Will Chrome’s API Work?

March 25, 2014 by admin  
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Google has targeted web browser settings hijacking in its latest update to Chrome for Windows.

On the Chromium blog, Google engineering director Erik Kay announced an extension settings API designed to ensure that users have notice and control over any settings changes made to their web browsers.

As a result, the only way extensions will be able to make changes to browser settings such as the default search engine and start page will be through this API.

Bargain hungry consumers are often unaware that freeware programs often bundle add-on programs for which developers receive payment but can create irritating, rather than malicious, changes to user settings.

Although there is usually consent sought at installation, quite often it is ignored or not understood, and the people who miss the warnings are generally the same ones who find it hard to change the settings back.

Kay said that the API is available in the Chromium developer channel, with a rollout to the stable channel set for May.

The Chromium stable channel has been updated to version 33.0.1750.149. The main change is an update to the embedded Flash Player for Windows, which is now version 12.0.0.77.

There are seven new security fixes, most of which were user submitted via the open source Fast Memory Detector Address Sanitizer.

Although the user community and Chrome team continue to proactively protect the Chromium project, third party extensions can still cause problems, with several already having been removed from the Chrome Store this year.

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Will Google Use Intel Inside?

March 21, 2014 by admin  
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It seems that Intel has elbowed its way under the bonnet of the high profile Nexus 8 tablet. Word on the street is that the Moorefield chip which is said to make a top speed of around 2.33 GHz, when the wind is behind it, has kicked Qualcomm’s tried and tested Snapdragon chip out of the Nexus range.

The move would give the Nexus 8, some good GPU power thanks to the PowerVR G6430 graphic engine. Google may unveil the actual tablet during the Google I/O event as well as the next big upgrade to the Android software dubbed lollipop. Still it is starting to look like Intel may really become a force to be reckoned with in mobile after all.

However, we should point out that Nexus 8 CPU rumors are nothing new. There was talk of Intel, Qualcomm and even Nvidia over the past couple of months – but we are still not entirely certain what’s under the bonnet.

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Are Transparent Semiconductors Next?

January 23, 2014 by admin  
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Scientist have emerged from their smoke filled labs with transparent thin-film organic semiconductors that could become the foundation for cheap, high-performance displays. Two university research teams have worked together to produce the world’s fastest thin-film organic transistors, proving that this experimental technology has the potential to achieve the performance needed for high-resolution television screens and similar electronic devices.

According to the latest issue of Nature Communications, engineers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and Stanford University show how they created thin-film organic transistors that could operate more than five times faster than previous examples of this experimental technology.

Research teams led by Zhenan Bao, professor of chemical engineering at Stanford, and Jinsong Huang, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering at UNL used their new process to make organic thin-film transistors with electronic characteristics comparable to those found in expensive, curved-screen television displays based on a form of silicon technology.

At the moment the high tech method is to drop a special solution, containing carbon-rich molecules and a complementary plastic, onto a spinning platter made of glass. The spinning action deposits a thin coating of the materials over the platter. The boffins worked out that if they spun the platter faster and coated a tiny portion of the spinning surface, equivalent to the size of a postage stamp they could put a denser concentration of the organic molecules into a more regular alignment. The result was a great improvement in carrier mobility, which measures how quickly electrical charges travel through the transistor.

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Did Intel Have an IPad In Y2K?

December 20, 2013 by admin  
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Intel apparently built an IPAD ten years before Steve Jobs though of the tablet and the name. It was in the days when sticking an I in front of anything meant it was Intel rather than Apple and the Intel Pad, or IPAD for short, could browse the Internet, play music and videos, and even act as a digital picture frame.

Intel scrapped the IPAD before consumers could get their hands on it as its move into Tablets was seen as one of the outfit’s biggest blunders. According to CNET in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Intel wanted to diversify its operations beyond the PC. The IPAD came from one of several small teams within its research arm tasked with exploring new business opportunities. The IPAD, which included a touch screen and stylus, would not run entirely on its own but connected to a computer to browse the Internet through an Intel wireless technology.

Intel thought that “mobility” meant moving around your home or business and the IPAD was to be a portable device you could take around your house. The reason that they never thought of connecting it to the phone network was because Intel wanted to tie it all back to its core PC chip business. After several years of development on the Intel Web Tablet, then-CEO Craig Barrett unveiled the device at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2001. The company planned to sell the tablet to consumers later that year.

Sadly though it miffed Intel’s PC partners, which didn’t want a product that could potentially compete with them and Intel caved in and cancelled the project.

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Intel’s Cherry Trail Forthcoming

December 16, 2013 by admin  
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The next generation desktop and mobile Atom is Cherry Trail in 14nm and the first parts are expected in late 2014. Intel has been working hard to accelerate the introduction of Atom parts based on the new architecture and in 2014 it will finally ship Broadwell notebook chips and Cherry Trail Atoms in the same year, both using the new 14nm node.

The Cherry View is a notebook SoC version of a chip based on new Airmont core, while Cherry Trail is the part meant for tablets. The phone version is based on Moorefield architecture and they are all expected to show up in late 2014, most likely very late Q3 2014.

The TDP should go down compared to Bay Trail platform as the new 14nm needs less voltage to hit the same speed and should produce less heat at the same time. With the 14nm shrink Intel’s new Atoms will be able to get more fanless design wins.

The significance of 14nm products for mobile phones and tablets will be in the fact that ARM alliance lead by Qualcomm, Samsung, MediaTek and a few other players will be struggling to get 20nm designs out of the door in 2014, and Intel can already get to a 14nm.

However, Intel still has to integrate LTE inside its mobile phone SoCs, which has traditionally been proven to be a tough task. At this time only Qualcomm has on-die LTE and its LTE enabled SoCs are under the bonnet of almost every significant ARM based high-end phone out there.

Only time will tell how successful Intel’s mobile push will be. Even with these 14nm parts, once they show up roughly a year from now, it might be really tough for Intel to get some high-volume design wins in the phone space, despite the transition to 14nm.

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Will Intel’s Tablet Gamble Work?

December 12, 2013 by admin  
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Earlier this year Intel caused quite a stir when CEO Brian Krzanich announced the company’s ultimate goal is to make $99 tablets a reality. So far Intel has failed to gain much market share in the tablet space, dominated by cheaper ARM application processors and Android.

However, Bay Trail-T has a good chance to turn things around. The new chip can easily take on high-end ARM parts and in most cases, wipe the floor with them. Since it’s an x86 part, it can also be used in Windows 8.1 tablets. However, the price was a problem. Intel’s official Bay Trail-T prices range from $32 to $37, making the chips significantly more expensive than mid-range and low-end ARM parts. However, many vendors are said to be getting discounts and paying a bit less, in the $20 to $30 range.

Things may be about to change. According to Digitimes, Intel is planning to spend up to $1 billion on tablet chip subsides. The cash should sweeten the deal for vendors willing to give Intel SoCs a go. Since we are talking about relatively low average selling prices, Intel could use the cash to practically halve the prices and offer Bay Trail-T parts for as little as $10. This would make them competitive overnight, as high-end ARM SoCs like the Exynos 5 and Tegra 4 are estimated to cost well over $20.

Intel has a long tradition of overspending on marketing. A few years ago it showed Ultrabook vendors with $300 million worth of market development funding and it has a huge Core marketing program. Intel recently announced that it would start treating Atom and Core equally, hence the move would make sense. Since Core lifecycles are getting longer, Intel could simply shift some of the funding to Atom products, namely tablet parts like Bay Trail-T.

The only problem? Well the report comes from Digitimes and the site’s hit and miss track record has been on the “miss” side lately, so take it with a grain of salt.

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Intel’s Bay Trail M Is On The Way

November 26, 2013 by admin  
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Intel launched its Bay Trail-M ultra low voltage processors for netbooks and mobile devices over the weekend. According to CPU World the new mobile CPUs, branded this time as Celeron and Pentium, can manage twice the CPU performance, and up to three times faster graphics.

They do all that while using the same amount of juice as their “Cedar Trail” predecessors. Most chips have higher clock speeds than N2805, N2810 and N2910 SKUs and come with Burst Performance technology. They can operate at a higher maximum operating temperature which makes them easier to cool. Finally, in addition to 4 N28xx/N29xx Celerons Intel also released Pentium N2920.

Then there are new dual-core Bay Trail-M microprocessors like the Celeron N2806, N2815 and N2820 which can operate at frequencies from 1.6 GHz to 2.13 GHz, when going downhill had the wind is behind them. They also have the maximum burst speed ranging from 2 GHz to 2.39 GHz. The processors come with 1 MB L2 cache, Ivy Bridge graphics clocked at 311 MHz and up to 756 MHz, and support for DDR3L-1066 memory. The N2806 has 4.5 Watt TDP while the N2815 and N2820 have 7.5 Watt TDP. All of the Celeron N28xx processors are priced at $132.

Two new quad-core microprocessors are Celeron N2920 and Pentium N3520. The CPUs have 2 MB L2 cache, and run at 1.86 GHz and 2.17 GHz respectively, with burst frequencies reaching 2 GHz and 2.42 GHz. Both parts integrate Ivy Bridge graphics, that can be clocked as high as 854 MHz. The Celeron can deal with DDR3L-1066 memory, and the Pentium supports 1333 MHz memory data rate. They fit into 7.5 Watt power envelope. The official prices of Celeron N2920 and Pentium N3520 are $132 and $180.

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Does Wall Street Like Intel’s Mobile Plan?

October 24, 2013 by admin  
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In recent months Intel’s new CEO Brian Krzanich and President Renee James made several interesting statements, signalling to Wall Street that the chipmaker gets it – it has to do more in mobile.

With smartphone shipments expected to hit one billion per year as early as next year, Intel’s newfound love of mobile chips is hardly surprising. In recent months Intel told the world that it’s now treating Atom just like Core, which means Atom will no longer look like an unwanted stepchild. On the face of it this is good news for shareholders and investors, but scratch the surface it doesn’t look too encouraging.

As a result, most analysts expect Intel to post lacklustre results on Tuesday, which is hardly surprising given the state of the PC market, which is still the bulk of Intel’s core business. Analysts expect revenue of $13.47 billion, 0.1 percent higher year-on-year, but earnings per share are estimated at $0.53, or 8.6 percent down over last year. But negative EPS forecasts aren’t the biggest problem facing Intel. Most analysts agree that 2014 won’t be much better, but there are some factors that indicate even these bleak forecasts might be too optimistic.

The first Bay Trail products are starting to appear and initial performance reports are encouraging, but they are just that – encouraging rather than groundbreaking. Benchmarks seem to indicate that Bay Trail-T tablets end up marginally slower than Qualcomm 800 and Tegra 4 based devices, which are a bit older, too. With prices ranging from $32 to $37, the first batch of Bay Trail chips also cost a bit more than their ARM competitors, but a direct comparison is not possible as ARM players don’t disclose the unit prices of their chips.

Furthermore Intel still lacks integrated LTE support, which means Bay Trail isn’t going to score big phone design wins. Intel hopes to roll out its first LTE enabled products next year, but there’s still some ambiguity. For example, Intel discrete modems are still built on TSMC silicon and it could be a couple of years before they end up on the die of an Intel SoC built in an Intel fab. While Intel could roll out the first two-chip solution next year, it’s highly unlikely that it will have a proper integrated solution before 2015.

This is a bit of a problem for more reasons than one. Many analysts don’t dig deep enough, some of these technical issues go under the radar – so they stick to Intel’s promise of LTE in 2014. Quark is also being overhyped, although it won’t generate any significant revenue over the next few years. Many analysts also believe x86 support is still a big deal, and to some extent it is, but the relevance of x86 is often exaggerated and it is diminishing as we speak. That is why Intel is talking up hybrids, or 2-in-1s – because legacy x86 support is a lot more important for hybrids than regular tablets. In smartphones, x86 support is as useless as a Facebook share button on a porn site.

However, this is where it gets interesting, because Intel is also promising $99 Bay Trail tablets. Back at IDF, Krzanich said Intel’s new tablet platform would “go below $100 by Q4 2013,” giving the impression that Intel can do dirt cheap tablets as well. We are not sure that it can, not unless it subsidizes them with heaps of cash, and we all know how well that went with Ultrabooks.

As for phones, Intel is still dead in the water and this won’t change anytime soon. Apple is quite happy designing its own custom chips and having them built by the lowest bidder. Samsung is going for off-the-shelf IP and manufacturing its Exynos 5 chips in 28nm, and it will hit 20nm soon. Qualcomm dominates the market and Intel can’t erode its lead over the next couple of product cycles. Even if Intel comes up with competitive smartphone chips in a year or two, who will they be for? Apple won’t buy them, neither will Samsung. This would leave Intel in an awkward position of fighting over scraps with heavy hitters like Qualcomm and a range of smaller ARM players like Nvidia and MediaTek.

This is hardly a viable long-term mobile strategy. Intel is basically doing the only thing it can – and doing the only thing that can be done and calling it a strategy doesn’t really make for much of a strategy.

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Intel Goes AI

September 24, 2013 by admin  
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Intel has written a check for the Spanish artificial intelligence technology startup Indisys.

The outfit focuses on natural language recognition and the deal is worth $26 million. It follows Intel’s recent acquisition of Omek, an Israeli startup with specialties in gesture-based interfaces. Indisys employees have joined Intel already. Apparently the deal was signed on May 31 and the deal has been completed.

Intel would not confirm how they are using the tech: “Indisys has a deep background in computational linguistics, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and machine learning. We are not disclosing any details about how Intel might use the Indisys technologies at this time.”

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Intel Wins Patent Case

February 26, 2013 by admin  
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Intel has had a previous decision upheld by the US International Trade Commission (ITC), which decided it did not infringe several X2Y chip manufacturing patents.

X2Y had claimed that Intel’s chip manufacturing technology infringed five of its patents and requested an injunction to stop the chips from entering the US. Previously Judge David Shaw ruled that Intel did not infringe X2Y’s patents, a decision that has been upheld by the ITC, which said it will “terminate the investigation with a finding of no violation”.

X2Y’s patents relate to the shielding of electromagnetic interference that is a significant problem in electronics manufacture. The firm has sold licenses to other chipmakers including Samsung, however Intel decided to develop its own techniques, which are now deemed not to infringe X2Y’s patents.

Intel has had a previous decision upheld by the US International Trade Commission (ITC), which decided it did not infringe several X2Y chip manufacturing patents.

X2Y had claimed that Intel’s chip manufacturing technology infringed five of its patents and requested an injunction to stop the chips from entering the US. Previously Judge David Shaw ruled that Intel did not infringe X2Y’s patents, a decision that has been upheld by the ITC, which said it will “terminate the investigation with a finding of no violation”.

X2Y’s patents relate to the shielding of electromagnetic interference that is a significant problem in electronics manufacture. The firm has sold licenses to other chipmakers including Samsung, however Intel decided to develop its own techniques, which are now deemed not to infringe X2Y’s patents.

While Intel had the most to lose, X2Y also went after Apple and HP, two of Intel’s highest profile customers. Intel even argued that an injunction on its chips would hurt American jobs.

Not only did X2Y lose its patent battle with Intel, but two of its patents were ruled invalid. The company had filed two civil lawsuits that were put on hold pending the ITC’s decision, but given the ITC action it will be surprising if the firm continues in its legal campaign against Intel.

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