Category: Chips

Qualcomm releases Connected Car Platform

accidentcarinwashingtondcQualcomm has released its Connected Car Reference Platform, which is designed for the car industry to build prototypes of the next-generation connected car.

If carmakers go for it, Qualcomm could make itself a pretty penny as cars are supposed to get more intelligent, even as their owners lose brain cells.

While the package does not seem there yet, as autonomous steering and collision avoidance features were missing, on-board specialised processors, in addition to new capabilities are all there.

Qualcomm will probably apply its machine learning SDK, announced just a few weeks ago, and the Snapdragon 820 processor to meet those needs.

Qualcomm said the Connected Car Reference Platform uses a common framework that scales from a basic telematics control unit (TCU) up to a highly integrated wireless gateway, connecting multiple electronic control units (ECUs) within the car and supporting critical functions, such as over-the-air software upgrades and data collection and analytics.

The vehicle’s connectivity hardware and software to be upgraded through its life cycle, providing automakers with a migration path from Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) to hybrid/cellular V2X and from 4G LTE to 5G.

It can also manage concurrent operation of multiple wireless technologies using the same spectrum frequencies, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy.

The system supports OEM and third-party applications to providing a secure framework for the development and execution of custom applications.

Qualcomm appears to be trying to solve the problem of over-the-air software updates. Updating software on a mission-critical system such as an autonomous car is a much harder problem than updating a smartphone because it has to be completely secure and work every time without reducing safety.

Qualcomm has to solve this problem anyway to accelerate shipments not only to the car market but to the IoT market, where it hopes to sell tens of billions of chips.

#Qualcomm says it expects to ship the Connected Car Reference Platform to automakers, tier 1 auto suppliers and developers late this year.

ARM shows off new chips

ARM logoBritish mobile chip designer ARM has been showing off a few new chips at Computex Taipei 2016.

The Cortex-A73 CPU and Mali-G71 GPU are designed to increase performance and power efficiency and support mobile VR.

Mali GPUs are big in the mobile world, with over 750 million shipped in 2015. The new Mali-G71 is based around the company’s third-generation Bifrost architecture.

The core allows for 50 percent higher graphics performance, 20 percent better power efficiency, and 40 percent more performance per square mm over ARM’s previous Mali GPU. It has 32 shader cores, ARM says the Mali-G71 can match discrete laptop GPUs like Nvidia’s GTX 940M.

ARM said that the chip was designed to fix specific problems thrown up by VR, supporting features like 4K resolution, a 120Hz refresh rate, and 4ms graphics pipeline latency.

ARM also showed off its new Cortex-A73 core, which prioritizes power efficiency. It’s up to 30 percent more efficient than the previous Cortex-A72 while offering about 1.3 times the level of peak performance, but ARM has also focused on sustained usage — the A73 offers over twice the performance within its power budget.
ARM expects chips to move into production at the end of the year and appear in shipping devices in early 2017.

Nvidia talks up Pascal

nvidiaNvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has been telling the Nvidia Computex 2016 press conference about his latest Pascal-based GPUs.

He claimed they were being broadly adopted in applications including data centers, car-use electronics and deep-learning platforms.

He said Pascal GPUs will continue to use TSMC 16nm FinFET manufacturing process to provide enhanced performance than previous-generation products.

He said next-generation servers built by Nvidia’s Tesla P100 GPUs can compete against servers that are equipped with several hundreds of CPUs. Nvidia also showcased a server system manufactured by Quanta Computer.

He also showed the Pascal-based GeForce GTX 1080 reference design, displayed at the conference, the board is manufactured by Foxconn.

Nvidia has been pushing its Pascal GPUs into industry sectors, including virtual reality, car-use electronics and deep-learning. As for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, Huang noted that Nvidia has no interest in smartphones.

Google claims its TPU improves machine learning

victorian-education-2Google claims that its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), advances machine learning capability by a factor of three generations.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the Google’s I/O developer conference that TPUs deliver an order of magnitude higher performance per watt than all commercially available GPUs and FPGA.

Pichai said the chips powered the AlphaGo computer that beat Lee Sedol, the world champion in the incredibly complicated game called Go. Google still is not going into details of the Tensor Processing Unit but the company did disclose a little more information in its blog.

“We’ve been running TPUs inside our data centres for more than a year, and have found them to deliver an order of magnitude better-optimised performance per watt for machine learning. This is roughly equivalent to fast-forwarding technology about seven years into the future (three generations of Moore’s Law),” the blog said. “TPU is tailored to machine learning applications, allowing the chip to be more tolerant of reduced computational precision, which means it requires fewer transistors per operation. Because of this, we can squeeze more operations per second into the silicon, use more sophisticated and powerful machine learning models, and apply these models more quickly, so users get more intelligent results more rapidly.”

The tiny TPU can fit into a hard drive slot within the data centre rack and has already been powering RankBrain and Street View, the blog said.

What Google is not saying is what a TPU actually is and if it will be a replacement for a CPU or a GPU. Word on the street is that the TPU could be a form of chip that implements the machine learning algorithms that are crafted using more power hungry GPUs and CPUs.

Intel managers fume over call to “sell” decimation

decimationChipzilla’s managers are incandescent with rage that they are being ordered to “sell” Intel’s decimation of staff to the people who are given the boot.

Intel wants to get rid of more than 11 percent of its staff as it realises that it has lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the mobile industry.  It is shutting down its projects to build chips for Mobile Phones and Tablets.

Techeye has been told that a special webcast is scheduled on Monday for managers only, and it appears that it will be part of a hard core sales pitch to  pressurise managers to convince employees to take voluntary redundancy.

As one manager moaned: “Why the Fuck do I have to deliver the VSP Bullshit to my affected reports instead of them doing their own dirty work?”

He said it was bad enough when Intel’s front line were told to trap staff to hit SSL targets and then force them to have the ISP blood on their hands through the respect and dignity execution.”

“Will probably be required to take waterboarding training next,” he muttered.

The comment has appeared on a staff site called “the lay-off” and already has attracted a few comments from hacked off fellow managers.  Oddly one does not seem particularly upset at front line manager’s (FLMs) plight.

“OP, please, do not protect and SLMs. They are falsch/fake/trash, low level life forms (respect to 10% of them who R exceptions), protecting ONLY their fat asses.”

Another thought that the whole situation proved that Intel had “really had become a shit place to work”.

 

Nvidia teaches a car called Dave to drive itself

Confessions_of_a_Driving_Instructor_FilmPosterAn Nvidia engineering team has built a self-driving car with one camera, one Drive-PX embedded computer and only 72 hours of training data.

Nvidia published an academic preprint of the results of the DAVE2 project entitled End to End Learning for Self-Driving Cars.

DAVE2 is named after a 10-year-old Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) project known as DARPA Autonomous Vehicle (DAVE). Coincidently it is also the name of the astronaut in 2001,  a Space Oddessy. The phrase “I can’t do that Dave” is now the blue screen of death”  of robotic history.

The Nvidia team trained a convolutional neural network (CNN) to map raw pixels from a single front-facing camera directly to steering commands. Nvidia’s breakthrough is the autonomous vehicle automatically taught itself by watching how a human drove, the internal representations of the processing steps of seeing the road ahead and steering the autonomous vehicle without explicitly training it to detect features such as roads and lanes.

Although in operation the system uses one camera and one Drive-PX embedded computer, the training system used three cameras and two computers to acquire three-dimensional video images and steering angels from the vehicle driven by a human that were used to train the system to see and drive.

Chipzilla hopes to solve its problems by eating itself

Ouroboros_1Intel has become a monster which eats its own tail and firing thousands of staff who do not fit into its glorious Internet of Things and cloudy vision of the future.

Intel has announced that it is giving more that 11 percent of its employees their pink slips by next year. This decimation will come through site consolidations worldwide, a combination of voluntary and involuntary departures, and a re-evaluation of programmes.

Intel expects its restructuring to deliver $750 million in savings this year and annual run rate savings of $1.4 billion by mid-2017. The company will record a one-time charge of approximately $1.2 billion in the second quarter.

In the official announcement Intel described it as a “restructuring initiative” which will help it evolve from a PC company to one that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices. Intel will intensify its focus in high-growth areas where it is positioned for long-term leadership, customer value and growth, while making the company more efficient and profitable.

The move is remarkably similar to that which has gotten IBM into so much trouble. Intel sees the data center and Internet of Things (IoT) businesses are Intel’s primary growth engines. However these particular technologies are not making up for the cash which is been lost to the hardware business.

Intel said that memory and field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) accelerating these opportunities and “fueling a virtuous cycle of growth for the company.”

The restructuring initiative was outlined in an e-mail from Intel CEO Brian Krzanich to Intel employees.

“Our results over the last year demonstrate a strategy that is working and a solid foundation for growth. The opportunity now is to accelerate this momentum and build on our strengths. “These actions drive long-term change to further establish Intel as the leader for the smart, connected world. I am confident that we’ll emerge as a more productive company with broader reach and sharper execution.”

Chipzilla  plans to increase investments in the products and technologies that that will fuel revenue growth, and drive more profitable mobile and PC businesses. Through this comprehensive initiative, the company plans to increase investments in its data center, IoT, memory and connectivity businesses, as well as growing client segments such as 2-in-1s, gaming and home gateways.

 

Intel shares expected to grow next year

alice_in_wonderland___eat_me__by_ariru_lunaticoo-d68i2fxBeancounters working for Barrons have added up the numbers and divided them by their shoe size and decided that Intel will grow like topsy next year.

Barron’s claims that Chipzilla’s shift to higher-growth businesses such as server chips and embedded chips for cars could drive a 25 increase in its shares in a year.

While there is a risk Intel could cut its financial guidance for the year when the chipmaker reports earnings on Tuesday, it is likely to return to sustainable growth by year’s end for the first time in seven years, the publication said.

Those who do not own shares in Chipzilla should wait until after the earnings call to buy shares, it added.

Intel has had a pants few years as demand for personal computer chips has dried up, Barron’s said, but growth in the company’s data centre group, which includes server chips, could eventually bring in more revenues.

The gap between the two businesses has closed over the past five years.

Last year, the data centre business’s operating profit was $7.8 billion, slightly below the $8.2 billion earned by Intel’s client computing division, which includes chips for desktop and notebook computers. In 2010, the data center division brought in just $4.4 billion, compared to the personal computer business’s $13 billion.

Meanwhile, the company’s Internet of Things division, which includes chips for cars, medical devices and factories, composed just four percent of revenue last year but is growing.

Integrated Device Technology buy-out rumours suspect

Suspicious_SmurfUS chipmaker Integrated Device Technology (IDTI) appeared to be about to be bought out by a shareholder investor group on Monday.

A regulatory filing by a group identifying itself as Integrated Device shareholders said it made an offer to buy the company for $32 per share in cash. The price represented a 64 percent premium to Monday’s close and valued the company at $4.3 billion.

But the filing was the first and only information that Integrated Device has received from this group.

Company’s chief executive, Greg Waters, said the company has not communicated with any of these parties.

Waters said the company is unaware of any other information that would support a determination that the group’s proposal represents a credible bona fide offer. He said the company will evaluate further information received to determine the credibility of the offer.

The filing made with the Securities and Exchange Commission said that the  investor group is comprised of six Chinese and one Pakistani citizens, and is led by Libin Sun, who owns a 4.4 percent stake in the company.

The filing showed that Nauman Aly, who held a 0.1 percent stake, had acquired a block of call options for IDTI shares.

However Aly appeared to have sold all his IDTI calls for a profit of about $427,700, roughly matching the activity in those two minutes of trading.

 

 

Intel releases a chip – shock

Intel bus - Wikimedia CommonsChipzilla has officially launched its new Xeon Processor E5 v4 today.

Xeon E5 v4, which will replace last year’s E5 v3 series will target a wide array of market segments, from high-performance professional workstations to multi-socket servers for big data. In fact the v4 is pretty similar and is even socket compatible.

The Broadwell-EP based Xeon E5 v4 uses Intel’s more advanced 14nm process node and the biggest of the chips can feature up to 22 processor cores (44 threads). The E5 v4 series still supports up to quad-channel DDR4 memory, but the maximum supported speed now tops out at 2400MT/s, up from 2133MT/s.

While this is significant, the rest of the platform remains mostly unchanged. Thanks to its additional cores, the E5-2600 v4 series now features up to 55MB of last-level cache. Support for 3D die stacked LRDIMMs has been added, along with DDR4 write CRC, and of course the higher speeds. Though, with three 3DS LRDIMMs per channel, the max supported frequency drops down to 1600MHz.

The changes to the Xeon E5 V4 family’s memory configuration bring in reduced latency and increased bandwidth. Intel’s numbers show up to a 15 per cent increase in bandwidth with latency reductions across the board.

In addition to these high-level updates, there are also new virtualization and security related features, along with more performance and efficiency enhancements as too.