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Qualcomm Gives Snapdragon More Umph

April 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has released a new Trepn Profiler app for Android which will profile Snapdragon processors and tinker with them.

The Trepn Profiler app identifies apps that overwork the CPU or are eating too much data. The app will pinpoint which of the apps drain the battery faster.

All data that will be obtained by this app can provide information you need to know which program is slowing down your phone.

Most Android phone users will not give a damn, but developers will find it useful. Those who are interested in testing roms, custom kernels, and their own apps can use the data gathered by the Trepn Profiler.

Developers can measure optimisation and performance on Snapdragon-powered mobile devices. Data are real-time include network usage, battery power, GPU frequency load, and CPU cores’ load. Key features also include six fast-loading profiling presets, and an advanced mode to manually select data points and save for analysis.

The Advanced Mode allows profiling a single app or device, offline data analysis, and increasing of data collection interval. This special mode also allows longer profiling sessions, displaying two data point in one overlay, and viewing of profile data.

All up this should enable developers to come up with more Snapdragon friendly apps.

Courtesy-Fud

IKEA Launches Wireless Charging Furniture Collection

April 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

IKEA has rolled out its Wireless Charging collection of furniture, which has built-in Qi-enabled wireless chargers for compatible mobile phones.

In addition to offering bedside tables, floor- and table lamps, desks and simple charging pads, IKEA is also selling a DIY kit that lets users embed wireless chargers into furniture of their choice.

The furniture, and other items in IKEA’s wireless charging collection, ranges in price from $9.99 to $119.

The Wireless Charging collection will be rolled out globally, with U.S. stores seeing availability beginning in late spring, IKEA said today in a statement.

“With smartphones becoming such a natural part of our lives, we wanted the charging part to become a natural part of our homes,” Holly Harraway, IKEA’s lighting sales leader, said.

The furniture uses the most popular wireless charging specification, Qi, which is supported by brands such as Samsung and Energizer and has gotten an extension to its specification allowing it to charge devices at short distances

Users can check whether their mobile phone is compatible with the Qi standard at the Wireless Power Consortium’s this website.

The WPC with its Qi specification is up against two other industry organizations with their own wireless charging protocols: the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP.

The Qi spec transfers 5 watts of power for enabled mobile devices, such as the Galaxy S4 and S3, Nokia Lumia 1020, LG G2, Motorola Droid Maxx and Mini and the Google Nexus 5 phone and Nexus 7 tablet.

If a smartphone does not have native wireless charging capability, such as an iPhone, users can purchase a VITAHULT charging cover (for Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy only), or other Qi-enabled covers for use with the IKEA wireless charging furniture.

 

 

 

 

 

Is Zynga Going Down The Tubes?

April 14, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

After less than two years at the helm of Zynga, Don Mattrick is on the move again. He’s picking up the best part of $20 million on his way out the revolving door, so don’t feel too bad for him, but after his catastrophic mis-management of the Xbox One’s development and launch, his failure to lift Zynga out of its post-IPO slump looks like yet another blot on the extremely expensive copybook of the former Microsoft executive.

There will be plenty of I-told-you-so’s over this news, but in truth, it wasn’t so predictable. Mattrick always looked like a better fit for Zynga than he was at Microsoft; the balls-up he made of the Xbox One could be attributed, if we’re feeling charitable, to having sensibilities far more in-tune with a broad mass-market than with the core audience a launching console needs to please. As such, the social- and (latterly) mobile-focused Zynga should have been a more suitable challenge for him; and indeed, while the company’s performance under his tenure hasn’t exactly been good, or even mediocre, there have been some important bright spots, most notably the (clever) acquisition of mobile specialists NaturalMotion, and the (achingly slow, but getting there) transition away from browser-based games to mobile platforms.

That the company’s performance in terms of finances and share price alike failed to pick up under Mattrick’s tenure, though, is something easily presented as an outright failure; and after the mess he made at Microsoft, it would be straightforward to roll our eyes at the spectacle of yet another overpaid exec with bugger all knowledge about games being given an enormous sack full of $100 bills with which to break his falls after a gentle defenestration from his latest failure. That’s not entirely an unfair characterisation, but not entirely fair either, I suspect, because no sooner was Mattrick out of the CEO’s chair than Zynga founder and former CEO Mark Pincus had his backside back in the seat – and that, to me, sets off all sorts of alarm bells.

For a CEO to depart and to be instantly replaced is not entirely unusual, but it does raise some eyebrows; for a CEO to depart after a short and unfruitful period, only to be replaced instantly by the company founder whom they replaced in the role, strongly suggests that the company founder never actually took their fingers out of the pie. The reasons for Pincus leaving the CEO’s role were pretty clear; he was broadly seen by investors as a millstone around the company’s neck, his dictatorial nature, inflexibility and tendency to make stupid, inflammatory statements in public being pretty damaging to a firm struggling to recover from an overheated IPO. That he’s been waiting in the wings for Mattrick to depart raises troubling questions over just who has actually been running Zynga for the past two years; it’s not hard to imagine Mattrick finding his hands tied by the presence of a highly opinionated and influential founder who never actually wanted to let go of the reins in the first place, something which might explain a good deal about the tardy pace of Zynga’s turnaround.

The markets, unsurprisingly, reacted to the news by dumping Zynga stock; the founder who was doing a miserable job of being CEO has stepped back up to replace the new guy who was also doing a poor (but better) job of being CEO? It’s a net negative, not merely because for all his faults Mattrick was broadly considered a better CEO than Pincus, but because it suggests that the upper echelons of Zynga’s management are in absolute disarray.

Still, though; even this latest dump of Zynga’s stock is only going to bring the company back to depths it already plumbed back in February… and in December… oh, and last October, too. Zynga is bumping along the bottom, and has been since mid-2012, in share price terms. It looked like it might climb off the floor around the start of 2014, but since the middle of last year it’s traded at around $3 and under; frankly, the depths to which it can fall off the back of this executive-revolving-door farce are severely limited by the fact that it’s already at rock bottom. That’s because Zynga’s real problems, although they may well start from its dysfunctional management, are much more deeply rooted. The company hasn’t had a hit in years – even more problematically, it has never had a bona fide, honest to god hit on a mobile platform. It bought some smaller developers with mobile hits, and then failed to grow or develop them (in some embarrassing cases, they flopped almost immediately after being purchased). FarmVille, a game franchise whose existence you had entirely forgotten until I just mentioned its name at the start of this sentence, remains the jewel in Zynga’s crown. The “Games” section on Zynga’s website reads embarrassingly like a blow-by-blow account of games everyone seemed to be into for a few months, years ago.

There might – might – be light at the end of the tunnel. It would be easy to dismiss Zynga’s new Great Hope, the action strategy title Dawn of Titans, as absolute folly; the “Clash of Clans” market, so utterly saturated that top games in the category have ended up spending millions on Superbowl commercials to try and soak up the last remaining dregs of the market, is a horrible place to be launching a new product. Dawn of Titans, though, is just branded and presented a little like Clash of Clans; the game itself looks quite different, and most of all, it’s from the genuinely brilliant NaturalMotion. If I were to pick the most likely source of a Zynga renewal, it would be NaturalMotion; one can only hope that, in a similar manner to the Activision / Blizard relationship, Zynga’s management has the good sense to let NaturalMotion do their jobs and keep their paws off to the greatest extent possible.

Still; the fate of a company is a big thing to rest on one development team, no matter how talented. What Zynga needs is a hit, undoubtedly. What it really, really needs is hits – plural. Once upon a time, there was a formula for social gaming success, based on just the right balance of compelling game design (yes, Farmville really was compelling in its own way), pulling the right social levers, monetising intelligently and with a light touch, and spreading through some fairly nakedly unpleasant viral approaches on Facebook. Mark Pincus got that formula down perfectly; that is, thus far, the only thing that Zynga has ever executed perfectly. That formula, of course, is part of the history books now; it doesn’t work any more and never will again.

The new formula that Zynga needs to discover is actually a much trickier one, one which game companies have struggled with for decades; the formula for making great games people actually want to play and actually want to recommend to their friends. The CEO who could potentially turn Zynga into a company where that happens would have to create an environment of intense creativity and freedom, utilising the short development cycles, rapid prototyping and start-up style Minimum Viable Product soft-launching strategies enabled by mobile platforms to let creators exercise their imaginations and try many different ideas in search of the hits; a CEO who truly valued creativity and understood how to let it thrive. Mark Pincus wasn’t that CEO first time around. He’s going to have to work hard to prove that Pincus 2.0 is any better.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Chromebooks With Intel’s Braswell Chips Coming Soon

April 8, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

A new crop of low-cost Chromebooks will be unveiled, powered by the Intel Braswell chips that are expected to debut later this week.

The new Braswell chips include new Celeron and Pentium processors, which will support both Chrome OS and Windows, said sources familiar with Intel’s product plans. More details on Braswell will be shared at the Intel Developer Forum in Shenzhen this week.

New Chromebooks running Braswell are expected in the coming months from top PC makers, as well as from low-cost manufacturers China who might bring the price point down to less than $200. Braswell will also appear in low-cost Windows laptops, desktops and tablets.

Intel first announced the Braswell chips a year ago, but shipments were delayed due to problems with the company’s 14-nanometer manufacturing process.

Chromebooks, favored by some who do most of their computing on the Internet, are powered by a range of Intel or ARM processors. Most Chromebooks priced starting at $200 to $300 have aging Celeron processors based on the Bay Trail architecture, which Braswell will replace. The fastest and most expensive Chromebooks such as Google’s Chromebook Pixel have Intel’s Core chip, which packs more horsepower than Celeron or Pentium processors.

The new Celeron and Pentium chips could also be Intel’s answer to last week’s release of sub-$200 ARM-based Chromebooks from Haier, HiSense and Asustek. Chromebook shipments are rising in a flat PC market, and have become a new battleground for Intel and ARM, who also compete in servers and mobile devices.

Braswell should deliver better graphics performance, though battery life may not get a boost. The chips may be a good fit for Chromebooks, in which the speed of a wireless connection is most important with the bulk of processing happening not locally but on remote servers hosting applications. That may change as Google is making available more applications that work offline.

 

 

Is The ARM Cortex A57 Being Snubbed?

April 7, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The 64-bit Cortex-A57 core is ARM’s latest and greatest CPU design, but very few chipmakers are actually building products based on this flagship core. In fact, many are skipping it altogether, so what’s going on here?

There is one thing to keep in mind. The Cortex-A57 is by no means a new design. In fact, it was announced in October 2012, with availability slated for 2014. As we all know, the roll-out wasn’t very smooth and the only Cortex-A57 consumer part ready to ship in 2014 was the Exynos 7410 of Galaxy Note 4 fame. It was followed by the Snapdragon 810 and Exynos 7420, which hardly need an introduction.

Cortex-A57 is on almost schedule, so what’s the big deal?

While it is true that the Cortex-A57 was almost on time, our concern isn’t the rollout schedule – it’s the lack of designs. For a product announced 30 months ago, it has relatively few design wins and this is not going to change. In fact, at this point it is more or less obvious that a number of major SoC makers will skip it altogether.

MediaTek recently announced its first Cortex-A72 tablet part and the company is planning to bring Cortex-A72 to smartphone SoCs by the end of the year.

Another relatively big player, Huawei HiSilicon, also appears to be skipping the A57. The company’s upcoming Kirin 940 and Kirin 950 parts should end up with Cortex-A72 cores instead. That’s not all, because some outfits like Nvidia have their own custom cores. Qualcomm is also expected to employ a custom core in the Snapdragon 820, while rumours of a Samsung custom ARMv8 core have been floating around for ages.

Thermal barrier and economics stall ARM SoC evolution

There are a few possible explanations for the lack of Cortex-A57 design wins, and they involve physics and economics.

From a technical perspective, the A57 requires too much effort and does not provide huge performance gains. Used in a big.LITTLE octa-core, the Cortex-A57 necessitates the use of four additional Cortex-A53 cores, a big GPU to match its potential, and the customary 4G modem found on high-end devices. All this results in a relatively big die with a lot of transistors, especially on planar nodes.

 

Thermal and power efficiency issues are another concern, as such a chip simply can’t reach its full potential on planar nodes, unless consumers suddenly become interested in buying big and thick phones, with oversized heatsinks and batteries.

The Cortex-A57 really isn’t an option at 28nm. It can, however, be successfully deployed on 20nm and 14/16nm FinFET nodes. This makes it an unattractive proposition for all but the most expensive devices, since it’s an elaborate design that requires an expensive, cutting-edge node to be implemented. By the time FinFET matures and foundry costs go down, ARM will already have another design to take its place – the Cortex-A72.

Cortex-A57 vs. Cortex-A72

The Cortex-A72 was announced in February 2015 and ARM expects to see it in commercially available devices by early 2016. Some chipmakers would like to get their hands on it even sooner, even using it on 28nm nodes rather than FinFET nodes it was originally designed for.

In some respects, the Cortex-A57 shared a similar fate to that of its predecessor, the Cortex-A15. The latter debuted on Samsung’s 32nm parts, but due to thermal issues the core wasn’t widely used until 28nm nodes became available (and cheap). However, it was all a matter of good timing – the A15 arrived just in time for 28nm, while the A57 sort of missed its window of opportunity.

Worse, Android 5.0 brought 64-bit support last year, prompting Google to tap Nvidia for its Nexus 9 tablet, as its Denver core was practically the only 64-bit ARM “big core” Google could use. Consumers could get affordable Cortex-A53 devices with 64-bit support, but they couldn’t get flagship 64-devoces. This may not be an important distinction for the average Fudzilla reader, since tech enthusiasts know 64-bit support simply wasn’t too relevant in 2014 (and still isn’t). However, it was a lot easier to market 64-bit parts based on small cores than big 32-bit cores.

So, will the Cortex-A72 end up with more design wins than the A57? Is it really much better than the A57?

Personally, I am inclined to say that the Cortex-A72 will be a lot more successful, not by virtue of its design, but thanks to better timing and the limited appeal of the Cortex-A57. ARM did not reveal a lot of information on the A72, other than to state that new core will be vastly more efficient than the A15 and A57, but its numbers were based on different nodes (28nm for A15, 20nm for A57, 16nm for A72).

We simply don’t know much about the Cortex-A72 yet and it’s too early to jump to conclusions.

What does this mean for 2015?

Moving forward, the lack of a viable 64-bit ARM core for mid-range, and even some high-end devices on 28nm, is bound have a number of implications on the smartphone SoC market and smartphone design in general.

The Cortex-A57 simply won’t end up in a lot of devices, as it only makes sense on 20nm and 14/16nm FinFET nodes, so chipmakers will have only one choice – churn out more Cortex-A53 parts at higher clocks, with faster GPUs and better LTE support. Unlike last year, they don’t have the option of using four cores (A15, A17, A9 and A7), as they can only use A57 and A53 cores, but the A57 simply doesn’t work for most market segments. The Cortex-A17 looks like a very tempting alternative and MediaTek already tapped it for some parts, but this is a 32-bit core, positioned below the Cortex-A15 and Cortex-A57. While the A17 is a good performer with a good price/performance ratio, consumers demand 64-bit chips, plain and simple.

This will obviously have the effect of blurring the line between low- and mid-end devices, as many of them will have to share similar silicon – consumers will get A53 cores whether they’re buying a $100 phone or a $300 phone.

Companies like Huawei and MediaTek have already hinted at, or revealed chips designed to address the problem, by including four A53 cores at higher clocks (Huawei calls them A53e or enhanced cores). These cores will be backed by four slower A53 cores, and Qualcomm already uses such a layout in the Snapdragon 615.

It is highly unlikely that any of these chips will be manufactured using expensive 20nm or FinFET nodes, at least not in the foreseeable future (at least four quarters, possibly five due to high demand for flagship chips in Q1 2016). Capacity is limited, cost will remain prohibitively high for months, and 28nm works just fine for Cortex-A53 parts. As a result, SoC designers are already doubling down on 28nm capacity, as it is obvious the node will have to soldier on well into 2016.

So here are Fudzilla’s predictions for 2015 SoCs and smartphones:

Cutthroat competition in 28nm low- to mid-range SoCs, every penny counts.

Use of octa-core Cortex-A53 processors in some flagship and quasi-flagship devices, especially in China.

Limited demand for Cortex-A57 products.

Lack of Cortex-A17 designs (a 64-bit alternative is needed).

Upswing in Q4 2015 and beyond, as Cortex-A72 and custom core designs come online.

Even more 28nm Cortex-A53 designs with tweaked cores, updated graphics and modems.

Smartphone makers will have to devise new ways of differentiating non-flagship products.

Prices of mid-range devices are likely to drop.

No Cortex-A53 parts on 20nm or 14/16nm nodes.

28nm node will continue to dominate the mobile landscape for at least 4 quarters and start tapering off in the second half of 2016.

Soft demand for limited capacity FinFET nodes over the next 2-3 quarters due to lack of Cortex-A57 designs.

Intel could benefit from stalled ARM development.

There are a few caveats. Some small-core chips could make it to a new node later this year, but we are talking about niche products (perhaps some wearable SoCs, or in-house designs for certain low-volume smartphones). If demand for FinFET parts proves to be much lower than anticipated, it is possible that foundries will have to reduce pricing as more capacity comes online – but this depends on a wide range of factors and we doubt anyone can make a good forecast for at least the next quarter or so.

2015 will not be a very eventful year for the ARM SoC market, but it might turn out to be a race to the bottom.

Courtesy-Fud

Qualcomm Shuts Down Snapdragon 815 Rumor

April 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

A lot of rumors regarding an alleged upcoming Qualcomm Snapdragon 815 SoC have been floating around, and now the chipmaker has informed us that that no such chip exists.

Qualcomm’s Senior Director of Public Relations Jon Carvill said that there is no Snapdragon 815 in the works:

Carvill was clear:

“There are no plans for a Snapdragon 815 processor.”

Snapdragon 815 filed under creative journalism

The Snapdragon 815 rumours spread like wildfire, but since they didn’t make much sense, we decided not to carry them. Basically the alleged Snapdragon 815 was supposed to be a 16nm SoC with four Cortex-A72 and Cortex-A53 cores, but the rest of the spec was hard to swallow.

Long story short, there is no such thing as a Snapdragon 815. The company never had such a product, and if you know a thing of two about SoC development, it takes years to make a new SoC design from scratch – you don’t just design a new one for a new node out of the blue.

It would be very convenient if the company managed to pull off something like this, but it’s simply not possible.

Qualcomm’s next flagship is the Snapdragon 820

Now that we debunked this rumor, we should focus on Qualcomm’s real next generation flagship SoC – the Snapdragon 820.

The company mentioned the Snapdragon 820 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but it looks like that it will be a while before we see this chip shipping in actual devices. Qualcomm expects the new part to sample sometime in the second half of the year, so in the best case scenario we might see the first devices by the end of the year, but most products based on the new chip will start shipping in early 2016.

The 20nm Snapdragon 810 is not overheating, it works just fine, and we tested it inside the HTC One M9. We can confirm that it ends up significantly faster than the Snapdragon 801, which we had a chance to try in a few phones.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Toshiba And SanDisk To Launch 48-Layer 3D Flash Chip

March 31, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Toshiba has announced the world’s first 48-layer Bit Cost Scalable (BiCS) flash memory chip.

The BiCS is a two-bit-per-cell, 128Gb (16GB) device with a 3D-stacked cell structure flash that improves density and significantly reduces the overall size of the chip.

Toshiba is already using 15nm dies so, despite the layering, the finished product will be competitively thin.

24 hours after the first announcement, SanDisk made one of its own regarding the announcement. The two companies share a fabrication plant and usually make such announcements in close succession.

“We are very pleased to announce our second-generation 3D NAND, which is a 48-layer architecture developed with our partner Toshiba,” said Dr Siva Sivaram, executive vice president of memory technology at SanDisk.

“We used our first generation 3D NAND technology as a learning vehicle, enabling us to develop our commercial second-generation 3D NAND, which we believe will deliver compelling storage solutions for our customers.”

Samsung has been working on its own 3D stacked memory for some time and has released a number of iterations. Production began last May, following a 10-year research cycle.

Moving away from the more traditional design process, the BiCS uses a ‘charge trap’ which stops electrons leaking between layers, improving the reliability of the product.

The chips are aimed primarily at the solid state drive market, as the 48-layer stacking process is said to enhance reliability, write speed and read/write endurance. However, the BiCS is said to be adaptable to a number of other uses.

All storage manufacturers are facing a move to 3D because, unless you want your flash drives very long and flat, real estate on chips is getting more expensive per square inch than a bedsit in Soho.

Micron has been talking in terms of 3D NAND since an interview with The INQUIRER in 2013 and, after signing a deal with Intel, has predicted 10TB in a 2mm chip by the end of this year.

Production of the chips will roll out initially from Fab 5 before moving in early 2016 to Fab 2 at the firm’s Yokkaichi Operations plant.

This is in stark contrast to Intel, which mothballed its Fab 42 chip fabrication plant in Chandler, Arizona before it even opened, as the semiconductors for computers it was due to produce have fallen in demand by such a degree.

The Toshiba and Sandisk BiCS chips are available for sampling from today.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Lexmark Scoops Up Kofax For Nearly $1B

March 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Lexmark International Inc, known for its printers, said it plans to acquire Kofax Ltd in an about $1 billion deal that would double the size of its enterprise software business.

PC and printer makers have struggled in the recent past as companies reduced printing to cut costs and consumers shifted to mobile devices from PCs.

Hewlett-Packard Co plans to separate its computer and printer businesses from its corporate hardware and services operations this year.

Xerox Corp has also increasingly focused on IT services to make up for the falling sales of its copiers and printers.

Lexmark divested its inkjet printer business in 2013 and has since boosted its enterprise software business.

The Kofax deal will help the company’s Perceptive Software business achieve its revenue target of $500 million in 2016, Lexmark said.

The business makes software to scan everything from spreadsheets to medical images and provides services to banking, healthcare, insurance and retail companies. It contributed about 8 percent to Lexmark’s revenue in 2014 and has grown at more than 30 percent in the past two years.

Kofax provides data services to the financial, insurance and healthcare companies such as Citigroup Inc, Metlife Inc and Humana Inc.

Lexmark said it expects the deal to “significantly” expand operating margins in its enterprise software business, which would now be worth about $700 million. It will also add about 10 cents per share to the company’s adjusted profit in 2015.

 

 

Qualcomm Goes Ultrasonic

March 3, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has unveiled what it claims is the world’s first ‘ultrasonic’ fingerprint scanner, in a bid to improve mobile security and further boost Android’s chances in the enterprise space.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense ID 3D Fingerprint technology debuted during the chipmaker’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) press conference on Monday.

The firm claimed that the new feature will outperform the fingerprint scanners found on smartphones such as the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6.

Qualcomm also claimed that, as well as “better protecting user data”, the 3D ultrasonic imaging technology is much more accurate than capacitive solutions currently available, and is not hindered by greasy or sweaty fingers.

Sense ID offers a more “innovative and elegant” design for manufacturers, the firm said, owing to its ability to scan fingerprints through any material, be it glass, metal or sapphire.

This means, in theory, that future fingerprint sensors could be included directly into a smartphone’s display.

Derek Aberle, Qualcomm president, said: “This is another industry first for Qualcomm and has the potential to revolutionise mobile security.

“It’s also another step towards the end of the password, and could mean that you’ll never have to type in a password on your smartphone again.”

No specific details or partners have yet been announced, but Qualcomm said that the Sense ID technology will arrive in devices in the second half of 2015, when the firm’s next-generation Snapdragon 820 processor is also tipped to debut.

The firm didn’t reveal many details about this chip, except that it will feature Kryo 64-bit CPU tech and a new machine learning feature dubbed Zeroth.

Qualcomm also revealed more details about LTE-U during Monday’s press conference, confirming plans to extend LTE to unused spectrum using technology integrated in its latest small-cell solutions and RF transceivers for mobile devices.

“We face many challenges as demand for data constantly grows, and we think the best way to fix this is by taking advantage of unused spectrum,” said Aberle.

Finally, the chipmaker released details about a new a partnership with Cyanogen, the open-source outfit responsible for the CyanogenMod operating system.

Qualcomm said that it will provide support for the best features and UI enhancements of CyanogenMod on Snapdragon processors, which will be available for the release of Qualcomm Reference Design in April.

The MWC announcements follow the launch of the ARM Cortex-based Snapdragon 620 and 618 chips last month, which promise to improve connectivity and user experience on high-end smartphones and tablets.

Aberle said that these chips will begin to show up in devices in mid to late 2015.

Courtesy-TheInq

Are 100-Core ARM Processors On The Horizon

February 27, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Ezchip is planning to put 100 ARM-based 64-bit cores into a processor which it thinks will fill a hole in the networking market.

Dubbed the Tile-Mx, the multi-core processors are in development, but won’t be sampling until the second half of 2016.

Company officials said the chips high core count, mesh connectivity and hardware accelerators will fix the demands on data centre and carrier networks brought on by such trends as mobility, big data, social media, the Internet of things (IoT) and the cloud.

Ezchip thinks that it will all work well with software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV) and open switches and white boxes.
The Tile-Mx chip family is EZchip’s first go with ARM architecture and means it is moving away from the proprietary designs Tilera used in building out its multi-core portfolio.

Tile-Mx will be based around Cortex-A53 cores and will be targeted at white-box networking vendors, servers that run high-performance networking applications and software vendors.

The new chip family also will include smaller versions of the chip armed with 36 and 64 ARM cores, officials said.
The new chips also will include a mesh core interconnect architecture to provide a lot of bandwidth, low latency and high linear scalability.

The chips will offer 200G-bit throughput and will be able to take advantage of the growing ARM ecosystem of open-source software vendors, officials said.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Yahoo Hosting First Ever Mobile Development Conference

February 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo, one of Silicon Valley’s legacy technology giants, wants to show it’s got the goods for today’s mobile app developers.

Today the company is hosting its first-ever mobile developer conference. The daylong event in San Francisco shows the company wants to develop lucrative relationships with developers and put mobile at the center of its turnaround effort.

The event will feature talks by top Yahoo executives, including CEO Marissa Mayer, and deep dives into Yahoo’s technology services for mobile apps. A critical part of those services is Flurry, a mobile analytics and advertising company Yahoo acquired last year. Flurry tracks more than 600,000 apps worldwide, providing information on app performance and users that can aid in ad targeting.

Yahoo needs that data to kickstart its sluggish ad business, especially on mobile devices.

During the show, Yahoo executives will try to sell third-party developers on the value of using Flurry. They will also promote Yahoo Gemini, the company’s platform for mobile advertising, and BrightRoll, a digital video advertising platform the company also acquired last year.

It’s a multi-pronged strategy, and the pieces are still coming together. But by encouraging more outside developers to use Yahoo’s services, Yahoo hopes to gain valuable information about how people use mobile apps.

That information could help Yahoo do its job. “We can help advertisers find the right audience they’re looking for, target the ads they want to target, using strong data from Yahoo, and find users wherever they are, on or off Yahoo,” Mayer said last week during the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco.

And if Yahoo can freshen its appeal to outside software developers and build new partnerships with them, then all the better.

“Yahoo is working on their own apps, but they will be able to extend their reach and their advertising inventory by getting outside developers into the fold,” said Karsten Weide, an industry analyst at IDC who studies consumer apps and platforms.

 

 

 

 

 

Zynga Continues The Downward Spiral

February 16, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

During the earnings call today CEO Don Mattrick highlighted where he believed the company had made mistakes this year.

“There are a number of things we could have done better this past year. First we had a challenging time implementing our new poker product. And we learned the tough lesson that we needed more adequate testing across consumer segments, geographies and devices,” he said.

“Second, we have big aspirations for our sports brand and view our NFL and Tiger Woods licences as incredible assets. We moved quickly to release NFL showdown to hit the season kick-off but by doing so launched an experience with less features than is typical for a worldwide launch. We believe in the potential of sports and our ambition for the category is bigger than our first product is showing out of the gate.”

“Finally, as a company, we are committed to managing the performance of our products and related cost structure. Local products from Zynga China, including the launch of FarmVillage at the end of Q4, have underperformed and not met our expectations. As a result, we are narrowing our international footprint and have decided to close our operations in China.”

Original story

During its third quarter, Zynga had announced a net loss of $57 million, which followed similar losses in the first and second quarters. Now the fourth quarter numbers are out and the company has lost another $45 million, nearly double the $25 million loss from Q4 2013. All in all, Zynga lost nearly $226 million for the year compared with a total loss in 2013 of nearly $37 million. 2014 was a “year of progress” though, if you ask CEO Don Mattrick.

“2014 was a year of progress for Zynga – we came together as one team and applied more discipline and rigor to our business. In the fourth quarter, we increased mobile bookings to 60 percent of our total bookings mix, expanded our mobile audience with monthly mobile consumers up 87 percent year over year, and grew our core franchise bookings by 35 percent year over year,” he said.

“In 2015, we will focus on three priorities: driving mobile growth, launching more products in more evergreen categories and building on our social legacy. We will deliver a 100 percent mobile-first new product slate featuring new games, with a goal of ending 2015 with more than 75 percent of our fourth quarter bookings coming from mobile. I am excited by the boldness of our 2015 product aspirations – this year we expect to launch between 6 to 10 new games in important categories like Match 3 and Action Strategy. We are building a high performing culture which takes time and while we would like to go faster, we are being methodical and purposeful about our decisions. We have a healthy balance sheet with $1.1 billion in cash and marketable securities which gives us staying power and the ability to invest in our future growth.”

Looking at the rest of the numbers, Zynga’s revenues did climb, year-over-year, from $176 million to $192 million in the fourth quarter, while bookings increased from $146 million to $182 million. For the full year, however, both sales and bookings dipped. Sales fell from $873 million to $690 million while bookings dropped from $716 million to $694 million.

As Mattrick alluded to, Zynga is hoping to boost its bottom line in 2015 with several new products. The talented folks at NaturalMotion are pushing Zynga into the action strategy category with Dawn of Titans, which will use NaturalMotion’s proprietary mobile technology and engine “to create unprecedented mobile visuals, animation and depth-of-gameplay that supersedes anything found today on mobile.” In addition, Zynga is preparing the mobile launch of a modern military strategy game, Empires & Allies, which should be out worldwide in the coming months. Beyond the strategy genre, Zynga also announced a new entry in its core FarmVille brand with a Match 3 category title called FarmVille: Harvest Swap. The game is expected to launch worldwide as a cross-platform mobile and web game this year.

Aside from the disappointing fiscal performance, Zynga also shared the bad news that it’s closing the Zynga China studio. All 71 employees in the Beijing-based studio will be laid off; the company noted that this “will result in an annualized cost savings of $7 million dollars.”

It’s been a challenging time for Zynga as the company continues to adapt its business to mobile. The space is more competitive than ever with giants like Supercell, King, EA and others topping the charts on a regular basis. The good news for Zynga is that it still has $1.15 billion in cash and cash equivalents as of the end of 2014, but the bleeding has to stop. Monthly unique users, monthly unique payers and daily active users were all down again in the fourth quarter. Zynga needs a hit, and fast. Hopefully one of the new titles mentioned above will do the trick.

Update: Investors are clearly not enjoying the earnings announcement as Zynga’s stock finished down 5.34 percent today at $2.66. In after hours trading, as of 4:55 PM Eastern, the stock is down 10 percent. By contrast, King, whose sales jumped 20 percent for the year, is enjoying a more than 17 percent boost to its stock in after-hours.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Ready For 8K Screens?

February 11, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

A new standard that supports higher-resolution displays should aid in moving 8K screens from the realm of high-end TV and into laptops, all-in-one PCs and possibly mobile devices.

The Video Electronics Standards Association’s Embedded DisplayPort (eDP) 1.4a will boost image quality on screens through faster video transfer rates. The newer standard is for displays inside computers, and it will replace the older 1.4 standard that was released in early 2013. With 8K, displays will show images at a 7680 x 4320 resolution.

Displays based on the new technology will start appearing in computers and mobile devices by 2016, VESA said.

Screens with 8K resolution could find their way into high-end laptops and all-in-one desktops. Apple has used a modified version of the eDP standard in its iMac with 5K Display. Some high-end gaming and business laptops already have 4K displays.

At the moment, 8K resolution is the province of high-end TVs. Japan’s NHK is testing 8K broadcasts in time for the 2020 Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo.

Tablets and smartphones don’t have 4K screens yet, and may not get 8K screens. It’s hard to differentiate pixels on small screens, and 8K screens could be expensive for device makers. For now, mobile devices have powerful graphics processors that are able to process 4K video, which can then be shown on external displays.

Displays are the most power-hungry components in laptops and mobile devices. But the new eDP standard could improve battery life by reducing display circuitry and improving processing of pixels.

 

 

Hacker Forum Working To On Evolving Malware

January 27, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Notorious malware kjw0rm and Sir DoOoM have been uncovered in a hacker forum as evolved versions, developed with advanced functionality, according to researchers at Trend Micro.

A threat response engineer at Trend Micro, Michael Marcos, said that he uncovered the malware while examining the Arabic language on a bogus “computer enthusiast site”, called dev-point.com forum.

“One of the notable topics in the forum talked about new malware ‘kjw0rm’ and a worm named ‘Sir DoOom’, which both came about after the release of the Njw0rm malware source code in the same forum,” he explained.

The Njw0rm’s source code was leaked in May 2013. The evolved kjw0rm is currently available in two versions, both of which have advanced infiltration and infection mechanisms.

The first Kjw0rm V2.0 appeared initially on the forum in January 2014, while the updated 0.5X version and new Sir DoOoM malware followed in December.

The V2.0 malware is the most basic of the three and reportedly hides itself in bogus files within infected systems.

“The propagation method of this malware targets all folders in the root directory of the removable drive,” read the advisory.

V0.5X follows a developed version of the same tactic, and Sir DoOoM adds an anti-virtual machine capability.

“[V0.5X] obfuscated some portions of the malware code. The malware author utilises an obfuscator tool that converts characters to hex values, adds filler functions, and performs computations that make analysis more difficult and time-consuming,” explained Marcos.

“[Sir DoOoM] also has an anti-virtual machine routine. It first searches for a list of the installed programs in the affected computer.

“If this variant found itself in a computer where a virtual machine program is installed, it will uninstall and terminate itself from the affected system. This prevents analysts testing to determine malware behaviour.”

Trend Micro senior engineer Bharat Mistry told V3 that the variants are dangerous as they add several advanced functions.

“Previous versions were there mainly for password stealing from browsers. As the malware has evolved, after the initial infections it now has the ability to download and execute Visual Basic code [VBS],” he said.

“VBS is a powerful coding language and can be used to interact directly with the operating system on the infected device.

“Also it now has the ability to recognise if it is being used in a security testing environment known as a sandbox by looking for the presence of a virtual machine.

“Finally the replication has also advanced with the use of hidden files on removable storage devices such as USB sticks.”

He added that the new powers could be used to mount a variety of attacks.

“The malware can be used to perform a number of different functions, including download, installation and execution of additional files or tools to potentially gain administrator or privilege credentials,” he said.

“Once this is gained hackers then have the ability to move laterally in the organisation and start looking for crown jewels or simply advertise that a point of presence has been created in a organisation that could then be ‘rented’ out to perform attacks, such as DDoS.”

Kjw0rm and Sir DoOoM’s appearance follows the discovery of several evolved attack tools. These include the defence-dodging Skeleton Key malware and the advanced Cryptowall 3.0 ransomware.

Courtesy-Theinq

Will Apple Drop Intel?

January 21, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich has shrugged off rumors that Apple is about to switch to ARM in future Mac releases.

Of course the Tame Apple Press is declaring that this will mean the end of Intel as we know it. AppleInsider even ran a story claiming that Intel’s mobile was effectively destroyed by Apple’s Ax ARM Application Processors

After all only five or six percent of the world run on Apple Macs so the loss of Apple business would be annoying to Intel but no great problem.

Krzanich says the rumors of Apple switching to ARM are just that anyway and not likely.

“Apple is always going to choose the supplier who can provide the most amount of capability in innovation to build on. They’re a company based on innovation.”

Krzanich, who maintains that Intel needs to continue focusing on delivering parts that are better than its competitors.

But does Intel have anything to worry about? Well not really. Apple Macs are at the expensive end of the market and they need chips to match their price tag – well at least half of their price tag. ARM is still a long way from matching anything remotely like the what Intel shoves under the bonnet of Apple macs.

Courtesy-Fud