Notion Ink

Hello there!

Posted in Uncategorized by Rohan Shravan on July 26, 2011

Hello there,

Long time since we communicated! This was supposed to be the Saturday special (wrote this on friday actually, but was down with fever and food poisoning, that too on my b’day. Seems to be street food, anyways).

Had some tweaking to do before I could take some time off . Deliveries have been on time and the new manufacturer team did a good job as new customers can see. Yesterday (read Friday) we went out of stock for all the variants. Had some 100+ interviews in last 2 weeks, tons of development and ODM meetings.  The content project which we brushed earlier is also going in full pace. I will cover it soon.

We are back to our technical discussions here on the blog. I want to cover 2 topics today, first is the font rendering and other is GPGPU.

Most of you are probably reading this on your computers with Windows, Mac, Linux or Adam (or other tablets). People not viewing on the tablets can see foreseeable quality difference as far as the font rendering is concerned. Computer OSes are pretty mature when it comes to fonts, and investment in it clearly shows. Anti-aliasing and sub pixel rendering are some of the key words you might have heard before. Android natively uses Freetype and images below shows the quality when compared to Cleartype technology used on your Windows OS

First is the word “considerable” on Adam running Android and next is the word “Minh” on Windows 7 on Dell screen. Few immediate things you can notice (along with the rendering quality) is:

  • in “Minh” letters always have blue pixel on start and end. This deepens  the font and make it look better
  • dpi of Adam is more as compared to the Dell screen, but still gets beaten by the later
  • you can see sharp red lines at the end of character “i” and “d” in the upper image, this makes text look real bad
  • sub-pixels are handled in a better way on the latter as compared to the former
Look at the image below taken from msdn site (link):
Now, what you see here is interesting. Sub-pixel rendering is supposed to make things better, but in the first column, character formations are better, but the readability has reduced (I think most of you will agree on this). Designers would love the technology used in the first one, cos there is no scaling or zooming on production, but it’s definitely not good on the eye. It’s definitely a personal choice.
Apple has stopped using sub-pixel rendering, (check this blog) mostly cos their devices don’t use sub-pixel rendering.  As written on this blog “With subpixel rendering the text is stronger, yet crisper. The lines are sharp and defined, and there are much fewer blurry edges. Not only is it more readable, it just looks better“.
But then there is a contradiction on what we see above. Text in first column is definitely not strong.  The answer actually lies somewhere in the algorithm, contrast ratio, color of the text, font type, vertical versus horizontal, screen dpi and lot more. Frankly, I like font rendering on Windows far better than on Macs or iPad. In the phone category I will rate both the iPhone 4 (extremely high dpi and contrast) and HTC HD7 with Windows 7 (ClearType implementation) the same. Right now, we are experimenting on what the best combination is. If you have proven ideas, please do share.
Now let’s cover the GPGPU part. As you know it stands for “General Purpose computation on Graphic Processing Units”. Currently available SoCs on the market are know for their graphic performance. In Linpack tests Tegra offered 36.8Mflops and iPad 41.0Mflops (iPad 2 is 160.8Mflops cos of NEON). Tegra 3 should see better score as it has NEON implementation. But that’s when you use the CPU. When you use Tegra’s GPU (I wish they would allow everyone to use the GPU  the same way you can using CUDA, but there’s a work around) it can give upto 4.8GFLOPS.  (PowerVR is 19.2GFLOPS by the way and that’s one reason our love for OMAP 5 is increasing).
FLOPS – floating point operations. Programmers are generally instructed not to use floating points but integers and this practice has led to algorithms which are based on integral mind-set. When we realize that such amazing floating point operations can be performed on mobile devices, algorithms need to be refined in a newer format. GPUs along with FLOPS offer you multiple threads (cores) and that just multiplies everything. A simple algorithm I have written using floating concepts can theoretically find a string in a database at the same rate as on Intel i7 series. Experienced programmers can definitely get better than that.
The important thing here is to start looking at fractional values in a very different way. GPUs are going to get better (soon on tablets you will see someone clocking teraFLOPS) and so far we haven’t been able to do any ground breaking innovation for General Purpose computing. GPUs will also assist AI which will be a very large element in future OSes.
If you have ideas on GPGPU or on improving font rendering, do leave a comment or best, post it on the “Ideas” section at the conclave.
This is the best time to comment, and give your feedback on what you’d like to see. I have been collecting comments and thoughts from Conclave and majority of them want us to focus on the screen quality, camera, battery life and wi-fi strength. We have done extensive research on these fields and will share it with you in coming weeks.
Bye for know, will keep you posted!
With Warm Regards
Rohan Shravan

198 Responses

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  1. merupula said, on July 26, 2011 at 20:27

    belated b’day wishes.
    good to see a post after long time.

  2. sameerchougle said, on July 26, 2011 at 20:45

    Hey Rohan, good to have you back! Belated happy birthday… all the bhel-puri, paani-puri, pav-bhaji must have taken its toll on your stomach! I hope you are hale and hearty by now.

    All the techie stuff was understandable, though it was not something I am looking forward to in terms of reading and waiting for. Only the first two paragraphs and the last paragraph had my interest.

    My Adam was never short of a single functionality until non-virgin HC came in! Now, camera (one of my liked functions on Adam), GPS (works on and off), some applications, have stopped working. The reason I am still on HC is because of its awesome interface! I simply love it!

    Yes, Adam 2 needs cent percent improvements in the following areas:
    - Screen resolution
    - Camera
    - Body design
    - Battery life
    - Screen Responsiveness

    I definitely am looking forward to Adam 2, yes!

    Ciao

    • joyfication said, on July 28, 2011 at 17:27

      Body Design ? Most around here seem happy & see it as a USP.
      Wish it could go lighter but w/o compromising on the ports.

    • voxmagna said, on August 2, 2011 at 08:14

      indeed, they can still pull of the swivel camera if they go Carl Zeiss. Go CARL ZEISS Damn-it :D

  3. adamrunner said, on July 26, 2011 at 21:07

    Hi Rohan
    I have been a fan since December 2009. With all the delays and promises I have finally came to a conclusion that the Adam will always be behind the curve. I should not have to constantly rig my device to make it work and than when it’s done it’s half baked.

    There are other devices on the market that work properly and have access to the google market. What is the point of having an android device when you can’t get to the market? You need to focus on a tablet form that works without a consumer hacking it. If you don’t focus on this your company and dreams will not be a reality.

    • Kumar S said, on July 30, 2011 at 00:56

      +1

      We need to get the device to work smoothly, right out of the box. Make it more of a consumer device with simpler accessibility.

      Also, please focus on the service and distribution channels.

      The entire process of ordering it online, waiting, tracking, getting it cleared with the customs, finally receiving the package only find that it requires a software update before one can use it, getting a firmware update online and all the other string of actions required by the user before one actually has a working device in his/her hands only adds up to a bad customer experience.

      Wouldn’t you prefer swiping the plastic at you nearby tech shop and walking away happily with your iPad2 (which works wonderfully right out of the box). Besides, you’d even get a hands-on demo of the device before you actually decide to buy it. All this leaves you a happy customer.

      I’ve been following you guys right from the start of this blog, and I think that Adam is a superb device, but you really need to overhaul the consumer experience of your buyers, right from device-acquisition to device usage to post-sales.

      So, better consumer experience please!

    • Gigantor said, on August 22, 2011 at 00:30

      +2

      Totally agree with you and Kumar S. I had great expectations on the Adam but it has waned. I just wish it’s sold on Amazon, Best Buy or other well known online and B&M stores here in US because I am not comfortable buying it direct from India. At this stage of the business, service and distribution should be the top priority.

  4. adamrunner said, on July 26, 2011 at 21:09

    Rohan,
    Also the last time a spoke my opinion my post disappeared. Why did it?

  5. Udayan U said, on July 26, 2011 at 22:20

    Hi guys just to give you a heads up. Please do visit tantrajnaan [dot]com if you are a techie. We are a unique community dedicated for technical stuff. We cover wide variety of topics. Visit our website and let us know what you think.


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