Even if it means that it will be the first to make ARM’s 64-bit chips, Intel said that it wants to expand its contract foundry work. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said he would expand his company’s small contract manufacturing business, paving the way for more chipmakers to tap into the world’s most advanced process technology.
Krzanich told analysts that he planned to step up the company’s foundry work, effectively giving Intel’s process technology to its rivals. He said that company’s who can use Intel’s leading edge and build computing capabilities that are better than anyone else’s, are good candidates for foundry service. Krzanich added that the slumping personal computer industry, Intel’s core market, was showing signs of bottoming out.
Intel also unveiled two upcoming mobile chips from its Atom line designed interchange features to create different versions of the component. A high-end version of the new chip, code named Broxton, and is due out in mid-2015. SoFIA, a low-end chip was shown as an example of Intel’s pragmatism and willingness to change how it does business. Krzanich said that in the interest of speed, SoFIA would be manufactured outside of Intel, with the goal of bringing it to market next year.
Intel will move production of SoFIA chips to its own 14 nanometer manufacturing lines, Krzanich added.
Intel has acquired educational software developer Kno to add to its Education division.
Speaking in the company blog, Intel Sales and Marketing Group VP John Galvin explained that in a world where kids are being bombarded by technology, Intel Education has a mission to support the rollout of technology in the classroom.
Galvin said, “The Kno platform provides administrators and teachers with the tools they need to easily assign, manage and monitor their digital learning content and assessments.”
This acquisition brings Intel’s global digital content library to over 225,000 [higher education] and K-12 titles from 74 education publishers. “We’re looking forward to combining our expertise with Kno’s rich content so that together, we can help teachers create classroom environments and personalized learning experiences that lead to student success,” Galvin added.
Intel Education has been working for the past decade with over 10 million teachers that it has assisted to integrate technology with education.
In the UK alone there have been tremendous strides in educational software over the past 30 years, dating back to the government pledge to provide a computer in every school, which led to the creation of the BBC Microcomputer designed specifically for that purpose.
Today, not only is ICT a dedicated lesson in its own right, but it forms one of the key skills that educators are expected to incorporate into all lesson plans, putting it on a par with English and Maths, showing just how far we’ve come from making Venn diagrams with ascii art.
Samsung and Intel announced on Tuesday that the open source Tizen operating system now has 36 partners, including eBay, Trend Micro and Panasonic.
The full list of new partners was announced at the Tizen Developer Summit, and includes a mix of firms from different sectors. Among the 36 backers are eBay, Nokia’s Here mapping service, Konami, McAfee, Panasonic, Sharp and The Weather Channel, giving us some insights as to what software applications are likely to appear on the Linux based operating system.
Trevor Cornwell, founder and CEO of Appbackr, one of Tizen’s newly added partners, said that his firm found the operating system appealing due to its open nature, perhaps hinting that it is more open than Google’s Android mobile operating system.
He said, “The Tizen OS promises to be the most open and comprehensive software platform available for those companies wishing to target the consumers of connected devices.
“The Association’s commitment to support HTML5 applications, combined with their vision that extends beyond the smartphone and tablet ecosystem to a wider array of other connected device segments, makes it attractive to all types of companies. We look forward to collaborating with the Tizen Association to ensure that all stakeholders can contribute to the development of a platform for this growing market opportunity.”
It’s still unclear when Samsung’s first Tizen powered smartphone will make it to market, but online speculation suggests we’ll be seeing the firm’s debut Android challenging smartphone at some point in 2014.
Further speculation suggests that Samsung’s first Tizen phone will be an updated version of the Galaxy S4, possibly to reduce its reliance on Android.
The tradition continues. Our sources are confirming that Nvidia’s Logan SoC, possibly called Tegra 5, doesn’t come with an integrated LTE modem. Just like Apple, Nvidia makes a big fast chip with impressive Kepler based GPU, but it won’t put a an icera LTE solution inside the same chip.
Icera i500 is Tegra 5 compatible and it has AT&T certification. As the launch draws near, it should become compatible with other US and international LTE carriers like Verizon and T-mobile.
This should not be a big issue for Nvidia’s target market, manufacturers will have to choose two chips instead of one, a clear competitive disadvantage compared to future Qualcomm chips with Adreno 400 graphics and updated CPU cores, expected in early 2014.
During Nvidia’s recent conference call, CEO Jen Hsun Huang said devices based on the new Tegra 4i with integrated LTE should be announced in Q1 and ship no later than Q2. Jensen also mentioned that people are going to be “delighted by the OEM that it comes from” which is probably his way of of announcing some big brand design wins, but he also emphasised that the designs will be global rather than US. For US success you need CDMA Jensen said, but as far as we know Verizon is the only company using it.
Since Apple can pull of two chip designs from day one, we can only assume that two chip approach won’t cost much battery life compared to single chip design that has LTE on board (Snapdragon 600 and 800 ed. ). However, Nvidia is likely going to be making bets on its Kepler based GPU, expected to be the fastest graphics core ever integrated in a mobile SoC that will rock tablets and some phones around the world. The fact that Logan is likely to pack very powerful graphics sans on-die LTE makes it a bit more interesting for tablets than phones, which is exactly what we saw with the Tegra 4.
We expect to see Tegra 5 devices announced at CES 2014 so early January and with some luck we might see them shipping very early in 2014.
Amazon Elastic Transcoder was developed to offer an easy and low-cost way to convert media files from their source format into versions that will play on devices like smartphones, tablets and PCs.
The new feature lets anyone use Amazon Elastic Transcoder to convert audio-only content like music or podcasts from one format to another. Users can also strip out the audio tracks from video files and create audio-only streams. An option that, for example, can be used to create podcasts from video originals that are compatible with iOS applications that require an audio-only HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) file set, Amazon said.
The output from Elastic Transcoder is two-channel AAC, MP3 or Vorbis. Metadata like track name, artist, genre and album art is included in the output file and users can also specify replacement or additional album art.
Users of the service pay for the length of their converted content. For audio-only transcoding, prices start at $0.0045 per minute. That compares to the video version, which costs from $0.015 per minute for standard definition content and $0.03 per minute for high-definition clips, according to Amazon’s website.
For users who want to try out the service, the AWS Free Tier offers up to 20 minutes of free audio output per month. The service was announced for video in January and is still tagged as a beta.
Chip makers including Broadcom and Renesas Electronics are putting more focus on in-car entertainment with faster processors and networks for wireless HD movies and navigation, aiming to keep drivers informed and passengers entertained.
With PC sales slipping and the mobile device market proving highly competitive, chip makers are looking for greener pastures in other sectors like in-car entertainment and information.
From Renesas comes the R-Car M2 automotive SoC (System-on-a-Chip), which has enough power to handle simultaneous high-definition navigation, video and voice-controlled browsing.
The SoC is meant for use in mid-range systems. It features two ARM Cortex A-15 cores running at up to 1.5GHz and Renesas’ own SH-4A processor plus the PowerVR SGX544MP2 from Imagination Technologies for 3D graphics. This combination helps the M2 exceed the previous R-Car H1 with more than three times the CPU capacity and approximately six times better graphics performance.
Car makers that want to put a more advanced entertainment system in their upcoming models should go for the eight core R-Car H2 SoC, which was announced earlier this year. It is based on ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture, and uses four Cortex-A15 cores and another four Cortex-A7 cores.
The H2 will be able to handle four streams of 1080p video, including Blu-Ray at 60 frames per second, according to Renesas. Mass production is scheduled for the middle of next year, while the M2 won’t arrive in larger volumes until June 2015.
Broadcom on the other hand is seeking to drive better networking on the road. The company’s latest line of wireless chipsets for in-car connectivity uses the fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless standard, which offers enough bandwidth for multiple displays and screen resolution of up to 1080p. Use of the 5GHz band for video allows it to coexist with Bluetooth hands-free calls on 2.4GHz, according Broadcom.
Broadcom has also implemented Wi-Fi Direct and Miracast. Wi-Fi Direct lets products such as smartphones, cameras and in this case in-car computers connect to one another without joining a traditional hotspot network, while Miracast lets users stream videos and share photos between smartphones, tablets and displays.
The BCM89335 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Smart Ready combo chip and the BCM89071 Bluetooth and Bluetooth Smart Ready chip are now shipping in small volumes.
The screens, called microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) displays for the tiny moving parts they contain, are being developed by the Japanese company in partnership with Qualcomm and were on show at the Ceatec electronics show just outside of Tokyo.
Behind each pixel in a MEMS display is a backlight that flashes red, green and blue in fast succession, and in front of it is a tiny shutter can be opened to let light through.
Synchronized to the backlight, the shutter can control the amount of each color of light allowed through. The eye perceives these flashes as the desired hue.
In contrast, today’s LCD screens create colored pixels using three filters. The filters swallow about two thirds of the brightness of the backlight before it leaves the display, said Akira Imai, deputy general manager of Sharp’s new business development center.
The MEMS display can allow all the light through, so the intensity of the backlight can be reduced using less power for the display, said Imai.
In a portable gadget, the screen often consumes more power than any other component, so reducing its demands can have a big impact on battery life.
The screens on show at Ceatec were 7-inch models with 800 pixel by 1,280 pixel resolution. The colors were bright and the screen image was sharp, although people viewing the screens did tend to see a brief flash of red, green and blue pixel each time they turned their eyes away from the display. That’s something Sharp is working on, said Imai.
Sharp also showed a version of the screen working in several low power modes.
The development work with Qualcomm began earlier this year when the U.S. company said it would invest $120 million into Sharp. The money, which was invested in two parts, was accompanied by Qualcomm’s MEMS expertise. Sharp has a long history in flat-panel display technology, especially LCD, and has recently been working on a new type of display called IGZO, on which the MEMS display is partly based.
As time runs out for Intel to bring its Internet-based TV service by the end of the year, the outfit has approached Samsung and Amazon to ask them to lend a hand. Intel has asked about providing funding and distribution for the service. It looks like the set-top box project could be scrapped if a strategic partner isn’t found soon.
OnCue was supposed to allow users to watch live TV, on demand, and other offerings. Intel said it would provide the hardware and services directly to consumers and that the box would come with a camera that can detect who is in front of the TV. More than 300 engineers are working on the project under Erik Huggers, the head of Intel Media. A version of the service running on Intel hardware is testing with 3,000 Intel employees. Goodness knows what content they are running. Intel is having difficulty getting content deals.
Intel has yet to announce any TV programming partners, and Time Warner Cable and other cable TV providers have been pressuring channel owners to shun pacts with Intel and other Internet-based TV providers. Samsung, which ships millions of smart TVs, could distribute the service as a bundle, while Amazon could provide access to its growing library of movies and TV shows.
As expected and announced, Zotac has now “joined the mobile gaming revolution” with the new Tegra Note 7 tablet and will be one of a handful of Nvidia partners that will sell it in both Europe and Asia-Pacific region for US $199.
In case you missed it yesterday when it was officially unveiled by Nvidia, the Nvidia Tegra Note 7 is based around a 7-inch 1280×800 IPS display and powered by Nvidia’s own Tegra 4 SoC with quad-core Cortex-A15 CPU and 72-core Geforce GPU paired up with 1GB of memory. It also packs some neat features exclusive to Nvidia, including a stylus with Nvidia DirectStylus technology as well as the 5-megapixel rear main camera backed by Chimera computational photography architecture revealed earlier by Nvidia. The camera will have support for both HDR as well as slow-motion video.
Unfortunately, Zotac did not announce the precise launch date so we are still stuck with Nvidia’s October time-frame and we are still to see the price of the new Tegra Note 7 in Europe.
A curious rumor is coming out of Taiwan this morning. Nvidia is reportedly seeing more Tegra 4 orders, boosted by the Xiaomi Mi3 smartphone, Surface RT 2 and new tablets from Asus, Toshiba and HP. The source is Digitimes, or its moles in the “upstream supply chain” to be specific. Specific is not the word usually associated with such sources and we have no specific numbers to report.
However, while Nvidia is seeing a bit more interest for Tegra 4 it simply has no high-volume design wins and shipments will remain low until it is eventually phased out in favour of the Tegra 5. We wrote about Nvidia’s Tegra 4 volume woes last month, here.
The Tegra 4 still has just a handful of design wins and the fact that most of them are high-end tablets is not encouraging at all. Not much has changed since our previous report, although Nvidia did manage to land a single smartphone design win, albeit not a major one.
We still believe Tegra 4 shipments will be modest at best and new Android tablet design wins will not help much. Neither will the Shield and Tegra Note tablets.