In defense of the laptop. ‘I’m not dead yet!’

I am often asked about the state of innovation in the seemingly mature world of laptop hardware. At a time when smartphones and tablets have become the darlings of modern computing, is there still room for new breakthroughs in laptop design and user interface?

Synaptics hires former AMD executive as CEO

Synaptics, the maker of touch pads and other input devices for computers and phones, has hired former Advanced Micro Devices executive Rick Bergman as its new chief executive.Bergman will lead Synaptics into the future of human interfaces for computers, mobile phones, and entertainment devices. Synaptics currently makes the software and sensors for touchpads, which replace the computer mouse in a laptop. Users swipe their finger across the touchpad to get a cursor to move to a different part of a laptop screen. Synaptics also makes touchscreen interfaces for tablets and smartphones.Bergman resigned from AMD last week, not long after the chip maker hired former Lenovo executive Rory Read as its new CEO. Bergman was senior vice president and general manager of the products group at AMD.Bergman, 47, succeeds Russ Knittel, who was interim CEO since October, 2010. Knittel replaced Thomas Tiernan, who served as Synaptics CEO for a little more than a year before resigning last year for personal reasons. A familiar figure to VentureBeat readers, Bergman has been a longtime executive in the graphics chip business, serving in top jobs at ATI Technologies before it was acquired in 2006 by AMD.At AMD, Bergman was responsible for delivering microprocessors and graphics chips to AMD’s customers and for Fusion, which are the combination chips that put a graphics chip and processor on a single piece of silicon. During Berman’s tenure, AMD grew its share of the graphics chip market in competition with Nvidia.Francis Lee, chairman of Synaptics and its former CEO, said that Bergman is a visionary leader who can help take Synaptics’ capactive touch technology to new markets. Before joining ATI in 2001, Bergman was the chief operating officer at S3, another early graphics firm. He was also head of marketing at Exponential (where I first met him), and he worked at Texas Instruments and IBM.