I've been touched by the warm welcome back I've received since I returned to the TheStreet.com a few weeks ago. Many of you reached out just to say hi and lately many of you have written kind words and prayers for my daughter, Amaris, who was born with Trisomy-13 last week and is stable and comfortable at the hospital right now. My family and I thank you especially for those prayers and well-wishes.
I've also gotten a lot of random questions from you dear readers, and here are a few of the best ones so far. Please feel free to email me or reach out to me on Twitter or Scutify and I'll try to answer every question I get from you guys, just like I always have.
Q. There was an article in The Wall Street Journal this a.m. about the fact that the multiple core approach to designing CPUs is not the hoped-for solution to the demise of Moore's law. The conjecture was that FPGAs are the way to go, so we should invest in Altera (ALTR). Too speculative? Note that there has been speculation about Intel (INTC) buying Altera because it realizes there might be a problem and is trying to buy its way out of the problem; i.e., buy Altera. Altera is a hedge on the future. If the future is FPGA's, then they won really big. If not, their architecture for servers is fine. They screwed up by not getting into the mobile chip business.
A. Wow, big question. CPU vs FPGA. Let's define terms:
As most people know, CPU (central processing unit) is the electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program by performing the basic arithmetic, logical, control and input/output (I/O) operations specified by the instructions. A field-programmable gate array (FPGA) is an integrated circuit designed to be configured by a customer or a designer after manufacturing -- hence "field-programmable." (Learn more here.)
It's a great question whether the CPU, a highly powerful, all-purpose brain for devices, has a future vs. a more specialized brain. Maybe we should think of the computer/Internet/connected tasks in the same way we think of human labor. We might want to go back to classic Greek economic theory here.
Plato and Adam Smith and others have taught us that "the specialization and concentration of the workers on their single subtasks often lead to greater skill and greater productivity on their particular subtasks than would be achieved by the same number of workers each carrying out the original broad task." (Read more on division of labor.)
Using this line of parallel computer-to-human analysis here, you can see why Intel, which is not specializing in building specialized chips, is looking to buy other more FPGA-centric competitors. Did all that make sense?
On CPU vs. FRGA, I think we need to factor in the variable of power consumption and potential for greater processing power at lower power consumption, since battery technology is the limiter for mobile computing.
Lower power consumption is probably the equivalent to low wages in our computer works to human labor analogy and an important one to keep in mind.
Q. What do you think about the health care sector?
A. I don't like how the entire health care sector is a for-profit machine that feeds off taxpayer funds and is controlled by lobbyists and political power. I think there will be a serious reckoning over the profit margins that hospitals, insurance companies, drug companies, biotech companies and large health care conglomerates are making these days. Private health care or public health care or subsidized private health care that's sort of paid for by taxpayers unless a private company or a private citizen has paid an insurance company that's backed by ... well, you get my point. If I can't make a self-sustaining model out of the industry, I don't think it has a long-term viable future. And ultimately, I think we all know that the entire Republican/Democrat regime's health care system is unsustainable long term.
Q. What's your stance on the idea of transports being weak in the economy but a digital rift is being created as more digital data are being consumed and less physical items are being bought as the next-generation Gen Y spends less on stuff and more time and money in a digital way?
A. How much of this year's $15 trillion or so economic activity stems from apps, smartphones, Internet, databases, software, chipsets, tablets, spreadsheets, emails and so on vs. producing, shipping and consuming larger physical goods? Whatever that percentage is, for the U.S. and other developed economies, it's only going to get larger and transports/industrial will only get smaller in the next few years at least.
Q. Will the massive security issues revolving around drones make this market grow slowly vs. the huge market we can all envision drones can help and work in?
A. Yes, drones' privacy concerns, safety concerns and other issues are slowing down their mainstream adoption, but that will accelerate again in a few years as it gets sorted out.
Get free copies of my latest three ebooks, "The Drone Revolution," "The Robotics Revolution," and "The Wearables Revolution" just by asking me on email, Twitter or Scutify.