Tag: Canon

Intel serves up server plans

The maker of fashion bags, Intel, is planning to push out a lot more hardware to the lucrative server market.

While Chipzilla’s traditional PC market has been suffering, the market for servers is getting stronger. Intel thinks that the way forward is to have greater influence in the way servers are designed.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Intel is planning to introduce faster server microprocessors and provide new details of what it calls a “rack-scale architecture”. This is a roadmap for designing and plugging together servers to manage internet-style workloads.

The idea is that companies are looking for new ways to run their server operations. For a while now they have been stacking boxes with separate power supplies, disk drives and using clusters of cables to connect them.

But the sheer volume of web-based computing jobs, and the data they generate, is making this all impossible. Some are rethinking server designs to reduce unnecessary components and save money and power consumption and that is where Chipzilla thinks it can make a buck or two.

So far it has been seen working with Google and Facebook, pushing an initiative called Open Compute. Open Compute aims to create low-cost modular servers to reduce server cost and complexity.

But there are some problems with the project. Intel thinks that it is being dominated too much by Facebook. Lisa Graff, Intel’s vice president and general manager of its data centre marketing group said that Facebook is doing what is best for them and that approach does not work for everyone.

Open Compute envisions the use not only of x86-style chips from Intel and AMD but also chips based on ARM which is something that Chipzilla does not really want to touch. Anything that lets ARM into one of Intel’s traditional markets is going to be a problem.

Already Intel’s long term chum HP has been muttering about putting ARM chips with its low-power servers as part of an effort called Project Moonshot. So far Intel has managed to keep the lid on that and the only Moonshot servers released so far come with Atom chips.

Intel has also been doing some work on its own in something it calls Project Scorpio. This involves working with some other big web and telecom companies in China.

The idea of this project is to come up with a rack design that lets servers share power supplies, fans and network components.

It is also creating a reference design to encourage computer makers to create more efficient systems using an array of Intel technology.

Intel is using Xeon and new low-end Atom chips for applications at the cutting edge of the cunning plan.

Intel has a new Atom model for servers, code-named Avoton, which is expected to arrive in the second half of the year it is also planning to introduce a new model of its Xeon E3 family based on Haswell.

New versions of its higher-end Xeon E5 will hit the shops in the third quarter and Xeon E7 in the fourth quarter. 

Intel to fix USB 3.0 problems

Intel is developing a new version of its 8-series chipsets for Core i-series 4000-family Haswell microprocessors to fix problems with USB 3.0.

The core logic sets at launch will have a nuisance USB 3.0 problem, but Intel is promising that future versions will not.

Intel warned its partners that when a PC system with Core i-series “Haswell” and 8-series chipset inside it will have a nuisance problem with its USB 3.0 connections.

Chipzilla does not see this as a serious problem because there would be no data lost. All that will happen is a few blank PDF pages or failure to resume playback. All you need to do is restart the software.

But fixing the problem is tricky. According to X-bit  Labs, a new chipset revision is required

Intel has not said when the new revision of its 8-series chipsets with corrected USB 3.0 operation will be in the shops.

Given the fact that Intel does not consider the problem significant, we do not see there being a rush. We would expect to see Intel’s partners able to start shipping mainboards powered by the new core logic sets towards the end of summer. 

Intel claims to save cash on BYOD

Intel claims that it has saved a bomb by introduced BYOD in the workplace. The fact that it hopes to make a killing flogging chips for tablets, of course, has nothing to do with this announcement.

Intel claims that it has had success on the mobile front within its own organisation through its BYOD programme.

According to the chip maker’s “2012-2013 IT Performance Report” smartphones make up the vast majority of the 23,500 devices that Intel employees are bringing to work. This is 38 percent more than the year before.

Intel employees say they are saving an average of 57 minutes daily by using their own devices, a productivity gain of five million hours in 2012.

Intel’s chief information officer has said in a podcast that by snuggling up to the consumerisation of IT and social computing Intel increased employee productivity and collaboration.

Kim Stevenson said that the role of IT has evolved beyond infrastructure and back-office provider to become the strategic enabler of business growth.

Intel has 16 enterprise mobile applications to the 25 apps it already supports.

Mobile applications include instant messaging, one-click dialing for conference calls, access to internal wikis, collaboration through social media tools and approval of purchase requests using mobile devices.

Meanwhile Chipzilla has a private cloud to support the new tech which it uses to provide services based on the capabilities, location and preferences of an employee’s device.

The report said that Intel was moving from traditional desk phones to soft phones using VoIP technology.

“This change will enable our employees to take their phone service with them wherever they go, further enhancing productivity,” the report explained. 

Intel expands foundry operations

Intel is scaling up its chip foundry work for more rivals – in this case making them for Altera.

Analysts see this as a significant step toward opening its prized manufacturing technology to customers on a larger scale, and Apple’s name is now being whispered.

The move is seen as helping the world’s top chipmaker offset the growing costs of developing new technology and help keep the plants running near capacity.

Intel will make Altera’s programmable chips using its upcoming 14 nanometer trigate transistor technology. Sunit Rikhi, veep and general manager of Intel’s custom foundry, told Mercury News that it means Intel will be a significant player in the future.

Intel has announced agreements to manufacture on behalf of Achronix Semiconductor and other small chipmakers but Altera, which is one of two leading programmable chipmakers, is potentially much larger.

It means that the outfit has crossed over the line from just being a questionable experiment to working for tier-1 customers.

Whispers suggest that Intel may eventually agree to make Apple’s processors for the iPhone and iPad, although no one is saying that at Intel or Apple.

Intel has decided that real men own fabs and invested heavily in them over decades.

Altera chief exec John Daane told the Mercury that Altera is the only major programmable chipmaker that will have access to Intel’s plants.

The company gets access like an extra division of Intel. As soon as Chipzilla makes the technology available to its various groups to do design work, it will get the same level of tech.

Intel’s manufacturing technology will give Altera’s chips a several-year advantage against its rival Xilinx. However, Altera will continue to make other chips with TSMC, its long-time foundry partner. 

Intel alleged to have cooked the books on Ivy Bridge benchmarks

Intel has found itself in the middle of a geek’s controversy at the CES show after it was found to have made up the figures for power efficiency for its latest round of Ivy Bridge chips.

Intel announced its low-power Ivy Bridge chips on Monday with some claims that the power-frugal Y series Ivy Bridge processors were rated at seven watts.

This was significant as the current standard low-power Ivy Bridge chips are rated at 17 watts.

So staggered were the team at Ars Technica that it had a closer look and found that the seven watt claim was more marketing than a feat of engineering worthy of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

In fact, it turned out that Intel realised quickly that it was not going to get away with it and issued a statement to CNET admitting the TDP of the Y-processors was 13W and not seven. So, it is saving some electricity, but nowhere near as much as the marketing claimed.

The reason for the change is that Intel has moved away from its historical TDP standard and towards something called a Scenario Design Point (SDP). This is an additional thermal reference point meant to represent mainstream touch-first usages. It balances performance and mobility across PC and tablet workloads to extend capabilities into thin, thermally-constrained designs.

The TDP of the Y-processors are 13W which is a 24 percent reduction from TDP of Intel’s lowest 3rd gen Intel Core processors. But the Scenario Design Power (SDP), which provides a balance of performance vs. design power for mainstream touch-first usages and operates at 7W.

In other words, if your marketing team does not like the reference point you are using for power consumption you come up with another that looks a bit better. Or to put it another way, if you can’t compete on mobile with ARM, you just make up your power consumption figures and hope that no one notices.

But the announcement has rattled many who have been wondering if those leaked slides which have been making bold claims for the next-generation Haswell processors will use the new SDP rating and not TDP.

Intel has been saying on its slides that Haswell will be rated below 10 watts too. If it has been using its new “let’s look better than we really are” standard then Haswell will be looking somewhat less innovative than we expected. 

Intel will walk away from swappable chips

Word on the street is that the fashion bag maker  Intel is planning to move away from swappable chips in favour of the more fashionable SoC.

According to X-Bit Labs,  Haswell might be the last swappable chip from Intel to hit the shops.

Starting from the ludicrously codennamed “Broadwell” generation of processors, Intel will only offer mainstream desktop chips in BGA packaging. The big idea is that this will eliminate upgrade options as well as increase risks for PC makers.

The plan is to use land grid array (LGA) and micro pin grid array (µPGA) packages and will only be available in in ball grid array (BGA)formats.

This is like the Intel Atom processors which went that way as mobile became less flexible, but smaller and cheaper.

LGA packaging allowed a simple switch of CPUs on mainboards but Broadwell chips, which are due in 2014, will have to be soldered to mainboards. This is not an easy job and can only be done in by a manufacturer.

On the plus side, the Broadwell multi-chip modules, have everything integrated and will save a lot on power. They will be really useful for high-performance tablets, ultra-thin notebooks as well as all-in-one desktops as ball grid array packaging ensures a small footprint.

But BGA will cause some headaches for manufacturers. They will have to keep a large amount of different mainboards with various features and dissimilar microprocessors. Smaller manufacturers are not big fans of expensive stockpiling because it is risky for them.

Mainstream chips will reportedly be only supplied in BGA form-factors soldered to mainboards, which eliminates any chance of upgrade. It is possible that high-end desktop (HEDT) platforms will still be supplied in LGA packaging options but these chips will probably be more expensive.

Effectively this will be the end of being able to upgrade your PC, which is just what Intel wants, even if everybody else doesn’t. 

Intel desperately wants ARM wrestle

Intel is apparently planning a big Douglas MacArthur comeback in the mobile processor market next year and is speeding up the development of its next-generation, low-power chips.

According to Digitimesthe new line of low-power processors will see power consumption move closer to rival ARM’s, while reducing production costs through a process shrink.

Needless to say, Digitimes is short on details and only mentions in passing that it is talking about Intel’s Haswell and Clover Trail chips. It quotes its usual industry insiders.

But this is all possible. If the company is considering pushing forward its roadmaps on these chips, it does make sense.

For the next year the PC market will be on hold. Companies are not really going to start buying until the middle of next year. AMD does not seem to be releasing anything significant that requires Intel to rush out a counter design.

This gives Chipzilla the chance to focus on mobile, and in particular trying to take on ARM.

This would satisfy the shareholders who are worried that the company is not making inroads into the mobile market fast enough.

Meanwhile, Digitimes also claims that the outfit has pulled back on its Studybook tablets. Chipzilla originally expected its StudyBook tablet shipments to reach 3-4 million units in the period from January 2013 to June 2014. But the company has told its supply chain that it has reduced the forecast volume to 1.6-2 million units.

Intel’s problem in this case has been that while it had an advantage in hardware and software integration, it wanted far too much money when buyers wanted to place large orders. Intel had hoped to sell the tablets to government departments and the education sector in India and China, but apparently would not do a deal on price. 

Intel wants 48 cores in your phone

Fashion bag maker Intel has decided that what a smartphone really needs is so many cores that turning it on creates a distortion in the space time continuum and results in the creation of cats which might be dead or alive.

Researchers working for Intel are working out a way to put a 48 core chip into a smartphone, which does not melt, and does not have two seconds of battery life.

Computerworld admits that such a chip might be a few years away, but it thinks in five to ten years we will see 48-core processor smartphones and tablets.

Enric Herrero, a research scientist at Intel Labs in Barcelona, said the lab is working on finding new ways to use and manage many cores in mobile devices.

He said that a 48-core chip in a small mobile device would open up a whole new world of possibilities.

It will be possible to have one core encrypting an email while changing your TV channels, another reversing polarity on the neutron flow, another popping to the shops to buy a packet of fags, and another running for mayor.

All these things can apparently be done on four cores but the operations might drag because they’d have to share resources.

Tanausu Ramirez, another Intel research scientist working on the 48-core chip, said that if someone was, for example, watching a high-definition video, a 48-core chip could use different cores to decode different video frames at the same time. This would stop the image being jumpy.

If you use more cores with less energy you save a lot more juice than running one core flat out, Ramirez said. 

Justin Rattner, Intel’s CTO, told Computerworld that a 48-core chip for small mobile devices could hit the market “much sooner” than the researchers’ prediction.

He said functions such as speech recognition and augmented reality will push the need for more computational power. 

Panasonic suspends Chinese factories

Japanese manufacturers have temporarily closed factories in China following a spate of anti-Japan protests.

Panasonic has suspended production at two of its component factories in China
after they were attacked. It has said that its plant in Qingdao would remain shut until tomorrow and it would continue to review the situation in the upcoming days.

Atsushi Hinoki, a Tokyo-based Panasonic spokesman, told Reuters that another plant in China had also closed after several workers “sabotaged” operations in the factory.

It is also reported that Canon has moved to take similar action, suspending three of its Chinese factories.

The attacks are a part of wider protests that have spread across China after Japan said
it had agreed to a deal to buy a chain of disputed islands in the East China Sea from their private Japanese owner.

China has always claimed that it has rights to the islands – Diaoyu and Senaku – which are also claimed by Taiwan, and are rich with resources.

Although all countries involved have been rowing about who is entitled to the islands, the situation came to a head over the weekend after Tokyo announced that it had agreed to buy them.

The announcement has caused protests in China with Japanese companies and their property being damaged in the demonstrations.

Intel lowers Q3 expectations

Intel has lowered its Q3 revenue expectations, sparking fears that the IT industry is headed for more trouble.

Intel has lopped off about $1 billion from the anticipated $14 billion it thought it would pull in this quarter. While a billion here and a billion there does not make much odds on Chipzilla’s budget, there are worries among analysts that hairline cracks are appearing in the industry.

Both HP and Dell have lowered their earnings outlooks and the industry is starting to look like it is freezing up.

Of course, those who see the glass as half full think that the slowdown might be because organisations and consumers are holding back on buying PCs until Windows 8 is released this October.

The evidence for this approach is that demand for server processors is still good. Any slow down appears to be in the home PC area.

There are also those who claim that the home PC market is all moving to tablets and smartphones, although at the moment the figures do not back this up.

According to the Wall Street Journal, analysts are still optimistic about Intel.

It found a FactSet report which expected Intel’s sales sales to grow roughly six percent on average over the next two years, after not growing in 2012. Gross margins are expected to stay near 62 per cent.

Intel shares dropped about four percent on the news of the revenue warning. Intel will release its third quarter figures on 16 October.