MediaTek Shows Off New IoT Platform

February 16, 2015 by admin  
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MediaTek had announced a new development platform, as part of its MediaTek Labs initiative.

The LinkIt Connect MT7681 platform is based on the MT7681 SoC, designed for simple and affordable WiFi-enabled Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The company also released a software development kit (SDK) and hardware development kit (HDK) for the new platform.

The HDK includes the LinkIt Connect 7681 development board, which features the MT7681 chipset, micro-USB port and pins for various I/O interfaces. The chipset can be used in WiFi station or access point modes.

In station mode, the chip connects to a wireless access point and communicates with web services or cloud servers, which means it could be used to control smart thermostats. However, in access point mode, the chipset can communicate with devices directly, for example to control smart plugs or light bulbs using a smartphone.

“The world is rapidly moving towards connecting every imaginable device in the home, yet developers often have to spend too much effort on making their products Wi-Fi enabled,” said Marc Naddell, VP, MediaTek Labs. “The MediaTek LinkIt Connect 7681 platform simplifies and accelerates this process so that developers can focus on making innovative home IoT products, whatever their skill level.”

MediaTek Labs was launched in September 2014 and its goal is to promote a range of innovative MediaTek platforms, namely frugal devices such as wearables, IoT and home automation hardware.

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Dell Debuts Ubuntu Based Mobile Workstation

February 12, 2015 by admin  
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Dell has unleashed a mobile workstation aimed at developers, designed to be the “beast” to the already available XPS 13 ultra-mobile system “beauty”.

The Precision M3800 was previously available only with Microsoft Windows 8.1, but the new Precision M3800 Developer Edition will ship with the Ubuntu 14.04 Long Term Support Linux distro.

The developer version was unveiled by Barton George, Dell’s director of developer programmes, who talked about the company’s “beauty and the beast” strategy for Linux-powered PCs to produce an ultra-portable laptop as the XPS 13 and then a more capable machine.

Work on making the Precision M3800 a more Ubuntu-friendly machine started soon after the XPS 13 release thanks to developer Jared Dominguez, who improved the code in his personal time and put together instructions on how to run the OS on the machine.

After listening to “tremendously positive” feedback, George said that Dell has now officially added a Ubuntu 14.04 LTS customisation option to the company’s official online shop.

The Precision M3800 Developer Edition weighs 1.88kg, and is less than 18mm thick. It runs a 4th-generation Intel Core i7 quad-core CPU coupled with an Nvidia Quadro K1100M GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 4K Ultra HD screen option.

Dominguez explained that there are still problems with Ubuntu support for the Precision M3800 hardware as the distro shipped with the first M3800 units doesn’t include support for Thunderbolt ports.

The updated kernel of Ubuntu 14.04.2 will add “some” Thunderbolt support, however, thanks to the hardware-enablement stack in Ubuntu, the developer said.

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Microsoft Unveils Hologram Visor

February 4, 2015 by admin  
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Microsoft Corp surprised the tech world with the unveiling of a prototype hologram visor that can bring the Minecraft video game, Skype calls and even the landscape of Mars to three-dimensional life.

The veteran tech pioneer, which long ago lost the mantle of the world’s most inventive company, is making a bold play to regain that title in the face of stiff competition from Google Inc and Apple Inc.

Virtual or enhanced reality is the next frontier in computing interaction, with Facebook Inc focusing on its Oculus virtual reality headset and Google working on its Glass project.

Microsoft said its wire-free Microsoft HoloLens device will be available around the same time as Windows 10 this autumn. Industry analysts were broadly excited at the prospect, but skeptical that it could produce a working model at a mass-market price that soon.

“That was kind of a ‘Oh wow!’ moment,” said Mike Silver, an analyst at Gartner who tried out the prototype on Wednesday. “You would expect to see a relatively high-priced model this year or next year, then maybe it’ll take another couple of years to bring it down to a more affordable level.”

Microsoft does not have a stellar record of bringing ground-breaking technology to life. Its Kinect motion-sensing game device caused an initial stir but never gripped the popular imagination.

The company showed off a crude test version of the visor – essentially jerry-rigged wires and cameras pulled over the head – to reporters and industry analysts at a gathering at its headquarters near Seattle.

It did not allow any photographs or video of the experience, but put some images on its website.

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Is Qualcomm Overheating?

February 2, 2015 by admin  
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South Korean smartphone maker LG Electronics Inc said on Thursday that it has not experienced any overheating problems with Qualcomm Inc’s new Snapdragon processor that is powering a curved-screen device going on sale later this month.

“I am very much aware of the various concerns in the market about the (Snapdragon) 810, but the chip’s performance is quite satisfactory,” Woo Ram-chan, LG vice president for mobile product planning, told reporters at a press event for the company’s G Flex2 smartphone.

The comment came after Bloomberg reported a day earlier that Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, the world’s top smartphone maker, decided not to use the new Qualcomm processor for the next flagship Galaxy S smartphone after the chip overheated during testing. Samsung and Qualcomm have declined to comment on the report, which cited unidentified sources.

Samsung is widely expected to unveil the new Galaxy S smartphone in early March, and Bloomberg reported that the Korean firm will use its own processors instead.

But LG’s Woo said on Thursday that internal tests for the G Flex2, powered by the new Qualcomm processor, show that the new product emits less heat than other existing devices. The new phone is scheduled to start selling in South Korea on Jan. 30.

“I don’t understand why there is a issue over heat,” he said.

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AMD Headed To The Facial Recognition Space

January 28, 2015 by admin  
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AMD has developed facial recognition technology to enable users to organize and search video clips based on the people featured in them.

AMD executive Richard Gayle demonstrated to Tom’s Guide how AMD Content Manager, uses facial recognition to browse through a group of local videos to find specific faces.

There is an index that displays the people’s faces that have been detected throughout the video clips.

The user can edit the names of the people as well as add keyword tags to help improve future searches for specific people.

For instance, if you are searching for videos that feature one person, you can click on his or her respective face to pull up the corresponding videos.

Additionally, if you want to narrow a search to a specific person combined with a keyword tag, you can drag the face icon and click on the desired keyword.

Once you click on the video you wish to view, a player appears in the right windowpane, along with a timeline displayed at the bottom with a list of all the people who appear in the video.

The timeline is separated into various coloured boxes to mark the exact moment in the video when each person first appears on screen, so you do not have to watch the entire video to see the bit you want.

The application also has facial recognition capabilities that allow users to do some basic editing, such as compiling a single montage video of any individual or individuals.

While this is pretty good technology, it probably does not have any major use yet on its own.

Gayle said it is unlikely that AMD will release Content Manager in its current form but will license it to OEMs that are able to rebrand the application before offering it on their respective systems.

He claimed that only AMD processors have sufficient power to operate the application, because of the processor’s ability to have the CPU, GPU and memory controller work closely together.

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AMD’s Fiji GPU Goes High Bandwidth

January 26, 2015 by admin  
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New evidence coming from two LinkedIn profiles of AMD employees suggest that AMD’s upcoming Radeon R9 380X graphics card which is expected to be based on the Fiji GPU will actually use High-Bandwidth Memory.

Spotted by a member of 3D Center forums, the two LinkedIn profiles mention both the R9 380X by name as well as describe it as the world’s firts 300W 2.5D discrete GPU SoC using stacked die High-Bandwidth Memory and silicon interposer. While the source of the leak is quite strange, these are more reliable than just rumors.

The first in line is the profile of Ilana Shternshain, an ASIC Physical Design Engineer, which has been behind the Playstation 4 SoC, Radeon R9 290X and R9 380X, which is described as the “largest in ‘King of the hill’ line of products.”

The second LinkedIn profile is the one from AMD’s System Architect Manager, Linglan Zhang, which was involved in developing “the world’s first 300W 2.5D discrete GPU SOC using stacked die High Bandwidth Memory and silicon interposer.”

Earlier rumors suggest that AMD might launch the new graphics cards early this year as the company is under heavy pressure from Nvidia’s recently released, as well as the upcoming, Maxwell-based graphics cards.

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Samsung Goes With Tizen

January 13, 2015 by admin  
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Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has announced that all its new smart television products launched in 2015 will be powered by the Tizen operating system, marking a fresh effort by the company to increase the usage of the software platform.

Smart TVs offer additional software and connectivity functions, such as video streaming and web browsing capabilities. Samsung demonstrated TV sets powered by Tizen at developer conferences last year.

“We are focusing our efforts on Tizen right now,” Kim Hyun-suk, Samsung’s president of visual display business, told Reuters in an interview. “We hope that other TV makers will also use it and help build an ecosystem that will help the platform grow.”

Televisions would be an addition to the modest stable of Tizen products, which consists of a few smartwatches and cameras despite years of development and support by the world’s top maker of smartphones and TVs.

The platform represents the most visible effort on the software front by Samsung, which has sought to free itself from Google Inc’s Android platform.

But Tizen has so far failed to take off, due in part to Samsung’s failure to launch a smartphone powered by the system. Some analysts are skeptical about the platform’s viability despite Samsung’s standing as top smartphone maker, especially as Android and Apple Inc’s iOS tighten their grip in the smartphone sector.

Developers say that until there is a meaningful user base for Tizen they will have little incentive to make innovative software applications for the system, deemed crucial if Samsung is to convince wary consumers to try it out.

While the launch of Tizen-based TVs will increase the platform’s user base, it is unclear if that alone will be enough to pique developers’ interest. Users of smart TVs tend to use fewer apps than they would on smartphones.

Still, the operating system is expected to play a key role in Samsung’s smart-home business. Tizen can also run on devices with low computing power such as refrigerators and washing machines, offering a way for users to monitor and control such devices remotely.

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Samsung Finally Starts 14nm FinFET

December 24, 2014 by admin  
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A company insider has spilled the beans in Korea, claiming that Samsung has started Apple A9 production in 14nm FinFET.

The A9 is the next generation SoC for Apple iPhone and iPad products and it is manufactured on the Samsung – GlobalFoundries 14nm FinFET manufacturing process. In the other news, Samsung’s Ki-nam, president of the company’s semiconductor business and head of System LSI business has confirmed that the company started production of 14-nanometre FinFET chips.

The report mentions Austin as a possible site for Apple products but we wonder if the GlobalFoundries Fab 8 in New York State could become one of the partners for the 14nm FinFET manufacturing. Samsung didn’t officially reveal the client for the 14nm FinFET, but Apple is the most obvious candidate, while we expect to see 14 / 16nm FinFET graphics chips from AMD and Nvidia but most likely in the latter half of 2015 at best.

Qualcomm is likely to announce new LTE modem based on 14nm FinFET and the flagship SoC Snapdragon 810 is a 20nm chip. Qualcomm is manufacturing its 810 chips as we speak to meet demand for flagship Android phones coming in Q1 2015. Flagship Samsung, HTC and LG phones among others are likely to use Snapdragon 810 as a replacement for this year’s Snapdragon 801, a high end chip that ended up in millions of high-end phones.

Samsung / GlobalFoundries14nm FinFET process is 15 percent smaller, 20 percent faster, and 35 percent more power efficient compared to 20nm processors. This definitely sounds exiting and will bring more performance into phones, tablets, GPUs and will significantly decrease power consumption. The move from 28nm is long overdue.

We believe that Qualcomm’s LTE modem might be the first chip to officially come with this manufacturing process and Apple will probably take most of the 14nm production for an update in its tablets and phones scheduled for 2015.

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Intel Shows New IoT Platform

December 23, 2014 by admin  
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Intel showed off a new platform which it claims makes it easier for companies to create Internet-connected smart products using its chips, security and software.

Intel’s platform is like Lego and based on the chipmaker’s components and software for companies to create smart, connected devices. The only difference is that you can’t enact your own Doctor Who scene from it.

Doug Davis, head of Intel’s Internet of Things business, said at a launch event in San Francisco it will make it a doddle to connect to data centres in order analyse data collected from devices’ sensors.

Intel’s chips should compute capability in end-point devices that scale from its highest performance Xeon processor to the Quark family of products.

Intel’s Internet of Things Group had $530 million in revenue in the September quarter. That accounted for just 4 percent of Intel’s total revenue in the quarter, but it grew 14 percent over the previous year, which was faster than the company’s PC business.

Dell, SAP, Tata Consultancy, Accenture and other companies are working with the new reference model, Davis said.

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Ericsson Goes After Xiaomi

December 22, 2014 by admin  
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Ericsson has thrown a spanner into Chinese firm Xiaomi’s expansion plans, and has reportedly stopped it from selling handsets in India.

According to reports, this is already happening. We have asked Ericsson to confirm its role and what it wants to say about it. It told us that the reports are true and that it is ready to defend itself.

“It is unfair for Xiaomi to benefit from our substantial R&D investment without paying a reasonable licensee fee for our technology. After more than 3 years of attempts to engage in a licensing conversation in good faith for products compliant with the GSM, EDGE, and UMTS/WCDMA standards, Xiaomi continues to refuse to respond in any way regarding a fair license to Ericsson’s intellectual property on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms,” it said in a statement.

“Ericsson, as a last resort, had to take legal action. To continue investing in research and enabling the development of new ideas, new standards and new platforms to the industry, we must obtain a fair return on our R&D investments. We look forward to working with Xiaomi to reach a mutually fair and reasonable conclusion, just as we do with all of our licensees.”

Xiaomi has responded to Bloomberg but it declined to say too much until it has access too all of the information.

“Our legal team is currently evaluating the situation based on the information we have,” said the spokesperson. “India is a very important market for Xiaomi and we will respond promptly as needed and in full compliance with India laws.”

The banning on the sale of devices was approved by a court in Delhi India, according to reports, and is based on an Ericsson claim on eight patents that it owns.

Xiaomi has bold plans for its own future and sees itself competing against rivals like Samsung and Apple. It has given itself between five and 10 years to do this, and will presumably want to include the Indian market in those plans.

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