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Can nVidia Beat Google?

April 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Google’s internal benchmarks of its own TPU, or tensor processing unit indicated that its purpose built AI board cleaned Nvidia’s clock when it came to number crunching and power consumption.

However this week Nvidia has blogged that Google’s numbers fail to take into account how wonderful its new boards are.

Google compaired its board to the older, Kepler-based, dual-GPU K80 rather than the Pascal based GPUs.

Nvidia moaned that Google’s team released technical information about the benefits of TPUs this past week but did not compare the TPU to the current generation Pascal-based P40.

While the TPU has 13x the performance of K80 is provisionally true, but there’s a snag. That 13x figure is the geometric mean of all the various workloads combined.

Nvidia’s argument is that Pascal has a much higher memory bandwidth and far more resources for inference performance than K80. As a result, the P40 offers 26x more inference performance than one die of a K80.

As Extreme Tech points out there are all sorts of things which are “unclear” about Nivida’s claims.

For example it is unclear if Nvidia’s claim takes Google’s tight latency caps into account. At the small batch sizes Google requires for its 8ms latency threshold, K80 utilization is just 37 percent of maximum theoretical performance. The vagueness of the claims make it difficult to evaluate them for accuracy.

Google’s enormous lead in incremental performance per watt will be difficult to overcome. Google said that its boffins modelled the expected performance improvement of a TPU with GDDR5 instead of DDR3, with more memory bandwidth.

Scaling memory bandwidth up by 4x would improve overall performance by 3x, at the cost of ~10% more die space. So, it is saying that it can boost the TPU side of the equation as well.

While no one is saying that the P40 is slower than the K80, but Google’s data shows a huge advantage for TPU performance-per-watt compared with GPUs, particularly once host server power is subtracted from the equation.

Basically GPU has lots of hardware that a chip like Google’s TPU simply doesn’t need.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Touts New Power Saving Feature In Windows 10

April 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft is touting operating system-wide power efficiencies in a recent preview of Windows 10, claiming that the technology will reduce notebook battery consumption by 11% on laptops equipped with the newest processors.

The technology, temporarily tagged as “Power Throttling,” was enabled on all copies of Windows 10 Insider build 16176, which Microsoft released Friday. Insider is the beta program Microsoft runs for both enthusiasts and businesses. The latter rely on Insider to learn how the OS will change for the next feature upgrade, as well as for testing the upgrade prior to deploying the final code when it is shipped several months later.

“With ‘Power Throttling,’ when background work is running, Windows places the CPU in its most energy efficient operating modes — work gets done, but the minimal possible battery is spent on that work,” Bill Karagounis, director of program management for Insider, said in a post to a company blog.

The CPU throttling is triggered on an app-specific basis by a detection system Microsoft integrated with the OS, said Karagounis. Like other such technologies, Microsoft’s is meant to recognize foreground tasks — such as active apps — as well as persistent applications, like music streaming applications, then give them full access to the processor. Other apps, or even individual processes within an app, that are classified as “background,” are restricted in how they impact the CPU’s power usage. For instance, they may not be allowed to kick the processor into its higher-frequency, higher-power, higher-consumption mode.

Power Throttling works only on Intel processors with that firm’s Speed Shift, a feature of sixth-generation and later CPUs, including “Skylake” and the newer “Kaby Lake.”

Recognizing that most personal computers are laptops and that battery longevity is a major factor in productivity, Microsoft has aggressively promoted Windows 10’s power savings, notably in the boosterism behind Edge, the OS’s default browser.

The Redmond, Wash. company isn’t working in a vacuum: Other operating systems also try to eke out more battery life by scaling back CPU use. Apple’s iOS, for instance, switches to a low-power mode when an iPhone or iPad battery reaches about 20% capacity. Among other things, the iOS mode halts background app refreshing and stops automatic email fetching.

Microsoft first added Power Throttling to Windows 10 in January, saying that it had turned it on for a subset of Insider-equipped devices as an experiment and promising to provide an update in mid-February. That update never appeared, hinting that Microsoft pulled it from inclusion in the then-upcoming Creators Update, the feature upgrade released April 11.

The first opportunity most users will have to apply Power Throttling will be with 2017’s second feature upgrade. Microsoft has not revealed a release timetable, but most experts expect it to appear this fall.

Bose Headphones Accused Of Spying On Users

April 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Bose Corp spies on its wireless headphone owners by using an app that tracks the music, podcasts and other audio they listen to, and violates their privacy rights by selling such data without permission, a lawsuit charged.

The complaint filed by Kyle Zak in federal court in Chicago seeks an injunction to stop Bose’s “wholesale disregard” for the privacy of customers who download its free Bose Connect app from Apple Inc or Google Play stores to their smartphones.

“People should be uncomfortable with it,” Christopher Dore, a lawyer representing Zak, said in an interview. “People put headphones on their head because they think it’s private, but they can be giving out information they don’t want to share.”

Bose did not respond on Wednesday to requests for comment on the proposed class action case. The Framingham, Massachusetts-based company has said annual sales top $3.5 billion.

Zak’s lawsuit was the latest to accuse companies of trying to boost profit by quietly amassing customer information, and then selling it or using it to solicit more business.

After paying $350 for his QuietComfort 35 headphones, Zak said he took Bose’s suggestion to “get the most out of your headphones” by downloading its app, and providing his name, email address and headphone serial number in the process.

But the Illinois resident said he was surprised to learn that Bose sent “all available media information” from his smartphone to third parties such as Segment.io, whose website promises to collect customer data and “send it anywhere.”

Audio choices offer “an incredible amount of insight” into customers’ personalities, behavior, politics and religious views, citing as an example that a person who listens to Muslim prayers might “very likely” be a Muslim, the complaint said.

“Defendants’ conduct demonstrates a wholesale disregard for consumer privacy rights,” the complaint said.

Zak is seeking millions of dollars of damages for buyers of headphones and speakers, including QuietComfort 35, QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, SoundLink Color II, SoundSport Wireless and SoundSport Pulse Wireless.

He also wants a halt to the data collection, which he said violates the federal Wiretap Act and Illinois laws against eavesdropping and consumer fraud.

Dore, a partner at Edelson PC, said customers do not see the Bose app’s user service and privacy agreements when signing up, and the privacy agreement says nothing about data collection.

Edelson specializes in suing technology companies over alleged privacy violations.

Will Intel’s Skylake X and X299 Appear In Q2?

April 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

According to the latest set of rumors, Intel might be scrambling to launch its X299 platform with Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X CPU and these could come in late June/beginning of July.

Originally scheduled to launch sometime in Q3 2017, with August as the most obvious target, it appears that Intel has pushed the launch for its new HEDT (High-end Desktop) X299 platform date forward to the 25th and 27th week of this year, which puts it somewhere in the end of June, beginning of July, timeframe. 

As detailed earlier, Intel Skylake-X lineup will include six- and ten-core CPUs, have support for quad-channel DDR4-2667 memory and should be the core of Intel’s HEDT X299 LGA2066 platform.

The Kaby Lake-X lineup will only include quad-core SKUs, have a TDP of 112W and lack the integrated GPU, but also come dual-channel DDR4-2667 memory support and 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes, down from up to 44 PCIe 3.0 lanes with the Skylake-X SKUs.

If the rumor, coming from Benchlife.info, proves out to be true, we should hear and see more about Intel’s new X299 HEDT platform at the Computex 2017 show, kicking off on May 30th in Taipei.

Courtesy-Fud

Baidu Wants In On Automonous Vehicles, Plans Launch In July

April 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Baidu Inc has announced plans to launch its self-driving car technology for restricted environment in July before gradually introducing fully autonomous driving capabilities on highways and open city roads by 2020.

The project is named Apollo after the lunar landing program, the Chinese search giant said, adding it would work with partners who provide vehicles, sensors and other components for the new technology.

As part of its push into artificial intelligence (AI), the company in January named former Microsoft Corp executive Qi Lu as chief operating officer.

Two months after the appointment, Baidu’s chief scientist Andrew Ng, who led AI and augmented reality (AR) projects, said he would step down.

The company also launched a $200 million fund in October to focus on AI, AR and deep learning, followed by a $3 billion fund announced in September to target mid- and late- stage start-ups.

“AI has great potential to drive social development, and one of AI’s biggest opportunities is intelligent vehicles,” Qi said in a statement.

In November, Baidu and German automaker BMW AG  said they would end their joint research on self-driving cars due to differences in opinion on how to proceed.

Technology and automotive leaders contend that cars of the future will be capable of completely driving themselves, revolutionizing the transportation industry, with virtually all carmakers as well as companies such as Alphabet’s Google and parts supplier Delphi investing heavily in developing the technology.

Can AMD Go Wireless In The Virtual reality Space?

April 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

You might seen we’ve writing about millimeter waves several times. and we usually attributed this term to 5G. AMD has just acquired Nitero, a millimeter wave company that wants to use this technology to cut the cord on your VR and AR headset. 

AMD has figured out that cables are a very limiting factor in a Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality. This is not a big secret as even if you only had a few minutes to play with one, you quickly realize that making things wireless is more comfortable.

The acquisition provides AMD with a broader portfolio of IP capable of enabling VR headset and solution providers with key technology required to create more immersive computing experiences.

Mark Papermaster, AMD chief technology officer and senior vice president said:

“Unwieldly headset cables remain a significant barrier to drive widespread adoption of VR. Our newly acquired wireless VR technology is focused on solving this challenge, and is another example of AMD making long-term technology investments to develop high-performance computing and graphics technologies that can create more immersive computing experiences.”

Nitero has designed a phased-array beamforming millimeter wave chip to address the challenges facing wireless VR and AR. This is the same frequency that Intel and Qualcomm will use for Wi-Gig. This enables very fast speeds within a room, but due to its high frequency the signal won’t really penetrate any walls.

This is not that important for the VR and AR markets as we don’t see a case where you need to leave an office or a room with the VR / AR headset on.

The 60GHz technology has the potential to enable multi-gigabit transmit performance with low latency in room-scale VR environments. It will rely heavily on the beamforming characteristics to solve the requirement for line-of-sight associated with traditional high-frequency mm-wave systems. The main goal is potentially eliminating wired VR headsets and letting users to become more easily immersed in virtual and augmented worlds.

Nitero co-founder and CEO Pat Kelly said:

“Our world class engineering team has been focused on solving the difficult problem of building wireless VR technologies that can be integrated into next-generation headsets. We are excited to play a role in furthering AMD’s long-term technology vision.”

Pat joined AMD as corporate vice president, Wireless IP highlighting the importance of the whole acquisition and the whole technology potential. Fudzilla calls this a step in the right direction. 

Courtesy-Fud

Is Intel Shrinking?

April 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Despite promises that Intel made to Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump that it was building new factories in the Land of the Fee, it seems that Intel is still downsizing its US workforce.

The number of full-time workers directly employed by Intelnear Rio Rancho fell by 37 percent in 2016 – from 1,900 salaried workers in 2015 to 1,200 as of December – according to the company’s latest annual report to the Sandoval County Commission.

Intel spokeswoman Liz Shipley told the Albuquerque Journal in an email that its head count is down from what it reported last spring in its 2015 report.

This is the sharpest annual decrease to date in direct, full-time employment at the plant since the company began laying off workers and reducing its head count through attrition in 2013. In that year, the Sandoval County plant employed 3,300 people, meaning its salaried workforce has fallen by nearly two thirds over the last four years.

The company still employs about 1,000 contract workers, about half of whom are generally on site daily to work on specific projects, Shipley said. But it’s not clear how many of those are full or part-time workers.

Intel announced in April 2016 that it planned to lay off about 12,000 people worldwide, or about 11 percent of its global workforce. That restructuring affected the Sandoval County site, according to the Intel report.

Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block, who represents Corrales and Rio Rancho, said:  “It’s hard for people here to find high-paying jobs like those at Intel. That’s why this plant is so critical to our community.”

The plant still makes 32-nanometer chips, while Intel’s newer plants are producing 22- and 14-nanometer chips. It was apparently creating newer plants that Intel promised Trump that it would create.So on one hand it is creating jobs in one part of the country and in the other gutting them.

The company is now preparing to produce next-generation 10-nanometer chips, putting the Sandoval County plant far behind the curve. Intel has not given the plant any major upgrades since 2009, when the plant went from 45- to 32-nanometer technology.

Courtesy-Fud

Mozilla To End Firefox’s Aurora Preview Track

April 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Mozilla has announced it will discontinue one of Firefox’s preview tracks that have allowed users to test early versions of the browser before wider deployment.

Companies running Firefox, and testing the browser using the “Aurora” track, will be automatically migrated to the “Beta” channel today.

“It became clear that Aurora was not meeting our expectations as a first stabilization channel,” wrote Dave Camp, director of engineering for Firefox; Sylvestre Ledru, the browser’s release manager; and Ali Spivak, head of developer marketing, in a post to a Mozilla blog.

Mozilla has offered multiple versions of each Firefox edition since 2011, when it began offering four builds — Nightly, Aurora, Beta and Release — each of which was supposed to be more stable than the previous.

“We have more modern processes underlying our [release] train model, and believe we can deliver feature-rich, stable products without the additional 6-8-week Aurora phase,” said Camp, Ledru and Spivak.

In that “train” approach, Mozilla added a new feature to the least stable version, Developer, then when the feature was ready, moved it to the next track, Aurora. As development progressed, the feature would shift to Beta and then finally to Release.

But Mozilla acknowledged that the system had sometimes failed. “The release cycle time has required that we subvert the model regularly over the years by uplifting new features to meet market requirements,” the company admitted in an accompanying FAQ, referring to times when it has had to skip one of the tracks or shorten the time a feature spent on one.

Firefox users on the Aurora channel were to be moved to Beta today, according to the FAQ. Aurora will not be updated after tomorrow, when Firefox 53 is to ship in final, or Release, form.

With Aurora’s disappearance, Mozilla will rely on Beta for the first widespread distribution of each edition of Firefox. To make up for Aurora’s absence, each beta will be rolled out in stages, just as Release has long been, with the idea that if major problems crop up, they do so early on and thus affect only a subset of customers before the spigot is turned off.

Aurora’s elimination will not increase the frequency of Release builds issued or decrease the time between each Release version; the latter will continue to range from six to nine weeks. Nor will the already-slated dates for future versions of Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) change. That edition, designed for enterprises and other large organizations, remains stable for approximately a year. Much like Windows 10’s LTSB (Long-term Servicing Branch), ESR receives only security updates.

Ditching Aurora, however, will let Mozilla move a new feature from inception to final about six to eight weeks faster than before.

AMD Goes Custom Power With Ryzen

April 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD has released a new custom “balanced” power plan for those using Ryzen CPU on Windows 10 OS.

Until today, AMD Ryzen CPU users were limited to using the “high performance” plan in Windows 10 OS, at least if they want to get most performance out of their Ryzen CPU. Now, AMD has released a new tweaked “balanced” power plan that should provide a compromise between performance and power efficiency which “automatically balances performance with energy consumption on capable hardware”.

According to the explanation posted by AMD’s Robert Hallock, the new power plan reduces the times and thresholds for P-state transition in order to improve clockspeed ramping as well as disables core parking for “more wakeful cores”.

These tweaks are apparently enough for the new plan to provide similar performance to the Microsoft’s “high performance” power plan setting, at least according to AMD’s own slides. As far as power is concerned, the new balanced power plan does not change how the processor handles low-power idle states, so basically, you’ll get additional performance without compromising the power efficiency.

The new balanced plan is quite simple to install and you can find both the download link as well as check out further explanation over at AMD’s community blog. AMD will also include the final power plan with next AMD chipset drivers for Ryzen CPUs.

Courtesy-Fud

Are Macs Virus Free

April 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

The myth that Macs are somehow more secure than other operating systems appears to be a myth according to a Threat Report by McAfee Labs.

Attacks on Macs have risen by 744 percent in 2016 and there are more than 460,000 malware samples on Mac machines found. Although this is not a particularly high number you have to acknowledge that this is one security company and on a single machine.

It appears that after years of leaving Macs alone, virus writers are suddenly taking an interest in knocking them over and the security by obscurity measures, along with faith-based defences are not working.

The Tame Apple Press has rushed to say that “despite the dramatic increase in macOS malware attacks, Mac owners need not be too alarmed”.

One newspaper even said that the attacks were just irritating and not like the “true malware attacks” that Windows users have to suffer.

Most of the attacks were just adware which automatically generates and displays advertising material, including banners or pop-ups, whenever a user is online, the Tame Apple Press  tried to reassure Apple fanboys.

Last summer, Mac owners were warned about a new malware dubbed Backdoor.MAC.Elanor – a nasty piece of code that infects the OS X operating system and gives hackers complete access to the files on the computer.

Courtesy-Fud

Microft Sets Retirement Date For First Windows 10 Release

April 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

True to form, Microsoft has announced May 9 as the date it will issue the final updates for the debut edition of Windows 10 that launched in 2015.

Two months ago, Microsoft had extended support for Windows 10 version 1507 — Microsoft labels feature upgrades by year and month — from March to May, but did not specify the date in the latter month.

The May 9 retirement was quietly announced on several support documents, including the “Windows lifecycle fact sheet,” which lists several kinds of deadlines for various versions of the operating system.

Another document put it plainly. “The time has now come to end servicing for version 1507,” the support document read.

Stopping support for Windows 10 editions — Microsoft released the fourth on Tuesday — is an important part of the company’s software-as-a-service model. The company has pledged to support an individual edition, such as 1507, not for 10 years, as policy required for, say, Windows 7 or 8.1, but only for 18 months or so. That mandate insured Microsoft would not need to craft security patches, fix other bugs or add new features for an increasing number of versions.

By the time Windows 10 1507 slips off the list, it will have been supported for about 21 months. Part of the reason it lasted longer than Microsoft’s stated norm was because the firm issued just one feature upgrade — v. 1607 — in 2016.

The next Windows 10 edition, v. 1511, could be purged from support as soon as early October. That’s because Microsoft has committed to simultaneously supporting just two Current Branch for Business (CBB) builds. At the release of N+2 onto CBB, the company starts a 60-day-or-so countdown. At the end of the 60 days, N drops off the support list. N+1 then becomes N and N+2 morphs into N+1.

Under that policy, N would be 1511, N+1 version 1607 (released in August 2016) and N+2 1703 (this month’s feature upgrade). Version 1703 will likely be promoted to the CBB in four months, or August; two months more would put 1511’s support demise in October.

Users running 1507 must have upgraded to 1511, 1607 or 1703 by May 10 to receive future security patches, and other fixes or enhancements. Windows 10 1507 will not suddenly fail to boot, however, or degrade, as do copies that have not been activated with a product key.

The only exceptions will be customers whose devices are running v. 1507 from the Long-term Servicing Branch (LTSB), a special release track available only to organizations using Windows 10 Enterprise.

Netflix Expansion Talks Include Indonesian Telecom Giant

April 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

U.S. video streaming service provider Netflix is engaged in negotiations with Indonesia’s top telecom firm PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk (Telkom) to offer its service in the country, a spokesman at the Indonesian company said.

The U.S. company has made an aggressive push globally, but faced problems such as tough local competition and regulatory hurdles in several major Asian markets. In Indonesia, a country of 250 million people, Netflix ran afoul of the film censorship board last year for carrying content deemed inappropriately violent or sexual.

The communications ministry of Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, had also demanded that Netflix set up a office in the country and pay local taxes.

While state-controlled Telkom had blocked Netflix, the service was still available in Indonesia via WiFi connections and other carriers.

Telkom is now negotiating a partnership agreement with Netflix and hopes to complete the process next month, Arif Prabowo, vice president for corporate communication at Telkom, said in a text message.

Telkom was previously concerned that Netflix carried “content that has a negative element”, Prabowo said.

“If we work together, that means we would know and can be responsible for the content broadcast by Netflix.”

Teaming up with Netflix would expand Telkom’s content offering, Prabowo added. “The choices for our customers will be more varied.”

A Netflix spokeswoman declined to comment.

Are Apple Desktop PCs Sells Increasing

April 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

A US news station, which normally chants Apple mantras with the rest of them claimed Apple was the focus of a mini firestorm which is about as scathing as the Tame Apple Press gets.

At the centre of the problem is Apple’s aging Mac Pro desktop line which was due for a refresh to bring the rubbish bin PC into the internet age. You would think after not improving a computer for a since 2013 you could add a few improvements.
Apple decided that the best thing to do was jack up the price – after all you get what you pay for right?

Even MacWorld thought that Apple was taking the Nintendo.

But there’s nothing new about what Apple did. “The two available Mac Pro configurations aren’t new, they’re just newly priced,” MacWorld pointed out.

The entry-level $2,999 Mac Pro model now has 6 Intel Xeon processor cores –versus 4 cores on the previous configuration – with dual AMD FirePro D500 graphics chips. And the $3,999 Mac Pro gets an 8-core Intel Xeon processor with dual AMD
FirePro D700 graphics silicon. Woop!

Apple marketing VP Phil Schiller reportedly said that the Mac Pro had heat (aka “thermal”) issues that “restricted” a user’s ability to upgrade and that Apple is “sorry to disappoint customers”.

Apparently Apple had a meeting where it was claimed that Apple said it is “completely rethinking” the Mac Pro model. And, as a result, the company acknowledged “that its flashy 2013 Mac Pro redesign was a mistake”.

It has apparently taken them four years at least to have worked that out, and even longer before Apple comes up with a solution. In fact the overhaul will not happen this year.

9to5Mac insists that Apple is trying to assuage any perceived user frustration, and this is the closest thing that Jobs Mob has got to an apology.

“The very fact that Apple felt compelled to hold [Monday’s] meeting in the first place is evidence of just how much it thinks it screwed-up here. The company that has always taken the view that ‘people don’t know what they want until you show it to them’ has clearly had to face the fact that, in the pro market at least, that’s not the case.”

Courtesy-Fud

Is AMD’s Ryzen 3 Coming In The 2H Of 2017

April 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

After launching the Ryzen 7 CPU lineup, AMD will launch its mainstream Ryzen 5 lineup in just under a week, but today we have additional information about an entry-level Ryzen 3 SKU, the Ryzen 3 1200.

Scheduled to launch sometime in the second half of this year, the Ryzen 3 lineup will compete well against Intel’s Core i3 dual-core lineup. It is still not clear if AMD will include dual-core SKUs in its Ryzen 3 lineup, but it is most likely that all will be quad-core SKUs with and without SMT-enabled. Earlier rumors also suggest that there will be a Ryzen 3 1200X SKU that should be similar but with support for XFR (eXtended Frequency Range) technology, which may give it a further overclocking boost.

According to details leaked by ASRock’s support page and originally spotted by Computerbase.de, the Ryzen 3 1200 SKU works at 3.1GHz frequency (most likely 3.4GHz Turbo) and has a 65W TDP.

Courtesy-Fud

Foxconn, Apple May Team Up For Toshiba’s Memory Business

April 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple could be mulling over joining forces with its China-based supplier Foxconn to acquire a major stake in Toshiba’s semiconductor unit.

In January, Toshiba officially announced it would seek to sell a portion of its flash memory business, including the SSD business of the Storage & Electronic Device Solutions Division, to a not-yet-named buyer.

The Nikkei Asian Review has reported that Toshiba may sell a 20% stake in the memory business for between $1.77 billion and $2.65 billion, “while retaining a majority stake and keeping the new company in group earnings.”

Toshiba’s solvency and fundraising ability are presently in doubt because of a $1.9 billion accounting scandal and a huge loss related to the purchase of a U.S. nuclear plant business. The company, which invented NAND flash in the early 1980s, had been considering spinning off its semiconductor operations and selling a partial stake to Western Digital (WD) and others, as it tries to cope with a massive impairment loss in its U.S. nuclear power unit.

Neither Toshiba nor WD have confirmed a potential sale, however.

Earlier this year, Toshiba took a writedown of $6.56 billion against its struggling U.S. nuclear equipment operations and it’s hoping to rebound from that loss with a sale.

“Its financial problems were a major drag on the growth of its memory business,” Sean Yang, research director of DRAMeXchange, said in an earlier interview.

Several potential buyers have been identified in reports, including Apple, according to Bloomberg’s news service. Apple is considering investing several billion in Toshiba’s memory business, according to the report.

“It seems like they are selling the Golden Goose and keeping the money pit,” said Jim Handy, an analyst with Objective-Analysis, referring to Toshiba.

If Apple were to purchase a stake in Toshiba’s semiconductor business, it would be a departure for a company that has historically outsourced most of its parts and labor, Handy said.

“Seagate and Western Digital used to believe that vertical integration was necessary in order to compete in the SSD market, although Seagate appears to have changed its tune,” Handy said. “A captive source of supply is a good thing to have during a shortage, but can be a millstone during an oversupply.”

Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., a major supplier to Apple, reportedly said it was not participating in talks after reviewing a possible deal “with interest.”

According to one report, Western Digital (WD) is none too happy about Toshiba’s plans to sell its memory business. WD reportedly sent a letter to Toshiba telling it the proposed sale breaches a joint-venture agreement as part of the FlashAlliance to build flash fabrication plants in Japan, which are operated by Toshiba. WD’s SanDisk holds a 49.9% share in the FlashAlliance and a Toshiba has a 50.1% share.

Any potential sale by Toshiba might be on hold for now as it deals with WD’s concerns.

If Toshiba does sell a major stake in its memory business — or the entire unit — it would do little to effect the memory market as a whole from the perspective of supply and demand, according to Handy.

“From the perspective of national security there are significant concerns that Japan will lose control of an important technology, and that it will be owned by a company from a country that has a difficult history with Japan,” Handy said, referring to China and Foxxcon. “From WD’s perspective it’s really strange, since they have a very good working relationship and understanding with Toshiba, but not necessarily with the buyer.

“I like to think of it as your spouse coming in and saying: ‘Here’s somebody new for you to be married to!’ then walking off.”

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