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Intel And MediaTek Gain Traction In China

April 23, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel and MediaTek don’t have much in common, but it appears that they are locking horns in China, in the white-box tablet business of all places. Both companies are vying for a slice of the booming white-box tablet space, which are starting to resemble vanilla PCs of the eighties.

MediaTek drew first blood last November, when it announced plans for the introduction of several tablet-centric chips. The company is apparently planning to double its tablet SoC shipments this year for a grand total of more than 40 million units. Intel is doing the exact same thing. It wants to quadruple its tablet SoC shipments and hit the 40 million mark, too.

However, that’s where the similarities end. The companies are going about it in a much different way, their processors aren’t what we would call similar, but there is still plenty of overlap.

Intel contra revenue vs. MediaTek organic growth

Intel’s only hope of getting into the cutthroat white-box space is through generous deals offered to vendors who choose Intel parts over the competition. The strategy is working, but at the same time it is also costing Intel a lot of cash. Analysts believe Intel could burn as much as $1bn on tablet subsidies this year, although the chipmaker really doesn’t like it when people use the dirty S-word.

MediaTek is taking a different approach. It is rolling out a number of value chips, ranging from quad- and octa-core Cortex A7 parts to mid-range and even performance parts based on A12, A15 and A17 cores, including big.LITTLE designs.

It appears that both strategies are working. Digitimes reports Intel and MediaTek are getting a lot of love from Chinese tablet makers. MediaTek has competitive products and it brings 3G and 4G support to the table. Intel’s subsidies are also doing the trick – and luckily Intel has some good tablet parts to offer, which wasn’t the case in the past.

Intel’s Atom Z2520 and Z3735G appear to be the main weapon in the chipmaker’s push behind the Bamboo Curtain. A 7-inch Intel tablet can leave the factory for as little as $50, while a MediaTek 3G-enabled white box tablet has an ex-factory price of $39.9. Demand for Intel and MediaTek solutions is going up, according to industry sources.

What about the competition?

Chinese white-box outfits tended to use Rockchip and Allwinner parts, along with chips from Amlogic and smaller chip designers. The companies are fighting back, but they don’t appear to be having much success.

Rockchip recently rolled out a new quad-core SoC, Allwinner has the octa-core A80, while Amlogic is talking up its M802, with UHD/4K support – not that it’s very relevant for white-box tablets.

What about the big players? Samsung is not interested nor does it have any SoCs that would fit the bill for white-box tablets. Nvidia is focusing on high-end SoCs with powerful graphics, overkill for cheap tablets. Qualcomm, the elephant in the room, is going after smartphones, with affordable 4G-enabled parts.

AMD’s Temash parts are out of the running, too. They will soon be replaced by Mullins APUs, but AMD does not want to pursue the low-end tablet market. During the company’s latest conference call CEO Rory Read criticised Intel’s contra revenue approach, saying that it’s “foreign” to AMD. Of course, AMD knows a thing or two about Intel subsidies and it simply does not want to go toe to toe with Intel, not when there’s no level playing field.

Intel started talking about $99 tablets last year and some analysts were baffled by the company’s decision to join the SoC race to the bottom. Why bother with a high-volume, low-margin market that can only be conquered with quarterly subsidies in the hundreds of millions dollars? It still looks like a strange market for Intel to compete in, but the sheer amount of money and effort involved in the company’s tablet push indicates that this was a strategic decision rather than a sideshow designed to appease investors and analysts.

Intel knows what it’s doing. It’s waging a proxy war against the ARM alliance and it’s picking its fights wisely. Going after a potentially huge virgin market controlled by relatively small players should be easy, Intel could have gotten away with it almost uncontested had it not been for MediaTek. However, going after white-box tablets is still a lot easier than trying to enter the incredibly competitive smartphone SoC business, especially now that Apple, Samsung and LG are developing in-house SoC designs.

For Intel, Chinese white-box tablets are a back door, the easiest way to boost market share and enter this segment without taking on the biggest players.

“I think games are just going to continue to get better. You’re just going to continue to have a wider variety. It’s great that small teams can actually find a viable outlet now and sell the product. And we’re right there.”

Courtesy-Fud

Can AMD Grow In A Down PC Market?

April 22, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD posted some rather encouraging Q1 numbers last night, but slow PC sales are still hurting the company, along with the rest of the sector.

When asked about the PC market slump, AMD CEO Rory Read confirmed that the PC market was down sequentially 7 percent. This was a bit better than the company predicted, as the original forecast was that the PC market would decline 7 to 10 percent.

Rory pointed out that AMD can grow in the PC market as there is a lot of ground that can be taken from the competition. The commercial market did better than expected and Rory claims that AMD’s diversification strategy is taking off. AMD is trying to win market share in desktop and commercial segments, hence AMD sees an opportunity to grown PC revenue in the coming quarters. Rory also expects that tablets will continue to cannibalize the PC market. This is not going to change soon.

Kaveri and Kabini will definitely help this effort as both are solid parts priced quite aggressively. Kabini is also available in AMD’s new AM1 platform and we believe it is an interesting concept with plenty of mass market potential. Desktop and Notebook ASPs are flat which is something that the financial community really appreciated. It would not be so unusual that average selling prices were down since the global PC market was down.

Kaveri did well in the desktop high-end market in Q1 2014 and there will be some interesting announcements in the mobile market in Q2 2014 and beyond.

Courtesy-Fud

 

GlobalFoundries And Samsung Team Up On FinFET

April 22, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

GlobalFoundries should be rolling out 20nm chips later this year and we hope that some AMD 20nm products might actually launch this year. The foundry failed to conquer the world with its 28nm process, but after some delays it got sorted out the problems and managed to ship some high-volume parts based on this process.

GlobalFoundries is manufacturing AMD’s new Kaveri APUs, while TSMC is making the Jaguar-based 28nm parts. We are not sure who is making the new server parts such as Seattle or Berlin, both 28nm designs. It is expected that GlobalFoundries should commence volume production of some 20nm parts later this year and the company has big plans for a faster transition to 14nm.

GlobalFoundries cozying up to Samsung
It is no secret that Intel leads the way in new process transitions and that Intel plans to ship 14nm parts at the time TSMC and GlobalFoundries are struggling to ship their first 20nm parts.

GlobalFoundries has now announced that it will start a strategic collaboration with none other than Samsung for its 14nm transition. It is easy to see that these two big players need each other in order to fight against bigger competitors like Intel and TSMC. GlobalFoundries and Samsung don’t have much overlap, either.

This joint venture will result in faster time-to-market for 14nm FinFET-based products. We see at least two advantages. According to Ana Hunter, Vice President of Product Management at GlobalFoundries, the process design kits are available today and the the foundry should be ready to manufacture 14nm FinFET products by the end of 2014. This sounds a bit optimistic, as we heard these bold announcements before, especially as both companies didn’t really start shipping 20nm parts yet, at least not in high volume high performance parts. It should be noted that Samsung joined the 28nm club quite late and shipped its first 28nm SoC just a year ago, in the Galaxy S4.

Sawn Han, Vice president of foundry marketing at Samsung Electronics, calls this partnership a ‘game changer’ as it will enable 14nm production by a total of four foundries in the world, three from Samsung and one from GlobalFoundries.  Samsung will offer 14nm FinFET from S2 Fab in Austin Texas, S3 Fab in Hwa Seong in South Korea and S1 Fab in Gi Heung South Korea. GlobalFoundries is preparing its Fab 8 in Saratoga, New York State, for the 14nm push.

14nm FinFET crucial for next-gen SoC designs

The companies say 14nm FinFET technology features a smaller contact gate pitch for higher logic packing density and smaller SRAM bitcells to meet the increasing demand for memory content in advanced SoCs, while still leveraging the proven interconnect scheme from 20nm to offer the benefits of FinFET technology with reduced risk and the fastest time-to-market.

The 14nm LPE should deliver 20 percent more performance compared to 20nm parts and the power required should sink 35 percent versus 20nm LPE parts. Compared to 20nm parts it will save 15 percent of die space as well making it possible to cram more components into the same die size.

We have yet to see the first mobile 20nm parts in actual products. Qualcomm announced its first Snapdragons based on the new process a few weeks ago, but they won’t be ready for months. You can expect that a SoC manufactured on 14nm could end up 40 to 50 percent faster than its 28nm predecessor and that the power requirement could go down by 50 to 70 percent at best.

The total market for mobility, wireless and computer network storage market is expected to hit around $20 billion by 2017. Of course, everyone wants the piece of that action. The joint venture will offer both 14nm LPE (Low Power Enhanced) and 14nm LPP (Laser-Produced Plasma) process.

All we need now are the design wins from high-volume customers and if we were to bet we would place our money on Samsung, namely its Exynos processors. We would be positively surprised to see 14nm SoC in mobile phones and tablets in 2015, but it is a possibility. Keep in mind that we are still waiting to see the first 20nm SoCs and GPUs in action.

Courtesy-Fud

Can AMD’s A1 Challenge Intel’s Bay Trail?

April 11, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD has released its first “system in a socket” single accelerated processor unit (APU) that aims to reduce the cost of entry-level PCs.

Based on the firm’s Kabini system on chip (SoC), the APU is named the “AM1 Platform”, combining most system functions into one chip, with the motherboard and APU together costing around between $39 and $59.

Launched at the beginning of March and released today in North America, AMD’s AM1 Platform is aimed at markets where entry-level PCs are competing against other low-cost devices.

“We’re seeing that the market for these lower-cost PCs is increasing,” said AMD desktop product marketing manager Adam Kozak. “We’re also seeing other devices out there trying to fill that gap, but there’s really a big difference between what these devices can do versus what a Windows PC can do.”

The AM1 Platform combines an Athlon or Sempron processor with a motherboard based on the FS1b upgradable socket design. These motherboards have no chipset, as all functions are integrated into the APU, and only require additional memory modules to make a working system.

The AM1 SoC has up to four Jaguar CPU cores and an AMD Graphics Core Next (GCN) GPU, an on-chip memory controller supporting up to 16GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, plus all the typical system input and output functions, including SATA ports for storage, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, as well as VGA and HDMI graphics outputs.

AMD’s Jaguar core is best known for powering both Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s Playstation 4 (PS4) games consoles. The AM1 Platform supports Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 in 32-bit or 64-bit architectures.

AMD said that it is going after Intel’s Bay Trail with the AM1 Platform, and expects to see it in small form factor desktop PCs such as netbooks and media-streaming boxes.

“We see it being used for basic computing, some light productivity and basic gaming, and really going after the Windows 8.1 environment with its four cores, which we’ll be able to offer for less,” Kozak added.

AMD benchmarked the AM1 Platform against an Intel Pentium J2850 with PC Mark 8 v2 and claimed it produced double the performance of the Intel processor. See the table below.

The FS1b upgradable socket means that users will be able to upgrade the system at a later date, while in Bay Trail and other low-cost platforms the processor is mounted directly to the motherboard.

AMD lifted the lid on its Kabini APU for tablets and mainstream laptops last May. AMD’s A series branded Kabini chips are quad-core processors, with the 15W A4-5000 and 25W A6-5200 clocked at 1.5GHz and 2GHz, respectively.

Courtesy-TheInq

Is AMD’s Graphic’s Push Paying Off?

April 9, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It appears that AMD’s professional graphics push is finally starting to pay off.

AMD’s graphics business is chugging along nicely, thanks to the success of Hawaii-based high-end cards, solid sales of rebranded mainstream cards, plenty of positive Mantle buzz and of course the cryptocurrency mining craze, which is winding down.

However, AMD traditionally lags behind Nvidia in two particular market segments – mobile graphics and professional graphics. Nvidia still has a comfortable lead in both segments and its position in mobile is as strong as ever, as it scored the vast majority of Haswell design wins in 2013. However, AMD is fighting back in the professional market and it is slowly gaining ground.

Mac Pro buckets boost FirePro sales

Last year AMD told us at the sidelines of its Hawaii launch event that is has high hopes for its professional GPU line-up moving forward.

This was not exactly news. At the time it was clear that AMD GPUs would end up in Cupertino’s latest Mac Pro series. The question was how much AMD stands to gain, both in terms of market share and revenue.

Although we are not fans of Apple’s marketing hype and hysteria associated with its consumerish fanboys, we have to admit that we have a soft spot new Mac Pro buckets. The bucket form factor is truly innovative and as usual the Mac Pro has the brains to match its looks. Basically it’s Apple going back to its roots.

Late last year it was reported that AMD would boost its market share in the professional segment to 30 percent this year, up from about 20 percent last year. For years Nvidia outsold AMD by a ratio of four to one in the professional space. The green team still has a huge lead, but AMD appears to be closing the gap.

It is hard to overstate the effect of professional graphics on Nvidia’s bottom line. The highly successful Quadro series always was and still is Nvidia’s cash cow. AMD is fighting back with competitive pricing and good hardware. In addition, the first Hawaii-based professional cards are rolling out as we speak. AMD’s new FirePro W9100, its first professional product based on Hawaii silicon, was announced a couple of weeks ago.

Can AMD keep it up?

2014 will be a good year for AMD’s professional graphics business, but it still remains to be seen whether the winning streak will continue. Apple does not care about loyalty, it’s not exactly a monogamous hardware partner. Apple has a habit of shifting between Nvidia and AMD graphics in the consumer space, so we would not rule out Nvidia in the long run. It might be back in future Mac Pro designs, but AMD has a few things working in its favour.

One of them is Adobe’s love of Open CL, which makes AMD’s professional offerings a bit more popular than Nvidia products in some circles. Adobe CC loves Open CL and AMD has been collaborating with Adobe for years to improve it. Support now extends to SpeedGrade CC, After Effects CC, Premiere, Adobe Media Encoder CC and other Adobe products.

Pricing is another important factor, as AMD has a tradition of undercutting Nvidia in the professional segment. When you happen to control 20 percent of the market in a duopoly, competitive pricing is a must.

Also, changing vendors in the professional arena is a bit trickier than swapping out a consumer graphics card or mobile GPU in a Macbook. This is perhaps AMD’s biggest advantage at the moment. Maintaining such design wins is quite a bit easier than winning them. AMD learned this lesson the hard way. Nvidia did not have to, at least not yet.

According to Seeking Alpha, demand for Mac Pro buckets is “crazy-high” and delivery times range from five to six weeks. Seeking Alpha goes on to conclude that AMD could make about $800,000,000 off a two-year Mac Pro design win, provided Apple sells 500,000 units over the next two years. At the moment it appears that Apple should have no trouble shipping half a million units, and then some.

If AMD manages to hold onto the Mac Pro deal, it stands to make a pretty penny over the next couple of years. However, if it also manages to seize more design wins in Apple consumer products, namely iMacs and Macbooks, AMD could make a small fortune on Cupertino deals alone.

Bear in mind that AMD’s revenue last year was $5.3 billion, so $800 million over the course of two years is a huge deal – even without consumer products in iMacs and Macbooks.

Courtesy-Fud

 

SkySQL Joins IBM On SQL Merger

April 4, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

SkySQL has announced a line of MariaDB products that combine NoSQL and SQL technology, offering users the ability to handle large unstructured data sets alongside traditional database features to ensure data consistency.

Available immediately, MariaDB Enterprise 2 and MariaDB Enterprise Cluster 2 are based on the code used in the firm’s MariaDB 10 database server, which it also released today.

According to SkySQL, the availability of an enterprise grade SQL database system with NoSQL interoperability will be a game changer for developers building revenue generating applications and database administrators in charge of large, complex environments.

The two new products have been developed with support from other partners in the open source community, including Red Hat, IBM and Google, according to the firm, and are aimed at giving IT managers more options for managing large volumes of data.

In fact, Red Hat will use MariaDB Enterprise 2 as the default database for its enterprise customers, while Google has also moved large parts of its infrastructure to MariaDB, according to Dion Cornett, VP of Global Sales for SkySQL .

Cornett said that customers have been using a wide variety of databases over the past few years in order to meet the diverse requirements of applications.

“The types of applications have evolved over time, and the challenge we now have today is that people have different IT stack structures, and trying to integrate all that has been very challenging and required lots of custom code to be created. What we’re doing with MariaDB is introduce an array of features to combine the best of both worlds,” he said.

The features are designed to allow developers and database administrators to take many different data structures and integrate them and use them in a cohesive application, in the same way that standard database tools presently allow.

These include the Connect Storage Engine, which enables access to a wide variety of file formats such as XML and CSV files, and the ability to run familiar SQL commands against that data.

A key feature is dynamic columns, which enables MariaDB to “smartly interpret” incoming data and adapt it to the data structure that best fits, according to Cornett.

“At a technical level what you’re actually looking at are files within the cells of information that can vary in size, which is not a capability you’ve traditionally had in databases and that flexibility is a big leap forward,” he said.

The new MariaDB products can also plug into the Apache Cassandra storage engine, which can take a columnar data store and read or write against it like it is a traditional SQL table.

An example of how MariaDB Enterprise 2 might be used is if a service provider has a large-scale video server and wants to combine that with billing information, Cornett said.

“The customer’s video history and what they’re consuming could be very unstructured, but the billing structure will be very fixed, and it has been something of a challenge to bring the two of those together up to this point,” he explained.

Courtesy-TheInq

GameStop Boots Spawn Labs

April 1, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

In April of 2011, GameStop acquired streaming tech firm Spawn Labs because cloud gaming was the future. Today, the retailer announced it had closed Spawn Labs because cloud gaming is still the future.

Speaking with GameSpot today, the retailer’s vice president of investor relations Matt Hodges said cloud gaming isn’t a good fit for today’s consumers.

“While cloud-based delivery of video games is innovative and potentially revolutionary, the gaming consumer has not yet demonstrated that it is ready to adopt this type of service to the level that a sustainable business can be created around it,” Hodges said.

For the time being, GameStop’s cloud gaming business will be focused on selling subscription cards for programs like PlayStation Now through its retail locations.

Beyond the closure, the specialty retailer also reported its fourth quarter and full-year financial results this morning. The launch of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 reinvigorated the console market, helping to drive sales and profits growth.

For the year ended February 1, total revenues were up nearly 2 percent to $9.04 billion. At the same time, the company returned to the black, turning the previous year’s $269.7 million net loss into a $354.2 million net profit. The company also underlined the growth of its digital and mobile business, which brought in more than $1 billion for the year.

The fourth quarter saw sales rise more than 3 percent to $3.68 billion, with net income slipping nearly 16 percent to $220.5 million. Those figures include goodwill and asset impairment charges of $28.7 million, “primarily due to the closure of Spawn Labs and store asset impairments.”

GameStop also released its first outlook for the current fiscal year and its first quarter. For the full year, the retailer is expecting total sales to be up 8 to 14 percent, with a net income between $398 million and $433 million. For the current quarter, it has projected year-over-year sales growth between 7 and 10 percent, with profits between $64 million and $70 million.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Can DirectX-12 Give Mobile Gaming A Boost?

March 31, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Microsoft announced DirectX 12 just a few days ago and for the first time Redmond’s API is relevant beyond the PC space. Some DirectX 12 tech will end up in phones and of course Windows tablets.

Qualcomm likes the idea, along with Nvidia. Qualcomm published an blog post on the potential impact of DirectX 12 on the mobile industry and the takeaway is very positive indeed.

DirectX 12 equals less overhead, more battery life

Qualcomm says it has worked closely with Microsoft to optimise “Windows mobile operating systems” and make the most of Adreno graphics. The chipmaker points out that current Snapdragon chipsets already support DirectX 9.3 and DirectX 11.  However, the transition to DirectX 12 will make a huge difference.

“DirectX 12 will turbocharge gaming on Snapdragon enabled devices in many ways. Just a few years ago, our Snapdragon processors featured one CPU core, now most Snapdragon processors offer four. The new libraries and API’s in DirectX 12 make more efficient use of these multiple cores to deliver better performance,” Qualcomm said.

DirectX 12 will also allow the GPU to be used more efficiently, delivering superior performance per watt.

“That means games will look better and deliver longer gameplay longer on a single charge,” Qualcomm’s gaming and graphics director Jim Merrick added.

What about eye candy?

Any improvement in efficiency also tends to have a positive effect on overall quality. Developers can get more out of existing hardware, they will have more resources at their disposal, simple as that.

Qualcomm also points out that DirectX 12 is also the first version to launch on Microsoft’s mobile operating systems at the same time as its desktop and console counterparts.

The company believes this emphasizes the growing shift and consumer demand for mobile gaming. However, it will also make it easier to port desktop and console games to mobile platforms.

Of course, this does not mean that we’ll be able to play Titanfall on a Nokia Lumia, or that similarly demanding titles can be ported. However, it will speed up development and allow developers and publishers to recycle resources used in console and PC games. Since Windows Phone isn’t exactly the biggest mobile platform out there, this might be very helpful and it might attract more developers.

Courtesy-Fud

nVidia’s Volta Coming After Pascal

March 28, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Volta was previously supposed to follow in the footsteps of Maxwell, which is rolling out this year, at least this was the case last time we saw Nvidia’s roadmap.

Things changed today at the Nvidia’s GPU technology conference, Jen Hsun Huang, the CEO of Nvidia just showed an updated roadmap with Pascal replacing the Maxwell architecture at some point in 2016.

Volta is currently scheduled to come after Pascal, so definitely from late 2016 onwards. Nvidia told us that the Pascal got pulled in and the module that was shown at the keynote is meant for the increasingly popular HTPC form factor.

To clear any possible confusion, Pascal will make it to mobile, desktop, graphics card factors, so there is nothing to worry about. Just like Maxwell it will show up in all segments where Nvidia needs an up to date GPU.

Volta is now coming after Maxwell, that is the official line. Pascal comes in a unique form factor that opens up a lot of opportunities, but again this very unique chip with stacked memory and NVlink communication is happening in late 2016, quite some time from now.

Courtesy-Fud

AMD, Intel and nVidia Go All In For OpenGL

March 25, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD, Intel and Nvidia teamed up to tout the advantages of the OpenGL multi-platform application programming interface (API) at this year’s Game Developers Conference (GDC).

Sharing a stage at the event in San Francisco, the three major chip designers explained how, with a little tuning, OpenGL can offer developers between seven and 15 times better performance as opposed to the more widely recognised increases of 1.3 times.

AMD manager of software development Graham Sellers, Intel graphics software engineer Tim Foley and Nvidia OpenGL engineer Cass Everitt and senior software engineer John McDonald presented their OpenGL techniques on real-world devices to demonstrate how these techniques are suitable for use across multiple platforms.

During the presentation, Intel’s Foley talked up three techniques that can help OpenGL increase performance and reduce driver overhead: persistent-mapped buffers for faster streaming of dynamic geometry, integrating Multidrawindirect (MDI) for faster submission of many draw calls, and packing 2D textures into arrays, so texture changes no longer break batches.

They also mentioned during their presentation that with proper implementations of these high-level OpenGL techniques, driver overhead could be reduced to almost zero. This is something that Nvidia’s software engineers have already claimed is impossible with Direct3D and only possible with OpenGL (see video below).

Nvidia’s VP of game content and technology, Ashu Rege, blogged his account of the GDC joint session on the Nvidia blog.

“The techniques presented apply to all major vendors and are suitable for use across multiple platforms,” Rege wrote.

“OpenGL can cut through the driver overhead that has been a frustrating reality for game developers since the beginning of the PC game industry. On desktop systems, driver overhead can decrease frame rate. On mobile devices, however, driver overhead is even more insidious, robbing both battery life and frame rate.”

The slides from the talk, entitled Approaching Zero Driver Overhead, are embedded below.

At the Game Developers Conference (GDC), Microsoft also unveiled the latest version of its graphics API, Directx 12, with Direct3D 12 for more efficient gaming.

Showing off the new Directx 12 API during a demo of Xbox One racing game Forza 5 running on a PC with an Nvidia Geforce Titan Black graphics card, Microsoft said Directx 12 gives applications the ability to directly manage resources to perform synchronisation. As a result, developers of advanced applications can control the GPU to develop games that run more efficiently.

Courtesy-TheInq

Will Java SE 8 Offer Better Support For Multi-Core Processors?

March 20, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Oracle has released its Java Platform Standard Edition 8, Java SE 8, as well as the latest Java SE Development Kit, JDK 8.

The release of the updated Java software has been anticipated for some time, but was delayed by Oracle as it worked on making the software more secure and some additional features.

Oracle said that Java SE 8 delivers “enhanced developer productivity and significant application performance increases” through reduced boilerplate code, improved collections and annotations, simpler parallel programming models and better use of multi-core processors in more efficient ways.

One of Java SE 8′s biggest new features is support for Lambda expressions, a new language feature in Java borrowed from LISP that lets developers treat functions as method arguments or code as data. Lambda expressions also allow users to express instances of single-method interfaces, referred to as functional interfaces, more efficiently.

IDC analyst Al Hilwa said that Lambda support in Java SE 8 makes it an important milestone for the language and platform because it will make it easier for developers to write code for multicore processors, but he also noted other Java 8 features that mark significant language improvements.

“There are a variety of interesting things in [Java] SE 8, like the Streams API focused on parallel processing large data sets, Project Nashorn’s faster Javascript engine, and of course implementing Lambda expressions,” Hilwa added.

“These are significant changes to the language that will have a long-term impact as we shift into a highly parallel world populated with multi-core devices and big data. To see the team do this while simultaneously investing heavily in securing the platform in the face of escalating malware attacks everywhere is a huge achievement.”

Among the list of new features are a new Date/Time API, Type Annotations, and a set of Compact Profiles, which allow Java SE 8 implementations to be scaled down more easily.

Oracle will launch Java SE 8 at an event on 25 March.

Courtesy-Fud

Most ATMs To Be Left Vulnerable When Microsoft Ends XP Support

March 14, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Nearly 95% of the world’s ATMs may be left wide open to hackers next month when Microsoft ends tech support for the Windows XP operating system, the PCI Security Standards Council is warning.

In a long trailed move, from 8 April Microsoft will discontinue offering security updates and patches for XP, leaving machines running the 12-year-old operating system more vulnerable to attack.

ATMs running XP Embedded are not affected because Microsoft is not cutting off its support until 2016.

The process of upgrading to an alternative such as Windows 7 is both complicated and expensive for ATM operators – with many older machines needing to be altered one by one. Most are not expected to have made the switch within the next month.

JPMorgan has bought a custom one-year tech support agreement from Microsoft and will not begin migrating its 19000 machines to Windows 7 until July, the bank has told Bloomberg. Wells Fargo and Citi say that they are working on upgrading their networks.

It’s not just ATMs that are at risk – Microsoft recently warned that the Indian banking industry’s reliance on XP could put more than 34,000 branches at risk.

In a notice on its site, the PCI SSC is urging firms to take the plunge: “Don’t make yourself an easy target, talk to your technology provider today and make sure your PC and systems are not putting your customers’ confidential payment card data and your business at risk.”

 

nVidia Releases CUDA 6

March 10, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Nvidia has made the latest GPU programming language CUDA 6 Release Candidate available for developers to download for free.

The release arrives with several new features and improvements to make parallel programming “better, faster and easier” for developers creating next generation scientific, engineering, enterprise and other applications.

Nvidia has aggressively promoted its CUDA programming language as a way for developers to exploit the floating point performance of its GPUs. Available now, the CUDA 6 Release Candidate brings a major new update in unified memory access, which lets CUDA applications access CPU and GPU memory without the need to manually copy data from one to the other.

“This is a major time saver that simplifies the programming process, and makes it easier for programmers to add GPU acceleration in a wider range of applications,” Nvidia said in a blog post on Thursday.

There’s also the addition of “drop-in libraries”, which Nvidia said will accelerate applications by up to eight times.

“The new drop-in libraries can automatically accelerate your BLAS and FFTW calculations by simply replacing the existing CPU-only BLAS or FFTW library with the new, GPU-accelerated equivalent,” the chip designer added.

Multi-GPU Scaling has also been added to the CUDA 6 programming language, introducing re-designed BLAS and FFT GPU libraries that automatically scale performance across up to eight GPUs in a single node. Nvidia said this provides over nine teraflops of double-precision performance per node, supporting larger workloads of up to 512GB in size, more than it’s supported before.

“In addition to the new features, the CUDA 6 platform offers a full suite of programming tools, GPU-accelerated math libraries, documentation and programming guides,” Nvidia said.

The previous CUDA 5.5 Release Candidate was issued last June, and added support for ARM based processors.

Aside from ARM support, Nvidia also improved Hyper-Q support in CUDA 5.5, which allowed developers to use MPI workload prioritisation. The firm also touted improved performance analysis and improved performance for cross-compilation on x86 processors.

Courtesy-TheInq

Is AMD Worried About Microsoft’s DirectX 12

March 7, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD’s Mantle has been a hot topic for quite some time and despite its delayed birth, it has finally came delivered performance in Battlefield 4. Microsoft is not sleeping it has its own answer to Mantle that we mentioned here.

Oddly enough we heard some industry people calling it DirectX 12 or DirectX Next but it looks like Microsoft is getting ready to finally update the next generation DirectX. From what we heard the next generation DirectX will fix some of the driver overhead problems that were addressed by Mantle, which is a good thing for the whole industry and of course gamers.

AMD got back to us officially stating that “AMD would like you to know that it supports and celebrates a direction for game development that is aligned with AMD’s vision of lower-level, ‘closer to the metal’ graphics APIs for PC gaming. While industry experts expect this to take some time, developers can immediately leverage efficient API design using Mantle. “

AMD also told us that we can expect some information about this at the Game Developers Conference that starts on March 17th, or in less than two weeks from now.

We have a feeling that Microsoft is finally ready to talk about DirectX Next, DirectX 11.X, DirectX 12 or whatever they end up calling it, and we would not be surprised to see Nvidia 20nm Maxwell chips to support this API, as well as future GPUs from AMD, possibly again 20nm parts.

Courtesy-Fud

Is AMD Going After Intel’s Bay Trail?

March 5, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD has announced its first “system in a socket” single accelerated processor unit (APU) that aims to reduce the cost of entry-level PCs.

Based on the firm’s Kabini system on chip (SoC), the APU is named the “AM1 Platform”, combining most system functions into one chip, with the motherboard and APU together costing around $60.

Due to be released on 9 April, the AM1 Platform is aimed at markets where entry-level PCs are competing against other low-cost devices.

“We’re seeing that the market for these lower-cost PCs is increasing,” said AMD desktop product marketing manager Adam Kozak. “We’re also seeing other devices out there trying to fill that gap, but there’s really a big difference between what these devices can do versus what a Windows PC can do.”

The AM1 Platform combines an Athlon or Sempron processor with a motherboard based on the FS1b upgradable socket design. These motherboards have no chipset, as all functions are integrated into the APU, and only require additional memory modules to make a working system.

The AM1 SoC has up to four Jaguar CPU cores and an AMD Graphics Core Next (GCN) GPU, an on-chip memory controller supporting up to 16GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, plus all the typical system input and output functions, including SATA ports for storage, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, as well as VGA and HDMI graphics outputs.

AMD’s Jaguar core is best known for powering both Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s Playstation 4 (PS4) games consoles. The AM1 Platform supports Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 in 32-bit or 64-bit architectures.

AMD said that it is going after Intel’s Bay Trail with the AM1 Platform, and expects to see it in small form factor desktop PCs such as netbooks and media-streaming boxes.

“We see it being used for basic computing, some light productivity and basic gaming, and really going after the Windows 8.1 environment with its four cores, which we’ll be able to offer for less,” Kozak added.

AMD benchmarked the AM1 Platform against an Intel Pentium J2850 with PC Mark 8 v2 and claimed it produced double the performance of the Intel processor. See the table below.

The FS1b upgradable socket means that users will be able to upgrade the system at a later date, while in Bay Trail and other low-cost platforms the processor is mounted directly to the motherboard.

The AM1 Platform will ship to system vendors in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia and Latin America first, then to North America and the Pacific region later this year.

AMD lifted the lid on its Kabini APU for tablets and mainstream laptops last May. AMD’s A series branded Kabini chips are quad-core processors, with the 15W A4-5000 and 25W A6-5200 clocked at 1.5GHz and 2GHz, respectively.

Courtesy-Fud