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Is Toshiba Going To Split?

December 1, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Troubled Japanese outfit Toshiba is considering splitting off part of its chip business in a bid to help it raise the cash it lost on its accounting scandal.

Toshiba needs a restructuring after revealing a number of unprofitable businesses which were hidden by some creative accounting. It agreed in October to sell its image sensor business to Sony. However it has been placed on a Tokyo Stock Exchange watch list and the outfit faces difficulty raising funds through the sale of shares or bonds.

Chief executive Masashi Muromachi told a news conference he was considering flogging every asset possible. NAND flash memory chips was a core business and would not be sold, which effectively leaves system LSI and discrete chips as options to split off.

The semiconductor business requires continuous investment to maintain its competitiveness against rivals such as Samsung Electronics and the thought is that when the bank manager is not returning your calls it is best to cut back on it. Some of Toshiba’s chips end up under the bonnet of the smartphones designed by the fruity cargo cult Apple.

Tosh already announced that it was flogging of its Malaysian chip assembly unit to US-based Amkor Technology as part of its strategy to consolidate chip operations. At the time it hinted of a big restructuring, but not an actual sell off its chipmaking empire.



Is AMD’s Gemini Card Coming Next Month?

December 1, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Word on the street is that AMD’s next dual-GPU graphics card, codenamed Gemini, will be released next month.

Apparently code-named after the zodiac sign not the mass murderer, or the girls from the Shining. Gemini features two fully unlocked twin Fiji graphics chips.

It was initially revealed in June when AMD’s new 300-series and Fury line-up was pressed on the great unwashed, but we have not seen or heard much about it since.

AMD has done well with its dual GPU R9 295X2 which had a closed loop water cooler. It is pretty likely that the Fury X2/Gemini will do the same sort of thing.

A DICE developer tweeted that he received a pre-release GPU, though the liquid cooling loop was broken on arrival.  This would seem to mean that the Loop cooling system was part of Gemini. DICE and AMD worked closely on Battlefield and Battlefront. DICE developers were also amongst the first to receive Fury cards so it is pretty likely he was talking about a Gemini card.



AMD Appears To Be Pushing It’s Boltzmann Plan

November 25, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Troubled chipmaker AMD is putting a lot of its limited investment money into the “Boltzmann Initiative” which is uses heterogeneous system architecture ability to harness both CPU and AMD GPU for compute efficiency through software.

VR-World says that stage one results are finished and where shown off this week at SC15. This included a Heterogeneous Compute Compiler (HCC); a headless Linux driver and HSA runtime infrastructure for cluster-class, High Performance Computing (HPC); and the Heterogeneous-compute Interface for Portability (HIP) tool for porting CUDA-based applications to C++ programming.

AMD hopes the tools will drive application performance from machine learning to molecular dynamics, and from oil and gas to visual effects and computer-generated imaging.

Jim Belak, co-lead of the US Department of Energy’s Exascale Co-design Center in Extreme Materials and senior computational materials scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory said that AMD’s Heterogeneous-compute Interface for Portability enables performance portability for the HPC community.

“The ability to take code that was written for one architecture and transfer it to another architecture without a negative impact on performance is extremely powerful. The work AMD is doing to produce a high-performance compiler that sits below high-level programming models enables researchers to concentrate on solving problems and publishing groundbreaking research rather than worrying about hardware-specific optimizations.”

The new AMD Boltzmann Initiative suite includes an HCC compiler for C++ development, greatly expanding the field of programmers who can leverage HSA.

The new HCC C++ compiler is a key tool in enabling developers to easily and efficiently apply the hardware resources in heterogeneous systems. The compiler offers more simplified development via single source execution, with both the CPU and GPU code in the same file.

The compiler automates the placement code that executes on both processing elements for maximum execution efficiency.



Samsung Debuts 10nm FinFET S-RAM

November 23, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Samsung appears to have stolen a march on Intel and TSMC by coming up with a 10-nano FinFET processed S-RAM

According to Electronic Times Intel and TSMC’s products are still being processed at 14-nano and 16-nano so Samsung’s 10-nano S-RAM, will open the way for a generation of Giga-Smartphones. S-RAM is faster than D-RAM and is used for CPU’s cache memory.

It means that Samsung’s 10-nano technology will be mass-produced on full-scale in early 2017. The theory is that 10-nano AP will combine Gigabyte modem chips into one faster chip.

Samsung is showing its plans to the ISSCC. They will have a 128 Megabyte (MB) capacity and a cell area of 0.040 µm2. This compares to the 14-nano S-RAM (0.064 µm2) that Samsung Electronics introduced in the past, its cell area is reduced by 37.5 per cent.

In an ISSCC scientific paper, Samsung said that it built a large-scale fast cache memory in the smallest area. An AP for a smartphone with S-RAM, can minimize Die’s area and improve its performance.

All this means that Samsung Electronics has surpassed Taiwan’s TSMC and developed the next-generation system semiconductor.

Intel postponed its schedule for developing next-generation 10-nano system semiconductor from 2016 to 2017 due to increase of production costs. Samsung Electronics is targeting end of next for commercialising 10-nano processing.

Samsung Electronics has also developed 14-nano flat-surface NAND-Flash, and this is also first ever in industries. Toshiba, Micron and others have announced that after they finish developing 15 to 16-nanos, they are giving up on flat-surface NAND-Flash.

It had been thought that 14-nano NAND-Flash, which reduces area of Floating Gate by about 12.5% compared to 16-nano, will greatly contribute to Samsung Electronics in reducing production cost of NAND by reducing Silicon Die’s area.



Will AMD Bring Two New GPUs To Market In 2016?

November 18, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMDs’ head graphics guy, Raja Koduri promised that AMD will have two new GPUs out next year.

Koduri was talking to Forbes about how AMD needed to get some new architectural designs and create brand new GPUs into the shops.

He added that this is something that AMD has been pretty pants about lately.

He promised two brand new GPUs in 2016, which are hopefully going to both be 14nm/16nm FinFET from GlobalFoundries or TSMC and will help make Advanced Micro Devices more power and die size competitive.

AMD’s GPU architectures have gotten rather elderly, he said.

AMD also wants to increase its share in professional graphics. Apparently this is so low that any competition it brings Nvidia could significantly help their market share in this high margin business. The company has hired

Sean Burke to help drive this forward. Sean was a president at Flex and Nortek and a senior executive at Hewlett-Packard, Compaq and Dell. For those who came in late he was the father of Dell’s Dimension and Compaq’s Prolinea.

Koduri’s cunning plan is to capture consumer and professional graphics will be by providing fully immersive experiences that range from education and medicine to gaming and virtual reality with plenty of overlap in between.

He is also interested in expanding into “instinctive computing” applications which involve medicine, factory automation, automotive and security. These are computing applications that are more natural to the environment and less obvious to the user and should come as natural user experiences.

Koduri has three make attack plans. The first is to gain discrete GPU market share in 2016 and 2017 as well as win the next generation of consoles, which will be 4K. Ironically the AMD chips in the consoles on the market at the moment can handle 4K but they don’t.

Koduri wants console makers will continue to stick with Radeon IP for their next generation consoles and give Advanced Micro Devices an even bigger advantage in the gaming space.

DirectX 12 in the latest shipping version of Windows does seem to give Radeon GPUs a significant performance uplift against Nvidia, he said.



GPU Shipments Appear To Be On The Rise

November 17, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Beancounters at JPR have been adding up the numbers and dividing by their shoe size and worked out that GPU shipments are up for both Nvidia and AMD.

Over the last few months both have been busy with new releases. Nvidia has its GeForce GTX 950 and GTX 980 Ti, while AMD put its first HBM-powered cards in the Radeon R9 Fury X, Fury and the super-small R9 Nano into the shops.

According to JPR, overall GPU shipments are up quarter-over-quarter – with AMD’s overall GPU shipments up 15.8 per cent. But before AMD fanboys get all excited by a surprise return to form from AMD, JPR said that that NVIDIA “had an exceptionally strong quarter”. Nvidia saw an uptick of 21.3 per cent.

The PC market as a whole increased by 7.5 per cent quarter-over-quarter but decreased 9 per cent year-over-year. Nivida’s discrete GPU shipments were up 26.3 per cent according to JPR, while AMD’s discrete GPUs spiked by 33 per cent.

AMD’s mobile GPU shipments for notebooks increased by 17 per cent, while NVIDIA had 14 per cent.



ARM Debuts Cortex A35

November 12, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

British chipdesigner ARM has announced details of its new Cortex-A35 64-bit processor and it has a swathe of new features.

ARM dubbed the Cortex-A35 processor its new standard-bearer for efficiency among 64-bit processor and says it is the most efficient Cortex-A class CPU it ever made.

It delivers an average of 20 per cent greater performance and efficiency across a range of 32-bit mobile workloads relative to Cortex-A7. However it only uses less than 90mW total power per core, when operating 1GHz in a 28nn process node.

“Overall, the Cortex-A35 processor is a performance-per-milliwatt leader designed to enable a complete and uncompromised 64-bit mobile user experience while maintain full compatibility with existing 32-bit applications,” the company said.

James McNiven, general manager, CPU group saod that the Cortex-A35 is the natural successor to the compact-footprint Cortex-A7 which was the leading energy-efficient processor, which has powered more than a billion smartphones and tablets.

With the introduction of the world’s most efficient 64-bit capable mobile processor, ARM and its partners will deliver the benefits of 64-bit computing to the next billion smartphone users and beyond,” he said.

ARM is taking data protection to the next level with the TrustZone CryptoCell product family. The enhanced security technology creates an additional layer of hardware security and enables the isolated storage of high value assets, offering optimized cryptography and the lifecycle management of key materials.

MediaTek Jeffrey Ju, executive vice president and co-chief operating officer, said that the ARM Cortex-A35 processor was being used by his company for its scalability of the ARMv8-A architecture, which will enable us to continue to provide efficient and highly integrated 64-bit SoCs to global markets.



Will AMD Go Back To Black In 2016

November 12, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD’s EMEA component sales manager Neil Spicer is “confident” his outfit can return to profitability in 2016.

Talking to CRN Spicer said he is sure that profitability will return as long as the company sticks to its principles.

“From a personal stance, I am confident [AMD can be profitable]. I believe we are working with exactly the right customers, and over the last few years we have become much simpler to execute and do business with.”

He said that in order to achieve profit, the company must ensure it is investing in the right areas.

“Moving forwards to 2016, we have to have profitable share growth,” he said. “So it’s choosing the right business to go after, both with the company itself and the ecosystem of partners. There is no point in us as a vendor chasing unprofitable partners.

“We want to focus [in the areas] we are good at – that’s where we are going to invest heavily. That’s things like winning the graphics battle with gaming and so forth, and we want to be part of this Windows 10 upgrade cycle.”

Spicer so far has been a little optimistic this year. He thought that Windows 10 would drive an upgrade refresh, particularly as AMD works so well with the new OS.

He also thinks that the combination of Windows 10, the advent of e-sports – competitive online gaming – and new technology and products AMD is launching, means “PC is an exciting market”.

Of course Spicer was extremely enthusiastic about Zen which he thinks will help its play in the high-end desktop space, and the server area. More cynical observers think that Zen will be AMD’s last roll of the dice.



AMD And GoFlo Have Successful 14nm FinFET Production

November 10, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD said that Globalfoundaries has demonstrated silicon success on the first AMD products using GloFlo’s 14nm FinFET process technology.

We are pretty sure that it is talking about the prototypes for Zen, but AMD is not being that specific. Nevertheless, AMD is being enthusiastic.

As a result of this milestone, Gloflo silicon-proven technology is planned to be integrated into multiple AMD products that address the growing need for high-performance, power-efficient compute and graphics technologies across a broad set of applications, from personal computers to data centres to immersive computing devices, AMD said.

Er that will be Zen then.

AMD said that it has taped out multiple products using 14nm Low Power Plus (14LPP) process technology and is currently conducting validation work on 14LPP production samples.
Today’s announcement represents another significant milestone towards reaching full production readiness of Globalfoundries’ 14LPP process technology, which will reach high-volume production in 2016, AMD said.

The 14LPP platform taps the benefits of three-dimensional, fully-depleted FinFET transistors to enable customers like AMD to deliver more processing power in a smaller footprint for applications that demand the ultimate in performance.

Mark Papermaster, senior vice president and chief technology officer at AMD said that FinFET technology is expected to play a critical foundational role across multiple AMD product lines, starting in 2016.

“Globalfoundaries has worked tirelessly to reach this key milestone on its 14LPP process. We look forward to Globalfoundaries continued progress towards full production readiness and expect to leverage the advanced 14LPP process technology across a broad set of our CPU, APU, and GPU products.”

Mike Cadigan, senior vice president of product management at Globalfoundaries said that the 14nm FinFET technology is among the most advanced in the industry.

“Through our close design-technology partnership with AMD, we can help them deliver products with a performance boost over 28nm technology, while maintaining a superior power footprint and providing a true cost advantage due to significant area scaling.”

Globalfoundaries 14LPP FinFET is ramping with production-ready yields and excellent model-to-hardware correlation at its Fab 8 facility in New York.

AMD said that in January, the early-access version of the technology (14LPE) was successfully qualified for volume production, while achieving yield targets on lead customer products.
The performance-enhanced version of the technology (14LPP) was qualified in the third quarter of 2015, with the early ramp occurring in the fourth quarter of 2015 and full-scale production set for 2016.


Is Activision’s Move To Buy King A Smart One?

November 6, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Activision Blizzard has bought King Digital Entertainment for $5.9 billion, marking not only one of the largest acquisitions in videogame history but one of the largest deals ever made in the entertainment business. Comparing this to previous entertainment deals highlights just how extraordinary the figures involved are; the purchase price values King at significantly more than Marvel Entertainment (acquired by Disney for $4.2 billion), Star Wars owner Lucasfilm (Disney again, for $4.1 billion) and movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (acquired by Sony for almost $5 billion). The price dwarfs the $1.5 billion paid by Japanese network SoftBank and mobile publisher GungHo for Supercell back in 2013 – though it’s not quite on the same scale as the $7.4 billion price tag Disney paid for Pixar, or in the same ballpark as the $18 billion-odd involved in the merger that originally created Activision Blizzard itself.

How is $5.9 billion justified? Well, it’s a fairly reasonable premium of 20% over the company’s share price – though if you’ve been holding on to King shares since its IPO in 2014, you’ll still be disappointed, as it’s far short of the $22.50 IPO price, or even the $20.50 that the shares traded at on their first day on the open market. The company’s share price has been more or less stable this year, but Activision’s offer still doesn’t make up for the various tumbles shares took through 2014.

A better justification, perhaps, lies in the scale of King’s mobile game business. The company is a little off its peak at the moment. Candy Crush Saga, its biggest title, is on a slow decline from an extraordinary peak of success, and other titles aren’t growing fast enough to make up for that decline, but it still recorded over half a billion monthly active users (MAUs) in its recently reported second quarter figures. In terms of paying users, the company had 7.6 million paying users each month – more than Blizzard’s cash cow, World of Warcraft, and moreover, the average revenue from each of those users was $23.26, far more than a World of Warcraft subscriber pays. King took in $529 million in bookings during the quarter, 81 per cent of it from mobile devices – a seriously appealing set of figures for a company like Activision, which struggles to get even 10 per cent of its revenues from mobile despite its constant lip-service to the platform.

In buying King, Activision instantly makes itself into one of the biggest players in the mobile space, albeit simply by absorbing the company that is presently at the top of the heap. It diversifies its bottom line in a way that investors and analysts have been crying out for it to do, reducing its reliance on console (still damn near half of its revenues) and on the remarkable-but-fading World of Warcraft, and bulking up its anaemic mobile revenues to the point of respectability. On paper, this deal turns Activision into a much more broad-based company that’s far more in line with the present trajectory of the market at large, and should assuage the fears of those who think Activision’s over-reliance on a small number of core franchises leaves it far more vulnerable than rivals like Electronic Arts.

That’s on paper. In practice, though, what has Activision just bought for $5.9 billion? That’s a slightly trickier question. The company is, unquestionably, now the proud owner of one of the most talented and accomplished creators and operators of mobile games in the world. King’s experience of developing, marketing and, crucially, running mobile games at enormous scale, and the team that accomplished all of that, is undoubtedly valuable in its own right. Those are talents that Activision didn’t have yesterday, but will have tomorrow. Are those talents worth $5.9 billion, though? Without wishing for a moment to cast doubt on the skills of those who work at King, no, they’re not. $5.9 billion isn’t “acquihire” money, and when that’s the kind of cash involved we simply can’t think of this as an “acquihire” deal. Activision didn’t pay that kind of money in order to get access to the talent and experience assembled at King. It paid for King itself, for its ongoing businesses and its IP.

Open the shopping bag, and you might struggle to understand how the contents reach $5.9 billion at the till. King has one remarkable, breakthrough, enormously successful IP – Candy Crush Saga, which still accounts (not including heavily marketed spin-off title Candy Crush Soda Saga) for 39 per cent of the company’s gross bookings. No doubt deeply aware of the danger of being over-reliant on revenues from this single title, King has worked incredibly hard to find success for other games in its portfolio. But even its great efforts in this regard have failed to compensate for falling revenues from Candy Crush, and it’s notable that a fair amount of the “non-Candy Crush Saga” revenue that the company boasts actually comes from Candy Crush Soda Saga. Other titles like Farm Heroes Saga and Pet Rescue Saga are no doubt profitable and successful in their own right, and King would be a sustainable business even without Candy Crush. But it would be a much, much smaller business, and certainly not a $5.9 billion business.

Despite being generally bullish about King’s prospects, then, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that the company has done incredibly well out of this acquisition. The undoubted talent and experience of its teams aside, this is, realistically, a company with one IP worth paying for, and unlike Star Wars or the Avengers, Candy Crush is a very new IP whose longevity is entirely untested and whose potential for merchandising or cross-media ventures is dubious at best. King has done better than most of its rivals in the mobile space at applying some of the lessons of its biggest hit to subsequent games and making them successful, but it shares with every other mobile developer the same fundamental problem: none of them has ever worked out how to bottle the lightning that creates a mega-hit and repeat the success down the line. Absent of another Candy Crush game, the odds are that King’s business would slowly deflate as the air escaped from the Candy Crush bubble, until the company’s sustainable (and undoubtedly profitable) core was what was left. Selling up to Activision at a healthy premium while the company is still “inflated” by the likely unrepeatable success of Candy Crush is a fantastic move for the company’s management and investors, but rather less so for Activision.

Perhaps, though, the whole might be more than the sum of its parts? Couldn’t Activision, holders of some of the world’s favourite console and PC game IP, work with King to leverage that IP and the firm’s reach in traditional games, creating new business at the interaction of their respective specialisations? That’s a big part of what made Pixar so valuable to Disney, for example; the match between their businesses was of vital importance to that deal, and the same can broadly be said for Disney’s other huge acquisitions, Lucasfilm and Marvel. (SoftBank’s purchase of Supercell, by comparison, was rather more of a straightforward market-share land grab.) What could this new hybrid, Activision Blizzard King, hope to achieve in terms of overlap that enhances the value of its various component parts?

Certainly, Activision has some properties that could work on mobile (I’m thinking specifically of Skylanders here, though others may also fit); some Blizzard properties could also probably work on mobile, though I very much doubt that Blizzard (which retains a strong degree of independence within the group) is a good cultural fit for King, and is deeply unlikely to work with it in any manner which gives up the slightest creative control over its properties. King’s properties, meanwhile, don’t look terribly enticing as console or PC games, and conversions done this way would almost certainly defeat the entire purpose of the deal anyway, since the objective is to bolster Activision’s mobile business. The prospect of a mobile game based on Call of Duty or another major console IP may seem superficially interesting, but we’ve been down this road before and it didn’t lead anywhere impressive. Sure, core gamers are on mobile too, but they’ve by and large been nonplussed at best and outraged at worst by the notion of engaging with mobile versions of their console favourites. It’s genuinely hard to piece together the various IPs and franchises owned by King and Activision and see how there’s any winning interaction between them on the table.

This is what makes me keep returning to those other mega-deals – to Star Wars, to Marvel, to Pixar – and finding the contrast between them and Activision / King so extraordinary. Each of those multi-billion dollar deals was carried out by Disney with a very specific, long-term plan in mind that would leverage the abilities of both acquirer and acquired to create something far more than the sum of its parts. Each of those deals had a very clear raison d’être beyond simply “it’ll make us bigger.” Each of those companies fitted with the new parent like a piece of a puzzle. King’s only role in Activision’s “puzzle” is that they do mobile, and Activision sucks at mobile; there’s no sense of any grand plan that will play out.

In all likelihood, Activision has just paid a huge premium for a company which is past the peak of its greatest hit title and into a period of managed decline, not to mention a company with which its core businesses simply don’t fit in any meaningful way. King’s a great company in many respects, but its acquisition isn’t going to go down as a great deal for Activision – and we can expect to see plenty of that $5.9 billion being frittered away in goodwill write-downs over the coming few years.

Will AMD’s Zen Processor Hit The Mark?

November 6, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

A website based its article on one forum post claims that AMD Zen meets all expectations because he knows someone who works in AMD. So it must be true.

The fact that AMD Zen “meets all expectations” got us excited until we looked a bit deeper. It turns out that the report is based on a guy who swears he knows a guy that use to work for AMD on K12 L2 cache design. It is not clear if he met the guy in a pub or not.

His other colleague that still works there tells him that the test chip has meet all of the expectations and the team didn’t find any significant bottlenecks and this got the partners on the server side very excited. We have had our share of AMD Zen exclusive news, but it will take a while until this chip hits the market, we expect it in late 2016.

At the stage of development AMD should actually be in the end phase anyway and if everything went fine, the test chip should be running. The last few quarters are  used to further optimise the design.

AMD definitely needs a break and Zen is a new architecture on a new manufacturing nod, which is  a most complicated and complex thing you can do in chip development. If all continues to go well, the K12 might ship in limited quantities toward s the end of the 2016 and in serious quantities by 2017. Intel should have a Kaby Lake 14nm successor to Skylake launching in a similar timeframe which gives AMD a fighting chance.

Intel has 99 percent of the server market share according to Bloomberg report . If K12 gets even close to performance of Intel desktop and server chips,AMD has a realistic chance of recovery. Server manufacturers don’t really like the one player only market, as the increase competition could drive the prices down.



AMD Replaces Catalyst With Crimson

November 5, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD has announced Radeon Software Crimson, a “mini graphics operating system” to replace the firm’s Catalyst Driver and work alongside the standalone Radeon Technologies Group (RTG) chip division announced a month ago.

RTG was launched as a dedicated focus for amateur and professional gamers on virtual reality and augmented reality, and the group’s senior vice president, Raja Koduri, said that Crimson will have the same focus on software.

“We have been delivering graphics drivers for 20 plus years. “These so-called drivers have evolved into a graphics mini operating system, Radeon Software, which we deliver on a regular basis to all users,” said Koduri.”

Crimson loads games in less than one second, 10 times faster than the previous Catalyst Driver, according to the firm.

The OS has new features along with greater stability and improved performance. For example, one feature at the core of the software, Radeon Settings, is a user interface built on a new architecture. It was based on ‘three fundamental principles’ when it was designed: responsiveness, discoverability and ease of use.

“We combined these and you now have at your fingertips the ability to control your GPU through one modern application,” said RTG senior manager Terry Makedon.

Other features include a new brushed metal UX design, faster start-up, better navigation, a new Game Manager, an updated Overdrive feature and new video, display and Eyefinity tools.

Users can also change the software to set overclock settings for games so they can run the video card at higher speeds than the factory defaults, and the ability to launch a game with different preset graphics settings so they run at their optimum.

Radeon Software Crimson will arrive by the end of the year, AMD said, and has a feature set for all types of user, whether a dedicated gamer or developer.



AMD Has Mystery Product Named Magnum

October 30, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It would appear that AMD has a mystery product called Magnum which seems to have something to do FPGA and DTV.

According to WCCFTECH Zauba, an Indian shipping firm has a shipping entry for a an AMD product codenamed “Magnum.”


The part originated in Canada where much of AMD’s GPU research and development is carried out. This would suggest that Magnum is a GPU and not CPU project.

It has been known that AMD wants to experiment with FPGA but it would appear that this is connected to digital TV. AMD flogged its DTV business to Broadcom in 2008. Going back into the market would be a nightmare because it is a crowded field. AMD has a good SoC so why would it need an FPGA.

The part is expensive $342 which puts it out of the range of TV makers. It could be for a console or a device like Nvidia’s Shield, but then you would not need an FPGA for that.

So Magnum is a mystery and will probably remain so.



AMD CPU Designer Heads To Samsung

October 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The brains behind some key CPU designs in AMD and Apple has defected to Samsung.

Jim Keller, who has been behind some of the biggest CPU core design projects with AMD and Apple has walked away from designing AMD’s Zen CPU.

The move should be a blow as we think AMD needs all the help it can get at the moment, and Zen is either going to save the company or be its swan song.

Samsung will use Keller to design newer, bigger chips, or perhaps even smaller, low-power chips, as the company gears up for the internet of things.

Keller’s CV is impressive. He worked at DEC until 1998 and helped design the Alpha 21164 and 21264 processors. In 1998 he moved to AMD, where he worked on the Athlon (K7) processor. He was the lead architect of the AMD K8 microarchitecture and designed the x86-64 instruction set and HyperTransport interconnect.

In 1999, he worked at SiByte which was bought by Broadcom. He was chief architect until 2004 when he moved to P.A. Semi. At the time PA Semi was making low-power mobile processors and it was bought by Apple in 2008. As part of Jobs’ Mob Keller was part of the team to design the Apple A4 and A5 system-on-a-chip mobile processors which ended up in the iPhone 4, 4S, iPad and iPad 2.

In Keller returned to AMD to work on Zen. It is not clear why he is going, just before the Zen chip gets its act together.



Sony To Acquire Toshiba’s Sensor Business

October 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Toshiba Corp is offload its image sensor business to Sony Corp for around 20 billion yen ($164.68 million) as part of a restructuring plan laid out earlier this year, sources with knowledge of the deal said on Saturday.

Toshiba, whose businesses range from laptops to nuclear power, is undergoing a restructuring after revelations this year that it overstated earnings by $1.3 billion going back to fiscal 2008/09.

Image sensors, which are used in digital cameras and smartphones, are part of Toshiba’s system LSI semiconductor business. Toshiba plans to sell its image sensor manufacturing plant in Oita, southern Japan, and pull out of the sensor business altogether, said the sources, who declined to be identified.

The sale is likely to be finalized soon, the sources said.

Toshiba is considering several options for its system LSI semiconductor business and its discrete semiconductor business and that debate is ongoing, a Toshiba official said when contacted.

An official from Sony declined to comment.

Masashi Muromachi, who became Toshiba’s CEO following the accounting scandal, has promised to restructure lower-margin businesses.

The deal for the image sensor business would be the beginning of the restructuring, Nikkei reported earlier on Saturday.

Sony is already a dominant player in the image sensor market, with its products used in phones made by China’s Xiaomi and India’s Micromax Informatix Ltd.