Western Digital, which has dabbled in solid state disks (SSDs) for the enterprise market, has stayed away from hybrid drives that use relatively small SSDs to act as cache for hard drives. Now the firm has teamed with Sandisk to create its WD Black Solid State Hybrid drives with 500GB capacity.
Western Digital is pitching its hybrid drives at laptop makers, offering units with 5mm, 7mm and 9.5mm heights. The firm said Sandisk’s iSSD uses 19nm NAND flash and claimed it is the world’s “smallest and most advanced semiconductor manufacturing process”, a claim that Intel might question.
Kevin Conley, SVP and GM of client storage solutions at Sandisk said, “By combining SanDisk’s unparalleled flash memory expertise and technology with the hard drive know-how of Western Digital, WD Black SSHDs [solid state hard drives] offer outstanding hard drive-like capacity, and the slim form factor and the level of performance that you will only get with flash memory solutions.”
Seagate was first to introduce hybrid drives with its Momentus XT range, which offers an impressive performance boost over mechanical hard drives for certain workloads. The problem for Western Digital and Seagate is that hybrid drives are merely a stop-gap rather than a long term strategy, with SSD prices falling rapidly due to competition in the SSD industry as opposed to the hard drive industry, where Seagate, Western Digital and Toshiba have a comfortable ride.
The founder of MySQL Michael Widenius “Monty” claims that Oracle is killing off his MySQL database and he is recommending that people move to his new project MariaDB. In an interview with Muktware Widenius said his MariaDB, which is also open source, its on track to replacing MySQL at WikiMedia and other major organizations and companies.
He said MySQL was widely popular long before MySQL was bought by Sun because it was free and had good support. There was a rule that anyone should get MySQL up and running in 15 minutes. Widenius was concerned about MySQL’s sale to Oracle and has been watching as the popularity of MySQL has been declining. He said that Oracle was making a number of mistakes. Firstly new ‘enterprise’ extensions in MySQL were closed source, the bugs database is not public, and the MySQL public repositories are not anymore actively updated.
Widenius said that security problems were not communicated nor addressed quickly and instead of fixing bugs, Oracle is removing features. It is not all bad. Some of the new code is surprisingly good by Oracle, but unfortunately the quality varies and a notable part needs to be rewritten before we can include it in things like MariaDB. Widenius said that it’s impossible for the community to work with the MySQL developers at Oracle as it doesn’t accept patches, does not have a public roadmap and there was no way to discuss with MySQL developers how to implement things or how the current code works.
Basically Oracle has made the project less open and the beast has tanked, while at the same time more open versions of the code, such as MariaDB are rising in popularity.
While it made sense at the time to be extremely pleased when Apple sucked up most of its capacity with screens for its iPhone and iPad, now the tide has turned the outfit is reporting a bigger than forecast loss. Sharp is now suffering from low output at its factories and forced to write off excess capacity.
The company had a $5.1 billion net loss for the year which is much worse than it predicted. At the start of the year, Sharp was forced to curtail production of 9.7-inch screens for Apple’s iPad. That has stepped up the urgency for Sharp to find new customers and uses for its leading-technology displays and may make it harder for the company to convince investors and lenders it remains a viable company.
Sharp will officially announce its results for latest business year on May 14. To make matters worse the company is also taking a charge to put aside cash for possible fines from a display price-fixing investigation in Europe, the sources said. Sharp in October received a $4.4 billion bailout from banks including Mizuho Financial Group and Mitsubishi Financial Group in return for mortgaging nearly all its factories and offices in Japan and pledging to cut 10,000 jobs.
AMD has said the memory architecture in its heterogeneous system architecture (HSA) will move management of CPU and GPU memory coherency from the developer’s hands down to the hardware.
While AMD has been churning out accelerated processing units (APUs) for the best part of two years now, the firm’s HSA is the technology that will really enable developers to make use of the GPU. The firm revealed some details of the memory architecture that will form one of the key parts of HSA and said that data coherency will be handled by the hardware rather than software developers.
AMD’s HSA chips, the first of which will be Kaveri, will allow both the CPU and GPU to access system memory directly. The firm said that this will eliminate the need to copy data to the GPU, an operation that adds significant latency and can wipe out any gains in performance from GPU parallel processing.
According to AMD, the memory architecture that it calls HUMA – heterogeneous unified memory access, a play on unified memory access – will handle concurrency between the CPU and GPU at the silicon level. AMD corporate fellow Phil Rogers said that developers should not have to worry about whether the CPU or GPU is accessing a particular memory address, and similarly he claimed that operating system vendors prefer that memory concurrency be handled at the silicon level.
Rogers also talked up the ability of the GPU to take page faults and that HUMA will allow GPUs to use memory pointers, in the same way that CPUs dereference pointers to access memory. He said that the CPU will be able to pass a memory pointer to the GPU, in the same way that a programmer may pass a pointer between threads running on a CPU.
AMD has said that its first HSA-compliant chip codenamed Kaveri will tip up later this year. While AMD’s decision to give GPUs access to DDR3 memory will mean lower bandwidth than GPGPU accelerators that make use of GDDR5 memory, the ability to address hundreds of gigabytes of RAM will interest a great many developers. AMD hopes that they will pick up the Kaveri chip to see just what is possible.
Nvidia’s first Tegra 4 design win is here, apparently, and it doesn’t appear very impressive at all. Tegra 4 is late to the party, so it is a bit short on design wins, to put it mildly.
Now a new ZTE smartphone has been spotted by Chinese bloggers and it seems to be based on Nvidia’s first A15 chip. The ZTE 988 is a phablet, with a 5.7-inch 720p screen. It has 2GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel camera and a 6.9mm thin body. It weighs just 110g, which is pretty surprising. The spec is rather underwhelming, especially in the display department.
However, a grain of salt is advised. It is still unclear whether the phone features a Tegra 4 or a Qualcomm chipset. Also, it is rather baffling to see a 720p screen on a Tegra 4 phablet, it just seems like overkill.
Last month the Opensuse project announced the release of Opensuse 12.3, which brought ARM support to the same level as x86 and AMD64. While the project is working on bringing ARMv7 and more importantly ARMv8 support to its Linux distribution, Jos Poortvliet, community manager at Opensuse, said that the project’s ARM development has been limited by the lack of build resources.
Opensuse announced a collaboration with Samsung to create the OBS, which it was hoped would speed up the development life-cycle. However Poortvliet said, “ARM development is limited by available build resources required for compiling each iteration of new software and while the OBS helps by bringing a lot of build power in one place, the use of QEMU meant that build resources were shared with native x86_64 builds, which turned out to be a performance limitation.
“With fast and dedicated ARM hardware we can reserve build power for ARM builds and make use of the more efficient KVM virtualization.”
However in better news, Poortvliet said that the project had managed to deploy KVM – the Linux kernel based virtual machine – on ARM hardware. He added that parent firm Suse has assigned more resources to building ARM software on OBS and forecast that all packages would be built in two weeks.
While Canonical and Red Hat have been vocal about their ARM developments, Suse and its Opensuse project have been quietly going about their business, though given Poortvliet’s comments regarding a lack of resources, perhaps they have been going about it too quietly.
Although ARM vendors are not expected to converge on the server market until next year, even ARM thinks that most servers using its chips will run open source software.
Unless Suse manages to get its act together, it might find that Canonical and Red Hat have already carved out a significant chunk of the market.
Microsoft is developing designs for a touch-enabled smart watch, joining a number of other large competitors like Samsung Electronics and Apple who are said to be working on similar devices, according to a recent report.
Executives at suppliers to Microsoft told The Wall Street Journal that the company was sourcing components for the prototype of what could potentially be a “watch-style device.”
Microsoft has, for example, requested 1.5-inch displays from component makers for the prototype, an executive at a component supplier told the newspaper. It is unclear whether the company will decide to go ahead with the watch, the newspaper added.
Microsoft could not be immediately reached for comment.
A large number of vendors are looking at new product categories beyond smartphones and tablets.
This isn’t the first time, however, that Microsoft may be looking at watches as a product. It launched a smart wrist watch around a concept called Smart Personal Object Technology it unveiled in 2002, but withdrew it after a lackluster performance.
The Redmond, Wash., company is seeing its key PC market under threat from smartphones and tablets, and the failure of its new Windows 8 operating system to boost sales significantly. IDC said last week that first quarter PC shipments totaled 76.3 million units, down 13.9% compared to the same quarter last year. (The decline was worse than the 7.7% previously forecast by the analyst firm, and the market could be headed into further contraction, the research firm added.
Verizon Wireless reportedly has offered $1 billion to $1.5 billion to acquire some of Clearwire’s spectrum leases, possibly complicating Sprint Nextel’s attempt to buy out the company in conjunction with its acquisition by Softbank.
Clearwire is struggling financially but owns broad swaths of spectrum, the lifeblood of wireless networks. The April 8 bid from “Party J,” which Clearwire disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Friday, is the latest in a series of offers for its spectrum licenses. Unnamed people familiar with the matter identified “Party J” as Verizon Wireless, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
Clearwire is a key part of a complicated set of possible transactions that could make a much stronger competitor out of Sprint, the country’s third-largest mobile operator. Sprint already owns roughly half of Clearwire and is bidding about $2.2 billion to buy the rest of its stock. That deal depends on Softbank’s planned $20.1 billion offer for 70% of Sprint, which is still undergoing regulatory review.
Clearwire holds 150MHz of spectrum or more in most major markets of the U.S. Verizon would buy only a portion of that spectrum. “Party J offered to acquire Clearwire spectrum leases generally located in large markets,” Clearwire said in the Friday filing, a proxy statement to shareholders on the Sprint buyout bid. The proposed gross price of $1 billion to $1.5 billion would be reduced by what Clearwire pays for the leases, which could be substantial, according to Clearwire’s filing. The company said it would discuss the offer with “Party J” and Sprint.
Streaming television service Aereo does not infringe the copyrights of over-the-air TV stations, and a request from several stations to shutter the New York-based service isn’t warranted, an appeals court has ruled.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York was right to deny a request for a preliminary injunction from Fox, ABC, WNET and other TV stations, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled Monday.
The TV stations had argued Aereo, a service that allows subscribers to record and play over-the-air TV programs on Internet-connected devices, violated their so-called public performance right, their exclusive right in U.S. copyright law to “to perform the copyrighted work publicly.”
But Judge Christopher Droney, writing for the appeals court majority, noted that Aereo makes use of technology already found by courts to be legal. The service combines Aereo-designed mini TV antennas, DVRs, and a Slingbox-like streaming service, he noted.
Aereo users, by making personal copies of TV programs for their own use, were not creating public performances, Droney added.
The TV stations “have not demonstrated that they are likely to prevail on the merits on this claim in their copyright infringement action,” Droney wrote in rejecting the request for an injunction against the service. “Nor have they demonstrated serious questions as to the merits and a balance of hardships that tips decidedly in their favor.”
Aereo praised the decision. The decision “again validates that Aereo’s technology falls squarely within the law, and that’s a great thing for consumers who want more choice and flexibility in how, when and where they can watch television,” Chet Kanojia, Aereo’s CEO and founder, said in a statement.
Lawyers for the TV stations weren’t immediately available for comment.
Digital rights group Public Knowledge cheered the ruling, saying it is a “victory for consumer choice and video innovation.”
The three devices will run the BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system, which powers the Z10 smartphone and the upcoming Q10, which features a physical qwerty keyboard, according to the slide, which first appeared over the weekend on Twitter as @BB10Leaks.
BlackBerry officials didn’t comment on the road map. However, in comments to analysts last Thursday, CEO Thorstein Heins said repeatedly that the company will introduce more BlackBerry 10 devices this year, though he didn’t indicate what form factors the products would feature.
The three new devices shown in the slide include a BlackBerry 10 tablet with a widescreen aspect ratio, as well as a “U10″ phone-tablet, which some call a phablet, and an “R10″ phablet with a physical qwerty keyboard.
The slide indicates that the B10 tablet will ship in the third or fourth quarter, while the two phablets will be released later, with the U10 shipping at the end of the year and the R10 in spring of 2014.
There are no specifications on the slide, but the devices appear to be shown roughly in proportion to one another, with the phablets appearing to be wider than the existing Z10 and Q10 smartphones.
BlackBerry already has a 7-in. tablet called the PlayBook that is more square in shape than the widescreen look of the B10 in the slide. Some analysts and bloggers said it’s possible that BlackBerry is developing a competitor to the various 9-to-11-in. tablets already on the market, including many Android tablets, as well as the 9.7-in. iPad.
“BlackBerry wants to be a full-line competitor, particularly for business users, so they have to have a full line of products to compete head-on with Apple and Android, primarily Samsung,” said Jack Gold, an analyst at J.Gold Associates. “I would expect any viable competitor to establish a full line of products touching on all the various preferences of the marketplace, which includes smartphones, phablets and tablets.”
Gold couldn’t confirm whether any of the details in the leaked slide were accurate, but he noted that it doesn’t appear to include the mid-priced smartphones that Heins and other executives have hinted that BlackBerry may launch over the next few quarters.
The PlayBook tablet first went on sale in April 2011, running on what BlackBerry then called the BlackBerry Tablet OS, based on QNX. BlackBerry later said it would merge that tablet operating system into BlackBerry 10. The company also released a major update to the PlayBook tablet operating system in February 2012.
The first release of the PlayBook was criticized for not having native email.
Analysts are not sure that BlackBerry can keep up with production demand for so many new devices that depend on a relatively constrained supply chain for displays and other components. But to boost its global smartphone market share, currently at less than 10%, BlackBerry will need a product lineup with a variety of options.