Tag: mobile

Intel and Fujitsu show off photonics server

Intel and Fujitsu have been showing off a new server which uses Intel silicon photonics technology with an Optical PCI Express (OPCIe) design.

The gear will allows the storage and networking to be split up and moved away from the CPU motherboard which will mean that components are easier to cool.

Fujitsu has now built something which includes all the cables and connectors optimised for photonics, with the first Intel Silicon Photonics link carrying PCI Express protocol.

According to a press release the Photonics allows components to communicate using fiber optic cabling rather than electrical wiring and the new Fujitsu server relies on a field-programmable gate array.

As far as the hardware is concerned Fujitsu took two bog standard Primergy RX200 servers and added an Intel Silicon Photonics module into each along with an Intel designed FPGA.

This made the PCI Express “optical friendly” and then they were able to send PCI Express protocol optically through an MXC connector to an expansion box with several solid state disks and Xeon Phi co-processors.

All this gave designers the chance to increase the storage capacity of the server, to increase the effective CPU capacity of the Xeon E5′s, and cooling density.

Photonic signally creates less electromagnetic radiation noise and the cables are a bit lighter. 

One in ten smartphones runs Windows

Microsoft’s deals with Nokia are starting to make slow but noticeable progress, with more than ten percent of smartphones in the EU running on Windows.

According to market analysts Kantar WorldPanel, Android still remains the number one system in most countries, but Windows Phone is gaining fast.

In the UK it now accounts for 11.4 percent of the market, up 7.2 percent compared with the same period last year and easily overpowering BlackBerry which has a dismal 3.1 percent of the market to take third place.

Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech said that the gradual global growth of Windows Phone stems partly from the historical popularity of budget Nokias with users.

In Latin America, no one actually wants expensive smartphones and they are happy to own Nokia-built feature phones.

However, this means that Microsoft really did buy itself a foot in the door in the mobile market by getting Nokia, if it does not make the same mistake and try to push its phones into the high margin multiple feature smartphones peddled by the likes of Apple.

But there are risks that while Microsoft might get its way into the cheap and cheerful market, it is not the part of the industry where great profits are made. Unless, that is that Microsoft can work out a way of linking cheap smartphones with the rest of the Microsoft hardware it has in its stable. 

Moaning Merkel enters mobile madness

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has complained to President Barack Obama after learning that US intelligence may have targeted her mobile phone.

According to the Miami Herald, she told the president that it would be “a serious breach of trust” if the claims were true.

Obama said that US is not listening in on Merkel’s phone calls now but failed to say that it had not done so in the past.

A White House spokesman sort of implied that the US ruled the world now and if it had not been for them, the Germans would be speaking German.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the United States greatly values its close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges. We guess he was referring to them both needing to know Merkel’s password.

German news magazine Der Spiegel, which has published material from NSA leaker Edward Snowden, found proof that the US hacked Merkel’s mobile.

Merkel said among close partners such as Germany and the US, “there must not be such surveillance of a head of government’s communication”.

The White House is conducting a review about how it gathers intelligence after it became clear that it seemed to be spending rather a lot of dosh snooping on people who were its friends, rather than enemies. France and Brazil have also made similar complaints.

As details of National Security Agency spying programs have become public, citizens, activists and politicians in countries from Latin America to Europe have lined up to express shock and outrage at the scope of Washington’s spying.

The French were particularly miffed after a Paris newspaper reported the NSA had swept up 70.3 million French telephone records in a 30-day period. 

Intel to stick with 450nm plans

Chipzilla is continuing to write cheques to support its 450mm wafer initiative despite worries about a slow down in the PC market.

Intel’s supreme Dalek Brian Krzanich said he wants volume production of chips on 450mm wafers in the second half of this decade.

The move to 450mm wafers is an extremely complex process which will take at least ten years and is a long term goal for any outfit.

But the fact he will not cut spending on it means that Krzanich thinks the slowdown in the PC market is not heralding the death of PCs and a move to mobile so much as a hiccup.

Krzanich said that Intel had not changed its timing on 450mm wafers and was still targeting the second, latter half of this decade. Over that period of time you are bound to get “mixed signals” about whether or not there will be a big pay off at the end of it.

Intel saw great value in 450mm as it brings tremendous economic value to everybody who participates in it, Krzanich said.

Chipzilla has confirmed the beginning of construction of the fab D1X module 2. The new facility will be the world’s first semiconductor manufacturing factory processing 450mm wafers, which will be used primarily for development purposes and which will lead the way for the whole multi-billion dollar industry.

But there is some heavy expenditure involved in this glorious ten year plan. Apparently it is going to set Intel back nearly $2 billion this year.

That cash is ear-marked build Intel’s first 450mm [D1X module 2] development facility. The plan is to have 450mm equipment available in 2015.

Intel is currently equipping its D1X development fab to process 300mm wafers using 14nm manufacturing technology and expects to initiate production this year. While the D1X module 1 facility is 450mm-capable, it will come online as a 300mm fab.

There's bad news for Intel tomorrow

The cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street are expecting the fashion bag maker Intel to have a rotten day tomorrow.

Chipzilla is to announce its third-quarter earnings report and the word on the strasse is that it is going to be down for the third quarter in a row.

Research analyst Deepon Nag at Macquarie Equities Research downgraded Intel stock to neutral from outperform, citing ‘pressure in the core PC market’.

Last week Canaccord Genuity analyst Bobby Burleson lowered his estimates for Intel’s sales and earnings in 2013 and 2014.

According to the US Finance Post, the blame is being attributed to a mythical shift towards smartphones and tablets, along with a more than likely sluggish adoption of Windows 8.

But analysts claim that moves towards cloud computing are also hurting Intel. Cloud computing allows PCs to get by with far less processing power than before.

While Intel does sell chips used in cloud data centres, it is unclear whether the cloud server market can match the volume of the PC market.

According to a Thompson Reuters poll this morning, Wall Street analyst expect Intel to post results of $ .53 per share on sales of $ 13.47 billion for the third quarter.

If you look at the same time last year, this means a nine percent drop in earnings per share on flat sales. This would also be the fourth straight quarter where sales have been flat or down and the sixth straight quarter where EPS has done the same.

What is worse is that Wall Street does not really expect things to improve for Intel. Apparently, analysts think that Intel is struggling to find its role in the post-PC marketplace. Others just think that the IT industry is buggered up by the economy and things will pick up for Intel when companies can afford to splash out on PCs again. 

LG boasts of curved OLED smartphone display

LG is to start mass production of curved smartphone displays and launch a smartphone with the new screens next month.

Samsung has already announced that it will introduce a smartphone with a curved display in October.

Curved displays are being touted as the next big thing. They allow bendable or foldable designs that could eventually allow mobile and wearable gadgets to take new forms.

This could help along the smartphone market, where new ideas are desperately needed to keep it ticking along.

According to Reuters, LG has started production of a six-inch display curved top to bottom. It plans to launch a smartphone with the curved display in November. Samsung’s phone will have a display curved side to side.

Technology firms have yet to figure out how to mass produce the parts cheaply and come up with display panels that can be thin and heat resistant.

LG said its OLED is built using plastic substrates instead of glass, and by using film type encapsulation and attaching protective film to the back, it is “bendable” and “unbreakable”.

The company says its screen is vertically concave from top to bottom with a 700mm radius and is 0.4mm thin. LG boasts it’s the world’s thinnest and lightest, weighing in at 7.2 grams with a six inch screen.

Rumours of curved screens have been floating around for some time now. It was thought while companies were keen to implement them in smartphones, it was first necessary to figure out cheaper production methods that kept phones using the panels cost effective.

Windows Phone continues steady growth

Market share of Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS is steadily increasing across Europe, nearing the double digit mark at 9.2 percent for the three months to August 2013, according to a report.

In Germany, Windows Phone is just one percentage point away from iOS, while in France and Great Britain it has 10.8 percent and 12 percent of the share, respectively – the first time it’s reached double digits in two major markets, a Kantar worldpanel survey claims.

This growth for Windows Phone has largely been driven by Nokia’s entry into the low- and mid-range markets, with the Lumia 520 and 620, which are proving particularly popular in the 16-24 and 35-49 age brackets.

The story’s different in the US, with Apple still gaining traction and claiming 39.3 percent of all sales. Kantar believes this figure will spike as the iPhone 5S & 5C pick up in popularity. In Japan, Apple and Android adoption rates are almost equal.

Android is by far the most widely adopted operating system, but this is hardly surprising given Google’s tactic of showering the market with a quality OS to multiple manufacturers.
Blackberry holds 2.4 percent of sales in the Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

Intel says no to New York chip trend

Fashion bag maker Intel has told those who were hoping it would build a chip factory in New York that it’s a myth that if you could make chips there you could make them anywhere.

New York was starting to be seen as a fab place to make chips. The Empire State is developing a $45 billion “mega” chip fab site near Utica.  

The site is being developed by the Suny College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. The fabs would be built on land CNSE owns across the street from the Suny Institute of Technology in Marcy, on the outskirts of Utica.

Dubbed the Marcy Nanocenter, the facility includes 400 acres that can accommodate three chip fabs with 450,000-square-foot clean rooms. The cost of each fab would be as much as $15 billion.

The site will be home to 450mm wafer technology, which is the next generation of manufacturing technology and can produce twice the number of chips in the same amount of time as a 300mm factory.

Intel spokesperson Chuck Mulloy told the Times Union that the company isn’t interested in getting involved, even if it did close its Hudson plant recently.

Closing the Intel plant in Hudson doesn’t mean those 700 jobs will move to Oneida County. “There is no connection,” Mulloy said.

Hudson will continue to operate until the end of 2014. It is a 200mm fab running much older process technology, he said.

Intel has said it is moving toward 450mm processing.  But no 450mm fab has been built because suppliers are still developing the technology to handle the larger wafers.

Intel shutting down Hudson plant

Intel has decided to close its US factory in Hudson by the end of 2014, leaving 700 people without a job.

Intel spokesperson Chuck Mulloy told Boston.com that the facility and the site do not meet the company’s requirements.

The plant was getting on a bit.  It was built by defunct computer company Digital which was acquired by Intel in 1998. Chip making technology at the plant is more than 10 years old, and four generations behind the equipment used in Intel’s most advanced factories.

Intel had been using the plant to churn out low-end chips found in many electronic devices.

More than 100 workers will be laid off over the next three to four months. The remainder are to stay on until the plant is closed.

Intel said that some workers will be given a chance to seek other jobs at Intel and the rest will collect a severance package.

Mulloy said that the plant will run near full capacity until it’s closed, to fill existing orders, and to build up inventories of obsolete chips which will no longer by made once the Hudson plant is shut down.

Intel will continue to operate its R&D facility in Hudson which employs an additional 850 workers. This facility will continue in operation and its workers will not be affected by the job cuts, Mulloy said.

EE's 4G monopoly should have done better

Since telco merger EE – borne from T-Mobile and Orange – grabbed a headstart on 4G networks in the UK it has now reached the milestone of one million customers. But considering its position, it could have done even better.

EE launched its first 4G service in October 2012, followed by an aggressive rollout across the country. Now, the company’s network covers over 100 towns and cities, which EE claims are faster than similar networks in Europe, the USA, and Japan.

CEO Olaf Swantee said in a statement that EE’s entry into the 4G market was a booster shot for the British mobile sector.

“We set a new standard for UK mobile networks,” Swantee said. “We have seen one of the fastest adoption rates in the world”.

EE is no longer the only 4G provider in the UK as spectrum was opened up to Vodafone and O2, with Three to come this December.

Although EE claims its price point is competitive in the UK and abroad, many customers will still be priced out of the service – at least, to make the super fast network worth the extra spend.

For example, using EE’s online shop, a data plan with the Samsung Galaxy S4 costs £51 per month for 20GB of usage. More affordable plans include £26 per month for 500MB of data, £31 per month for 1GB of data, and £36 per month for 1.5GB of data. Even though customers can take advantage of the ultra fast network, just a couple of gigabytes of data will not be enough to justify the extra expense for many. Streaming may be super speedy, but the limit will run dry, quickly.

Despite this, EE commissioned research noted half of users are using fewer or no public wi-fi spots since upgrading to 4G, while a third stream more content over 4G than they did on 3G, including with TV and film services such as iPlayer and Netflix.

EE’s milestone, of course, must be put into context. Its massive head start kept it ahead of the pack because it was the only company offering actual LTE networks on LTE devices that customers wanted.

Ovum’s Steve Hartley, head of Industry, Communications & Broadband Practice, explained, speaking with TechEye:

“There was no competition,” Hartley said. “We’ve got a wealthy market, and we’ve got a market that is a very high user of mobile broadband, but at the same time 3G networks haven’t actually evolved quite as quickly as other markets around the world. The difference between a 4G and 3G experience is quite extreme, you’re going to notice, it’s a lot smoother and faster”.

With that “pent up demand,” Hartley said, if you are the only company able to serve it, naturally there is an advantage.

EE managed to efficiently and quickly put the necessary infrastructure in place to nail coverage. “They have deployed the network very quickly,” Hartley said, “certainly if you compare to other LTE launches around the world,” but the others have only just launched so EE will “continue that quasi-monopoly for a while yet”.

Crucially, EE was able to have the right handsets available at launch.

“One of the nuances in the EE statement, about being among the fastest uptake, you have to remember LTE have only really been available in something approaching volume this year and the end of last year,” Hartley said.

“Earlier LTE launches relied heavily on dongles and MiFi type devices, and of course that has a natural pull of potential customers, whereas with the other handsets, if you have mobile broadband on your handset, you’re a target for LTE”.

“Having that range of devices available at launch has really helped them. If you can imagine trying to launch without the iPhone 5, the Samsung Galaxy S3, then the 4, the Blackberry Z10, you had these hero devices coming out at roughly the same time, and just so happened if you want them to work on LTE you could only go to one place”.

Considering EE’s near year long monopoly, the milestone could have been even better for the company, Hartley said.

“Given they had a monopoly they could have done even more,” he said. “You have all that coverage and devices people want – then you price things aggressively to encourage people onto LTE networks. Others launching could have found themselves two million behind or more. Since they launched, the premium has been too much. I’ve spoken about it to EE, and to Olaf, and we have a fundamental disagreement for the business case for LTE.

“For me it’s about transporting data efficiently. For Olaf, and understandably under pressure from shareholders, he thinks you charge a premium for LTE. As you can see, the two business models don’t marry too neatly”.

If a company with a monopoly charges a top premium, it actually slows down the adoption rate, and businesses want that adoption rate as high as possible, as quickly as possible.

“The one million mark being hit early is a nice landmark. But I did wish they had done even more, because they could have really shaken up the competition,” Hartley said.