Author: John Oram

Google Airlines is out of gas

The internet is all abuzz with the fact that US Sen. Charles Grassley (R, Iowa) is seeking an audit of the arrangements between NASA, the Pentagon, and Google.

H211 LLC , a holding company, is apparently the entity that Google executives formed to handle their dealings with NASA on their fleet of aircraft. H211 LLC signed an agreement with NASA to lease space at Ames Research – Moffett Air Park, located in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. for $1.3 million per year to fly research missions for NASA at their own expense.

At the time, that sounded like an excellent quid pro quo. Additional H211 LLC would obtain a Dornier Alpha fighter jet which would be modified to carry specialty NASA test gear. I wrote about this for Mike Magee’s ITExaminer in 2008. At that time there were grumblings by the local residents concerned that additional flights would mean additional noise.

In the 1960s I worked on US Army aircraft, helicopters, and fixed wing, that were located at Moffett Field in Hanger One. At that time, Moffett Field was a US Navy facility. Hanger One was built during the Great Depression to handle the large dirigibles (my father was in charge of the roofing for the hanger). For nine months last year, workers rappelled down the outside of Hangar One to remove sections of contaminated steel and redwood siding. Now, it is a steel skeleton within sight of Highway 101 – Bay Shore Freeway. Thus, I know a great deal about Moffett Airpark, as it is now known.

In 2007, Google said that similar to the other H211 LLC/Google planes offered to NASA, the Dornier Alpha Jet was being outfitted with scientific instruments for NASA missions, including instruments that the other planes could not carry. Matt Furman, then an official Google spokesperson, said that because of the type of aircraft we are talking about, NASA now has the ability to do even more than they could before.

One of the reasons Google purchased the Dornier Alpha fighter jet is because CEO Eric Schmidt has a pilot’s license and cockpit experience in high-performance jet aircraft. The other reason is the rest of their aircraft, including a Boeing 767, Boeing 757, and four Gulfstream V’s along with two helicopters, would have to be recertified by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration ) if NASA test gear were installed.

What has Sen. Grassley’s knickers in a knot is Google’s been buying jet aviation fuel at government prices. This allowed the Google aircraft to travel on sharply discounted jet fuel bought from the Pentagon at NASA’s Ames-Moffett facility. Moffett Airpark has a government contract with the jet fuel supplier who is the only aviation fuel supplier allowed on Moffett Airpark for security reasons.

Kenneth Ambrose, an executive with H211, said the company bought “the only fuel available at Moffett” and pays “full retail for hangar space that includes none of the ground support typically included in business aircraft hangers”. He added that the total value of H211’s payments and scientific of flights means NASA and taxpayers are “$2 million a year to the good for our presence at Moffett”.

Flight records from the FAA suggest that the vast bulk of the flights by the Google executives’ fleet have been for non-NASA purposes.

The Google/H211 LLC aircraft departed from Moffett a total of 710 times since 2007, FAA records show. The most frequent destinations were Los Angeles and New York, but the planes also flew 20 times to the Caribbean island of Tortola; 17 to Hawaii; 16 to Nantucket, Massachusetts; 15 to Tahiti and 4 of the jet aircraft, including the 767, took off from Moffett for Croatia this past July. The departures were just before the wedding in Croatia of Google CEO Larry Page’s brother-in-law, held in a medieval hill town near the Adriatic coast. Mr. Page attended as a groomsman and was photographed wearing his pet project eyeglass-like Google Glass computer at the altar.

Meanwhile, as of last year, NASA told Sen. Grassley that the Google craft had flown a total of 155 missions for it. All but 11 of those, however, had been flown by the small Alpha jet, a fuel sipper compared with the big aircraft.

What started Sen. Grassley on his investigation was a pencil neck Pentagon Col. who overheard a conversation from the private aircraft owners association complaining about Google’s special treatment. Sen. Grassley is asking the question: “are some executives getting a special deal on fuel,” and if so, is it available to other businesses? He said the setup raises concerns about the government’s role as a “fair broker with business is an responsible steward of tax dollars”.

H211 LLC has bought 2.3 million gallons of JP4 jet fuel since early 2009, according to Pentagon records viewed by the Wall Street Journal, paying an average $3.19 per gallon to $3.33 per gallon. Aviation JP4 jet fuel in the San Francisco Bay Area airports average just under $4.50 per gallon – similar to Grade 2 vehicle diesel fuel which JP4 is derived from.

Obviously it is great fun to pick on billionaires, especially when they are affiliated with Google. However, when you look at all the facts, there were not a lot of options for fueling the jet aircraft.

The only option is to land at a different airport, refuel the aircraft, and then land at Moffett Airpark, with a jet aircraft that has a full load of fuel rather than near empty. That is a safety hazard based on my experience working on jet helicopters and jet fixed wing aircraft.

Sen. Grassley also wants to have the passenger manifests of every flight by Google/H2 11 LLC aircraft since 2007. 

Intel announces Bay Trail tablet CPU, part two

[Part one is here]

Kirk Skaugen, senior VP General Manager PC Client Group at Intel took over in the second half of Wednesday’s IDF Keynote presentation. He began talking about the “2 in 1” computing platform. That raises the question: Have Ultrabooks slipped off Intel’s road map just when HP is announcing its HP ZBook 14 Ultra Workstation?

Kirk Skaugen

 

Perhaps they are simply not selling in the volume predicted at a couple past IDFs when Ultrabooks were announced? Skaugen put it this way: “Now we’ve stopped counting [OEM designs], and assumed that the entire world has gone thin”. He added that more than 40 percent of all Core notebooks have been designed with touch. Seventy percent of today’s Ultrabooks are touch-enabled, on the way to 100 percent touch later this year.

Skaugen said by this year’s holidays, the 2-in-1 form factor will be selling in the $999 down to $349 price range. He said that by the year’s end, there will be 60 2-in-1 devices in that future marketplace. Examples he showed were the Sony Duo 13-inch slider, the Dell XP 11, the Sony detachable – which only weighs 780 grams and handles both wired and wireless, and the Dell XP 12, which is a flip screen. An application from CyberLink will be provided on Haswell machines by the end of the year to energise content creation.

Skaugen handed over to Tami Reeler, Microsoft VP who discussed the Windows 8.1 released to developers. There was the usual sales story about how wonderful Windows 8 is.

In August, Windows 8 had the highest demand and sales, which was probably prompted by the back to school movement. She discussed Windows XP and its end of support in April 2014. She also claimed that “three quarters of the corporate users have moved to a modern Windows from Windows XP” – but she didn’t specify whether they were using Windows 7 or Windows 8.x.

Tami Reeler talks Windows 8 with Kirk Skaugen

Intel says that it has the business community handled with fourth generation core CPUs, SST Pro 1500 SSD, location-based security in the enterprise, and its new Pro-WiDI plus password free VPN connections – which got a round of applause from the audience.

Mario Müller, VP of IT Infrastructure at BMW, was next to join Kirk Skaugen on stage. There was some banter about a new BMW for everybody in the audience. Müller said that 55,000 of its 120,000 employees will be getting core i5 computers, but none of the audience will be receiving a BMW, unfortunately.

Mario Müller and Kirk Skaugen discussing new BMW i8 Plug-In Hybrid Sports Car 

Skaugen returned to topic saying that Bay Trail has 140 design wins and it runs all operating systems faster – Android, iOS, Chrome, and Linux. He talked about the Cinnabar benchmark using the fourth generation Broadwell 14 nm CPU. The chips will include AVX 3.2, DDR4 and PCI Express 4.0 support among their improved feature set.

Bay Trail SoCs are aimed at tablets and convertibles with screen sizes priced at $599 or below and will ship in tablets running Windows 8 and Android, ranging down to below $100 in price. When Chinese tablet OEMs start selling $100 price point 7-inch tablets with Bay Trail inside, then Intel will have to be taken very seriously by the ARM and MIPS partners.

Sony Duo slider as a tablet 

The discussions turned towards 3D. By Q2 2014, Intel predicts there will be collaboration over a 3D camera specification that will be implemented into Ultrabooks. We were told that Intel has had high numbers of downloads for its 3D SDK. It has the $100,000,000 Experience  and the Perceptual Computing Fund to work with.

Skaugen showed a 2D/3D camera that fits into the bezel of an Ultrabook. He gave an example of 3D functionality with a video showing children playing with an Ultrabook which had a 3D camera installed. Their expressions were of surprised joy.

3D developers should be glad to know that Project Anarchy is a free 3D game production engine and is ready to be downloaded and used.

Gonzague de Vallois, VP Sales and Marketing for Gameloft, showed off the company’s latest Android 3D auto racing game, referred to as Asphalt 8: Airborne, which takes advantage of Bay Trail and 3D graphics. At $4.99 it’s pretty affordable.

Gameloft’s Asphalt 8, for Android

Sundar Pichai, Senior VP Android Chrome & Apps at Google talked about the just-introduced Haswell CPU Chromebook and its stunning performance, extended battery life, and 3D capabilities. He also presented Doug Fisher from Intel’s Software and Services Group with an official Google Beanie cap – what a new hire at Google wears for their first days. After Pichai left the stage, Fisher said something about ‘that is a give away’.

Sundar Pichai gives Doug Fisher a Google Beanie

Over 1,000 Intel engineers are working on Google Android and Chrome.

Research firm NPD says Chromebooks represent 20-25 percent of the $300-or-less computer segment. Clearly, Intel has embraced Google’s Android and Chrome operating systems as a target market to put a lot of “Intel Inside”. 

HP claims first workstation Ultrabook

Hewlett Packard showed off its ZBook 14 with Thunderbolt technology for high-speed data transfer – touted to be four times faster than the current USB 3.0.

HP Z mobile and desktop workstations now can take advantage of high-speed data transmission between Z workstations, displays and peripherals, for a fast and versatile I/O connection.

Intel’s Thunderbolt controller chips interconnect a PC and other devices. They transmit and receive information for both PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort protocols. The controller chip switches between the two protocols to support communications over a single cable. Multiple devices can be connected to one Thunderbolt port.

The HP ZBook 14 with Thunderbolt joins HP’s Z Portfolio of workstations and displays that are engineered, tested, and certified for use by professionals in such diverse areas as CAD, architecture, design, engineering and animation. Those in the fields of education, healthcare, government, and film will also benefit from the Z product family.

The HP ZBook Mobile Workstations have a thinner and lighter industrial design than their predecessors. The HP ZBook family includes HP ZBooks 14, 15 and 17.

They ship with Intel’s Haswell, although graphics are provided by AMD and Nvidia including Keplar based professional graphics.

Other workstations, the HP Z420, Z620 and Z820, will include Intel Xeon E5-1600v2 and E5-2600v2 families of processors (Ivy Bridge) and 16 percent faster memory. HP’s Z620 is their most versatile workstation, with up to 24 discrete processing cores, up to 192 GB of ECC memory, up to 12 TB of high-speed storage, and up to NVIDIA K6000 or dual NVIDIA K5000 high speed graphics abilities. The HP Z420, their most popular workstation, offers expandability in an accessible tool-free mini-tower form factor.

A fair few Thunderbolt products were on display at IDF. The Thunderbolt product showcase brochure shows more than 90 devices which have been certified for either the Mac or the PC, including the Sonnet xMac Mini Server, LaCie5 Big, and G-Technology G-RAID. Add the ATTO ThunderLink FC 1082, Apple Thunderbolt Display, and Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera to that list.

The workstations and enhanced versions of the existing line are all set to be available next month.

Intel announces Bay Trail tablet CPU: Part One

Wednesday’s IDF Keynote started by asking the audience to stand for a moment of silence in remembrance of lives lost on 9-11 in 2001. From there, it was business as usual with product hype and promises of future success.

Intel seems to be spotlighting health. It opened with a feel-good video of Jack Andraka, child prodigy and biology whiz. Andraka is a high school sophomore who won the youth achievement Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in December 2012 for inventing a new method to detect a lethal form of pancreatic cancer.

From there, Intel moved into its theme of “The Internet of Things.” One thing that aroused curiosity was a dull white plastic wristband on every seat. It became an attention-getter later in the programme. In the meantime, everyone got a shot at the podium to talk about their pet project.

Doug Fisher, VP General Manager Software and Services Group, gave a few brief remarks, then introduced Dr. Herman Eul, VP General Manager Mobile and Communications Group. He started off with a video about MTV and Intel getting together to improve the audience’s experience because they do not really understand how wireless works, and what are its limitations.

 
Eul said the goal is to make the mobile platform smarter, the CPU more powerful, and the imaging performance better. He did a brief introduction of “Bay Trail,” the next-generation Atom Z3000 ,  focusing on it being used as a gaming platform. He showed that it is capable of running Windows – which is called heavy legacy software – or running Android OS, Apple OS, Chrome OS, or Linux OS. Bay Trail is a 64-bit processor, built using Intel’s Silvermont 22nm micro-architecture. There will be six variants of the chip available – with dual and quad-core configurations. Clock speeds will range from 1.8GHz to 2.4GHz.

Bay Trail’s Hardware and Software supports:  

  • Windows (32/64-bit) and/or Android and/or Chrome
  • Displays resolutions up to 2500 x 1600 (Retina display)
  • Dual independent displays
  • Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) technology
  • Up to 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM
  • USB 3, HDMI, Displayport, SD card, NFC, 4G, Wi-Fi, GPS
  • X 11, Open GL 3.0 graphics
  • Up to 13MP camera on the rear with Zero shutter lag, burst mode, digital video stabilization, 1080p recording at 60FPS and up to 2MP on the front.

Eul then brought Victoria Molina on stage, a fashion industry consultant and former executive for Ralph Lauren, Levi’s, and the Gap, who explained her virtual shopping experience application. They developed it using the Intel Android SDK in about a week  – but gave no information on the experience level of their programmers.

Molina said the most important part of this application is the fit map, an important factor in making the apparel attractive on the wearer, to attain a “cool” outcome. The application uses an avatar based around the person’s measurements, height and weight, and a facial photograph. The shopper goes out to the web site where they want to shop and chooses the clothing to virtually try on before purchasing. Next, the website pulls up sample clothing from their product lines.

After you build your ensemble of clothing, then you can adjust the clothing so the fit is tight, medium, or loose. After deciding on your look, you go through the “Cat Walk” show-n-tell process. That means the avatar is dressed with each one of the outfits in the size and drape you want and it looks like you are a model on a fashion show runway. Molina said, “This will revolutionise the online shopping experience. Because of the huge “cool factor”.

Next, Intel focused on a Bay Trail small-form-factor tablet running and editing videos. Eul invited Jerry Shen, chief executive of Asus, to introduce its T100, a 2-in-1 Bay Trail notebook with over ten hours of battery life. “We are very excited about the Bay Trail quad-core promise,” Shen said.

Asus is more optimistic than Intel regarding battery longevity. Intel claims Bay Trail tablets could weigh as little 14.1 ounces and offer more than eight hours of battery life when the users are watching high-definition video.

Neil Hand, Dell’s VP of Tablets, showed its  Venue 8-inch, Windows 8.1, Bay Trail tablet that is going to be shipping soon. He said it has 4G LTE.
 
Eul talked briefly about upcoming Merryfield, a 22nm SoC which is build on the Silvermont architecture specifically for smartphones. We were told that Airmont, a 14nm process engineering SoC with all the features of Bay Trail for tablets, is on schedule for Q3 2014 release.

Finally, Eul satisfied our curiosity by showing his audio DJ idea which activated those dull white plastic bracelets that were sitting on each chair. A video was projected onto the giant screens in the auditorium showing the Keynote audience and the wristbands lighting up in synch with Eul’s music.

The presentation took another turn with Kirk Skaugen, Senior VP General Manager PC Client Group at Intel which will be covered in part two.

Intel SSD goes professional

Intel goes on a roll when it hosts IDF. This year, the company used the occasion to launch a family of solid state drives (SSD) for PC’s in the business world.

Intel is calling it the Pro 1500 Series and promising easy IT deployment, secure manageability, enhanced performance along with the added benefit of lower total cost of ownership.

That’s a big promise to live up to.

Intel vPro technology and an Opal management suite are part of the equation. Hardware-based 256-bit AES encryption and Opal key management protocols should make at least part of the promise possible.

Intel points out the benefits of using the Intel Setup and Configuration Software which allows IT managers to be proactive in addressing potential problems by remotely managing devices and extracting drive diagnostics to keep tabs on storage health.

Rob Crooke, Intel corporate vice president and general manager for the Intel Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group said:  “Tight integration with Intel vPro technology means we are able to deliver a complete solution for corporate business users.”

Something the SSD Pro 1500 Series offers is a means of improving battery life, as shown in the accompanying image. It goes into a deep sleep mode when the processor is not using the storage media.

Intel claims that the SSD Pro 1500 Series is engineered to reduce such costs and minimise employee downtime as a result of storage-related failures.

IT department budgets are negatively impacted by drive failures. Intel claims its SSDs experience at least four percent lower annualized failure rates than other SSDs and HDDs.

The platform specs include: Core i5-435OU Processor, 8 series chipset LynxPoint, Ultrabook form factor, and Windows 8 OS. Intel’s presentation included a list of the product details, including form factor and capacity, performance, power, and features.

The Pro 1500 Series joins with the data centre and consumer family of SSDs. The drives are being shown at IDF by Intel’s Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group.

Adaptec 12 Gb Series 8 RAID low-profile MD2 card announced

Here at IDF 2013 in San Francisco, we thought we’d stop by Adaptec’s booth. The Adaptec salesperson said their Series 8 RAID cards feature five different models that all have high port connectivity. The 8 series is the only card in the industry to feature up to 16 ports on a low-profile form factor MD2 card, while the Series 8 offers enhanced features such as MaxCaching Plus technology.

Adaptec’s Series 8 uses the low-profile PCI form factor, which gives a smaller footprint for their card. There are two defined card links for low-profile PCI: MD1 and MD2. MD1 defines the shortest 32-bit card length available 119.91 mm (4.721 inches).MD2 defines the maximum length of low-profile PCI cards, 167.64 mm (6.6 inches). Any low profile PCI card that is longer than the MD1 definition is considered an MD2 card form factor. Low-profile PCI area on the MD1 cards provide 4.8 inches² of board real estate.

The Gen3 Series 8 RAID adapters, coupled with 12 Gb per second SSD’s(Solid State Drives), provide maximum read/write bandwidth and IOPS (Input/Output Operations per Second) for the most performance hungry, transactional, and database applications. They come in 8 and 16 native SAS/SATA ports in an LP/MD2 design. They all have hot plug drive support and are S.M.A.R.T. (Self Monitoring Analysis And Reporting Technology) aware.

Adaptec’s MaxCache allows the SSD’s to be configured as cache and to store the most frequently accessed data in the cache pool. Adaptec’s enhanced MaxCache Plus adds tiering functionality and provides a virtualized pool of storage using any block level storage device with the ability to tier their storage.

IT managers, systems integrators and ISVs will have the fastest performance and best overall value for their storage assets.

The Series 8 RAID adapters will be shipping in Q4 2013. Pricing was not available when we visited their IDF 2013 booth.

Intel's usual troops missing from IDF stage

For Tuesday morning’s keynote presentation at IDF-SF 2013, there were none of the usual Intel standard bearers. New CEO, Brian Krzanich, did a major part of the presentation along with Renée James, Intel’s President.

Before the presentation started, one of the old guard, Mooly Eden was spotted standing in the aisle way wearing his signature cap.

Also sitting in the audience’s VIP seats was former Intel CTO Justin Rattner. Rattner retired in June of this year and we missed his imitations of TV’s Mister Wizard.

CEO Krzanich gave his overview of the “new and improved” Intel. Krzanich laid out Intel’s vision and described how Intel is refocusing – away from its traditional CPU centric design philosophy to a system centric solution based around SoCs (system-on-a-chip) and broader integration.

Intel’s foundry capabilities were touted as reducing the die size to 20nm which is now shipping, with 14nm in the works. This will allow wearable computers. The obvious ones are smart watches – Intel’s engineering sample is many generations behind the competition in looks. The not-so-obvious areas they’ll address will be in the healthcare industry.

Krzanich said: “Innovation and industry transformation are happening more rapidly than ever before, which play to Intel’s strengths. We have the manufacturing technology leadership and architectural tools in place to push further into lower power regimes. We plan to shape and lead in all areas of computing.”

He continued: “Intel plans to lead in every segment of technology from the traditional to the emerging. Intel will continue with its data center revolution/evolution by increasing the computing power and lowering the kilowatts used in the rack space.” Krzanich stated that “the traditional PC is in the process of reinventing itself” with most notably tablets and 2-in-1 PC platforms.

The CEO said that Intel is introducing this week “Bay Trail,” Intel’s first 22nm SoC for mobile devices. “Bay Trail” is based on the company’s new low-power, high-performance Silvermont microarchitecture, which will power a range of Android and Windows designs.

[Remember Intel’s commitment to Wimax?-Ed]

Krzanich showed the first Intel phone with the 22nm SoC with Intel data LTE and voice 3G. He claimed that “by next year you will see LTE data and LTE voice in the same phone”. Then, he showed a demonstration of LTE Advanced. LTE advanced will have carrier activation switching from 30Mbps (Megabits per second) to 70 Mbps. He said the San Diego group is working on this. Could this be Qualcomm?

Krzanich announced the Intel Quark processor family. The new lower-power products will extend Intel’s reach to growing segments from the industrial Internet-of-Things to wearable computing. It is designed for applications where lower power and size take priority over higher performance.

The tablet marketplace is a key ingredient for the atom processor family. “The Hallway tablet systems price point will go below $100 by Q4 2013,” Krzanich said. 

However, the ARM and MIPS based 7-inch tablets have been there for over a year with good quality graphics, wi-fi, and reasonable gaming performance. Intel has some hurdles to jump over to gain a bigger chunk of that marketplace.

Renée James, Intel’s President, talked about the company’s involvement in the healthcare world and wearables.

Referring to health care as it relates to technology, she gave an example: “one person’s complete genomic data is approximately 1 PB, or 25 filing cabinets of information”.

“Genomic data cost for one person was in the hundred thousand dollar range less than four years ago,” James said. “Soon it will be in the $1000 range, which makes it plausible for use as a cancer fighting tool.”

James introduced Eric, an Intel employee who for over 20 years has been fighting cancer.

Eric came up and told his story about having his genomic data sequenced and taking that data to his doctors. About a month after they had the data they had a meeting with all his doctors including the East Coast doctors on Skype.

Eric said by having his genomic data, the doctors figured out that over the 20 year period of time, 90 percent of those drugs they had given for his cancer treatment could not work for him.

The doctors created a new set of drugs specifically typed for his genome, and in less than 90 days, he was completely cancer free and has remained cancer free. Understandably, Eric received resounding round of applause from the audience.

When one can see directly how technology impacts one person’s life in the extreme, we are all glad to be in this industry. 

Intel attempts to re-invent itself

For yesterday’s “keynote” presentation at IDF-SF 2013, there were none of the usual Intel standard bearers. Intel’s newly hatched CEO, Brian Krzanich, did a major part of the presentation along with Renée James, Intel’s President.

Before the presentation started, one of the old guard, Mooly Eden  was spotted standing in the aisle way wearing his signature cap.

Also sitting in the audience’s VIP seats was former Intel CTO Justin Rattner. Rattner retired in June of this year and we missed his imitations of TV’s Mister Wizard.

CEO Krzanich gave his overview of the “new and improved” Intel. Krzanich laid out Intel’s vision and described how Intel is refocusing – away from their traditional CPU centric design philosophy to a system centric solution based around SoCs (system-on-a-chip) and broader integration.

Intel’s foundry capabilities were touted as reducing the die size to 20 nm which is now shipping with 14 nm is in the works. This will allow wearable computers. The obvious ones are smart watches – Intel’s engineering sample is many generations behind the competition in looks. The not-so-obvious areas they’ll address will be in the healthcare industry.

Krzanich said: “Innovation and industry transformation are happening more rapidly than ever before, which play to Intel’s strengths. We have the manufacturing technology leadership and architectural tools in place to push further into lower power regimes. We plan to shape and lead in all areas of computing.”  There you go.

He said, “Intel plans to lead in every segment of technology from the traditional to the emerging. Intel will continue with its data centre revolution/evolution by increasing the computing power and lowering the kilowatts used in the rack space.” Krzanich stated that “the traditional PC is in the process of reinventing itself” with most notably tablets and 2-in-1 PC platforms. See?

The CEO said that Intel is introducing this week “Bay Trail,” Intel’s first 22nm SoC for mobile devices. “Bay Trail” is based on the company’s low-power, high-performance Silvermont microarchitecture, which will power a range of Android and Windows designs.

Krzanich showed the first Intel phone with the 22 nm SoC with Intel data LTE and voice 3G. He claimed that “by next year you will see LTE data and LTE voice in the same phone”. Then, he showed a demonstration of LTE Advanced. LTE advanced will have carrier activation switching from 30Mbps (Megabits per second) to 70 Mbps. He said the San Diego group is working on this. Could this be QUALCOMM?

Krzanich announced the Intel Quark processor family. The lower-power products will extend Intel’s reach to growing segments from the industrial Internet-of-Fangs to wearable computing. It is designed for applications where lower power and size take priority over higher performance.

The tablet marketplace is a key ingredient for the atom processor family. Krzanich said, “the Hallway tablet systems price point will go below $100 by Q4 2013.” However, the ARM and MIPS based 7-inch tablets have been there for over a year with good quality graphics, WiFi, and reasonable gaming performance. Intel has some hurdles to jump over to gain a bigger chunk of that marketplace.

Renée James, Intel’s President, talked about its involvement in the healthcare world and wearables. Referring to health care as it relates to technology, she gave an example “one person’s complete genomic data is approximately 1 PB, or 25 filing cabinets of information”. She said, “genomic data cost for one person was in the hundred thousand dollar range less than four years ago. Soon it will be in the $1,000 range, which makes it plausible for use as a cancer fighting tool.”

James introduced Eric, an Intel employee who for over 20 years has been fighting cancer. Eric came up and told his story about having his genomic data sequenced and taking that data to his doctors. About a month after they had the data they had a meeting with all his doctors including the East Coast doctors on Skype. Eric said by having his genomic data, the doctors figured out that over the 20 year period of time, 90 percent of those drugs they had given for his cancer treatment could not work for him. The doctors created a new set of drugs specifically typed for his genome, and in less than 90 days, he was completely cancer free and has remained cancer free. Understandably, Eric received resounding round of applause from the audience.

AT&T will buy T-Mobile USA

Sunday, AT&T agreed to buy T-Mobile USA from Germany’s Deutsche Telekom for $39 billion. This is another acquisition in the race to expand and diversify US wireless spectra. The cash-and-stock deal has been approved by the boards of both companies and would make AT&T a dominant player in the US wireless telecom sector, pending regulatory approval.

Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and chief executive, said: “This transaction represents a major commitment to strengthen and expand critical infrastructure for our nation’s future.”  He continued “This transaction delivers significant customer, shareowner and public benefits that are available at this level only from the combination of these two companies with complementary network technologies, spectrum positions and operations. We are confident in our ability to execute a seamless integration, and with additional spectrum and network capabilities, we can better meet our customers’ current demands, build for the future and help achieve the President’s goals for a high-speed, wirelessly connected America.”

Deutsche Telekom CEO, René Obermann said “After evaluating strategic options for T-Mobile USA, I am confident that AT&T is the best partner for our customers, shareholders and the mobile broadband ecosystem. Our common network technology makes this a logical combination and provides an efficient path to gaining the spectrum and network assets needed to provide T-Mobile customers with 4G LTE and the best devices. Also, the transaction returns significant value to Deutsche Telekom shareholders and allows us to retain exposure to the U.S. market.”

There were rumours of this buy as far back as 2008. Sprint and Verizon use different technology to run their networks. Most analyst think an acquisition by AT&T would likely run into regulatory hurdles. AT&T and T-mobile have been partners for WiFi at Starbucks since 2008.

T-Mobile USA is the fourth largest network operator in the US, trailing AT&T, Sprint and Verizon wireless, with about 14 percent of the market. Deutsche Telekom has been talking to banks about what to do, and rumours since the first of the year kept saying Germany’s Deutsche Telekom would make a decision about T-mobile USA before May. As part of the transaction, Deutsche Telekom will receive an equity stake in AT&T that, based on the terms of the agreement, would give Deutsche Telekom an ownership interest in AT&T of approximately eight percent. A Deutsche Telekom representative will join the AT&T Board of Directors.

Another major reason for the combination is the compatible enhancement to their respective HSPA + wireless topology. Early last month Ericsson demonstrated three flavors of HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) with download speeds up to 168Mbps (megabits per second) and 24Mbps on the uplink . As well as the fact both have announced plans for LTE, along with Verizon. Even Sprint and its WiMAX provider Clearwire says they are evaluating LTE. BSN* sees the AT&T & T-mobile USA combo as a way to keep talking about 4G and simply enhance their existing networks. This allows them to wait-n-see which wireless manufacturer’s flavor of LTE works best.

AT&T thinks it can get government approval by pushing on President Obama’s promise of high-speed data to rural communities. Stepehenson added this comment to its press release: “With this transaction, AT&T commits to a significant expansion of robust 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) deployment to 95 percent of the U.S. population to reach an additional 46.5 million Americans beyond current plans – including rural communities and small towns. This helps achieve the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and President Obama’s goals to connect “every part of America to the digital age.” T-Mobile USA does not have a clear path to delivering LTE.”

On Friday, Deutsche Telekom AG closed at $13.58 (up $.03 or +0.22 percent) and AT&T closed at $27.94 (up $0.20 or +0.72 percent). TechEye will follow this announcement

Russian mobile operators stop WiMAX roll out

Late last week, Russian WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) operator Yota made a surprise move. The company said it will now deploy LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology as it continues its wireless broadband rollout. The operator had been an early WiMAX proponent and recently rolled out WiMAX service in Nicaragua and Peru.

Yota said that instead of moving ahead with its original plans to roll out WiMAX in 15 new markets, it will roll out TD-LTE in five new markets this year. In a press release Yota’s CEO, Denis Sverdlov said, “Yota is a services company; for us technology is an instrument. It’s clear that the LTE standard is becoming the main trend in wireless communications.” TD-LTE is widely used in China, but is relatively rare in North America.

In the US, since it was founded by cell phone entrepreneur Craig McCaw, Clearwire has been the major proponent of WiMAX. During Clearwire’s start up, McCaw convinced Intel to put in $600 million to back his ideas for a worldwide implementation of WiMAX. Intel’s plans were to offer WiMAX chipsets in all of its laptops. Along the way, Clearwire and Sprint had an on-again, off-again relationship. In 2008, that relationship evolved into Sprint’s majority stake in Clearwire. Sprint now resells Clearwire’s WiMAX infrastructure. Sprint recently announced its Android based , HTC Evo 4G WiMAX capable smartphone for shipment later this summer.

Last fall, it was estimated that Clearwire could need up to $3 billion in new funding to complete its current build out plans covering 120 million potential customers by the end of next year. That funding was expected to come from Sprint Nextel, which owns 51 percent of Clearwire, and the rest likely to be from either its cable partners or possibly from T-Mobile USA. Clearwire has WiMAX live in 27 markets while LTE hasn’t launched yet commercially in the US. However, Verizon and AT&T have committed to LTE for 2011.

Last year at Intel’s IDF keynote speech, David Perlmutter, VP of Intel’s mobility group, said in part: “We have (WiMAX) networks being built in North America, in Russia, in Japan … We are building with our partners’ networks in other places like India, Malaysia, Taiwan. And many, many other places have all sorts of mobile and fixed WiMAX all over the globe.”

Just a few weeks ago, Intel and Clearwire revised their WiMAX technology agreement giving Clearwire the option of also adopting LTE. The original Intel agreement required Clearwire to exclusively use WiMAX. Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow said Clearwire had not made any decisions regarding LTE. But, it has an RFP (Request For Proposal) that has many options including how to run both LTE and WiMAX on the same network.

The Indian WiMAX market was, up until recently, looked at as one of the easy prizes for WiMAX to win. Last week after 34 days of 183 rounds of bidding, India concluded the auction of its 3G mobile spectrum. This week, the next phase of India’s BWA (broadband wireless access) is in full swing. The contenders for the 4G spectrum are companies backing either LTE or WiMAX. Earlier this year everybody thought WiMAX would take home most of India’s 4G BWA spectrum. Now, maybe not.

Yota’s decision may have a profound impact on India’s 4G auction. Monday’s RCR Wireless has an excellent analysis of the Indian BWA. They said that, “What looked like a sure thing for WiMAX, suddenly looks anything but …”

Professor Willie Lu, Director of US Center for Wireless Communications in Palo Alto, California, has been a leader in mobile radio theory. Lu has six axioms of wireless communications. The first is “No single Radio Transmission Technology (RTT) can do both Broadband High-speed and Seamless Mobility in a commercial environment.” The background of “Lu’s Laws” will be fully explained at an upcoming conference in San Francisco.  

Yota’s decision can be seen as the next evolutionary step as more and more wireless carriers are moving in the direction of 4G dual-mode topology. However, Intel might see it as poking a hole in its WiMAX life raft.