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Lenovo Announces 64-Bit Android Tablet For $129

March 3, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Tablets running 64-bit Android haven’t been on the market forr long but prices are already projected to drop quickly.

Lenovo’s 8-inch Tab 2 A8 will ship in June starting at $129, with a 64-bit version of Android 5.0 and a 64-bit quad-core processor from MediaTek. It was one of three tablets Lenovo announced ahead of the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.

Sixty-four-bit tablets have a few advantages. They can support more memory and therefore make light work of multimedia-intensive apps such as games, as well as apps that use encryption for security. More 64-bit Android apps are in development, so a 64-bit tablet also provides some future-proofing.

Only a handful of 64-bit Android tablets are on sale today. One of the best known is Google’s Nexus 9, which sells for $399.99 in the Google Play store. Many more are expected as vendors deploy Android 5.0 more broadly and as more 64-bit processors become available. Lenovo’s Tab 2 A8 could prompt other vendors to drive down prices for their own 64-bit Android tablets.

The Tab 2 A8 is 9 millimeters thick, weighs 360 grams and will offer eight hours of battery life, according to Lenovo. The $129 model has Wi-Fi only, while a $179 model will have integrated LTE. It doesn’t look like the LTE model will be offered in the U.S., however.

The tablet has a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and 1GB of RAM. It has a maximum of 16GB of storage that can be expanded to 32GB with a Micro-SD card.

With a 720p screen, Lenovo has compromised on the display to keep the price low.

Tablet shipments flattened last year after years of strong growth, and the 64-bit Android tablets could spur people to upgrade from older models.

Apple had an early start in 64-bit tablets with the iPad Air, but the low-priced tablets could shift the market in Android’s favor.

Lenovo also announced the 10-inch Tab 2 A10, which has a 64-bit processor but will initially ship with a 32-bit version of Android, version 4.4. The tablet will start shipping in April and users will be able to upgrade their devices to Android 5.0 in June, Lenovo said.

 

 

 

AT&T To Link Smart Homes With Connected Cars

March 3, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

AT&T Inc  will link its connected car and smart home technologies to expand its reach in the fast-growing market for Internet-connected devices, a new battleground for the telecom giant and its rivals.

The wireless company’s home security and automation service “Digital Life” and connected car service “Drive” will be integrated so users can control their homes from a dashboard in their vehicles, Glenn Lurie, chief executive of AT&T Mobility told Reuters last week ahead of the company’s announcement at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

“Once you’ve told your home when the car is (for instance)within 20 feet of the house to please open the garage door, put the lights on, turn the alarm off, move the thermostat up, you can have those inanimate objects, the home and your car, really taking care of you,” Lurie said.

With the two services linked up, a “Drive” car can control devices in the home, including security cameras, air-conditioners, coffee makers, stereo systems, door locks, alarm sensors on windows and sensors that detect leaks from water pipes.

Most Americans own a mobile phone, and the $1.7 trillion U.S. wireless industry is turning for growth to connected devices.

AT&T said it had about 20 million connected devices from cars to cargo ship container sensors in 2014, up 21 percent from the year earlier. It has not yet revealed its revenue from its “Internet of Things” business.

Technology companies including Apple and Google are making their own plays. Mercedes-Benz has an application that lets drivers control thermostats from Nest, a company acquired by Google.

Analysts expect fast growth from the “Internet of Things”, or web-connected machines and gadgets. Connected car revenue is expected to be $20 billion annually by 2018 from $3 billion in 2013, and smart homes revenue is estimated to touch $71 billion by 2018, according to Juniper Research.

AT&T has deals with eight automakers from General Motors to Ford on connected car services. Lurie said it was still signing deals.

On the home front, it has partnered with home appliance makers such as Samsung and LG Electronics.

Customers will pay for the new service through AT&T’s Mobile Share Value plan. A user can add $10 to the monthly phone bill to share data across multiple connected devices such as wearables and cars, Lurie said. Or customers can opt for plans provided by their car manufacturer.

 

Can MediaTek Give Qualcomm A Run For Its Money?

March 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

While Qualcomm’s 20nm Snapdragon 810 SoC might be the star of upcoming flagship smartphones, it appears that MediaTek has its own horse for the race, the octa-core MT6795.

Spotted by GforGames site, in a GeekBench test results and running inside an unknown smartphone, MediaTek’s MT6795 managed to score 886 points in the single-core test and 4536 points in the multi-core test. These results were enough to put it neck to neck with the mighty Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC tested in the LG G Flex 2, which scored 1144 points in the single-core and 4345 in the multi-core test. While it did outrun the MT6795 in the single-core test, the multi-core test was clearly not kind on the Snapdragon 810.

The unknown device was running on Android Lollipop OS and packed 3GB of RAM, which might gave the MT6795 an edge over the LG G Flex 2.

MediaTek’s octa-core MT6795 was announced last year and while we are yet to see some of the first design wins, recent rumors suggested that it could be powering Meizu’s MX5, HTC’s Desire A55 and some other high-end smartphones. The MediaTek MT6795 is a 64-bit octa-core SoC clocked at up to 2.2GHz, with four Cortex-A57 cores and four Cortex-A53 cores. It packs PowerVR G6200 graphics, supports LPDDR3 memory and can handle 2K displays at up to 120Hz.

As we are just a few days from Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2015 which will kick off in Barcelona on March 2nd, we are quite sure that we will see more info as well as more benchmarks as a single benchmark running on an unknown smartphone might not be the best representation of performance, it does show that MediaTek certainly has a good chip and can compete with Qualcomm and Samsung.

Courtesy-Fud

Will DirectX 12 Allow AMD and nVidia To Play Together?

March 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

DirectX 12 looks set to bring Nvidia and AMD together, in a way that neither will be particularly happy about.

According to Toms Hardware one of the unexpected features of DirectX 12 is the ability to use Nvidia GPUs alongside AMD GPUs in multi-card configurations.

This is because DirectX 12 operates at a lower level than previous versions of the API it is able to treat all available video resources as one unit. Card model and brand makes no difference to a machine running DX12.

This could mean that the days of PC gamers having to decide between AMD or Nvidia could be over and they can pick their referred hardware from both companies and enjoy the best of both worlds. They will also be able to mix old and new cards.

However there might be a few problems with all this. Rather than worrying about your hardware optimization software developers will have to be on the ball to make sure their products work.

More hardware options means more potential configurations that games need to run on, and that could cause headaches for smaller studios.

Courtesy-Fud

Will nVidia Put AMD Out Of Business?

February 26, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It would appear that the world is rushing to Nvidia to buy its latest GPU at the expense of AMD.

According to the data, NVIDIA and AMD each took dramatic swings from Q4 of 2013 to Q4 of 2014 with Nvidia increasing its market share over AMD by 20 per cent and AMD’s market share has dropped from 35 per cent at the end of 2013 to just 24 per cent at the end of 2014.

Meanwhile, Nvidia has gonr from 64.9 per cent at the end of 2013 to 76 per cent at the end of 2014.

The report JPR’s AIB Report looks at computer add-in graphics boards, which carry discrete graphics for desktop PCs, workstations, servers, and other devices such as scientific instruments.

In all cases, AIBs represent the higher end of the graphics industry using discrete chips and private high-speed memory, as compared to the integrated GPUs in CPUs that share slower system memory.

On a year-to-year basis, total AIB shipments during the quarter fell by 17.52 per cent , which is more than desktop PCs, which fell by 0.72 percent .

However, in spite of the overall decline, somewhat due to tablets and embedded graphics, the PC gaming momentum continues to build and is the bright spot in the AIB market.

The overall PC desktop market increased quarter-to-quarter including double-attach-the adding of a second (or third) AIB to a system with integrated processor graphics-and to a lesser extent, dual AIBs in performance desktop machines using either AMD’s Crossfire or Nvidia’s SLI technology.

The attach rate of AIBs to desktop PCs declined from a high of 63 per cent in Q1 2008 to 36 per cent this quarter.

So in other words It is also clear that the Radeon R9 285 release didn’t have the impact AMD had hoped and NVIDIA’s Maxwell GPUs, the GeForce GTX 750 Ti, GTX 970 and GTX 980 have impacted the market even more than expected.

This is ironic because the GTX 970 has been getting a lot of negative press with the memory issue and AMD makes some good gear, has better pricing and a team of PR and marketing folks that are talented and aggressive.

Courtesy-Fud

IBM, ARM Team Up To Offer IoT Starter Kit

February 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

ARM and IBM want Internet of Things (IoT) enthusiasts to make their own connected devices in a matter of minutes with a new development kit that they have unveiled.

The ARM mbed IoT Starter Kit — Ethernet Edition will allow users to make cloud-ready Internet of Things products that could receive or transmit data for analysis or alerts. The development kit will come with ARM’s mbed OS and connect into IBM’s BlueMix cloud, which will help in the development of applications and services.

The kit is for those with little to no experience in embedded or Web development. Prototype designs will guide enthusiasts through the process of making a device and connecting to IBM’s BlueMix cloud service.

The starter kit will get data from “the on board sensors into the IBM cloud within minutes of opening the box,” said the product page on ARM’s website.

ARM and IBM hope to cash in on the mass adoption of IOT, which has led to a mesh of interconnected devices used in smart homes, smart city implementations and enterprises. The devices, which could range from weather sensors to health devices, already number 1.2 billion, and could touch 5.4 billion by 2020, according to a recent study by Verizon.

The IOT market is currently fragmented with a wide variety of hardware, operating systems and communication standards in use. Through the developer kit, ARM and IBM want to bring a level of consistency in hardware and software across IOT devices. Beyond making it easier for devices to talk one another, the developer kit could make it easier to push or pull data out of a larger number of cloud services.

ARM didn’t provide details on the pricing or availability of the starter kit. The first devices resulting from the development kit are expected to be released later this year.

 

 

Lenovo To Bring Energy Efficient ARM Server To Market

February 23, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Lenovo has teamed with the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) to build ARM-based server designs for workloads to improve energy efficiency.

The partnership will investigate the suitability of ARM servers and look to improve the overall energy efficiency and performance of computing systems.

Lenovo is taking over from IBM in its relationship with the STFC on research projects since the Chinese company announced a $2.3bn buyout of IBM’s x86 server business last year.

The latest collaboration will see the STFC’s Hartree Centre deploy and test ARM-based server hardware from Lenovo to investigate whether it can meet the challenges faced by data centres after a boom in demand.

The Hartree Centre is a research collaboration between STFC’s Scientific Computing Department and the UK facility dedicated to high-performance computing (HPC).

Joining HP and Dell with their ARM-based system developments, Lenovo said that the project is seen as a long-term investment, and probably won’t lead to commercial ARM-based server offerings.

For this project, the Hartree Centre is researching the challenges of power consumption in computing and the performance effects of scale-out versus scale-up systems given a defined power budget.

Hartree will also develop software intellectual property and define best practice regarding ARM-based server deployments.

“While ARM technology has shown promise, the biggest hurdle to overcome is the build-out of an ecosystem to support a production environment,” Lenovo said.

“Traditional servers have standardised on a common foundation, then you stack on top different kinds of cards that give the server its personality for a certain workload, such as networking cards, security accelerators, field-programmable gate arrays or GPUs,” said Lenovo’s executive director for HPC, Scott Tease.

The problem with this approach is that the cost adds up, as it increases power consumption and often adds latency to applications, according to Lenovo.

“So what we’re trying to do is figure out if there is a better way to go, where we look at more workload-optimised systems where all the functionality is designed into the base of the system,” Tease explained.

As part of this collaboration, Lenovo is developing an ARM-based server prototype as an extension to its popular NextScale dense computing platform.

Given its open and flexible design, NextScale solutions are used in HPC, grid deployments, analytics workloads, and large-scale cloud and virtualisation infrastructures.

The NextScale ARM server will be based on the Cavium ThunderX SoC, which has a full range of capabilities to help minimise cost and power consumption.

The NextScale enclosure is designed to optimise density and performance while fitting in a standard 19in rack, and can hold up to 12 ARM-based servers, delivering 1,152 cores while occupying only 6U of rack space, Lenovo said.

“What you can do with that is connect the nodes together in a mesh topology that allows for node-to-node communication without the need for any switching at the top of the rack,” Tease explained.

Lenovo and the STFC are looking at applications including cloud, search and web serving and caching, plus HPC.

“The reason we selected these is because they all have similar technical requirements, they are all looking for good energy efficiency, and users are looking for the best cost for the level of performance,” Tease said.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Microsoft Severs Ties With The Darkside

February 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

The security of the employees of Phantom Dust developer Darkside Game Studios is in doubt, after Microsoft decided to sever all professional ties to the studio.

Phantom Dust is a remake of an Xbox game from 2004, which was designed by Yukio Futatsugi, the creator of Panzer Dragoon. Darkside’s project was unveiled at E3 last year as an exclusive title for the Xbox One, but whatever agreement existed between the studio and Microsoft has been terminated.

Here’s the official line: “Microsoft partnered with Darkside Game Studios in the development of Phantom Dust, but our working relationship has now ended. We have great respect for their studio and their work in the industry.

“While we do not have anything new to share on Phantom Dust at this time, we can confirm that development of the title continues. We look forward to sharing more details on the game as we get closer to release.”

Darkside, which is based in Florida, has contributed to the development of a host of major releases, including a couple of Xbox exclusives: Sunset Overdrive, Gears of War: Judgment, the Borderlands franchise, the Bioshock franchise; it’s a solid track record, albeit entirely composed of contract work, and Phantom Dust was to be its first solo project.

However, the “respect” Microsoft has for that track record is now the subject of suspicion, with several sources from within Darkside claiming that the company has been forced to layoff its entire staff – around 50 people.

“The executives who saw it were impressed and as late as this morning gave our team every indication that the project was on solid ground,” one of the sources said to Kotaku. “Yet we got the phone call today that someone up on high who in all likelihood wasn’t even aware of the game in detail shut it down.”

The notion that the alleged termination of Darkside’s working relationship with Microsoft was sudden is reinforced by the studio’s recruitment page, which advertised six open positions as recently as the start of January. Among the perks listed there, one stands out: “Working with major publishers.”

Microsoft offered no comment on the situation at Darkside, but we are pursuing the studio’s management for clarification.

Courtesy-Gi.biz

Intel Give A Boost To Its Exascale Computing Effort

February 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s exascale computing efforts have received a boost with the extension of the company’s research collaboration with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center.

Begun in 2011 and now extended to September 2017, the Intel-BSC work is currently looking at scalability issues with parallel applications.

Karl Solchenbach, Intel’s director, Innovation Pathfinding Architecture Group in Europe said it was important to improve scalability of threaded applications on many core nodes through the OmpSs programming model.

The collaboration has developed a methodology to measure these effects separately. “An automatic tool not only provides a detailed analysis of performance inhibitors, but also it allows a projection to a higher number of nodes,” says Solchenbach.

BSC has been making HPC tools and given Intel an instrumentation package (Extrae), a performance data browser (Paraver), and a simulator (Dimemas) to play with.

Charlie Wuischpard, VP & GM High Performance Computing at Intel said that the Barcelona work is pretty big scale for Chipzilla.

“A major part of what we’re proposing going forward is work on many core architecture. Our roadmap is to continue to add more and more cores all the time.”

“Our Knights Landing product that is coming out will have 60 or more cores running at a slightly slower clock speed but give you vastly better performance,” he said.

Courtesy-Fud

Internally Intel Is Going All In On IoT

February 19, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

A leaked report has revealed how Intel is convincing its own staff of its Internet of Things (IoT), cloud and data analytics.

Apparently Intel wants to eat its own dog food to reduce costs, improve inefficiencies and boost performance, a major internal report has revealed.

Intel IT supports over 106,000 employees in 66 countries, and the report is an intriguing look into how a technology giant tackles the same challenges and opportunities facing the customers and markets it serves.

The report explained that the company has fitted sensors in different environments, such as production and manufacturing facilities, to improve performance and efficiency.

“Collection and analysis of pressure variation using the Intel IoT Gateway enabled yield improvement in one manufacturing operation,” the report notes.

“In another use case, predictive triggers for electromechanical parts failure in complex test equipment helped to improve output and yield.”

A third project involves using wireless IoT sensors at Intel’s data centers to gather information on humidity, power demand, water temperature and air pressure.

“Data analysis identified non-intuitive changes to our existing room power, space and cooling infrastructure, enabling us to design a free-cooling data centre with an averagepower usage effectiveness of 1.07, cutting annual power costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the report said.

The report revealed that 85 percent of all new services installed for the company’s Office, Enterprise and Services divisions are hosted in the cloud.

“We attribute the success of our private cloud to implementing a provider-like cloud hosting strategy, advancing self-service infrastructure as a service and platform as a service, and enabling cloud-aware applications,” the report said.

“Our private cloud saves about $7.5m annually while supporting an increase of 17 percent in operating system instances in the environment.”

Courtesy-Fud

Will Sony Exit TV, Mobile Phone Markets?

February 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Sony Corp hopes to increase operating profit 25-fold within three years by growing its camera sensors and PlayStation units, its chief executive said, laying out a strategy that could see the company exit the ultra competitive TV and smartphone markets.

CEO Kazuo Hirai said on Wednesday the Japanese consumer electronics firm would no longer pursue sales growth in areas such as smartphones where its has suffered competition from cheaper Asian rivals as well as industry leaders like Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics.

Sony would instead focus its spending on more profitable businesses such as camera sensors, videogames and entertainment as it seeks to return to growth after forecasting for this financial year its sixth net loss in seven years.

“The strategy starting from the next business year will be about generating profit and investing for growth,” Hirai told a briefing, adding that Sony’s units would be given greater autonomy to make their own business decisions.

Asked about the TV and mobile phone units, Hirai said he would not “rule out considering an exit strategy”, Sony’s clearest statement to date about the possibility of selling or finding partners for these struggling units.

Sony is in the midst of a restructuring that has so far seen it sell off its personal computer division and spin off the TV business. It has also axed thousands of jobs.

Sony shares have risen more than 80 percent over the past year as investors applauded the restructuring, which accelerated since Hirai appointed Kenichiro Yoshida as his chief strategy officer in late 2013.

 

 

Flip-Phones Oddly Increasing In Popularity In Japan

February 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Japanese shipments of traditional flip-phones picked up pace in 2014 for the first time in seven years while smartphone shipments dropped, highlighting Japanese consumers’ tenacious attachment to the familiar and typically less expensive older models.

Nicknamed “Galapagos” phones because they have evolved to meet unique Japanese standards and tastes, flip-phone shipments rose 5.7 percent to 10.58 million in 2014, data from market researcher MM Research Institute Ltd shows. Smartphone shipments fell 5.3 percent to 27.70 million, down for a second year.

Users in Japan pay some of the highest smartphone fees among developed nations, the telecommunications ministry says, while flip-phone rates are among the lowest. Many Japanese accustomed to years of deflation are content with old-style flip-phones offering voice calling, email and in most cases basic Internet services.

Japanese electronics companies Panasonic Corp and NEC Corp have pulled out of the consumer smartphone business, unable to compete with dominant brands Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. They still make flip-phones, though, competing in a crowded market with Fujitsu Ltd and Sharp Corp, among others.

But with a mobile penetration rate of 98.5 percent, or 125 million subscriptions, there is little scope for significant overall growth in Japan’s mobile market, MM Research said. “Smartphones are also peaking in terms of functionality and they tend to last a long time as well, so there are fewer renewals,” said MM Research Executive Analyst Hideaki Yokota. He said 2014 was a particularly strong year for renewals in the subscription cycle for flip-phones, suggesting that last year’s growth may not be repeated this year.

 

 

Xiaomi Testing U.S. Waters, Launches Phone Accessory Store

February 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The biggest Android mobile phone manufacturer that most Americans have probably never heard of is making its first foray into the U.S. market.

Xiaomi, which in just four years has gone from nothing to leading the Chinese market, will launch a U.S. version of its online shopping site later this year but it won’t sell the low-cost, high-spec phones for which the company has gained its reputation.

Instead, it will offer a selection of phone accessories like battery packs and headphones. That doesn’t mean a U.S. launch of its phones has been ruled out, however.

“The amount of effort to bring [smartphones and tablets] to market is significant,” said Hugo Barra, the one-time Google executive who is now vice president for international markets at Xiaomi in Beijing. Barra, who was speaking to reporters in San Francisco, noted the various certifications required to sell products in each country, the need to strike deals with carriers and organize customer support.

“It’s an incredible amount of work and we have to move at the right pace,” he said. “We’re accelerating our entry by bringing simpler products.”

While Barra wouldn’t commit to if or when Xiaomi will launch hardware, it appears to be on the company’s mind. Thursday’s event was held to introduce reporters to company executives and give them a chance to see Xiaomi handsets, many probably for the first time. The company also handed out samples of its MiNote 2 smartphone to some reporters and said it was keen to hear what they thought of the phone.

In China, the company has become a favorite among local users by continually seeking suggestions and improvements for its version of the Android operating system. Users vote on what features are added and every Friday at 5 p.m. local time, an update is published.

 

Hitachi To Boost IoT Business With Pentaho Acquisition

February 13, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Hitachi Data Systems is acquiring business intelligence software maker Pentaho to incorporate analysis into Internet of Things systems it will develop for the healthcare, public safety and other industries.

“Hitachi owns the infrastructure and Pentaho owns the data integration and analytics platform and know-how to harness the value in big data,” wrote Pentaho CEO Quentin Gallivan in a blog post detailing the rationale behind the acquisition. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) is a wholly owned subsidiary of global conglomerate Hitachi and focuses on IT and data center support and integration. It has been working to expand into the IoT market, which will generate more than $2 trillion in business for all industries by 2020, according to Goldman Sachs.

Hitachi manufactures a wide range of industrial equipment that could be hooked up to the Internet, such as elevators, power distribution systems, and construction equipment. HDS can use the Hitachi industrial products as components to larger IoT systems it can assemble on behalf of customers.

Already HDS has rolled out vertical-industry systems focused on data and networking, such as for connected cards, that collect and convey operational and diagnostic information back to the user and manufacturer. HDS has also worked with the U.K. to outfit commuter trains with sensors to generate more information about train operations.

The Pentaho software will provide the analysis engine to give customers additional information about the systems, based on the data these systems generate. Pentaho software can work with data from a wide variety of sources, including big data repositories such as Hadoop. Because the software is open source, it can be easily embedded into a larger set of services, according to the company. It was also designed to meet the needs of a range of users of different skill levels, including developers, data scientists and business users.

 

 

Sony Getting Cozy With MediaTek

February 13, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Sony is expected to use more MediaTek application processors in upcoming Xperia smartphones.

According to Digitimes, the Japanese consumer electronics giant is planning to increase its reliance on MediaTek chips in entry-level and mid-range smartphones this year. There is still no word on high-end products, and it seems Qualcomm’s 800-series parts will continue to power Xperia flagships for the time being.

Sony is also working with a number of Taiwanese ODMs like Foxconn, FIH Mobile, Compal and Arima Communications. The company’s latest Xperia E4 smartphone was in fact outsourced to Arima.

As for Foxconn/FIH Mobile and Compal, they are said to be developing 4G models for Sony, which means they are supposed to cover the mid-range segment. Most of this new models are expected to be based on MediaTek’s new octa-core MT6752 processor, which packs 64-bit Cortex-A53 cores.

The affordable MT6752 has already found its way into a number of Chinese mid-range smartphones, as well big-brand devices like the HTC Desire 826 and Acer Liquid Jade S.

Courtesy-Fud