Author: Asavin Wattanajantra

Second gen iPad OLED screens ‘unlikely’

An analyst has told TechEye that he has major doubts that the second generation of the iPad will use OLED panels.

Analyst director for Meko Ltd Andy Barker, replying to reports that Apple was going to use OLED panels, said that it was unlikely to happen if a second generation iPad was aimed for a release date of next year.

Companies such as Samsung were investing more in OLED production, while it had also reported that Apple had gone into partnership with LG, purchasing a large volume of OLED panels. This was a tactic used to get a better price on them.

But Barker, who had previously worked at Fujitsu for nearly 20 years – a company that had experience with Tablet PCs – said that iPad style devices were the hardest form factor to produce of any PC due to the glass being so close to the motherboard.

“In production terms with the panels, it is very, very difficult to produce because the heat of the motherboard is coming into very close proximity to the glass,” Barker said.

“This causes different technical effects such as a fault called ‘Newton’s rings’ – concentric rings on the panel. Producing a tablet is not like another notebook or another netbook.”

He added, “So changing the technology to something like OLED is a major change, also with service and support issues.”

Barker added that the believed many people were claiming to have knowledge of tablets when in fact they knew “bugger all.”

These reasons meant that a tablet using OLED would be much harder to create than on a device like the iPhone 4G expected to be out in June, which Engadget recently claimed to have some pictures of. Barker believed that Apple wouldn’t take the production risk on an OLED iPad.

Apple has confirmed May 7th as the shipping date for the iPad 3G device, but Barker added that he believed that highly publicised delays to the international launch were not what Apple claimed – high demand.

Barker said, “The delay is supposedly over high demand – it is more than probable it is over service and support issues such as connection, but there is in my experience with all launches of tablets a delay because of service, delay and production issues.”

Google wants to print through the cloud

Google has given an insight into how it will handle printing with its Chrome OS, using access to the cloud instead of relying on traditional operating system drivers.

As the Chrome OS relies on web apps, ‘Google Cloud Print’ is a system of printing which would give them the same printing capabilities as your traditional native apps, which relied on drivers and a local operating system.

Google Cloud

This means that web, desktop and mobile apps on any device can print on any printer, as all major devices and operating systems have access to the cloud.

Apps will use Google Cloud Print to submit and manage print jobs to the right printer with the options that the user wants, and return the job status to the app.

In a blog post, Mike Jazayeri, Group Product Manager for Google, said that although people could access any document from any device, you still needed to install drivers om printers which often made printing impossible.

He said, “Developing and maintaining print subsystems for every combination of hardware and operating system – from desktops to netbooks to mobile devices – simply isn’t feasible.”

Although Google Cloud Print is still under development, it is making the documentation public as part of its open-source Chromium project.

Jazayeri said, “While we are still in the early days of this project, we want to be as transparent as possible about all aspects of our design and engage the community in identifying the right set of open standards to make cloud-based printing ubiquitous.”

This week HP also tried to simplify the printing process, but instead of using the cloud offered printers that could work on any operating system out of the box, without the need for CDs and drivers to download.

Macronix to buy 12-inch fab from ProMOS

ROM supplier Macronix will buy a 12-inch wafer plant from Taiwan firm ProMOS for £175 million ($271 million).

The wafer manufacturing plant, built in 1997, is located in the Hsin-chu Science Park. It had previously produced both 8-inch and 12-inch wafers, but the 8-inch production line was sold off early last year.

Macronix will now take hold of a chip plant using 12-inch wafers, which has a maximum capacity of processing 20,000 a month. 

The plant had previously been producing proprietary DRAMS for consumer applications, as well as foundry services for low-power and mobile DRAMs. It has also been making low-density Flash memory products.

ProMOS said that it needed to sell the chip plant in order to raise cash to upgrade a plant in central Taiwan to make advanced DRAM technologies. Now it will go on to produce 1Gb DDR3 using 63 nanoometer process technology from Elpida Memory.

According to Digitimes, Macronix is buying the fab in order to fabricate high-density and high-quality ROM and NOR flash products. 

Miin Wu, CEO of Macronix, also said that the fab will deploy its 45 nanometer process technology and that buying it instead of building one shortens construction times and saves on costs.

Microsoft promises investigation into child labour abuses

Microsoft says that it is sending a team to the Chinese factory accused of treating teenagers like prisoners in the name of making Microsoft products.

In a post by corporate vice president of manufacturing Brian Tobey, he said that Redmond was “very concerned” at seeing the report, which said that codes of practice were being broken at the KYE factory in Dongguan.

He said: “As a result of this report, we have a team of independent auditors en route to the facility to conduct a complete and thorough investigation. If we find that the factory is not adhering to our standards, we will take appropriate action.”

Tobey claimed that an independent auditor was supposed to be inspecting the KYE factory annually, with Microsoft personnel conducting on-site assessments, receiving weekly reports from KYE on key labour and safety criteria.

He said: “Over the past two years, we have required documentation and verification of worker age, and no incidence of child labor has been detected.”

“Worker overtime has been significantly reduced, and worker compensation is in line with the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition standards for the Dongguan area.”

The NLC believes that this was a nonsense, and that companies like HP, Best Buy, Samsung, Acer and Asus knew exactly what was going on. 

As TechEye ed Mike Magee believes, vendors are “driven by an insatiable need to cut costs at any price, to stay competitive and to keep their shareholders happy”. 

He adds: “Considerations about employee conditions in a far away country are of little importance to multinational corporations. Corporations, by and large,  are not individuals and they don’t have feelings. 

“They’re the equivalent of sociopaths and, like them, offer a pretence of being caring and sharing, bolstered by glossy brochures, big public relations outfits and connections with governments at the highest levels.”

Intel and Nokia OS MeeGo shown off

The fruits of an open source partnership between Nokia and Intel have been shown off in a couple of official YouTube videos from the Intel Developer’s Forum.

MeeGo, a mash-up between Nokia’s Maemo and Intel’s Moblin UI, was first announced at the Mobile World Congress earlier in the year. It is an operating system built on Linux and which will be shared with the open source community.

In the video below, MeeGo 1.0 is shown off on a netbook, with the user interface appearing to make social networking and other media applications simple to access from the home screen.

In another video it shows MeeGo is shown working on a number of devices. As well as running on a netbook it also showed how MeeGo could work connected to a TV, with the netbook synchronised to show the content on a large screen. 

It was also shown to work on a mobile phone, where you could also view the content from the netbook as it was also synchronised. The final example was of a vending machine running Meego which recognised the mobile phone’s identity using RFID and where a user could download an electronic coupon.

The demonstrations were certainly impressive, showing that MeeGo had the capability of running on different low powered devices as well as have all devices using MeeGo being totally aware of what each other was doing.

The companies say that MeeGo ‘builds upon the capabilities of Moblin core software platform and reference user experiences, adding the Qt UI toolkit from Maemo’. 

What this means exactly is unknown, but developers will soon know, because at the end of last month Nokia and Intel declared that they were starting on an effort to share the MeeGo OS with the open source community. 

Father of Java forced out by Oracle

James Gosling, the father of the Java programming language, has left Oracle and leaving suspicions he was not happy with the way he was being treated.

Oracle has  recently completed its acquisition of Sun Microsystems, which Gosling had been with for more than 25 years. But it appears that the original designer of Java could not work under the tyranny of Oracle, with its more straight-laced enterprise company culture.

Gosling resigned from Oracle at the beginning of the month and posted a very revealing entry on his blog: “As to why I left, it’s difficult to answer: Just about anything I could say that would be accurate and honest would do more harm than good.”

He added: “The hardest part is no longer being with all the great people I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years. I don’t know what I’m going to do next, other than take some time off before I start job hunting.”

It was obvious that Gosling was not happy with the Oracle takeover. In his previous two entries, not controlled by Oracle, he proclaimed the death of Sun Microsystems, as well as combining the words Sun and Oracle to create ‘Snoracle’. 

Gosling won’t have a shortage of job offers though. He is responsible for originally developing Java, an influential programming language which is used from application software to web applications.

He implemented Java’s original compiler and virtual machine, as well as being a  contributor to the Real-Time Specification for Java. He was also a researcher at Sun Labs, CTO at Sun’s Developer Products Group and its Client Software Group.

The Java community was in mourning at the news, with TechEye’s resident geek James Crowley saying it clearly raised questions about the future of Java.

He said: “MySQL was always going to struggle for its identity under Oracle, but Java was much more of a known quantity. now that Gosling has left (under vaguely mysterious circumstances) the whole Java community will surely be questioning Oracle’s future plans.”

But Gosling himself was taking things positively, saying he would be taking time off before looking for a new job.

As ‘Willie Legg’ commented on Gosling’s blog: “Congratulations James. As we all watch Sun’s slow painful death at the hands of the biggest buttmunch in the tech world, we all look forward to the next big thing from such incredible talent as yourself.”

iPad international launches postponed until end of May

People expecting to get the iPad in the UK and other countries this month are going to be very disappointed or very angry, as Apple announced it was postponing the international launch by one month.

Citing ‘too much demand’, Apple claimed that strong US demand and a large number of pre-orders was the reason for it. This begs a number of questions though – why wasn’t Apple prepared for it? Was it hedging its bets? Does it have hardware or other  problems?

The more cynical reader could see this as more as a marketing ploy to increase the hype in other countries because it wasn’t doing as well as it should be in the US.

As usual with Apple, we aren’t going to get any answers, just quite a few disappointed Apple fans who were looking to get their hands on the much-hyped device.

It’s a shame for users, because it also seems that one the iPad’s main problems in its inability to use Flash seems to have been solved by a Texas-based company called RipCode. 

A new ‘clientless Flash video codec’ allows Flash content to be streamed on the iPad by capturing the iPad’s request for Flash content and converts it into a format that the device can play. This is all done without a local client or user intervention.

The company said: “By transcoding the content ‘in the cloud’, it is essentially analogous to a network-based Flash to MP4 or MPEG-TS video adaption layer.”

* Vodafone said that it will offer dedicated plans for all models from the end of May in Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

New HTC Incredible specs leak on the web

It has so far been a decent year for HTC with Android devices, with the HTC Desire and Legend finally showing that the iPhone isn’t the be all and end all of smartphones.

Now another one is on the horizon with the HTC Incredible, and Boy Genius Report has managed to get hold of some of the phone’s specs. It has decided that there’s no reason to fix something which isn’t broken, so the phone is broadly similar to the Google Nexus One and HTC Desire.

It will use a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, 512 MB of RAM, and use the Android 2.1 ‘Eclair’ with the HTC Sense User Interface. It will also carry a 3.7 WVGA OLED capacitive display.

Where it really does differ from the Desire is the presence of an 8 megapixel camera with auto-focus and video capture. Where the iPhone really does fall down on is the lack of a camera, so with many already judging the Desire and Legend as superior devices, Apple really does have to do a good job with anything new it comes out with.

Pictures of the device also indicate that it doesn’t have the ‘chin’ associated with previous devices, perhaps listening to complaints that it didn’t make it easy to get a cover to put on the phones. We might not see the Incredible for a while, as we are already sated with the Desire and Legend. But that camera spec is impressive.

The smartphone wars, especially with Android, are hotting up. LG also announced another contender with the LG2300, which also carries a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, but has gone with the addition of a landscape slide QWERTY keyboard. It’s expected in Korea in the next couple of months.

Nokia brings out three new phones

Just as Microsoft released low cost ‘social’ phones with the Kin devices, Nokia looks to have done a very similar thing by bringing out two new low cost mobiles.

The C3 and the C6 devices even look reasonably similar to Microsoft’s efforts, with QWERTY keyboards and capabilities aimed at what the companies see as our social networking and Twitter obsessed generation.

The Facebook and Twitter integration seems to be an increasing trend for companies aiming at the more budget side of the smartphone market, as it means they can cater for users who want this capability but not the price of a higher-end device.

There’s really not much difference with these phones to the type of thing that Nokia has released before, using Symbian, the current version being not very good to use compared to something like Android.

Nokia is being very, very slow in competing in the more high-end of the smartphone market, but it there must be new devices in the offing which will run on a upgraded version of Symbian.

For what its worth, the C3 device has a full QWERTY keyboard and social networks available straight on the home screen, but does come at a very reasonable £79 (90 Euros):

Nokia C3

The C6 has a 3.2 inch touchscreen with the same social networking experience on the home screen, but a slide-out QWERTY better camera. It will come at about £194 (220 Euros). 

Nokia also released another device in the E5 series device, more suitable for the business market.

Intel to ship 48-core processors

Intel will release ‘limited quantities’ of an experimental 48-core processor, mainly to academic institutions.

According to the IDG News Service, Intel tech evangelist Sean Koehl also said that although the chips might not end up commercially available, some of the features might be seen in future chips from the company.

The 48-core processor development is part of Intel’s terascale computing research program, with a main focus area being to put more cores in a single processor, allowing faster computing.

Details are a little sketchy, but Intel Labs engineer Chris Anderson said that each physical core on the chip will operate at the clock speed of Atom-based chips. 

This may not sound impressive, but is if you think that 48 of these will combine on a single processor, it really is. Dual and even quad-processor motherboards could also be developed to accept the chips.

The most traditional way to boost performance is to increase CPU clock speed, but adding cores to processors is considered more power-efficient.

The architecture of the 48-core processor will include improvements cutting problems affecting current x86 chips, while it will also have better power management capabilities.

It was only recently that Intel and AMD released new server chips with their highest core counts to date.