ARM has announced the acquisition of two Bluetooth companies in a bid to expand its presence in the Internet of Things (IoT) arena, and has created a new portfolio dubbed ARM Cordio in the process.
The UK semiconductor designer has picked up Wicentric, a Bluetooth smart stack and profile provider, and Sunrise Micro Devices (SMD), a provider of sub-one volt Bluetooth radio intellectual property (IP).
Wicentric is a privately held company that focuses on the development of low-power wireless products. These include Bluetooth protocol stack and profiles for creating interoperable smart products, and the link layer for silicon integration.
SMD is also privately held and provides radio IP solutions including a pre-qualified, self-contained radio block and related firmware to simplify radio deployment.
“Central to all SMD radios is native sub-one volt operation,” explained ARM in justifying its acquirement. “Operating below one volt enables the radio to run much longer on batteries or harvested energy.”
Terms of the agreements have not been disclosed, but ARM said that both companies’ IP will be combined to form the ARM Cordio portfolio.
This will integrate with the firm’s existing processor and physical IP targeting markets that require low-power wireless communications in the IoT space. The portfolio is available now for immediate licensing.
ARM is pushing its stance in the IoT market in a bid to monopolise on what is essentially the next big thing in tech before it becomes ubiquitous.
For instance, ARM joined forces with IBM in February to launch its mbed Device Platform as a starter kit with cloud support, offering developer tools with cloud-based analytics.
The mbed tool was announced last year and is primarily an operating system built around open standards to “bring internet protocols, security and standards-based manageability into one integrated tool” and make IoT deployment faster and easier and thus speed up the creation of IoT-powered devices.
Launching the mbed IoT Starter Kit Ethernet Edition with IBM means that the company can channel data from internet-connected devices directly into IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform.
The IoT Starter Kit consists of an ARM mbed-enabled development board from Freescale, powered by an ARM Cortex-M4-based processor, together with a sensor IO application shield.
Sony Corp on Monday announced a new high-end Xperia smartphone featuring an aluminium frame and a 5.2-inch screen, showing it is still in the phone race even as it scales down its struggling mobile operations.
The launch of the new flagship model comes amid a painful restructuring at the Japanese consumer electronics giant which has thrown the future of its smartphone division into doubt, with top executives saying an exit cannot be ruled out.
But as the company focuses on cutting costs rather than growing its mobile market, the division still needs investment in new products and marketing to maintain Sony’s brand and hold off a more rapid deterioration.
Sony said the Xperia Z4 would be available in Japan around the middle of the year, though it did not provide a launch date, details on carrier partners or price. The handset would be available in four colours and was slightly thinner than the previous Z3.
Hiroki Totoki, who was appointed last year to turn around the mobile unit, said Sony was targeting the upper end of the market where rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Apple Inc dominate.
“There’s a broad variety in the prices of smartphones, from around $100 to $1,400 at the upper end,” he told a news conference. “We want to focus in the upper half of that.”
Sony’s mobile division has fallen far behind high-end rivals such as Samsung and Apple, while at the low end it is battling pricing pressure from Asian manufacturers such as China’s Xiaomi Inc.
The company whose Walkman and Trinitron TV once played a critical role in the global entertainment industry has struggled in recent years to come up with trend-setting gadgets.
Sony announced in February that it would scale down its weaker operations such as TVs and mobile phones to focus instead on more successful products such as video games and camera sensors.
Microsoft Corp has finally rolled out a long-awaited suite of touch-friendly Office apps that allow Windows phone users to work on Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents on their phones with touch commands and to transfer them easily between devices.
Test versions of what Microsoft is calling its Office Universal apps are available to download immediately and full versions will be available by the end of the month, Microsoft said.
Many Office users have waited months for Microsoft to introduce the apps, which adapt their look and commands to the device being used, whether Windows Phone or tablet.
Microsoft, in a departure from tradition, has already released similar touch-friendly Office apps for Apple Inc’s iPad and iPhone, and for tablets running Google Inc’s Android.
The company’s reasoning was that those popular devices, which have dominated mobile computing, represented a bigger and more lucrative market for its Office products than its own Windows mobile devices.
Basic functions are free for everyone, but for advanced editing features, users must pay for a subscription to Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based version of Office.
Microsoft is set to release a new version of Office for desktop PCs, and a new version of Windows, later this year.
In addition to offering bedside tables, floor- and table lamps, desks and simple charging pads, IKEA is also selling a DIY kit that lets users embed wireless chargers into furniture of their choice.
The furniture, and other items in IKEA’s wireless charging collection, ranges in price from $9.99 to $119.
The Wireless Charging collection will be rolled out globally, with U.S. stores seeing availability beginning in late spring, IKEA said today in a statement.
“With smartphones becoming such a natural part of our lives, we wanted the charging part to become a natural part of our homes,” Holly Harraway, IKEA’s lighting sales leader, said.
The furniture uses the most popular wireless charging specification, Qi, which is supported by brands such as Samsung and Energizer and has gotten an extension to its specification allowing it to charge devices at short distances
Users can check whether their mobile phone is compatible with the Qi standard at the Wireless Power Consortium’s this website.
The WPC with its Qi specification is up against two other industry organizations with their own wireless charging protocols: the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP.
The Qi spec transfers 5 watts of power for enabled mobile devices, such as the Galaxy S4 and S3, Nokia Lumia 1020, LG G2, Motorola Droid Maxx and Mini and the Google Nexus 5 phone and Nexus 7 tablet.
If a smartphone does not have native wireless charging capability, such as an iPhone, users can purchase a VITAHULT charging cover (for Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy only), or other Qi-enabled covers for use with the IKEA wireless charging furniture.
Samsung Electronics has started mass production of what it claims is the industry’s first Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) PCIe solid state drive (SSD), which has an M.2 form factor for use in PCs and workstations.
Samsung said in an announcement that it is “the first in the industry” to bring NVMe SSDs to OEMs for the PC market.
The SM951-NVMe operates at low power in standby mode and is the most compact of any NVMe SSD out there, according to the firm.
“Our new NVMe SSD will allow for faster, ultra-slim notebook PCs with extended battery use, while accelerating the adoption of NVMe SSDs in the consumer marketplace,” said SVP of memory marketing Jeeho Baek.
“Samsung will continue to stay a critical step ahead of others in the industry in introducing a diversity of next-generation SSDs that contribute to an enhanced user experience through rapid popularisation of ultra-fast, highly energy-efficient, compact SSDs.”
Samsung has added an NVMe version of the SM951 SSD after making a AHCI-based PCIe 3.0 version available since early January. This, Samsung said, will form an even stronger SSD portfolio.
The new NVMe-based SM951 SSD boasts a sequential data read and write speed of up to 2,260MBps and 1,600MBps respectively, while taking advantage of the firm’s own controller technology.
“These performance figures are the industry’s most advanced, with speeds four and three times faster than those of a typical SATA-based M.2 SSD which usually moves data at up to 540MBps and 500MBps respectively,” Samsung added.
The drive achieves these high speeds by using four 8Gbps lanes of simultaneous data flow. This allows for a data transfer rate of 32Gbps and a maximum throughput of 4GBps, giving the new drive a huge advantage over SATA-based M.2 SSDs, which can only transfer data at up to 600MBps.
When it comes to random read operations, the SM951-NVMe can process 300,000 IOPS operations, which is more than twice as fast as the 130,000 rate of its AHCI-based predecessor, Samsung said, while being more than three times faster than the 97,000 IOPS of a SATA-based SSD.
“Meeting all M.2 form factor requirements, the drive’s thickness does not exceed 4mm. [It] also weighs less than 7g, which is lighter than two nickels and only a tenth the weight of a 2.5in SSD. Capacities are 512GB, 256GB and 128GB,” Samsung explained.
Samsung said that the company plans to incorporate 3D V-NAND technology into its NVMe SSD line-up, which could see even higher densities and performance.
Earlier this week HP unveiled the HP Z Turbo Drive G2, a storage solution featuring Samsung’s NVMe SSDs to process large datasets.
The HP Z Turbo Drive G2 PCIe SSD is said to deliver four times traditional SATA SSD performance at a similar cost to previous devices. This will allow workstation users to “super-charge” the productivity and creativity of workflows, according to HP.
MediaTek is working on two new tablet SoCs and one of them is rumored to be a $5 design.
The MT8735 looks like a tablet version of Mediatek’s smartphone SoCs based on ARM’s Cortex-A53 core. The chip can also handle LTE (FDD and TDD), along with 3G and dual-band WiFi. This means it should end up in affordable data-enabled tablets. There’s no word on the clocks or GPU.
The MT8163 is supposed to be the company’s entry-level tablet part. Priced at around $5, the chip does not appear to feature a modem – it only has WiFi and Bluetooth on board. GPS is still there, but that’s about it.
Once again, details are sketchy so we don’t know much about performance. However, this is an entry-level part, so we don’t expect miracles. It will have to slug it out with Alwinner’s $5 tablet SoC, which was announced a couple of months ago
According to a slide published by Mobile Dad, the MT8753 will be available later this month, but we have no timeframe for the MT8163.
But there’s nothing to see here as far as Torvalds is concerned. It’s just another day in the office. And all this in “Back To The Future II” year, as well.
Meanwhile under the bonnet, the community are already slaving away on Linux 4.1 which is expected to be a far more extensive release, with 100 code changes already committed within hours of Torvalds announcement of 4.0.
But there is already some discord in the ranks, with concerns that some of the changes to 4.1 will be damaging to the x86 compatibility of the kernel. But let’s let them sort that out amongst themselves.
After all, an anti-troll dispute resolution code was recently added to the Linux kernel in an effort to stop some of the more outspoken trolling that takes place, not least from Torvalds himself, according to some members of the community.
The company has asked a bankruptcy court for approval for a second auction of its assets, which includes the consumer data.
The state of Texas, which is leading the action by the states, opposed the sale of personally identifiable information (PII), citing the online and in-store privacy policies of the bankrupt consumer electronics retailer.
The state claimed that it found from a RadioShack deposition that the personal information of 117 million customers could be involved. But it learned later from testimony in court that the number of customer files offered for sale might be reduced to around 67 million.
In the first round of the sale, RadioShack sold about 1,700 stores to hedge fund Standard General, which entered into an agreement to set up 1,435 of these as co-branded stores with wireless operator Sprint. Some other assets were also sold in the auction.
The sale of customer data, including PII, was withdrawn from the previous auction, though RadioShack did not rule out that it could be put up for sale at a later date.
The case could have privacy implications for the tech industry as it could set a precedent, for example, for large Internet companies holding consumer data, if they happen to go bankrupt.
Texas has asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware for a case management order to ensure that in any motion for sale of the PII, RadioShack should be required to provide information on the kind of personal data that is up for sale and the number of customers that will be affected.
On Monday, Texas asked the court that its motion be heard ahead of RadioShack’s motion for approval to auction more assets.
The court had ordered in March the appointment of a consumer privacy ombudsman in connection with the potential sale of the consumer data including PII. RadioShack said in a filing Friday that it intends to continue working with the ombudsman and the states with regard to any potential sale of PII, but did not provide details.
Samsung Electronics Co has put together a standalone team of about 200 employees to work exclusively on making screens for rival smartphone maker Apple Inc’s products, Bloomberg reported, citing people with direct knowledge of the matter.
The team at Samsung Display Co, which provides screens for iPads and MacBooks, helps develop products and is only allowed to share information about Apple’s business within the group, Bloomberg said.
The team, formed on April 1, also helps with sales and Apple is now the biggest external customer for Samsung components, Bloomberg said.
Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock and a Samsung Display spokesman declined to comment on the report.
Samsung and Apple last year agreed to drop all patent litigation outside the United States, scaling down a protracted legal battle between the smartphone rivals.
The legal battle between the smartphone rivals began in the United States in 2011 when Apple accused Samsung of copying its iPhone designs. Samsung countered that Apple was using pieces of its wireless-transmission technology without permission.
Dealing with a highly competitive market, U.S. wireless carrier Sprint is offering to deliver and set up phones, tablets and other connected devices for free at homes, offices and other locations chosen by the customer.
The offer is limited to eligible upgrade customers, but starting in September, new customers in selected markets will be able to choose the new Direct 2 You option, when buying online or through call centers.
Launching in the Kansas City metropolitan area on Monday, the program will be expanded across the country using about 5,000 branded cars and employing 5,000 staff by year end. A rollout in Miami and Chicago is scheduled for April 20.
Deliveries, however, will be confined to specific zones in the cities.
The bid by the carrier to bring “in-store experience” to homes and offices includes delivery of the phone and setting up the device by a Sprint-trained expert. The representative will transfer content from the earlier phone, and provide a tutorial and offer tips on the use of the new device.
The operator’s representative will also use the visit to give a quote for the existing phone under the Sprint Buyback offer.
Sprint said it developed the service based on customer research and insights that indicated “the need for a revolutionary service like this one.” Customers will be alerted to the offer to upgrade their phone by text or email.
Sprint’s move comes as the company planned to set up 1,435 co-branded stores at RadioShack stores. The company said its aim is to help consumers get phones in the most convenient way. “If it’s a personalized delivery — we can do that now. If it’s about a great in-store service, we can provide that as well,” according to a company FAQ.
Moore’s Law will be more relevant in the 20 years to come than it was in the past 50 as the Internet of Things (IoT) creeps into our lives, Intel has predicted.
The chip maker is marking the upcoming 50th anniversary of Moore’s Law on 19 April by asserting that the best is yet to come, and that the law will become more relevant in the next two decades as everyday objects become smaller, smarter and connected.
Moore’s Law has long been touted as responsible for most of the advances in the digital age, from personal computers to supercomputers, despite Intel admitting in the past that it wasn’t enough.
Named after Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel and Fairchild Semiconductor, Moore’s Law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit will double approximately every two years.
Moore wrote a paper in 1965 describing a doubling every year in the number of components per integrated circuit. He revised the forecast in 1975, doubling the time to two years, and his prediction has proved accurate.
The law now is used in the semiconductor industry to guide long-term planning and to set targets for research and development.
Many digital electronic devices and manufacturing developments are strongly linked to Moore’s Law, whether it’s microprocessor prices, memory capacity or sensors, all improving at roughly the same rate.
More recently, Intel announced the development of 3D NAND memory, which the company said was guided by Moore’s Law.
Intel senior fellow Mark Bohr said on a recent press call that, while Moore’s Law has been going strong for 50 years, he doesn’t see it slowing down, adding that Moore himself didn’t realise it would hold true for 50 years. Rivals such as AMD have also had their doubts.
“[Moore] thought it would push electronics into new spaces but didn’t realise how profound this would be, for example, the coming of the internet,” said Bohr.
“If you’re 20-something [the law] might seem somewhat remote and irrelevant to you, but it will be more relevant in the next 20 years than it was in the past 50, and may even dwarf this importance.
“We can see about 10 years ahead, so our research group has identified some promising options [for 7nm and 5nm] not yet fully developed, but we think we can continue Moore’s Law for at least another 10 years.”
Intel believes that upcoming tech will be so commonplace that it won’t even be a ‘thing’ anymore. It will “disappear” into all the places we inhabit and into clothing, into ingestible devices that improve our health, for example, and “it will just become part of our surroundings” without us even noticing it.
“We are moving to the last squares in the chess board, shrinking tech and making it more power efficient meaning it can go into everything around us,” said Bohr.
The Intel fellow describes the law as a positive move forward, but he also believes that we need to have a hard think about where we want to place it once products become smart as they can become targets for digital attacks.
“Once you put intelligence in every object round you, the digital becomes physical. [For example] if your toaster becomes connected and gets a virus it’s an issue, but not so important as if your car does,” he said.
“We have to think how we secure these endpoints and make sure security and privacy are considered upfront and built into everything we deploy.”
Bohr explained that continuing Moore’s Law isn’t just a matter of making chips smaller, as the technology industry has continually to innovate device structures to ensure that it continues.
“Moore’s Law is exponential and you haven’t seen anything yet. The best is yet to come. I’m glad to hand off to the next generation entering the workforce; to create new exciting experiences, products and services to affect the lives of billions of people on the planet,” added Bohr.
“Moore’s Law is the North Star guiding Intel. It is the driving force for the people working at Intel to continue the path of Gordon’s vision, and will help enable emerging generations of inventors, entrepreneurs and leaders to re-imagine the future.”
Activist investor Jana Partners is urging Qualcomm Inc to consider spinning off its chip unit from its patent-licensing business to boost the chipmaker’s sagging stock price, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a quarterly letter that will be sent to Jana investors on Monday.
Jana, one of Qualcomm’s largest shareholders, is also calling on the company to cut costs, accelerate stock buybacks and make changes to its executive pay structure, financial reporting and board of directors, the newspaper said.
Qualcomm said last month it would buy back up to $15 billion of shares and raise its quarterly dividend. The company also said it would continue to return at least 75 percent of its free cash flow to shareholders annually.
In the letter, Jana said the buyback is a positive step but Qualcomm needs to do more to capitalize on its strong position in the chip market. It said Qualcomm’s chip business is essentially worthless at the company’s present market value, the Journal reported.
While the majority of Qualcomm’s revenue comes from selling so-called baseband chips that enable phones to communicate with carrier networks, most of its profit comes from licensing patents for its widespread CDMA cellphone technology.
Earlier this year, Qualcomm’s longtime customer Samsung Electronics Co opted to use an internally developed processor for its new Galaxy S6 smartphone rather than Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon mobile chip.
Jana executives and Qualcomm’s management have held private discussions since late last year, the Journal said, citing a person familiar with the conversations. In the letter, Jana described the talks as constructive.
In February, four supercomputing institutions in China were placed on a U.S. government list that effectively prohibits them from receiving certain U.S. exports.
The four institutions, which include China’s National University of Defense Technology, have been involved in building Tianhe-2, the world’s fastest supercomputer, and Tianhe-1A.
The two supercomputers have been allegedly used for ”nuclear explosive activities,” according to a notice posted by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Back in August, the U.S. Department of Commerce notified Intel that it would need an export license to ship its Xeon and Xeon Phi parts, the company said on Friday. These chips were to be used in supercomputing projects with Intel customer Inspur, a Chinese server and supercomputing provider.
“Intel complied with the notification and applied for the license which was denied. We are in compliance with the U.S. law,” the company added.
The four Chinese institutions had been placed on the list by a government committee made up of representatives from the U.S. departments of Commerce, Defense, State and others. Inspur was not among the entities named.
The U.S. government had found the four Chinese institutions to be “acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States,” the Department of Commerce’s notice said.
On Friday, the National Supercomputing Center of Guangzhou, which was named on the list and operates the Tianhe-2, declined to comment.
“We are not very clear on this situation,” said an employee at the center.
Intel has been selling its Xeon chips to Chinese supercomputers for years, so the ban represents a blow to its business. China increasingly wants to build more supercomputers that are faster, and Intel has been a major partner.
But the country has also been developing its own homegrown processors, and the U.S. ban could accelerate those efforts.
A rumor fresh out of Korea suggests Nvidia might be tapping Samsung as a GPU foundry, but there is a catch.
The news comes from Korea Times, which quoted a source familiar with the matter. The source told the paper that the deal involved Nvidia GPUs, but it was a small contract.
GPUs on 14nm? Something doesn’t add up
If you are sceptical, don’t worry – so are we. While Nvidia is expected to use Samsung for its upcoming Tegra SoCs, this is the first time we heard it could also try using Samsung’s and Globalfoundries’ FinFET nodes for GPUs.
This would obviously place Nvidia in an awkward situation, as it would basically be using an AMD spinoff to build its chips.
There is another problem with the report. The source claims the deal is valued at “a few million dollars”, which would be barely enough to cover the cost of a single tape-out. In fact, it might not be enough at all. The cost of taping out FinFET chips is relatively high, as these are cutting edge nodes.
Tegras or GPUs?
We doubt Nvidia will ditch TSMC for Samsung, at least as far as GPUs are concerned.
The most logical explanation would be that Nvidia has inked a deal with Samsung to tape-out Tegra chips rather than GPUs. The source may have simply mixed them up, that would explain everything.
Still, there is always a chance Nvidia is looking at alternative nodes for its GPUs, but we just don’t see it happening, at least not yet.
Nokia is mulling over the idea of selling its maps business known as HERE, a source familiar with the matter said late last week, pushing up shares in the Finnish company as well as its network gear rival Alcatel-Lucent.
After the exit from handsets, analysts have seen little synergies between the map unit and Nokia’s mainstay network gear business. Nokia has hired a financial adviser to explore a sale of the unit, the source added.
Bloomberg first reported news of the sale on Friday.
A Nokia spokeswoman declined to comment.
Shares in Nokia closed 5.57 percent higher while those in France’s Alcatel-Lucent closed 4.82 percent higher. The two companies have reportedly held on and off merger talks in recent years.
Shares in Dutch navigation company TomTom surged more than 11 percent after the news broke.
“We have estimated that HERE’s value is around 3.3-4.8 billion euros, and in a possible deal the price should be more than that,” Inderes Equity Research said on its Twitter account.
Nokia sold its once-dominant phone handset business to Microsoft last year, leaving it with its core network equipment business, HERE as well as its patent division.
HERE last year had net sales of around 969 million euros with an operating profit of 31 million euros. The unit has signed several orders from the car industry recently.
Apple Inc has reached out to more than a dozen musicians, including British band Florence and the Machine, hoping to sign exclusive deals for some of their music to be streamed on Beats, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The company is in talks with Florence and the Machine to give Apple limited streaming rights to a track from their album set to be released in June, Bloomberg said.
Apple has also approached Taylor Swift and others about partnerships, the report said.
Apple declined to comment.
Beats Music will be re-launched in coming months. There will be a $9.99-a-month subscription for individuals and a family plan for $14.99, according to sources, Bloomberg said.
Music streaming service Tidal, launched last month by rapper Jay Z, is also trying to convince artists to sign exclusive deals for their content, to fend off competition from services such as Spotify and Google Inc’s YouTube.
Apple bought audio equipment and music streaming company Beats for about $3 billion in May 2014, hoping to catch up in fast-growing music streaming industry.