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Will TSMC’s FinFet Chips Show Up In Early 2015?

October 20, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

TSMC has announced that it will begin volume production of 16nm FinFET products in the second half of 2015, in late Q2 or early Q3.

For consumers, this means products based on TSMC 16nm FinFET silicon should appear in late 2015 and early 2016. The first TSMC 16nm FinFET product was announced a few weeks ago.

TSMC executive CC Wei said sales of 16nm FinFET products should account for 7-9% of the foundry’s total revenue in Q4 2015. The company already has more than 60 clients lined up for the new process and it expects 16nm FinFET to be its fastest growing process ever.

Although TSMC is not talking about the actual clients, we already know the roster looks like the who’s who of tech, with Qualcomm, AMD, Nvidia and Apple on board.

This also means the 20nm node will have a limited shelf life. The first 20nm products are rolling out as we speak, but the transition is slow and if TSMC sticks to its schedule, 20nm will be its top node for roughly a year, giving it much less time on top than earlier 28nm and 40nm nodes.

The road to 10nm

TSMC’s 16nm FinFET, or 16FinFET, is just part of the story. The company hopes to tape out the first 10nm products in 2015, but there is no clear timeframe yet.

Volume production of 10nm products is slated for 2016, most likely late 2016. As transitions speed up, TSMC capex will go up. The company expects to invest more than $10bn in 2015, up from $9.6bn this year.

TSMC expects global smartphone shipments to reach 1.5bn units next year, up 19 percent year-on-year. Needless to say, TSMC silicon will power the majority of them.

Courtesy-Fud

Tablet Sales Growth Dropped Drastically

October 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The news about tablet sales isn’t good.

Gartner and IDC both recently dramatically lowered their tablet shipment and sales estimates for 2014 and coming years, citing primarily the longer-than-expected time customers keep their existing tablets. (That phenomenon is called the “refresh rate.”)

Gartner said it had originally expected 13% tablet sales growth for the year globally; it has now lowered that growth rate to 11%. IDC’s forecast change was even more dire: In June, it predicted shipment growth this year would be 12.1%, but in September it cut that number to 6.5%.

In the U.S., things are worse, because more than half of households have a tablet and may hold onto it for more than three years, well beyond analysts’ earlier expectations.

IDC said in its latest update that tablet growth in the U.S. this year will be just 1.5%, and will slow to 0.4% in 2015. After that, it expects negative growth through 2018. Adding in 2-in-1 devices, such as a Surface Pro with a keyboard, the situation in the U.S. improves, although overall growth for both tablets and 2-in-1′s will still only reach 3.8% in 2014, and just 0.4% by 2018, IDC said.

“Tablet penetration is high in the U.S. — over half of all households have at least one — which leads to slow growth…,” Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Gartner, said in an interview. “A smartphone is a must-have item, but a tablet is not. You can do the same things on a laptop as you do with a tablet, and these are all inter-related.”

Tablets are a “nice-to-have and not a must-have, because phones and PCs are enough to get by,” added Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel.

In a recent Kantar survey of 20,000 potential tablet buyers, only 13% said they definitely or probably would buy a tablet in the next year, while 54% said they would not, Milanesi said. Of those planning not to buy a tablet, 72% said they were happy with their current PC.

At IDC, analyst Tom Mainelli reported that the first half of 2014 saw tablet growth slow to 5.8% (from a growth rate of 88% in the first half of 2013). Mainelli said the meteoric pace of past years has slowed dramatically due to long device refresh cycles and pressure from sales of large phones, including the new iPhone 6 Plus. That phone has a 5.5-in. display, which is close to some smaller tablets with 7-in. displays.

 

 

 

Qualcomm Buys CSR

October 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm wants to buy British Bluetooth expert CSR for $2.5 billion. The company is doing rather well in areas like automotive and wearable devices which is exactly where Qualcomm wants to be.

CSR has previously said no to any take-over, but the two had remained in talks to reach a deal, with a deadline imposed by UK regulators. There is a chance alternative bidders may emerge, but they might be put off by the huge amounts of cash that Qualcomm is paying.

Qualcomm Chief Executive Steven Mollenkopf said the addition of CSR would allow it to diversify into the markets for short-range, wireless Bluetooth chips and audio processing used in portable audio, automotive controls and wearable devices.

“Combining CSR’s highly advanced offering of connectivity technologies with a strong track record of success in these areas will unlock new opportunities for growth,” he said.

CSR Chief Executive Joep van Beurden said the two companies were a good combination something analysts appear to agree with. CSR, short for Cambridge Silicon Radio, specializes in connectivity, with its chips used in products such as portable audio speakers and Beats headphones.

It was a pioneer in the market for wireless Bluetooth technology, which is now mushrooming in popularity for use in wireless audio speakers, network-connected appliances in homes and for use in so-called “connected car” features in autos.

Courtesy-Fud

 

TSMC Profit’s Rise

October 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Taiwan’s contract chipmaker TSMC surprised Wall Street by doing much better than expected. The outfit made a killing from its smartphone customers to record net profit in the third quarter.

TSMC earned a net profit of (US) $2.51 billion in the July-September period, versus expectations of $2.41 billion analysts expected. It also helped the company notch a 26 percent on-quarter rise in revenue from communication devices, even as computer-related revenue fell 6 percent. TSMC had reported net profit of $1.96 billion in the second quarter and $1.71 billion in the same three months of 2013.

Overall revenue of $6.88 billion in the third quarter also hit a record, eclipsing the $6.02 billion from the previous three months. Apple orders contribute about 6 percent of revenue for TSMC. Other TSMC clients such as Qualcomm and Broadcom supply Apple as well and Yuanta Securities analyst George Chang estimates that such second-hand orders contribute as much as another 15 percent to TSMC sales.

Qualcomm rival MediaTek whose chipsets are popular among low-cost smartphone vendors in emerging markets such as China, also counts TSMC as its main foundry partner.

Courtesy-Fud

The Linux Foundation Develops A Dronecode

October 16, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The Linux Foundation has announced Dronecode, a new initiative to encourage cooperation on the peaceful use of drones.

Dronecode brings together existing open source code for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles under the auspices of a non-profit governance system.

There are already 1,200 developers working on the newly aligned projects, with over 150 code commits per day being added.

Among the drone designers already using the Dronecode standard are Skycatch, DroneDeploy, HobbyKing, Horizon Ag, PrecisionHawk, Agribotics and Walkera.

Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, about the project was the person who gave said information.

“Unfortunately when most people think of drones they think of military use, but drones are being used in a variety of cool, exciting ways – agriculture, search and rescue, realtime mapping, construction,” he said.

“Folks who design the software that powers these drones have the same problems as the people who create cloud computing servers. There’s a lot of software inside a drone.

“Creating the software stack by yourself seems a little bit crazy! The Linux Foundation is a place where we can grow these type of software communities.”

Drones are now so popular that they have their own storefront on Amazon.

Earlier this year we reported on the possibility of flyby hack attacks on internet-connected TVs using drones.

But contrary to what we learned from the recent series of Keifer Sutherland asthma-fest 24, the open source aspect won’t make drones more hackable.

“It actually makes it harder for them to be hacked, because if you have visibility to the source code itself you can audit it for security vulnerabilities, have peer reviews … and yes, you’ve been watching too much 24.”

Courtesy-Theinq

IBM And SAP Join Forces In The Cloud

October 16, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM and SAP announced a partnership on Tuesday to offer SAP HANA cloud services to enterprise customers.

HANA is short for High Performance Analytical Appliance, and is an in-memory, column-oriented relational database management system.

“SAP HANA converges database and application platform capabilities in-memory to transform transactions, analytics, text analysis, predictive and spatial processing so businesses can operate in real time,” says SAP.

SAP’s partnership with IBM and its SoftLayer cloud services will enable large enterprises that want an alternative to supporting SAP HANA in their own data centres to outsource data centre infrastructure costs.

IBM and SAP jointly-announced: “The SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud offering is now available through IBM’s highly scalable, open and secure cloud.

“SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud will expand to major markets with the addition of the IBM cloud data centres.

“This is expected to enable customers to deploy their SAP software around the globe in a faster and more secure environment that is backed by IBM’s proven cloud capabilities.”

SAP CEO Bill McDermott added: “We look forward to extending one of the longest and most successful partnerships in the IT industry.

“The demand for SAP HANA and the SAP Business Suite on SAP HANA in the cloud is tremendous and this global agreement with IBM heralds a new era of cloud collaboration.

“We anticipate customers will benefit from this collaboration and expansion of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud.”

IBM CEO and president Ginni Rometty said: “This announcement is a significant milestone in the deployment of enterprise cloud.

“It builds on our two companies’ long history of bringing innovation to business, and extends IBM’s position as the premier global cloud platform.

“Our secure, open, hybrid enterprise cloud platform will enable SAP clients to support new ways to work in an era shaped by big data, mobile and social.”

We reckon that SAP’s partnership with IBM for SAP HANA services is also likely to lead to more opportunities for IBM consulting services to deliver SAP customisation and implementation services to enterprise customers.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Will Smartphones Eventually Destroy The Tablet Market?

October 16, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Gartner is warning that tablet sales could fall to the power of the cheaper and bigger smartphones. Gartner’s Q3 and annual figures for device sales worldwide — covering smartphones and tablets as well as PCs of all sizes — shows that tablet sales in 2014 will only see 11 per cent growth over last year, compared to growth of 55 percent the year before.

This works out to a projected 229 million tablets selling in 2014, or 9.5% of overall worldwide device sales, which will total 2.4 billion devices for the year, and 2.5 billion in 2015. In short the novelty is wearing off and tablets are getting a good kicking from Android smartphones. Devices built on Google’s mobile operating system will see sales of 1.2 billion devices this year, working out to more than half of all devices sold.

Ultramobiles, the not-quite-PC and not-quite-tablet and not-quite-phone category, will remain niche but continue growing: there will be 37.6 million of these sold this year, and as befits a fast-growing but still-small category, ultramobiles will grow the fastest, doubling in sales in 2015 while the other categories continue to see only modest rises. Ultramobiles are also suffering from the same issue as tablets. People are simply not replacing them as much.

“In the tablets segment, the downward trend is coming from the slowdown of basic ultramobiles,” Gartner concludes.

The life cycle of tablets and ultramobiles is around three years and buyers this year won’t replace devices until 2018. Gartner says it projects 83 million less new tablet purchasers in 2014-2015 and 155 million less tablet replacements through 2018.

Roberta Cozza, a Gartner analyst and co-author of the report said there are too many solid devices out there and users don’t have a reason to upgrade to the new units. Cozza also confirmed Samsung is heads and shoulders above all other OEMs.

If you look at PCs, ultramobiles and phones, Samsung is still number one, with around a 20 per cent share this quarter. Samsung’s fortunes are driven by Android and its share in the PC category is “tiny.”

With Apple in second place at around 10 percent, Nokia in third just behind it and Lenovo in fourth in the overall category.

Courtesy-Fud

Alleged Dropbox User Names And Passwords Posted On Pastebin

October 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Several hundred of alleged usernames and passwords for online document-sharing site Dropbox were published on Monday on Pastebin, an anonymous information-sharing website.

The anonymous user, who claims to have hacked close to 7 million accounts, is calling for Bitcoin donations to fund the operation.

“We will keep releasing more to the public as donations come in, show your support,” the anonymous Pastebin user said on the site.

Dropbox, however, said it has not been hacked.

“These usernames and passwords were unfortunately stolen from other services and used in attempts to log in to Dropbox accounts. We’d previously detected these attacks and the vast majority of the passwords posted have been expired for some time now. All other remaining passwords have been expired as well,” a Dropbox spokesman said in an email to Reuters.

Dropbox is a Silicon Valley startup that has proved a hit with consumers and boasts more than 200 million users six years after it was started. It has undergone tremendous growth amid the meteoric rise of cloud, which is expected to continue booming alongside mobile computing.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden last week advised those concerned about their privacy to “get rid of Dropbox” and cease using Facebook and Google.

 

What Will Facebook Do With WhatsApp

October 13, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook, which closed its acquisition of mobile messaging service WhatsApp earlier this week, has said that it has no near-term plan to make money from it.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who is visiting India to participate in an event to boost Internet usage, refused to say much more, but it does indicate that the company has not worked out a cunning plan yet.

Facebook’s final WhatsApp acquisition price tag has risen an additional $3 billion to roughly $22 billion because of the increased value of Facebook’s stock in recent months. This means that Zuckerberg is under pressure to make a bob or two from the deal.

WhatsApp works across different types of phones, across borders, and without advertising. The app only charges a 99 cent annual subscription fee, which is waived for the first year.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Tesla Unveils New Vehicle With ‘Auto-pilot’ Features

October 13, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Tesla Motors Inc made its first move toward automated driving, unveiling features that will allow its electric sedan to park itself and sense dangerous situations.

The company also said it will roll out an all-wheel drive option of the Model S sedan that can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds yet doesn’t compromise the vehicle’s efficiency.

The car is like having a “personal roller coaster,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk joked after making the announcement at the packed event in Hawthorne, California.

Tesla’s announcement had been eagerly anticipated since Musk last week tweeted that it was “about time to unveil the D and something else.”

Onstage Musk said “D” stands for “dual motor,” meaning Tesla’s all-wheel drive vehicle will have a motor at either end of the chassis to increase control.

In addition, Musk said that the Model S cars that are rolling off the line today already have the hardware for what he called “autopilot.” The features include a long-range radar, image recognition so the vehicle can “see” things like stop signs and pedestrians, and a 360-degree ultrasonic sonar.

The car can park itself in a garage, turn on the air conditioning in advance of a trip and recognize obstacles on the road. He cautioned, however, that “autopilot” was not fully autonomous driving and would not allow a driver to fall asleep at the wheel.

The new features will give Tesla momentum while consumers wait for the launch of its third vehicle, the crossover SUV Model X, next year, said one industry analyst.

“Until the Model X arrives, a vehicle that will substantially amplify Tesla’s appeal and volume potential, these upgrades should keep the Model S at the forefront of advanced personal transportation,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book.

 

 

Symantec Exploring Possibility Of Splitting Business Up

October 9, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Security software maker Symantec Corp is in advanced negotiations to split its business into two entities – one that sells security programs and another that does data storage, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

An announcement may be a few weeks away, according to Bloomberg.

Symantec declined to comment on the report.

Reuters reported in April that Symantec, the biggest U.S. security software maker, was in the process of hiring banks to help advise on strategy and defend against possible activist investors.

Private equity firms were also looking at the possibility of breaking up Symantec into smaller pieces, some of which may also be attractive to industry peers, sources told Reuters at that time.

A breakup may position Symantec’s separated businesses as acquisition targets, given that large companies including EMC Corp and Hewlett-Packard Co are interested in the stand-alone security business or in an independent storage business, Bloomberg reported.

Earlier this year, the company, known for its Norton antivirus software, abruptly fired its CEO as it struggles to revive growth amid eroding PC sales.

Symantec, which also offers data storage products, has seen revenue growth turn negative in recent quarters, unlike the rest of the security software market, which is growing at least 10 percent to 15 percent annually.

The slowdown is partly due to eroding PC sales, affecting demand for its software, which often comes bundled with new computers. It has failed to gain a strong footing in the market for mobile security.

If it goes ahead with the breakup, Symantec would join technology companies that are spinning off operations in an attempt to become more agile and capitalize on faster-growing businesses.

 

Is Adobe Spying On e-Readers?

October 9, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Adobe has been accused of snooping on e-document readers and using spyware to feedback on user libraries.

The accusation comes from the Digital Reader website and Nate Hoffelder, its editor. Hoffelder said that he was tipped to the issue by a ‘hacker’ associate and has tested and confirmed its authenticity.

At the nut of the issue is Digital Editions 4, which has more features than its users expected.

“My source told me, and I can confirm, that Adobe is tracking users in the app and uploading the data to their servers,” he said.

“Adobe is gathering data on the e-books that have been opened, which pages were read, and in what order. All of this data, including the title, publisher and other metadata for the book, is being sent to Adobe’s server in clear text. I am not joking.”

Hoffelder said that the data is sent from hardware to server in plain text, and that it takes other information with it, including metadata from e-books stored on the user’s hard drive. He added that he is shocked, and has put the issue to Adobe but failed to get a response.

We have followed suit and asked Adobe for comment or explanation as to what the system is and why it is happening.

Hoffelder has uploaded documents with information from tracking software Wireshark that shows material leaving his computer and going to an Adobe IP address.

“This is a privacy and security breach so big that I am still trying to wrap my head around the technical aspects, much less the legal aspects,” he said.

“I would highly recommend that users avoid running Adobe’s apps for the near future – ever again, for that matter. Luckily for us there are alternatives.”

Courtesy-TheInq

Kaspersky Working To Thwart Tyupkin ATM Malware

October 9, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Kaspersky has revealed that it is working with Interpol in attempting to foil a gang of cash machine (ATM) hackers who have found a way to make it spit out its contents without even using a card.

The hack is incredibly carefully thought out. Hackers gain access to cash machines, through mole employees or perhaps cleaners, and add the malicious code, named Tyupkin by Kaspersky. The cash machine continues to function as normal.

The malware is triggered only at set times – Sunday and Monday nights – thus avoiding being accidentally triggered by a member of the public.

At that time, the mule is sent to the machine and types in a series of digits unique to that raid based on an algorithm known to the gang.

He then makes a second call to the gang who generate the second half of the code from their end, thus ensuring that the mule isn’t tempted to swan off with the dough.

At that point, it’s Winsday. The machine will display how much is in each cash compartment and willingly spits it out to the waiting mule who goes back to distribute the swag.

“Offenders are constantly identifying new ways to evolve their methodologies to commit crimes, and it is essential that we keep law enforcement in our member countries involved and informed about current trends and modus operandi,” said Sanjay Virmani, director of the Interpol Digital Crime Centre.

“We strongly advise banks to review the physical security of their ATMs and network infrastructure and consider investing in quality security solutions,” added Vicente Diaz, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis Team, who, coincidentally, knows a company that can offer those solutions. Fancy.

Among the recommendations Kaspersky offers is a reminder to switch away from default passwords for systems including the system BIOS for each cash machine.

In June of this year, two Canadian teenagers showed how they had broken into an in-store ATM simply by downloading the instructions from the internet and using unchanged default passwords.

Malware for ATMs first came to the fore in 2008 when two Louisiana criminals reconfigured a cash machine to make it believe that it had smaller denomination bills than it really did.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Panasonic Introduces Pin-sized Battery For Wearables

October 7, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Power-sipping wearable devices could shrink even more with a new rechargeable battery from Panasonic.

The electronics maker on Friday announced a “pin-shaped” lithium-ion battery that’s 20 millimeters (.03 inches) long with a diameter of 3.5 mm, about one-twentieth the size of AAA batteries. Panasonic said it’s the smallest in the industry in terms of capacity by volume.

The CG-320 battery has a nominal capacity of 13 mAh and voltage of 3.75 V, which allows for Bluetooth and NFC (near-field communication) links with smartphones.

Its compact form factor and low weight make it ideal for wearable devices such as smart glasses, fitness bands and hearing aids as well as electronic pens, according to Panasonic.

While compact batteries could shrink the overall size of wearables, usability and interfaces help determine how big they are.

“The size, which is the smallest of its kind in the industry, can allow more flexible product design, and high strength and stability of form delivers high reliability,” a spokeswoman for Panasonic wrote in an email.

The battery could also help reduce the size and weight of wearables, she said, adding that the Internet of Things (IoT) is another possible application.

The CG-320′s capacity is lower than that of a wearable battery such as the Jawbone UP24 activity monitor’s 32 mAh lithium-ion polymer battery, but the latter is larger.

Panasonic is developing two more pin-shaped batteries with capacities of 30 mAh and 50 mAh. They’re slightly larger and heavier than the CG-320.

Battery size and power are a key aspect of wearable devices that has been putting a damper on wider-scale development and popularization. The Apple Watch, for instance, will likely require a daily recharge. That can be seen as a big hassle for a device that’s relatively small.

A number of attempts to innovate on materials and control systems for wearable batteries are being pursued.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has tested a prototype battery based on the lithium carbon fluoride (CFx) chemical formula that could go for 10 years or more without a recharge.

Jawbone, meanwhile, doubled the battery charge of the UP24 to two weeks through a firmware update with enhanced algorithms.

Panasonic’s battery is similar to conventional cylindrical lithium-ion batteries. It has negative and positive electrode sheets wrapped around each other inside a small stainless steel tube.

The company plans to mass-produce the battery, with monthly production of 100,000 units and shipping to begin in February.

 

 

 

Verizon’s Redbox Instant Streaming Video Service Shutting Down

October 7, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Redbox Instant, a streaming video service partnership between Verizon Communications Inc and Outerwall Inc’s Redbox, will cease to exist this week because the venture has not been as successful as hoped, the two companies jointly announced.

The service, which combined the Redbox DVD rental kiosk business with a streaming video offering from Verizon, was launched in 2013 to compete against online video company Netflix Inc  but never caught on with consumers.

Redbox Instant will shut down on Oct. 7th, the companies said in a joint statement.

“The joint venture partners made this decision after careful consideration,” the statement said. “The service had not been as successful as either partner hoped it would be.”

Subscribers will receive an email notifying them of the termination of the service. A separate email will be sent on Oct. 10 with details on refunds, the statement said.

The alliance marked Verizon’s first foray into video streaming outside its network operating region, but it never gained a foothold against online rivals such as Netflix, Amazon.com Inc and Hulu Plus.

The telephone company had only offered Web video services to subscribers using its FiOS TV service, which competes with cable providers such as Comcast Corp  and Time Warner Cable.