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Demand For Solar Power Continues To Rise

December 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Demand for solar power grew at an impressive clip by 16%  in 2014, representing 44 billion watts (gigawatts) of capacity purchased during the year.

At the same time, China, which in past years had flooded the market with solar panels, did not see growth as strong as had been expected. The growth was mainly due to healthy U.S. and Japanese markets, according to the report from EnergyTrend, a research division of TrendForce.

Overall, supply and demand remained stable, according to EnergyTrend.

“At the end of 2014, the overall supply chain maintained a solid utilization rate, while China’s tier-one module manufacturers also continued to break shipment records,” Jason Huang, research manager at EnergyTrend, said in the report.

Ironically, because the price of photovoltaic (PV) modules (the building blocks of solar panels) bottomed out last year, investors worldwide became concerned that profits would also drop. PV prices plummeted after China saturated the market with low-cost solar panel modules. The result: PV capacity rose from 31 gigawatts (GW or a billion watts) in 2012 to a record 39GW last year, even as investments in solar capacity dropped, according to a 2014 report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

In 2015, worldwide solar demand is projected to be 51.4GW, with the key markets — China, the United States and Japan — taking up 57% of the overall share.

The rise of emerging markets (the solar installation countries that are not in the top 10) has begun to appear. In 2015, the growth momentum of the emerging markets will become more apparent, and the overall demand will surpass 10GW.

 

 

LG Plans On Rolling Out Quantum Dot TVs In 2015

December 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc will roll out a new range of high-tech TVs in early 2015, expanding its line-up while it strives to cut costs that make its prized light-emitting diode (OLED) sets too expensive for most consumers.

A spokesman for the world’s No. 2 TV maker after domestic rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said on Tuesday LG will start selling products using quantum dot technology early next year. He didn’t disclose details including pricing.

The technology incorporates a film of tiny light-emitting crystals into regular liquid crystal displays (LCD), boosting picture quality. LG will have 55-inch and 65-inch ultra-high definition quantum dot TVs on display at the major CES trade show next month in Las Vegas.

Japan’s Sony Corp is so far the only major TV maker selling quantum dot models.

LG was widely expected to launch quantum dot TVs next year, having declared its intention to use the products in a dual-track strategy as the firm and its affiliate LG Display Co Ltd try to push OLED prices down. Analysts say it may take the LG firms several years to meet that goal.

The OLED TV sets remain expensive: a 65-inch ultra-high definition model launched in Korea earlier this year was priced at 12 million won ($10,993). A comparable Sony quantum dot TV costs about $3,799, according to the Japanese firm’s website.

Samsung Electronics has said quantum dot is one of many technologies it is considering. Analysts expect Samsung Electronics to launch quantum dot TVs next year, and believe it could be more aggressive in pushing the products than LG, which remains committed to OLED.

The LG spokesman said Dow Chemical Co is supplying quantum dot material. Dow Chemical confirmed the supplier relationship in an emailed statement.

Dow is building a quantum dot factory in South Korea using technology from partner Nanoco Group Plc, with production starting in the first half of 2015.

 

 

Softbank Decides To Shrink Silicon Valley Presence

December 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Japan’s SoftBank Corp  will soon scale back its Silicon Valley offices, sources with knowledge of the matter said, signaling the company won’t revive efforts to buy T-Mobile U.S. Inc .

SoftBank subsidiary Sprint Corp dropped its bid to acquire the No. 4 U.S. carrier in August but the companies did not rule out future consolidation.

The Japanese telecommunications company is now transferring “the bulk” of manpower out of its West Coast operations, including dispersing development engineers to Sprint headquarters in Kansas, said the people, who declined to be identified because the move has not been made public.

SoftBank is also considering renting out one of two buildings it leased at an annual cost of over $3 million to accommodate a T-Mobile-driven expansion, the people said. The building has stood largely empty, they said.

The failed bid by Japan’s acquisitive No. 3 mobile carrier was a rare setback for founder Masayoshi Son. The billionaire encountered resistance from U.S. regulators, who insisted on keeping the number of major wireless carriers at four.

“There were people sent to Silicon Valley for the purpose of making (mobile phone) platforms, but that job was done and there’s nothing else to do,” said one of the people.

SoftBank spokesman Matthew Nicholson said some SoftBank employees are moving back to Tokyo or going to Kansas as certain joint projects between the company and Sprint have finished. He declined to comment regarding the relationship between the departures and the failed bid to acquire T-Mobile.

SoftBank bought No.3 U.S. carrier Sprint last year for $22 billion as part of an overseas expansion that has included investments across Asia.

 

Microsoft Expects To Release Windows 10 Next Autumn

December 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft Corp expects to have begin offering its Windows 10 operating system to the publict by autumn 2015, slightly later than previous comments had suggested.

Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner told Japanese news service Nikkei on Wednesday that the new system would be released “early next fall.”

Microsoft has not publicly set a firm timetable for the release of Windows 10, but only last week suggested the possibility of an earlier release.

“By next late summer and early fall we’ll be able to bring out this particular OS (operating system). That’s the current plan of record,” Turner told the Credit Suisse Technology Conference last Thursday.

An autumn release would put Windows 10 on track for launch three years after Windows 8, which got a mixed reception as it confused many traditional PC users with a design more suited to tablets.

Microsoft unveiled the name Windows 10 in late September, saying the jump in numbers from 8 to 10 marked a leap as it looks to unify the way people work on tablets, phones and traditional computers.

An early test version of Windows 10 – which blends the traditional look and much-loved start menu with newer features – has been available for download from Microsoft’s website for more than two months.

Windows is still a core part of Microsoft’s business and dominates the desktop computing market with 1.5 billion users. But the growth of smartphones and tablets means Windows now runs on only about 14 percent of computing devices worldwide, according to tech research firm Gartner.

 

 

Will Smartphones Get LPDDR4

December 4, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Uncategorized

The DDR market is rather predictable, after DDR2 comes DDR3 followed by DDR4 and will probably be followed by DDR5. The Low Power market is no exception. Most mainstream to high end phones are powered by LPDDR3 memory and this includes the latest iPhone, Samsung Note or Galaxy, LG G3 or HTC One M8 phones among others.

The future, or early 2015 to be more precise, brings the LPDDR4 a next generation mobile DRAM standard. LPDDR4 launches with an I/O data rate of 3200 MT/s and a target speed of 4266 MT/s, compared to 2133 MT/s for LPDDR3. It also operates with 1.1V, a 10 percent lower voltage compared to 1.2 with LPDDR3. The LPDDR4 standard is very fresh as JEDEC (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council) has announced the final specification on August 25th 2014. In case you are not familiar with the term, JEDEC is an independent semiconductor engineering trade organization and standardization body.

Samsung has managed to double the clock rate from the current 800 MHz with LPDDR3 to 1600MHz with LPDDR4, increasing the total memory bandwidth from 12.8GB/s with LPDDR3 to 25.6 GB/s DRAMeXchange expects that one percent of Samsung market share in DDR memory will be LPDDR4, but in a year’s time, in Q4 2015, DRAMeXchange expects that Samsung’s LPDDR4 market share could expand to 30 percent of total LPDDR4 supplies.

SK Hynix, another big name in the DDR industry, expects to grow from the current 1 percent to 18 percent in a year. US based Micron has not yet entered the LPDDR4 market but it is expected that the company can capture a good 25 percent of it in Q4 2015. Qualcomm has officially confirmed that its 2015 flagship Snapdragon 810 supports LPDDR4 1600MHz Dual-channel 64-bit (25.6GBps) memory and we expect that a lot of top brands in the phone industry based their high end phones on this chip. Have in mind that only the Snapdragon 810 supports LPDDR4 while Snapdragon 808, 805, 801 and a bit older 800 are stuck with the LPDDR3.

Qualcomm is also the first company to introduce working LPDDR4 hardware, in the form of its Snapdragon 810 engineering platforms.

We expect Nvidia Erista to feature LPDDR4 support, while Mediatek and Intel will probably announce its LPDDR4 SoCs next year. No word on Apple’s next generation SoC, but Apple does not tend to be behind the curve, so we would be surprised if it did not go LPDDR4 next year, too.

 

Courtesy-Fud

Sony Pictures Still Struggling After Cyber Attack

December 4, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

More than a week after a massive cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Hollywood studio isstill struggling to restore some systems as investigators searched for evidence to identify the culprit.

Some employees at the Sony Corp entertainment unit were given new computers to replace ones that had been attacked with the rare data-wiping virus, which had made their machines unable to operate, according to a person with knowledge of Sony’s operations.

In a memo to staff seen by Reuters, studio co-chiefs Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal acknowledged that “a large amount of confidential Sony Pictures Entertainment data has been stolen by the cyber attackers, including personnel information and business documents.”

They are “not yet sure of the full scope of information that the attackers have or might release,” according to the memo first reported by Variety, and encouraged employees to take advantage of identity protection services being offered.

Their concern underscores the severity of the breach, which experts say is the first major attack on a U.S. company to use a highly destructive class of malicious software that is designed to make computer networks unable to operate.

Government investigators led by the FBI are considering multiple suspects in the attack, including North Korea, according to a U.S. national security official with knowledge of the investigation.

The FBI said Tuesday that it is working with its counterparts in Sony’s home country of Japan in the investigation.

That comes after it warned U.S. businesses on Monday about hackers’ use of malicioussoftware and suggested ways to defend themselves. The warning said some of the software used by the hackers had been compiled in Korean, but it did not discuss any possible connection to North Korea.

 

 

Americans Will Have To Wait For Fastest LTE Speeds

December 2, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

LTE’s theoretical maximum download speed will increase to 450 Mbps next year — but most users won’t be able to take advantage of it, as many mobile operators simply don’t have enough radio spectrum.

The broadband speed users get depends on a myriad of different factors, but in the network it all starts with the amount of spectrum their operator uses. Future increases will be fueled by a technology called carrier aggregation, which lets operators treat up to three radio channels in different frequency bands as if they were one.

This month, chip maker Qualcomm and network equipment manufacturer Ericsson have been doing their best to let the world know speeds at up to 450Mbps will be possible next year, with product launches, interoperability tests and a demo with Australian network operator Telstra.

The demonstration used 60MHz of spectrum made up of three separate 20 MHz LTE channels in the 2600MHz, 1800MHz and 700MHz bands. That the mobile operators need 20MHz in each of threebands to get to 450Mbps makes the technology an option for only a select few.

For example, because spectrum in the U.S. is often licensed in 10 MHz chunks, North American subscribers are unlikely to see 450Mbps anytime soon, according to Malik Saadi, practice director at ABI Research. In Europe, LTE penetration is still low, so mobile operators are more focused on migrating subscribers to regular LTE. The first to get 450Mbps will instead be users in Asia, Saadi said.

Ericsson and Qualcomm are more upbeat, and think there is potential in North America and Europe as well. But the bulk of the deployments will use carrier aggregation at slower speeds, according to Peter Carson, senior director of marketing at Qualcomm. Speeds of 300Mbps or even 375Mbps are within reach of many more mobile operators, and that’s still a big step for users.

 

 

Sony To Slash Mobile Phone, TV Product Lines

November 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Japan’s hemorrhaging technology giant Sony Corp plans to slice its TV and mobile phone product line-ups to cut costs, counting on multi-billion dollar revenue surges for its buoyant PlayStation 4 and image sensor businesses over the next three years.

Having lost ground to nimbler rivals like Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in consumer electronics, Sony said on Tuesday its goal for TV and smartphones is to turn a profit, even if sales slide as much as 30 percent.

“We’re not aiming for size or market share but better profits,” Hiroki Totoki, Sony’s newly appointed chief of its mobile division told an investors’ conference. A poor showing by its Xperia smartphones has weighed heavily on recent earnings and Sony said more detail on plans for the unit will be unveiled before end-March.

Under its new three-year electronics business plan, Sony said it was aiming to boost sales for its videogame division by a quarter to as much as 1.6 trillion yen ($13.6 billion). It said that will be helped by personalized TV, video and music distribution services that should lift revenue per paying user.

At its devices division, which houses its image sensor business, Sony said sales could increase 70 percent to as much as 1.5 trillion yen. Sony’s sensor sales are already robust, with Apple using them in its iPhones while Chinese handset manufacturers are increasingly adopting them.

In a similar event last week for its entertainment units, the conglomerate said it was aiming to lift its movie and TV programming revenues by a third over the next three years.

 

 

Panasonic Considering A Push Into Home Appliances

November 11, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Japanese electronics giant Panasonic Corp is mulling over M&A deals to bolster its presence in the European home appliance market, its chief executive said on Monday, as it shifts its focus to growth following years of restructuring.

“We need a partner who understands the European market in the white goods segment,” CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga, credited with leading the company’s turnaround since his appointment in 2012, told Reuters in an interview.

Panasonic returned to a positive net cash position last quarter for the first time in five years, a year and a half ahead of schedule, after exiting unprofitable product lines in smartphones, plasma TVs and semiconductor chips.

In contrast to Sony Corp, another Japanese consumer electronics icon struggling with deep losses in TVs, smartphones and other consumer electronics, Panasonic has been turning to new growth areas such as advanced driver assistance systems that look into blind spots or aid in parking. It is also supplying batteries to electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc.

While Panasonic’s transformation has shifted its focus to the automotive sector and other industrial clients, it also sees home appliances – unlike smartphones and other gadgets it has quit or pared back – as a potentially profitable area where it could tap its expertise in power-saving technologies.

Panasonic is aiming for 10 trillion yen ($90 billion) in revenue in the 2018/19 financial year compared with a target of 7.75 trillion yen in the current year to March, and has said this could be achieved in part through acquisitions.

Tsuga said Panasonic had room to expand in home appliances, particularly in Europe where it is a minority shareholder in Slovenian appliance maker Gorenje under an alliance that includes joint manufacturing and sales.

“We could deepen this partnership, or pursue other alliances,” Tsuga said. Asked whether that could include an acquisition, he said: “I wouldn’t rule that out. That’s currently under consideration.”

 

 

 

Nintendos’s New Healthcare Division To Develop Sleep Tracking Device

October 31, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Video game maker Nintendo Co Ltd will develop a device to monitor a user’s fatigue and map their sleep, Chief Executive Satoru Iwata said on Thursday, the first offering from the company’s newly created healthcare division.

The device will be co-created with U.S. firm ResMed Inc, which currently makes products to treat sleep disorders, and will be available in the financial year ending March 2016.

“By using our know-how in gaming… to analyse sleep and fatigue, we can create something fun,” Iwata said.

Nintendo, better known for its Mario video game franchise and Wii and Wii U consoles, has said it expects its healthcare division to turn a profit in 2015/2016. The company already offers fitness games on its Wii console, played with a motion sensor controller.

According to an image Iwata shared at a media conference, the device will be about the size of a hand and can be placed on a user’s bedside table. It will use microwave transmission sensors to track sleep, with the data collected used to help users cultivate healthy sleeping habits.

Iwata refused to discuss the company’s sales expectations for the new device beyond saying that it may be offered via a subscription service rather than a one-off purchase.

“We only start something new if we think we will be able to create a big market, but as I’m not able to discuss pricing plans and other details today I don’t think there’s much point in giving a figure for our projected scale,” he said.

The device was launched a day after Nintendo reported an unexpected quarterly profit, after hit games gave a boost to sales of its Wii U console.

 

 

Samsung Shows Off 20nm DDR4

October 23, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Samsung has started shipping its first 8Gbit DDR4 memory chips and 32GB dual in-line memory modules (Dimms) for servers manufactured using a 20nm process technology.

The Korean chip maker said the 20nm production process had been expanded from its PC and mobile memory markets to the enterprise server market with these fresh components, which it began producing earlier this month.

The new 32GB module offers a data transfer rate per pin of up to 2,400Mbps, equating to a 29 percent performance increase when compared with a DDR3 1866 server module, Samsung claimed. The firm is also planning on increasing the speed of the DDR4 modules further to 3,200Mbps.

Using the new 8Gbit DDR4 components, Samsung is initially delivering 32GB registered Dimms, but said the chips will allow production of future server modules with a capacity of up to 128GB by applying 3D through-silicon via technology to manufacture the chips.

“Our new 20nm 8Gbit DDR4 Dram more than meets the high performance, high density and energy efficiency needs that are driving the proliferation of next-generation enterprise servers,” said Samsung’s VP of memory marketing, Jeeho Baek.

As well as increased performance, the new DDR4 chips are touted as offering improved error correction features for greater memory reliability in enterprise servers.

The new DDR4 chip and modules use 1.2v, which is currently the lowest possible voltage.

Samsung’s 20nm chips follow Intel’s launch of the Xeon E5-2600 v3 family last month, which were the first server processors from the chipmaker to support the new memory standard.

Courtesy-TheInq

Sprint Confirms Shut Down Of WiMax Network In November

October 14, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Sprint’s WiMax network, rolled out in 2008 as the first commercial 4G system in the U.S., will finally cease operations in November 2015.

The country’s third-largest carrier has confirmed that it will end its WiMax service on Nov. 6, 2015. It had disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing last year that WiMax would shut down by the end of 2015.

Sprint deployed what was then a newly emerging technology in 2008, attempting to jump past its competitors with a mobile data network that would be faster than its own 3G CDMA system and those operated by the other big national carriers. WiMax launched first in Baltimore in September 2008 with advertised download speeds ranging from 2Mbps (bits per second) to 4Mbps.

The network ultimately was built and operated by Clearwire, another early WiMax adherent that owned spectrum licenses in the same band as Sprint, around 2.5GHz. Sprint bought its WiMax capacity wholesale from Clearwire before selling it to its 4G subscribers. The two carriers had a tumultuous relationship until Sprint acquired Clearwire as part of its takeover by Softbank in 2013.

WiMax predated LTE and may have helped to spur on the development of that standard, which became the 4G system for carriers that had embraced the GSM family of technologies. But as early as 2010, both Sprint and Clearwire were signaling that they would give in to LTE’s broader global backing and follow what was already expected to be the more high-volume technology.

The November date was first reported by AndroidCentral, based on a leaked newsletter that discussed a letter to be sent a year in advance to all corporate WiMax customers. The newsletter also said other WiMax customers would be informed six months in advance and that there would be comparable devices at low or no cost to replace WiMax equipment. Sprint had laid out the possibility of free LTE replacement phones in its terms of service last year.

 

Sharp Has Developed An LCD Panel That Can Come In Any Size

October 10, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Focusing on use in car dashboards and consoles, Sharp has come up with an LCD panel that can be cut to almost any shape.

Conventional LCD panels are rectangular — something that’s required because the tiny chips that drive each pixel of the display are fitted along the edge of the glass panel on which the screen is made. In Sharp’s new screens, the chips are embedded between the pixels, which offers more freedom in screen shape.

There’s still a requirement for a single straight edge but the rest of the screen can be cut with, say, curved sides so the display completely fills the dashboard area in front of the driver.

Sharp is showing several prototype displays at this week’s Ceatec expo in Japan. One, intended for use in the central instrument console, has cutouts for buttons while another has a wavy top that curves around three on-screen dials.

Another advantage of the technology is that because the driver chips are embedded alongside the pixels, the space between the edge of the screen and the edge of the glass is very thin, allowing the screen image to go almost right up to the edge.

Sharp, which is a major manufacturer of liquid crystal displays, said the technology is ready for mass production — it’s just waiting for orders from car makers.

But don’t expect them next year. Because it takes several years to take a car from concept to commercialization, the screens won’t likely be appearing in production models for the next three to five years. Sharp said they’ll cost more than rectangular LCDs, but it wouldn’t say how much of a premium they will carry.

 

 

Toshiba Introduces Smart Glasses To Battle Google’s

October 8, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Toshiba is entering the smart glasses market. The company is introducing a prototype pair of glasses at the Ceatec trade show in Japan this week, and while they might not edge Google Glass out of the market, they should be a bit cheaper.

Called Toshiba Glass, they have a tiny, lightweight projector clipped onto one of the arms near the lens. That projector displays an image that reflects off the inside of the lens to provide an augmented reality-type display.

It’s a similar principle to Google Glass, which also uses a built-in projector. But unlike Google Glass, Toshiba’s glasses don’t have a prism over the lens to reflect the image into the eye.

Instead, with Toshiba’s product, the glasses lens itself comprises a series of narrow, vertical prisms. They’re pretty much invisible when you look straight through the lens, but an image projected from an angle reflects back into the eye.

Toshiba says the glasses weigh 42 grams — about the same as Google Glass, according to this report (Google doesn’t give the weight in its specs). But they’re far less impressive than Google’s product for a few reasons.

One is that Toshiba Glass isn’t wireless — it connects to a smartphone in your pocket in order to work. That’s partly because the battery for the projector would make the glasses too heavy, according to Toshiba — although Google somehow managed it.

The other they’re less impressive is that Toshiba Glass isn’t a full-blown computer. It’s really just a display system that connects to your smartphone.

Still, it might be a lot cheaper than Google Glass, which retails for $1,500.

Toshiba hopes to ship the product next year in Japan and North America, according to a representative at the Ceatec trade show near Tokyo, where Toshiba is showing its glasses for the first time.

It will offer three styles of frame — standard, sporty, and industrial, the last being protective googles like you might wear in a lab.

 

 

DoCoMo Unveils Navigation Handles, Wearable Skin Sensor To Detect Fat Burning

October 8, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Japanese mobile giant NTT DoCoMo on Monday unveiled Yubi Navi, a prototype navigation and communication device that uses haptic feedback to convey information.

Coated with white rubber, Yubi Navi looks a bit like a game controller or TV remote. It can link to a smartphone via Bluetooth and contains small actuators that twist it left or right or make it bulge slightly in the middle.

When used for navigation, it can guide a user to a destination by prompting him to turn left or right at a given intersection. When the goal is reached, it vibrates.

The idea is to free people from the need to keep looking at a map displayed on their smartphone.

At the Ceatec tech expo outside Tokyo, DoCoMo did demos of prototypes of the device, which were linked to a power source via wires. A screen displayed a 3D animation of the streets of a town through which attendees could virtually navigate with the help of Yubi Navi.

Aside from avoiding the dangers involved in not paying attention to one’s surroundings, this can help people enjoy a location more by noticing new shops and other attractions,” said Koji Okamoto of DoCoMo’s strategic marketing department. “In Japan, walking with smartphones is a big problem and we want to solve it.”

The device can also be used to send tactile “nudges” to other people as a form of communication, much like the haptic messaging functions of the Apple Watch.

DoCoMo also demonstrated one of its own wearables on Monday, a credit card-size sensor that straps on your forearm to tell you how much fat you’re burning.

The 54-gram prototype is a semiconductor-based gas sensor that can detect acetone molecules, which are emitted from the skin when fat is being burned.

DoCoMo managed to shrink the sensor from one that weighed 6 kilograms. It can link to a smartphone via Bluetooth and relay data on how much acetone it detects.

“We’d like to realize a healthier world just by wearing such a device that can measure various types of health indexes like fat burning,” said Satoshi Hiyama, an engineer with DoCoMo’s Frontier Technology Research Group.

The device could be further miniaturized to fit into fitness bands or smartwatches, Hiyama said.