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Intel and Samsung Pursuing HiSilicon

October 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

HiSilicon Technologies wants another supplier for the fabrication of its 7nm chips and apparently Samsung, Globalfoundries and Intel are trying to get the Chinese fabless firm’s attention.

TSMC has been HiSilicon’s sole foundry partner for its 16nm and 10nm solution and will remain so, but  HiSilicon wants to get a back up for 7nm chips to ensure sufficient production capacity.

TSMC has regained chip orders from Qualcomm, which used to be the foundry’s largest client, the sources noted. TSMC is believed to have snapped up Qualcomm’s next-generation processor orders with its 7nm FinFET process.

According to Digitimes Samsung intends to attract 7nm chip orders from HiSilicon by bundling its foundry services with resources of components such as OLED panels, DRAM and NAND flash chips, the sources indicated. This could all go tits up as Samsung is HiSilcon’s rival in the smartphone SoC market.

Globalfoundries has a better chance if the foundry can stake a claim in the 7nm segment with technology enabled by some IP patents from IBM, which HiSilicon used to place its chip orders.

Intel with its 10nm process technology is vying aggressively for chip orders from HiSilicon. Intel has claimed its 10nm technology offers a density of about 100 million transistors per square millimeter, which industry sources believe is equivalent to TSMC’s and Samsung’s 7nm process nodes.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung Chips Help Profit Margins

October 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Samsung Electronics  is expected to forecast a record third-quarter profit on Friday thanks to the strong market for memory chips, and as mobile earnings make a killing as rival Apple drops the ball.

The world’s biggest maker of memory chips and mobile phones has been the chief beneficiary of the semiconductor market, as mobile devices and servers demand ever greater processing power.

Brisk sales of the latest Galaxy Note 8 smartphone, launched in mid-September, also are likely to further boost its performance, analysts said.

Doh Hyun-woo, analyst at Mirae Asset Daewoo Securities said: “Samsung’s valuation is still comparatively lower than global competitors and fourth-quarter earnings will improve across the board and keep improving in 2018.”

Samsung’s July-September operating profit is expected to rise to $12.51 billion, according to a Thomson Reuters survey of 19 analysts. That is nearly three times ta year earlier and slightly better than the previous quarter.

Strong global demand for DRAM chips will continue to outpace supply in 2018, while demand for NAND flash chips exceeded supply for six straight quarters as of last month, DRAMeXchange, a division of data provider TrendForce, said.

Samsung’s mobile division is seen posting operating profit of about 3 trillion won, compared to just 100 billion won in the third quarter of 2016. Pre-orders for the Note 8 hit the highest-ever for the Note series.

Lower liquid-crystal display (LCD) panel prices as well as one-off costs are expected to weigh on Samsung’s display business during the third quarter, analysts said.

However, the display business could improve in the fourth quarter on the back of sales of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels for new Apple smartphones. However there are signs that Apple might be forced to reduce orders for these as fewer people are interested in its current “popping” iPhone range.

Samsung will only provide estimates for July-September revenue and operating profit on Friday, and will disclose detailed results in late October.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple May Introduce Face ID To All iPhones By Next Year

October 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple’s Face ID will officialy debut on the iPhone X on November 3, and it looks like the new tech may be here to stay. According to KGI Securities analyst and known Apple commentator Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors), all 2018 iPhones will likely have Face ID.

Thanks to Apple’s TrueDepth camera system, the X gets all sorts of new tricks like Face ID, AR, and (yes) Animojis. This makes facial recognition a standout feature on the phone and also one of the big differences between the X and the more traditional iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

Kuo suggests that iPhones released in 2018 are likely to abandon the fingerprint sensor, which might mean it’s the end of the line for Touch ID on the iPhone. Touch ID has been used for certain situations like unlocking your phone or Apple Pay, but if Face ID works as intended, we may see the end of Touch ID (at least in its current form).

Kuo also claims that the TrueDepth camera gives Apple a competitive edge and differentiates the iPhone X from other phones on the market. He says that Android competitors are still years behind with their facial recognition tech. Releasing more iPhones with this technology in the near future could help Apple bank on this advantage.

This doesn’t mean Touch ID is dead just yet. A handful of Apple products (like the MacBook Pro) still use Touch ID, but Kuo has predicted that soon other devices could start using Face ID — possibly the next iPad Pro.

It’s worth noting that the facial recognition tech is reportedly causing slowdowns in iPhone X production. If that’s the case, Apple will need to speed things up if it wants to include facial recognition in next year’s iPhones.

You’ll be able to test Apple’s facial recognition when the iPhone X hits stores Nov. 3.

BlackBerry Settles Patent Dispute With BLU Products

October 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd announced that it inked a new license agreement with BLU Products Inc, a Florida-based maker of low-end Android phones, that would end patent disputes between the two companies.

Canada’s BlackBerry filed lawsuits against BLU in 2016, as part of the handset-maker-turned-software-company’s move to make cash off a bunch of technology patents it had collected in its heyday.

Thursday’s agreement will include on-going payments from BLU to BlackBerry, the companies said, but did not give further details.

The settlement will allow Blackberry “to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market,” said Jerald Gnuschke, senior director of Intellectual Property Licensing at BlackBerry.

BlackBerry, which holds about 40,000 worldwide patents and applications, has been long been focusing on software sales and licensing after its once-popular phones lost out to Apple and others in the smartphone industry.

Nintendo Stock Hits A High Road

October 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo shares have hit a ten-year high following the announcement that Switch production is being increased to two million units per month.

As reported by Digitimes, the Switch is upping production from a previous undisclosed number, estimated to be between 800,000 and one million.

Nintendo shares are now trading at their highest value since March 2008 after rising 2.66% in Tokyo on Friday, gaining a total 77% since the beginning of 2017.

The Switch, which was already Nintendo’s fastest selling console, is expected to sell 20 million units by the end of the year, a source told Digitimes, far exceeding the 13 million predicted earlier this year.

The news comes amid speculation that the Switch could soon be released in China following the announcement that the smash-hit mobile game Honour of Kings was coming to western markets via the Switch.

Honour of Kings reportedly accounts for around 50% of publisher Tencent’s mobile revenue and has over 200 million users in the region. By managing to strike a deal with Tencent, Nintendo could be well positioned to release in China, and the portable format of the Switch plays into the handheld dominated market where the Xbox One and Playstation 4 enjoy little success initially.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Apple Close To Deal With Steven Spielberg For ‘Amazing Stories’

October 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc is putting the final touches on a deal to make 10 new episodes of Steven Spielberg’s 1980s science fiction anthology series “Amazing Stories,” landing a premiere Hollywood talent for its plunge into original TV programming, a source with knowledge of the discussions said.

The series would be produced for Apple by Spielberg’s Amblin Television and Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal television production unit. “Amazing Stories” originally ran on the NBC broadcast network.

“We love being at the forefront of Apple’s investment in scripted programming,” NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke said in a statement about the show’s planned revival.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. Amblin did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The deal is the first to be made public since Apple hired veteran Sony executives Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg in June to expand the iPhone maker’s push into original programming, a field crowded with streaming services and traditional networks.

It is unclear how people will be able to watch “Amazing Stories” or when it will debut. Apple has not divulged if it will put its own TV series in the iTunes Store, where it sells shows made by other companies, or on another platform.

The deal with Spielberg fits with a strategy Apple executives have outlined in meetings with Hollywood executives. Apple has emphasized in the discussions that it wants prestigious programming and to work with A-list actors, producers and writers, according to sources with knowledge of Apple’s plans.

The company already has placed bids on other projects, including for a comedy series about morning television starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, sources said.

“They are looking for really high-end premium stuff they feel is creatively in line with the Apple brand,” one source said of Apple’s strategy.

The technology company is competing with several established players that have hooked big name stars, such as Netflix Inc and Time Warner Inc’s HBO, plus newer entrants like Facebook Inc FB.N.

 Apple has committed $1 billion to start its programming push, the sources said. Netflix, by comparison, says it will spend up to $7 billion on content next year.

The budget for “Amazing Stories” will be more than $5 million per episode, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported that Apple had reached a deal for the series.

Will Microsoft Put The Surface To Rest

October 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft will drop its Surface laptop line-up by 2019, if remarks made by Canalys CEO Steve Brazier are to be believed.

As reported by The Register, which attended the Canalys Channels Forum, Brazier said that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is a “software guy, a cloud guy”, hinting that the firm’s bork-ridden Surface laptops and tablets are likely to go the same way as the firm’s all-but-defunct smartphone division.

“The Surface performance is choppy; there are good quarters and bad quarters, overall they are not making money. It doesn’t make sense for them to be in this business,” Brazier remarked.

“When the capital expenditure challenge that Satya Nadella has taken Microsoft down becomes visible to Wall Street, everyone will ask him ‘Why have you gone to a low margin business?'”

Brazier has a point. Last quarter, Microsoft’s Surface revenue was down 2 per cent, and dropped a massive 26 per cent year-on-year in the previous quarter. The devices have been plagued with issues, too, which Microsoft has blamed on Intel’s Skylake chips.

Passing the buck didn’t stop Consumer Reports yanking its “recommended” label from the Surface line-up, though. It slammed the hardware “significantly less reliable than most other brands” after finding that one in four Surface owners were being plagued with  “problems by the end of the second year of ownership.”

Brazier’s predictions were backed up by Gianfranco Lanci, corporate VP and COO of Lenovo, who joined the Canalys CEO on stage.

“Microsoft is making a lot of money on cloud, making a lot of money on Windows and Office, but losing a lot of money on devices,” he said.

“Frankly speaking, it is difficult to see why they should keep losing money. For them it is a very difficult exercise to run hardware products business, they need to be careful about every single detail as the margin on this is so thin.”

Courtesy-Fud

BlackBerry Announces New Motion Smartphone

October 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The all-touchscreen BlackBerry Motion was officially unveiled at an electronics trade show in Dubai, just days after images of the new phone leaked online.

The new handset features a 5.5-inch HD display, 4GB of RAM and a 4,000mAh battery with support for QuickCharge 3.0. The Motion, which was unveiled at the GITEX 2017 trade show, is also rated IP67 for dust and water resistance.

The BlackBerry Motion is a follow-up to the KeyOne, the first phone released under a licensing agreement TCL has with BlackBerry to build and sell the devices. BlackBerry has detached itself from the hardware side, focusing on business security and software.

TCL, best known for making budget televisions and phones (under the Alcatel OneTouch brand), hopes to win some business customers of its own with its take on the BlackBerry family. The Motion is intended to show that the KeyOne isn’t a one-off product, and that TCL intends to create a new portfolio of products with the BlackBerry name.

The BlackBerry Motion will initially launch in the Middle East.

 

Does Virtual Reality Devices Have A Future

October 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Analyst at IDC have been shuffling their tarot decks and reached the conclusion that AR and VR are going to continue to grow like crazy – despite the fact that other analysts are not so sure.

IDC is forecasting the combined augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headset market to reach 13.7 million units in 2017, growing to 81.2 million units by 2021 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 56.1 percent. VR headsets will account for more than 90 percent of the market until 2019 while AR will account for the rest. In the final two years of forecast, IDC expects AR headsets to experience exponential growth as they capture a quarter of the market by the end of the forecast.

Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers said that AR headset shipments today are a fraction of where IDC expects them to be in the next five years, both in terms of volume and functionality. “AR headsets are also on track to account for over US$30 billion in revenues by 2021, almost double that of VR, as most of the AR headsets will carry much higher average selling prices with earlier adopters being the commercial segment. Meanwhile, most consumers will experience AR on mobile devices, although it’s only a matter of time before Apple’s ARKit- and Google’s ARCore-enabled apps make their way into the market.

“AR headsets are also on track to account for over US$30 billion in revenues by 2021, almost double that of VR, as most of the AR headsets will carry much higher average selling prices with earlier adopters being the commercial segment. Meanwhile, most consumers will experience AR on mobile devices, although it’s only a matter of time before Apple’s ARKit- and Google’s ARCore-enabled apps make their way into consumer grade headsets.”

While AR headsets are poised for long-term growth along with a profound impact on the way businesses and consumers compute, VR headsets will drive a near-term shift in computing. Recent price reductions across all the major platforms, plus new entrants appearing in the next month, should drive growth in the second half of 2017 and will help to offset a slow start to the year. Screenless viewers such as the Gear VR will continue to maintain a majority share throughout the forecast, although the category’s share will continue to decline as lower-priced tethered head-mounted displays (HMDs) gain share over the course of the next two years. Meanwhile, IDC is predicting that standalone HMDs will gain share in the outer years of the forecast.

Tom Mainelli, vice president, Devices and AR/VR at IDC said: “Virtual reality has suffered from some unrealistic growth expectations in 2017, but overall the market is still growing at a reasonable rate and new products from Microsoft and its partners should help drive additional interest in the final quarter of this year. As we head into 2018 we’ll see additional new products appearing, including standalone headsets from major players, and we expect to see a growing number of companies embracing the technology to enable new business processes and training opportunities.”

Courtesy-Fud

Is Apple Face-ID on The iPhone X Secure

October 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple’s face scanning software can be broken by anyone under the age of 13 and the fruity cargo cult has been forced to admit that it does not really work for kids.

Apparently, the Face ID facial recognition system thinks kids look the same – it’s fair enough really – I think they all look the same, and all babies look like Winston Churchill no matter what their mums think.

However, in a security guide, Apple recommends that children under the age of 13 do not use Face ID due to the probability of a false match being significantly higher for young children.

It is the kids’ fault of course. Apple says this was because “their distinct facial features may not have fully developed”. We assume they are talking about the children and not Apple’s face scanning software.

The Tame Apple Press claims that it does not matter as few young children are likely to be given a $999 iPhone, false matches are also more likely for twins and siblings. In all those situations, the company recommends concerned users disable Face ID and use a passcode instead.

Another area where Apple is having problems is facial coverings. Apple says that “Face ID is designed to work with hats, scarves, glasses, contact lenses and many sunglasses”. 

But if the coverings must be transparent to infrared light and the system can see the eyes, nose and mouth. While some fabrics are more transparent to infrared than they may seem, that means iPhone users who cover their faces may be forced to rely on a passcode when out and about.

Courtesy-Fud

FireFox Quantum Browser Coming In November

October 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

After being stuck in the slow lane for ages, Mozilla’s new Quantum browser is starting to look like it might be faster than Chrome.

A beta version of Firefox Quatum lets you test whether Mozilla’s newly named web browser, replete with changes built over more than a year, is a match for Google. We had a quick look and it managed to make Fudzilla’s esoteric CMS machine go like the clappers. Opera on the other hand keeps on insisting that it needs a password for every screen.

Mozilla CEO Chris Beard claims that the new browser is a “big bang” although we suggest that probably means he needs to get out more. Company executives have acknowledged they let Firefox languish but now it is ready to do better with its life.

Firefox 57 is faster at starting up and loading web pages, judged on page-load speed, “Firefox Quantum is often perceivably faster” while using 30 percent less memory, Nguyen said in a blog post Tuesday. And it’s twice as fast as Firefox a year ago.

The new Firefox revamp includes Quantum Flow, which stamps out dozens of performance bugs, and Quantum CSS, aka Stylo, which speeds up website formatting. Photon that kills Firefox’s rounded tabs and adds a “page action” menu into the address bar. It also builds in the Pocket bookmarking service Mozilla acquired and uses it to recommend sites.

All up, it does not appear too bad. The phrase “at bloody last” crosses my mind. It still needs its acid test – whether or not it can handle Mrs Farrell’s shopping, which for some reason requires 105 open tabs which must never be closed unless you want to be divorced.

Firefox Quantum will arrive in its final form on November the 14th.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon Gets Hit With Huge Tax Bill From The EU

October 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon has been informed that it must pay about 250 million euros ($294.38 million) in back taxes to Luxembourg, the latest U.S. tech company to be caught up in a European Union crackdown on unfair tax deals.

The fine was much lower than some sources close to the case had expected and is only a fraction of the 13 billion euros that Apple Inc was ordered to pay to Ireland last year.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who has other big U.S. tech companies in her sights, has taken a tough line on multinational companies’ approach to tax.

“Luxembourg gave illegal tax benefits to Amazon. As a result, almost three-quarters of Amazon’s profits were not taxed,” Vestager said.

Amazon said it was considering an appeal.

“We believe that Amazon did not receive any special treatment from Luxembourg and that we paid tax in full accordance with both Luxembourg and international tax law,” Amazon said in a statement after the announcement.

Though the EU has taken on several U.S. tech companies, both in antitrust and in tax avoidance cases, Vestager said that her approach was not biased against foreign companies

 “This is about competition in Europe, no matter your flag, no matter your ownership,” Vestager said.

She also welcomed the debate kicked off by French President Emmanuel Macron who called for more integrated corporate tax regimes in Europe, aiming to close the loopholes used to reduce tax bills.

The Commission said the exact amount of tax to be reclaimed from Amazon would still need to be calculated by Luxembourg authorities.

The 250 million euros is significantly less than the 400 million euros which sources close to the matter told Reuters a year ago was under consideration by Vestager.

The Commission said Luxembourg allowed Amazon to channel a significant portion of its profits to a holding company without paying tax. The holding company was allowed to do this because it held certain intellectual property rights.

“The Commission’s investigation showed that the level of the royalty payments, endorsed by the tax ruling, was inflated and did not reflect economic reality,” the Commission said in a statement.

Amazon, which employs 1,500 in the grand duchy, is one of the biggest employers in the country of half a million people. The U.S. company, which has a Europe-wide staff of some 50,000, in 2016 made a $2.4 billion profit on global revenues of $136 billion.

Xiaomi Regaining Momentum, Shipped Over 10M Phones In September

October 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Xiaomi has a new record to boast about.

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun announced on Chinese social media the company shipped more than 10 million phones in September alone, saying demand is so high that supply for some models remains tight.

“We have good news to share: More than 10 million Xiaomi phones were shipped in September, marking the first time in our history we have crossed 10 million units in a single month! This means our business has achieved a new level,” said Lei Jun.

Xiaomi isn’t a household name in the US (yet), but it years ago was the top-selling smartphone brand in China, which made it the fourth biggest smartphone company in the world. It’s dipped in Chinese popularity since then, but has found success in the growing India market.

The revelation comes just weeks after Xiaomi announced two new phones, the Mi Mix 2, a bezel-less phone with a ceramic back that is the company’s most expensive phone to date, and the Mi A1, a budget Android One phone created for developing markets such as India.

There’s still some catching up to do if the company wants to reclaim its top spot in its homeland, however. Huawei, a fellow Chinese phone manufacturer, globally outsold Apple in June and July, during which time it was second only to Samsung in sales. Huawei has shipped 73 million devices from January to June this year, an average of 12 million phones every month.

Still, 10 million in one month is nothing to scoff at, and a sign that Xiaomi is back on track after losing momentum in 2016. Neil Shah, an analyst at Counterpoint Research, called Xiaomi’s newest achievement a “phenomenal comeback.”

“This is driven by strong demand for Xiaomi’s phones in China and especially India (where demand is estimated to grow by almost 400 percent), as well as its expansion to new markets such as Russia, the Middle East and Latin America,” said Shah.

“These have helped Xiaomi to double its global smartphone market share to the highest ever — from four percent in September 2016 to nearly nine percent in September 2017 — though how long the momentum will last remains to be seen,” he added.

Google AI Scores Grade School Level Intelligence Rating

October 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Google’s AlphaGo may have defeated Ke Jie to become the Go world champion but it’s no smarter than a kindergartner.

A recently published study showed Google’s artificial intelligence technology scored best out of 50 systems that Chinese researchers tested against an AI scale they created, although it’s still no smarter than a six-year-old, CNBC reportedMonday. At 47.28, it’s almost twice as smart as Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri.

AI systems have developed so quickly that it’s been able to act as an assistant, take an exam and even outperform us at strategy games. But the results downplay the concerns of “AI worriers” who have been uneasy about how fast it’s progressing.

To evaluate how smart an intelligent system is (or has become), its ability to “acquire, master, create and feedback knowledge” has to be tested, wrote the researchers. The IQ of 50 AI systems including Google’s AI, Siri, and Chinese search engine, Baidu, as well as three humans aged 18, 12 and six, were rated in 2014. When the authors took the scores of the AI systems again in 2016, they found that Google was the smartest in years and had improved the fastest (from 26.5 to 47.28), but it wasn’t enough to beat even a six year-old who came in with a score of 55.5.

The test also rated Google’s AlphaGo, the search giant’s AI system developed to play Go, against the authors’ intelligence grade model. AlphaGo was found to be in the third grade, which the authors say is two grades lower than that of humans.

Notable “AI worriers” include physicist Stephen Hawking and Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, who both won the 2015 Luddite Award and were branded AI “alarmists.” Hawking is a firm believer that AI could pose a real danger depending on who controls it, and argues that it could outsmart us and end humanity. Musk agrees there’s significant risk and asked for regulation in July, going as far as to suggest AI could start World War III. Alibaba founder and executive chairman, Jack Ma, thought companies could be helmed by AI systems in the next three decades.

Is iOS 11 Draining Your Batter Too Fast

October 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A study conducted by security research firm Wandera has confirmed that iOS 11 is causing iPhone and iPad batteries to drain twice as fast.

Wandera’s report shows how, on average, an iPhone or iPad running iOS 10 takes 240 minutes of usage to drain the battery from 100 percent to zero. With iOS 11 installed, this number plummets to just 96 minutes — over twice as fast.

Wandera conducted its research by looking at “a subset of 50,000 moderate to heavy iPhone and iPad users.” Over three days, battery decay rate was monitored on iOS 10 and iOS 11 devices. We’ve already mentioned that iOS 10 devices last for 240 minutes and iOS 11 device just 96, minutes, but Wandera provides another way of looking at the figures:

The decay rate for iOS 10 is 0.006958 percent per second and for iOS 11 it’s 0.01739 percent per second.

Wandera says that Apple fanboys will have to suck the battery loss because if they downgrade their phones to a versions where battery issues are not a problem they will be stuck with poor security.  Of course they could always throw the phone out the window and buy something cheaper and better.

You can slightly improve the problem by limiting the number of apps that can refresh in the background (Settings > General > Background App Refresh) and limiting the number of apps that can access your location in the background (Settings > Privacy > Location Services).

The problem has been known about on Apple news groups for a while now, but so far there has been no actual study into it, or any confirmation of the problem from Jobs’ Mob. Apple fanboys have rushed to the Internet to reassure users that they are nto experiencing any problems. But given most Apple fanboys only use their phone when they want to wave it smugly under the nose of someone with a proper phone, their use might be more limited.

 

Courtesy-Fud

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