Intel is just about to release a new version of Thunderbolt, just as its most major customer – Apple, has dropped the technology from its 12-inch MacBook.
Intel has hinted that it will reveal the “next generation of Thunderbolt” at a press event to be held next month at the Computex trade show in Taipei.
The latest version of Thunderbolt, version 2.0, can transfer data at speeds up to 20Mbps (bits per second), which is twice as fast as the latest USB 3.1.
Chipzilla has been working on a new chipset with more integrated components and we are expecting to see some new toys that will plug into it at the June 1 event.
Intel has been trying to speed up Thunderbolt data transfers, and has said data transfers could reach up to 50Gbps with the help of its emerging silicon photonics technology.
The driving force for a faster Thunderbolt connector could emerge with 8K video. This will appear in Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10 OS. Consumer electronics makers are backing the development of a new connector technology called SuperMHL, which will run through USB cables and could kill off any chance that Thunderbolt has.
Thunderbolt peripherals cost a bomb, and many PC makers have passed on the technology particularly for Windows PCs where people tend to be a little more practical. It seems that even the Apple market, where you can charge $1000 for a turd with an Apple logo on it is also shying away from Thunderbolt.
Computex will also have Intel showing off its USB Type-C 3.1, which is considered primary competition to Thunderbolt. The technology is more versatility than Thunderbolt as it can recharge laptops and be a connector for a wide variety of peripherals. The Type-C cables also look the same on both ends, so users don’t have to worry about plug orientation.
Reform Government Surveillance, an organization that represents technology giants like Google, Apple and Microsoft, is pushing the U.S. Senate not to delay reform of National Security Agency surveillance by extending expiring provisions of the Patriot Act.
The House of Representatives voted 338-88 last week to approve the USA Freedom Act that would, among other things, stop the controversial bulk collection of phone records of Americans by the NSA, including by placing restrictions on the search terms used to retrieve the records.
The bill has run into opposition in the Senate from some Republican members who are backing renewal of the current Section 215 of the Patriot Act that provides the legal framework for the phone data collection.
The urgency for Congress to pass legislation comes from the upcoming expiration on June 1 of certain parts of the Patriot Act, including Section 215. Under a so-called “sunset” clause, the provisions will lapse unless reauthorized in the same or modified form by legislation.
A bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last month would extend the surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act until 2020. To apparently buy time as pressure builds for reform, another bill has been placed on the Senate calendar to extend Section 215 and other expiring provisions in the current form up to July 31.
The technology companies said that the USA Freedom Act prevents the bulk collection of Internet metadata under various authorities, and provides for transparency about government demands for user information from technology companies, besides assuring that the appropriate oversight and accountability mechanisms are in place.
Dropbox previously released its cloud storage service on Windows phones and tablets, and on Tuesday the company followed up with a universal app that expands the feature sets for both types of devices.
The update automatically adapts to the user’s screen size and delivers a number of new features, including the ability for Windows Phone users to upload videos directly from their devices.
In the interests of multitasking, Windows Phone users can also now upload multiple files at once. And they can download files straight to their device or SD card, making the information available for offline access; there’s a way to mark files as favorites for offline use as well.
The new update also brings the ability to save and open files to and from Dropbox while working within other apps.
On Windows tablets, Dropbox users can now invite new members to a shared folder from their contacts list and manage folder settings from their device. New keyboard shortcuts for selecting and searching enable a faster workflow.
Now available free for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.0 or 8.1, the software promises better performance as well, according to Dropbox.
Separately Tuesday, Dropbox rolled out new features for its main service that target designers and others who work frequently with images. Specifically, it debuted a new image viewer for better online previews as well as better support for Photoshop, Illustrator and scalable vector graphic files. Users can now also preview PostScript images in their browser rather than having to download them first.
The Zenfone 2, which has a 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, starts at $199. It will began shipping on Tuesday with Google’s Android 5.0 mobile operating system.
A model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage goes for $299, while the $199 model has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The smartphone is shipping as an unlocked device, meaning it will work with multiple carriers.
It has an Intel 64-bit Atom Z3580 processor code-named Moorefield and a PowerVR G6430 graphics processor, which is capable of handling 1080p video rendering.
The Zenfone 2 has a 5-megapixel front camera and a 13-megapixel rear camera, as well as two SIM slots.
Asus wants to make a mark in the U.S, and with this smartphone it hopes to find an audience, said Jonney Shih, chairman of Asus, during a press event in New York.
The ZenFone 2 is already shipping in 15 countries worldwide. For the U.S. market, Asus has tweaked the smartphone with some new features including a better LTE modem.
Other features include 802.11ac wireless and LTE-Advanced capabilities. The device supports carrier aggregation, and LTE data transfers can touch up to 250M bps (bits per second).
This is also a big product release for Intel. The Zenfone is the second smartphone in the U.S. that uses one of its chips. It’s also Intel’s first smartphone in the U.S. with the XMM 7260 LTE modem. An Intel chip is already being used on Asus’s Padfone X Mini, which is primarily a 4.5-inch smartphone that turns into a 7-inch tablet with an accessory.
Apple, which has been focusing efforts on beefing up its mapping technology since ditching Google Maps in 2012, has acquired Coherent Navigation, a startup offering a high-accuracy GPS navigation service.
Coherent’s navigation system is used in the Iridium satellite network, according to the LinkedIn profile of Paul Lego, who was CEO of the company before going to work for Apple. Coherent, which was founded in 2008 and is based in the San Francisco area, counts the U.S. government as a customer and had been aiming its technology at the mining, construction, energy and agriculture industries. Coherent had fewer than 10 employees, according to its LinkedIn page, which states that the company “has ceased operations.”
Coherent joins a string of businesses Apple has purchased in recent years to beef up its mapping service. Until 2012, Apple’s mapping technology was based on Google Maps. Other mapping and location companies Apple has acquired include PlaceBase, Locationary and BroadMap.
In a statement released to the media, Apple said it occasionally purchases small companies and doesn’t discuss its acquisition plans. The timing, price and terms of the deal, which was first reportedby MacRumors, weren’t disclosed.
However, several former Coherent executives became Apple employees in recent months. Coherent CEO Paul Lego began working at Apple in January while co-founders William Bencze and Brent Ledvina joined the company in April, according to their LinkedIn profiles. Lego is on the Maps Team and Bencze and Ledvina work on location technologies.
Analyst at IDC have consulted their tarot cards and are predicting that tablets will survive in the business area.
The overall tablet market in Western Europe remained challenged in the first quarter of 2015, declining 10.5 percent on year with shipments totaling 8.5 million units. The contraction, was the result of consumers realising that tablets were a fad and had no actually use at all.
But IDC sees a feature for the technology in the commercial space with volumes increasing 51.3per cent from the same period in 2014. This is particularly in the area of 2-in-1s which are essentially a re-incarnation of netbooks with a touch screen.
In terms of product category, the share of 2-in-1s, albeit growing, remains in single-digit territory at 5.9 per cent. Nevertheless, the popularity of these devices continued to increase among consumers as well as enterprises, driving shipments up 44.4 per cent.
Chrystelle Labesque, research manager, IDC EMEA Personal Computing said that the fact there were no major product launches, the beginning of 2015 failed to stimulate stronger consumer demand.
“Growth opportunity, however, clearly continues to come from enterprises and professional segments. Vendors have significantly expanded their product portfolio with devices optimized for business usage. Demand for 2-in-1 devices is gathering momentum driven by improved hardware offers as well as adjusted price points that are attracting private users as well as professionals,” she said,
Marta Fiorentini, senior research analyst, IDC EMEA Personal Computing claimed that tablet usage for professional purposes was a reality.
“Deployment is no longer limited to a few early adopting countries or businesses. Adoption is far from being mainstream but we now see companies of all sizes choosing tablets and 2-in-1s to support their normal business activities.
The UK, France, Germany, and Northern Europe countries remain at the forefront of this trend as tablet adoption has become part of mobility and digital strategies in the private as much as public sector.
Windows 10 is likely to resolve most of the infrastructure legacy and integration problems that have so far hindered tablet and 2-in-1 adoption in some existing enterprises. The growth of the commercial segment is therefore expected to continue in the coming quarters, supporting overall market volumes in 2015 and beyond.”
Android devices account for the majority of the market thanks to the large number of vendors offering tablets running on this OS. The largest vendor, Samsung, under-performed the market in the consumer segment in the first quarter of 2015, but showed strong commercial results.
The rest of the market is represented by Windows devices, which posted strong double-digit growth for the third quarter in a row.
The changes, announced Thursday, come less than a month after Google started prioritizing mobile-optimized sites in its search results. Both companies are looking to attract more users by providing a better search experience on smartphones and tablets.
Microsoft said it expects to roll out the changes in the coming months. Sites that display well on smaller screens will also be flagged with a new “mobile friendly” tag.
In the U.S. last year, Bing had roughly 6 percent of the mobile search market, compared with Google’s 83 percent, according to figures from StatCounter.
The changes don’t mean mobile-optimized sites will necessarily appear at the top of results. “You can always expect to see the most relevant results for a search query ranked higher, even if some of them are not mobile friendly,” Microsoft said.
It considers a variety of elements to decide which sites display best on smartphones and tablets. For example, sites with large navigational elements that are spaced well apart will be prioritized, as well as sites that don’t require a lot of zooming and lateral scrolling. Bing will also favor sites with mobile-compatible content. That means pages with Flash content, which doesn’t work well on iOS devices, might get demoted.
Microsoft highlighted Fandango’s mobile site as one that will be prioritized under the changes, more so than Movies.com.
The company has also developed a tool to help webmasters assess the mobile friendliness of their sites. It will be made available in a few weeks.
Mac and Linux fans you are out of luck. Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, the headset that perhaps more than any other device has ignited public interest in virtual reality, will run almost exclusively on well-appointed Windows PCs, at least in the near future.
The process that most laptops use to output video doesn’t work with the Rift, and Oculus has temporarily halted development for hardware running Apple and Linux. That’s the takeaway from the spec informationOculus published Friday detailing what type of computer would be compatible with its headset.
Graphics cards need to be equivalent to or more powerful than the AMD Radeon R9 290 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 970, while the processor needs to match or exceed an Intel i5-4590 chip, the virtual-reality headset maker said in a blog post. Systems need at least 8GB of RAM, two USB 3.0 ports and must be able to handle HDMI 1.3 video output. They also need to be running at least Windows 7 with Service Pack 1.
Having common specs will simplify the development process and allow programmers to create apps and games that offer a consistent experience, said Oculus chief architect Atman Binstock in a blog post. This is important, since hardware that isn’t up to par will deliver a negative experience, he said.
The specs will stay consistent, but in theory, the cost of components that support the technology will decrease over time, allowing a broader range of PCs to work with the Rift, Binstock said.
Laptop owners who hoped to use the Rift are out of luck, at least for now. Many laptops have external video outputs connected to an integrated GPU (graphic processing units), said Binstock said. However, in those scenarios the video output is handled by “hardware and software mechanisms that can’t support the Rift,” he added.
Reviewing a laptop’s spec would not reveal this information, and Oculus is working on a method “to identify the right systems,” Binstock said.
It appears that MediaTek’s move to bring out an octa-core processor has disturbed the mighty Qualcomm.
When the MT6797 SoC came out, there was much mirth amongst MediaTek’s rivals but it turns out that Qualcomm has followed suit after all.
Qualcomm’s version is called the Snapdragon 818, which will probably be a deca-core CPU. Word on the street is that the chip will depend on four low-1.2GHz Cortex-A53 power cores, two middle-range 1.6GHz Cortex-A53 cores, plus four high-power cores of the 2.0GHz Cortex A72 type. It will supports LPDDR4 RAM and will run the Adreno 532 GPU.
This should mean that it can run LTE Cat-10 when that hits the shops. The chip will use 20nm process technology.
If the rumors are correct then it means that the 818 SoC will be slower than MedaTek’s new chip.
Qualcomm is yet to confirm the existence of this piece of silicone, so it is all just rumors. However if it is true, it does mean that MedaTek’s effort was a lot more important than many of its rivals admitted.
The dark satanic rumor mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn that suggests that Intel bigwigs want to get back into supercomputing.
Intel had some history in the 1980s running a high performance computing division and it produced top-tier national lab systems in its day. Now with Aurora supercomputer deal promising a Golden Dawn, the pundits are suggesting that it is a region that Intel could do well in, particularly if it is tied to a good integrator like Cray.
Intel has been quietly building the bits to set up such an operation. It bought file system assets from Whamcloud for Luster development, QLogic and Cray interconnect investments and several compiler and software companies that cater to HPC.
It could be a revival of a Cluster Ready program but it could also be a slow build to a supercomputing business refresh.
What has enabled all this was Linux, which was not really around when Intel tried and failed last time. This means that OEMs can build reasonably good, affordable machines and unhinge the proprietary architecture of supercomputing. With Intel’s Knights Landing technology, it makes such packages seem more possible,
Another key reason why Intel might make a push into this area is because it has the money where as smaller outfits like Cray don’t It takes a lot of dosh to set up a supercomputer and you need the cash up front. A partnership with Cray, as we have seen with the Aurora project, backed with Intel cash makes a powerful combo.
Wal-Mart’s service, which will be by invitation only for now, will offer selected products on the company’s website to customers within three days or less, company spokesman Ravi Jariwala told Reuters. Wal-Mart offers more than 7 million products on its website.
“Depending on customer feedback we will see how the program evolves,” Jariwala said.
The move underscores Wal-Mart’s efforts to scale its online business rapidly and gain a share of a market dominated by Amazon.
Amazon’s launched its $99-a-year shipping service called n Prime, a decade ago with the guarantee of standard, reliable two-day shipping on online orders.
Since then Prime has become the cornerstone of Amazon’s growth and the e-commerce company said U.S. Prime memberships grew 50 percent last year.
Those are the findings from enterprise mobility management vendor Good Technology, which issued a report that measured mobile device activations among its business customers. Good says its technology serves more than 6,200 companies.
In the first quarter of 2015, 72 percent of all smartphones activated globally ran iOS. Compared to 2014′s fourth quarter, that’s a 1 percent decrease. Android device activations, meanwhile, reached 26 percent, increasing 1 percent from the fourth quarter of 2014. Windows Phone activations remained steady at 1 percent, the same as the previous six quarters, said the report.
Apple lost significant ground in the tablet market. In the first quarter of 2015, iPads had an 81 percent market share in activations, down from 92 percent in the year-ago quarter, according to the report. Tablets running Android and Windows increased their market share to 15 percent and 4 percent, respectively. According to Good, Microsoft Surface devices, which Microsoft manufactures, as well as Windows tablets sold by third-party makers, were both in demand.
The iPhone 6 was the most popular smartphone for businesses, comprising 26 percent of all smartphone activations in the first quarter of 2015. The Samsung 5 was the most activated Android smartphone. Together, 28 of the top 30 selling smartphones came from either Apple or Samsung, the report said.
The industries with the most iOS activations were education (83 percent), the public sector (80 percent) and financial services (76 percent), the report said. Android activation was prevalent in the tech (47 percent) and energy (44 percent) industries.
Windows device activations, meanwhile, stood out in the retail and entertainment and media markets. In retail, Windows tablets claimed a 5 percent market share while in the media and entertainment industry, 7 percent of device activations were for Windows Phone.
The Trek HD tablet will be available from the company as of Tuesday for as low as $49.99 with a two-year mobile contract. Buyers can also choose to pay a total sum of $200 over 20 months.
AT&T already offers a host of tablets from companies including Apple, Samsung, LG, Asus and others. The Trek HD would be its cheapest model outside of the refurbished LG G Pad 7.0, refurbished Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 and new Asus MemoPad 7 tablets, which are offered for free as part of its mobile contract plans.
The Trek HD, which has an 8-in. screen and Android 5.0, code-named Lollipop. The tablet offers eight hours of battery life.
AT&T considers it to be an entry-level tablet. The device runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, which also has an integrated LTE modem. Other features include 16GB of storage, a micro-SD slot, a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera.
A range of fixed, cable and mobile operators have started or are planning upgrades to 802.11ac, the fastest Wi-Fi technology yet, according to market research company IHS. By this time next year, a noticeable number of hotspots will use it, said research director Richard Webb, who is conducting a survey to pinpoint operator plans.
Overall operator spending on Wi-Fi networks in 2015 is expected to increase by 88 percent year-on-year.
Networks based on 802.11ac are faster because of features such as MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output) and beamforming. MIMO uses multiple antennas at the same time to increase data speeds, while beamforming aims the signal at the user to improve performance.
British Telecom and Boingo Wireless have already started to upgrade. There is a drive toward 802.11ac as public venues upgrade and get more serious about the role of Wi-Fi in their networks, according to Boingo. It has upgraded hotspots at airports, while BT has focused on hotels. For example, London hotels Every Piccadilly and Amba Charing Cross offer expected speeds of 196Mbps and 175Mbps using BT technology, according to Hotelwifitest.com.
The actual speeds that users get depend on a number of factors, including distance to the access point, the number of users on the network, and the number of antennas in their smartphone, tablet or laptop.
However, the upgrade to 802.11ac isn’t just about higher speeds.
The so-called Wave 2 of the technology adds a feature called multiuser-MIMO, which will help remove bottlenecks by allowing networks to transmit data to many users simultaneously instead of just one at a time. Public hotspots have the most to gain from using MU-MIMO, because they handle more users than home networks and a majority of enterprise WLANs. However, for MU-MIMO to work, networks as well as clients have to be upgraded.
Ruckus Wireless is seeing growing interest for 802.11ac. It was, along with Cisco Systems and Huawei Technologies, one of the biggest vendors of carrier Wi-Fi equipment last year, according to IHS. Some mobile operators and cable operators have already certified its newer equipment for deployment, while others are still in the process of doing that, Ruckus said.
The Fixstars 1000M, 3000M and 6000M will launch in July. The first two will offer 19nm flash memory and a 6Gbps SATA interface. The 1000M offers 1TB of storage and the 3000M offers 3TB.
In case you haven’t spotted it, there is a pattern emerging. The 6000M will take advantage of 15nm chips to cram in 6TB of memory into a traditional 2.5in form factor. And yet, at just 97g, it will weigh exactly the same as the 3TB model.
Fixstars is not exactly a household name in the UK, and the drives almost certainly won’t start appearing in high streets anytime soon.
The battle for flash supremacy is firmly rooted in the data centre where these drives will start to appear. The average read/write speed of 540/500MBps (540/520MBps for the 6TB version) makes these drives serious workhorses.
No price guidance has been given, but it seems likely that the 6TB version won’t be an economical buy for the casual user.
And it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see anything that is for several years yet, even in the conventional world of the spindle drive where HGST launched the first 8TB drive last year, and a 10TB version using the firm’s Helium technology.
As well as being able to create ever larger capacities of drive, it is important that the drives are suitable for purpose.
Laptop drives need to be good “all-rounders”, but optimising for maximum rewrites may be essential in a data centre, or for cold storage, where write-little/read-many is important. Examples such as SanDisk’s InfiniFlash lead the way in this area.