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ARM Shows Off 10nm Chip

May 26, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

ARM’s collaboration with TSMC has finally born some fruit with the tapeout of a 10nm test chip to show off the company’s readiness for the new manufacturing process.

The new test chip contains ARM’s yet-to-be-announced “Artemis” CPU core which is named after a goddess who will turn you into deer and tear you apart with wild dogs if you ever see her. [The NDA must have been pretty tough on this chip.ed]

In fact things have been ticking along on this project for ages. ARM discloses that tapeout actually took place back in December last year and is expecting silicon to come back from the foundry in the following weeks.

ARM actually implemented a full four-core Artemis cluster on the test chip which should show vendors what is possible for their production designs. The test chip has a current generation Mali GPU implementation with 1 shader core to show vendors what they will get when they use ARM’s POP IP in conjunction with its GPU IP. There is also a range of other IP blocks and I/O interfaces that are used to validation of the new manufacturing process.

TSMC’s 10FF manufacturing process is supposed to increase density with scaling’s of up to 2.1x compared to the previous 16nm manufacturing node. It also brings about 11-12 per cent higher performance at each process’ respective nominal voltage, or a 30 per cent reduction in power.

ARM siad that comparing a current Cortex A72 design on 16FF+ and an Artemis core on 10FF on the new CPU and process can halve the dynamic power consumption. Currently clock frequencies on the new design are still behind the older more mature process and IP, but ARM expects this to improve as it optimizes its POP and the process stabilizes.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Intel’s PC Group Hit The Hardest

May 26, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s restructuring axe seems to be falling on its PC client division and software areas with more than 12000 jobs to go.

Our well-placed sources are confident that the PC group will be the hardest hit. This is all because the PC market has stopped growing and Intel has to find its way to new markets to supplement loss of this business.

Latest research data from IDC indicates that in 2016 PC market will decline from 275.8 million units in 2015 to 260.8 million units in 2016 and the current projections for 2017 show the PC market slightly decreasing to 257.9 million units. At its peak PC market was at 364.0 million units, but this was in 2011 when things were rosier, kids were polite to their parents, and rock stars played decent music. These times are clearly behind us and Intel knows it.

The PC group downsize is being supervised by Dr. Venkata “Murthy” Renduchintala who is Intel’s number two. He is the bloke who was paid $25 million dollars to defect from Qualcomm. Murthy has already done a high level clean up at PC client group and is believed to be thinking about dusting the top of the corporate bookshelf next.

Another team which will be pummeled is Rene James’s old software outfit. People from software services and the security division formerly known as McAfee are expected to mostly go the same way as the artist formerly known as Prince.

Murthy’s also wants to get Intel to the right course with IoT market. Marketing for that area is expected to grow from $655.8 billion in 2014 to $1.7 trillion in 2020. Intel wants the piece of that cake, and perhaps a few tea and biscuits to go with it and it will be interesting to look the fight in this promising land market.

There is still no killer app to help the IoT market which defines it. IoT right now is nothing and everything.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Chromebook Outpacing Mac Notebook In U.S. Sales

May 25, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

More personal computers powered by Google’s Chrome OS shipped in the U.S. during the first quarter than those built on Apple’s OS X in the same period, IDC  has confirmed.

“Chrome PCs overall, including Chrome desktop units like the Chromebox, out-shipped all Apple personal computers, desktop plus notebook, in the U.S. for Q1,” said Jay Chou, one of several IDC analysts who track device shipments, in an email reply to questions.

Chromebooks, the inexpensive notebooks that run Chrome OS, also out-shipped Apple’s MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks in the U.S. The first-quarter battle wasn’t even close, according to the notebook-only shipment numbers Chou provided.

Apple shipped an estimated 1.17 million Mac notebooks in the U.S. during the first three months of 2016; IDC said 1.6 million Chrome OS notebooks shipped in the same span.

In other words, 37% more Chromebooks shipped than Mac notebooks.

Last week, Tom Warren of The Verge reported that Chrome OS hardware had out-shipped OS X-equipped Macs after speaking with one of Chou’s colleagues. Subsequently, numerous other outlets, including blogs and mainstream media websites, picked up Warren’s report.

IDC’s shipment data for Chrome OS and OS X systems were estimates generated using information from vendors and Asian component suppliers. Google, which developed Chrome OS, does not reveal shipment numbers: Most Chromebooks originate from third-party OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), including Acer, Asus, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo. And although Apple disclosed global Mac sales in its April 26 earnings call with Wall Street, it did not break down that figure by geographic region.

That IDC’s numbers were estimates only was clear when comparing the research firm’s forecast to Apple’s stated sales for the first quarter. Prior to April 26 — when Apple said it had sold 4.03 million Macs worldwide – IDC had projected global Mac shipments at 4.47 million, or about 10% too high.

 

 

 

Are Transparent Displays On The Horizon?

May 25, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Almost every sci-fi telivision program has tablets and monitors which are transparent and it seems that Samsung has finally build them. The only problem is that they are not that great to use.

Samsung unveiled the first commercial installation of its cutting-edge mirror display at an upscale hair salon in Seoul, South Korea. The 55-inch display units act as a mirror while playing media over the mirrored image.

The display represents a (90%) transparent layer over an underlying mirror, and is a genuinely transparent display. The Planar LookThru OLED Series offered something similar but cost too much for the great unwashed to use.

Using Intel 3-D camera technology, Samsung’s displays can also show customers in different hair styles, colors and trends, allowing the hairdressers at the Leekaja Hairbis’ Jamsil salon to provide customized, interactive consultations with their clients. Samsung expects mirror displays to be used in retail, interior design, furniture and fashion markets in the future. Similar 55-inch Samsung mirror displays will be available for purchase worldwide in fall 2016.

The Samsung mirror display ML55E provides 90 per cent  transparency and 55 per cent reflectivity, designed to minimize visual distraction and provide clarity, both in the reflective mirror surface and in the media content overlays.   It has been suggested that the technology could be a money spinner –  one study shows the market for plastic and flexible OLED displays is expected to rise to $16 billion by 2020, with TV and industrial/professional use to make up half of the market share.

But the tech is still pretty expensive. One unbranded transparent OLED screen will set you back $1190.00. But there is another problem. Transparent OLED displays might work in sci-fi movie directors, but that is because they allow the camera to interact better with actors in a hard to film situation. Practically though see-through displays which have no touch capability are all really only useful in the exhibition sector.

Courtesy-Fud

 

In-Home Tech Support Companies HelloTech, Geekatoo Merging

May 24, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Los Angeles-based startup HelloTech and rival in-home tech support company Geekatoo announced that they have merged, in a sign of consolidation in the hotly competitive on-demand sector.

HelloTech will combine its network of about 150 college students who provide on-demand tech repair to Southern California consumers with Geekatoo’s U.S. network of about 5,000 technicians, the companies said in a joint statement.

The merger connects HelloTech with Geekatoo’s national market and provides Geekatoo with more access to venture capital funding, HelloTech co-founder Richard Wolpert said in an interview.

HelloTech, which launched about a year ago, has raised $17 million from investors, while 5-year-old Geekatoo has raised close to $3 million.

“You could either use capital to expand really quickly or you could merge with a company like Geekatoo that had already spent money doing this,” said Mark Suster, managing partner at Upfront Ventures, which backed HelloTech.

The new company keeps the HelloTech name and will be led by Wolpert. He said the deal was a stock transaction, rather than a cash payment, but declined to provide further details.

Both companies dispatch in-home tech support within hours of a request to fix a wonky printer, install a new TV or troubleshoot WiFi problems, among other services.

HelloTech hit a few bumps last year after launching, with some negative customer feedback that its workforce of predominantly college students was unprofessional.

Wolpert said the company has worked out the glitches. HelloTech has a five-star rating on customer review site Yelp.

Geekatoo Executive Chairman Christian Shelton saw demand for tech services rising as more people add internet-connected devices – such as the smart thermostat Nest or WiFi camera Dropcam – to their homes.

The U.S. tech support industry makes about $30 billion in annual revenue, according to research by Parks Associates, a consulting firm.

“The opportunity is massive,” Wolpert said.

The company’s main competition is Geek Squad, a tech support service founded in 1994 and owned by big-box retailer Best Buy.

HelloTech targets baby boomers with disposable income to spend on new gadgets and someone to help get them up and running.

“There is enormous wealth in the baby boomer generation,” Suster said, and their “digital lives are becoming increasingly complicated.”

 

 

Nokia Slashes Another 1,000 Jobs

May 23, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Nokia is eliminating 1,032 jobs in Finland as part of a cost-cutting plan following its acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent, the telecom network equipment maker said in a statement last Friday.

Finland’s biggest company has cut thousands of jobs in its home country over the past decade as its once-dominant phone business was eclipsed by the rise of smartphone rivals.

Nokia started the latest cost cutting program in April and is targeting 900 million euros ($1 billion) of operating cost synergies from the Alcatel deal by 2018.

The company has declined to give an overall figure for global job cuts, but has said it in talks with employee representatives in about 30 countries.

Nokia employs about 104,000 people worldwide, with about 6,850 in Finland, 4,800 in Germany and 4,200 in France.

 

 

ARM Acquires Vision

May 23, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

British chip maker ARM has acquired Apical which is an imaging and embedded computer Vision Company in a $350 million cash deal.

Apical’s products are used in more than 1.5 billion smartphones and 300 million other devices, all over the world, including IP cameras, digital stills cameras and tablets.

Its products will be used in ARM’s ‘next generation vehicles’, security systems, robotics, mobile and other consumer, smart building, industrial or retail application. These devices will be able to ‘understand and act intelligently on information from their environment,’ the press release claims.

It also said Apical’s technology will complement the ARM Mali graphics, display and video processor roadmap.
ARM CEO Simon Segars said that the computer vision is in the early stages of development:

“The world of devices powered by this exciting technology can only grow from here. Apical is at the forefront of embedded computer vision technology, building on its leadership in imaging products that already enable intelligent devices to deliver amazing new user experiences. The ARM partnership is solving the technical challenges of next generation products such as driverless cars and sophisticated security systems. These solutions rely on the creation of dedicated image computing solutions and Apical’s technologies will play a crucial role in their delivery.”

There are three products being looked at: Spirit (computer-vision technology), Assertive Display (screens which adapt to changes in light) and Assertive Camera (new performance advances, including dynamic range, noise reduction and colour management).

Courtesy-Fud

 

Apple To Open Maps Product Development Center In India

May 20, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Moving forward with his attempt to attract Indian customers and developers, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook announced that the company was setting up a new development center for its Maps product in Hyderabad in south India.

Apple earlier on Wednesday announced it would set up by early next year a facility in Bangalore to focus on helping developers on best practices and to improve the design, quality and performance of their apps on the iOS platform.

Cook is on his first visit to India, where the company saw a 56 percent year-on-year growth in iPhone sales in the first quarter even as its global iPhone sales and overall revenue dropped.

Apple’s new center will focus on the development of Maps for Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. The investment will accelerate Maps development and create up to 4,000 jobs, the company said.

The Cupertino, California, company did not disclose the size of its investment in the center though some reports have placed the figure at $25 million.

A large number of U.S. companies, including Texas Instruments, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM, have set up software, chip design and product development centers in India, to tap the country’s large pool of engineers.

“The talent here in the local area is incredible and we are looking forward to expanding our relationships and introducing more universities and partners to our platforms as we scale our operations,” Cook said in a statement.

India is the third-largest smartphone market in the world, after China and the U.S., according to Gartner research director Anshul Gupta.

 

 

Google Unveils A.I. Challenger To Amazon’s Alexa

May 20, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Alphabet’s Google Inc  introduced us to its answer to Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant along with new messaging and virtual reality products at its annual I/O developer conference on Wednesday, doubling down on artificial intelligence and machine learning as the keys to its future.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai introduced Google Assistant, a virtual personal assistant, along with the tabletop speaker appliance Google Home.

He also unveiled Allo, a new messaging service that will compete with Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger products and feature a chatbot powered by the Google Assistant. Allo, like WhatsApp, will also have end-to-end encryption when it is rolled out this summer.

Amazon’s Echo, a surprise hit that has other tech giants racing to match it, uses a virtual assistant called Alexa, a cloud-based system that controls the Echo speaker and responds to voice-controlled commands by users.

Like Alexa, Google Assistant can search the internet and adjust your schedule. However, Pichai said Google Assistant can use images and other information to provide more intuitive results.

“You can be in front of this structure in Chicago and ask Google who designed this and it will understand in this context that the name of that designer is Anish Kapoor,” said Pichai, pointing toward a photo of Chicago’s Cloud Gate sculpture.

For Google Home, the Google Assistant merges with Chromecast and smart home devices to control televisions, thermostats and other products. Google did not offer a specific release date or pricing for Google Home, saying only that it will be available later this year.

 

 

ARM Acquires Computer Visual Technology Firm Apical

May 19, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

ARM has purchased Apical, a U.K. designer of embedded computer vision technology, and will incorporate that technology into future ARM microprocessor and system-on-chip designs, it has announced.

The move will open up new opportunities for designers of autonomous vehicles and security systems, among other connected things, according to ARM CEO Simon Segars. Computer vision is in its early stages, and Apical is at the forefront of embedding such technology, he said.

Apical’s technologies is already used in 1.5 billion smartphones, according to ARM, although many of those phones may be using nothing more sophisticated than a display brightness control Apical calls Assertive Display. That technology also turned up in Samsung Electronics’ new laptop, the ATIV Book 9.

Assertive Camera is another of Apical’s developments: It’s a range of software packages and silicon-based image signal processors for reducing image noise, managing color and shooting high dynamic range images.

ARM makes its money by designing chips that others manufacture, or licensing its chip modules for others to incorporate in their own designs.

In that context, Apical’s Spirit silicon building blocks are perhaps where ARM sees the most opportunity for growth. The Spirit silicon blocks process raw sensor data or video into a machine-readable representation of an image in an energy-efficient way, so ARM and its partners can use them to add computer vision capabilities to future low-power devices.

Putting image analysis and interpretation capabilities in hardware could accelerate and simplify the design of a whole host of products, including self-driving cars and security systems.

ARM paid US$350 million for Apical, closing the deal Tuesday, it said.

 

 

Microsoft Exiting Feature Phone Market, Sales Division

May 19, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft Corp has announced that it is selling its entry-level feature phone assets to FIH Mobile Ltd and HMD Global Oy for $350 million.

FIH Mobile, a subsidiary of Hon Hai/Foxconn Technology Co Ltd, would also acquire Microsoft Mobile Vietnam as a part of this deal, Microsoft said.

The company said its 4,500 employees from Vietnam will transfer to or will have an opportunity to join FIH Mobile or HMD Global Oy.

Microsoft will transfer all of its feature phone assets, including brands, software and services, care network and other assets, customer contracts, and critical supply agreements to both the companies as a part of the deal.

Microsoft will continue to develop Windows 10 Mobile and support Lumia phones from OEM partners, the company said.

 

 

Nokia Hits 10Gbps Speeds

May 19, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Nokia has demonstrated the feasibility of 10Gbps symmetrical data speeds over traditional hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) cable networks, such as those operated by Virgin Media in the UK.

Trumping BT’s 5Gbps XG.fast trials, Nokia’s prototype technology, called XG-Cable, is still at the proof-of-concept stage, but should easily integrate into the DOCSIS 3.1 suite of specifications focused on providing cable operators with technology innovations to transform the industry.

DOCSIS is the set of standards governing data access over cable TV networks, and DOCSIS 3.1 was designed to enable capacities of 10Gbps downstream, but only 1Gbps upstream. Nokia has taken this a step further by demonstrating that symmetrical speeds of 10Gbps are possible.

The technology is still at an early stage of development and no in-service date has been even floated by Nokia, but the test by Nokia Bell Labs has apparently demonstrated that the technology is viable using existing HFC cable networks, where fibre-optic cable is used to connect to cabinets on the street and coaxial copper cable lines are used for last-leg distribution to the customer premises.

XG-Cable means that cable operators will at some point in the future be able to use existing HFC cables in the last 200 meters to provide upstream speeds never before achievable owing to the limited spectrum available, according to Nokia.

This will enable the provision of ultra-fast broadband services to consumer locations that were not physically or economically viable unless fiber was brought all the way to the premises.

“The XG-Cable proof-of-concept is a great example of our ongoing effort and commitment to provide the cable industry with the latest innovations and technology needed to effectively address the growing demand for gigabit services,” said Federico Guillén, president of fixed networks at Nokia.

“The proof-of-concept demonstrates that providing 10Gbps symmetrical services over HFC networks is a real possibility for operators. It is an important achievement that will define the future capabilities and ultra-broadband services cable providers are able to deliver.”

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Is There A ‘For Sale’ Sign In Pandora Music’s Future?

May 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Corvex Management LP disclosed that it owns 9.9 percent of Pandora Media Inc and urged the internet music streaming company to consider being sold instead of pursuing a “costly and uncertain business plan.”

Corvex, a hedge fund run by Keith Meister, a protégé of billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn, said it had met with the company’s management and had withdrawn a plan to replace some of its board members. However, it now believes Pandora should hire an investment bank to help the company explore its strategic options including a sale.

“We believe there is likely to be significant strategic interest in the company at a substantial premium to the company’s recent stock price,” Corvex said, adding that large internet companies, handset makers and media companies could be potential buyers.

Pandora’s shares are down more than 25 percent in 2016 and more than 45 percent year-over-year. Corvex owns about 22.7 million shares in the company, making the hedge fund Pandora’s largest shareholder.

Pandora said in response that it is in constant dialogue with shareholders and committed to achieving long-term value for them.

“Pandora has a profitable core business, combined with a strong balance sheet. We are confidently investing to fully capture the massive opportunity ahead of us,” the company said in a statement.

Oakland, California-based Pandora has faced tough competition from music-streaming rivals such as Spotify, Apple Inc , Alphabet Inc’s Google and Amazon.com and has failed to turn an annual profit as a public company.

Analysts have said Pandora, which had a market capitalization of $2.29 billion on Monday, could be an acquisition target for larger media or internet companies looking to beef up their online music offerings.

Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren, a former musician who spearheaded Pandora’s music algorithm technology, returned to the company March 28 to become CEO, squashing some investors’ hopes the company could be sold.

Westergren told Reuters on April 15, “If you want to sell a company, you don’t do that by spending half a billion on acquisitions and hiring a new CEO.”

 

 

Photos, Links To No Longer Count In Tweet’s 140 Character Limit

May 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc users will soon have more flexibility in posting tweets because the company plans to discontinue including photos and links as part of its 140-character limit, according to a Bloomberg report.

The social media platform has faced stagnant user growth. Months earlier, Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said the company would simplify its product in an effort to attract new users.

“We think there’s a lot of opportunity in our product to fix some broken windows that we know are inhibiting growth,” Dorsey said during a February earnings call.

Links currently take up to 23 characters of a tweet, limiting the amount of commentary that users can offer when sharing articles or other content.

Twitter has faced stagnant user growth, and shares have fallen more than 70 percent over the past year.

Twitter declined to comment on the report.

 

Is Mozilla Going After The FBI?

May 18, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Mozilla is taking legal action to find out whether its code was affected during an FBI investigation into Tor, the privacy browser that shares a lot of Firefox code.

Mozilla has concerns that the FBI has found a vulnerability that it will not disclose. The firm wants to know what it might be so that it can apply a fix. The FBI has not helped out, so the software company has taken its case to the courts.

“User security is paramount. Vulnerabilities can weaken security and ultimately harm users. We want people who identify security vulnerabilities in our products to disclose them to us so we can fix them as soon as possible,” said Mozilla lawyer Denelle Dixon-Thayer in a blog post as she explained that this is not a political action.

“Today, we filed a brief in an ongoing criminal case asking the court to ensure that, if our code is implicated in a security vulnerability, the government must disclose the vulnerability to us before it is disclosed to any other party.

“We aren’t taking sides in the case, but we are on the side of the hundreds of millions of users who could benefit from timely disclosure.”

The situation arose after an FBI investigation into a Tor-based child abuse site. The site was closed down, and the FBI reportedly installed malware to trace the users.

This suggests that the FBI has a decent way into the software, which raises concerns for Mozilla.

“The relevant issue in this case relates to a vulnerability allegedly exploited by the government in the Tor Browser,” said Dixon-Thayer.

“The Tor Browser is partially based on our Firefox browser code. Some have speculated, including members of the defence team, that the vulnerability might exist in the portion of the Firefox browser code relied on by the Tor Browser.

“At this point, no one (including us) outside the government knows what vulnerability was exploited and whether it resides in any of our code base.

“The judge in this case ordered the government to disclose the vulnerability to the defence team but not to any of the entities that could actually fix the vulnerability. We don’t believe that this makes sense because it doesn’t allow the vulnerability to be fixed before it is more widely disclosed.”

Mozilla would like the FBI to follow the same disclosure procedures as the technology industry and do the decent thing by letting the company know as soon as possible.

“Court-ordered disclosure of vulnerabilities should follow the best practice of advance disclosure that is standard in the security research community,” she said.

“In this instance, the judge should require the government to disclose the vulnerability to the affected technology companies first, so it can be patched quickly.

“Governments and technology companies both have a role to play in ensuring people’s security online. Disclosing vulnerabilities to technology companies first allows us to do our job to prevent users being harmed and to make the web more secure.”

Courtesy-TheInq