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Dubai Police Department Debuts Robocop

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Known for glitz and cutting edge technology, Dubai has deployed a first-of-it’s kind robotic cop. The Robocop has started its duties as part of a new police program.

The Robocop is a customized service robot from Pal Robotics that will be posted in malls and tourist attractions, and people can use the touchscreen embedded in its chest to report crime, pay fines and get information.

“Now most people visit police stations or customer service, but with this tool we can reach the public 24/7 and it won’t ask for any sick leave or maternity leave,” Brig Khalid Al Razooqi, Dubai Police director general of smart services, said in a statement.

The robot has built-in cameras that will stream video back to the police command center. The next batch will be used to tackle crimes, and the police force has plans for a 3-meter tall robot piloted by a police officer from the inside for travel up to 80 kilometers per hour and carrying heavy equipment.

Brig Al Razooqi said the Dubai police plan to add robots until they reach around 25 percent of the force by 2030, allowing the human members of the police to focus their attention on other areas.

Bitcoin Hits Yet Another Record In Value

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Digital currency bitcoin blew past yet another record high this week, surging above $2,400, as demand for crypto-assets soared with the creation of new tokens to raise funding for start-ups using blockchain technology.

Blockchain, the underlying technology behind bitcoin, is a financial ledger maintained by a network of computers that can track the movement of any asset without the need for a central regulator.

Bitcoin hit a record of $2,409 BTC=BTSP on the BitStamp platform and was last up 4.3 percent at $2,363. So far this year, the price of bitcoin has more than doubled.

A key reason for bitcoin’s dominance in the nefarious online underworld, say technologists and cybercrime experts, is its size – the total value of all bitcoins in circulation is more than twice that of the nearest of hundreds of rivals.

Also, a big part of bitcoin’s recent surge is the increase in demand for other digital currencies being sold in so-called “initial coin offerings”, or ICOs. Under ICOs, blockchain start-ups sell their tokens directly to the public to raise capital without any regulatory oversight.

“Bitcoin up 100 percent in under 2 months. Shanghai down almost 10 percent same timeframe, compared to most global stocks up. Probably not a coincidence!”, Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive at DoubleLine Capital tweeted on Tuesday.

Strong demand for bitcoins in Japan has also fueled the rise of the virtual currency that can be moved like money around the world quickly and anonymously without the need for a central authority.

Lenovo Return To Profit, Despite Losses In Mobile Business

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

China’s Lenovo Group Ltd, the world’s largest personal computer (PC) manufacturer, has returned to profitability, but said rising component prices may put pressure on its bottom line this year as supply shortages extend to batteries.

Profit reached $535 million in the year to March on revenue that fell 4 percent, just missing analyst estimates. The news sent Lenovo shares up as much as 6 percent in Hong Kong trade.

The result comes as Lenovo navigates a PC market that has shrunk markedly since the advent of tablet computers. According to researcher Gartner, global PC shipments fell for the 10th consecutive quarter in January-March, dipping below 63 million units for the first time since 2007.

Lenovo’s annual shipments fell 1 percent versus a market decline of 3 percent, with its share rising 0.4 percentage point to a record 21.4 percent. Revenue in its PC and smart devices unit – which makes up 70 percent of the total – fell 2 percent.

The company blamed the declines on transition in its smartphone and data center businesses, as well as on a difficult macro environment and component supply constraints.

Memory shortage is likely to continue this year, particularly solid-state drives (SSD), pushing up parts costs, said Corporate President and Chief Executive Officer Gianfranco Lanci at an earnings briefing.

“We are starting to see shortage in batteries,” Lanci added. “That is mainly because of cars consuming many more batteries than before.”

Lanci said it could take a year for battery suppliers to catch up with demand and for prices to normalize, having risen by a single digit percent so far this year.

Lenovo’s mobile business, which accounts for 18 percent of revenue, booked a loss which widened somewhat to $566 million, though the firm said it was enjoying strong growth in Latin America and Western Europe.

Is AMD Going To Rome

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD has presented a long-term 7nm roadmap and the new codenames for the server products have an Italian theme.

The Zen-based server core, the product that will give a birth to the  Epyc line of data center / server products should debut next month with Naples. Naples is the first 32 core with 64 threads to launch, and this is a 14nm FinFET product. It is named after a city of very rude Italians who are sitting on a super volcano which will eventually explode and take most of southern Europe out with it.

Now Forrest Norrod, a SVP and General Manager of AMD’s enterprise, embedded and semi custom business group, has shared what will come after Zen and it appears the product names are keepting to the Italian theme.

The next in line is based on 7nm and is what the company internally calls Zen 2. Making the transistors smaller will let it put more transistors per square meter and give it a much better efficiency. In servers, it is all about the efficiency per square millimeter, or performance per watt metric.

The Zen 2 data center is codenamed Rome which is named after a city which worshipped a fire goddess and nicked most of its technology from the rest of Europe. Rome also invented exploding public toilets and Catholicism. 

GlobalFoundries said that 7nm risk production can start early next year, so we can expect to see the Zen 2 core at the end of 2018 at the earliest.

The Zen 3 based core is likely based on a 7nm+  process, whatever that might become. AMD’s client and data center group is in sync with its roadmap, at least partially. Both groups are planning to have Zen 2 and Zen 3 based products after they finally manage to ship Zen this year. AMD is using “Milan” as the codename for its Zen 3 product. It is named after a city which thinks it rules the whole of Italy. People from Milan also believe in putting blue cheese on pizzas, which makes them seen as barbarians by the rest of the country.

According to a Powerpoint deck, Milan is coming in its Blue Vein glory sometime before 2020. These time frames are not set in stone.

Forrest said that  a Zen based Epyc processor should be expected in 30+ 1S and 2S servers during 2017. 5000 Epyc CPUs are seeded with OEMs, end customers and partners and AMD is hoping that they will get to see the beauty of its Epyc platform and make some more designs.

Multiple Hypersacele providers have programs and evaluation for the Epyc processor,  hoping to score a good deal in the latter part of the year and beyond. AMD has confirmed that its Risorgimento should be on schedule to launch in June 2017. 

Courtesy-Fud

Is The U.S. Tech Sector Truly Leading The Way

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The US stock market is doing rather well, but it is entirely based on the tech industry which have been making up all the gains.

Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft make up a whopping 37 percent of the total gains in the sharemarket while the bulk of US companies are just slouching around like teenagers in a mall.

Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft saw their share prices touch record highs in recent months. Other companies grew at a rate of less than 1 percent during the first three months of this year.

The Wall Street Journal said that this part of a trend. Digital industries such as technology, communications, media, software, finance and professional services grew 2.7 per cent annually over the past 15 years.

The slowdown is concentrated in physical industries such as health care, transportation, education, manufacturing, retail where productivity grew a mere 0.7% annually over the same period.

As technology companies continue to scale, the network effects bolstering their business are strengthening. Facebook and Google accounted for over three-quarters of the growth in the digital advertising industry in 2016, leaving the rest to be divided among small fry like Twitter, Snapchat, and the entire American media industry.

Apple and Alphabet have achieved a virtual duopoly on mobile operating systems, with only a tiny sliver of consumers choosing an alternative for their smartphones and tablets.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft To Acquire Cyber Security Firm Hexadite

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft has made a deal to purchase cyber security firm Hexadite for $100 million, according to Israeli financial news website Calcalist.

Hexadite, headquartered in Boston with its research and development center in Israel, provides technology to automate responses to cyber attacks that it says increases productivity and reduces costs for businesses.

Microsoft officials declined to comment. Officials at Hexadite could not immediately be reach for comment.

Investors in Hexadite include Hewlett Packard Ventures, and venture capital firms TenEleven and YL Ventures.

Microsoft said in January it plans to continue to invest more than $1 billion annually on cyber security research and development in the coming years. Israel has already benefited from that investment.

Is The MP3 Codec Finished?

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The MP3 digital audio coding format has now been officially confirmed as dead by its inventors.

The Fraunhofer Institute officially terminated its licensing program for certain MP3-related patents, in a move widely interpreted by tech experts as MP3’s “official death warrant”.

It is all symbolic, you can still use MP3 files if you want to, but the removal of support for the format signals an official shift in the industry.

Basically there are better quality formats that offer more efficient compression and more functionality are now the standard. With cheaper and faster hard-drives you also have more space for less compressed higher quality music.

The Fraunhofer Institute said in a statement said that although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, MP3 is still very popular amongst consumers.

“However, most of the latest media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs, such as the AAC [Advanced Audio Coding] family or in the future MPEG-H. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to MP3.”

Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, which is a division of a German research institution that contributed to the development of MP3 in the late 1980s, helped create AAC.
It said AAC was now the “de facto standard for music download and videos on mobile phones”.

Courtesy-Fud

Can NBCUniversal Compete In The Mobile Games Space

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

As the mobile market continues to boom and the nascent virtual reality space becomes a larger sector within mobile thanks to devices like Samsung Gear and Google Daydream, NBCUniversal is aiming to leverage its bevy of popular IP such as Fast & Furious, Minions, Despicable Me, Jurassic World and more. According to GamesBeat, the company has hired former Disney mobile games leader Chris Heatherly to oversee a new mobile game and virtual reality publishing group.

The goal is to leverage properties from DreamWorks Animation, Illumination Entertainment, and Universal Pictures by directly getting involved in the creation, development, marketing and distribution of games as opposed to licensing out brands, which has been done previously. For example, Despicable Me had been licensed to Gameloft, and the publisher’s Minion Rush game went on to be downloaded more than 800 million times. While self-publishing is now a focus, the company said it will still complement its business by licensing some brands as well.

“Universal has decided to take a strategic position in games,” Heatherly said. “We are pushing heavily in the digital space. And they see there is no bigger digital space than games. It’s part of a larger plan to build evergreen franchises that support multiple products across multiple businesses.”

Heatherly will serve as executive vice president of games and digital platforms within Universal Brand Development, and he will be joined by James Molinets, senior vice president of production; Timothy FitzRandolph, vice president of creative; and Fabian Schonholz, senior vice president of technology and operations. The former two executives were key members of the Disney mobile team and also oversaw the kids-focused virtual world, Club Penguin.

While NBCUniversal said it’s going to be 80% focused on creating mobile games, interest in VR as an “emerging area” is building as well. “We are leveraging the best talent that is already out there… On the VR front, we are doing quite a few things. One of them we can announce soon,” he teased.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Expedia Now Accepting Online Reservations For Cuba

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

U.S. online travel services company Expedia announced that it had started offering online booking for hotels in Communist-run Cuba, looking to capitalize on a boom in tourism to the Caribbean island.

Expedia joins a dozen U.S. airlines and cruise operators that have already ventured into the Cuban market since the United States announced a detente with its former Cold War foe in 2014 and eased travel and trade restrictions.

“I see a lot of potential. We are talking about the largest country in the Caribbean with significant hotel expansion plans,” Veronica Vega, Expedia area manager for Caribbean, said in an interview.

The number of visitors to Cuba rose 13 percent to a record 4 million in 2016, driven by a 74 percent jump in U.S. travelers. A survey recently showed the number of American visitors alone could multiply sevenfold to 2 million by 2025.

Expedia’s move comes as U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration conducts a full review of U.S. policy toward Cuba. During his campaign, Trump had threatened to roll back the normalization of relations.

That does not seem to have dampened U.S. interest in the Cuban market. Analysts and corporate executives said it was hard to imagine Trump, a former businessman, taking measures that would harm U.S. companies already in Cuba.

U.S. law still bans general tourism to Cuba, but former President Barack Obama’s administration allowed Americans to travel more easily to Cuba for educational, cultural and other authorized purposes without having to go on organized group tours.

Expedia said Americans would simply have to certify that their trips fell under one of the 12 categories of authorized travel.

“We are very excited about being able to facilitate travel and give people the independence to select their itinerary,” said Vega.

Expedia said it would offer both hotel and BnB options and that customers would be able to pay online at the time of booking.

Will SSDs Take The Place Of Hard Drives

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Flash memory based solid state storage devices (SSD) are pushing hard disk drives out of the market and will replace them, according to the president of NAND controller developer Silicon Motion.

Robert Fan told New Electronics  that SSDs were taking over the whole category now and we’re seeing with Seagate and Western Digital that their hard disk market is declining.

Fan said flash moves the data quicker and more reliably. Because it is not mechanically-based it has better durability to withstand shocks, high pressures and temperatures. He claims it consumes much less power.

Flash controllers will also organize the way data is stored to achieve ‘wear levelling’. The locations in a flash memory will gradually wear out with repeated write/erase cycles, so using the available memory cells equally is important to avoid premature failure.

Applying single- and multi-cell technologies in its products, Silicon Motion is also exploring 3D NAND. According to Fan. pictured left: “3D NAND is the latest generation of flash technology. It enables very high capacity and very low cost. All the NAND vendors – like Samsung, Toshiba – are moving towards supplying 3D NAND.”

While much has been written about the benefits of SSDs in enterprise applications, the technology is also finding uses in other areas. “One of our key growth areas in the past couple of years has been in the client SSDs,” Fan noted. Client SSDs are built for the consumer market, rather than for enterprise applications, and may provide fewer write cycles.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Kittson Really A Successor To The Itanium Line

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel has released the successors to the Itanium “Poulson” microprocessors and they are showing all the development and evolution of an Apple product.

The Itanium 9720, 9740, 9750 and 9760 CPUs are better known as “Kittson” and really are so similar to their predecessor you could not tell them apart.

In fact the only improvement in “Kittson” lineup is slightly increased operating frequency in two models.

The new range has four and eight CPU cores depending on SKU, up to 32 MB of last level cache, and 2 DDR3 memory controllers. They are clocked at up to 2.66 GHz, and support Hyper-Threading technology. Other supported features are Turbo Boost and Virtualization technologies.

They have shedloads of RAS features, such as machine check architecture with ECC and parity protection, Instruction Replay technology, hot add and removal.

Each on-chip memory controller supports two interconnects to Intel 7500 and 7510 Scalable Memory Buffers. The CPU works with DDR3-800 and DDR3-1066 memory. The Itanium 9720 is rated at 130 Watt TDP and the 9740, 9750 and 9760 SKUs have 170 Watt TDP.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Unveil Cloud IoT Core Services For Businesses

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Google has launched a cloud platform service to help organizations collect vital data from billions of Internet of Things devices.

The service, Google Cloud IoT Core, is designed to help enterprises, including utilities and transportation agencies, securely connect globally distributed devices to the Google Cloud Platform. There, the data can be centrally managed and integrated with Google’s data analytics services, said Indranil Chakraborty, cloud product manager at Google.

One customer who has been testing the new service for two months is Energyworx, a company of 40 workers that has used Google cloud services since 2014. Energyworx provides data analytics to utilities to help them plan better and improve performance.

The new Cloud IoT Core has been deployed by Energyworx to get real-time data readings from thousands of solar inverters and electric vehicle charging ports that have been deployed in California and other locales, said Edwin Poot, founder and visionary for Energyworx, in an interview. He said he expects to expand the test of Cloud IoT Core to include collection of data from millions of smart utility meters used to measure water and gas in coming years.

Cloud IoT Core provides a communications bridge between Google analytics and devices in the field, Poot said. Many of the devices, including solar invertors, rely on distinct or arcane data protocols that Google services can translate without manual intervention. (A solar inverter converts the variable direct current of a solar panel into a utility frequency alternating current that can be fed into the commercial electric grid.)

With the service, utilities can send control commands to meters, turning them on off, he said.

Energyworx only pays Google for the IoT devices it uses to receive data, Poot said, which should keep costs low. Overall, Poot said Google cloud services have cost a 10th what Energyworx was paying to Amazon Web Services, which it used prior to 2014.

“We’re seeing the power of cloud will grow fast and this [Google IoT] approach will be scalable,” Poot said. “We don’t install anything and don’t maintain anything. We just program it and use it and don’t worry about anything else.”

Samsung On The Hunt For Acquisitions

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to continue their hunt for acquisition opportunities, a company executive said on Monday, as the firm seeks to build software and services to further differentiate its products.

“We are going to be bullish on finding companies that fit our strategy,” Peter Koo, a senior vice president for Samsung’s mobile division, said during an investor event in Hong Kong. He did not elaborate on specific targets or technologies that Samsung is looking to acquire.

The world’s top maker of memory chips, smartphones and televisions has grown more aggressive in acquiring companies in recent years, breaking from its past preference to rely on its own talent and use its cash for capital expenditures amid intensifying competition from the likes of Apple Inc and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

In addition to buying firms such as Viv Labs and LoopPay, deals that bolstered Samsung’s existing efforts for artificial intelligence and mobile payments services, Samsung is also spending money to break into new businesses.

The firm completed an $8 billion acquisition of Harman International Industries early this year, its biggest ever deal, in an attempt to speed up its entry into the automotive components industry and develop a new growth engine.

Koo said Samsung’s aim with software and services is to primarily make its products more attractive to consumers, and that the firm will look for partnerships as well as acquisitions to bolster its offerings.

Angry Birds Movie To Get A Sequel, Says Rovio Entertainment

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Finnish mobile games and animation studio Rovio Entertainment approved plans to proceed with a sequel to its Angry Birds movie, it said on Monday, aiming for release in September 2019.

The Angry Birds Movie 2 will be produced with Columbia Pictures and distributed by Sony Pictures, Rovio said.

The first Angry Birds movie, released last year, earned about $350 million at the box office and gave a boost to Rovio’s game sales, helping the company to swing to an annual profit after years of falling earnings, job cuts and divestments.

Rovio said the new movie will be directed by Thurop Van Orman, the creator of animated TV series “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack”.

The original Angry Birds game — in which smartphone players use a slingshot to attack pigs who steal the birds’ eggs — became a phenomenon in 2009, but the franchise faltered in the following years amid tough competition.

Alongside the movie plan, Rovio is looking to reduce its dependence on Angry Birds — earlier this month it launched “Battle Bay”, the firm’s first multiplayer game which does not carry the Angry Birds name.

Will HTC Ever Return To Profitability

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

HTC, the original equipment manufacturer that designs its own mobile devices and Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, has announced net losses of $66.12 million for the first quarter of 2017. The company’s latest financials are the latest in a series – it’s had eight consecutive losses over the past two years.

Like many smartphone and VR headset manufacturing companies, HTC had hoped that 2017 would turn out to be a much better year than 2016. The Taiwanese company’s earnings report for Q1 2017 gives mixed results this quarter. Revenues were $NT14.5 billion ($480.2 million), which is down 33 percent from the NT$22.2 billion ($720.7 million) it posted in Q4 2016. However, losses of NT$2 billion ($66.2 million) aren’t as bad as the NT$3.09 billion ($102.4 million) it posted the previous quarter, or about 55 percent. These are also up from NT$2.61 billion ($86.5 million) in the previous year.

HTC plans to streamline operations, reduce operating losses

In Q1 2017, HTC says it continued to realign its organizational structure to help reduce overhead expenses by nearly 20 percent. This is similar to what Sprint has been doing since October 2015, when it announced a $2.5 billion cost cutting plan to streamline company operations. HTC’s gross margins climbed to 16.3 percent versus 10.45 percent in Q4 2016, and 9.36 percent year-over-year.

The company worked to lower its operating costs to $NT12.2 billion ($403 million) from NT$13.4 billion ($444.9 million) a year earlier. Given that the company has not turned a profit in over a year, the plan is to continue lowering operating costs to reduce its operating losses. HTC launched two smartphones in the first quarter – the HTC U Ultra and the HTC U Play – but only the first device is available in the US. Then there was a report in February stating the company plans to exit the entry-level smartphone business in 2017 as it begins to focus on “high-margin” and “high-profit” devices. The company has been notorious for announcing products at its own events that aren’t necessarily in line with usual CES and MWC unveils from manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Huawei, Motorola and others. While this strategy can work well in some circumstances, it only works when people are made aware of the announcements.

Opinion: HTC U 11, Pixel shipments may return profitability for second half of 2017

The company now wants to introduce an additional four to five high margin smartphone devices over the course of the next year, starting with the long-awaited HTC U 11 that will be announced on May 16th. The device’s flagship feature, Sense Touch, is a new concept that allows using the side frame as an input method. However, it is unclear whether the HTC U 11 will be available in the second or third quarter, and whether it will be available internationally.

Within six weeks of the HTC U Ultra’s release in the US, the company slashed its price from $749 down to $599 after reviewing outlets had a hard time recommending the device over similar Android Nougat counterparts. This move did not speak well of the device’s sales, though it has been able to make some profit from Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL sales since their October debut from much higher consumer demand. Google managed to sell an estimated 552,000 units before the end of 2016, and FierceWireless reported those devices accounting for 9.5 percent of smartphone sales at Verizon in January.

Google is not expected to announce refreshed Pixel devices until later this fall, but those sales will certainly aide HTC’s path to becoming a premium-focused smartphone brand and hopefully reduce its operating losses.

Courtesy-Fud

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