like I mentioned, the industry and consumers love it because it is very profitable for businesses and no thought required for consumers. The enthusiasts, the ones that have a true passion for the technology, are the ones about who no one seems to care.

    I don't think this change will ever occur, but I still like to imagine the possibilities.
     
  7. mrqs

    mrqs Well-Known Member

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    i didn't mean the average app dev, but developers working for google and the phone manufacturers

    every product in every industry (be it phone-, car-, music-, movie-...) is ultimately made to make money.
    "the enthusiast" is a tiny niche minority in every industry.
    hence, the people that care the most about the industry - the ones with the most passion about it - are the ones who are ignored

    some would say i'm being cynical, but i honestly believe i'm being a realist
     
  8. sic4672

    sic4672 Well-Known Member This Topic's Starter

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    Ah, I understand now. Yes they certainly would have more work and we would see more frequent software updates. Again another reason it is a dream.
     
  9. sensesfail99

    sensesfail99 Well-Known Member

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    +1 rep for thread starter
     
  10. sic4672

    sic4672 Well-Known Member This Topic's Starter

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    Thank you.
     
  11. 5thElement

    5thElement Banned

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    Never going to happen. who is this going to adhere to? A whole 10 people in the world...
     
  12. aldin.aldis

    aldin.aldis New Member

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    Just use any of the major job sites (careerbuilder, hotjobs, monster, dice, craigslist), and you can search for hardware engineering jobs in Portland. It's pretty easy.
     
  13. mrqs

    mrqs Well-Known Member

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    you don't really see this outside of a tech forum :)
     
  14. yojoe600

    yojoe600 Well-Known Member

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    haha ^ true and that was a good read my friend... didnt know smart people came from new bern :)
     

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