Tag: Japan

Underwater optical fibre data cable opens in Asia

A 7,800km underwater optical fibre data cable, called the Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE), which links Japan, Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia, has opened for traffic. It is the first direct cable link between the Philippines and Japan, according to one of the developers.

ASE can manage data transfer as fast as 40 gigabits per second. It joins existing undersea cables around Japan, including those operated by Telstra International, Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom, and Pacnet which links Singapore and Hong Kong, although these were damaged by an earthquake off Japan’s coast in March last year, the BBC reports.

It is hoped that the new cables will bolster speeds between the countries particularly for high frequency trades.

These are used by financial institutions to make trades where speed is imperative, sometimes up tp hundreds of thousands of transaction in under a second, based on algorithms that oversee market conditions nad make a call on the appropriate buy or sell actions.

ASE’s route is as straight as can be to reduce data transfer times.

Because of the natural disaster threat, ASE avoids the area around Taiwan where earthquakes are common. Instead the route is as near to the Philippines as possible, which a senior director at NTT – one of four project partners – claimed makes it significantly safer and more reliable.

The other companies are the Philippines’ PLDT, Singapore’s StarHub, and Telekom Malaysia.

Sharp might dump its consumer business

Word on the street is that Sharp might have to kill off its consumer business and downgrade its lot to being a component supplier to its Taiwanese partner Hon Hai Precision Industries.

According to Reuters, the century old Sharp is still insisting Hon Hai honour a money-losing deal to take an equity stake in the firm.

Investors have been wondering what Sharp is going to do with itself after its shares have lost nearly three-quarters of their value since the start of the year. It is also facing increased costs for its debts.

At the moment it is only functioning thanks to the backing of the Mizuho Financial Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group.

But those lenders are apparently leaning on Sharp to have closer ties to Hon Hai and the sale of non-LCD business to raise cash.

It will all come to a head next year when a $2.54 billion convertible bond matures in September. Sharp has a huge debt load and might need to raise cash earlier.

Meanwhile it is losing money and is relying on a cash injection of 66 billion yen from Hon Hai in return for giving it a 10 percent stake. The deal was agreed in March but has not yet been paid.

It seems that the share slump has meant that Sharp’s stock is not enough for Hon Hai to honour a deal that values Sharp shares much higher.

Hon Hai confirmed that Sharp had already released it from the terms of the deal “due to the volatility of Sharp’s share price”. But Sharp insisted that it expected the Taiwanese firm to fulfil the original terms.  Digitimes reports that Hon Hai has reached a deal to renegotiate with Sharp.

Wanna buy a gun wielding robot?

Japanese researchers have built a $1.2 million gun-wielding robot that can be controlled from your smartphone.

Dubbed the KR01 Kuratas Battle Mech, or Kuratas, the Robocop was unveiled by Suidobashi Heavy Industry in Tokyo.

According to APthe diesel-powered machine is four metres tall and weighs a humble 4.5 tonnes. It can move on four wheels and manage 10 km/h with the wind behind it and if it is going downhill.

Its weapon of choice is a Gatling gun capable of firing 100 rounds a second of ball bearings. It is activated via facial tracking technology when the trigger happy pilot smiles.

The “pilot” controls it from their smartphone or tablet and it is connected to a 3G network.

The pilot can sit in the cockpit where motion sensor technology allows the pilot to move the torso, arms and hands via 30 hydraulic joints.

Needless to say the robot is bullet proof. It is a bot like the Mitsubishi MK-6 Amplified Mobility Platform in James Cameron’s flick Avatar.

It can be programmed to perform such duties as firefighting and cleaning.

According to the company it comes in 16 different colours, and will be made to order, including a $90 optional cupholder in the cockpit. 

Renesas axes 12 percent of its staff

Japanese chipmaker Renesas plans to slash 12 percent of its workforce and sell off half of its 19 domestic plants within three years.

The company said that it cannot compete with Korean and Taiwanese companies, which can make chips smaller and cheaper.

Renesas was created by merging the chip divisions of major shareholders Mitsubishi, Hitachi and NEC. It said that the job cuts would save the company $541.97 million a year.

According to Reuters the outfit reported huge losses in the last financial year. It is terrified of going the way of fellow Japanese chipmaker Elpida which filed for bankruptcy protection in February.

The job cuts might not be the answer, analysts fear. While Renesas will stop losing money, it will not have enough staff and infrastructure to move forward.

Toshiyuki Kanayama, a Tokyo-based senior market analyst at Monex told Reuters that the challenges are what comes after the painful restructuring.

Renesas, which presented the restructuring plan to its unions, said it was thinking of selling or consolidating nine out of 19 plants as well as two so-called front-end wafer fabrication lines. The plants under consideration include a system chip unit in northern Japan. 

Worldwide chips sales down three percent

World chip sales are expected to drop three percent during May, as analysts predict flat growth for the year.

According to figures from Carnegie, chip sales across the globe are expected to be $24.2 billion in May.  This means that chip sales have fallen slightly from the same period last year, looking at a three month average.

It is expected that growth in the industry will be kept flat during 2012, with a solid increase expected for next year.

Apparently chips for mobile handsets were an area that weakened in May, following a particularly strong outing in April.

Analysts say that production in Japan for chips dropped during May, and this could continue, with Renesas set to close off capacity later in the year.

In Korea meanwhile chip exports were stronger during May, with Japan shipping out only 77 percent as many chips as its neighbour during the month.

This compares with 2001 when Japan was shipping twice as many chips, or way back in 1994 when exports were three times higher.

Hon Hai's Terry Gou to win Prince Philip Award for racial harmony

Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou is a cert to win the TechEye Prince Philip award for racial harmony after his latest gaff attacking the Koreans.

Gou, who famously described his control over employees as being similar to a zoo keeper, and publicly pondered what was so bad about running a sweatshop, has been caught slagging off Koreans.

According to Focus Taiwan, Gou confirmed a joint venture deal with Japan’s Sharp when he mentioned that he preferred working with the Japanese.

“I respect the Japanese and especially like their execution and communication styles,” Gou said. “Unlike the Koreans, they will not hit you from behind.”

Given that Japanese executions used to involve a sword to the back of the neck we are not sure where he got this perception from. True, when Japan invaded China they were pretty upfront about it, and did not shoot people from behind, but that was a long time ago. China has not forgiven Japan for its massacres, but then Japan has not exactly said sorry either. 

We understand that Gou might not like Koreans because of the success of Samsung, however, we should point out that not all Koreans work for that company.  Those who do have not felt the need to jump off buildings either.  

Sony market value slumps to lowest since release of Walkman

Sony has seen its shares drop to the lowest level since 1980 as TV sales continue to decimate its market value.

Sony’s shares fell to below 1,000 yen in Tokyo trading for the first time since the release of its Walkman, which saw the firm on its ascension to world domination.

The outlook now is somewhat bleaker, and with shares falling to 996 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, declining past the level last seen on 1 August 1980, according to data put together by Bloomberg.

Japanese electronics firms have been enduring hardships with the tsunami last year, while the yen currency continues to get stronger, making life difficult for the likes of Sony, Panasonic and Sharp.

One of the main challenges facing Sony and its domestic rivals is the slump in TV sales. Sony posted a $5.7 billion yearly loss in March, with slow flat screen sales a major contributing factor.  

This has coincided with the ascent of the Korean giants like Samsung, and the picture continues to stay bleak for Sony as it attempts to turn its business around. 

Analysts recently told TechEye that it may have to accept that the game is up in the telly business as it gets outmuscled by overseas rivals.

With Sony’s TV business posting losses for the past nine years, and its overall business in the red for the past four, the Japanese firm has some tough decisions ahead if it is to stop its value declining even further.

Toshiba gives up on netbooks in the US

Toshiba has decided that there is no point trying to sell netbooks to the US.

While the company is going to continue to make them, looks like the Intel Cedar Trail-based Toshiba NB510, will only be seen in third world countries like the UK.

Samsung and Dell already showed their willingness to ditch netbooks last year in the hope that they can make higher-margins with something else.

The Toshiba NB510 should have done well if there had been a market for netbooks. It had a 10.1″ system powered by a 1.6GHz Atom N2600 processor, Intel GMA 3600 graphics, 2GB RAM, a 1024 x 600 display and 320GB of storage space.

Toshiba thinks the future, particularly in the US, will be Ultrabooks such as the Toshiba Portege Z830, which offers a thin and light form factor but does not run like an asthmatic ant with a heavy load of shopping.

The question is what will those who are short of cash do now as Ultrabooks cost $800.

Toshiba appears to think that the netbook market will head towards tablets. In particular its Excite line of tablets.

Tosh has been walking away from a lot of its production lines lately.  Recently we reported how it was abandoning making tellies in Japan. 


Japan breaks wireless data record

Japanese researchers have emerged from their smoke filled labs having broken the record for wireless data transmission in the terahertz band.

Research, published in Electronics Letters, which we get for the spot the email in the spam puzzle, uses the T-ray band for data transmission.

T-ray is not a 1970’s heavy rock-blues band which folded after a row with its drummer about artistic direction. Instead, it is a frequency band with lies between the microwave and far-infrared regions of the spectrum, between waking and sleeping – a sort of Twilight Zone of frequencies.

It is completely unregulated by telecommunications agencies. It uses frequencies from about 300 gigahertz to about 3THz and is used in research contexts. Terahertz waves penetrate many materials but use less energy and cause less damage.

But T-rays required too much gear and were considered too costly to be a plausible alternative.

According to the BBCthe researchers have created 3Gb/s transmission at 542GHz using a 1mm-square device which is what is known as a resonant tunnelling diode.

RTDs are designed such that this process makes the diode “resonate”, which in the current work’s design means it sprays out waves in the terahertz band. 

Toshiba gives up on Japanese tellies

Electronics giant Toshiba has decided that making TVs for the Japanese is a complete waste of time.

Prices of tellies in Japan have fallen faster than a team of base-jumping performing elephants who have forgotten to pack their parachutes.

Most of the problems appear to be because the yen is stronger than the Incredible Hulk and by the time Tosh gets a telly to the Land of the Rising Sun it is worthless.

According to Reuters, it is the second manufacturer to walk away from Japan. The company which sounds like a sneeze, Hitachi also walked away citing a strong yen.

At this rate they should be doing better in Europe where the currency here is pretty weak. But pretty soon Japan will find it difficult to get its fix of electronic goods.