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Driverless Taxis Debut On Singpaore Streets

August 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

nutonomy-driverless-taxis-150x150The world’s first driverless taxi debuted Thursday in a limited public trial on the streets of Singapore.

Developer nuTonomy invited a select group of people to download their app and ride for free in its “robo-taxi” in a western Singapore hi-tech business district, hoping to get feedback ahead of a planned dull launch of the service in 2018.

“This is really a moment in history that’s going to change how cities are built, how we really look at our surroundings,” nuTonomy executive Doug Parker told Reuters.

The trial rides took place in a Mitsubishi i-MiEv electric vehicle, with an engineer sitting behind the steering wheel to monitor the system and take control if necessary.

The trial is on an on-going basis, nuTonomy said, and follows private testing that began in April.

Parker, whose company has partnered with the Singapore government on the project, said he hoped to have 100 taxis working commercially in the Southeast Asian citystate by 2018.

Nutonomy is one of several companies racing to launch self-driving vehicles, with automakers and technology firms striking new alliances.

Swedish automaker Volvo AB said last week it had agreed to a $300 million alliance with ride-hailing service to develop a driverless vehicle.

Israeli driving assistant software maker Mobileye NV said its vehicle, developed with Delphi Automotive Plc, would be ready for production by 2019, while Ford Motor Co said its self-driving car was slated for 2021.

 

Drones Take On Pizza Delivery

August 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Drone-pizza-delivery-150x150A New Zealand pizza chain wants to be the world’s first company to offer a commercial drone delivery service, a milestone in the quest to save time and money with an air-borne supply chain dispensing with people.

Some of the world’s biggest companies including Amazon.com Inc and Google, or Alphabet Inc as it is known, have plans to make deliveries by drone and aviation authorities in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand have been relaxing rules to allow air deliveries.

Last month, U.S. convenience store chain 7-Eleven Inc conducted the first single commercial drone delivery – coffee, donuts and a chicken sandwich – as part of a trial.

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd conducted a demonstration pizza delivery by drone in the New Zealand city of Auckland on Thursday, and afterwards said it aimed to be the first company to launch a regular drone service, late this year.

“We’ve always said that it doesn’t make sense to have a 2-tonne machine delivering a 2-kilogram order,” Domino’s Chief Executive Officer Don Meij said in a statement.

With clear skies and small population of 4.4 million, New Zealand last year became one of the world’s first countries to clear commercial drone deliveries.

“Our enabling laws and regulation means we have the ideal environment,” New Zealand Transport Minister Simon Bridges said after the Domino’s test flight.

But Philip Solaris, director of another drone company, X-craft Enterprises, said that while New Zealand has accommodating regulations on drones, Domino’s would be held back by a rule requiring drones to be kept in sight at all times.

“I can’t truly see how commercially viable that idea is because you would have to literally have somebody walking along to keep it in the line of sight, watching it at all times,” Solaris said.

Domino’s service would still need to overcome “random hazards (like) power lines, moving vehicles, children in the backyard playing”, he said.

The Domino’s and 7-Eleven deliveries both used drones provided by U.S.-headquarted Australian drone company Flirtey.

 

nVidia NVLINK 2.0 Going In IBM Servers

August 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-nLinkOn Monday, PCWorld reported that the first servers expected to use Nvidia’s second-generation NVLINK 2.0 technology will be arriving sometime next year using IBM’s upcoming Power9 chip family.

IBM launched its Power8 lineup of superscalar symmetric multiprocessors back in August 2013 at the Hot Chips conference, and the first systems became available in August 2014. The announcement was significant because it signaled the beginning of a continuing partnership between IBM and Nvidia to develop GPU-accelerated IBM server systems, beginning with the Tesla K40 GPU.

The result was an HPC “tag-team” where IBM’s Power8 architecture, a 12-core chip with 96MB of embedded memory, would eventually go on to power Nvidia’s next-generation Pascal architecture which debuted in April 2016 at the company’s GPU Technology Conference.

NVLINK, first announced in March 2014, uses a proprietary High-Speed Signaling interconnect (NVHS) developed by Nvidia. The company says NVHS transmits data over a differential pair running at up to 20Gbps, so eight of these differential 20Gbps connections will form a 160Gbps “Sub-Link” that sends data in one direction. Two sub-links—one for each direction—will form a 320Gbps, or 40GB/s bi-directional “Link” that connects processors together in a mesh framework (GPU-to-GPU or GPU-to-CPU).

NVLINK lanes upgrade from 20Gbps to 25Gbps

IBM is projecting its Power9 servers to be available beginning in the middle of 2017, with PCWorld reporting that the new processor lineup will include support for NVLINK 2.0 technology. Each NVLINK lane will communicate at 25Gbps, up from 20Gbps in the first iteration. With eight differential lanes, this translates to a 400Gbps (50GB/s) bi-directional link between CPUs and GPUs, or about 25 percent more performance if the information is correct.

NVLINK 2.0 capable servers arriving next year

Meanwhile, Nvidia has yet to release any NVLINK 2.0-capable GPUs, but a company presentation slide in Korean language suggests that the technology will first appear in Volta GPUs which are also scheduled for release sometime next year. We were originally under the impression that the new GPU architecture would release in 2018, as per Nvidia’s roadmap. But a source hinted last month that Volta would be getting 16nm FinFET treatment and may show up in roughly the same timeframe as AMD’s HBM 2.0-powered Vega sometime in 2017. After all, it is easier for Nvidia to launch sooner if the new architecture is built on the same node as the Pascal lineup.

Still ahead of PCI-Express 4.0

Nvidia claims that PCI-Express 3.0 (32GB/s with x16 bandwidth) significantly limits a GPU’s ability to access a CPU’s memory system and is about “four to five times slower” than its proprietary standard. Even PCI-Express 4.0, releasing later in 2017, is limited to 64GB/s on a slot with x16 bandwidth.

To put this in perspective, Nvidia’s Tesla P100 Accelerator uses four 40GB/s NVLINK ports to connect clusters of GPUs and CPUs, for a total of 160GB/s of bandwidth.

With a generational NVLINK upgrade from 40GB/s to 50GB/s bi-directional links, the company could release a future Volta-based GPU with four 50GB/s NVLINK ports totaling of 200GB/s of bandwidth, well above and beyond the specifications of the new PCI-Express standard.

Courtesy-Fud

Are Notebooks Moving To On-Board Memory?

August 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Notebook vendors have largely moved to on-board memory designs and are killing off DIMMs so that they can make their Intel Apollo Lake-based notebooks as slim as possible.

According to Digitimes shipments of Intel’s 14nm Apollo Lake CPUs, which feature low-power consumption, high performance and reduced sizes is apparently on the increase and with that a move to on board memory designs. The reason is that the manufactures think an anorexic look is super fashionable.

Numbers of new notebooks using LPDDR4 has also increased as vendors have continued to make efforts to minimize power consumption, improve performance, while prolonging battery life.

Acer has two new ultra-thin notebooks, the Aspire S 15 and S 17, both featuring a thickness of less than 17mm. Other vendors, including Lenovo, Asustek Computer, HP and Dell are also expected to focus on ultra-thin notebooks and 2-in-1 models for the second half of 2016, Digitimes said.

Courtesy-Fud

MIT Researchers Develop Technique To Triple Wireless Speeds

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

MIT-logo-150x150MIT researchers have uncovered a way to transfer wireless data using a smartphone at a speed about three times faster and twice as far as existing technology.

The researchers developed a technique to coordinate multiple wireless transmitters by synchronizing their wave phases, according to a statement from MIT on Tuesday. Multiple independent transmitters will be able to send data over the same wireless channel to multiple independent receivers without interfering with each other.

Since wireless spectrum is scarce, and network congestion is only expected to grow, the technology could have important implications.

The researchers called the approach MegaMIMO 2.0 (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) .

For their experiments, the researchers set up four laptops in a conference room setting, allowing signals to roam over 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi. The speed and distance improvement is expected to also apply to cellular networks. A video describes the technology as well as a technical paper (registration required), which was presented this week to the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Data Communications (SIGCOMM 16).

The researchers, from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, are: Ezzeldin Hamed, Hariharan Rahul, Mohammed Abdelghany and Dina Katabi.

 

Judge Sides With Fitbit In Infringement Lawsuit By Jawbone

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Fitbit-logo-150x150Fitbit Inc was cleared of stealing rival Jawbone’s trade secrets, a U.S. International Trade Commission judge ruled on Tuesday, ending Jawbone’s hopes of securing an import ban against Fitbit’s wearable fitness tracking devices.

The judge, Dee Lord, said that there had been no violation of the Tariff Act, which gives the commission the power to block products that infringe U.S. intellectual property, because “no party has been shown to have misappropriated any trade secret.”

The ruling means Jawbone comes away with nothing from a complaint it filed with the trade agency in July 2015, accusing Fitbit of infringing six patents and poaching employees who took with them confidential data about Jawbone’s business, such as plans, supply chains and technical details.

Two of the patents were withdrawn, however, and four others were invalidated by the judge, before a May trial that was limited to the trade secrets claims.

Fitbit Chief Executive Officer James Park said in a statement on Tuesday that Jawbone’s allegations were without merit and an attempt “to disrupt Fitbit’s momentum to compensate for their own lack of success in the market.”

A representative for Jawbone could not immediately be reached for comment.

Fitbit is biggest maker of wrist-based and clippable fitness devices, which track users’ steps, calories burned, heartrates and other parameters. It sold 5.7 million devices in the second quarter, beating revenue estimates.

Jawbone makes a range of activity trackers under the UP brand but has been losing market share. It is no longer among the top five wearables vendors, according to market research firm International Data Corp.

Tuesday’s ruling comes on the heels of a victory for Jawbone in a separate trade case filed against the company by Fitbit. On July 19, another commission judge found all three Fitbit patents in that case were invalid. Fitbit has asked the full trade commission to review the ruling.

Jawbone first sued Fitbit last year over trade secret violations in California state court, where the case is still pending. The companies, both based in San Francisco, are also litigating over patents in federal court.

 

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 Sales Exceed Supply Chain’s Expectations

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Galaxy-Note-7-150x150Better-than-expected demand for Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s new Galaxy Note 7 is creating supply problems worldwide, the South Korean tech giant said, suggesting strong initial sales for the new premium smartphone.

While robust demand could help deliver another solid quarter of earnings, Samsung also risks missing out on potential sales if it cannot boost supply quickly. Rivals such as Apple Inc are poised to launch new phones which could pull customers away from Samsung if a shortage persists.

“As pre-order results for the Galaxy Note 7 have far exceeded our estimates, its release date in some markets has been adjusted,” Samsung told Reuters in a statement without commenting on where launch delays could occur.

Production problems for the curved displays for the Galaxy S6 edge phone resulted in disappointing sales last year, and some investors fear a repeat if the world’s top smartphone maker does not move quickly to meet Note 7 demand.

Samsung said it was trying to boost production at the secret locations where the Notes are made, and aimed to meet demand “as early as possible”. It gave no further details.

A person familiar with the matter told Reuters there was no production issue for the curved screens used on the Galaxy Note 7 and that the shortage would not be a long-term problem.

“The party got more visitors than Samsung expected, so they just need to put more food out,” said Nomura analyst C.W. Chung, who said the supply situation was not a major risk given that Samsung made key parts such as displays and chips in-house.

Samsung could sell as many as 15 million Galaxy Note 7 phones this year, Chung said, compared with an estimated 9 million Galaxy Note 5 phones sold last year.

The phone went on sale on Aug. 19 in countries including the United States and South Korea, where it retails for 988,900 won ($882).

 

Microsoft Makes A Deal With Lenovo

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Software King of the World Microsoft has apparently been seen in public with the PC supremo Lenovo and insiders have been told that they want something more serious.

The pair have announced that they are deepening strategic ties but have not hinted about financial details. Instead Lenovo will load Microsoft’s productivity apps, including Microsoft Office, OneDrive and Skype on select Lenovo devices that use the Android operating system.

Microsoft did not say how much gear would be involved in the deal. Lenovo expects to ship millions of these Android-based devices worldwide over the next several years.

The deal is the latest in a string of similar deals by Microsoft with more than 70 Android device makers, including Samsung, HTC, Asus, Acer and Xiaomi.

The expanded collaboration between Microsoft and Lenovo also includes a patent cross-licensing agreement that covers Lenovo and Motorola devices.

Since Microsoft launched its IP licensing program in December 2003, it has entered into more than 1,200 licensing agreements.

Nick Parker, corporate vice-president OEM division, Microsoft said that Vole was thrilled that its productivity apps will be pre-installed on Lenovo’s premium devices and was talking about marrage.

“The marriage of Microsoft’s apps and Lenovo’s Android-based devices will enable customers worldwide to be more productive and connected and achieve even more,” he said.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Releases 64-bit Versions Of Office 2016 Applications For Mac

August 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Office-on-Mac-150x150Microsoft has released 64-bit versions of its Office 2016 applications for the Mac, after a series of previews since April.

The five apps — Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word — will be updated to 64-bit for all customers, including those with an Office 2016 retail license, a consumer or commercial subscription to Office 365, and a volume license. Most users will be updated automatically as the suite launches an update app on its regular schedule.

Microsoft has been testing the 64-bit versions with Office Insider participants since April.

Apple has long urged developers to release 64-bit versions of applications — the Mac’s operating system has supported only 64-bit Intel processors since 2011’s OS X Lion — but Microsoft has been one of the most significant holdouts.

For users, the biggest benefit is the ability to work with much larger files — thanks to the significantly bigger swaths of memory that a 64-bit operating system can access.

Unlike the Windows edition of Office 2016, which comes in both 32- and 64-bit flavors, the Mac-specific suite will be available only in 64-bit after September. Microsoft offered users a one-month grace period during which version 15.25 will be provided in both 32- and 64-bit.

“There may be situations in which the customer has to change code that’s not 64-bit ready,” Microsoft said in a support document, referring to possible conflicts with third-party Office add-ons. “If customers can’t immediately move forward to 64-bit builds, we will make available a one-time 32-bit update for the 15.25 release in addition to the default 64-bit updates.”

That 32-bit version of 15.25 must be downloaded manually from Microsoft’s site.

The support document included instructions for reverting to 32-bit if Office 2016 had already been updated to 64-bit.

 

Target To Focus More On Digital Efforts To Enhance Customer Experience

August 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Target-Stores-150x150U.S. retailer Target Corp plans to put more emphasis on technologies that enhance customers’ store experience and on other digital efforts, Chief Information Officer Mike McNamara said.

Target will focus on its website, Target.com, and offline-online experiences such as order pickup and digital marketing, McNamara said in a blog post on the company’s website.

“Technology and supply chain are the new battlegrounds for retail,” he said. “The retailers with the strongest technology and supply chain will have the best chance of winning.”

Target will also focus on efforts such as store replenishment and merchandising systems to keep its stores well stocked, he said.

The retailer is in the middle of a hiring boom, McNamara said, adding that the company had hired about 700 engineers since he joined as CIO in February 2015.

Target had 341,000 employees as of Jan. 30, according to a regulatory filing.

 

Samsung To Offer A Third Tizen OS Smartphone

August 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Tizen-OS-150x150South Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd announced that it will begin selling its third smartphone powered by the company’s own Tizen mobile operating system in India next week.

The Z2 phone, equipped with a 4-inch screen and India-specific features such as a safety mode for motorcyclists, will be the cheapest Tizen phone Samsung has launched to date at 4,590 rupees ($68.44).

The phone, the first Tizen-powered device that will run on 4G networks, will start selling in India on Aug. 29.

The world’s top maker of smartphones, televisions and memory chips is trying to reduce its dependence on Google, whose Android operating system powers Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones.

The firm has been using Tizen on products ranging from TVs, home appliances and wearable products to enable the devices to communicate with each other and phones via the internet.

Samsung has so far kept Tizen for a small number of markets such as India and Bangladesh, where many potential customers are still first-time buyers looking for a cheap device and do not necessarily need a big library of apps.

The firm declined to comment on sales figures but analysts have said the Z2’s predecessors have found some success.

 

Intel To Focus On The Backend For 5G

August 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Fresh after scoring a reasonably sized contract for the iPhone, Intel is getting more excited about its mobile business and is talking about its 5G plans.

5G is a good thing to talk about as there is no standard yet and it could be years away before carriers think of moving to away from 4G. However, it does inspire confidence that companies, like Intel are busy researching it.

However the Intel Developer Forum (IDF),in San Francisco heard how Intel is not that interested in trying to create 5G modems for mobiles and will instead focus on the back-end infrastructure supporting the technology.

Intel said that while 5G will power the mobile internet, Intel believes there will be a lot of room for its processors and data centers to look after the millions of sensors, cars and internet of things devices which will all be part of it.

Intel said that 2G networks were about phones and voice, and it was rolling out 4G there were requirements that hadn’t been planned for when it was originally designed.

While 5G is expected to start appearing by 2020, it should support IoT devices, as well as broadcast-like services and lifeline communications. This means that the backbone of datacenters will need to be in place to make it go.

While Intel has been talking about this backbone, it does seem odd that it is not mentioned much about the modem front end of the technology. Our guess is that it is something that Intel cannot ignore and does not appear to be doing so, with its various Internet of Things gadgets.

Courtesy-Fud

Smartphones Sales Posts 4% Gain In Second Quarter

August 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

smartphones-decline-150x150Global smartphone sales enjoyed a 4.3% bump in the second quarter compared to a year ago, but iPhone sales declined for the third straight quarter, market research firm Gartner announced.

Gartner’s figures for second-quarter smartphone growth were more optimistic than numbers reported by Strategy Analytics and Canalys recently. Both had reported modest growth of no more than 3% in smartphone shipments.

IDC last month reported second-quarter shipments were flat, growing just 0.3%.

Gartner’s numbers show that Apple’s iPhone sales dropped 7.7% in the second quarter, with 44.4 million phones sold globally, down from 48 million a year earlier. This decreased Apple’s market share to 12.9%, down from 14.6% a year earlier. Even so, Apple was second globally in smartphone sales.

Meanwhile, Samsung was the top smartphone seller, with 76.7 million smartphones sold, compared with 72 million sold a year earlier. That increase boosted its share to 22.3%, up from 21.8%.

Gartner said Samsung benefited by sales of the Galaxy A and Galaxy J series of smartphones which competed well against devices from Chinese smartphone makers.

Apple’s declines were the worst of any market in greater China and mature markets in Asia/Pacific, decreasing by 26%. There were also declines for Apple in North America and Western Europe, but there was a big jump of 95% in Eurasia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe.

Gartner ranked Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi, in order, for third to fifth biggest in sales. Android devices were 86% of the total market, compared to 14.6% for iOS and 2.5% for Windows. Overall sales reached 344 million, up from 330 million a year earlier.

 

Get Ready To Pay Taxes For Using Ride-Hailing Apps In Massachusetts

August 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Uber-taxis-150x150Massachusetts will begin levying a 5-cent fee per trip on ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft and spend the money on the traditional taxi industry, a subsidy that appears to be the first of its kind in the United States.

Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed the nickel fee into law this month as part of a sweeping package of regulations for the industry.

Ride services are not enthusiastic about the fee.

“I don’t think we should be in the business of subsidizing potential competitors,” said Kirill Evdakov, the chief executive of Fasten, a ride service that launched in Boston last year and also operates in Austin, Texas.

Some taxi owners wanted the law to go further, perhaps banning the start-up competitors unless they meet the requirements taxis do, such as regular vehicle inspection by the police.

“They’ve been breaking the laws that are on the books, that we’ve been following for many years,” said Larry Meister, manager of the Boston area’s Independent Taxi Operator’s Association.

The law levies a 20-cent fee in all, with 5 cents for taxis, 10 cents going to cities and towns and the final 5 cents designated for a state transportation fund.

The fee may raise millions of dollars a year because Lyft and Uber alone have a combined 2.5 million rides per month in Massachusetts.

The law says the money will help taxi businesses to adopt “new technologies and advanced service, safety and operational capabilities” and to support workforce development.

Regulations for how the fee will be collected and a plan for how it will be spent still need to be drawn up, said Mark Sternman, a spokesman for the state’s MassDevelopment agency, which will be in charge of the money.

Riders and drivers will not see the fee because the law bars companies from charging them. Instead, companies themselves will pay the state, although Evdakov said it will be passed on to riders or drivers one way or another.

Authorities worldwide are grappling with how to regulate and tax ride-hailing. Seattle has passed a law that allows drivers to unionize. In Taiwan, Uber is battling a tax bill of up to $6.4 million.

Despite the cost, ride services in Massachusetts appear to have accepted the fee in exchange for other provisions. For example, the law does not ban them from picking up at Boston’s airport or convention center, although there will be special rules for those sites.

Lyft is pleased with the law even though it is not perfect, spokesman Adrian Durbin said.

Soliciting readers for how to spend the 5-cent fee, a column in the Boston Globe offered ideas such as hospitality training, incentive bonuses and help so taxi owners could buy “flagship” vehicles like a 1940s Checker or a Porsche.

Meister said the money could go toward improving a smartphone app his association has started using, or to other big needs.

“We definitely need some infrastructure changes,” he said.

 

Samsung To Launch Refurbished Smartphone Program

August 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung-logo-2-150x150Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is gearing up to launch a program to sell refurbished used versions of its premium smartphones as early as next year, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The South Korean technology firm is looking for ways to sustain earnings momentum after reviving its mobile profits by restructuring its product line-up. As growth in the global smartphone market hits a plateau, Samsung wants to maximize its cost efficiency and keep operating margins above 10 percent.

The world’s top smartphone maker will refurbish high-end phones returned to the company by users who signed up for one-year upgrade programs in markets such as South Korea and the United States.

Samsung would then re-sell these phones at a lower price, the person said, declining to be identified as the plan was not yet public.

The person declined to say how big a discount the refurbished phones would be sold at, which markets the phones would be sold in or how many refurbished devices Samsung could sell.

A Samsung spokeswoman said the company does not comment on speculation.

It was not clear to what extent the phones would be altered, but refurbished phones typically are fitted with parts such as a new casing or battery.

Rival Apple Inc’s iPhone has a re-sale value of around 69 percent of its original price after about one year from launch, while Samsung’s flagship Galaxy sells for 51 percent of the original price in the U.S. market, according to BNP Paribas.

Refurbished phones could help vendors such as Samsung boost their presence in emerging markets such as India, where high-end devices costing $800 or so are beyond most buyers.

Apple sells refurbished iPhones in a number of markets including the United States, but does not disclose sales figures. It is trying to sell such iPhones in India, where the average smartphone sells for less than $90.

Selling used phones could help Samsung fend off lower-cost Chinese rivals that have been eating into its market share, and free up some capital to invest elsewhere or boost marketing expenditure.

Deloitte says the used smartphone market will be worth more than $17 billion this year, with 120 million devices sold or traded in to manufacturers or carriers – around 8 percent of total smartphone sales. Some market experts expect the used market to grow fast as there are fewer technology breakthroughs.

“Some consumers may prefer to buy refurbished, used premium models in lieu of new budget brands, possibly cannibalizing sales of new devices from those budget manufacturers,” Deloitte said in a report.

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