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AT&T To Offer Smartwatches This Year

April 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Smartwatches for use on AT&T’s network will be out this year, so says one of the company’s executives.

“I think you’ll see wide-area, high-bandwidth [smart]watches this year at some point,” said Glenn Lurie, president of emerging devices at AT&T, in an interview.

The company has a group working in Austin, Texas, on thousands of wearable-device prototypes, and is also looking at certifying third-party devices for use on its network, Lurie said.

“A majority of stuff you’re going to see today that’s truly wearable is going to be in a watch form factor to start,” Lurie said. If smartwatch use takes off — “and we believe it can,” Lurie said — then those devices could become hubs for wearable computing.

Right now smartwatches lack LTE capabilities, so they are largely reliant on smartphones for apps and notifications. With a mobile broadband connection, a smartwatch becomes an “independent device,” Lurie said.

“We’ve been very, very clear in our opinion that a wearable needs to be a stand-alone device,” Lurie said.

AT&T and Filip Technologies in January released the Filip child tracker wristwatch, which also allows a parent to call a child over AT&T’s network. Filip could be improved, but those are the kind of wearable products that AT&T wants to bring to market.

Wearables for home health care are also candidates for LTE connections, Lurie said, but fitness trackers may be too small for LTE connectivity, at least for now.

Lurie couldn’t say when smartglasses would be certified to work on AT&T’s network. Google last year said adding cellular capabilities to its Glass eyewear wasn’t in the plans because of battery use. But AT&T is willing to experiment with devices to see where LTE would fit.

“It’s one thing if I’m buying it to go out for a job, it’s another thing if I’m going to wear it everyday. Those are the things people are debating right now — how that’s all going to come out,” Lurie said. “There’s technology and there’s innovation happening, and those things will get solved.”

Lurie said battery issues are being resolved, but there are no network capacity issues. Wearable devices don’t use too much bandwidth as they relay short bursts of information, unless someone is, for instance, listening to Pandora radio on a smartwatch, Lurie said.

But AT&T is building out network capacity, adding Wi-Fi networks, and virtualizing networks to accommodate more devices.

“We don’t have network issues, we don’t have any capacity issues,” Lurie said. “The key element to adding these devices is a majority of [them] aren’t high-bandwidth devices.”

AT&T wants to make wearables work with its home offerings like the Digital Life home automation and security system. AT&T is also working with car makers for LTE integration, with wearables interacting with vehicles to open doors and start ignitions.

 

Ubuntu Goes 64-bit On ARM

April 18, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Canonical has announced its latest milestone server release, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

The company, which is better known for its open source Ubuntu Linux desktop operating system, has been supplying a server flavor of Ubuntu since 2006 that is being used by Netflix and Snapchat.

Ubuntu 14.04 Long Term Support (LTS) claims to be the most interoperable Openstack implementation, designed to run across multiple environments using Icehouse, the latest iteration of Openstack.

Canonical product manager Mark Baker told The INQUIRER, “The days of denying Ubuntu are over, and the cloud is where we can make a difference.”

Although Canonical regular issues incremental releases of Ubuntu, LTS releases such as this one represent landmarks for the operating system, which only come about ever two years. LTS releases are also supported for a full five years.

New in this Ubuntu 14.04 LTS release are Juju and Maas orchestration and automation tools and support for hyperscale ARM 64-bit computing such as the server setup recently announced by AMD.

Baker continued, “We’re not an enterprise vendor in the traditional sense. We’ve got a pretty good idea of how to do it by now. Openstack is gaining a more formal status as enterprise evolves to adopt cloud based solutions, and we are making a commitment to support it.

“Openstack Iceberg is also considered LTS and as such will be supported for five years.”

Scalability is another key factor. Baker said, “We look at performance. For the majority of our customers it’s about efficiency – how rapidly we can scale up and scale in, and that’s something Ubuntu does incredibly well.”

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS will be available to download from Thursday.

Courtesy-TheInq

Google Glass One Day Sale Proves Successful

April 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Google’s one-day sale of Google Glass appears to have been a success with all units sold out, a blog post by the technology titan suggests.

“All spots in the Explorer Program have been claimed for now, but if you missed it this time, don’t worry,” the Google Glass team wrote on its blog on Wednesday.

“We’ll be trying new ways to expand the Explorer program in the future.”

Google did not respond to a request for more information, but an earlier post about the one-day sale spoke of brisk sales of the $1,500 Internet-enabled headset.

“We’ve sold out of Cotton (white), so things are moving really fast,” the team wrote.

Aside from the white version, Glass was being offered in shades marketed as Charcoal, Tangerine, Shale (grey) and Sky (blue). Buyers had the choice of their favorite shade or frame. Google announced the one-day sale available to all U.S. residents over 18 last week, adding it wasn’t ready to bring the gizmo to other countries. Shoppers who missed it have to sign up for updates at the Glass website.

Only a few thousand early adopters and developers had Glass before the one-day sale, which coincided with a major software update for the heads-up display that put video calling on hold.

An official launch of Google Glass may happen later this year.

 

Red Hat Goes Atomic

April 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The Red Hat Summit kicked off in San Francisco on Tuesday, and continued today with a raft of announcements.

Red Hat launched a new fork of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) with the title “Atomic Host”. The new version is stripped down to enable lightweight deployment of software containers. Although the mainline edition also support software containers, this lightweight version improves portability.

This is part of a wider Red Hat initiative, Project Atomic, which also sees virtualisation platform Docker updated as part of the ongoing partnership between the two organisations.

Red Hat also announced a release candidate (RC) for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7. The beta version has already been downloaded 10,000 times. The Atomic Host fork is included in the RC.

Topping all that is the news that Red Hat’s latest stable release, RHEL 6.5 has been deployed at the Organisation for European Nuclear Research – better known as CERN.

The European laboratory, which houses the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and was birthplace of the World Wide Web has rolled out the latest versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualisation and Red Hat Technical Account Management. Although Red Hat has a long history with CERN, this has been a major rollout for the facility.

The logging server of the LHC is one of the areas covered by the rollout, as are the financial and human resources databases.

The infrastructure comprises a series of dual socket servers, virtualised on Dell Poweredge M610 servers with up to 256GB RAM per server and full redundancy to prevent the loss of mission critical data.

Niko Neufeld, deputy project leader at the Large Hadron Collider, said, “Our LHCb experiment requires a powerful, very reliable and highly available IT environment for controlling and monitoring our 70 million CHF detectors. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization is at the core of our virtualized infrastructure and complies with our stringent requirements.”

Other news from the conference includes the launch of Openshift Marketplace, allowing customers to try solutions for cloud applications, and the release of Red Hat Jboss Fuse 6.1 and Red Hat Jboss A-MQ 6.1, which are standards based integration and messaging products designed to manage everything from cloud computing to the Internet of Things.

Courtesy-TheInq

Amazon Rumored To Launch Smartphone In Time For Christmas Season

April 14, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Amazon.com Inc is making plans to unveil its long-rumored smartphone in the second half of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing people briefed on the company’s plans.

The Internet retailer would jump into a crowded market dominated by Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

The company has recently been demonstrating versions of the handset to developers in San Francisco and Seattle. It intends to announce the device in June and ship to stores around the end of September, the newspaper cited the unidentified sources as saying.

Amazon has made great strides into the hardware arena as it seeks to boost sales of digital content and puts its online store in front of more users. Amazon recently launched its $99 Fire TV video-streaming box and its Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets already command respectable U.S. market share after just a few years on the market.

Rumors of an Amazon-designed smartphone have circulated for years, though executives have previously played down ambitions to leap into a heavily competitive and increasingly saturated market.

Apple and Samsung, which once accounted for the lion’s share of the smartphone market, are struggling to maintain margins as new entrants such as Huawei and Lenovo target the lower-income segment.

To stand out from the crowd, Amazon intends to equip its phones with screens that display three-dimensional images without a need for special glasses, the Journal said.

Amazon officials were not immediately available for comment.

 

Should Game Publishing Depend On Sales?

April 14, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

“Grey Goo is remarkable not for what it has added to the RTS formula, but what it has stripped away,” PC Gamer wrote in its reveal of Grey Goo, a new real-time strategy game from the veterans at Petroglyph. Perhaps the same could be said of Grey Goo’s recently formed publisher Grey Box, which is seeking to strip away the more negative aspects of game publishing. Suits and creatives typically will bump heads because the two sides are looking at the creation of games from wildly different perspectives. But what if they actually had the same goals?

Ted Morris, executive producer at Petroglyph, felt an immediate kinship with the team at Grey Box. “As a small [studio] – small being 50, 60 people – we are always talking to publishers to see what deals we can put together. But with Grey Box, I think that we meshed better on a personal level with them as a company and as a group of people than we have ever meshed with another group,” he enthused to GamesIndustry International during GDC. “And we’ve worked with Sega and LucasArts – all the big guys – and certainly talked to everybody else, too – the EAs and everybody – and these guys – man, we just gelled with these guys so well.”

Morris said that Grey Box’s approach to publishing was noticeably different from the start. While other, larger publishers may immediately come up with marketing plans and sales targets, Grey Box found itself on the same page with Petroglyph: fun comes first.

“Every meeting that we have is always a sit down and then people open up financial books and they start talking about what the sales figures are going to be like, and when we sit down with [Grey Box], it’s like ‘how can we make a great game?’ We don’t even talk about money, we talk about ‘how good can we make this game?’ and ‘how successful will it be?’ You know, let the game drive the sales, don’t let the marketing drive the sales, don’t let the sales department drive the sales. It’s really about, if you make a great game, they will come,” Morris continued. “They spoke to that so often, so frequently that we thought, ‘man, these guys just want to help us focus on what’s really important.’”

One of the defining traits for publisher Grey Box is that they’re all gamers at heart, noted Josh Maida, executive producer for the publisher.

“I’m not going to pre-judge any of those other publishers – I mean, for all I know they love games as much as we do. And we do. We all love games. We all come from different areas. I lost a whole grade point in college to Street Fighter, and… we want to be fiscally mindful. You need to make money, but with the money we make, we want to make more games,” he remarked.

“So I think at the core of that is we’re not trying to take away from the industry. We want it to feed itself and go bigger. Quality over quantity is something that we’re mindful of. We also just want to make a good working relationship for our partners… everybody’s in here for fulfillment. The talent we work with, they could all be working in private industries for twice the amount they do, but they’re here because they love to make games, and so we want to be mindful of that. And when people die, they want to know they did great things and so we want to create those opportunities for people.”

Tony Medrano, creative director for Grey Box, criticized other publishers for being too quick to just follow another company’s successful formula.

“We’re not chasing a trend, we’re chasing something we believe in, we’re chasing something we like, and we’re not trying to shoehorn a formula or monetization model onto things that just don’t work because they’re popular,” he added. “I think from the get-go, it’s been all about how can we make the best game, and then everything else follows from that. I think a difference structurally [with other publishers] would be that we have a very lean and mean team. We’re not trying to build a skyscraper and have redundant folks. Everybody that’s here really cares, has some bags under their eyes from late nights… I think it is just that we look at all our partners as actual partners. We let them influence and make the product better, whether it’s the IP or the game.”

Speaking of monetization models, Maida commented that there’s no “secret agenda to Zyngafy RTS or anything.” Grey Goo is strictly being made for the PC, but the RTS genre easily lends itself to free-to-play. Upon the mere mention of free-to-play, however, you could almost feel the collective blood pressure in the room rising. It’s clearly not the type of experience that Petroglyph and Grey Box are aiming for.

For Petroglyph’s Morris, in particular, free-to-play hit a nerve. “I’m going to jump in here, sorry. I’m really annoyed!” he began. “There’s been such a gold rush for free-to-play right now that is driving publishers – I mean, there needs to be a good balance. There’s a great place for free-to-play – I play lots of free-to-play games – but it is driving developers like us to focus on money instead of making great game content. I’m not going to name any examples, but I’ve been disappointed with some of the free-to-play offerings because it’s not so much about making a great experience for the player anymore. It’s about ‘how can we squeeze them just a little bit more?’ or annoy them to the point where they just feel like they have to pay.”

Medrano added, “I get frustrated when I play free-to-play games, and if I purchase something, I feel dirty. I feel like ‘oh, I got cheated, I fell for the trap.’ Or even more modern games where they baby you through the whole thing. There’s no more of that, like, ‘this is tough, so that means if I get good at this, there’s reward – there’s something there.’”

Ultimately, while Petroglyph and Grey Box came together thanks to a shared love of the RTS genre, they feel there’s a real opportunity to bring back hardcore, intelligent games.

Andrew Zoboki, lead game designer at Petroglyph, chimed in, “It’s almost as if the industry has forgotten about the intelligent gamer. They feel like that everyone’s going to be shoehorned in there, and I would say even from a design perspective that a lot of design formulas for a lot of things, whether they be free-to-play or what the mainstream is going to, next-gen and such, that all those titles are kind of a little more cookie-cutter than they probably should be. They’ve tried to shoehorn gamers into a formula and say, ‘this is what a gamer is,’ rather than understanding that gamers are a very wide and diverse bunch of individuals, everyone from the sports jock to the highly intellectual, and they all have [different] tastes… there’s different games that will appeal to different demographics… if you make the games that players want to play, they will come.”

And that really is at the heart of it. Morris lamented how business creeps into the games creation equation far too often. “They’re trying to balance the game with Excel spreadsheets instead of sitting down and actually playing it and having focus tests and bringing people in and actually trying to iterate on the fun,” he remarked about other publishers.

For Grey Box at the moment, the focus is on making Grey Goo the best it can be, but the company does have plans for more IP. It’s all under wraps currently, however.

“We do have a roadmap, but it’s not based off of the calendar year. We do have another game in the works right now and we might announce that at E3. And we have a road map for this IP, as well,” Maida said. “Obviously we want to get it in the hands of players and fans to see what they respond to, but we’ve got capital investment in the IP with hopes to not only extend this lineage of RTS’s but possibly grow out that franchise and other genres as well.”

Grey Box plans to release Grey Goo later this year.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Google Shows Interest In Service Robots, Invests In Savioke

April 11, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google has put funding into robotic’s company Savioke, which plans to develop a robot that could work in places such as nursing homes and hospitals.

The search engine’s funding arm, Google Ventures, invested an undisclosed sum that’s part of a $2 million seed financing package led by Morado Venture Partners, with AME Cloud Ventures and individuals also pitching in.

Established in 2013, California-based Savioke is led by CEO Steve Cousins, who was in charge of the creation of the PR2 robot and the popular Robot Operating System (ROS) while president and CEO of Willow Garage, an influential robotics firm that spun off eight robotics companies.

Savioke did not give details about its plans to develop a service robot, but said the machine would use the open-source ROS and customer trials would begin later this year.

Its website describes its aspiration to bring robotics to “hotels, elder care facilities, hospitals, restaurants…anywhere people sleep or eat.”

“We see tremendous opportunity by delivering a robot for the services industry,” Cousins wrote in an email. “In the coming months, the information and feedback we receive from our trials will help us determine our first point of entry.”

Google did not immediately respond to a request for information about the investment.

With former Android chief Andy Rubin leading its interest in robotics, the search engine has been on a shopping spree for robot companies lately.

It has acquired such firms as Japan-based Schaft, which developed a full-size bipedal humanoid robot that won the prestigious DARPA Robotics Challenge trials in December 2013. The challenge is sponsored by the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, an arm of the Department of Defense.

The jewel in Google’s robot crown, however, is Boston Dynamics, a military contractor known for creating both humanoid machines such as the Terminator-like Atlas, and robots inspired by animals, such as BigDog, a cargo-carrying machine funded by DARPA.

Google CEO Larry Page has speculated that Rubin’s robot project could succeed like Android.

 

Can AMD’s A1 Challenge Intel’s Bay Trail?

April 11, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD has released its first “system in a socket” single accelerated processor unit (APU) that aims to reduce the cost of entry-level PCs.

Based on the firm’s Kabini system on chip (SoC), the APU is named the “AM1 Platform”, combining most system functions into one chip, with the motherboard and APU together costing around between $39 and $59.

Launched at the beginning of March and released today in North America, AMD’s AM1 Platform is aimed at markets where entry-level PCs are competing against other low-cost devices.

“We’re seeing that the market for these lower-cost PCs is increasing,” said AMD desktop product marketing manager Adam Kozak. “We’re also seeing other devices out there trying to fill that gap, but there’s really a big difference between what these devices can do versus what a Windows PC can do.”

The AM1 Platform combines an Athlon or Sempron processor with a motherboard based on the FS1b upgradable socket design. These motherboards have no chipset, as all functions are integrated into the APU, and only require additional memory modules to make a working system.

The AM1 SoC has up to four Jaguar CPU cores and an AMD Graphics Core Next (GCN) GPU, an on-chip memory controller supporting up to 16GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, plus all the typical system input and output functions, including SATA ports for storage, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, as well as VGA and HDMI graphics outputs.

AMD’s Jaguar core is best known for powering both Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s Playstation 4 (PS4) games consoles. The AM1 Platform supports Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 in 32-bit or 64-bit architectures.

AMD said that it is going after Intel’s Bay Trail with the AM1 Platform, and expects to see it in small form factor desktop PCs such as netbooks and media-streaming boxes.

“We see it being used for basic computing, some light productivity and basic gaming, and really going after the Windows 8.1 environment with its four cores, which we’ll be able to offer for less,” Kozak added.

AMD benchmarked the AM1 Platform against an Intel Pentium J2850 with PC Mark 8 v2 and claimed it produced double the performance of the Intel processor. See the table below.

The FS1b upgradable socket means that users will be able to upgrade the system at a later date, while in Bay Trail and other low-cost platforms the processor is mounted directly to the motherboard.

AMD lifted the lid on its Kabini APU for tablets and mainstream laptops last May. AMD’s A series branded Kabini chips are quad-core processors, with the 15W A4-5000 and 25W A6-5200 clocked at 1.5GHz and 2GHz, respectively.

Courtesy-TheInq

Lenovo Says More Low-priced Android Tablets Coming In May

April 10, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

More lower priced Android tablets ranging from $129 to $249 are coming from Lenovo.

The new Tab A-series tablets, which will ship next month, have screen sizes ranging from 7-10 inches and are designed for Web surfing and home entertainment, Lenovo said. Other than screen sizes and weight, the tablets have mostly identical features.

The cheapest tablet in the lineup is the Tab A7-50, which weighs 320 grams and starts at $129. The TAB A8 weighs 360 grams and is priced starting at $179. The Tab A10 is much heftier at 560 grams, but has a larger battery that offers a Wi-Fi browsing time of eight hours, Lenovo said in a specification sheet.

All the tablets have screens that can display images at a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. The tablets have Android 4.2, code-named Jelly Bean, which will be upgradeable to version 4.4, code-named KitKat.

Common features also include Wi-Fi b/g/n, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and an SD card slot for up to 32GB of expandable storage. The tablets have a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and a 5-megapixel rear camera. Another feature is integrated 3G mobile broadband, though Lenovo did not say whether it was included in the price or is optional.

The tablets will ship in the U.S. Lenovo did not immediately provide information about shipment plans for other countries.

Lenovo offers a range of tablets for Android and Windows 8.1, with models starting at $99. The company is trying to create brands around Android-based Yoga tablets, which are being promoted by actor Ashton Kutcher, and ThinkPad tablets, which run on Windows.

 

Intel Laying Off 1500, Shutting Costa Rican Operations

April 10, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Chipmaker Intel, grappling with a dwindling PC market, is shutting its assembly and test operation in Costa Rica and eliminating 1,500 jobs.

The closure of the site, which is a significant contributor to Costa Rica’s exports, falls within a larger plan announced by the chipmaker earlier this year to cut spending as it attempts to grow beyond PCs into the mobile market.

“It’s being closed and consolidated into our other operations throughout the world,” spokesman Chuck Mulloy said of the assembly and test operations in Costa Rica.

During the next two quarters, Intel will move assembly and testing from its site in Heredia, where it has been present since 1997, to existing sites in China, Malaysia and Vietnam, Mulloy said.

Costa Rica President Elect Luis Guillermo Solis met with Intel executives on Tuesday morning and they assured him the decision had nothing to do with the election of his new government on Sunday, according to a statement from Guillermo’s office.

“The decision bears no relation to the election of the new Costa Rica government or the market conditions for…potential foreign investment,” the statement said.

Intel will continue to have over 1,000 engineers, finance and human resources employees in Costa Rica and do some research and development there. The chipmaker expects to add another 200 “high-value positions” in Costa Rica later this year, Mulloy said.

Intel dominates the PC chip industry, but it has been slow to adapt its processors for smartphones and tablets, markets now dominated by rivals such as Qualcomm Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

The cuts in Costa Rica are consistent with Intel’s announcement in January that it would reduce its global workforce of 107,000 employees by about 5 percent this year, Mulloy said.

Also in January, Intel said a newly built factory in Chandler, Arizona, originally slated as a $5 billion project that in late 2013 would start producing Intel’s most advanced chips, would remain closed for the foreseeable future while other factories at the same site are upgraded.

 

Will Raspberry Pi Go Industrial computer This Summer?

April 10, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is readying an industrial compute module that will go on sale in early summer.

James Adams, director of hardware at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, said that the upcoming Raspberry Pi Compute Module is a complete Raspberry Pi system that fits it on a 67.6x30mm board.

It is a computer within a computer that is aimed at the Raspberry Pi hobbyist market of people that want to build their own PCB. Less able designers will be treated to a separate Compute Module IO board.

The module board includes 512MB of RAM, a BCM2835 processor and a 4GB eMMC Flash device.

“The Flash memory is connected directly to the processor on the board, but the remaining processor interfaces are available to the user via the connector pins. You get the full flexibility of the BCM2835 SoC (which means that many more GPIOs and interfaces are available as compared to the Raspberry Pi), and designing the module into a custom system should be relatively straightforward as we’ve put all the tricky bits onto the module itself,” said Adams.

“So what you are seeing here is a Raspberry Pi shrunk down to fit on a SODIMM with onboard memory, whose connectors you can customise for your own needs.”

The kits and cards will go online from resellers RS Components and Element14 this June, he added. Bulk orders of 100 will have a unit cost of $30. Individual orders will also be accepted, but they will incur a higher charge.

Adams said that all profits will be plowed back into charity, which is the foundation’s way. Last week it announced a “you raise it and we’ll match it” $1.7 million investment fund for educational projects.

Courtesy-TheInq

Is AMD’s Graphic’s Push Paying Off?

April 9, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It appears that AMD’s professional graphics push is finally starting to pay off.

AMD’s graphics business is chugging along nicely, thanks to the success of Hawaii-based high-end cards, solid sales of rebranded mainstream cards, plenty of positive Mantle buzz and of course the cryptocurrency mining craze, which is winding down.

However, AMD traditionally lags behind Nvidia in two particular market segments – mobile graphics and professional graphics. Nvidia still has a comfortable lead in both segments and its position in mobile is as strong as ever, as it scored the vast majority of Haswell design wins in 2013. However, AMD is fighting back in the professional market and it is slowly gaining ground.

Mac Pro buckets boost FirePro sales

Last year AMD told us at the sidelines of its Hawaii launch event that is has high hopes for its professional GPU line-up moving forward.

This was not exactly news. At the time it was clear that AMD GPUs would end up in Cupertino’s latest Mac Pro series. The question was how much AMD stands to gain, both in terms of market share and revenue.

Although we are not fans of Apple’s marketing hype and hysteria associated with its consumerish fanboys, we have to admit that we have a soft spot new Mac Pro buckets. The bucket form factor is truly innovative and as usual the Mac Pro has the brains to match its looks. Basically it’s Apple going back to its roots.

Late last year it was reported that AMD would boost its market share in the professional segment to 30 percent this year, up from about 20 percent last year. For years Nvidia outsold AMD by a ratio of four to one in the professional space. The green team still has a huge lead, but AMD appears to be closing the gap.

It is hard to overstate the effect of professional graphics on Nvidia’s bottom line. The highly successful Quadro series always was and still is Nvidia’s cash cow. AMD is fighting back with competitive pricing and good hardware. In addition, the first Hawaii-based professional cards are rolling out as we speak. AMD’s new FirePro W9100, its first professional product based on Hawaii silicon, was announced a couple of weeks ago.

Can AMD keep it up?

2014 will be a good year for AMD’s professional graphics business, but it still remains to be seen whether the winning streak will continue. Apple does not care about loyalty, it’s not exactly a monogamous hardware partner. Apple has a habit of shifting between Nvidia and AMD graphics in the consumer space, so we would not rule out Nvidia in the long run. It might be back in future Mac Pro designs, but AMD has a few things working in its favour.

One of them is Adobe’s love of Open CL, which makes AMD’s professional offerings a bit more popular than Nvidia products in some circles. Adobe CC loves Open CL and AMD has been collaborating with Adobe for years to improve it. Support now extends to SpeedGrade CC, After Effects CC, Premiere, Adobe Media Encoder CC and other Adobe products.

Pricing is another important factor, as AMD has a tradition of undercutting Nvidia in the professional segment. When you happen to control 20 percent of the market in a duopoly, competitive pricing is a must.

Also, changing vendors in the professional arena is a bit trickier than swapping out a consumer graphics card or mobile GPU in a Macbook. This is perhaps AMD’s biggest advantage at the moment. Maintaining such design wins is quite a bit easier than winning them. AMD learned this lesson the hard way. Nvidia did not have to, at least not yet.

According to Seeking Alpha, demand for Mac Pro buckets is “crazy-high” and delivery times range from five to six weeks. Seeking Alpha goes on to conclude that AMD could make about $800,000,000 off a two-year Mac Pro design win, provided Apple sells 500,000 units over the next two years. At the moment it appears that Apple should have no trouble shipping half a million units, and then some.

If AMD manages to hold onto the Mac Pro deal, it stands to make a pretty penny over the next couple of years. However, if it also manages to seize more design wins in Apple consumer products, namely iMacs and Macbooks, AMD could make a small fortune on Cupertino deals alone.

Bear in mind that AMD’s revenue last year was $5.3 billion, so $800 million over the course of two years is a huge deal – even without consumer products in iMacs and Macbooks.

Courtesy-Fud

 

HTC First Quarter Losses Steeper Than Anticipated

April 8, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Taiwan based mobile phone maker HTC Corp posted a first-quarter loss that was bigger than analyst estimates, after ineffective marketing resulted in weak sales of its former flagship model.

The HTC One spent its year at the top of the product line receiving rave reviews but was undermined by advertising widely criticized as confusing, sending the company’s market share into freefall.

HTC was once a firm third to Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, selling 10 percent of smartphones globally two years ago, but it ended 2013 with a market share of just 2 percent, showed data from researcher Strategy Analytics.

The company started 2014 by booking a net loss of T$1.88 billion ($62.06 million) for January-March. That compared with a mean loss of T$1.59 billion estimated by 18 analysts polled by Reuters, and profit of T$85 million logged a year earlier.

Revenue fell 22.6 percent to T$33.12 billion, the company said in a statement on Monday.

HTC, however, broke 28 months of on-year revenue declines with a rise of 2.16 percent in March, and said it expected to return to profit in the second quarter thanks in part to the late-March release of its upgraded flagship, the HTC One M8.

Shares of HTC have fallen 38 percent over the past year, compared with a 12 percent rise in the Taiwan Stock Exchange Weighted Index. Ahead of the release, they closed up 3.6 percent versus the benchmark’s 0.1 percent loss.

The former contract manufacturer released a series of mid-range smartphones in recent weeks, predicting cheaper phones in emerging markets will help it return to profit this year.

It has also launched a partnership with search engine giant Google Inc to manufacture smart watches.

But it is the new flagship HTC One M8 that the company hopes will help it reestablish itself as a challenger to market leaders Apple and Samsung.

“The M8 is good, but it’s not as revolutionary as the previous flagship,” said Yuanta Securities analyst Dennis Chan. “Everyone is watching the second quarter to see how it sells.”

Tech website CNET.com awarded the phone four and a half stars out of five, calling it “a stunning sequel” to last year’s HTC One – a phone whose equally strong reviews were not matched by marketing and so did not translate into strong sales.

The new flagship could be in for a similarly rough sales ride as smartphone growth globally is likely to slow this year to 19 percent from 39 percent in 2013, and taper off over the next few years, showed data from researcher IDC.

As smartphones mature and technological upgrades become more incremental, analysts say even more importance will be placed on marketing and brand image – an area Chairwoman Cher Wang admitted HTC “didn’t do well” last year.

To distinguish itself to trend-conscious consumers, HTC must learn from Apple, whose innovative brand image and marketing strategy has won plaudits, said Taipei-based brand consultant Mark Stocker.

“Mimic them, but figure out what your brand stands for,” said Stocker. “If Apple is Mercedes Benz, try to make yourself BMW.”

 

Amazon Announces Amazon Dash, Gets Into Grocery Delivery

April 7, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Uncategorized

Amazon.com Inc unveiled a new product named Amazon Dash on Friday that allows the user to add groceries and household goods to their shopping lists using the company’s AmazonFresh service.

A black-and-white hand-held wand-shaped remote-control features a microphone, speaker as well as a bar-code reader and links directly to the user’s AmazonFresh account.

The device is available only for users of the AmazonFresh which currently operates exclusively in Southern California, San Francisco and Seattle. The device is free during the trial period, according to the product’s website.

However, signing up for Amazon Dash is by invitation only while the AmazonFresh service is currently available only Southern California, San Francisco and Seattle.

The online retailer has been steadily expanding towards electronics manufacturing businesses, starting with the Kindle e-reader which was first launched in 2007, and the Fire TV streaming set-top box announced earlier this week, even as it seeks new ways to energize a gradually slowing core retail business.

Amazon has been steadily expanding its “Fresh” online grocery business, targeting one of the largest retail sectors yet to be upended by online commerce. The company has plans to launch AmazonFresh, which has operated in Seattle for years, in roughly 20 urban areas in 2014, including some outside the United States.

A successful foray into groceries could also help underwrite the development of a broad-based delivery service employing Amazon trucks to deliver directly to homes, which could have implications for UPS, FedEx and other package delivery companies that currently ship Amazon goods.

Still, groceries have proven to be one of the most difficult sectors for online retailers to manage successfully. One of the most richly-funded start-ups of the dot-com era, Webvan, was a spectacular failure as the cost of developing the warehouse and delivery infrastructure proved overwhelming.

 

SkySQL Joins IBM On SQL Merger

April 4, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

SkySQL has announced a line of MariaDB products that combine NoSQL and SQL technology, offering users the ability to handle large unstructured data sets alongside traditional database features to ensure data consistency.

Available immediately, MariaDB Enterprise 2 and MariaDB Enterprise Cluster 2 are based on the code used in the firm’s MariaDB 10 database server, which it also released today.

According to SkySQL, the availability of an enterprise grade SQL database system with NoSQL interoperability will be a game changer for developers building revenue generating applications and database administrators in charge of large, complex environments.

The two new products have been developed with support from other partners in the open source community, including Red Hat, IBM and Google, according to the firm, and are aimed at giving IT managers more options for managing large volumes of data.

In fact, Red Hat will use MariaDB Enterprise 2 as the default database for its enterprise customers, while Google has also moved large parts of its infrastructure to MariaDB, according to Dion Cornett, VP of Global Sales for SkySQL .

Cornett said that customers have been using a wide variety of databases over the past few years in order to meet the diverse requirements of applications.

“The types of applications have evolved over time, and the challenge we now have today is that people have different IT stack structures, and trying to integrate all that has been very challenging and required lots of custom code to be created. What we’re doing with MariaDB is introduce an array of features to combine the best of both worlds,” he said.

The features are designed to allow developers and database administrators to take many different data structures and integrate them and use them in a cohesive application, in the same way that standard database tools presently allow.

These include the Connect Storage Engine, which enables access to a wide variety of file formats such as XML and CSV files, and the ability to run familiar SQL commands against that data.

A key feature is dynamic columns, which enables MariaDB to “smartly interpret” incoming data and adapt it to the data structure that best fits, according to Cornett.

“At a technical level what you’re actually looking at are files within the cells of information that can vary in size, which is not a capability you’ve traditionally had in databases and that flexibility is a big leap forward,” he said.

The new MariaDB products can also plug into the Apache Cassandra storage engine, which can take a columnar data store and read or write against it like it is a traditional SQL table.

An example of how MariaDB Enterprise 2 might be used is if a service provider has a large-scale video server and wants to combine that with billing information, Cornett said.

“The customer’s video history and what they’re consuming could be very unstructured, but the billing structure will be very fixed, and it has been something of a challenge to bring the two of those together up to this point,” he explained.

Courtesy-TheInq