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.
Hardkernel’s Odroid XU board has incorporated Samsung’s eight-core Exynos 5 Octa 5410 chip, which is based on ARM’s latest processor designs. Samsung recently announced a new eight-core chip, the Exynos 5 Octa 5420, which packs faster graphics and application processing than the 5410. The 5420 has not yet been shipped yet, however.
The Odroid board is priced at $149 through Aug. 31, after which it will be offered for $169. Samsung for many months has said that a board with an eight-core chip would be released, and has shown prototype developer boards at conferences.
Odroid-XU will provide developers an opportunity to write programs tuned for Samsung’s octa-core chip, which has been a source of controversy. Analysts have said the eight-core design is overkill for small devices like smartphones and tablets, which need long battery life.
The eight-core chip design also takes up a lot of space, which prevented Samsung from putting LTE radios inside some Galaxy S4 models. Qualcomm, which hesitantly moved from the dual core to the quad-core design on its Snapdragon chips, on Friday criticized eight-core chips, calling the idea “dumb.”
Despite the criticism, the board will give developers a first true glimpse of, and an opportunity to write and test applications for, ARM’s Big.Little design. The design combines high-power cores for demanding applications with low-power cores for mundane tasks like texting and calling.
Samsung’s iteration of Big.Little in the Exynos 5 Octa 5410 chip combines four processors based on ARM’s latest Cortex-A15 processor design, which incorporates four low-power Cortex-A7 CPUs. The Cortex-A15 is ARM’s latest processor design and succeeds the previous Cortex-A9 core, which was used in popular smartphones like Apple’s iPhone and the Galaxy S3. Samsung said the eight-core chip provides a balance of power and performance, with the high-power cores kicking in only when necessary.
The board has an Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX544MP3 graphics processor, 2GB of low-power DDR3 DRAM, two USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports. Other features include Wi-Fi, Ethernet and optional Bluetooth. Google’s Android 4.2 operating system is preloaded, and support for other Linux distributions like Ubuntu is expected soon. The board has already been benchmarked on Ubuntu 13.04.
An increasing number of Android phones are infected with mobile malware programs that are capable of turning the handsets into spying devices, according to a report from Kindsight Security Labs, a subsidiary of telecommunications equipment vendor Alcatel-Lucent.
The vast majority of mobile devices infected with malware are running the Android operating system and a third of the top 20 malware threats for Android by infection rate fall into the spyware category, Kindsight said in a report released Tuesday that covers the second quarter of 2013.
The Alcatel-Lucent subsidiary sells security appliances to ISPs (Internet service providers) and mobile network operators that can identify known malware threats and infected devices by analyzing the network traffic.
Data collected from its product deployments allows the company to compile statistics about how many devices connected to mobile or broadband networks are infected with malware and determine what are the most commonly detected threats.
The malware infection rate for devices connected to mobile networks is fairly low, averaging at 0.52%, Kindsight said in its report. These infected devices include mobile phones as well as Windows laptops that use a mobile connection through a phone, a 3G USB modem or a mobile hotspot device.
In January the number of infected mobile phones accounted for slightly more than 30% of all infected devices connected to mobile networks, but by June they grew to more than 50%.
The vast majority of infected mobile phones run Android. Those running BlackBerry, iOS and other operating systems represent less than 1% of infected mobile devices, Kindsight said.
When calculated separately, on average more than 1% of Android devices on mobile networks are infected with malware, Kindsight said in its report.
The malware threat most commonly seen on Android devices was an adware Trojan program called Uapush.A that sends SMS messages and steals information, Kindsight said. Uapush.A was responsible for around 53% of the total number of infections detected on Android devices.
Judging from the number of people engrossed in activities with their smartphones on the sidewalk, in their cars and in public places, mobile seems to have stolen our attention away from the wired Internet and traditional TV.
However, there is a ways to go before mobile platforms become the primary place where consumers turn for entertainment and getting things done, players at CTIA Wireless trade show said.
Nokia Siemens Networks announced new capabilities in its network software to make video streams run more smoothly over mobile networks. Among other things, the enhancements can reduce video stalling by 90 percent, according to the company. But even Sandro Tavares, head of marketing for NSN’s Mobile Core business, sees “mobile-first” viewing habits as part of the future.
“Now that the networks are providing a better capacity, a better experience with mobile broadband, mobile-first will come,” Tavares said. “Because the experiences they have with the devices are so good, these devices … start to be their preferred screen, their first screen.
“This is a trend, and this is something that will not change,” Tavares said. But he thinks it’s too early to build networks assuming consumers will turn to tablets and phones as their primary sources of entertainment. “Do you have to be prepared for mobile-first now? Probably not. You have to be able to keep the pace.”
For AT&T, mobile-first is a top priority for its own internal apps, ensuring employees can do their jobs wherever they are, said Kris Rinne, the carrier’s senior vice president of network technologies. But to make it possible over the network, a range of new technologies and relationships may have to come together, she said.
For example, giving the best possible performance for streaming video and other uses of mobile may require steering traffic to the right network if both cellular and Wi-Fi are available. AT&T is developing an “intelligent network selection” capability to do this, Rinne said. When AT&T starts to deliver voice over LTE, it will stay on the cellular network — at least in the early days — because the carrier has more control over quality of service on that system, she said.
Other issues raised by mobile-first include security of packets going over the air and rights for content that subscribers are consuming primarily on mobile devices instead of through TV and other traditional channels, Rinne said.
Researchers Nikita Tarakanov and Oleg Kupreev analyzed the security of 3G/4G USB modems obtained from Russian operators for the past several months. Their findings were presented Thursday at the Black Hat Europe 2013 security conference in Amsterdam.
Most 3G/4G modems used in Russia, Europe, and probably elsewhere in the world, are made by Chinese hardware manufacturers Huawei and ZTE, and are branded with the mobile operators’ logos and trademarks, Tarakanov said. Because of this, even if the research was done primarily on Huawei modems from Russian operators, the results should be relevant in other parts of the world as well, he said.
Tarakanov said that they weren’t able to test baseband attacks against the Qualcomm chips found inside the modems because it’s illegal in Russia to operate your own GSM base station if you’re not an intelligence agency or a telecom operator. “We’ll probably have to move to another country for a few months to do it,” he said.
There’s still a lot to investigate in terms of the hardware’s security. For example, the SoC (system on a chip) used in many modems has Bluetooth capability that is disabled from the firmware, but it might be possible to enable it, the researcher said.
For now, the researchers tested the software preloaded on the modems and found multiple ways to attack it or to use it in attacks.
For one, it’s easy to make an image of the USB modem’s file system, modify it and write it on the modem again. There’s a tool available from Huawei to do modem backup and restore, but there are also free tools that support modems from other manufacturers, Tarakanov said.
Malware running on the computer could detect the model and version of the active 3G modem and could write an image with malicious customizations to it using such tools. That modem would then compromise any computer it’s used on.
The researchers also found a possible mass attack vector. Once installed on a computer, the modem application — at least the one from Huawei — checks periodically for updates from a single server, Tarakanov said. Software branded for a specific operator searchers for updates in a server directory specific to that operator.
An attacker who manages to compromise this update server, can launch mass attacks against users from many operators, Tarakanov said. Huawei 3G modems from several different Russian operators used the same server, but there might be other update servers for other countries, he said.
Research in this area is just at the beginning and there’s more to investigate, Tarakanov said. Someone has to do it because many new laptops come with 3G/4G modems directly built in and people should know if they’re a security threat.
A multi-year agreement between AT&T and GM subsidiary OnStar calls for vehicles to continue getting OnStar’s safety and security services while adding information and entertainment services for backseat drivers, AT&T said.
Millions of vehicles will be affected, as AT&T rolls out LTE to reach 300 million people in the U.S. by the end of 2014.
The AT&T-GM announcement is part of an explosion in the number of devices connected to the Internet, many of them wirelessly, in what some have termed the “Internet of Things.”
“The is a big announcement for connected devices,” Glenn Lurie, president of emerging enterprises and partnerships at AT&T, said in an interview at Mobile World Congress here.
The transfer includes 753 U.S. patents related to 2G, 3G and LTE technologies, Unwired Planet said Thursday. Four months ago, the company owned just 200 U.S. and foreign patents, and around 75 pending patent applications.
“Our patent portfolio now extends to all layers of the telecom handset and infrastructure stack,” said Unwired Planet’s CEO Mike Mulica during a conference call. The patents cover application stores, location-based services, mobile search and mobile advertising as well as network protocols, antennas and many more topics, Mulica said.
The portfolio will continue to grow, as Ericsson has also committed to transfer a further 100 patents each year from 2014 through 2018.
Mulica said the company wants everyone who uses the patented technologies to pay a license fee. “We will use litigation when necessary,” he said.
It was only a matter of time before someone got the cunning idea to build an eight-core ARM chip and Samsung seems to have taken up the challenge.
The Korean giant will detail its first eight-core SoC at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in February. The 28nm part features two stitched quad-core clusters, based on A7 and A15 cores, hence the name – big.little.
The A7 cluster runs at up to 1.2GHz, while the A15 cluster can hit 1.8GHz, and it packs 2MB of L2 cache. It sounds like an intriguing concept, a bit like Nvidia’s companion core taken to the next level. The “little” cluster is tuned for energy efficiency, while the beefy A15 cluster should deliver unparalleled performance.
But what about real life applications? Eight cores sound like overkill for smartphones and even high end tablets, so it is unclear whether the big.little chip will find its way into actual products anytime soon.
Greenpeace’s “Guide to Greener Electronics” is a 16 company ranking that sets out to discover what leading electronics firms are doing to reduce their impacts on the environment.
This year’s study found that Indian firm Wipro, which has a consumer electronics division, was making important progress toward becoming greener.
“There is not a single reason why companies like HP, Nokia and Apple can’t do what Wipro is doing,” Greenpeace’s IT analyst Casey Harrell said.
Wipro was ranked number one in Greenpeace’s survey because of its efforts to increase its use of renewable energy, bring energy efficient products to market, nail down an effective product take back strategy and advocate for better governmental energy standards.
Harrell said that advocacy is an important step companies should take to becoming more environmentally aware. However, he believes that many companies are not doing enough to get the government involved in green initiatives.
“These companies invest a lot of money in advocacy, just not for energy,” continued Harrell.
“They invest in advocacy for things like IP reform and tax reform, just not for energy policy reform.”
Greenpeace’s study criticized Apple for its lack of advocacy efforts. The environmental agency gave the Iphone maker a ranking of zero when it came to environmental protection advocacy.
Apple has previously been slammed by Greenpeace for its decision to use glued-in batteries in its latest Macbook devices.
While many US companies rated poorly on environmental advocacy, Harrell still held out hope that some firms will try to do more going forward. As an example for his optimism, Greenpeace’s IT analyst said that in 2010 HP came out against the controversial California Proposition 23.
Another key area that Greenpeace thinks electronic firms need to improve upon is the lack of proper warranties on devices. Harrell said that companies can make the most energy efficient products in the world but if consumers have to buy a new product each year it won’t matter.
“It is a huge problem,” said Harrell.
Microsoft’s roll-out of Windows 8 is not expected to generate a significant increase in DRAM shipments, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli.
Other operating system roll outs have pushed up the demand for DRAM, and some had hoped that it would save the battered industry. However while iSuppli thinks that Global DRAM bit shipments are expected to increase by eight percent in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter, this is much lower than previous Windows roll outs.
In the good old days Windows rollouts have always generated double-digit increases in quarterly DRAM shipments. Part of the problem is that Windows 8 is pretty good software and has a leaner hardware requirement. But the biggest part is that Windows 8 is not likely to deliver a significant increase in PC shipments in the fourth quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2011, IHS said.
Clifford Leimbach, analyst for memory demand forecasting at IHS said that starting with Windows 7 and continuing with Windows 8, Microsoft has taken a leaner approach with its operating systems, maintaining the same DRAM requirements as before.