Tag: CeBit

David Cameron has paper from Germans

UK Prime Minister David “one is an ordinary bloke” Cameron has returned from meeting the German Chancellor at SnowBIT and he has in his hand a paper which could mean that the UK has a 5g piece on our time. He met a robot at the Messe in Hangover yesterday.

Apparently David’s glorious vision is that Britain and Germany will team up to work on developing the next super-fast mobile network, 5G.

Cameron said the initiative is one of three areas that he wants Britain and Germany to collaborate on to “pool ideas, share data, innovate, and to lead on the next big ideas” in what he dubbed as being “a world on fast forward.”

Speaking at CeBIT, Cameron said that the future fifth-generation, or 5G, network will enable a full-length film to be downloaded on the internet in one second. At least in London. In rural areas it will take a hundred years and cost a trillion pounds. In Cameron’s Britain the film will have to be fit for a three year old and not contain any sex, swearing, witches, or references to the Tory party being out of touch.

“This is a prize that researchers all over the world are going for,” he said, unveiling the new collaboration between Germany’s Dresden University and Britain’s King’s College University in London and the University of Surrey.

Cameron said he is eyeing closer German-British collaboration on improving Europe’s telecommunications single market and the internet of thongs, or getting everyday objects to talk to each other over the internet.

“This has enormous potential to change our lives,” he said, outlining examples such as health monitors that keep an eye on the heart rate or blood pressure. It will also enable the government to know how many poor people are not sharing their bedrooms.

He evoked the good old Dickensian ideals by saying that the world was on the brink of a new industrial revolution and he wanted us, the UK – including Scotland –  and Germany, to lead it. 

IBM takes over CeBit

IBM has taken control of most of arguably one of the most important halls here at CeBit, Hall 2, turning it into what could be described as an International Business Machines Social Club.

The company, which says Europe and especially Germany is an incredibly important market for it, has well over 1,000 suited and booted IBM executives to talk up its wide portfolios. IBM executive Christine Paulus took some time to speak with TechEye. IBM has been heavily investing in CeBit over the last 25 years, she said.

For IBM in Germany, Paulus said, CeBit is the most important platform to meet customers and business partners while expressing its vision to journalists and analysts. In case you haven’t got the memo, the latest IBM vision is of a “smarter planet”.

We asked if it was a dumb planet before IBM. The answer is no – it’s all about working towards providing the infrastructure for a connected smarter planet – the planet was quite smart already, according to IBM. “It’s smart but it’s getting smarter,” Paulus said.

Despite the recession, Paulus expressed that Europe, economically, is quite advanced. Altogether, IBM thinks, Europe is “on a growing path”. 

This year the conference is all about the BRIC economies. Brazil is a partner for the show, and IBM notes that Rio De Janeiro is one of its smart cities worth taking notice of.

“Smarter cities is a worldwide phenomenon,” Paulus said. “And when you go to a megacity – that’s 10 million plus people – they are found mostly in Asia and South America. They have the challenges that they have hardly any infrastructure so they have to build from the bottom up”. Not from scratch, IBM says, but certainly with a lot more freedom to build than developed Western economies operating on older infrastructure.

Emerging economies, then, are particularly important for IBM. Government red tape can slow down the building process in developed countries, but not so much in countries which are growing – there are budget restrictions and political challenges in mature markets. And when you have to talk to the administration, you have to integrate them – and that can become challenging because you have to talk to so many people to get the job done.

Smarter cities, Paulus says, is a part of IBM’s smarter planet initiative. It’s important because in cities, all the challenges are on an even bigger scale – more than half the population worldwide is living in cities. And IBM wants to realise the vision of connected and smarter cities, worldwide.

Intel intros E5 Xeon

Lisa Graff, general manager of Intel’s data centre platform, announced the introduction of the E5 Xeon family, perhaps a little delayed, or to be fairer, much anticipated. Data Centres, she said, are connected to billions of devices. “IT not only supports the business, it is the business,” said Graff. It’s a while since Intel announced anything new at the CeBIT conference. There must be a reason. She didn’t say. 

Lisa Graff, IntelEverything she thinks can be boiled down into cloud, consumerisation and big data. An example is airlines. Five or 10 years ago you called the travel agent and the face of the company was the person on the phone. Graff doesn’t go near the phone these days, you do it online, you go straight to the gate and check your smartphone. She didn’t mention security. IT is the face of the company now. The database knows who you are and might even tell the sales person you’re there.

The faceless face of the company has to handle “exploding data”, and power management is very important. When you talk about 100,000 servers being deployed, power is important in terms of cost and managing power. Intel’s focus is to work with its OEM customers and get feedback from people that have to work with this stuff. 

The new E5 processor has an 80 percent performance gain, better IO, better security, and the best data centre performance per watt, she said. It’s about balanced performance, said Graff. She showed off a wafer and the cameras started snapping. “You didn’t take as many photos when it was just me,” she quipped.

Intel claims three times the IO for this family. That’s because the IO hub is now part of the processor and integrated PCI Express 3.0 into the processor.

Intel plans big price cuts in Ultrabook marketing push

Intel plans some big price drops this year as it begins to ramp up a massive advertising campaign to ram its Ultrabooks into the mainstream.

It may seem like Ultrabooks are already inescapable, with a number of machines dotting the halls of CeBIT, but Intel is readying itself for an enormous campaign this year with Ivy Bridge on its way and Windows 8 around the corner.

Karen Regis, director of Ultrabook marketing, told TechEye that the biggest campaign since Centrino is on the way soon, with the firm having only worked alongside its hardware in pushing the ultrathin devices up until now.

Ivy Bridge may not have a release date yet – Intel would only confirm that it would be in the first half of 2012 – but this is the crucial year for whether the Ultrabook will live up to the hype.

Whether this means that Ivy Bridge could see an earlier release to coincide with an advertising push is yet to be seen.  Talks of delays themselves were dismissed, with Regis telling us that Sandy Bridge’s successor is still “online with its retail cycle”.

With the move to 22nm, Intel claims that Sandy Bridge will still get a look in and is promising to continue to push sales with the first wave of chips. Of course, with Intel’s ongoing “journey to a vision”, the initial Ultrabooks could seem a bit old hat.

We were told that the public will see OEMs begin to experiment with form factors soon, and there are should be moves to larger, 14 inch screens.  The imminent release of Windows 8 should also introduce touchscreens later this year.

According to Regis, it’s likely that all Ultrabooks will have touch features “eventually”, though this is “dependent on cost” as touch screens add top whack onto the bill of materials. “Don’t expect to see it on entry level systems”, Regis said, and Intel sees them as just one of the ways in which Ultrabooks will start to diversify this year.

Price is still a thorny issue for Intel, and Regis tells us that there has been much work along with its component makers to bring prices down.   With economies of scale pushing down prices, consumers can expect prices to get “much lower” going into the Christmas holiday period, though we were assured that this won’t be at the expense of quality.

Intel refuses to share its targets for price point, claiming that it “doesn’t want to race to the bottom pricing”, and won’t “drive down to the lowest common denominator to meet an arbitrary target”.

At the same time we were told that there are “aggressive goals” internally at the firm, with staff getting bonuses for every time they lower the cost of the devices. 

Qualcomm opts for no four eye tablet

Master Image, which we encountered in Lost Wages only last month, tells TechEye it has a major design win on the books.

Qualcomm is going to show off a glasses free 3D tablet in Barcelona in a week’s time.

The Snapdragon Tablet 3D edition will be on Qualcomm’s stand next week. The design uses Master Image’s 3D Cell Matrix Parallax Barrier Technology.

You can read more about it on the Master Image site, which is here. We are so looking forward to SnowBIT! Senior VP Roy Taylor told us at CES that we guys in the UK would be able to buy stuff using its technology in Autumn, or Fall as we call it.

Here's what's Top of the Cebit pops

So Cebit has drawn to an end, drowning under floods of sweat, beer, coffee, Jaegermeister, bratwurst fat and even sunshine. Around 339.000 people decided to hang out in Hangover. Unfortunately the locomotive driver trade union thought it’d be spiffing to strike on Friday, Deutsche Messe wasn’t all too happy and claimed the strike cost 10,000 visitors.

Despite being sunny for most of the week and closing with a friendly sun shining down on the fairground, it did indeed snow on Friday night 2 am. It seems the weather has very volatile, short cycles in Hangover.

Hangover Snow 2011

As every year, hardly anything utterly titillating was launched waiting to tickle and pounce on consumer’s wallets, as is the case with Mobile World Congress, Computex and Consumer Electronics Show

Cebit, however, is far from boring. For hacks, it is a great place to meet and greet each other, and it is always fun to say “hello!” to the major companies, hear what they have to say whilst being politely critical and drinking up their coffee. Except, that is, when a product is utter crap and should be stuffed into a recycling system along with the people responsible. Please set to slowest speed for prolonged suffering and amusement, thank you.

Whatever the case, it is time for Techeye’s Top of the Pops and Flops of the Poops.

The prize in the category Cheekiest Chinese OEM Product Copy goes to this unit. Somehow it managed to go unnoticed by the authorities despite infringing Sony’s PSP logo trademark.

PSP knock-off

Techeye’s lips will stay sealed who made it, yet let it be known that it comes with capacities of 2GB, 4GB and 8GB for $28.80, $30 and $35 respectively. This is presumed to be the wholesale price.

It can run “public domain” NES, Sega Megadrive, Gameboy Advance 32 and 64 bit games, at least that’s what the catalogue says. It can be used as a voice recorder, MP3 player and supports diverse vidf formats such as RM, AVI, FLV, 3GP MP4, WMV, MPG and so on as long as the resolution is below 1280 x 720. The catalogue contains a ton of other units which seem to be Gameboy Advance and PSP copies, alongside – what else – tablets.

Last year’s nominee had its booth raided before Techeye managed to wander back and take a picture of its Amazon Kindle ebook reader.

And the winner in the category Most Innovative Product goes to the vacuum cleaners on display in the iF product design display in pavillon 11. No, just joking.

It is rather difficult to determine a winner, since most of the stuff has already been shown off elsewhere and was not unveiled during the course of the week.

Nonetheless, Techeye believes the ACL/ SeeFront booth showed a promising 3D technology, using the pixelshaders in a GPU to keep an autostereoscopic image in line with head movement.

“Rather Useless Gadget That Is Nice To Have” is Aiptek’s 3D HD camcorder on sale for around €200. Only useful if one has a 3D telly and shutter glasses lying around somewhere at home. Buy it for the kids, it will make the happy and keep them busy for at least a week or two, although one might wind up having to watch their newest home-made movie every few hours.

Aiptek 3D camcorder

“User Friendly Tablet Of The Show” award goes to the Asus for giving the Slider tablet a keyboard, making it a bit more usable and useful than its brothers and sisters from hither and thither.

Asus Slider

“Retro Unit Of The Show” goes to GNet, or Qingbang Elec (SZ) Co., Ltd. from Shenzhen for making a unit that brought back memories of the now ancient and extinct Psion PDAs and organisers, albeit with touchscreens in addition to the keyboard.

GNet slider PDAs

Two pocket sliders were on display running Windows, the MI15 and MI12. Mouse functionality was either the surface on the right of the screen (MI12) or a optic mouse pad (MI15). The MI15 was based around an Intel Atom Z515 clocked at 1.2GHz, whereas the MI12 can be bought using either the Z515 or Z510. Both had USB 2.0 ports, a Micro SD reader and the obligatory headphone out, mic in. MI15 featured GPS, WiFi and 3G, its smaller brother only 3G and WiFi.

German company Dermalog gets the first (and last) prize for “Dual-Use Tech For Potential Misuse”. Dermalog has been around for 15 years and holds patents for fingerprint scanners that can tell whether its a real, live finger pressing down on the scanner, or a cold, hacked off  finger, or a copy.

Around 95 percent of Dermalog’s customers are in Africa and Asia, where high illiteracy rates persist. Systems are used for ID solutions, such as identity cards, and e-voting.

The company’s newest product is a keyboard which makes sure only a certain user can access certain data. Access can theoretically be logged, alongside data manipulation, copying etc. Dermalog said the system was developed for a hospital to make sure only the doctor in charge can view patient data. Users are automatically logged out if an account stays idle for a minute.

Certainly a good way to keep critical data safe, as well as help keep secrets inside of Pandora’s box. If the US Army would have used Datalog’s products, Bradley Manning would’ve never been able to hand over a ton of stuff to Wikileaks.

Dermalog keyboard

Nvidia tops Jaegermeister benchmark

Nvidia, the jolly green goblin from Taiwan, was very jolly indeed at this year’s Cebit. On Wednesday evening Optimus Nvidia invited a ton of customers, resellers and a handful of journos to a bash in the Münchner Halle, where everyone had a fun time acting Bavarian.

Thanks to the combined efforts of all attendees, Nvidia managed to score over 400 bottles on the Jaegermeister benchmark, thoroughly outperforming the competition. Denmark’s Atea, who topped the benchmark last year, were left to bite the dust, faen! The win made PR guy Luciano Alibrandi’s evening sweeter, who was also celebrating his tenth anniversary working for Nvidia.

Nvidia Jaegermeister driver

The GTX 560i was shown running Bulletstorm and Crysis 2 in 3D as smooth as butter, the 550 is set for release to satisfy the lower end of the market. Last year Fermi and its late release was a big discussion point and Tegra was there, yet still on the horizon in term of products. Nvidia was still mainly focusing on the graphics market.

One year later, the picture has changed. Nvidia told TechEye it is becoming more and more a mobile company, orientating itself in the market with its Tegra products. A lot of makers are churning out tablets based on Tegra 2, whilst a handful of smartphones will be hitting the market sooner than later. On display was an LG Optimus handset hooked up to an 81″ telly running various games and videos, alongside various tablets and Ionised notebooks from Asus, Acer etc.

LG Tegra 2 phone hooked up to a telly

Nvidia believes the market will shift to mobile devices which will increasingly replace notebooks and large tower PCs. Tablets and phones will become what Germans call an “eierlegende Wollmilchsau”, an egg-laying wool and milk providing porker you can roast on a spit.

Or, simply put, a unified and more-or-less unified device. Consumers and office workers will carry around a smartphone and connect it at home with a notebook, or a telly.

At this year’s Cebit, Skype, email accounts and the Cebit2Go app featuring a full exhibitor list were accessed by Techeye mainly using a smartphone, instead of using a notebook. People increasingly desire near-instant access to communication and content, without the hassle of having to lug around a notebook and wait what feels like an eternity until the OS has booted.

The recent agreement with ARM is symptomatic of Nvidia’s effort to push into this area. Nvidia’s main problem will be to shove its desktop graphics down the milliwatt throat, a big challenge. Ask Intel, it’s Atom always loses in the milliwatt arena to ARM-based SoC’s. In the phone and mobile device market, Nvidia will have to catch up with Imagination Technologies.

Nvidia will certainly not abandon the desktop market, or even the high-performance computing market, where CUDA remains “unbeaten”, to quote a wise sage from a rather large German computer and technology magazine. Nonetheless, entering the mobile device arena is a good albeit challenging bet for the company. After all, Intel enjoys trying to choke it off with its integrated graphics, despite not being a graphics company.

Elitegroup's H57-M ready to go

Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) said that its H57-M motherboard, which it previewed at CES and CeBIT earlier this year, is now good to go.

ECS

The board comes bundled with two additional cards, one of which is a USB 3.0 card.

ECS also showed us a mini-ATX card, the HSSH-I, which only works with Intel’s Clarkdale CPU.

ECS mini-ATX

We also had lunch with seven women, six of whom were from ECS.

ECS

From left to right: Mike, Mei, Kimi, Esther, Ariel, Connie, Ivette and Jessica. The restaurant is in the same building as Elitegroup built on land it owns at No. 239, Ti Ding Boulevard, Taipei.

USB 3 adoption slows down to a snail's pace

One of the mutterings that came out of CeBIT was the statement that Intel is working with Microsoft on USB 3.0 integration.

While this all seems the sort of “relationship” and “partnership” stuff we see all the time from companies, what Intel Manager Steve Peterson really is saying is that the two biggest companies are sticking the brakes on USB 3.0.

Peterson actually revealed that he expected USB 3.0 to become mainstream only with the advent of the next iteration of the Windows client, Windows 8. This is years away.

This would have been considered good news if he had said it two years ago. At the current rate of development, Peterson said that the fruits of Intel and Redmond’s labours will not see the light of day until Windows 8 in 2012.

Until then SuperSpeed USB devices will only show up on high end PCs, and will take another a year or two to reach mainstream.

It seems strange that despite the fact that there is interest in USB 3.0, none of the big technology outfits have listed it as a priority.

At the moment, the only one with any foresight is NEC which is making a killing with its xHCI USB 3.0 host controller ICs.

The dark satanic rumour mill has been claiming for some time that Windows 7 SP1 will have some form of native support. However if Peterson is right it is not being delivered with much enthusiasm or heavy technological backing.

Linux on the other hand has had USB 3.0 support for some time now and products have been appearing in the market since last year. The question is why are the big players dragging their feet on adoption?.

USB 3.0 is a hell of a lot better than 2.0, which can only handle 480Mbps. It can handle transfer rates of up to 5Gbps. It is not as if the technology will break legacy systems either. It is fully  compatible with its precursor.  Something, something is going on.

CeBIT is kind of boring, yet ok

I headed off to the train station on Wednesday morning at 6AM, after a rather sleepless night which was spent twisting, turning and staring at the ceiling, feeling stupid that I had not memorised Intel’s, AMD’s and Nvidia’s roadmaps and quarterly earnings of the last five years.

After all, I did have appointments with all three companies. I hoped I’d be able to ask uncomfortable questions and wrestle interesting information from their minds, information which could easily be categorised as news. My first CeBIT since 2000 – and what a bore it turned out to be. I should have stayed in bed instead.

I arrived at the fairgrounds shortly before the doors were opened for lowly punters and paupers not in possession of nifty press or exhibitor IDs. After passing through the sacred gates I remembered why I had hated CeBIT when I went there back in 2000 – for outside, great cyclopean stone roads lead beyond the horizon, into regions unknown. I recalled endless halls packed with oddly shuffling creatures swaying to distorted rhythms, listening to sages speaking on every corner. An endless, cacophonic litany. H.P. Lovecraft never dreamt of R’lyeh, he dreamt of Hangover’s fairgrounds.

First thing to do was walk over to the press centre and lay my hands on an exhibitor’s list. All in all, I had to do that three times – the stupid booklets always went AWOL whilst walking, talking and taking pictures. AMD called at 9.30 am, just while I was walking up the stairs to the office area and a LAN-cable. Oh, so sorry they were, but they had to cancel my appointment. I wasn’t nearly awake enough to make a riot of the whole matter, so I settled for their excuses. Apparently the person with a title three times as long as his name had to cancel the whole day. They did send me an mail inviting me to a briefing of Magny Cours and so on, but unfortunately it didn’t fit my schedule.

I took the extra time to walk around and noticed I was one of few people wearing a press card who weren’t donning a tie, or a sports coat, or both. It was simply too early in the morning for the t-shirt and jumper fraction. Instead, I was slowly building up a sweat from wearing a thick wool sweater and lugging a 15-inch notebook around. Mental note: lay your hands on a netbook, John. Planet reseller was in hall 15 and was the first thing I went to.

Acer were displaying their Android-based Aspire One netbook, which also packs Windows XP – I simply had to see it. You can change the OS by clicking an arrow in the upper left hand corner. A Microsoft OS sharing diskspace with a rival OS? I can hear beOS turning around in its grave and Jean-Louis Gassée muttering blasphemous curses. The world truly has changed in the last decade – in this certain case, for the better.

Then it was time to head off to Intel. I wandered off into hall 23 by mistake. Intel was sponsoring some big ESL pseudosports event and I couldn’t figure out where the hell I was supposed to go, so I asked at an infodesk. Business lounge, hall 17. I eventually found the lounge after running through the hall twice. Intel didn’t unveil anything new they hadn’t already shown at CeBit. Beckton is going to appear in time, in contrast to rumours.

Intel demoed it’s wireless telly product, which streams content from a notebook or PC to a TV. Such technology benefits from the absence of Digital Economy bills regulating P2P. A nice store solution was also shown, which scans size and stature of people entering a store and recommends what garments would be best. It isn’t designed to work with RFID tags – yet.

I wrote about what Nvidia were showing behind closed doors last week. The new demo they unveiled on Youtube on Friday was hidden in the corner of one of the PR rooms, yet I made do with the 3-monitor 3D gaming and rocket sled demo. Oh, and with a look at some Ion-enhanced netbooks.

AMD didn’t have a booth nor anything else on display, bar behind closed doors. While Intel had an entire hall for punters and a business lounge for the press, AMD only had a lounge – which was by chance only seen from the outside by us.

Google was entirely absent from CeBIT, apart from showing three Street View cars splattered with paint. Google has been receiving a lot of heat from the Christian Democrat minister of consumer protection, who says Street View is a horrid thing invading people’s privacy. Which is somewhat hypocritical, considering the same party passed laws which were either highly embarassing affairs which led to a political backlash and sent net-centric youngsters into the arms of the Pirate Party, or were declared void by Germany’s Constitutional Court. Michael Jones, who started Google Earth, held a rather flaming speech last Monday at the CeBit, in parts a response to criticism voiced by politicians.

All in all, CeBit was okay. In hindsight, it wasn’t the sordid affair I deemed it to be – especially after watching the rather upsetting Germany v Argentina friendly on Wednesday. Most products were already shown during CES in Las Vegas, mobile phones seem to be the exclusive domain of MWC in Barcelona. CeBIT boiled down to a lot of booths from business software makers, Asian manufacturers, a few displays and public debates.

Oh, and it is an utterly tiring affair – the fairgrounds are so large one could theoretically fit an entire mid-sized town into it. With suburbs. And let’s not get started on those stupid miniature roller suitcases people pull around – they are an excellent way to land bang-smack on one’s face and bruise one’s toes. Exhibitors must have nerves of steel.