Category: Peripherals

New drive tech packed with helium

up-balloonsWestern Digital has released a new enterprise drive that allows for 10TB densities by packing itself with helium.

Normally high-density drives use a mechanical trick on the available platters by overlapping data. The method in question is called Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR). The read head is half the size of the write head, allowing for a smaller surface area to be covered, but since the write head is still full-sized, it can overlap the previous track. This increases storage density but is slower.

Standard drives use the Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) method. In addition, due to the overlapping data, any rewrites require subsequent tracks to be rewriten too, significantly slowing down write operations. The end result is that SMR drives end up used for archiving.

Western Digitals WD HGST UltrastarHe10 10TB PMR offers 10TB densities using the industry standard PMR method. The drives will be released under the HGST Ultrastar brand as the He10.

Stuffed with helium which places less strain on the motor, the five or six platter drive that can spin up to 7200 RPM on less power. The drive is more reliable and comes with a five year warranty. WD states the drive can achieve a power efficiency of 0.5 Watts per terabyte (reading the notes, this is at idle), which is 56 per cent less power than the previous generation.

The new drives support both SATA 6.0GB/s and SAS 12Gb/s. Other enterprise features are available with instant secure-erase and self-encryption over SATA with TCG.

No word on price yet but because the drives don’t use SMR, it means that home-built NAS systems can support them.

There’s no such thing as the paperless office

Zortrax Inventure 3D printerBack in the 1970s, pundits were predicting that we’d be well into the sphere of the paperless office by the 21st century. Our offices are still stacked with papers and the print market – especially the production print market, appears to be buoyant.

Well, according to a survey from IDC, that’s far from the case. The worldwide production print market grew by 9.9 percent in the third quarter of this year.

Shipment value increased too by 5.9 percent, so the value was over $1.2 billion.

All categories in the production print market grew, with label and packaging up 15 percent and high speed inkjet shipments growing by 8.8 percent in the quarter, compared to the previous quarter. Canon, Ricoh and HP rule the roost in this sector.

The top five vendors in the quarter were Xerox, HP, Ricoh, Konica and Canon.

Amy Chado, research manager at IDC, said: “High speed inkjet experienced a tremendous rebound in the third quarter, with system shipments growing 110 percent from the previous quarter and nine percent annually.”

Large LCD display shipments fall

Samsung LCDImport tariffs on large displays is discouraging people from buying big TFT LCD displays. Currency fluctuations have also had an effect on the figures.

IHS Technology said in a report that shipments will fall by about five percent for the whole of 2015.

However, the decline in shipments will be offset by the manufacturers by growth in the amount of panels that can be built – that will grow by five percent in 2015.

IHS said that year on year shipments of displays for tablets, notebook PCs, and PC monitors will fall by 12 percent in 2015.

Yoonsung Chung, a senior analyst at IHS, said that maintaining TV panel production is the most important to use the full capacity of the fabrication plants that build the panels.

He said: “To consume this added capacity, TV panel makers must produce more panels, whch means the industry could end up adding excess panels to inventory, leading to sharp TV panel price erosion in the second half of this year.”

He said prices are also likely to fall in 2016, meaning the cost of 55-inch and bigger TVs will fall – and that may stimulate demand.

LG to slash OLED prices to push tech

lg-55-inch-oled-tvLG Electronics is going to slash the price of OLED TVs almost in half before Christmas in a bid to make the TV technology mainstream.

OLED is considered good technology but not made in enough quantities to bring the price down enough to interest the great unwashed.

LG has invested billions in OLED displays to rebuild profit decimated by Chinese competition in the liquid crystal display (LCD) TV market.

OLED screens deliver better picture quality, consume less electricity and promise wider profit margins than LCDs.

LG Electronics said production improvements allowed it to cut prices of six models in the world’s biggest TV market by as much as 45 percent from last month, without crimping margins. Two are now below $2,000, a fraction of the $14,999 of LG’s first OLED TV in 2013.

LG wants OLED to raise profitability in a saturated TV market plagued by sluggish demand and shrinking margins for LCD sets.

OLED is used mainly in smartphones and wearable devices, as production becomes complex as sizes increase. LG Display has spent $8.64 billion through 2018 mainly to develop OLED and is considering building a third manufacturing line for TV-sized OLED screens.

Japan’s Panasonic launched its first OLED TV, in Europe, for $10,791.00. Wall Street believes that decent sales volumes remain years away as LG is the only one committing significant resources to the technology.

LG said US sales are already growing after price cuts and promotions for OLED TVs that began on October 8.

3D printers can be toxic

Zortrax Inventure 3D printerA report by scientists at the University of California, Riverside said parts produced by some commercial 3D printers are toxic.

The scientists tested two common types of 3D printers – ones that melt plastic to build parts and others that use light to turn liquids into solid parts.

The scientists said that parts from both types of printers were “measurably toxic to zebrafish embryos”. Parts from liquid based printers were the most toxic.

William Grover, an assistant professor of bioengineering said: “These 3D printers like tiny factories in a box. We regulate factories. We would never bring one into our home. Yet we are starting to bring these 3D printers into our homes like they are toasters.”

The value of 3D printers will be $16.2 billion by 2019 and prices of 3D printers are being to drop.

The dicovery of the toxicity was an accident because a student in Grover’s laboratory is making tools for studying zebrafish embryos and she wanted to use a 3D printer. But she noticed that zebrafish embryos die after exposure.

Toshiba sells sensor unit to Sony

ToshibaToshiba has decided to sell its image sensor business to Sony as part of a cunning plan to restructure in the wake of its $1.3 billion accounting scandal.

The image sensor manufacturing plant in Oita, southern Japan will go to Sony by the end of the fiscal year through March. Tosh is giving up on the sensor business completely.

Sony will take on the sensor business’ 1,100 workers. The deal was worth around $166.15 million.

Toshiba also said it will withdraw from the white light-emitting diode (LED) business, part of its semiconductor division.

The moves amount to the first restructuring steps Toshiba has announced since it said earlier this year that it had overstated earnings in a wide range of businesses including chips, television sets and personal computers over seven years.

Sony gets to solidify its already dominant position in the industry. It already controls about 40 percent of the market for complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensors.

Half a million 3D printers to ship next year

3D printer - Wikimedia CommonsGartner said that it estimates that worldwide shipments of 3D printers in 2016 will reach close to half a million.

That’s up 103 percent from the quarter of a million units that will ship this year, the report said.

The reason for growth in the 3D printer market is because of quality and performance improvements which are driving demand from both enterprises and ordinary people.

Pete Basiliere, research VP at Gartner, said: “The 3D printer market is continuing its transformation from a niche market to a broad based global market of enteprises and consumers.”

He said that seven technologies make up the 3D market, with material extrusion being the leader of the pack. He forecasts these units will reach five and a half million units in 2019, representing 97 percent of the total, largely because of the sale of entry level machines.

Enterprises are interested in the technologies because they can prototype new products and make tools used to produce other items.

Hardcopy peripheral market falls

William Caxton's monogramPerhaps the long hyped “paperless” office will come to pass as sales of hardcopy printers fell in the second quarter of this year.

But that is just a really big “perhaps”, because the market is still worth $13.2 billion worldwide, according to IDC figures.

And in some markets, such as the US and Canada, the market is growing by 3.6 percent and 5.8 percent respectively.

High end peripherals which bash out more than 45 pages per minute had a double digit growth in the quarter. IDC said the 45-69ppm monochrome printer sector grew in the second quarter by 17.3 percent.

The 70-90ppm colour segment showed a healthy 72.9 percent growth.

Inkjet printers still sell more than laserjets with a 58.7 percent share.

HP is in number one position, followed by Canon, Epson, Samsung and Brother.

Samsung fixed a huge Linux bug

bugSamsung has fixed a flaw in Linux which was causing SSD to fry faster than a Scottish chippy on Friday night.

The problem was first noticed by an outfit called Algolia which noticed that some of its Samsung SSDs were going down for no reason. After trying to find the source of the fault it got Samsung on the blower and it turned out that it was not a hardware problem after all.

Samsung could not reproduce the error and it could not find anything wrong with the scripts that Algolia had written for them.

However its engineers worked out that there was a serious fault in the Linux kernel which was turning SSDs to jelly, at least under certain conditions.

The Linux kernel error can affect any SSD under the same operating conditions.

The code included something called TRIM which allows an operating system to tell a solid-state drive (SSD) which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be wiped. TRIM was giving false information and the SSDs were being wiped.

Open Saucers called for TRIM be abandoned for a while and it has been disabled in many systems. It appears the Linux core was switching it on.

Samsung has developed a kernel patch to resolve this issue. The testing code is available on GitHub.

What is perhaps worrying is how this problem has never been spotted before.

LG claims breakthrough on lightweight displays

LG Display's AIT panelKorean giant LG said it will start mass producing lightweight screens for notebook PCs, which also are thinner than previous panels.

The technology, called Advanced In-Cell Touch (AIT) uses a touch sensor inside the LCD panel itself, rather than as an add on on the top of a notebook display.

These type of panels are already in use in some smartphones, including the LG G4s but the company said it is the first time they will be produced for notebook PCs.

The panel’s thickness has been reduced by a millimetre and its weight by 200 grams, compared to ordinary 15.6 inch touch embedded panels with Full HD.

LG also claims that it will offer a brighter and clearer screen picture.

The company claims it has already signed contracts with a number of global notebook PC manufacturers in 14-inch and 15.6-inch sizes, but it declined to say which customers had signed on the dotted line.

LG said that in 2014 10 percent of notebook PCs were touch sensitive, a figure that is expected to rise to 20 percent in 2016 and 30 percent in 2019.