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Are Wooden Semiconductors On The Horizon?

May 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

U.S. and Chinese researchers have come up with wooden semiconductor chips which have the advantage of being biodegradable and a lot cheaper than conventional semiconductors.

According to the group of 17 researchers, mostly from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with others from the U.S. Department of Agriculture the team used a cellulose material for the substrate of the chip, which is the part that supports the active semiconductor layer.

For those who don’t know these things cellulose, a naturally abundant substance used to make paper and is flexible, transparent and sturdy material with suitable electrical properties.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Communications the team says that this makes CNF better than alternative chip designs using natural materials such as paper and silk.

The researchers coated the CNF with epoxy to make its surface smooth and to prevent it from expanding as it heated. They also developed methods to fabricate gallium arsenide-based microwave devices, which are widely used in mobile devices such as phones and tablets, on the CNF substrate.

The CNF chip features “high-performance electronics that are comparable to existing state-of-the-art electronics,” they wrote.

The team said that commercializing the wooden chips reduced the use of semiconductor material by 99.9 percent.”

Courtesy-Fud

Asus To Offer The Zenfone 2 For $199

May 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Asus isn’t exactly known for smartphones in the U.S., but the company is trying to make a strong statement with the Zenfone 2, which packs more storage than similarly priced competitors.

The Zenfone 2, which has a 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, starts at $199. It will began shipping on Tuesday with Google’s Android 5.0 mobile operating system.

A model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage goes for $299, while the $199 model has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The smartphone is shipping as an unlocked device, meaning it will work with multiple carriers.

It has an Intel 64-bit Atom Z3580 processor code-named Moorefield and a PowerVR G6430 graphics processor, which is capable of handling 1080p video rendering.

The Zenfone 2 has a 5-megapixel front camera and a 13-megapixel rear camera, as well as two SIM slots.

Asus wants to make a mark in the U.S, and with this smartphone it hopes to find an audience, said Jonney Shih, chairman of Asus, during a press event in New York.

The ZenFone 2 is already shipping in 15 countries worldwide. For the U.S. market, Asus has tweaked the smartphone with some new features including a better LTE modem.

Other features include 802.11ac wireless and LTE-Advanced capabilities. The device supports carrier aggregation, and LTE data transfers can touch up to 250M bps (bits per second).

This is also a big product release for Intel. The Zenfone is the second smartphone in the U.S. that uses one of its chips. It’s also Intel’s first smartphone in the U.S. with the XMM 7260 LTE modem. An Intel chip is already being used on Asus’s Padfone X Mini, which is primarily a 4.5-inch smartphone that turns into a 7-inch tablet with an accessory.

 

 

 

AT&T To Offer Exclusive Content For Connected Cars

May 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

AT&T Inc is preparing to bring connected car users exclusive content such as videos and games that can be streamed onto personal mobile devices later this year, AT&T’s senior vice president of emerging devices Chris Penrose said.

“It’s no different than being able to hook onto a Wi-Fi hotspot anywhere and get access to content you already subscribe to and get unique content that you could only get in the back of the vehicle,” Penrose said.

AT&T has signed up eight automaker partners, including General Motors Co, Audi AG and Ford Motor Co, to hook up cars with Internet access. The goal is to offer free or paid content exclusively for connected car users and sell more data, Penrose said in a recent interview.

AT&T is talking to its auto industry partners and content companies to bring new content like “special” shows or gaming levels on phones and tablets in connected cars, Penrose said. This would be in addition to subscription services such as Hulu and Netflix that users can already stream on mobile devices.

Most Americans already own a mobile phone, and the $1.7 trillion U.S. wireless industry is turning to connected cars and devices for growth. Besides being the essential pipes that deliver data, telecom players such as AT&T are looking to extract revenue from content.

GM has begun testing new content on its OnStar in-vehicle service best known for connecting drivers to live operators for directions or emergency help.

The subscription-based service, which also sells data to drivers, has special offers and some exclusive content on apps such as Famigo, an educational app for kids, and TumblebooksTV, a children’s digital books app. It also has retail partnerships with Dunkin’ Donuts and travel booking site Priceline.com for location-based deals.

AT&T is exploring business models that include revenue share for data, content and advertising with automakers, content and retail partners, Penrose said without sharing specific details.

AT&T is working with automakers to design a landing page or a portal for users to log in to access content, get vehicle service updates and buy data, he said.

 

 

Qualcomm Strengthens IoT Lineup

May 19, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm is wedging its foot more firmly in the Internet of Things (IoT) door by announcing a range of moves to secure its position in the market.

The first announcement sees the firm expanding its Internet of Everything (IoE) platform with the addition of six new ecosystem providers: Ayla Networks, Exosite, Kii, Proximetry, Temboo and Xively by LogMeIn.

“This will further simplify the development of devices that use WiFi to connect to the IoE by increasing cloud service flexibility and making these solutions available in a broader global reach,” Qualcomm said.

Qualcomm has also introduced two connectivity solutions, the QCA401x and QCA4531, which bring WiFi capabilities to connect products across development platforms and “give customers an expedited and cost-effective path to deployment”.

The QCA401x is designed to ease manufacturer demand for increased computing and memory while lowering size, cost and power consumption, Qualcomm said.

It features a fully integrated micro controller unit with up to 800KB of on-chip memory and an expanded set of interfaces to directly interconnect with sensors, display and actuators, further reducing system cost, size and complexity.

The QCA401x also includes a suite of communication protocols including Wi-Fi, IPv6, and HTTP, as well as an advanced security feature designed to maximise security in IoT devices.

The QCA4531 is a low-cost turnkey solution that brings high-performance connectivity with a user-programmable Linux/OpenWRT environment.

It is designed to serve as an IoT node taking advantage of the Linux framework and as a hub to enable an IoT Ecosystem.

“As the [IoT] ecosystem expands, the QCA4531 is ideal for multi-protocol bridging and communication, bringing together multiple wireless medium and bridging between different ecosystems,” said Qualcomm.

The QCA4531 can function as an Access Point supporting up to 16 simultaneous devices, and is also power-optimised to enable appliances to meet international standards for energy efficiency.

The firm also banged on about the development of its subsidiaries Qualcomm Technologies, Qualcomm Atheros, Qualcomm Life, and Qualcomm Connected Experiences, and their progress across its range of IoT technologies.

Broadly, this includes an increased focus on providing better connectivity in the smart home with the AllSeen Alliance, as well as the development of more wearables in more countries, deploying more connected cars, more active engagements in smart city developments and partnering with more customers for connected healthcare.

“Driven by the significant growth and diversity of interconnected devices, Qualcomm companies are delivering the solutions and collaborating with technology leaders to empower manufacturers to create the best connected experiences in homes, businesses, cars and cities,” the firm said.

Qualcomm also announced additional features in its AllPlay smart media platform, including Bluetooth to WiFi re-streaming, custom audio settings and optimised synchronisation. The new AllPlay feature combines Bluetooth and WiFi for “whole home streaming”.

This means that all local or cloud-based music on a consumer’s smartphone can be streamed to any Bluetooth-compatible AllPlay speaker and then re-streamed over WiFi to multiple AllPlay speakers, all in sync.

This allows simple wireless connectivity to individual speakers or an entire home audio system over the user’s existing home WiFi network, providing an advantage over Bluetooth-only speakers which are limited to one-to-one streaming.

“The range and capacity of WiFi, coupled with the ubiquity of Bluetooth, is a game-changing combination for manufacturers and consumers alike,” said Sy Choudhury, senior director of product management at Qualcomm.

“AllPlay device manufacturers like Hitachi and Monster can now offer their customers more connectivity options and access to myriad streaming services throughout their home with this new capability.”

Qualcomm announced last month that it has teamed up with Dutch semiconductor maker NXP to bolster its near field communication offering, expanding the technology outside the smartphone and into IoT devices.

NXP’s embedded secure element will be integrated across Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800, 600, 400 and 200 processor-based platforms.

The new offering features a module variant derived from the recently launched NXP PN66T NQ220 module, now named the NQ220.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Talks More About Skylake

May 8, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

A new Intel roadmap suggests the first Broadwell LGA parts will launch in Q2, while Skylake-S parts will come in Q3.

The roadmap was published by PC Online and points to two Broadwell LGA launches this quarter – the Core i7-5775C and Core i5-5675C. These two parts will be joined by a total of four Skylake-S products in Q3, the Core i7-6700K, Core i7-6700, Core i5-6600K, Core i5-6600 and the Core i5-6500.

Both Skylake-S and Broadwell LGA will replace the current crop of Haswell parts, including Devil’s Canyon products. However, Broadwell LGA sits one tier above Skylake-S and Haswell-based products.

Starting in Q4, we should see more Broadwell LGA parts, but we don’t have any names yet. In the first quarter of 2016, we can also expect new Skylake-S parts.

Speaking of 2016, Intel plans to unleash the Broadwell-E in the first quarter of 2016. Little is known about Broadwell-E, but the new 14nm flagship is expected to sport eight cores. Clocks remain unknown, although the 14nm node promises substantial gains.

Courtesy-Fud

Are Smartwatches Causing Accidents?

May 7, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple’s latest nice looking over priced junkware is getting it into a spot of legal bother.

A lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court against Apple (but also Samsung, Google, and Microsoft) demands that the companies bankroll a billion dollar programme to educate drivers about the dangers of using smartwatches while driving.

The Coalition Against Distracted Driving(CADD)’a Stephen Joseph filed the complaint on April 18.

Joseph is “acting in this case in the public interest” while recognizing “potential injury to himself caused by the possibility of being hit by a driver who cannot see the road because he or she is using a smartphone or smartwatch,” the suit states.

Driving while using smartphones is dangerous and smartwatches can be more dangerous, reports the lawsuit.

Looking at notifications from smartwatches “creates a far greater distraction than smartphones” because it is more difficult to ignore notifications, given that the device is strapped to one’s wrist, the suit states. The temptation to view the notifications is “irresistible” and while looking at smartwatch “the road becomes invisible to the driver.”

The $1 billion cost of a national education program, “is a tiny fraction of profits that defendants receive from the sale of smartphones and smartwatches,” the suit states.

The suit argues that smartwatches with smartphones are nuisance while driving and the companies fail to issue warnings. A new ruling found that nuisance cases could be brought “to make such criminal activity … less likely through the imposition of operating conditions.”

Courtesy-Fud

Can Intel Turn Your Modem Into A Server?

May 6, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel has come up with technologies which it believes will give broadband a kick up the back-end.

According the Register cunning plan is to put more of its chips into modems and routers that homes and smallish businesses use to connect to the web.

Currently the gear is run by cheap and stupid technology. Embedded Linux is about the best you can expect and that cannot be customised even if you could get to it.

Intel thinks that building x86s into CPE devices will make them more interesting. It already uses Atom cores into its PUMA range of DOCSIS 3.0 cable modems, but apparently stage two involves putting it into DOCSIS 3.1 kit. This will mean that it can deliver gigabit cable Internet performance. Recently Chipzilla bought Lantiq, which makes DSL modem system-on-chips. Lantiq got some G.fast technology which is tipped to be the gigabit-speed successor to VDSL.

If Intel installs x86 cores into PUMA kit and Lantiq gear and tarts it up with a bit of visualization the home router becomes a server and the ISP can push services directly into the home. Firewalls could be run by the ISP along with some of the security defenses.

If Intel gets OpenStack running at carrier scale then chips on modems become an important part of its Internet of Stuff policy.

Courtesy-Fud

Sumsung Finally Updates Tizen

May 5, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Samsung has been updating its operating system which sounds like a sneeze – Tizen.

Samsung users of the Z1 mostly in India and Bangladesh have noticed a new update provided this week marks the beginning of a new chapter for Tizen.
The over-the-air (OTA) update was 16.1MB and normally would not have been a big deal but it seems to bring Samsung’s Tizen-powered smartphone to Z130HDDU0BOD8.

OK the update does not do much, but it does prove that keeping Tizen running fast and smooth is at the forefront of Samsung’s plans.

Samsung bought the update having rolled out the Tizen store globally, with 182 new countries added to the list of Tizen store-accessible locations (Netherlands, UK, US, France, Russia, Australia, Malaysia, Serbia, Croatia, Thailand, Philippines, South Africa, UAE, and others).

Global Z1 users can access the Tizen store and free apps, they cannot access paid apps at the moment.

The expectation is that Samsung prepping its Tizen store for a global rollout, and will start to roll out Tizen-powered devices worldwide in the months to come.

This brave new world might arrive with a Z2 or perhaps some more Tizen based smartphones.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Verizon Investing In ‘Smart Cities’ Services

May 4, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Verizon’s Enterprise Solutions unit has announced a bigger push into smart cities and smart agricultural support services that rely on wireless networks and Internet of Things technologies.

The new initiatives include alliances with the Smart Cities Council and the Thrive Accelerator mentorship program to promote smart farming. Verizon is also a partner in an AgTech Summit coming in July with Forbes.

Dan Feldman, Verizon’s director of IoT Smart Cities, said city leaders in the U.S. are interested in investing in smart streetlights, car sharing and smart parking to find greater efficiencies. Verizon last year created an Auto Share service to connect drivers to vehicles via Verizon’s 4G LTE network.

Verizon has been active in a number of connected services in cities for years. In Charlotte, N.C., Verizon joined with Duke Energy to connect buildings in the commercial district with kiosks that help the community track energy consumption. People can also connect via social media alerts. Over two years, Charlotte has been able to reduce power consumption by 8.4%, at a savings of $10 million, Verizon said.

Smart cities and farms are more than buzz words. Cities are increasingly willing to invest in new IoT technology and wireless carriers and network providers have been actively involved. In Kansas City, Mo., last week, the City Council voted to authorize a contract with Cisco and its partners that envisions video sensors, free public Wi-Fi, 25 interactive kiosks, and smart lighting along a 2.2 mile-streetcar line that’s under construction in the downtown area.

 

 

Core i7 6700K Is The Top Of The Line For Skylake-S

April 30, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It looks like there will be plenty of Skylake products and Skylake-S will be the true successor of Haswell / Haswell refresh processors.

There will be some Broadwell-based desktop processors, but the real successor of Intel’s Core i7 4790K is going to end up with the Core i7 6700K brand name. The Core i7 6700K is clocked at 4.0GHz and with Turbo Boost it can reach 4.2GHz. It has 8MB cache, four cores and eight threads. The interesting part is support for DDR4 2133MHz or DDR3L 1600M. This should bring more bandwidth to the platform.

The runner up is another K unlocked CPU. Just like Core i7 6700K, the Core i5 6600K uses Socket 1151, and has a 95W TDP. It works at 3.5GHz and with Turbo it can reach 3.9GHz. The chip has 6MB cache and four cores and four thread support.

Another Core i7 6700 works at 3.4 GHz and can reach 4.0GHz with Turbo, but it is not an unlocked part. The reach catch is that this CPU is a 65W design and has the whole four physical cores and eight threads. Runner ups in the 65W thermal envelope are the slower clocked Core i5 6600, 6500 and 6400, all with 6MB , four cores four threads. They all have four cores and four threads and 6MB cache.

Another group of Skylake processors is limited to 35W TDP and the fastest member of this particular series, the Core i7 6700T, has four cores and eight treads, again with 8MB cache. It works at 2.8GHz, but with Turbo it can reach 3.6GHz.

Intel also plans Core i5 6600T at 2.7 / 3.5 Turbo, Core i5 6500T with 2.7/ 3.5GHz Turbo, Core i6400T with 2.2GHz and 2.8GHz Turbo. All 35W Core i5 Skylake-S processors share the four-core and four-thread architecture as well as 6MB cache, DDR4 2133 MHz or DDR3L 1600MHz bus.

As we have mentioned a while ago, they will all come with a new graphics core and they will come close to Broadwell-R processors powered with the Iris pro graphics.

Courtesy-Fud

Project Fi Will Allow Google To Amass More User Data

April 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

As Google jumps into the Wi-Fi and cellular network services business, some are wondering what’s behind it.

Google, known for its dominant search engine and Android operating system, has been stretching boundaries with newer projects like autonomous cars and robotics. Now it’s competing with the likes of wireless carriers like Verizon and AT&T in the data and cellular market.

While the latest Google move may look confusing, Project Fi is feeding Google’s long-term strategy — getting more data about its users that it can turn into ad sales and greater revenue.

“I’m not sure they’re trying to become a big-time wireless player,” said Brian Haven, an analyst with IDC. “But by becoming a wireless service, it allows Google to gain a lot more data from new end points with users. Data is what drives them. Regardless of whether or not they can generate a nice revenue stream, the data will still feed into the other things they do.”

Google just last week announced that it’s working with Sprint and T-Mobile to come out with its own wireless network, dubbed Project Fi.

The company is asking would-be customers to sign up online for an invite to what it calls an Early Access Program for the service; Fi will only be available to Nexus 6 smartphone users at the start.

The company, which makes most of its money on search and related advertising, is known for trying out various ideas and technologies. Not all of them work out, but Google doesn’t seem afraid to try.

“Google’s strategic imperative is always to drive usage of Google services and applications,” said Bill Menezes, an analyst with Gartner. “Their core business is never going to be cellular service provider. Their core mission is to get more people to click on Google ads, to use Google Docs, to watch YouTube videos. This new service plays in perfectly with that.”

Menezes agrees with Haven that Project FI will enable Google to gain insights into consumer behaviors — and amass more user data.

 

 

 

 

Google Glass Gets Makeover By Luxottica

April 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Luxottica, the Italian eyewear designer that owns Ray-Ban and Oakley, is working with Google to create a new version of Glass, according it its CEO.

The disclosure is a further indication that Google Glass, which is still being sold to business, will be revived at some point as a product for consumers.

Luxottica is working with Google on a second version of Glass, and the online giant is also rethinking how a future model might look, Massimo Vian, one of Luxottica’s two CEOs, told shareholders in Milan.

“In Google, there are some second thoughts on how to interpret version 3 [of the eyewear]. What you saw was version 1. We’re now working on version 2, which is in preparation,” Vian said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

He didn’t give details about the product or say when it might be introduced.

Launched in 2013, Glass became popular among technology enthusiasts, but its $1,500 price tag held back wider adoption. Many also felt awkward about wearing a computer on their face in public, and the device’s ability to record video surreptitiously sparked privacy questions.

Google, though, believes the headset has potential for consumers but that it needs to be reworked. In the meantime, it’s still selling the device to businesses, which have found uses for it in the workplace.

In 2014, Google enlisted Luxottica to help make Glass more stylish.

Vian traveled to California recently to meet with the new Glass team, the Journal said. The group working on Glass was revamped after Google ended consumer sales of the device in January. The personnel changes included giving Tony Fadell, head of Google’s Nest connected home division, oversight of Glass’ development. His role would be to get Glass “ready for users,” Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said in March.

Luxottica, which is one of the world’s largest eyewear manufacturers, is also working with Intel on a device that will come out next February or March, the Journal said.

 

 

Google’s Loon Close To Launching

April 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google says its Project Loon is nearing the capability to produce and launch thousands of balloons to provide Internet access from the sky.

Such a number would be required to provide reliable Internet access to users in remote areas that are currently unserved by terrestrial networks, said Mike Cassidy, the Google engineer in charge of the project, in a video post.

The ambitious project has been under way for a couple of years and involves beaming down LTE cellular signals to handsets on the ground from balloons thousands of feet in the air, well above the altitude that passenger jets fly.

“At first it would take us 3 or 4 days to tape together a balloon,” Cassidy says in the video. “Today, through our own manufacturing facility, the automated systems can get a balloon produced in just a few hours. We’re getting close to the point where we can roll out thousands of balloons.”

Trials are currently underway with Telstra in Australia, Telefonica in Latin America and with Vodafone in New Zealand, where the video appears to have been largely shot. Maps tracking the path of balloons over the country are seen at several points in the video.

At a European conference in March, a Google executive said the balloons were staying aloft for up to 6 months at a time.

At some point they do come down, and Cassidy says the company has developed a system to predict where they will land and to retrieve them.

It has also worked on a reliable launching system.

Google hasn’t provided any details about what a commercial roll-out of the technology might look like.

 

 

 

Intel Gives More Detail On Knights Landing

April 15, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel has been publishing more information about its Knight’s Landing Xeon Phi (co)processors.

Intel has given WCCF Tech an Intel produced PDF which was released to provide supplementary info for the 2015 Intel Developer Forum (IDF).

The document outlines some spectacularly beefy processors Intel is going to produce as part of its professional Xeon Phi range.

The document, which is short on car chases and scantily clad women tells the story of a 72 Silvermont core Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor.

The coprocessor supports 6 channels of DDR4 2400 up to 384GB and can have up to 16GB of HBM on board. It supports 36 PCIe Gen 3 lanes. Intel’s testing put the Knights Landing processors and coprocessors are up to three times faster in single threaded performance and up to three times more power efficient.

Knights Landing chips are supposed to be the future of Intel’s enterprise architecture for high performance parallel computing. Much of its success will depend properly written software.

Intel thinks that its Xeon Phi coprocessors can compete against the GPU-based parallel processing solutions from the likes of Nvidia and AMD.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Unveils Updated Atom X3 For IoT

April 13, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel has unveiled a new version of the Atom x3 processor designed with the Internet of Things (IoT) in mind.

Intel unveiled the Atom x3 chip ahead of this year’s Mobile World Congress, and revealed a version of the processor designed specifically for IoT devices at its Developer Forum event in Shenzen, China this week alongside a smartphone version that will start shipping later this year.

The Atom x3 IoT processor comes with 3G and LTE connectivity, and an extended temperature range for extreme weather conditions making it suitable for devices such as outdoor weather sensors.

Intel’s Atom x3 IoT chip will be made available to developers in the second half of the year, suggesting that devices are not likely to arrive until 2016, and will arrive with support for Android and Linux.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said: “Intel remains focused on delivering leadership products and technologies in traditional areas of computing, while also investing in new areas and entrepreneurs – students, makers and developers – to find and fuel future generations of innovation with China.”

That isn’t all Intel has planned for IoT, as the firm recently announced plans to bring payment services to connected devices.

The firm has partnered with Ingenico to include mobile payment capabilities in a wide array of connected devices for the IoT, including intelligent vending machines, kiosks and digital signs.

Intel is clearly going big on the IoT, but a roundtable The INQUIRER held with the firm last year highlighted the complications that businesses could face when entering the market.

Martin King, head of IT services at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College, said that, first of all, the perception that the IoT is all ‘hype’ needs to be overcome.

“I imagine that, while it could be hype, it’s up to the industry to make it happen,” he said.

“There’s a massive market opportunity there, and I believe the industry will be keen to make it happen and we probably won’t really notice it until it’s actually happening.”

Dr Will Venters, an assistant professor in information systems at the London School of Economics, argued that security concerns will be the IoT’s biggest problem.

“The security argument is always put forward, but there’s a value argument that goes alongside that: maybe you want data in your sensors, but you don’t want the risk of the data on the sensor.”

Courtesy-TheInq