AMD Buys Mobile Patents

April 2, 2014 by admin  
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China’s Lenovo is acquiring patents related to 3G and 4G technologies from U.S.-based Unwired Planet for $100 million, as the company sets about expanding with its proposed Motorola Mobility acquisition.

The 21 patent families that Lenovo is purchasing from Unwired Planet will help the Chinese company grow its smartphone and mobile business in new markets, it said Thursday.

In addition, Unwired Planet is licensing its patent portfolio to Lenovo for an unspecified number of years. The Nevada-based company develops mobile technologies in use by carriers including AT&T and Sprint. After its deal with Lenovo closes, Unwired Planet said it will have about 2,500 issued and pending international patents in its portfolio.

Although Lenovo is best known as a PC maker, the company is aiming to becoming a major vendor of mobile phones. Already, in its home market of China, Lenovo ranks as one of the biggest smartphone vendors, and has dozens of different models on the local market.

Lenovo’s mobile phone business is set to grow even larger. In January, the company announced it planned to buy Motorola Mobility from Google for $2.9 billion.

With the proposed acquisition, Lenovo’s handset business will get a foothold in the North American market. The company plans to keep the Motorola business intact, and even use the business to sell phones in its home market of China.

The Motorola deal will also help Lenovo shield itself from patent-related lawsuits that have been used to try to stymie the businesses of other handset makers. By buying Motorola, Lenovo will take ownership of more than 2,000 patent assets and also gain access to Google’s own patent portfolio.

Lenovo’s deal with Unwired Planet is expected to close in 30 days.


AMD To Focus On China

April 1, 2014 by admin  
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Advanced Micro Devices has relocated its desktop chip business operations from the U.S. to the growing market of China, adding to its research lab and testing plant there.

The desktop market in China is growing at a fast pace and its shipments of desktops and laptops are equal in ratio, said Michael Silverman, an AMD spokesman, in an email. “The desktop market in China remains strong,” Silverman said.

The move of AMD’s desktop operations was first reported by technology news publication Digitimes, but the chip maker confirmed the news.

The company is also developing tailored products for users in China, Silverman said.

AMD’s move of desktop operations to China brings them closer to key customers such as Lenovo, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

“Not that they don’t have their sales in the U.S.,” but a significant number of those PCs are made in China and then shipped internationally, McCarron said.

AMD is the world’s second-largest x86 processor maker behind Intel. Many PC makers like HP and Dell get products made in China.

Being in China also solves some desktop supply chain issues because it moves AMD closer to motherboard suppliers like Asustek and MSI, which are based in Taiwan, but get parts made in China. Chips will be shipped to customers faster and at a lower cost, which would reduce the time it takes for PCs to come to market, McCarron said.

AMD already has a plant in Suzhou, which Silverman said “represents half of our global back-end testing capacity.” AMD’s largest research and development center outside the U.S. is in Shanghai.

Some recent products released by the company have been targeted at developing countries. AMD recently starting shipping Sempron and Athlon desktop chips for the Asia-Pacific and Latin America markets, and those chips go into systems priced between $60 and $399. AMD is targeting the chips at users that typically build systems at home and shop for processors, memory and storage. The chips — built on the Jaguar microarchitecture — go into AMD’s new AM1 socket, which will be on motherboards and is designed for users to easily upgrade processors.

China is also big in gaming PCs, and remains a key market for AMD’s desktop chips, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64. “White box integrator’s play a big role in China,” he said.


Will GoDaddy Do An IPO?

March 26, 2014 by admin  
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Web hosting company The GoDaddy Group Inc is gearing up for a second attempt at an initial public offering, according to two people familiar with the matter, as the 2014 tech IPO pipeline continues to grow.

GoDaddy, the Internet domain registrar and web host known for its racy ads, would join a number of high-profile tech names expected to go public this year in the wake of Twitter Inc’s successful debut. They include “Candy Crush” developer King Digital and cloud services providers Box and Dropbox.

The company is in the process of selecting underwriters for its IPO, one of the two sources said on condition of anonymity.

GoDaddy was not immediately available for comment.

GoDaddy had filed to go public in 2006 but was told at the time that it would be required to take a 50 percent haircut — a percentage that is subtracted from the par value of assets that are being used as collateral — on its initial public offering.

The company instead decided to pull its filing, citing unfavorable market conditions.

The company, founded in 1997, was eventually acquired by a private equity consortium led by KKR & Co and Silver Lake in 2011 for $2.25 billion. Silver Lake declined to comment while KKR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Other private equity buyers included Technology Crossover Ventures.

GoDaddy, which provides website domain names, is famous for airing bawdy commercials with scantily clad women for the past decade during the Super Bowl.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the plans.


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.


Is Ethernet For Autos?

March 11, 2014 by admin  
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The most ubiquitous local area networking technology used by large companies may be packing its bags for a road trip.

As in-vehicle electronics become more sophisticated to support autonomous driving, cameras, and infotainment systems, Ethernet has become a top contender for connecting them.

For example, the BMW X5 automobile, released last year, used single-pair twisted wire, 100Mbps Ethernet to connect its driver-assistance cameras.

Paris-based Parrot, which supplies mobile accessories to automakers BMW, Hyundai and others, has developed in-car Ethernet. Its first Ethernet-connected systems could hit the market as soon as 2015, says Eric Riyahi, executive vice president of global operations.

Parrot’s new Ethernet-based Audio Video Bridging (AVB) technology uses Broadcom’s BroadR-Reach automotive Ethernet controller chips.

The AVB technology’s network management capabilities allows automakers to control the timing of data streams between specific network nodes in a vehicle and controls the bandwidth in order to manage competing data traffic.

Ethernet’s greater bandwidth could provide drivers with turn-by-turn navigation while a front-seat passenger streams music from the Internet, and each back-seat passenger watches streaming videos on separate displays.

“In-car Ethernet is seen as a very promising way to provide the needed bandwidth for coming new applications within the fields of connectivity, infotainment and safety,” said Hans Alminger, senior manager for Diagnostics & ECU Platform at Volvo, in a statement.

Ethernet was initially used by automakers only for on-board diagnostics. But as automotive electronics advanced, the technology has found a place in advanced driver assistance systems and infotainment platforms.

Many manufacturers also use Ethernet to connect rear vision cameras to a car’s infotainment or safety system, said Patrick Popp, chief technology officer of Automotive at TE Connectivity, a maker of car antennas and other automobile communications parts.

Currently, however, there are as many as nine proprietary auto networking specifications, including LIN, CAN/CAN-FD, MOST and FlexRay. FlexRay, for example, has a 10Mbps transmission rate. Ethernet could increase that 10 fold or more.

The effort to create a single vehicle Ethernet standard is being lead by Open Alliance and the IEEE 802.3 working group. The groups are working to establish 100Mbps and 1Gbps Ethernet as de facto standards.

The first automotive Ethernet standard draft is expected this year.

The Open Alliance claims more than 200 members, including General Motors, Ford, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai, BMW, Toyota, Volkswagen. Jaguar Land Rover, Renault, Volvo, Bosch, Freescale and Harman.

Broadcom, which makes electronic control unit chips for automobiles, is a member of the Open Alliance and is working on the effort to standardize automotive Ethernet.


Ubuntu Cross-Platform Delayed

February 26, 2014 by admin  
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Ubuntu will not offer cross-platform apps as soon as it had hoped.

Canonical had raised hopes that its plan for Ubuntu to span PCs and mobile devices would be realised with the upcoming Ubuntu 14.04 release, providing a write-once, run-on-many template similar to that planned by Google for its Chrome OS and Android app convergence.

This is already possible on paper and the infrastructure is in place on smartphone and tablet versions of Ubuntu through its new Unity 8 user interface.

However, Canonical has decided to postpone the rollout of Unity 8 for desktop machines, citing security concerns, and it will now not appear along with the Mir display server this coming autumn.

This will apply only to apps in the Ubuntu store, and in the true spirit of open source, anyone choosing to step outside that ecosystem will be able to test the converged Ubuntu before then.

Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon told Ars Technica, “We don’t plan on shipping apps in the new converged store on the desktop until Unity 8 and Mir lands.

“The reason is that we use app insulation to (a) run apps securely and (b) not require manual reviews (so we can speed up the time to get apps in the store). With our plan to move to Mir, our app insulation doesn’t currently insulate against X apps sniffing events in other X apps. As such, while Ubuntu SDK apps in click packages will run on today’s Unity 7 desktop, we don’t want to make them readily available to users until we ship Mir and have this final security consideration in place.

“Now, if a core-dev or motu wants to manually review an Ubuntu SDK app and ship it in the normal main/universe archives, the security concern is then taken care of with a manual review, but we are not recommending this workflow due to the strain of manual reviews.”

As well as the aforementioned security issues, there are still concerns that cross-platform apps don’t look quite as good on the desktop as native desktop versions and the intervening six months will be used to polish the user experience.

Getting the holistic experience right is essential for Ubuntu in order to attract OEMs to the converged operating system. Attempts to crowdfund its own Ubuntu handset fell short of its ambitious $20m target, despite raising $10.2 million, the single largest crowdfunding total to date.


Did Intel Kill Bay Trail?

February 21, 2014 by admin  
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Intel has decided that some of its budget Bay Trail parts have been out evolved and flung them into a tar pit. According to CPU World the parts first appeared in September. Intel released budget Bay Trail systems on a chip for mobile and desktop markets, under Celeron and Pentium brands.

They were manufactured on 22nm technology, and featured such enhancements as greater number of CPU cores, higher clock speeds, beefed up graphics unit, not to mention an out-of-order microarchitecture, that improved per-clock CPU performance by up to 30 per cent faster compared to their predecessors. With this performance goodness it is a little surprising the Intel has decided that all the all Bay Trail SoCs will be discontinued in a matter of a few months. Details of the planned discontinuation were published this week by Intel in several Product Change Notification documents.

The Desktop Pentium J2850, along with mobile Celeron N2810 and Pentium N3510 are already End of Lifed and its last orders will be in two weeks, on February 11. The chips will ship until April 25, 2014. Also retired are mobile Celeron N2806, N2815, N2820, N2920, and Pentium N3520. Their EOL date is April 11, 2014, and they will ship until May 30, 2014. On August 22, 2014, Intel is going to discontinue Celeron J1750, J1850, N2805 and N2910. The “J” models are desktop processors, and the “N” are mobile ones. There is no word on Z-series Bay Trail-T parts, none appear to be EOL’d at this  time.

Furthermore, on the same date Intel will retire Core i7-3940XM Extreme Edition, and boxed and tray versions of Core i7-3840QM and i7-3740QM CPUs. The last shipment date for the Celerons and Core i7s is February 6, 2015.


Sony Exits PC Business

February 19, 2014 by admin  
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Sony will unload its struggling PC business to a Japanese investment firm, the company said Thursday, raising the possibility that the “Vaio” brand could all but disappear from markets outside Japan.

Tokyo-based investment fund Japan Industrial Partners (JIP) will operate the Vaio PC brand under a newly established firm and initially sell PCs in Japan only.

In another reform aimed at bolstering its restructuring efforts, Sony also said it would turn its beleaguered TV business into a subsidiary.

The moves come as Sony said it now expects a net loss of $1.1 billion for the year to the end of March, a reversal of its October profit forecast.

Vaio, which Sony introduced in 1996, looks set to vanish from most markets, at least for short term, as the new company will initially concentrate on selling consumer and corporate PCs in Japan. Whether or not Sony will continue to produce products under the Vaio brand remains to be seen, Sony said.

Although Sony is selling its PC business, it will continue to produce tablet computers, part of its renewed focus on mobile devices including smartphones.

Sony did not put a price on the sale. Sony will take a 5% stake in the new firm, it said.

Sony will stop making and selling PCs after its 2014 Spring lineup launch, but about 250 to 300 Sony staff, including some from a subsidiary that produces TV sets, cameras and computers at factories in Japan, will be hired by the new company, which is to be based at the hub of Sony’s current PC business in Japan’s Nagano Prefecture.

Meanwhile, Sony said it will turn its TV business, which has faced a decade of losses, into a wholly owned subsidiary by July 2014.


Is Acer Doomed?

January 31, 2014 by admin  
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Taiwanese PC maker Acer reported worse-than-expected quarterly loss. Actually, it had been expected to be bad, but no one had predicted it would be this bad.

For the fourth quarter, the world’s No.4 PC vendor reported a net loss of $254 million. The company had posted a worse-than-expected net loss of $446 million in the third quarter and a $112.31 million loss in the same quarter of 2012. In short, its troubles have been getting worse for more than two years.

At the end of last year the company named former Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co sales executive Jason Chen as its new CEO and launched a new initiative to integrate hardware, software and cloud services. It will be a while before the new broom can sweep out two years of doom, so many are expecting more doom to emerge. Acer relied too heavily on making low-end laptops, which weakened its brand, it also missed the shift to mobile.

Acer’s senior executives are taking a 30 per cent voluntary salary cut starting January, the company said in a statement.


ZTE Attempts To Double Marketshare

January 27, 2014 by admin  
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China’s ZTE Corp, the world’s seventh-largest smartphone maker, wants to nearly double its U.S. market share in the next three years by increasing spending on marketing.

ZTE, which trails nearby rival Huawei Technologies Co Ltd in selling both smartphones and telecoms equipment, wants more share of the fat profit margins promised by sales of high-end phones in the United States.

But the company needs to first work on its image. Its mainstay telecom equipment business was essentially shut out of the U.S. and other markets after government officials flagged security concerns about Chinese-made equipment.

ZTE targets a U.S. market share of 10 percent by 2017 from 6 percent in 2013, Lv Qianhao, global marketing director of mobile devices, told Reuters at a company event on Thursday.

That would place it a distant third behind Apple Inc with 41 percent and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd with 26 percent, according to September-November data from researcher comScore.

To that end, ZTE will increase its U.S. marketing budget by at least 120 percent this year from last, Lv said without elaborating. Like other Chinese handset makers, ZTE is grappling with low brand awareness in the world’s second-largest smartphone market and perceptions of inferior quality.

Samsung Electronics, which earns around two-thirds of its operating profit from its mobile division, spent $597 million on marketing in the United States in 2012, according to researcher AdAge.

Last year, ZTE signed a deal with the Houston Rockets basketball team and released a Rockets-branded phone.

“We want young U.S. consumers to participate in our marketing activities, so we will have more NBA (National Basketball Association) stores and channels that sell our products,” Lv said.

Globally, ZTE aims to ship around 60 million smartphones this year compared with about 40 million smartphones last year, said Senior Vice President Zhang Renjun.

The company sees much of that growth in developed markets – including Russia and China- which accounted for 68 percent of mobile device revenue last year compared with 35 percent in 2007, said Lv.

ZTE’s mobile device business sells feature phones as well as smartphones. It was the fifth-biggest mobile phone vendor in July-September, according to researcher Gartner, though it fell out of the top five smartphone sellers list in the same period.

ZTE expects to have swung to a profit for last year having booked its first-ever loss as a public company in 2012.

It based its turnaround on cutting costs, signing fewer low-margin contracts, and winning contracts to build fourth generation telecommunication networks.

The company expects global investment in 4G to reach $100 billion this year, Zhang said.