Software Defined Storage (SDS) is the latest buzzphrase in the sector, and in recognition of this Linux distributor SUSE has announced a pre-release programmer for SUSE Storage.
SUSE Storage is the open-source vendor’s first entry into the SDS market, and the firm describes it as “a self-healing, self-managing, distributed, software-based storage solution”.
The INQUIRER caught up with Gerald Pfeifer, senior director of product management and operations at SUSE, who said that it could quickly become the the firm’s number two in its product line.
“If we play this right, it can become the second biggest product line after our server product line. That’s the ambition, now we need to play that out. It fits nicely with our whole portfolio,” he said.
SDS works by automating control of storage systems using intelligent automated algorithms to create the maximum efficiency with the smallest amount of space.
The result is a reliable storage array that doesn’t involve manually cleaning up and optimising. SUSE storage is fully open source, as it’s based on the Firefly version of Ceph, already in use in many Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems.
“Storage is something we’ve been doing for many years as part of the operating system,” continued Pfeifer.
“The first time we talked about [SDS] was about four years ago at which point the technology was not mature enough, but now we can see that there really is going to be a big disruption in the storage market.”
Pfeifer bases this prediction on conversations with customers who, he says, have been asking for software defined arrays since the early days of the cloud, in some cases before the concept was properly cemented.
“We’ve had customers that have said: ‘I want to buy this. If you make it, I will buy it.’ Customers asking you to release a product is a luxury position and not one I’ve been in too often!”
A Gartner study shows that open source storage is likely to have a 20 percent market share by 2018, and with SUSE rivals such as Red Hat already launching their own products, the time is right for SUSE to join the fray.
The pre-release program launches next week, but there are a limited number of spaces available for anyone interested in a part of it. SUSE Storage will be given a full release during Q1 2015.
This announcement comes just weeks after SUSE released Linux Enterprise 12, its latest iteration of Linux for deploying and managing high availability enterprise class IT services in data centre and cloud environments.
Japan’s hemorrhaging technology giant Sony Corp plans to slice its TV and mobile phone product line-ups to cut costs, counting on multi-billion dollar revenue surges for its buoyant PlayStation 4 and image sensor businesses over the next three years.
Having lost ground to nimbler rivals like Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in consumer electronics, Sony said on Tuesday its goal for TV and smartphones is to turn a profit, even if sales slide as much as 30 percent.
“We’re not aiming for size or market share but better profits,” Hiroki Totoki, Sony’s newly appointed chief of its mobile division told an investors’ conference. A poor showing by its Xperia smartphones has weighed heavily on recent earnings and Sony said more detail on plans for the unit will be unveiled before end-March.
Under its new three-year electronics business plan, Sony said it was aiming to boost sales for its videogame division by a quarter to as much as 1.6 trillion yen ($13.6 billion). It said that will be helped by personalized TV, video and music distribution services that should lift revenue per paying user.
At its devices division, which houses its image sensor business, Sony said sales could increase 70 percent to as much as 1.5 trillion yen. Sony’s sensor sales are already robust, with Apple using them in its iPhones while Chinese handset manufacturers are increasingly adopting them.
In a similar event last week for its entertainment units, the conglomerate said it was aiming to lift its movie and TV programming revenues by a third over the next three years.
The service, which is designed to do what Drive does for Google and what Office 365 does for software rental, has gained mobile apps for the first time as Zocalo appears on the Google Play store and Apple App Store.
Amazon also mentions availability on the Kindle store, but we’re not sure about that bit. We assume it means the Amazon App Store for Fire tablet users.
The AWS blog says that the apps allow the user to “work offline, make comments, and securely share documents while you are in the air or on the go.”
A second announcement brings Zocalo into line with the AWS S3 storage on which it is built. Users will receive an update to their Zocalo sync client which will enable file capacities up to 5TB, the same maximum allowed by the Amazon S3 cloud.
To facilitate this, multi-part uploads will allow users to carry on an upload from where it was after a break, deliberate or accidental.
Zocalo was launched in July as the fight for enterprise storage productivity hots up. The service can be trialled for 30 days free of charge, offering 200GB each for up to 50 users.
Rival services from companies including the aforementioned Microsoft and Google, as well as Dropbox and Box, coupled with aggressive price cuts across the sector, have led to burgeoning wars for the hearts and minds of IT managers as Microsoft’s Office monopoly begins to wane.
Apple’s latest success with Apple Pay includes the addition of support from hundreds of grocery stores within six major chains in the past week: BiLo Holding, 830 stores; Harvey’s and Winn-Dixie, 530; Albertson’s and Jewel-Osco, 180; Shaws and Star Markets, 150; United Food Stores, 60; and Associated Food Stores, 135. Wegmans and Whole Foods were already part of the original 35 retail chains offering Apple Pay in an estimated 225,000 stores, about 5% of all possible U.S. retail locations.
In addition, on Thursday, American First Credit Union said its Visa card now supports Apple Pay, joining more than 500 U.S. banks already supporting the service through Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards.
In the past week, SunTrust and Regions Bank added their support.
McDonald’s has confirmed that more than 50% of its in-store mobile payments at 14,000 restaurants were made with Apple Pay in its first month. Whole Foods recently said it processed more than 150,000 Apple Pay transactions in the first three weeks of the service. And Walgreens, the national drug store chain, said in-store mobile payments had doubled since Apple Pay launched.
Qualcomm has confirmed that it will branch out from offering its Snapdragon mobile chips and will soon launch a line of server processors.
The firm’s CEO, Steve Mollenkopf, has remained tight lipped about the plans so far but, according to The Wall Street Journal, said during a meeting with financial analysts in New York on Wednesday that the company is working on chips for the data centre.
There’s no timing yet, either, although Mollenkopf said that his firm is currently “engaged with customers”.
Qualcomm is already the world leader in ARM chips for smartphones, and we assume that the company will develop server chips based on ARM’s 64-bit ARMv8-A architecture as rivals such as AMD have done.
The move will place Qualcomm in competition with chip giant Intel, which is currently one of the biggest server chip makers.
Qualcomm announced last month that it had acquired Cambridge-based chipmaker CSR for a hefty $2.5bn (£1.6bn), as the company looks to push further into the Internet of Things (IoT).
The buyout, which comes two months after CSR rejected a takeover bid from Microchip Technology, will see Qualcomm using the British company to push further into the IoT, automotive and mobile communications markets.
CSR rejected an initial bid from Microchip, but reports claim that the firm has until 5pm UK time today to make a better offer.
However, CSR’s board of directors has unanimously accepted Qualcomm’s offer of 900p a share. The closing price at the time of the offer was 660p.
The inclusion of the paid-for Beats service in an iOS software update, which would instantly make it available on millions of iPhones and iPads, could happen as early as March, the daily reported, citing people familiar with the situation.
The move will mark the company’s first big push into subscription music, at a time when downloads from its iTunes are in decline, the paper said.
The service, which is likely to be rebranded under the iTunes label, will compete with music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Soundcloud.
Google Inc said last week that YouTube is rolling out a long-awaited paid monthly music subscription service called YouTube Music Key.
Apple, which bought music streaming and audio equipment company Beats in May for $3 billion, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Finland’s Nokia unveiled a new brand-licensed tablet computer which is designed to rival Apple’s iPad Mini, just six months after the company sold its underperforming phones and devices business to Microsoft for over $7 billion.
Nokia, a name which was once synonymous with mobile phones until first Apple and then Samsung Electronics eclipsed the Finnish company with the advent of smart phones, said the manufacturing, distribution and sales of the new N1 tablet, will be handled under license by Taiwan’s Foxconn.
The aluminum-cased N1, which runs on Google’s Android Lollipop operating software but features Nokia’s new Z Launcher intelligent home screen interface, is due to be in stores in China in the first quarter of next year for an estimated price of $249 before taxes, with sales to other markets to follow.
Sebastian Nystrom, the head of products at Nokia’s Technologies unit, said the company was looking to follow up with more devices and will also look into eventually returning to the smartphones business by brand-licensing.
“With the agreement with Microsoft, as is customary, we have this transition and we can’t do smartphones … We have a time limit. In 2016 we can again enter that business,” Nystrom told Reuters.
“It would be crazy not to look at that opportunity. Of course we will look at it.”
Microsoft last week dropped the Nokia name on its latest Lumia 535 smartphone, which runs on its Windows Phone 8 operating system, but still uses the brand for more basic phones.
After the Microsoft sale Nokia was left with its core network equipment and services business plus its smaller HERE mapping and navigation unit and Nokia Technologies, which manages the licensing of its portfolio of patents and develops new products such as the N1 and the Z Launcher.
The end-to-end encryption comes thanks to a collaboration between WhatsApp and Open Whisper Systems, an open-source development company focused on secure communications.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp has more than 600 million users who log in monthly, making Open Whisper’s encryption deployment the largest ever in the area of end-to-end encrypted communication, Open Whisper said.
The encryption is on by default. It’s only available for Android right now, though the companies are working to roll out support for other platforms.
End-to-end encryption has gained attention following the disclosures about government surveillance last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Meanwhile, the flood of cyber attacks targeting retailers and Internet companies alike have highlighted the need for better data security.
Edward Snowden himself has called end-to-end encryption the best possible form of encryption, because it keeps people’s data encrypted even while it’s on company servers. The data, in theory, can only be decrypted on people’s personal devices. That means outside groups must target individuals’ machines if they want to access the data.
Some other mainstream services like Google have released products to facilitate end-to-end encryption. And along with Apple, Google’s also working to make encryption the default on smartphones.
But end-to-end encryption still is primarily offered by lesser known companies that don’t rely on people’s data for advertising.
WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption uses Whisper’s TextSecure protocol, which encrypts text messages over the air and on people’s phones.
WhatsApp declined to comment further on the encryption deployment.
“We felt we could leverage analytics to build an experience that understands your priorities,” said Jeff Schick, general manager of IBM social solutions, of the app that launched as a private beta on Tuesday. “We had the opportunity to reduce clutter and create priority, and to help people be more efficient in how they master their inbox.”
The company plans to offer Verse in the first quarter of 2015 as a hosted service though the IBM Cloud Marketplace. IBM will also issue apps for both iOS and Android that can access all the same features as the desktop browser version.
“They are addressing known problems, inbox clutter, prioritization and the ability to access different modes of communication, from an integrated user experience,” Rob Koplowitz, research analyst at Forrester who covers collaboration software, wrote in an e-mail.
IBM first announced the new e-mail software in January, under the working name of Mail Next.
Like IBM’s Notes e-mail client, Verse relies on the IBM Domino e-mail server. Unlike Notes, which was built on a client-server architecture, Verse is entirely Web-based. Going forward, IBM will encourage customers to use Verse as an enterprise email client, except for those organizations that have built their own applications on Notes’ Eclipse-based development platform, Schick said.
The company did not reveal pricing of Verse, other than state it will offer a no-cost “freemium” version that would be available for individual users. A version of the software that can be run on-premise will be released later in 2015.
The service, dubbed Snapcash, allows Snapchat users to link their debit cards to their account and quickly send money to a contact by starting a chat on a smartphone, typing in a dollar sign and an amount and hitting a green button, Snapchat explained in a post on its official blog.
The move marks the latest sign of expansion plans for Los Angeles-based Snapchat, which lets users exchange photos that automatically disappear after a few seconds. The company has been valued at $10 billion in its most recent fundraising effort, according to media reports, and is considered a growing threat to Web companies including Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc.
“We set out to make payments faster and more fun, but we also know that security is essential when you’re dealing with money,” Snapchat said in the post.
The company said that debit card information will be stored by Square and that Square will process the payments, transferring money between bank accounts. Snapchat said that Snapcash is available in the United States for users aged 18 and above.
Amazon has become the latest vendor to commission a customized Xeon chip from Intel to meet its exact compute requirements, in this case powering new high-performance C4 virtual machine instances on the AWS cloud computing platform.
Amazon announced at the firm’s AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas that the latest generation of compute-optimized Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) virtual machine instances offer up to 36 virtual CPUs and 60GB of memory.
“These instances are designed to deliver the highest level of processor performance on EC2. If you’ve got the workload, we’ve got the instance,” said AWS chief evangelist Jeff Barr, detailing the new instances on the AWS blog.
The instances are powered by a custom version of Intel’s latest Xeon E5 v3 processor family, identified by Amazon as the Xeon E5-2666 v3. This runs at a base speed of 2.9GHz, and can achieve clock speeds as high as 3.5GHz with Turbo boost.
Amazon is not the first company to commission a customized processor from Intel. Earlier this year, Oracle unveiled new Sun Server X4-4 and Sun Server X4-8 systems with a custom Xeon E7 v2 processor.
The processor is capable of dynamically switching core count, clock frequency and power consumption without the need for a system level reboot, in order to deliver an elastic compute capability that adapts to the demands of the workload.
However, these are just the vendors that have gone public; Intel claims it is delivering over 35 customized versions of the Intel Xeon E5 v3 processor family to various customers.
This is an area the chipmaker seems to be keen on pursuing, especially with companies like cloud service providers that purchase a great many chips.
“We’re really excited to be working with Amazon. Amazon’s platform is the landing zone for a lot of new software development and it’s really exciting to partner with those guys on a SKU that really meets their needs,” said Dave Hill, senior systems engineer in Intel’s Datacenter Group.
Also at AWS re:Invent, Amazon announced the Amazon EC2 Container Service, adding support for Docker on its cloud platform.
Currently available as a preview, the EC2 Container Service is designed to make it easy to run and manage distributed applications on AWS using containers.
Customers will be able to start, stop and manage thousands of containers in seconds, scaling from one container to hundreds of thousands across a managed cluster of Amazon EC2 instances, the firm said.
The action was taken in reference to events dating back to 2007, which saw employees of SAP’s TomorrowNow unit accused of illegally downloading Oracle software.
German company TomorrowNow was bought by SAP as a means to undercut Oracle’s internal tech support rates, with the ambition of getting customers to migrate to SAP solutions, reports Reuters.
In 2006, TomorrowNow started the process of undermining its parent’s position, offering cut-price support to users of the Siebel database and CRM.
Oracle was originally awarded $1.3bn back in 2010, but this was adjusted downwards on multiple appeals.
SAP acknowledged that its employees had been in the wrong, but disputed the damages awarded. SAP offered a $306m payment in 2012, but did so more in hope than expectation given its admissions.
Earlier in the year, a federal judge gave Oracle the option to settle for $356.7m or force a retrial, and the company has now decided on the former with a further $2.5m in interest.
“We are thrilled about this landmark recovery and extremely gratified that our efforts to protect innovation and our shareholders’ interests are duly rewarded,” said Oracle’s general counsel Dorian Daley.
“This sends a strong message to those who would prefer to cheat than compete fairly and legally.”
SAP agreed: “We are also pleased that, overall, the courts hearing this case ultimately accepted SAP’s arguments to limit Oracle’s excessive damages claims and that Oracle has finally chosen to end this matter.”
SAP announced a partnership with IBM last month to bring its HANA service to enterprise cloud users.
According to Jon Peddie Research (JPR), Nvidia has managed to claw back market share from AMD in the second quarter of 2014. JPR found that AMD’s overall unit shipments decreased 7% sequentially, while Intel and Nvidia gained 11.6% and 12.9% respectively. The ‘attach rate’ is almost flat at 155% (up 2%). A total of 32% of PCs tracked last quarter had discrete graphics, while 68% did not.
The PC market grew 6.9% sequentially, but it was down 2.6% year-on-year. Shipments of desktop graphics cards were up 7.8% from last quarter.
“Q3 2014 saw a flattening in tablet sales from the first decline in sales last quarter. The CAGR for total PC graphics from 2014 to 2017 is up to almost 3%. We expect the total shipments of graphics chips in 2017 to be 510 million units. In 2013, 454 million GPUs were shipped and the forecast for 2014 is 468 million,” JPR said.
Shipments of AMD APUs were up 10.5% over the last quarters, but AMD lost 16% in the notebook market. AMD’s discrete GPU shipments were down 19%, but notebook discrete shipments were up 10%. AMD’s overall graphics shipments were down 7%.
Intel’s desktop GPU shipments were stagnant (down 0.3%), but notebook shipments were up by 18.6%.
Nvidia’s desktop discrete shipments were up 24.3% sequentially, while notebook shipments increased 3.5% for an overall increase of 12.9%.
“Year-to-year this quarter AMD’s overall PC shipments decreased 24%, Intel increased 19%, Nvidia decreased 4%, and the others essentially are too small to measure,” the report found.
“Total discrete GPU (desktop and notebook) shipments from the last quarter increased 6.6%, and decreased 7.7% from last year. Sales of discrete GPUs fluctuate due to a variety of factors (timing, memory pricing, etc.), new product introductions, and the influence of integrated graphics. Overall, the trend for discrete GPUs has increased with a CAGR from 2014 to 2017 now of 3%.”
At the moment, an estimated 99% of all Intel chips ship with integrated graphics, compared to 66% of AMD non-server processors.
It looks like we might never see 20nm GPUs from either Nvidia or AMD. From what we know, both companies spent a lot of time looking into the new 20nm manufacturing process and they have decided that it is simply not viable for GPUs.
Yields are not where they are supposed to be and from a business perspective it doesn’t make sense to design and produce chips that would end up with very low yields. At this point we do not expect to see any high-end chips in 20nm, as there are obvious manufacturing obstacles and both companies might even skip the 20nm process altogether and move directly to 16nm FinFET.
16nm FinFET GPUs coming in 2016
We expect 16nm FinFET based GPUs sometime 2016 and this manufacturing process will bring some rather innovative products worthy of an upgrade.
One might ask why Apple doesn’t appear to have problems with its 20nm A8 and A8X chips and we might have a partial answer for you. The Apple A8 chip has to stay under 2.5W TDP, the A8X used in the iPad Air 2 A8X has a maximum TDP of 4.5W.
GPUs such as Maxwell- and Hawaii-based parts used in the Geforce GTX 980 and Radeon R9 290X have TDPs in the 150-250W range and the size of the modern GPU is an order of magnitude bigger than the size of an iPhone SoC.
Die size conundrum
The Apple A8 has a die size of 89mm2 and while we can only assume that the more powerful A8X measures over 100 mm2. Nvidia’s 28nm Maxwell GM204 die measures 398 mm2, which is about four and a half times bigger in terms of sheer die size.
To put things in perspective, in a single 20nm 300mm wafer you can place more than 700 A8 dies, while Nvidia can get about 140 Maxwell 204 chips from a 28nm High K 300 mm wafer and in 20nm manufacturing it would be able to get more, as the individual die would be significantly smaller.
However, these 150-250W chips are completely different than low-power SoCs with TDPs of less than 5W. They are worlds apart and one can assume that with the high performance and clock of discrete GPUs, coupled with their sheer size, result in higher leakage and other issues. Making a chip 4.5 times bigger means that there is much more room for potential issues, leakage and yield problems.
Don’t despair, 28nm still has some life in it
Not all is lost. We all saw that Nvidia pulled off a small miracle with the 28nm Maxwell GM204 chip, as this 5.2 billion transistor chip has a TDP of just 165W.
Its predecessor, the Geforce GTX 780 based on the GK110 chip, ended up with a 250W TDP with 7.08 billion transistors and a massive 561mm2 die size. Maxwell is also faster than Kepler, at least in this iteration, yet they are both 28nm products.
We expect that AMD’s upcoming Fiji GPU to be substantially more efficient than the Hawaii XT chip used in last year’s Radeon R9 290X. However, the new part is coming in 2015.
The tool, which allows former owners to disable iMessage even after they’ve disposed of their iPhones, was the first self-service option Apple has offered.
Because iMessage is enabled by default — and is the standard texting service for iOS-to-iOS communication — iPhone owners who had changed smartphones and kept their numbers were not getting texts from other iPhone owners. Apple, unaware that the user had deserted iOS for a rival smartphone ecosystem, was still routing iOS-originating texts to the recipient’s now-unused Message app.
Some called it “iMessage purgatory,” while others referred to it as the “iMessage black hole.”
The problem had existed since 2011, when Apple introduced iMessage and the companion Message app, and was partly technical: Texts sent between iOS devices via iMessage don’t transit a carrier’s SMS (short message service) network, but instead are sent over the Internet.
iMessage’s inability to reroute texts from iOS users — and since 2012′s OS X Mountain Lion, from Mac owners as well — prompted at least one federal lawsuit.
The new tool aims to solve the purgatory problem by letting former iPhone owners, even if they have disposed of the device, route texts to non-Apple smartphones. After entering the phone number for the Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone device, the user must enter the confirmation code sent to the smartphone into the Web form.