I always enjoy interviewing Charlie Boswell, he is one of the most colorful people I know. I would write a short biography, but that is impossible. Is he engineer, musician, film maker, thinker, futurist, or what?

Officially he holds the title of Director Of Digital Entertainment at AMD. Unofficially I class him as the AMD Energizer Bunny. This man has an intense passion for everything that he touches. His passion is catching, you cannot help but get wrapped up in it when you listen to him.

Although our conversation was wide ranging a good deal of time was spent on exploring the world of Cloud Computing and AMD’s commitment to the strategy.

The cloud means different things to different people. It is also such a versatile animal that it is difficult to even define it. To one person it may be a place to store large amounts of data, to another, a platform for many users to manipulate data.

For Charlie Boswell the cloud represents a breakthrough technology for Film Makers and the Game Industry. In fact it is a game changer for the whole entertainment world. AMD’s strategy of bringing together the CPU and GPU into a consolidated APU has given the company a building block for producing some outstanding products.

Using server side rendering and advanced CODEC technology it is possible to obtain 60FPS (Frames Per Second) High Def results on really Thin Clients. OK, let me translate that glorious bunch of nerdspeak into plain English.

A major problem with the normal computer game is that it is a needy beast. It eats up your computers engine. For the game to play seamlessly you need the computer equivalent of a Ferrari. Running it on the family sedan computer gives disappointing results. The problem can be alleviated by offloading the heavy lifting to the cloud, this is called server side rendering. Suddenly your family sedan computer, smart phone, or tablet has the power of a Ferrari.

Of course there is the minor issue of how do you connect the output from the Ferrari engine to the drive train of the Chevy? This is done via something called a CODEC, in simple terms it compresses the information at one end and decompresses it at the other.

The result is that now your low computer powered device has the same quality of game play as the most expensive personal computer rig.

No this is not science fiction, this is reality. The results are stunning.

This same technology is being leveraged by the movie industry in some very creative ways. Story Boarding has given way to Pre-Viz (pre visualization), a director can set camera angles, change lighting effects, and animate scenes and actors all in a virtual world.

This is a huge money and time saver. The film is essentially in the can before a film crew and actors are even on the set. In fact the pre-viz is so sophisticated and of such high quality that it can be included in the final product.

At the heart of the leading edge pre-viz technology is guess what? Game engines!

Over the years many films have spun off video games, and vise versa. The cloud is making it possible to leverage the work of one side, the filmmaker, into the product of the other, the game maker.

60 Minutes with Charlie Boswell is well worth listening to. He is always entertaining and has the unique ability of being able to translate nerdspeak into English.

He is a man on a mission, he is dedicated to improving the end user experience without turning them into nerds.

I have known Charlie for some five years, but every time I talk to him I learn something new about the man known simply as ‘Boswell’. If you call him he answers “Boswell”, if he calls you his introduction is “It’s Boswell”. I have learned over the past five years that the quickest way to hit a Boswell hot button is to say the words “Device Driver”. This will illicit a verbal tsunami! As someone that spent over three decades in the IT world I share his dread of the term. The dreaded ‘No Device Driver Found’ error message will bring tears to even the most seasoned IT professional.

Yesterday I think I found the root cause of Charlie’s frustration. 2012 will mark his 16th year with AMD, 16 years with any company is a rare achievement these days. It turns out that his first job with AMD was in the software world writing Kernel level Device Drivers. I’ll bet he still has nightmares over it!

If you missed this truly very entertaining and informative interview, you can listen to the recording here, or download for free from iTunes.

Simon Barrett

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