Hewlett-Packard reveals its Utopian vision of 'planetary scale computing'

Hewlett-Packard used the Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany as a platform to air its Utopian vision of a world where IT is...

Hewlett-Packard used the Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany as a platform to air its Utopian vision of a world where IT is seamlessly available to people in both the developed and the developing worlds: a world in which people everywhere can access services, information and entertainment wherever they go, writes Eric Doyle.

Per-Kristian Halvorsen, director of the Solutions and Services Centre at HP Labs, described how the company is working to create "planetary scale computing" where giant facilities would have the capability to supply virtually limitless processing power whenever and wherever it is needed, in a manner similar to that in which utility companies deliver water and energy.

Halvorsen said extending the benefits of technology to a wider cross-section of society is an essential part of HP's future plans. "We are, for instance, researching the feasibility of a simple person-to-person, multimedia access device for use in developing countries which is inexpensive, easy to use and close to indestructible," he said. "As with all our research, we are starting with the end-user, understanding their needs, as well as language and other barriers to using technology."

Halvorsen also described HP's research in molecular electronics, which could one day lead to the development of computers the size of a speck of dust.

Away from its future visions, HP's stand at Cebit, featured a versatile DVD recorder that can work with rewritable DVDs or CDs. The DVD200 drive includes an edit-on-disc capability that allows changes to be made directly to disc without going to the hard drive first. Video editing and data-storage software to support this feature is included with the drive

"Consumers will use them for creating and editing home videos from their VCR or camcorder, while business users are likely to use it for back-up or archiving," explained Christine Roby, HP's product manager for DVD writers.

Each DVD will be able to store up to 4.7Gbytes, and each CD 700Mbytes. Connection cables are included for both IEEE 1394 and USB 2.0 connections. The internal DVD200i will be available in April.

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