Verizon Goes IoT

November 9, 2015 by  
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Verizon has rolled out ThingSpace, a development platform for companies of all sizes to create Internet of Things applications more efficiently and then later manage those apps.

The carrier also announced it is creating a new dedicated network core for IoT connections that can scale far beyond the ability of its existing networks with the intent to reach billions of sensors and devices.

“Continued innovation in smart cities, connected cars and wearables demonstrates that IoT is the future for how we will live and work,” said Mike Lanman, senior vice president of enterprise products at Verizon during an event held at Verizon’s San Francisco Innovation Center. He said Verizon is taking a “holistic approach” to help expand the IoT market from millions of connections to billions. The event was webcast.

Other major wireless carriers, including AT&T, are developing programs to offer a range of services to industries and cities for connecting IoT sensors to wireless networks and then to cloud services for data analysis.

At Verizon, Lanman said the company is working to lower the cost of connecting billions of existing devices that companies have used for years to Verizon’s network. Holding up a new computer chip made by Sequans Communications, an LTE chip maker, he said the chip will provide a “significant reduction in cost…that changes the game.” It will provide 4G LTE connectivity in modules connected to IoT devices to “make the wide-area network more accessible to developers.”

Also, next year Verizon will launch a new IoT core network within its LTE network to provide a “much lower cost” than with Verizon’s existing wired and wireless networks.

“The cost for an IoT module and the cost to connect will both drop dramatically,” Lanman added. “Whether you are connecting your dog or water meters and any other low-payload devices, we’ll handle it through a new IoT core.”


HP Moves To Lower The Price Of SSDs

September 11, 2015 by  
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HP has become the second major player to bring an “affordable all-flash array” to market with new additions to the HP 3PAR StoreServ range.

The new 8000 series consists of a Starter Kit (20800 AFA) and software updates for the full StoreServ range, and HP can now offer multi-petabyte systems offering 3.2 million IOPS with scale out from two to eight controllers and proven tier-1 resiliency.

“Regardless of your size, budget, growth rate, quality of service requirements or even your storage network environment, HP 3PAR StoreServ storage offers a best-in-class flash solution to power your public, private or hybrid cloud with uncompromising adaptability from a single architecture,” said Manish Goel, senior vice president and general manager of HP Storage.

HP has also announced additions to the existing 20000 range, including a 20800 All-Flash Starter Kit clocking in at $99,000, and the 20450, a 6PB all-flash array with 1.8 million IOPS.

Using these products together can create up to 60PB of aggregate usable capacity. Both ranges offer the same hardware acceleration from the HP 3PAR Gen5 Thin Express ASIC, which offers double the bandwidth of competing platforms and up to 20GBps of read bandwidth.

Both ranges are now also certified for use in SAP HANA Tailored Data Centre Integrations. Priority Optimisation can bring latencies as low as 0.5 milliseconds through a QoS engine that requires almost no interaction from system admins.

This is just part of an aggressive strategy in cheap, scalable enterprise storage. In April the company launched the Openstack based StoreVirtual range.

HP has also announced data protection enhancements to the 3PAR StoreServ powered by StoreOnce Recovery Manager Central, offering complete granular recovery of backups taken incrementally based only on changed data to minimise resources.

Finally, Fibre customers can use the new HP SmartSAN, which uses Express Provisioning Technology to orchestrate SAN fabric zoning, reducing the process of SAN configuration by 80 percent.

The products are designed to be a little more robust than SanDisk’s InfiniFlash, which is designed for no more than a few writes of archiving, and the price tag goes up accordingly starting at $19,000, but it’s still a significant drop in price for all-flash and hybrid flash arrays.

An eight-node enterprise flash family with density equivalent to a mechanical drive array starts at $1.50 per gigabyte, based on its predecessor line. That’s a big drop given the speed advantages that could pay for itself in certain sectors.

The products will be rolling out over the next few months starting with the StoreServ 8000 which will be available immediately. More products will be available next month, and RMC-V brings up the rear in October.



Memory Chips Appear To Be Dropping

August 31, 2015 by  
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The production value of memory chips in Korea fell by a percent on the previous quarter, affected mainly by a low bit growth of DRAM and NAND flash chips from SK Hynix.

Beancounters at Digitimes Research said that sales totaled US$12 billion in the second quarter of 2015, increasing 1 per cent from the previous quarter,

Server-use DRAM products became the primary product line for SK Hynix for the first time in the second quarter as sales of its PC-use DRAM chips suffered a significant decline compared to a quarter earlier.

Price reductions of PC DRAM chips were greater than market expectations in the second quarter due to an oversupply in the market, affecting sales performance of SK Hynix.

Samsung was less affected by declining PC DRAM prices because mobile DRAM products accounted for 35 per cent of its total DRAM income.

Samsung memory and semiconductor revenues hit a record high in the second quarter.

For the third quarter, the bit growth rates of NAND flash shipments at Samsung will rise 10 per cent and SK Hynix will increase 13 per cent on quarter.

SK Hynix will manage a five to eight per cent growth while Samsung is expected to see shipments of its DRAM chips grow 12-14 per cent.

Digitimes Researcher flipped their iChing coins and came to the conclusion that Korea’s memory products are expected to increase 3 per cent on quarter and 12 per cent on year in the third quarter of 2015.


Is The DRAM Market Gaining Traction?

June 1, 2015 by  
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DRAM market conditions will be better in the third quarter of 2015, recovering from the bad first half of the year, according to Inotera.

Inotera chairman Charles Kau said that it was unclear if DRAM prices will stop falling and rebound in the third quarter.

Inotera on May 11 signed a $508 million five-year syndicated loan agreement with a consortium of local banks in Taiwan in the hope of getting a bit of flexibility until things pick up.
The outfit was not thinking of flogging any of the family silver, but plans to start distributing dividends to shareholders in 2016, Kau noted.

In 2014, non-PC DRAM products accounted for 60 per cent of Inotera’s total revenues. The company will continue to improve its product mix in 2015, while making progress in the transition to 20nm process technology.

Kau told Digitimes that Inotera plans to have 80 per cent of its total production capacity to be built using a newer 20nm node by the end of 2015.

Meanwhile it is not planning any big capital expenditure, he said.


Are Flash Drives Becoming More Secure?

March 10, 2015 by  
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Flash drives in mobile devices are set to become faster and secure thanks to a new standard signed off by the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association.

eMMC version 5.1, will allow for a new mobile storage that will provide faster access. Flash drives based on eMMC 5.1 can handle 4K streaming and more data-intensive tasks.

Samsung has started making 64GB, 32GB and 16GB drives based on the new standard and is shipping units to customers, but has not said whether those drives will be used in the Galaxy S6 smartphone, which will be announced early next month at the Mobile World Congress trade show.

Samsung’s 64GB eMMC 5.1 has a random read performance of 11,000 IOPS (input/output operations per second) and write performance of 13,000 IOPS, compared to a rough performance of 7,000 IOPS for 64GB drives based on the previous eMMC 5.0 standard.

The speed improvements comes through some cache and data-streaming improvements.

There is also something called Secure Write Protection ensures only specific entities are able to access files and lock or unlock storage.


Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Goes WiGi

October 31, 2014 by  
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he WiGig standard has been around since 2009, but we haven’t really seen it hitting that many retail devices. Back at IDF 2014, Intel demonstrated WiGig 802.11ad video, peripherals, 4K video transfer and it promised that Skylake based laptops will come out of the box with the technology.

WiGig will let you transfer up to 7Gbpps of audio, video or data via 2.4, 5 or 6GHz bands and is as fast as eight-antenna 802.11ac and nearly 50 times faster than highest 802.11n rate. It is backward compatible with WiFi standards, but due to its high frequency it is limited to short distances, usually up to 10 meters, cannot really penetrate walls but it can propagate by reflecting off of walls, ceilings or objects using beam forming.

Now Qualcomm showcased this technology for the first time and promised it inside Snapdragon 810 based devices. Qualcomm demonstrated peer-to-peer connection and transfer of 4K video between two 20nm Snapdragon 810 based tablets. One of the tablets was the sync side and it was connected directly to a 4K TV and it was clear that you could play a content from one tablet and sync it to the second one.

WiGig’s 7Gbps translates to 875MB per second in the best case scenario. The Qualcomm demo shows a Plutonium MSM8994 based tablet hitting up to 187MB a second (1.5 Gbit per second) available for data transfer, with 4K multi-device streaming on the side. WiGig can possibly get to external storage, enabling faster NAS systems, future peripherals such as keyboard and mouse and on a longer run it can completely eliminate the necessity for docking stations. It will take some time but this is the grand idea.

It remains to be seen when we will be able to buy first Snapdragon 810 device with 802.11ad WiGig abilities. Qualcomm mentioned 2015 a number of times, but there’s nothing more specific than that. A potential problem for this standard might be the speed of flash storage that is used in tablets and phones today. According to Androbench, the HTC One M8 can sequentially read 92.29 MB/s, sequentially write only 17 MB/s, while Nvidia’s Shield tablet can sequentially read 67.75 MB/s, and write only 14.09 MB/s.

The performance gets even less impressive with smaller files, but with numbers we are getting from latest 2014 devices, the flash has to increase speed up to 10 times in order to be ready to write files at 150MB. For theoretical maximum of ridiculously fast 875 MB/s we need about 50 times faster memory that the 14-17MB/s write speed available in the current generation of high end mobile devices.


Is The Demand For DRAM Slowing?

August 6, 2014 by  
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Hynix has reported a slowing down of growth in the memory chip profits as it posted its first drop in quarterly profit in two years, casting doubt on medium-term revenue growth.

SK Hynix President Kim Joon-ho told analysts that the problem was a change in product mix and a transition to more complex production technology will crimp third-quarter shipments growth for the key DRAM business. Analysts are concerned that DRAM shipments growth will be increasingly limited in the latter half of the year, given the technology migration issues, which would lead to slower top-line growth. But Hong said such concerns were overblown, as limited shipments growth would help keep supply tight and support chip prices.

Hynix posted an operating profit of $1.07 billion for the April-June period which is not to be sneezed at. But that result was 2.7 percent below the same quarter a year earlier. The other problem is the rise in the value of the won, which toll on revenue, which fell 0.2 percent compared with the previous corresponding period. The currency on average gained more than 9 percent against the dollar during the April-June quarter from a year ago.

President Kim said growth in shipments of DRAM chips, mainly used in personal computers and servers, would slow to a mid-single-digit percent rate in the third quarter, from 13 percent in the April-June period. Shipments of NAND chips, typically used in mobile devices, would slow to a high 20 percent rate from 54 percent.

He said that DRAM market trends will remain favorable due to better-than-expected demand for personal computers as well as data centre-related server demand.

“The launch of new mobile products by major companies and the development of LTE-related demand in China will likely keep demand-side conditions firm,” he added.

Analysts played down concerns of a supply glut arising from the company’s plans for capital investment in the second half of 2015, and expected short-term earnings to remain firm.


ZTE Attempts To Double Marketshare

January 27, 2014 by  
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China’s ZTE Corp, the world’s seventh-largest smartphone maker, wants to nearly double its U.S. market share in the next three years by increasing spending on marketing.

ZTE, which trails nearby rival Huawei Technologies Co Ltd in selling both smartphones and telecoms equipment, wants more share of the fat profit margins promised by sales of high-end phones in the United States.

But the company needs to first work on its image. Its mainstay telecom equipment business was essentially shut out of the U.S. and other markets after government officials flagged security concerns about Chinese-made equipment.

ZTE targets a U.S. market share of 10 percent by 2017 from 6 percent in 2013, Lv Qianhao, global marketing director of mobile devices, told Reuters at a company event on Thursday.

That would place it a distant third behind Apple Inc with 41 percent and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd with 26 percent, according to September-November data from researcher comScore.

To that end, ZTE will increase its U.S. marketing budget by at least 120 percent this year from last, Lv said without elaborating. Like other Chinese handset makers, ZTE is grappling with low brand awareness in the world’s second-largest smartphone market and perceptions of inferior quality.

Samsung Electronics, which earns around two-thirds of its operating profit from its mobile division, spent $597 million on marketing in the United States in 2012, according to researcher AdAge.

Last year, ZTE signed a deal with the Houston Rockets basketball team and released a Rockets-branded phone.

“We want young U.S. consumers to participate in our marketing activities, so we will have more NBA (National Basketball Association) stores and channels that sell our products,” Lv said.

Globally, ZTE aims to ship around 60 million smartphones this year compared with about 40 million smartphones last year, said Senior Vice President Zhang Renjun.

The company sees much of that growth in developed markets – including Russia and China- which accounted for 68 percent of mobile device revenue last year compared with 35 percent in 2007, said Lv.

ZTE’s mobile device business sells feature phones as well as smartphones. It was the fifth-biggest mobile phone vendor in July-September, according to researcher Gartner, though it fell out of the top five smartphone sellers list in the same period.

ZTE expects to have swung to a profit for last year having booked its first-ever loss as a public company in 2012.

It based its turnaround on cutting costs, signing fewer low-margin contracts, and winning contracts to build fourth generation telecommunication networks.

The company expects global investment in 4G to reach $100 billion this year, Zhang said.


LPDDR4 Smartphones Coming Next Year

January 6, 2014 by  
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A modern phone with 2GB of memory works just fine and since all Android chips and the OS itself support 32-bit mode only, it doesn’t makes much sense to jump over 3.5GB anytime soon.

Still, 64-bit support for Android might be coming after all and Samsung has a solution for people who want more than 3GB on their phone. Samsung has announced the first 8 gigabit (Gb) 4GB RAM module based on low power double data rate 4 (LPDDR4 memory).

It is a 20nm chip and has the lowest energy consumption and higher density to date. Four 8Gb dies combine to offer a single 4GB module we should see them in smartphones and tablets in the near future.

With 3.1 Gbps bandwidth the new LPDDR4 can deliver a 50 percent speed boost over the existing DDR3 and LPDDR3 based chips. Samsung also claims that LPDDR4 will enable a data transfer rate per pin of 3,200 megabits per second (Mbps), which is twice that of the 20nm-class LPDDR3 DRAM.

The Samsung claims that the chip needs 1.1 volts which is 40 percent less than what you would need for 20nm DDR3 chips and mass production starts in 2014.

It is not known when we can expect to see phones and tablets based on LPDDR4 anytime soon, but a dreamer can hope that phones such as Samsung Galaxy S5 might end up using one. After all this should be the next big thing, at least this is what Samsung wants you to believe.


Can Anyone Challenge Samsung’s SSDs?

October 23, 2013 by  
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You have seen that many companies that were selling SSD drives are slowly moving away from retail and etail consumer sales. Patriot and OCZ are among them and one of the key reasons is that Samsung has insanely attractive prices that are hard to fight.

Currently Samsung’s SSD 840 EVO series 250GB sells for about $2000, while Amazon in the US is selling the same drive for $177.99. The 120GB version in EU sells for €89.90 while US shops sell it for $99.99. Samsung offers a 500 GB SSD for $339.99 and at Newegg Mushkin, OCZ and similar priced or slightly cheaper but for 480GB drives. Toshiba Q series are the cheapest in this category with $319.99.

These are not the fastest or the cheapest drives on the market, but they are some of the most affordable per gigabyte and they offer quite good performance. In addition, consumers simply trust the Samsung brand and many of them are buying Samsung drives thanks to brand recognition, putting a lot of pressure on the smaller players. Just as it happened with the RAM memory market, profit margins on SSD drives went so low that you need to sell huge quantities to support your business model.

This is simply not a viable option for smaller players.

Samsung has its own chip production, has its own notebooks to put your drives in and it apparently is doing well in the market. Event close competitors are confirming that Samsung puts a lot of price pressure on everyone else. It sort of helps if you have your own NAND chip fabs.