At CES, a call for more fiber in nation's diet

LAS VEGAS ? As digital content grows in popularity, the availability of fiber-speed networks will be essential to keep up with today's hardware and consumer demands, said Michael Dell, founder and chairman of Dell Inc. His keynote address kicked off the second day of the Consumer Electronics Show.

While DSL and cable broadband networks reach many consumers, the technologies are not fast enough for current demands, according to Dell.

"A great digital experience requires something far faster: fiber," Dell said. "I encourage the entire telecom industry to step up and make such fiber available much more broadly."

Emerging applications like interactive video require more bandwidth than is often available today.

"For education, and to ensure that our kids can compete in the global economy we need to adopt advanced, ubiquitous, 21st-century broadband infrastructure in this country," Dell said.

Not surprisingly, Dell focused on the company's consumer products, and noted that the government and commercial markets make up 85 percent of his company's business. He said government/business innovations can be applied to the company's consumer side.

"We focus on making complex systems work together in a seamless way," Dell said. "We work to make technology easy for customer so they can focus on their business."

With products such as gaming technology becoming popular defense department tools, look for the company's consumer innovations to spill over into the government market.

Dell introduced a new PC, for example, aimed at high-end gamers. The XPSTM 710 H2C incorporates a two-stage cooling process: first, a liquid-to-air heat exchanger that works like a car's radiator and fan system to remove heat from the processor. Then ceramic-based thermoelectric cooling modules remove additional heat. The XPS 710 H2C starts at $5,499.

A continued focus on recycling hardware and a new tree-planting program will also be part of Dell Inc.'s plans in 2007. The "plant-a-tree-for-me" program will enable customers to donate $2 for a laptop purchase or $6 for a desktop to a fund planting trees to offset the emissions created to power computers.

The federal government has shown interest in hardware recycling programs. The government disposes of about 10,000 computers every week; many of the discarded machines end up in landfills or overseas, where environmental standards are generally lower, according the Environmental Protection Agency.

In an effort to reverse that problem, the EPA is awarding contracts to help the entire federal government recycle or properly dispose of computers and other electronic equipment. Contractors must maintain an audit trail to the equipment's final destination to document reclamation and recycling efforts.

Dell also is focusing attention in areas such as medical research. Professor Naomi Halas, a nanotechnologist from Houston's Rice University, developed a non-toxic treatment for cancer. Computers were used for design and simulation of the particles, to monitor and record experiments and synthesize data.

Halas discovered that small particles, or "nanoshells," naturally accumulated in tumors when injected in the veins of cancerous mice. Using a laser, the small particles could be heated to a point where the tumors would be destroyed without damaging the surrounding cells.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Washington Technology.

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