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Looking for the ultimate visual experience at CES

The chief technical officer of AMD looks for themes on the show floor.

For full disclosure purposes, I am an early adopter, not a mainstream consumer. I shoot video in HD and edit in HD. My home is filled with advanced technologies covering the full spectrum of computing.

I am also the CTO of AMD.

My role at the company is to imagine the possibilities of bleeding-edge technology and determine the innovation necessary to bring that to life (both in-house and with partners) for our customers--ideally in a way that is intuitive, exciting and satisfying for mainstream consumers.

I believe leading edge innovation drives enthusiast adoption, which in turn seeds future mainstream market technologies. More and more so, I am convinced that software is equally if not more important in this equation, so focusing only on the hardware components is the wrong way to go. The best solution for customers will be a platform that integrates both hardware and software to improve the end-user experience.

I came to CES in search of the ultimate visual experience--one that is realistic, immersive and highly personalized. After several hours on the show floor (which consists of close to 2 million square feet of technology eye candy: HD TVs, cameras, media centers, navigation systems, home audio systems, laptops and PCs, mobile phones), a few themes emerged:

1) There is a huge range of options for capturing, distributing and viewing content

2) Digital 1080p has hit the sweet spot

3) Energy efficiency matters

4) Networking (home, office, car) is becoming increasingly personal

Overall, while it seems that CES 2008 is a little light on the totally new unveilings we've come to expect, there is a real improvement in quality and maturity of existing technologies that shows they are ready for mass adoption.

Over the next couple days, I'll post my thoughts and observations from CES, including the innovative technologies we see today and some estimations of what is to come. The themes previously mentioned will be discussed, though a few miscellaneous threads may pop up.

Your comments and observations are encouraged. After all, we're shaping the future of technology together, and technology for technology's sake won't bring solutions that consumers want or need.

Phil Hester is senior vice president and chief technology officer (CTO) at AMD, responsible for setting the architectural and product strategies and plans for AMD's microprocessor business.