Category: Desktop Software

Flash Memory Summit 2016 – Consolidation?

FMS2016_BannerAd_300x250The Flash Memory Summit 16 will be convening at the Santa Clara Convention Center over August 9 -11, 2016. Flash memory is now established as a key technology enabling new designs for many products in the consumer, computer and enterprise markets.

Storage Crossover

The industry is at a critical juncture where the total cost of ownership for flash based SSD’s achieved crossover with hard disk drive equivalents last September as the enterprise storage medium of choice.

The fact that the number of producers is limited has altered the landscape of consumption with some analysts indicating that serious shortages will exist for some time to come. An interesting, but mitigating fact is that most of the analysts are not technical – the ones that we’ve talked to that have a technical bent are not so sanguine about the availability mix. One item that stands in the road to profits is the need for this next generation storage device to not only retain data but do so interactively without losing bits. The unrecoverable bit boogie man is now staring the industry down. The ability to store immense amounts of “ready data” for execution now depends on the technologies ability to reliably retain data.

All Flash Array producers are now entering the “really big data storage array” market – the battle has dropped down to the cost of storage per dollar creating a whole new category of marketing lows. 3D Flash is now so dense that failure modes are now dependent upon being aware of “how and when” the bits were used during the entire lifetime of the device.

Cork, Ireland NVMdurance was the first to understand this phenomenon and is now firmly embedded in their first customer Altera (now Intel). Pure and Nimble Storage are offering their services for their AFAs – seems that leasing AFA memory is a probable in the future of solid state storage. We’re still left reading the indemnification clauses of their contracts.

Poison Pill

Micron Technology filed with the SEC a poison pill last Friday. The buzz is that the company is once again in play. The likely suitor is none other than Intel according to the lead rumor. We will be talking with Micron and Intel at FMS 16 and although they’ll not say anything about what’s going on we’ll at the very least get to look into their pupils while they’re telling us…,

Bulgaria goes Open Source

Rila Monastery, BulgariaThe Bulgarian government has issued an edict demanding that all its software should be open sauce.

On the face of it, it is a brave move, not because of the technology involved, but because it cuts politicians from a lucrative source of income – bribes from software companies.

Under the amendments to the Electronic Governance Act, all software written for the government will have to be open-source and to be developed as such in a public repository.

Sadly, this does not mean that the whole country is moving to Linux and LibreOffice, neither does it mean the government will force Microsoft and Oracle to give the source code to their products. Existing contracts will still stand. What it means that whatever custom software the government procures will be visible and accessible to everyone.

A new government agency will enforce the law and will set up the public repository. Bozhidar Bozhanov who helped get law accepted said that the battle is not over.

“The fact that something is in the law doesn’t mean it’s a fact, though. The programming community should insist on it being enforced. At the same time some companies will surely try to circumvent it,” he wrote.

However he said that it was a good step for better government software and less abandonware.

Microsoft defames system admins

Windows 10System administrators are miffed that Microsoft is trying to shame them into upgrading machines to the new version of the OS.

Domain-joined devices that were blocked from upgrading to Windows 10 have now begun to display the familiar Get Windows 10 icon in the taskbar. If a user clicks the icon, he or she is presented with the screen which says that the System Admin has blocked upgrades to this machine.

The displayed message not only generalises by telling users that “upgrades”, implying all upgrades, have been blocked by the system administrator but also tries to put pressure on admins to upgrade machines to Windows 10.  It basically makes the poor Sys Admin look like they are not doing their job.

This would appear to be a change of heart from Microsoft too. When the company first announced this new push in the business market, it said that domain-joined PCs would only see these type of messages if updates on said devices weren’t managed by WSUS or System Center Configuration Manager. It appears that the messages come up regardless.

Microsoft kills dodgy security certificates

bugSoftware giant Microsoft has killed off two dodgy security certificates being used on Dell bloatware.

Updates apply to Windows Defender for Windows 10 and 8.1; Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows 7 and Vista; and its Safety Scanner and Malicious Software Removal tool, will remove the certificates.

Dell mistakenly included private encryption keys for two digital certificates installed in the Windows root store as part of service tools that made its technical support easier. The tools transmit back to Dell what product a customer is using.

However the private keys in both of the digital certificates could be used by attackers to sign malware, create spoof websites and conduct man-in-the-middle attacks to spy on user’s data.

One of the certificates is named eDellRoot and the other DSDTestProvider. Exposure to the latter certificate was likely more limited, as users had to download it, and the risky version was only available between October 20 and November 24, Dell claoms.

But the eDellRoot certificate, however, shipped with many new Dell laptop and desktop models. Also, older computers that ran the support tool, Dell Foundation Services (DFS), may also have been affected if DFS was configured for automatic updates.

Dell has issued an upgrade itself to remove the certificates, and it also described how to remove the certificates manually. Microsoft’s tool may help those who for one reason or another haven’t either downloaded or received the updates from Dell.

 

Cook will not cross a Macbook and an iPad

tim-cook-apple-ceoThe Grand Mufti of the Apple Cargo Cult, Tim Cook has pronounced that Apple will never cross a Macbook with an iPad, for that is an abomination against the will of Jobs.

Talking to the Independent,  Cook spake and said that a converted MacBook and iPad would have to make too many compromises.

Cook wants to build the best iPad and MacBook possible and while the gap between the iPad and MacBook has shrunk, this gives customers the best possible productivity experience on both platforms.

This comment might seem a little odd given that Cook said nobody should buy a PC anymore, because the iPad offers enough performance to become a daily driver. This is despite the fact that the Tablet market has been failing for the last eight quarters.

Curiously Cook’s ability to see what is before his eyes is not that good. He claimed that Microsoft’s latest hybrid, the Surface Book, isn’t impressive, even though his Mac Book Pro is a more expensive knock off of it.

The iPad Pro is pretty much a hybrid anyway. The 12.9-inch tablet comes with a pen and keyboard, and apparently has the CPU performance of the MacBook Air and the GPU performance of a MacBook Pro. The only major difference is it runs iOS rather than OS X.

Hybrids are shaping up to be the next big thing, so it looks like Apple is not planning to be a “game change,” when not until Cook changes his mind enters the market late and claims to have invented the technology.

Heat sinks and fans could go the way of the Dodo

dodo The current method of cooling computers is about to get a rethink.

The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is supporting new research to provide on-chip liquid cooling in field-programmable gate array (FPGA) devices and it looks like the technology could be easily adapted for CPUs and GPUs.

This has the potential to reduce the size of devices, allow for chip stacking, dispense with heat sinks and fans and significantly extend the life-span of chips.

Speaking at the IEEE Custom Integrated Circuits Conference, Thomas Sarvey, from Georgia Institute of Technology (GIT) presented the paper with the catchy title “Embedded Cooling Technologies for Densely Integrated Electronic Systems.”

What they managed to do was get rid of the heat sink atop the silicon die by moving liquid cooling just a few hundred microns away from the transistors.

The technique involves cutting microfluidic channels into the die of FPGA devices, which were chosen for the research and trials because of their flexible configuration and extensive use in the military.

This locates the cooling just microns from the problem, and even allows for the possibility of chip-stacking, which very few devices currently have the room or efficiency to achieve, given the necessity to dissipate heat from a central locus of adjacent chips.

The group successfully developed a standard demonstration test, including one for DARPA officials, in which a converted FPGA with bespoke Altera-supplied architecture operated, with no other cooling, at less than 24 degrees Celsius, and was compared to an analogous air-cooled device operating at 60 degrees Celsius.

On-chip liquid cooling also opens up the possibility for a new level of compactness in device design, which frequently has to use available surface space for dissipation purposes.

 

Dell steps up Chinese investment

Dell logoTinbox shifter Michael Dell has said he will invest $125 billion in China over the next five years.

The world’s third-largest maker of personal computers said the investment would contribute about $175 billion to imports and exports, sustaining more than one million jobs in China.

Chief Executive Michael Dell wrote in a statement that the internet was the new engine for China’s future economic growth and has unlimited potential.

“Dell will embrace the principle of ‘In China, for China’ and closely integrate Dell China strategies with national policies,” Dell said, adding that the company would continue to expand its research and development team in China.

Dell announced that in 2010 it would spend $250 billion on procurement and other investments over the next 10 years in China, its second-largest market outside the United States.

Dell has been in China for about two decades and, before it went private in 2013, saw annual sales in the country of roughly $5 billion.

In January, it announced partnerships with state-owned China Electronics Corporation and the municipal government of Guiyang.

World suffering from a Linux geek shortage

133846870_25114cfae4_Mj7XD_1822With the surprise success of Linux in Android, and on the server, the world is suddenly faced with a shortage of Linux geeks.

Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin said that there are enough computing niches where GNU/Linux is the major player — from supercomputers to the next generation of automotive systems.

As a result Linux has become a super-important widely used operating system that has grown amazingly since Linus Torvalds first shared his kernel and shared his first swear word with the world in 1991.

The only problem is that there is a shortage of weirdy beardy types who know how to administer and otherwise work with Linux. In fact there are some calls in some regions for normal people to be actually trained in the black art.

Zemlin said that there are plenty of Linux jobs available if people took the time to train. He did not mention if any of them would have to give their heart to Richard Stallman or be baptised in the Tao of the Penguin, hard core Linux  still has elements of Open Sauce fanaticism which make Apple fanboys look like five year old girls – well more like five year old girls than they do already.

The Linux Foundation is developing new courses in tandem with massive open online course provider edX. Unlike some of the Linux Foundation’s previous course offerings, their edX ones are free to audit, and the cost for certification  – if you want a cred, not just knowledge –  is lower than many IT certification tests and certificates.

HP sells Chinese stake

20120610-stir-fry-grill-wok-21-thumb-625xauto-248338News from the wires this morning is that the maker of expensive printer ink, HP, has sold off some Chinese stake.

We knew that the company was desperate to make money again, but we did not really expect a push into the takeaway market. Chinese stake is ambitious, normally people start with sweet and sour pork and move up.

Apparently HP will sell 51 percent stake in its China-based data-networking business to China’s Tsinghua Unigroup for at least $2.3 billion. The big idea is that it will forming a partnership designed to create a Chinese technology powerhouse.

State-backed Tsinghua Holdings’ subsidiary Unisplendour will acquire 51 percent of HP’s H3C Technologies for at least $2.3 billion.

HP said it will form a partnership with Tsinghua Holdings, affiliated with China’s elite Tsinghua University, to create a group in China to house H3C’s networking operation alongside its China-based server, data-storage and technology-services businesses.

HP said in its statement it valued its H3C business at $4.5 billion. The company had previously valued the unit at $5.5 billion, people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters last month.

HP’s move is being seen as a way to get a foot in the door in China. Western tech companies have struggled for customers in China after Edward Snowden revealed that US spooks were using US firms to spy on China. Many of these Western companies are now seeking local partners or selling off assets altogether to Chinese buyers.

Ubuntu might beat Windows to phone convergence

ubuntu-wallpaper2It is starting to look like the Linux OS Ubuntu might beat Windows to true phone convergence.

One of the headline OS’s features for Windows 10 for PCs and Windows 10 for phones won’t be is true phone convergence. But it looks like Ubuntu might beat Vole to the punch.

Canonical’s Box Mark Shuttleworth said that the Unbuntu smart phone will fit in your pocket; which will be a phone; and which will give you a desktop experience.
“So, that pocket PC experience is real on Ubuntu. And, while I enjoy the race, I also like to win. And I bet you do too. And so it will be lovely for us to drive free software first into the convergence world,” he said.

Shuttleworth said that Ubuntu Phone’s application platform already allows for applications that can resize to fit various screen sizes, from smartphone-size to windows on your desktop. After focusing on Ubuntu Phone’s unique interface and design to get it out the door, Canonical is beginning to talk about convergence.

So just like Microsoft is doing with Windows 10, Ubuntu is aiming for convergence across all device types. But unlike Vole it is going to move a bit faster.

Word on the street is that while Windows 10 for PCs will ship this summer Windows 10 for phones will be much later.

The release date slip gives Ubuntu a chance to beat Microsoft to launching this feature. Both projects are scrambling to get the software done with a release date of sometime in 2015.

However there are also signs that Canonical might also have problems. The Unity 8 desktop interface and Mir are still in fairly rough.

Unity 8 and Mir were supposed to have been part of the default Ubuntu desktop image for several releases now, but this is clearly taking longer than expected. Unity 8 and Mir may be ready for Ubuntu 15.10, “Wily Werewolf,” in October.