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Is Intel Readying It’s Knights Landing Processor?

November 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel has started sending out its Knight’s Landing version of Xeon Phi and this one has a 72-core coprocessor solution manufactured on a 14nm process using shiny new 3D Tri-Gate transistors.

The coprocessors use Intel’s’s Many Integrated Core (MIC) architecture that stuffs cores into a single chip, which itself is part of a larger PCI-E add-in card solution for supercomputing.

Add-in cards run alongside these engines, such as NVIDIA’s Tesla GPUs to help with the number crunching.

Knight’s Landing succeeds the Knight’s Corner, which has up to 61 cores. Knight’s Landing has double-precision performance which can do more than 3 teraflops and over 8 teraflops of single-precision performance. It also has 16GB of on-package MCDRAM memory, which Intel says is five times more power efficient as GDDR5 and three times as dense.

In making the announcement Charlie Wuischpard, vice president and general manager of HPC Platform Group at Intel said that supercomputing was entering a new era and being transformed from a tool for a specific problem to a general tool for many,”

“System-level innovations in processing, memory, software and fabric technologies are enabling system capabilities to be designed and optimized for different usages, from traditional HPC to the emerging world of big data analytics and everything in between. We believe the Intel Scalable System Framework is the path forward for designing and delivering the next generation of systems for the ‘HPC everywhere’ era.”


Samsung Sells LCD Business

November 19, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung has sold a large LCD display operation in order to concentrate full time on OLED-based products.

A report in Business Korea says that the facility in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, has shut down its L5 line, the fifth generation of LCD displays, and begun selling the equipment to other manufacturers.

The age of the equipment meant it was only suitable for notebook and small monitor displays. With OLED now rolling out in phones such as the recent Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, and big-screen TVs, it seems that the company has decided to make a break with the past.

The Korean manufacturer sold off its fourth generation production line to a Chinese company last year. A spokesman for Samsung Display confirmed: “The company shut down the L5 line last month and is seeking companies that are willing to acquire idle equipment.”

Although the equipment and the products it produces may seem outdated, there is still a huge market for this stuff in lower end electronics. Some analysts believe that there are tens of billions of Korean Won in any sale. Ten billion Won is about £5.6m, which doesn’t sound nearly as much but is still better than poke in the eye.

The Cheonan factory is likely to be converted to make OLED products, with talk of deals for AMOLED phone displays for Huawei and even an acceleration of its on-again-off-again Ernie and Bert relationship with Apple said to be at the heart of the decision to ramp up production.

Samsung still operates three LCD production lines, but analysts question if this is the beginning of a move to OLED production only, and if so, what effect that will have on the company as demand for cheaper LCD screens continues to grow, with production ramping up in China.

Samsung has lost market share in the end user market with recent Galaxy products failing to sell as well as their predecessors. As such these component deals are the lifeblood of the business, with a contract to produce high-end screens for Apple alone worth billions.



Google+ Re-designed and Re-focused

November 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google  hasn’t given up on running a social network. The company gave Google+ a redesign focused on people getting together around shared interests.

When Google+ launched in 2011, it was designed as a competitor to Facebook, focused on connecting people with their friends through a series of “circles.” That proved unsuccessful, but people started using the service to discuss things that they’re passionate about, like books and astronomy. Google has built its new design around promoting both its Community groups and its Collections of user-curated posts about specific interests.

Users can opt into the new design (which appears to be rolling out gradually) by signing into the service on the Web and responding when they get a prompt that offers it. Luke Wroblewski, a product director at Google, said in a post to the social network that Google+ apps for iOS and Android will be out in the near future.

The redesign doesn’t have all the features of the old Google+, so people who rely on things like Events will have to stay on the old design (which they can flip back to with the press of a button). It’s not clear whether Google will bring all of the social network’s functionality forward into the new design, but Wroblewski said the company isn’t done developing the product.

All of this comes as Google has been demoting the social network from its previous place at the center of the company’s products. Earlier this year, it brought cloud-based photo editing and storage capabilities that previously were tied to Google+ into Google Photos, a standalone service. Hangouts, the chat system that used to be tied to Google+, now has its own website.



Intel’s Broadwell E Details Leaked

November 19, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

A Chinese website has leaked details about Broadwell-E which sounds pretty plausible.

According toXfastest there will be four new processors under the new High-End Desktop (HEDT) banner for Broadwell.

Of the range, it would appear that the Core i7-6950X is the most interesting.  It has a 10-core CPU with Hyper Threading, which means that it has 20 threads to play with and 25MB of L3 cache.

However the CPU clockspeed is a little on the slow side, running at just 3.0GHz.  This will be a problem with software that is not properly tuned to take full advantage of large core counts and threads. It will be behind the Core i7-6700K which is a quad-core Skylake processor clocked at 4GHz to 4.2GHz on Turbo. The Core i7-6950X has more L3 cache, but it might lose to the Devil’s Canyon Core i7-4790K which can manage 4GHz to 4.4GHz.

For those who like their clockspeed, Chipzilla will release two faster-clocked six-core Broadwell-E processors and an eight-core CPU that strikes a balance between clockspeed and core count. The specs that Xfastest found show:

Intel Core i7-6950X: 10 cores, 20 threads, 25MB L3 cache, 3.0GHz
Intel Core i7-6900K: 8 cores, 16 threads, 20MB L3 cache, 3.3GHz
Intel Core i7-6850K: 6 cores, 12 threads, 15MB L3 cache, 3.6GHz
Intel Core i7-6800K: 6 cores, 12 threads, 15MB L3 cache, 3.4GHz

All of these processors will have a Turbo clockspeed, though information about this is unavailable. All socket LGA2011-v3 CPUs should be compatible with existing X99 Express chipset motherboards.

As far as leaks go, it seems particularly credible to us.  No word of price or release dates yet though.



Is Intel Giving Braswell A New Life?

November 18, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel is refreshing its embedded “Braswell” lineup of Celeron N3000, N3050, N3150 and Pentium N3700 systems-on-a-chip.

Details and model numbers of the SoCs were spotted by spotted by CPU World in a Product Change Notification.

It looks like the new processors will have increased burst frequency for better CPU and GPU performance.

Celeron and Pentium N3xxx SoCs are based on C core stepping, and it seems that Intel is replacing this with D-stepping. The chips will have the numbers N3060, N3160 and N3710. The integrated graphics unit will be rebranded to HD Graphics 405 on the Pentiums, and to HD Graphics 400 on the Celerons.

D-stepping chip samples will appear in a couple of weeks with the first production chips shipped on January 15, 2016.

The embedded N3000 will be refreshed too, although details on that are unavailable.

Chipzilla is planning to release new mobile and desktop models. The desktop SoCs will have a performance boost and a rebranded GPU. The TDP increased from 6 Watt to 6.5 Watt, and they will have the J3060, J3160 and J3710 product numbers.

The desktop Celeron J3060, J3160 and Pentium J3710 models are available at the end of November for samples, and mid-January of 2016 for production parts.



Apple Pulling The Plug On Beats Music

November 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple is dropping the ax on Beats Music on Nov. 30, shortly after launching the beta of an Android app for its Apple Music streaming service.

The company is now encouraging both Android and iOS users of Beats Music to transition to the Apple Music streaming service, which was launched by the company in June.

After the launch of the Apple Music app for Android phones, it has become easier for Apple to do the inevitable – shut down Beats Music, transition Android users and focus on Apple Music.

“All the pros that curated music for you are still crafting more amazing experiences,” wrote executive Dale Bagwell on a Beats support page. “Plus, on Apple Music, you’ll get even better recommendations based on music you already listen to and love, 24/7 global radio with Beats 1, exciting material from your favorite artist, and more.”

Beats Music subscriptions will be cancelled on Nov. 30, but users have the option to move their picks and preferences over to Apple Music, he added.

The company also provided detailed instructions for users moving from Beat Music to Apple Music on the support page. Apple had said earlier it was no longer accepting new subscriptions for Beats Music and recommended to users to move their current Beats subscriptions over to Apple Music.

Apple unveiled in June the subscription music service, which is priced at US$10 a month with a family service also available for up to six family members for $15 per month. The subscription rates vary in some countries.

The service offers a three-month free trial. Unlike some of its rivals, Apple Music doesn’t offer free music supported by advertisements.



Facebook Tests Disappearing Messages Feature

November 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook has confirmed that it is conducting a small test of a Snapchat-like feature, enabling users to send messages that will automatically disappear.

“We’re excited to announce the latest in an engaging line of optional product features geared towards making Messenger the best way to communicate with the people that matter most,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an email. “Starting today, we’re conducting a small test in France of a feature that allows people to send messages that disappear an hour after they’re sent. Disappearing messages gives people another fun option to choose from when they communicate on Messenger.”

This should sound familiar to Snapchat users who are accustomed to their messages disappearing shortly after they’re sent.

Users can turn the Facebook feature on by tapping an hourglass icon in the upper right corner of the Messenger screen. Tap the hourglass again to turn it off.

Facebook is testing disappearing messages for iOS and Android users in France only. While the feature may be available in more countries over time, Facebook didn’t have any current plans to share.

This may be a good defensive move for the social network.

Facebook has been struggling to retain, or even attract, younger users who are being lured away by apps like Instagram and Snapchat.

To deal with this problem, Facebook tried to buy Snapchat for a reported $3 billion in late 2013. The offer was turned down, though.

Then in early 2014, Facebook tried to go after Snapchat’s users by unveiling a new mobile app called Slingshot. The app was designed to enable users to instantly share photos and videos with multiple friends.

Now that Facebook is taking a different tack, the question is whether it can steal away Snapchat’s user base.






T-Mobile Announces Free ‘Binge On’ Video-streaming Service

November 12, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile announced that it will begin offering free streaming of wireless video to certain T-Mobile customers for services such as HBO, Hulu, Netflix and 21 others.

The service, called Binge On, will be available starting Sunday at no extra charge to T-Mobile’s Simple Choice customers paying for 3GB of data. In addition, the carrier said it doubled the LTE data caps at every level in Simple Choice at no extra cost.

“T-Mobile is un-leashing entertainment and giving customers exactly what they want,” CEO John Legere declared at an event in Los Angeles that was webcast.

He also said that neither the 24 video-streaming services involved nor T-Mobile customers will pay for the service. Binge On is powered by new technology built into T-Mobile’s network, which optimizes video for mobile screens and minimizes data consumption.

In an online FAQ, T-Mobile said its Binge On video quality “looks great” on a phone. The explanation says the service optimizes video quality for smartphone screens and minimizes buffering and maximizes quality.

Analysts had predicted the free video service would be announced today, but some were skeptical that T-Mobile could afford to offer it without leading to widespread LTE network congestion.

Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics, said T-Mobile would be using a compression algorithm that reduces video streams to one-third of their original size. Binge One won’t work with encrypted data, such as that from Google and Facebook, he said.

To be eligible for one line with sufficient data to use Binge On, a user would pay $65 a month. That cost would include $50 for one line that includes 2GB of data, but a customer would need to add 4GB more for $15 a month to get above the 3GB minimum for Binge On.


Intel Expands Xeon Family

November 12, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel has expanded its family of low-power Xeon D processors to include better support for network and storage in order to speed up the move towards cloud-ready communications.

The fresh Xeon D-1500 products come in nine flavors and are said to offer more performance, energy efficiency, and twice the maximum memory of the previous iteration, making them ideal for dense environments in networking, cloud and enterprise storage, as well as IoT applications, Intel said.

“Billions of devices are becoming connected – from smartphones to cars to factories – and that brings new use cases and service opportunities that drive unprecedented growth in network and storage demands,” explained Intel. “Today’s networks are not designed in a way that allows communications providers to quickly or cost effectively expand their infrastructure.”

Intel believes that for us to take advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT) and enhance mobile computing experiences, communications networks need to be “re-architected”, with increased programmability and built-in flexibility throughout the infrastructure to handle the anticipated increase in volume and complexity of data traffic.

“Networks are facing extraordinary demands as more devices become connected and new digital services are offered,” said Intel VP of the data center group, Sandra Rivera. “Building intelligence throughout the communications infrastructure and using a standards-based approach offers service providers the foundation to build agile, cloud-ready networks that allow them to expand their services capabilities.”

Intel said that more than 50 vendors are currently building systems using these new Xeon D-1500 chips.

As part of the same networking communications focus, Intel also unveiled a host of Ethernet controllers.

The Ethernet Multi-host Controller FM10000 Family is said to combine Ethernet technology with advanced switch resources for use in high-performance communications network applications and dense server platforms.

With up to 200Gbps of high-bandwidth multi-host connectivity and multiple 100GbE ports, the FM10000 Ethernet controller delivers a better packet processing capability that should help to reduce network traffic bottlenecks within and between servers.

Intel also announced the Ethernet Controller X550 family, a low-power, low-cost 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity device it said can offer a performance boost to data center servers and network appliances.

Intel first introduced its Xeon D 1500 processor family in March, in what is probably best described as the meeting point between the Xeon E3 and Atom SoCs.

Aimed at powering server, storage and compute applications at the “network edge”, the Xeon D SoCs take the best bits of the E3 and Atom SoCs.



Snapchat Daily Video Viewing Business Booming, Closing In On Facebook

November 10, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The number of videos viewed each day on Snapchat has tripled since May to 6 billion as the messaging app is erasing the gap with social media giant Facebook Inc, according to a report in the Financial Times that cites people close to the company.

The Financial Times said that Snapchat confirmed the 6 billion figure but had declined to comment further.

Facebook said last week that it had doubled daily video views to 8 billion from 4 billion in April, according to the report, which notes that social networking groups are vying for eyeballs in the fast-growing video segment.

Facebook’s daily video viewing number is made up of both desktop and mobile views while Snapchat’s is entirely made up of smartphone users, the report notes.

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel said in May that the company plans to have an initial public offering but did not specify when that would happen. In 2013, Snapchat turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook to acquire the company.


Is The Apple Watch Really A Success?

November 10, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The Apple Press is doing its best to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat over the failure of the iWatch to meet the hype.

Today the papers are full of stories claiming that Apple is the “King of the Smartwatch” because it has sold more than its rivals put together. The figure quoted is a speculative seven million .

We are not saying that figure is bad. In fact many smartwatch sellers would only dream of selling that many but it is simply nowhere near what was expected. When Apple announced it was “inventing” the smartwatch the Tame Apple Press confidently predicted 42 million of the things would ship in the first year.

As Apple failed to get the product to market and others popped up analysts started to drop the figures down. At the launch, when it became obvious that the Apple Watch was not shipping with nearly enough functionality, people like an analyst who previously predicted Apple would sell 24 million devices during 2016 has significantly reduced this figure – to 21 million – following the lukewarm reaction. Later, Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves made the predictions in a research note to clients.

He said: ‘Anecdotal evidence suggests Apple Watch demand is slowing quickly’ and predicted sales for 2015 will reach 10.5 million – 500,000 less than his initial estimates.

It can be seen on this basis that seven million is hugely disappointing and it is not surprising that Apple is desperately trying to keep the actual numbers secret.

We estimate that seven million is roughly the same figure of hardcore Apple fanboys who will buy anything the company buys even if they don’t need it. Apparently they are so stupid that they have bought a watch that runs out of battery in 12 hours or have not realized they just need to take their phone out of their pocket to get the same functionality.

Again the Tame Apple Press has another cunning plan to keep people focused on the smartwatch.

It is talking about how more people will flock to the smartwatch when Apple releases all the functionality it promised for the smartwatch the first time.

However they are also ignoring the fact that Apple might equally lose customers because those who saw the first one thought it was complete pants and swore they would never buy another.



YouTube’s Android App To Support Virtual Reality

November 9, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

YouTube unveiled two new features for its Android app that expand the video site’s use of virtual reality, giving the new technology its biggest platform yet.

The app now supports VR video – a format that gives viewers what the company says are more realistic 360-degree perspectives of films.

To view it, a user would call up a virtual reality video on the YouTube app, click a button on the video for VR mode, and place the phone in Alphabet Inc’s “Cardboard” device, a handheld gadget made from the standard box material that creates a VR viewing experience.

Makers of virtual reality content can upload VR videos compatible with the Cardboard viewer directly to YouTube. YouTube said there are about a dozen VR videos, including one stemming from the “Hunger Games” movies.

YouTube also announced that viewers can see its vast library of videos with a more limited virtual reality experience, also using Cardboard. YouTube said that the videos will resemble what a viewer would see on an IMAX theater screen.

Neil Schneider, executive director of VR trade organization Immersive Technology Alliance, noted that YouTube introduced 3D video in 2009 and was also an early adopter of high-definition video.

“It’s not surprising they would take the angle of adding virtual reality,” he said.

Schneider said the public can expect to see an explosion of high quality content, but said amateur content might be more difficult to come by because the gear to create VR content is typically expensive.

But Jay Iorio, a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers who is experimenting with creating films for Cardboard and Facebook’s Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, said he would not be surprised to see VR recording capabilities on smartphones.

“The equipment I have right now, people will probably have on their phones in a couple years,” he said.

Oculus Rift is scheduled for release next near and is expected to cost between $300 to $350. Cardboard costs between $5 and $50.




Intel Says PCs Will Make A Comeback

November 9, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The PC will make a comeback, but the so-called Tablet revolution is history, according to the Chipmaker who missed out on it.

Kirk Skaugen, GM of Intel’s client computing group told the Intel Global Capital Summit that there are more than a billion PCs that are more than three years old and a third of a billion that are over five years old. People are coming back to the PC and refreshing their systems.

It used to be that people upgraded every two years or so, but in the last five years silicon has got so powerful that no one saw the need. The problem is that they still don’t and Skaugen hopes that two-in-one detachable-screen systems, will be a major growth driver.

Sales of two-in-one systems are up 150 per cent, he claimed, and are leading to people wanting to refresh their PCs up to 18 months earlier than they would have. Mini computers are another growth market.

Without the growth in two-in-ones, the laptop market in the US would have shown 4 per cent negative growth, Skaugen said. However the new forms created a one per cent growth. He thinks the new hardware that such systems are starting to carry, particularly 3D cameras are going to have people rushing back to laptops.

The big loser in all of this is going to be the tablet market. Intel had got the growth in tablets wrong, he said, and is now revising its forecasts.

“18 months ago many people thought that tablet sales were going to cross over PCs in 2014. Now we’re sure they won’t ever. Intel has taken a billion units out of our forecasts in the last year,” he said.

That is just as well because Intel never made a sustainable dent into the tablet market, but it also fulfilled our predictions that the technology never solved any problems. It was still the same toy that Microsoft had been attempting to sell without success for years and they never had a use.



T-Mobile Tackles Signal Problems With Free Mini Cellular Tower

November 5, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile has announced an indoor 4G LTE CellSpot that will aid small businesses and residents in connecting up to 16 simultaneous calls or data sessions.

The device is free to T-Mobile Simple Choice postpaid customers as long as they remain with the carrier, and a $25 deposit is required. The device will be available Wednesday through T-Mobile customer care or participating stores nationwide.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere called the CellSpot the first mini tower available from a U.S. carrier, and revved up the rhetoric that other carriers aren’t letting customers freely decide where to put small cell devices for better cellular coverage.

“They’ll do absolutely everything they can to bleed you dry,” Legere said of his competitors in a statement, with similar comments in a video posted Monday on his Twitter feed.

The mini tower requires a power connection as well as a wired broadband Internet connection. The broadband acts as a backhaul to T-Mobile’s network, much the same way that a wired or fiber-optic connection at the base of a cell tower connects to the carrier’s network.

The tower is designed to boost indoor wireless coverage in an area of 3,000 square feet on average for customers with limited indoor signals. It will work with any 3G or 4G LTE device that works on T-Mobile’s network.

The device also works anywhere that T-Mobile has wireless spectrum, even if there is no existing T-Mobile signal to a particular address, according to T-Mobile. The carrier has spectrum holdings in metro areas across the nation.

Over the wireless signal, CellSpot supports HD voice, voice over LTE, video calling and messaging, among other services.

The CellSpot announcement prompted a flurry of rumors about what T-Mobile might announce at its 10th Un-carrier announcement on Nov. 10 in Los Angeles.

Some analysts have speculated that T-Mobile will announce a free or nearly free wireless video streaming service, possibly by using the CellSpot.




Verizon Signs Exclusive Streaming Content Deal With NBA

November 5, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon Communications Inc has signed an exclusive deal with the National Basketball Association to stream daily league highlights to Verizon’s new mobile video app Go90,according to the New York Times.

The deal, which is expected to be announced Wednesday morning, will also bring new original series and give GO90 access to some live games, the paper said.

With the agreement, Verizon will now be the official wireless provider of the NBA, the newspaper said.

Also, the company will become the title partner of the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest and a partner of the NBA Draft, NYT said.

Verizon, in October, launched its mobile video app “GO90″ with more than 8,000 titles available to users as well as over 35 exclusive original series.

The U.S. wireless carrier also said the exclusive original series count on Go90 is likely to double by year-end.

Verizon and NBA could not be reached immediately for comment outside regular business hours.