ARM claims it has seen growing momentum for its 64-bit ARMv8-A processor designs, announcing it has signed 50 licensing agreements with silicon partners to fab chips based on the architecture.
ARM said that a total of 27 companies have signed agreements for the company’s ARMv8-A technology, including all of the silicon vendors selling application processors for smartphones plus most of those targeting enterprise networking and servers.
The firm did not disclose which company signed the 50th licence, telling The INQUIRER that it was up to the licensees themselves whether to announce their plans. However, it claimed that while the first wave of ARM v8-A licences were for silicon targeting smartphones and tablets, the latest wave includes many aimed at enterprise infrastructure as well.
ARM unveiled its 64-bit processor architecture in 2011, followed a year later by the Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57 core designs based on it. These provide backwards compatibility with existing 32-bit ARM software, but add a new 64-bit execution state that delivers more capabilities, including support for 64-bit data and a larger memory address space that is required if ARM chips are to make their way into servers and other enterprise hardware.
“ARMv8-A technology brings multiple benefits, including 64-bit capability alongside improved efficiency of existing 32-bit applications,” said Noel Hurley, GM of ARM’s processor division.
While ARM’s chips are already widely used in smartphones and tablets thanks to their low power consumption, they have also been getting attention in recent years for use in the data centre, as service providers and enterprises alike have become concerned about the amount of power being consumed by IT infrastructure.
The list of silicon vendors developing chips based on the ARMv8-A architecture already includes Samsung, Qualcomm, Broadcom and AMD, the latter of which is set to bring to market a series of ARM-based server chips, the Opteron A1100 Series processors, codenamed Seattle.
Meanwhile, software vendors including Red Hat and Ubuntu Linux developer Canonical are working on a 64-bit software ecosystem to power ARM-based servers.
ARM recently announced that the 50 billionth chip containing an ARM processor core had been shipped by partners, and said the momentum in 64-bit ARM architecture is a key component in the journey toward the next 100 billion chips.
Invitations to the media and analysts went out a week ago for the long-expected event. Apple was even coyer than usual, declining to provide any hints, as it often does, of the event’s purpose.
“Wish we could say more,” the invitation simply read.
Analysts expect that it will be used to unveil new iPhones, as the same-timed presentations did in 2013 and 2012.
The date, as Computerworld pointed out a month ago, synchronizes with Apple’s iPhone 5S and 5C unveiling of last year. Then, Apple touted the new smartphones on Tuesday, Sept. 10. The year before, Apple used Sept. 12, a Wednesday — the usual day of the week, Tuesday, had been an anniversary of the terrorist attacks against New York City and Washington, D.C. — for its iPhone 5 debut.
The event will take place at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts, which is on the campus of De Anza College in Cupertino. The Flint Center seats 2,400, significantly more than either the theater on Apple’s campus which was used last year for the iPhone 5S and 5C or the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, where Apple hosted its 2012 iPhone 5 presentation.
o-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the original Mac on January 24, 1984, at the Flint Center. (Jobs’ portion of the shareholders’ meeting where he introduced the Mac begins at the 40:56 mark in this YouTube video.)
The choice of the venue, its size and even the impenetrable tagline made one analyst wonder what Apple has up its sleeves other than the anticipated iPhone 6.
“[The tagline] hints at something unexpected,” said Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research. “We know there will be an iPhone in two [screen] sizes, we think we know there will be an ‘iWatch,’ or whatever Apple calls its wearable. But there have been a lot of leaks of a larger-sized tablet. I betcha that’s the unexpected.”
Gottheil was referring to a recent upswing in speculation that Apple is working on a larger-screen iPad, perhaps with a display in the 13-in. range.
“Apple can fill as large a hall as they want,” said Gottheil about the larger space for the Sept. 9 event. “I think the gist is that they want a broader audience, and may be making one big major announcement this year rather than separate events for the iPhone and iPad.”
Apple will kick off the Sept. 9 event at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET). Apple’s history of live webcasting events is spotty: It always broadcasts the keynotes of its Worldwide Developers Conferences (WWDC), and for the last two years also publicly webcast its annual iPad events. But it has not broadcast iPhone introductions.
First there was the iPad at around 10 inches and then there was the iPad Mini that is closer to 8 inches. Now Apple Inc is gearing up to roll out a larger, 12.9-inch version of its once dominant iPad for 2015, with production set to begin in the first quarter of next year, Bloomberg cited people with knowledge of the matter as saying on Tuesday.
The report comes as Apple struggles with declining sales of its tablets, which are faltering as people replace iPads less frequently than expected and larger smartphones made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and other rivals have taken a bite out of its sales.
Apple has been working with its suppliers for over a year on larger touch-screen devices, Bloomberg cited the sources as saying.
It is expected to introduce larger versions of its 4-inch iPhone next month, although the company has not publicized plans for its most important device.
Apple was not immediately available for comment.
It’s unknown whether Microsoft discounted the Surface 2 to clear inventory before it discontinues the tablet, in preparation for a successor, or simply to move a slow-selling product.
A clue may be in the length of the limited-time sale: Microsoft said that the reduced prices were good from Aug. 24 to Sept. 27, or “while supplies last,” and set the maximum number of devices per customer at a generous five.
Intriguingly, Microsoft is to host a press event on Sept. 30 to unveil the next edition of Windows, code named “Threshold” but perhaps officially to be called “Windows 9.” Rumors have circulated that Windows RT will also be revamped to drop the desktop mode and/or to add support for the pen bundled with the Surface Pro 3.
If those claims are accurate, the Sept. 30 event would be a perfect time to tout a revamped Windows RT and unveil replacements for the Surface 2.
Microsoft cut prices by $100 for each of the three Surface 2 models it sells: two Wi-Fi only tablets with 32GB or 64GB of storage, and a 64GB device that can connect to a cellular data network at LTE speeds.
The lowest-priced 32GB Surface 2 is now priced at $349, a 22% discount, while the 64GB tablet now costs $449, an 18% reduction. The sole LTE model, now $579, received a 15% price cut.
Microsoft’s Surface 2 is powered by Windows RT 8.1, the touch-centric, tile-interface that runs only “Modern,” nee “Metro,” apps. Windows RT cannot handle legacy Windows applications.
The Surface 2 was the follow-up to the disastrous Surface RT, the tablet which sold in such small volume — and which Microsoft built in such large numbers — that the company was forced to take a $900 million write-off in mid-2013.
Although the Surface Pro 2, which went on sale alongside the Surface 2 in October 2013, was updated to the Surface Pro 3 in May of this year, the Surface 2 has not been refreshed since its launch.
At its new price, the 32GB Surface 2, which boasts a 10.6-in. display, costs less than Apple’s entry-level 16GB iPad Mini with a 7.9-in. Retina-quality screen. That iPad Mini lists at $399.
Microsoft is selling the re-priced Surface 2 on its online store.
Sources are suggesting that Activision is planning to launch an entertainment division that would be responsible for creating movies and TV shows based on Activision intellectual properties. The move might leave many scratching their heads if true since so many others have failed at trying to turn video game IP into gold.
Word is that CEO Bobby Kotick is taking to folks in an effort to secure the right talent to make this happen. Kotick has to be aware that this has not gone well for its competitors, but he apparently thinks that Activision IP is different and they will have no problem giving the people want they want.
Our take on this is that we will wait and see what happens, but it will not be easy to be successful, regardless of the IP that you have in your stable. The bigger question might be is it really worth the money and effort to try and make it work?
Apple, which was at the forefront of creating the tablet market in 2010 with its first iPad, has seen growth plummet from 2012, as larger phones became more popular and people delayed replacing their tablets.
Mass production of the iPad with a 9.7-inch (24.6-cm) screen has already started, and it is likely to be unveiled by the end of current quarter or early next quarter, Bloomberg said, citing two people familiar with the matter.
A new version of the 7.9-inch iPad mini is also entering production and is likely to be available by the end of the year, Bloomberg said.
Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment on the report.
International Business Machines Corp said in July it would partner exclusively with Apple to sell iPhones and iPads, which could rejuvenate the tablet’s sales by entering into a largely untapped corporate market.
Apple shipped 13.2 million iPads in the June quarter, 8 percent less than a year earlier. Sales of the devices, which accounted for 15 percent of revenue, fell short of Wall Street’s expectations for the second quarter in a row.
Activision Blizzard reported its financial results for the quarter ended June 30 today, revealing an unprecedented reliance on digital revenues.
The publisher reported revenues of $970 million in sales on a GAAP basis, 49 percent of which came from digital channels. On a non-GAAP basis (excluding the impact of changes in deferred revenues), the digital percentage was actually 73 percent of the company’s $658 million in sales. Activision attributed the digital strength to Blizzard’s lineup of titles (World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Diablo III), combined with digital sales for Call of Duty.
However, not all of those digital sales drivers posted strong numbers for the quarter. World of Warcraft in particular lost about 800,000 subscribers over the period, and as of the end of June was down to a paying player base of 6.8 million gamers. However, Activision Blizzard characterized this decline as a “seasonal” dip in advance of the next expansion, Warlords of Draenor, which is set to launch later this year. The publisher likened the downturn to the subscriber losses that happened in 2012 ahead of the Mists of Panderia launch.
On a GAAP basis, Activision Blizzard revenues were down nearly 8 percent, with net income down 37 percent to $204 million. However, the publisher still beat its previous guidance. On a non-GAAP basis, revenues were up about 10 percent to $658 million, while non-GAAP net income was reported at $45 million, down 50 percent year-over-year.
The quarter’s performance gave Activision Blizzard enough confidence to update its previous guidance for the full year. For calendar year 2014, the publisher had previously forecast total GAAP revenues of $4.22 billion, but moved that up to $4.24 billion today. The company also projected earnings per share of $0.91, up from $0.89.
It shipped smartphone 34.3 million units, boosted by sales of flagship phones the Ascend Mate 2 and the Ascend P7, it said on Tuesday. In the second quarter alone it shipped 20.6 million units, an 85% year-over-year increase.
Much of that growth is coming from emerging markets in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, where its smartphone shipments are doubling or even tripling compared to the previous year, the company added.
Other Chinese vendors are also reporting booming smartphone sales, but Huawei ships a higher proportion of its production to foreign markets, said Melissa Chau, an analyst with research firm IDC.
“It has the most number of shipments outside of China, roughly 40%,” she estimated. “If you look at Lenovo, ZTE, or Xiaomi, they are nowhere near that.”
In this year’s second quarter, Huawei will hold on to its ranking as the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor, behind leader Samsung Electronics and second place Apple, Chau added.
In foreign markets, Huawei is driving growth by selling low-end models, while flagship products such as the Ascend P7 find most of their buyers in mainland China, Chau said.
Huawei has ambitions to rival Apple and Samsung in the smartphone arena, so is spending more on marketing and raising brand awareness. But its market share in this year’s first quarter was only 4.7%, still far away from second place Apple, which had a 15.2% share.
“They are making some progress, but they are still not anywhere near being a super top-tier player,” Chau said. Android smartphones are also becoming commoditized, which risks dampening Huawei’s attempts to stand out from the rest of the competition, she added.
AMD is fast tracking stacked DRAM deployment and a new presentation leaked by the company points to APUs with stacked DRAM, or high bandwidth memory (HBM).
AMD is calling the project “Fastforward” and it is all about boosting memory bandwidth on upcoming APUs. However, AMD is not talking about specific products yet and it is unclear whether HBM will be implemented on its upcoming Carizzo APU. This seems highly unlikely at this point for a number of reasons and if we were to speculate we would say HBM is coming to the next-next generation of AMD APUs.
Stacked DRAM APUs to deliver up to 128GBps bandwidth
Using two DRAM stacks AMD could boost bandwidth at an unprecedented rate. Two stacks would result in a 1024-bit interface and up to 128GBps bandwidth. GDDR5 maxes out at 32 bits and 28GBps. With one stack in play the results are somewhat lower, 512-bit bus and 64GBps bandwidth.
AMD says it is looking at 1.2V+ DRAM with 2Gb per stack and 4 DRAM modules per stack. However, the presentation states that AMD is currently conducting evaluations of “various architectures and interface options,” so it could be a while before we see what exactly it has in mind.
AMD’s Fastforward objectives
Stacked DRAM is just part of the story, as AMD’s Fastforward initiative is a bit broader. The company says its principle Fastforward objective is to investigate processor and memory technologies for exascale systems based on high volume architectures and open standards.
The end result should “provide significant benefits” to high volume markets and the chipmaker says it is “based on extending high volume APU architecture.”
The list of key technologies which are part of the fastforward project is quite long. HSA, stacked DRAM, new APIs, non-volatile memory and processing-in-memory are just some of them.
Lenovo on Friday said it would continue selling sub-10-in. Windows tablets in the U.S., backing away from statements it made the day before, when it said it was pulling the ThinkPad 8 from the North American market and had discontinued offering a model of the Miix 2.
“We will continue to bring new Windows devices to market across different screen sizes, including a new 8-inch tablet and 10-inch tablet coming this holiday,” Lenovo said in a press release published on its website Friday.
“Our model mix changes as per customer demand, and although we are no longer selling ThinkPad 8 in the U.S., and we have sold out of Miix 8-inch, we are not getting out of the small-screen Windows tablet business as was reported by the media (emphasis in original),” the statement continued.
On Thursday, the IDG News Service — like Computerworld, owned and operated by IDG – reported the withdrawal of the ThinkPad 8 and the 8-in. Miix from the U.S. market. The ThinkPad 8 had debuted in January at prices starting at $449, and the similarly-sized Miix had launched in October 2013.
Lenovo told IDG News that it was diverting remaining stocks of the ThinkPad 8 to other countries, including Brazil, China, and Japan, where demand was stronger for smaller Windows 8.1-powered tablets.
The China-based company, which has made impressive gains in the global market — it was the world’s largest personal computer seller during the second quarter, ahead of Hewlett-Packard and Dell, according to IDC — did not say exactly when it would return with an 8-in. device. If it begins selling the unnamed device in October, typical of OEMs that seed the channel then for the holiday sales season, it will have been absent from the market for two or more months.
Apple Inc has agreed to pay $450 million to settle U.S. state and consumer claims the iPad manufacturer conspired with five major publishers to fix e-book prices, according to court records filed Wednesday.
The settlement, which would provide $400 million for consumers, is conditioned on the outcome of a pending appeal of a New York federal judge’s ruling last year that Apple was liable for violating antitrust laws.
A ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reversing the judge could, under the settlement, either reduce the amount Apple pays to $70 million, with $50 million for consumers, or eliminate payments altogether.
“While we cannot predict the outcome of the appeal with certainty, we are confident in the case we made against Apple at trial,” Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said in a statement.
Apple in a statement denied that it had conspired to fix e-book prices and said it would continue pressing its case on appeal.
“We did nothing wrong and we believe a fair assessment of the facts will show it,” Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman, said.
The settlement, which requires approval of U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, had been announced in June. Terms were not disclosed at the time.
It came ahead of an Aug. 25 damages trial, in which attorneys general in 33 states and territories and lawyers for a class of consumers were expected to seek up to $840 million.
The deal follows earlier settlements with five publishers that provided $166 million for e-book purchasers.
Combined with the $400 million from Apple, the recovery is “among the exceedingly rare cases that provide consumers nationwide with double the amount of their estimated damages,” lawyers for the plaintiffs wrote in a motion.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the state attorneys general sued Apple and five publishers in April 2012, accusing them of working together illegally to increase e-book prices.
In July 2013, Cote found Apple liable for colluding with the publishers to impede e-book competitors such as Amazon.com Inc after a non-jury trial.
The publishers include Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group Inc, News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Penguin Group (USA) Inc, CBS Corp’s Simon & Schuster Inc and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH’s Macmillan.
The announcement, just days before IBM releases its second quarter earnings, comes as the company attempts to shift its focus to software and services as its hardware unit continues to slump, and follows a string of mobile software acquisitions. The company hopes software sales will contribute half of its total profit by 2015.
The company will release more than 100 apps targeting industry specific issues in retail, healthcare, banking, travel, transportation and telecommunications IBM said on Tuesday.
“We wanted to focus on creating an absolutely irresistible workflow and processes and a design of apps that can be used by every user in the organization,” Bridget van Kralingen, IBM’s senior vice president of global business services told Reuters from Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California.
“We wanted to remove some of the existing barriers of mobile in enterprise,” she said adding that chief information officers worry about security, utilizing cloud and installing apps in mobile devices.
The partnership, which was six months in the making, will offer services geared at security, mobile device management and big data and analytics. The company also plans to develop cloud services optimized for Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS. The devices will operate through wireless carriers chosen by the client, she said.
BlackBerry Ltd shares were down 3 percent following the announcement. The Canadian smartphone maker has increasingly targeted its secure software at businesses as part of an effort to turn the company around after losing ground to Apple’s iPhone and Samsung Electronics Co.
Apple and Samsung have steadily expanded their share of the mobile enterprise market in recent years, mostly at Blackberry’s expense, while Microsoft Windows phones have made little headway.
Increasingly, Apple’s expansion has been driven by employees bringing in their own devices and requesting corporate support, the so-called bring-your-own-IT trend.
Hooking up with IBM may help address lingering concerns about smartphone software security and data privacy, in the form of a veteran partner that’s led in enterprise IT for decades.
“This deal is a very targeted attempt by Apple with the help from IBM to focus on the enterprise, corporate market which has really been the main business of Blackberry,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.
ARM has announced two programs to assist Android’s ascent into the 64-bit architecture market.
The first of those is Linaro, a port of the Android Open Source Project to the 64-bit ARMv8-A architecture. ARM said the port was done on a development board codenamed “Juno”, which is the second initiative to help Android reach the 64-bit market.
The Juno hardware development platform includes a system on chip (SoC) powered by a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU and dual-core ARM Cortex-A57 CPU in an ARM big.little processing configuration.
Juno is said to be an “open, vendor neutral ARMv8 development platform” that will also feature an ARM Mali-T624 graphics processor.
Alongside the news of the 64-bit initiatives, ARM also announced that Actions Semiconductor of China signed a license agreement for the 64-bit ARM Cortex-A50 processor family.
“Actions provides SoC solutions for portable consumer electronics,” ARM said. “With this IP license, Actions will develop 64-bit SoC solutions targeting the tablet and over-the-counter (OTT) set top box markets.”
The announcements from ARM come at an appropriate time, as it was only last week that Google announced the latest version of its Android mobile operating system, Android L, which comes with support for 64-bit processors. ARM’s latest developments mean that Android developers are likely to take advantage of them in the push to take Android to the 64-bit market.
Despite speculation that it would launch as Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google outed its next software iteration on Wednesday last week as simply Android L, touting the oddly-named iteration as “the largest update to the operating system yet”.
The commitment comes at a time when new data shows a dramatic drop in theft of Apple iPhones and iPads after the September 2013 introduction of iOS 7, which included a kill-switch function that allows stolen devices to be remotely locked and deleted so they become useless.
In New York, iPhone theft was down 19 percent in the first five months of this year, which is almost double the 10 percent drop in overall robberies seen in the city. Over the same period, thefts of Samsung devices — which did not include a kill switch until one was introduced on Verizon-only models in April — rose by over 40 percent.
In San Francisco, robberies of iPhones were 38 percent lower in the six months after the iOS 7 introduction versus the six months before, while in London thefts over the same period were down by 24 percent. In both cities, robberies of Samsung devices increased.
“These statistics validate what we always knew to be true, that a technological solution has the potential to end the victimization of wireless consumers everywhere,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon told IDG News Service.
Gascon and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have been leading a push to get smartphone vendors and telecom carriers to include kill switches in their products as a way to curb phone theft.
The joint work had early success with Apple but other carriers and phone makers dragged their feet. However, resistance to the idea appears to be dropping as several bills that mandate kill switches make their way through state legislatures and the U.S. Congress.
The bills demand a function that would enable a phone owner to remotely delete and disable a phone if stolen. The function could be disabled by consumers before a theft takes place if desired, but crucially new handsets would be supplied with it switched on by default.
AMD is planning to bring its new Mantle API to Linux in the near future. Although Linux is not a big gaming platform at the moment, SteamOS could change all that starting next year.
AMD’s Richard Huddy says the decision was prompted by requests from developers who would like to see Mantle on Linux. However, he stopped short of specifying a launch date. Huddy confirmed that AMD plans to dedicate resources to bringing Mantle to Linux, but other than that we don’t have much to go on.
Mantle on SteamOS makes a lot of sense
Mantle is designed to cut CPU overhead and offer potentially significant performance improvements on certain hardware configurations. This basically means gamers can save a few pennies on their CPU and use them towards a better GCN-based graphics card.
However, aside from enthusiasts who build their own gaming rigs, the world of PC gaming is also getting a lot of attention from vendors specialising in out-of-the box gaming PCs and laptops. Many of them have already announced plans to jump the SteamOS bandwagon with Steam Machines of their own.
Should Mantle become available on Linux and SteamOS, it would give AMD a slight competitive edge, namely in the value department. In theory vendors should be able to select a relatively affordable APU and discrete GPU combo for their Steam boxes.
AMD already tends to provide good value in the CPU department. The prospect of using mainstream APUs backed by cheap discrete Radeons (or even Dual Graphics systems) sounds interesting.
It will take a while but the potential is there
Huddy told PC World that Mantle has some clear advantages over DirectX. Microsoft’s new DirectX 12 API has already been announced, but the first games to support it won’t arrive until late 2015.
“It (Mantle) could provide some advantages on Steam boxes,” said Huddy. “We are getting requests to deliver this high-performance layer.”
While DirectX 12 will be very relevant in the PC space, the same obviously cannot be said of Linux and SteamOS. Therefore Mantle on Linux makes a lot of sense. However, it all depends on AMD’s timetable.
Last month Valve announced Steam Machines would be pushed back to 2015. They were originally supposed to launch this summer and the first announcements were made months ago. The first designs were based on Intel and Nvidia silicon, but support for AMD hardware was added just a bit later.
When Valve announced the delay we argued that it could have a silver lining for AMD. It simply gives AMD more time to improve its drivers or add Mantle support, something Nvidia and Intel do not have to worry about.
It still remains to be seen whether Steam Machines can make a big dent on the gaming market. PC gaming is going through a renaissance, but the latest consoles are doing well, too (apart from the Wii U). The concept is very attractive on more than one level, but it is very difficult to make any predictions yet, since we are still about 15 months away from launch.