Tag: intel

Intel soups up its Atoms

Intel has souped-up its Atom chip, which is more famous for being an underperforming low-end chip for mobile devices.

The latest Atom C3000 chips have up to 16 cores and are more sophisticated than ever. Of course these are not going into smartphones – Intel has given up on that market. Instead they are made for storage arrays, networking equipment, and internet of things devices.

To be fair,  networking and storage devices don’t require much grunt, so a low-power Atom chip will work. Few Intel server chips have more than 16 cores. In this case though, the number of Atom cores means the chip can handle more streams of data.

Under the bonnet of the C3000 is RAS (reliability, availability, and serviceability) capabilities, which is mostly found on high-end Xeon chips. The feature corrects data errors on the fly and prevents networking and storage equipment from crashing.

Intel is also providing development kits for writing storage and networking applications for the chips.

The new chips are already shipping to testers and will become available in the second half of this year.

The Atom C3000 succeeds the C2000 which were originally targeted at microservers and networking and storage equipment. The Atom C2000 is currently in the centre of a row over a flaw that could crash servers and networking equipment. Apparently the C2000 came with a flaw which caused it to die after two years. Intel has provided a temporary fix, but the company is working on a permanent fix.

The Atoms are not the only thing that Intel is making for networking gear. It also has the new Xeon D-1500 chips for networking and storage gear that require quicker turnover of processed data. The chips integrate 10-gigabit ethernet controllers and have a technology called QuickAssist to drive throughput of compressed data up to 40Gbps (bits per second).

Intel reports strong finish to record year

Databroker_scrooge_mcduck-346x260Chipzilla’s supreme dalek Brian Krzanich said that Intel’s last quarter for 2016 was a strong finish to a record year.

He reported that data centre growth was good, Cloud service provider revenue was up 24 percent, and communications service provider revenue grew 19 percent. Internet of Things revenue was also strong.

Krzanich claimed that data growth would continue to skyrocket, creating demand for Intel’s processors. He said that a connected car could generate 4,000 gigabytes of data per day.

He noted that the company has good design wins in connected cars with BMW, Baidu, and Delphi. In artificial intelligence, Krzanich said Intel processors are used in more than 90 percent of machine learning applications.

Client computing sales, which include processors for desktops and laptops, had strong execution and higher average selling prices (up seven percent from a year ago) as customers opted for more gaming computers and high-end PCs, Krzanich said. During the quarter, Intel saw that the worldwide PC supply chain remained healthy and had inventory get used during the three months, said chief financial officer Bob Swan.

However, over all the figures appear to be mixed. Intel misted its target on earnings per share but beating estimates for revenues. The results were driven by revenues from desktop and laptop computer chips, data centre chips, and the Internet of Things. The latter was up 15 percent for the full year.

The cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street had expected Intel to report earnings per share of 75 cents on revenue of $15.8 billion for the fourth quarter. For the full year, they were expected earnings per share of $2.67 on revenue of $58.9 billion. Fourth quater earnings came in at $3.6 billion, or 73 a share, on revenue of $16.4 billion. A year ago, earnings per share were 74 cents, with revenue at $14.9 billion.

Next year though things might change for Chipzilla. AMD is expecting to be more competitive against Intel in 2017 as it readies its new Zen processors for PCs, laptops, and servers and Qualcomm is expecting to put more of its ARM based chips into PCs.

Net income for the year was $10.3 billion, while overall revenue for the year was $59.4 billion. A year ago, net income was $11.3 billion on revenue of $55.4 billion. Intel cut about 12,000 jobs during the year as it restructured to get behind the company’s focused priorities. This includes spinning off McAfee, formerly Intel Security, as a separate business.

Intel expects 2017 to be flat in terms of revenue. Krzanich said the company is taking a conservative view of 2017 PC unit sales than other analysts, but he noted there was record demand for Intel PC chips in Q4. Unit sales for 2017 could decline in the mid-single digit percentages, Krzanich said. Intel is positioning itself to lower its costs during the coming year.

AMD shows off Vega

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AMD lifted the kimono on its next generation GPU architecture, codenamed Vega.

For those who came in late, Vega’s design is based on the concept that conventional GPU architectures have not been scaling well for diverse data types. Gaming and graphics workloads have shown steady progress and while their compute capability may have been increasing at a good pace, but memory capacity has not kept up.

AMD claims that Vega has the most scalable GPU memory architecture built to date with 512TB of address space. It also has a new geometry pipeline tuned for more performance and better efficiency with over 2X peak throughput per clock, a new Compute Unit design, and a revamped pixel engine.

The pixel engine features a new draw stream binning rasterizer (DSBR), which reportedly improves performance and saves power.

Vega should offer significant improvements in terms of performance and efficiency when products based on the architecture begin shipping in a few months.  AMD is pinning rather a lot on Vega and its forthcoming Zen CPU.  If the two pay off then it will give Intel a much needed kick to the bottom line and claw back AMD’s dismal market share. Both technologies look rather good on paper.

Qualcomm faces $854 million for anti-trust

monopoly (1)South Korea’s antitrust watchdog has bitten a $854 million chunk from Qualcomm’s bottom line claiming the chipmaker used unfair business practices in patent licensing and modem chip sales.

Qualcomm said that it will appeal the decision which would be the largest ever levied in South Korea.

The Korea Fair Trade Commission which is very nearly the unfortunate acronym of a US fried chicken outfit  (KFTC) ruled  Qualcomm abused its dominant market position and forced handset makers to pay royalties for an unnecessarily broad set of patents as part of sales of its modem chips.

Qualcomm also restricted competition by refusing or limiting licensing of its standard essential patents related to modem chips to rival chipmakers such as Intel, Samsung  and MediaTek , the regulator said, hindering their sales and leaving their products vulnerable to lawsuits.

The regulator ordered Qualcomm to negotiate in good faith with rival chipmakers on patent licensing and renegotiate chip supply agreements with handset makers if requested – measures that would affect the U.S. firm’s dealings with major tech companies including Apple, Intel, Samsung and Huawei if upheld.

The KFTC said it began its investigations into Qualcomm’s practices in 2014 following complaints from industry participants, but did not name specific companies.

Foreign companies including Apple, Intel, MediaTek and Huawei expressed their views during the regulator’s deliberation process, KFTC Secretary General Shin Young-son told a media briefing in the country’s administrative capital.

Qualcomm said it will file for an immediate stay of the corrective order and appeal the decision to the Seoul High Court. The firm will also appeal the amount of the fine and the method used to calculate it.

“Qualcomm strongly disagrees with the KFTC’s announced decision,” it said in a statement.

While the fine is big, analysts said that the KFTC’s orders for Qualcomm to alter its business practices have bigger future implications for the chipmaker. The ruling forces the company to license patents for some of its chips to rivals such as Intel, which has been competing hard to land its modem chips in mobile phones.

 

Intel puts in new planning application for Irish plant

juteworks_tcm4-572826Intel Ireland is lodging a fresh planning application with Kildare County Council for an estimated $4 billion new chip manufacturing facility at its headquarters in Leixlip.

It is not clear if the project will go ahead as Ireland is competing with other locations, most notably Israel, to land the investment. It received a 10-year permission for the plant in 2013, which its local management said “sits ready to be used when the corporation needs it”.

Since then the standard design of Intel’s “fabs” has changed and new planning approval would be needed.

The latest application is for a smaller facility than the one for which it got permission in 2013, which at the time was estimated could create more than 3,000 jobs during construction and fit out, and would cost $4 billion.

Intel said the new application, as well as reducing the footprint, would also site the proposed manufacturing plant further back from the N4 road. It would also be lower in height than the 2013 version.

The latest application also seeks permission for a car park to hold 2,200 cars, indicating that, if the project proceeded, it would likely provide a significant permanent employment boost to the area.

Apparently Chipzilla Ireland is still waiting on Intel HQ to give the project the nod.

Never mind AI, Intel has Nervana

3d2a123ddc312423225755a14fe7db2dChipzilla’s billion dollar investment in Nervana might be the key to making its server chips more intelligent.

Intel is laying out its roadmap to advance artificial intelligence performance across the board and Nervana technology appears to be everywhere.

The high-performance silicon market is dominated by GPUs. However, with Nervana inside, Intel hopes its new corporate tech with its a fully-optimized software and hardware stack will give that business model a good kicking.

Nervana hardware will initially be available as an add-in card that plugs into a PCIe slot. The first Nervana silicon, codenamed Lake Crest, will make its way to select Intel customers in H1 2017.

Intel is also talking about Knights Mill, which is the next generation of the Xeon Phi processor family. Intel said that Knights Mill will deliver a 4x increase in deep learning performance compared to existing Xeon Phi processors and the combined solution with Nervana will offer orders of magnitude gains in deep learning performance.

Diane Bryant, Executive VP of Intel’s Data Center Group said that the Intel Nervana platform to produce breakthrough performance and dramatic reductions in the time to train complex neural networks.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said that Nervana’s technologies will produce a 100-fold increase in performance in the next three years to train complex neural networks, enabling data scientists to solve their biggest AI challenges faster.

IBM, Google and seven others gang up on Intel’s datacentres

Piranha-3dBiggish Blue, Google and seven others have linked up to give Intel a good kicking in the datacentres.

The gang has come up with an open specification that can boost datacentre server performance by up to ten times.  Dubbed the Open Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (OpenCAPI), this is an open forum to provide a high bandwidth, low latency open interface design specification.

The open interface will help corporate and cloud data centres to speed up big data, machine learning, analytics and other emerging workloads.

The consortium plans to make the OpenCAPI specification available to the public before the end of the year and expects servers and related products based on the new standard in the second half of 2017, it said in a statement.

Chipzilla is not signing up to the forum, but them it has stayed away from other open standards  and technology groups such as CCIX and Gen-Z.  It prefers to keep all its technology to itself.

However Doug Balog, general manager for IBM Power, said that with all the AI, machine learning and advanced analytics kicking around,  datacentres can no longer rely on one company alone to drive innovation.

 

Intel’s new HQ is a paradise for control freaks

control-freak-quotes-6Chipzilla’s new Israeli HQ is being used to show off its latest internet of things systems and it is rather good if you are the sort who likes outsourcing everything to your boss.

Intel wants the building to be the “smartest” in the world.  When it is finished in 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel it will be based around the latest internet of things technology, which was developed in Israel. The 366,000-square-foot building will house all 2,500 of the company’s employees in the country. It is expected to be completed in 2019.

The building will have the capability of learning the habits of every employee and customizing his or her working environment. Among other things, the building will know what coffee to make for each employee, and how to make it, when to send him or her to get a haircut, and it can recommend where to park.

Sounds great in many ways, if you like the idea of your boss knowing everything about you.  We guess it will know when you are likely to go to the loo and how long you take in there. Other noteworthy services will include setting air conditioning temperatures in meetings based on the combined preferences of each attendee, and determining when the best hour for each employee to eat is, whether or not their favorite dish is being served and if their friends are available to join.

The building  will also contain 3,500-square metres of electronic labs, three restaurants, a café, a gym, a spa, a beauty salon and a learning and convention center.

 

 

 

Chip industry still suffering from economic crunch

snail-8296a552f7bd1064368205306ff8a3c7c7bdc7c4-s900-c85The chip industry is still in the doldrums and that isn’t going to change anytime soon.

That’s the verdict of Malcolm Penn, CEO and chairman of UK semiconductor analysts Future Horizons.

At a semiconductor conference in London, Penn said that the chip industry is driven by four factors: the economy, fab capacity, unit demand and average selling prices (ASPs).

Penn said: “The economy is in a mess and it’s not getting any better. It’s the ‘wait one more quarter’ syndrome. Nobody reacts when the data is good because they don’t believe it.”

He said that 2016 seemed to be an almost exact replay of 2015. Nobody believes in the numbers any more, he said.

“No-one is spending money. There are no new killer products on the horizon. There is nothing, nothing at all.”

Killer apps can’t be predicted and have always been a surprise, Penn said. The outlook is somewhat grim.

“No one knows how to restart the engines.

Regionally, he said, the picture is also pessimistic. “Japan is a complete disaster. China is on a downward trend. Russia has shot itself in the foot,” he said. “Newly industrialised Asian countries have run out of steam. The overall trend is decidedly bad.”

So what of the future?

Historically, integrated circuits (ICs) have shown a 10 percent growth but, he said, the current trend is low with only a six percent figure in 2016. He said: “PC and smartphone IC shipments are still relatively very small. Unit demand is driven by the economy, and the PC market is as dead as a dodo.”

The figures over the last four years show a steady decline, 9.5 percent growth in 2013, 8.3 percent in 2014, 5.1 percent in 2015 and six percent this year.

He said: “Fab capacity is in the hands of the few. No there is no excess capacity. It takes a year to add new capacity and the lead time has never changed.”

As far as capital expenditure (CapEx) goes, Intel, Samsung and TSMC rule, he said at 60 percent CapEx. That’s not true for Global Foundries (GloFo) which is only nine percent.

He said: “A capacity shortage is waiting to happen. At some point of time there will be a shortage and it will catch everyone by surprise.” And most of the bigger fabs are in earthquake zones.

He’s gloomy about next year too. In 2017 he expects a weak PC and smartphone market.

“The economy is still horrid. There’s no life in the semiconductor business.”

Intel spins off McAfee

ElderlyspinneraIntel has admitted that its $8 billion acquisition of security outfit McAfee never quite worked out and is spinning the business off.

Under the deal Intel will collect $3.1 billion in cash and retain a 49 percent ownership stake of McAfee. Meanwhile TPG will own 51 percent of the new company.

TPG will make a $1.1 billion equity investment in McAfee, which will also take on $2 billion of debt. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2017, Intel said.

Analysts and investors have favoured disposing of the business. It sort of made sense in the days when the PC did well but it did not add much to Intel’s chip sales and now the PC is less important it was better off somewhere else.

It does make money. The unit reported $1.1 billion of revenue in the first half of the year, up 11 per cent  from the same period of 2015, and operating income of $182 million, a 391 per cent jump.

Chris Young will be CEO of the new company. He said as standalone company supported by these two partners, we will be in an even greater position of strength, committed to being the best provider the cybersecurity industry has ever seen.

Intel said it still plans to collaborate with McAfee to add security features across its product lines.

Dusting off the McAfee name explains why Intel was not so keen to give the brand back to its colourful founder, John McAfee earlier this week.