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AMD Giving More People The Boot

October 5, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

While we want AMD to do well to balance the Intel and Nvidia empires, it does seem that the outfit cannot get a break.  Today it announced that it is letting 500 staff go and will begin another wave of restructuring.

Of course, we predicted  this would happen. The company is betting the farm on its coming Zen chip, but this will not appear until next year.  Meanwhile it is facing shrinking sales and nearly impossible competition.

Under the restructuring AMD will outsource some IT and application development services.  It will give 500 people, or five percent of its staff, their pink slips and P45s. The company will take a charge of $42 million, with $41 million of that recorded in the just-ended third quarter. AMD said it expected savings of about $58 million in 2016 from the restructuring plan.

This is about the same time AMD hopes to clean up with its Zen chips.

AMD said it will cut white-collar jobs and is not shutting or idling any fabricating operations. The jobs will be lost across AMD’s global operations, including Austin, Texas, and company headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. AMD only has 9,700 employees at the end of last year, so 500 is rather a chunk.

AMD reported its second-quarter revenue fell 35 percent from the year-earlier period, claiming that no one wanted to buy PCs.

The company has been shifting to gaming consoles and low-power servers, but it really has not moved fast enough or come up with the sort of “wow” technology which is needed to see off Intel.



Can IBM Beat Moore’s Law?

October 5, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Big Blue Researchers have discovered a way to replace silicon semiconductors with carbon nanotube transistors and think that the development will push the industry past Moore’s law limits.

IBM said its researchers successfully shrunk transistor contacts in a way that didn’t limit the power of carbon nanotube devices. The chips could be smaller and faster and significantly surpass what’s possible with today’s silicon semiconductors.

The chips are made from carbon nanotubes consist of single atomic sheets of carbon in rolled-up tubes. This means that high-performance computers may well be capable of analysing big data faster, and battery life and the power of mobile and connected devices will be better. The advance may enable cloud-based data centres to provide more efficient services, IBM claims.

Moore’s law, which has for years governed the ability of the semiconductor industry to double the processing power of chips every 24 months is starting to reach the limits of physics when it comes to doubling the power of silicon chips. This could mean a slowing of significant computing performance boosts unless someone comes up with something fast.

IBM researchers claim to have proved that carbon nanotube transistors can work as switches at widths of 10,000 times thinner than a human hair, and less than half the size of the most advanced silicon technology.

The latest research has overcome “the other major hurdle in incorporating carbon nanotubes into semiconductor devices which could result in smaller chips with greater performance and lower power consumption,” IBM said.

Electrons found in carbon transistors move more efficiently than those that are silicon-based, even as the extremely thin bodies of carbon nanotubes offer more advantages at the atomic scale, IBM says.

The new research is jump-starting the move to a post-silicon future, and paying off on $3 billion in chip research and development investment IBM announced in 2014.



MediaTek Building Ecosystem To Power IoT

October 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek is quietly building an ecosystem to drive IoT strategy to push its System on Chip shipments across multiple devices.

The fabless chipmaker is signing partnerships with Amazon, Tinitell, Apple, and People Power.

MediaTek is starting to come out of the shadows in the West with its SoC designs. It sees the IoT as a way to push more of its chips.

It has put in a tender to buy power management outfit Richtek Technology to expand its leadership in Power Management Integrated Circuits (PMIC) to strengthen its overall capabilities for the IoT business model. The deal is expected to close in Q2 2016.

It has provided funding to People Power, a user engagement company providing apps, cloud and mobile services for IoT to further accelerate its penetration in the IoT market in both the U.S. and China, develop new IoT products based on its Fabrux and Influx software architecture

Release of two software development kits (SDKs) for Apple HomeKit, the framework in iOS 8 for communicating with and controlling connected accessories in a user’s home.

This is on top of its partnership with Amazon for the latest devices – Amazon Fire TV is powered by MediaTek’s MT8173, a 64-bit quad-core processor and the world’s first multimedia SoC with ARM’s Cortex-A72 cores; Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablets powered by MT8135, an up to 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, resulting in a fast and fluid user interface, and smooth running HD videos and high frame-rate games.

Chief Marketing Officer, Johan Lodenius said the company’s cunning plan was to innvovate widely available technology that provides integrated connectivity, while investing in and nurturing developers and the maker community to deliver practical yet innovative solutions.



AMD Goes Pro With APUs

October 1, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Troubled chipmaker AMD’s has launched its Pro APUs quietly with just one major customer so far, the maker of expensive printer ink HP.

Based on the Godaveri and Carrizo chips, AMD adds its AMD Secure Processor for corporate peace of mind. The new Pro chips include the new AMD Pro A12 chip, which runs at 3.4GHz. All of the new Pro chips are APUs, which mean that they combine both graphics as well as the CPU core. The A12 integrates 12 compute cores (4 CPU cores and 8 GPU cores), based on the Radeon R7 graphics technology running at 800MHz.

What differentiates the new PRO chips from the more conventional models are what AMD calls the AMD Secure Processor, an embedded core that enables the ARM TrustZone secure environment to run on top of the chip. Theoretically, at least, the technology should supply an added layer of security to sensitive apps.

AMD PRO A-Series mobile processors (formerly codenamed “Carrizo PRO”) are aimed at the commercial laptop market. They were made in collaboration with HP, ExactTrak, and Qualcomm. HP is set to flog a few of them in its HP EliteBooks range.

David Bennett, corporate vice president and general manager, Commercial Products, AMD said the AMD PRO processors enable performance, reliability and opportunity for today’s businesses by giving customers choice and affordability to meet their specific business needs.

The AMD PRO A-Series processors are purpose-designed for business, offering long-term value commercial enterprises can depend on including a 24-month longevity commitment, 18-month image stability, commercial-grade quality assurance and available extended OEM warranty support for up to 36 months.

Protection against modern security threats with new enterprise-class security features including Device Guard, Enterprise Data Protection, and Windows Hello biometric authentication.

The AMD PRO A-Series processors are claimed to enable greater management flexibility in a multi-vendor client environment at what AMD calls a business-friendly price.

HP EliteBook G3 705 series pair the PROs with Qualcomm’s SnapdragonTM X5 LTE modem to provide 4G connectivity and location capabilities.

Fram Akiki, senior director of product management at Qualcomm Technologies said that the closer co-operation between AMD, HP, and Qualcomm on the HP EliteBook 705 G3 Series will benefit enterprise users.

The AMD PRO A-Series mobile processors are available today through online resellers and are currently offered on HP EliteBook 705 G3 Series PCs, including HP EliteBook 725, 745 and 755

The HP EliteBook 705 G3 series with the new Pro chips inside them. The business notebook weighs 2.78 pounds and includes 12.5-inch, 14.0-inch and 15.6-inch displays.

The new Pro chips also contain features that were launched with the earlier chips, such as Heterogenous Systems Architecture (HSA 1.0) compliance to allow programmers to more easily program the CPU, as well as an integrated HEVC video decoder.


MediaTek’s Helio X20Goes Neural

October 1, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek has revealed that its latest generation 10 core processor will be targeting neural networks and tge deep learning market.

Nvidia was one of the first to go after this area and Qualcomm is wants ”in” too. There will  be a big scrap for what could be a huge market  for all of these companies.

Kevin JouSr. Vice President & CTO of MediaTek said.

“Cloud-based computing provides big data for training a neural network, but on a device deep learning enables privacy, instantaneous usability of personalized databases. It can speed up the search for the picture you want. This speeds up the search of your personal data including payments, pictures and everything else that we don’t want to have in the cloud. You can just ask Jennifer Lawrence how smart it was to have the nude pictures in the iCloud.”

Kevin has confirmed that MediaTek is developing the deep learning SDK that will support multi-corps. We have seen that company’s Core Pilot 3.0 scheduler can enable the CPU, GPU, DSP and ISP to  work together.

MediaTek’s Chairman and CEO Tsai Ming-kai said that the company has serious IoT and automotive aspirations. You need deep learning to teach a car the difference between a human printed on a piece of paper and the actual human on a street. This is a painful process, but when solved will enable self-driving cars that are promised to hit our streets by 2020, just five years from now.


Is nVidia Preparing A New GPU?

September 30, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

According to the latest report, it appears that Nvidia is on the verge of releasing a new dual-GPU graphics card that will place two GM200 GPUs on the same PCB.

According to a report from, the upcoming dual-GPU graphics card has not only been already showcased to a couple of select members of the press at a secret briefing in New York City, but some of those have managed to score a sample and are wrapping up their reviews.

According to the same report, the upcoming flagship graphics card could bear the GTX Titan branding. Rather surprising piece of information is that the upcoming dual-GPU graphics card will not be based on the GM204 GPU, which was behind the GTX 980 and GTX 970 graphics card but rather two GM200 GPUs, the same one that is behind both the GTX 980 Ti and the GTX Titan X graphics card.

The precise specifications are still unknown as it is unclear if we are looking at two fully enabled GM200 GPUs with 3072 CUDA cores each, or the cut-down version with 2816 CUDA cores. Since the GTX 980 Ti has a TDP of 250W, it will be quite interesting to see the final TDP on such dual-GPU graphics card and the final clocks for each GPU.

It is also quite surprising that Nvidia managed to keep such graphics card a secret for so long and although it was quite obvious that Nvidia will release a dual-GPU graphics card in order to counter AMD’s upcoming dual Fiji GPU based graphics card, we did not expect it to be ready so soon.

The price of the upcoming dual-GPU graphics card from Nvidia, which is also the most important part of information, is still unknown but if these rumors are true, we should see it quite soon.


Did Intel Deliberately Slow PC Sales?

September 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel might have caused slow PC sales at the beginning of the year to boost the price of its Skylake chips later.

A recent study shows that the slump in PC sales in the first half was deliberately made to help Skylake sell better since August. Initially analysts believed that sales of the Skylake are hindered by existing stocks of previous Haswells, but it turns out this was untrue.

Tech Trader Daily has found that Intel significantly reduced shipments of its central processing units in the first half of the year, to leave PC maker inventories drained and empty.

This is normal practice since Intel needed to have all its PC makers and retailers with empty enough stocks in order to fill them up quickly with new Skylake models in August. But this year the plan worked too well. The Skylake stocks quickly evaporated and the first supply aps appeared between the months of August and September, with Intel quickly assuring its customers that new Skylake batches will return in stores as fast as possible.

Normally Chipzilla has a cycle of unit buildups in the first half of a financial year and then a controlled drain of units in the second half. This helps PC makers and retailers build systems in the first half and then sell them bundled without being compromised by stand-alone units selling alongside them at a higher pace in the second.

This time Intel launched the Skylake in the second half of the year, August onwards, so the cycle was stuffed up. Now it seems that this will mean a low supply of Skylakes in the first half of 2016. If you can find them, you might need to stock up now.

Intel is making piles from this. PC makers mainly build their systems on Skylakes and since the supply is low the price is high. Intel does not have to discount to shift the technology, the suppliers have to buy it at any price. Particularly as Intel’s only real x86 market, AMD, is having a bit of a snooze.

A full transition to Skylake will probably happen in winter, but the ongoing process at the moment gives Intel the much-needed money to financially buffer a slowdown in sales next spring.  All this gives a warning about what will happen if AMD goes under and Intel takes total control.


Will TSMC’s Revenue Drop In The Fourth Quarter?

September 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

TSMC has warned that its revenues for the fourth quarter will experience a sequential decline, however its bottom line has been saved by the fact that the US dollar is doing well against the Taiwan currency.

The company has announced that its third-quarter revenues will exceed its guidance given in mid-July, thanks to a more favorable US dollar exchange rate to the NT dollar. However, revenues for the third quarter will be about $6.42 billion. Gross margin and operating margin will still be within the previous guidance of 47-49 per cent.

TSMC’s revenues for the fourth quarter, however, will drop to between $6 billion with profit margin rates similar to the prior quarter’s levels, the company said.

For all of 2015, TSMC expects to post a double-digit increase in revenues as the company guided previously.

The company expected that it would gain more A9 processor orders from Apple Inc next quarter to offset customers’ inventory corrections. However one has to wonder if TSMC is now thinking that its Apple sales are set to take a hit.  Its other smartphone chip customers like Qualcomm, MediaTek have been taking a hammering. TSMC will meet its full-year target, but only thanks to the currency move.

Global smartphone shipment growth is expected to slow this year and average 7.9 percent during the next five years, compared with 34 percent growth over the past five years. Sales of all types of devices are to decline by 1 percent this year, Gartner Inc said in a report yesterday.


Red Hat Releases Fedora 23 To Address Security Issues

September 25, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Red Hat has torn the roof off the sucker once again with the release of Fedora 23 in beta form.

Coming in three incredible versions, Fedora 23 Cloud, Fedora 23 Server and Fedora 23 Workstation, this new edition picks up where the old one left off and runs with it.

The biggest news for fans is the use of compiler flags to help improve security. These are designed to help protect Fedora 23 beta binaries against memory corruption vulnerabilities, buffer overflows and similar issues.

This is the latest iteration of Red Hat’s Linux-based operating system that likes to think of itself as the leading-edge open source operating system across all use cases. It’s hard to believe, but absolutely true.

The dazzling array of updates starts with Red Hat Fedora Server Beta, which offers a new role through the rolekit service in the form of a cache server for web applications, with the underlying functionality delivered by memcached.

Also new is the fact that rolekit can now be triggered by anaconda kickstart to determine what function should be started with the next reboot, and I think we can all agree that’s been a long time coming.

Cockpit also sees some big changes, including a basic cluster dashboard for Kubernetes, Support for SSH key authentication and support for configuring user accounts with their authorised keys and compatibility with multipath disks.

Meanwhile in Fedora 23 Workstation Beta, the fun keeps coming with a preview of GNOME 3.18. Changes to the software application will allow it to offer firmware updates and access to Libreoffice 5. Improvements have also been made to Wayland, with the ultimate aim being to make it the default graphic server in a future release.

Sadly, that’s where the thrillride ends as Cloud Beta contains very little new of note – but we are warned to stay tuned for news of Fedora 23 Atomic Host, said to be coming soon. We’re literally on the edge of our seats and will bring you the news as soon as we get it.


Intel’s Xeon Future Leaked

September 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

While the focus has been on Intel’s Skylake it appears that Chipzilla has not forgotten its server products.

CPU World has gotten its paws on a roadmap which predicts we will see a few Xeon chips for servers over the next two quarters.

Xeon E3-1200 v5 series for single-socket workstations will be released in the fourth quarter of 2015 and these will be under the “Greenlow” platform that will also include C236 series chipset. The CPUs will use Skylake microarchitecture and fit into socket 1151. Also in Q4, the company will expand Xeon D family for microservers with a few new models.

Xeon E3 line will be followed by Xeon E5 server processors in the first half of 2016. In the first quarter of the next year, Intel is going to launch Xeon E5-1600 v4 and E5-2600 v4 “Broadwell-EP” series for single- and dual-socket systems.

The Xeon E5-2600 v4 will have up to 22 CPU cores and support for DDR4-2400 memory. The E5-1600 v4 processors will have up to eight cores. Both E5-1600 v4 and E5-2600 v4 will be compatible with existing Grantley-EP platform and C610 series chipset.

Xeon E5-4600 v4 series for quad-socket servers will be launched in the second quarter of 2016.

Codenamed Broadwell-EP 4S they will be identical to the E5-2600 v4 series. Also in the second quarter of 2016, Intel will release Xeon E7-4800 v4 and E7-8800 v4 “Broadwell-EX” CPUs, compatible with existing Brickland platform.

Xeon Phi x200 products will be available in Q3 2016. These parts will use “Knights Landing” design.



MediaTek Goes Power Management

September 15, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Beancounters at Digitimes research claim that Mediatek’s moves to buy Richtek Technology will help the analog IC vendor to push its power management (PWM) gear to the smartphone and TV panel sectors.

Lately Richtek has been moving away from its notebook and motherboard segments and into PWM ICs for telecommunication and consumer applications. The idea was to avoid being damaged too much by the slump in the PC market.

Richtek has scored orders from Samsung Electronics for production of entry-level and mid-range smartphones and has also been ramping its PWM solutions to China’s LCD TV panel sector.

MediaTek has also announced its plans to acquire LCD driver IC maker Ilitech it means that the outfit will build up a comprehensive supply chain for the TV industry in China, Digitimes noted.

MediaTek could also use the planned 12-inch joint venture fab to be built by Powerchip Technology, which is the parent company of Ilitek, in Hefei, China.

The JV fab will provide foundry services for LCD driver ICs in 2018-2019.



AMD Increases FM2+ Lineup

September 14, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD will expand its socket FM2+ chip lineup with three new parts – the A10-7890K and A8-7690K APUs, and the Athlon X4 880K CPU.

The new parts showed up on the compatibility list of socket FM2+ motherboards by BIOSTAR and it is not clear when they will be in the shops.

The architecture mentioned is “Kaveri,” but the silicon could be “Godavari” which is a Kaveri refresh.

The top of the range will be the A10-7890K, which has CPU clock speeds of 4.10 GHz out of the box. We do not know what the TurboCore frequency will be, but the current A10-7870K offers 3.90 GHz with 4.10 GHz TurboCore. The A8-7690K has a CPU clocks of 3.70 GHz. We are not sure what the iGPU clock speeds of the two chips.

The Athlon X4 880K is the most interesting. It has 4.00 GHz CPU clocks. The Athlon X4 FM2+ series lack integrated graphics that means that they are good for those who will buy discrete GPUs, on the FM2+ platform.

All three chips offer unlocked base-clock multipliers, enabling CPU overclocking.



Will MediaTek Buy RichTek?

September 11, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek is planning to write a cheque for a 51 per cent stake in analogue ICs Richtek Technology and might even buy the whole company.

The company will offer US$5.94 for each Richtek common share. After completing the tender offer and going through relevant legal procedures, the company will move forward taking over the remaining shares of Richtek. The follow-up acquisition of Richtek shares is expected to complete in the second quarter of 2016.

Ming-Kai Tsai, MediaTek chairman and CEO said that Richtek was is a leader in analogue ICs and provides comprehensive power management solutions to satisfy various customer demand, backed by an experienced management and R&D team.

“We believe, through the deal, the competitive edges of both companies will be leveraged to maximize the platform synergy, strengthen MediaTek in Internet of Things segment and further enhance MediaTek’s competitiveness in the fast-changing and ever-competitive global semiconductor market,” he said.

Richtek chairman Kenneth Tai claimed the two outfits were complementary in power management IP and products which creates a leadership position in this field.

He said that by using MediaTek’s platform leadership, Richtek could optimize power management performance on the system level to enable competitive products for customers and further expand analogue IC offerings to propel the company into its next stage of growth.


AMD’s Athlon X4 Specs Come To Light

September 10, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The spec for the AMD Athlon X4 880K has leaked onto the internet. This AMD processor is based on Kaveri, but without a GPU.

The Athlon X4 880K Specs appeared in a compatibility listing from motherboard manufacturer Biostar.

The chip, which hasn’t been formally announced yet, will run at 4 GHz and will follow-up the 870K which is yet to be released.

There is no word on how much it will all cost yet, but the 860K has been seen for $100.00, which should give you some idea.



Is Electricity In TSMC’s Future?

September 9, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Contract chip-maker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is thinking of generating electricity in-house.

The cunning plan is to install electric generating equipment at its factories or even building its own power plant.

Apparently, the company’s electricity bill will go up by 50 per cent over the next ten years as it moves to more-advanced technologies.

Taiwan is already facing power shortage problems and TSMC is worried that its plans could be stuffed up.

TSMC has asked Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and government-owned Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) about the feasibility of building its own power generators and related regulatory matters.

According to Digitimes companies can set up power generating equipment for use at their own factory sites, but the law has to be revised to allow TSMC to build its own power plant.

TSMC previously pointed out that it does not necessarily need nuclear power unless there is an alternative. We really hope that quote does not mean that TSMC is considering going nuclear.