Do Smartphones Cause Cancer?

May 18, 2016 by  
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It is looking incredibly unlikely that mobile phone use is giving anyone cancer.  A long term study into the incidence of brain cancer in the Australian population between 1982 to 2013 shows no marked increase.

The study, summarized on the Conversation site looked at the prevalence of mobile phones among the population against brain cancer rates, using data from national cancer registration.

The results showed a very slight increase in brain cancer rates among males, but a stable level among females. There were significant increases in over-70s, but this problem started before 1982.

The figures should have even been higher as Computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and related techniques, introduced in Australia in the late 1970s can spot brain tumors which could have otherwise remained undiagnosed.

The data matches up with other studies conducted in other countries, but in Australia all diagnosed cases of cancer have to be legally registered and this creates consistent data.

The argument that mobile phones cause cancer has been running ever since the phones first arrived. In fact the radiation levels on phones has dropped significantly over the years, just to be safe rather than sorry. However it looks like phones have had little impact on cancer statistics – at least in Australia.

Can Samsung Beat Intel?

April 25, 2016 by  
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Samsung is closing in on Intel in the semiconductor sector as its market share increased by 0.9 percent when compared to a year earlier.

According to beancounters at IBS, the news comes on the heels of an announcement that the three-month average of the global market for semiconductors ending in February fell 6.2 percent compared with the same figure in 2015, down from a 5.8 percent decline in January.

IBS chief executive Handel Jones said:

“Based on talking to customers about buying patterns, we see softness,” said. “Smartphone sales are slowing, and the composition of the market is changing with about half all chips bought by companies in China who want low-end devices In addition, over the past year memory prices have fallen by nearly half both for DRAMs and NAND-based solid-state drives as vendors try to buy market share, said Jones. “It’s more of a price issue because volumes are up.”

Jones expects softness in the PC market will continue through this year. Demand for chips is rising in automotive and for the emerging Internet of Things, but so far both sectors are relatively small, he added.

Data shows that the gap between the market share of these Intel and Samsung firms is narrowing. In 2012, the gap between Intel and Samsung was 5.3 percent. This narrowed to 4.2 percent in 2013, and is now 3.2 percent in 2015. SK Hynix, which now stands as the third largest semiconductor brand in the world, beat Qualcomm with a market share of 4.8 percent.


Is Tesla Poaching nVidia’s Engineers?

April 20, 2016 by  
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Tesla Motors,’ which has been poaching engineers from Apple and AMD, could be causing a few headaches for Nvidia.

MKM analyst Ian Ing pointed out that Nvidia and Tesla have partnered in machine-learning which is the key to autonomous driving. Nvidia’s own automotive segment grew 80 per cent to $320 million in revenue.

It had been known that Tesla is swiping Apple and AMD engineers, but the difficulty is that it also needs staff from its old chum Nvidia. Ing said that Apple and AMD staff are not as steeped in graphics processing units and machine learning as Nvidia’s staff.

“Although there are widely reportedly headlines that Tesla has been hiring chip architects from Apple and AMD, we note that expertise has been focused more on multi-purpose application processors vs. the GPU accelerators necessary for machine learning,” Ing wrote.

This could either pressure Nvidia to work more closely with Tesla, or it too might lose staff to the carmarker. However that might be a small headache for Nvidia which is doing obscenely well, according to Ing. He is suggesting everyone should buy Nvidia shares.


Will Intel’s Xeon Broadwell-EP Hit The Market Soon?

April 12, 2016 by  
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An Intel press slide has been leaked on the web which means we should be seeing a workstation-grade Xeon “Broadwell-EP” processor in the shops soon.

The slide appeared on the anandtech forums and shows the chip will be branded under the Xeon E5-2600 V4 series and will have at least “20 per cent more cores and last-level cache” than Haswell-EP.  It should be shipping on March 31st.

This CPU is started for an HP workstation, called the HP Z640, which succeeds the Z620.

The Xeon Broadwell-E uses Intel’ s14nm process which means 10-core chips will be available at the price of an 8-core chip from the previous generation.

The slide said that the Broadwell-E will deliver 18 per cent average performance increase over Haswell-EP, as well as support up to 2400MHz DDR4 memory for greater I/O throughput.

This slide follows the news that an 18-core Xeon Broadwell-EP CPU was spotted on eBay, carrying a price tag of $999 US. Dubbed Xeon E5-2600 v4, the chip was listed to feature a base clock speed of 2.2GHz and Turbo frequency of 3GHz, as well as a TDP of 145W, 2.5MB of L3 cache per core, with 45MB LLC cache in total.


Intel Processors Will Support Vulcan API

March 31, 2016 by  
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Intel is releasing graphics drivers that support the Vulkan 1.0 API for chips running Windows 7, 8 and 10 PCs.

According to Intel the drivers provide beta support for the Vulkan 1.0 API for 6th Generation Intel Core and related processors.

Vulkan 1.0 was introduced last month by industry consortium Khronos Group and is supposed to replace the OpenGL, which was first introduced in 1991 by Silicon Graphics. Vulkan is supposed to exploit powerful GPUs and multicore CPUs, but it is still a long way behind Direct X 12 – at least in its beta condition.

With Intel’s drivers developers will be able to exploit features on Intel GPUs, like the Iris Pro, that are integrated in chips alongside CPUs. Intel’s rival AMD has already released Vulkan drivers for Radeon graphics processors.

Vulkan 1.0 APIs will also work with Linux-based PCs like Steam Machines. Intel has made available open-source Vulkan drivers for Linux PCs running on chips code-named Broadwell and Skylake.


GM Buys Cruise Automation

March 21, 2016 by  
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General Motors the acquisition Cruise Automation for Cruise’s deep software talent and rapid development capability — a move designed to further accelerate GM’s development of autonomous vehicle technology.

Over the past two months, GM has entered into a $500 million alliance with ride-sharing company Lyft; formed Maven — its personal mobility brand for car-sharing fleets in many U.S. cities — and established a separate unit for autonomous vehicle development.

“This acquisition announcement clearly shows that GM is serious about developing the technology and controlling its own path to self-driving and driverless vehicles,” said Egil Juliussen, research director for IHS Automotive.

While GM did not disclose the financial details of the Cruise acquisition, reports estimated the purchase to be in the $1 billion range.

Founded in 2013, Cruise sells an aftermarket product that is positioned as a highway autopilot, according to IHS Automotive.

Vehicles using Cruise’s software cannot automatically changes lanes, but the technology does work at low speed and highway speed, meaning it’s classified between Level 2 and Level 3 in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s levels of autonomous driving.

The NHTSA’s Level 3 includes limited self-driving automation and allows a driver to cede full control of all safety-critical functions under certain traffic or environmental conditions; Level 4 indicates a fully autonomous vehicle.

Cruise’s software was initially offered by Audi in its A4 and S4 vehicles as a $10,000 option that required installation work by Cruise. The product consisted of a sensor unit on top of the car and a computer in the trunk.

GM’s purchase of Cruise is likely to spur other carmakers “to react and determine what their strategy should be,” Juliussen said.

Other carmakers are likely to seek to become partners with Google and license Google’s self-driving and driverless software technology. Multiple manufacturers are likely to opt for a Google partnership, IHS said.


Will Intel Release It’s 10nm Processors By 2017?

March 2, 2016 by  
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Intel has said that a job advert which implied that it would not be using the 10nm process for two years was inaccurate and confirmed that it is on track for a 2017 release.

The advert, which was spotted by the Motley Fool has since been taken down, said the company’s 10-nanometer chip manufacturing technology would begin mass production “approximately two years” from the posting date.

Intel has said that the advert was wrong and confirmed that its “first 10-nanometer product is planned for the second half of 2017.”

It is not expected that Intel will roll out server chips in 2017. At the moment the plan appears to be introducing its second-generation 14-nanometer server chip family in early to mid-2017. But instead Intel will be trying to get its process ramped at high yields experimenting on the PC market so that 10-nanometer server processors will be ready for the first half of 2018.

This follows Intel’s traditional pattern of a having a few parts released as it experiments with the new tech. This is what happened in the first year of Intel’s 14-nanometer availability.


Is Intel Going 10nm Next Year?

February 3, 2016 by  
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Intel is reportedly going to release its first 10nm processor family in 2017, expected to be the first of three generations of processors that will be fabbed on the 10nm process.

Guru 3D found a slide which suggest that Chipzilla will not be sticking to its traditional “tick-tock model.” To be fair Intel has been using the 14nm node for two generations so far – Broadwell and Skylake. Kaby Lake processor architecture that is due later this year, will also use 14nm .

The slide tells us pretty much what we expected. The first processor family to be manufactured on a 10nm node will be Cannonlake, expected to launch in the year 2017. The following year, Intel will reportedly launch Icelake processors, again using the same 10nm node. Icelake will be succeeded by Tigerlake in 2019, the third generation of Intel processors using a 10nm silicon fab process. The codename for Tigerlake’s successor is unknown.  When it comes out in 2020 it will use 5nm.


architecture CPU series Tick or Tock Fab node Year Released
Presler/Cedar Mill Pentium 4 / D Tick 65 nm 2006
Conroe/Merom Core 2 Duo/Quad Tock 65 nm 2006
Penryn Core 2 Duo/Quad Tick 45 nm 2007
Nehalem Core i Tock 45 nm 2008
Westmere Core i Tick 32 nm 2010
Sandy Bridge Core i 2xxx Tock 32 nm 2011
Ivy Bridge Core i 3xxx Tick 22 nm 2012
Haswell Core i 4xxx Tock 22 nm 2013
Broadwell Core i 5xxx Tick 14 nm 2014 & 2015 for desktops
Skylake Core i 6xxx Tock 14 nm 2015
Kaby lake Core i 7xxx Tock 14 nm 2016
Cannonlake Core i 8xxx? Tick 10 nm 2017
Ice Lake Core i 8xxx? Tock 10 nm 2018
Tigerlake Core i 9xxx? Tock 10 nm 2019
N/A N/A Tick 5 nm 2020


Is The Dollar Hurting PC Sales?

January 25, 2016 by  
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Worldwide PC  shipments dropped 8.3 percent in the fourth quarter  which was the worst sales have been since  2008,, beancounters at Gartner Group said.

PC manufacturers shipped 75.7 million machines in the fourth quarter compared with about 82.6 million a year earlier. Sales sank 3.1 per cent in the US to 16.9 million in the quarter.

Gartner forecasts a fall of  a  percent in 2016 with the potential of a soft recovery later in the year.

Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Gartner said that the  fourth quarter of 2015 marked the fifth consecutive quarter of worldwide PC shipment decline. Holiday sales did not boost the overall PC shipments, hinting at changes to consumers’ PC purchase behavior.

Lenovo retained its leadership of the PC market with 20 percent of the global market in the fourth quarter. Its shipments dropped 4.2 percent. HP was the  No. 2 global PC maker, increased its market share slightly to almost 19 percent. The company maintained its top position in the U.S., with 27 percent of the market, despite a decline of 8.4 percent in fourth-quarter shipments. Del increased its global market share to 13.5 percent from 13.1 percent and ranked third.

IDC released similar figures saying that it was all the fault of the strong US dollar hampered overseas sales. It thinks that the decline in PC sales may slow in 2016, with IDC projecting a fall of 3.1 percent compared with 10 percent drop in 2015. Greater commercial adoption of Microsoft Windows 10 operating system may help stabilize sales.


Intel Selling 3D Smartphone

January 18, 2016 by  
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Intel has created a new smartphone with a 3D RealSense camera that can recognize objects and detect motion and gestures, much like a Kinect camera.

The smartphone is being made available as a reference device for anyone interested in discovering new uses for 3D cameras in handsets. The 3D camera is a smaller and more advanced version of the RealSense cameras in PCs and tablets.

For $399, users will get an Android smartphone with a 6-inch screen that can display images at a 2560 x 1440-pixel resolution. The RealSense ZR300 depth camera, which is placed at the edge of the phone, can capture 10 million points per second. The phone also has a 2-megapixel front camera and 8-megapixel rear camera.

The phone isn’t for daily use, but more for capturing 3D images, taking cool selfies and experimenting with the RealSense camera. It has only 3G connectivity, so aside from the camera features it isn’t very useful beyond making basic phone calls. It has an Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor, which is in Microsoft’s Surface 3, so don’t expect long battery life. It has 64GB of storage, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and an HDMI port.

Users can reserve the smartphone; Intel did not provide a shipping date. It will only ship to U.S. customers.