Qualcomm and LG Settle Dispute

May 5, 2016 by  
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Qualcomm has buried the hatchet with LG after the smartphone vendor agreed to pay more for its chips.

LG said the dispute with Qualcomm has been completely settled, although it did not say how much it had agreed to pay. Earlier it had claimed Qualcomm had overcharged for the chips under a licensing contract.

The news about the lawsuit settlement emerged following Qualcomm’s profit forecast for the second quarter in January, which was below what Wall Street’s tarot readers had predicted.

The company expected its mobile chip shipment to fall by 16-25 per cent in the second quarter. Additionally, it expected 3G and 4G device shipment to decline by 4 to 14 per cent. As for the first quarter of 2016, Qualcomm’s chip shipment fell 10 per cent , with a drop in revenue by 21.6 per cent. Revenue from licensing declined 10.4 per cent, suggests a Reuters report.

An LG spokesperson said that this kind of dispute was “actually nothing” and was similar to the ones that the industries had in the past.

“Qualcomm has lowered its royalty rate to LG in return for LG’s guaranteed purchase of Qualcomm processors, which are currently being used in its flagship handsets and will be used in upcoming flagship models,” added the official.

Qualcomm might have been a little nervy.  LG has invested millions to develop its own chipset, in an attempt to cut down its dependency on Qualcomm for mobile processors.



Is Apple Trying To Rain On Intel’s Parade?

April 5, 2016 by  
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Intel’s cunning plans for computers that will recognize human emotion using its RealSense 3D camera, have been killed off in the short term by Apple.

RealSense is a mix of infrared, laser and optical cameras to measure depth and track motion. It can be used on a drone that can navigate its own way through a city block, but it is also good at detecting changes in facial expressions, and Intel wanted to give RealSense the ability to read human emotions by combining it with an emotion recognition technology developed by Emotient.

Plugging in Emotient allowed RealSense to detect whether people are happy or sad by analyzing movement in their lips, eyes and cheeks. Intel said that it could detect “anger, contempt, disgust, fear,” and other sentiments.

A few months ago the fruity cargo cult Apple acquired Emotient. Intel has removed the Emotient plug-in from the latest version of the RealSense software development kit.

It is not clear at this point if Apple told Intel that it invented the plug in and so it had to sling its hook, or if Intel did not want Jobs’ Mob anywhere near its technology.

The RealSense SDK has features that allow it to recognize some facial expressions, but it’s unclear if they’ll be as effective as the Emotient technology.


Qualcomm Jumps Into VR

March 24, 2016 by  
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Qualcomm has thrown its hat into the virtual reality (VR) ring with the launch of the Snapdragon VR SDK for Snapdragon-based smartphones and VR headsets.

The SDK gives developers access to advanced VR features, according to Qualcomm, allowing them to simplify development and attain improved performance and power efficiency with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 processor, found in Android smartphones such as the Galaxy S7 and tipped to feature in upcoming VR headsets.

In terms of features, the development kit offers tools such as digital signal processing (DSP) sensor fusion, which allows devs to use the “full breadth” of technologies built into the Snapdragon 820 chip to create more responsive and immersive experiences.

It will help developers combine high-frequency inertial data from gyroscopes and accelerometers, and there’s what the company calls “predictive head position processing” based on its Hexagon DSP, while Qualcomm’s Symphony System Manager makes easier access to power and performance management for more stable frame rates in VR applications running on less-powerful devices.

Fast motion to photon will offer single buffer rendering to reduce latency by up to 50 percent, while stereoscopic rendering with lens correction offers support for 3D binocular vision with color correction and barrel distortion for improved visual quality of graphics and video, enhancing the overall VR experience.

Stereoscopic rendering with lens correction supports 3D binocular vision with color correction and barrel distortion for improved visual quality of graphics and video, enhancing the overall VR experience.

Rounding off the features is VR layering, which improves overlays in a virtual world to reduce distortion.

David Durnil, senior director of engineering at Qualcomm, said: “We’re providing advanced tools and technologies to help developers significantly improve the virtual reality experience for applications like games, 360 degree VR videos and a variety of interactive education and entertainment applications.

“VR represents a new paradigm for how we interact with the world, and we’re excited to help mobile VR developers more efficiently deliver compelling and high-quality experiences on upcoming Snapdragon 820 VR-capable Android smartphones and headsets.”

The Snapdragon VR SDK will be available to developers in the second quarter through the Qualcomm Developer Network.

The launch of Qualcomm’s VR SDK comes just moments after AMD also entered the VR arena with the launch of the Sulon Q, a VR-ready wearable Windows 10 PC.



Triada Trojan Aims For Android Devices

March 17, 2016 by  
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Kaspersky have found another scary trojan to wave under our noses and cause us to consider getting off the internet.

This one is called Triada and it targets Android devices with Windows-style malware swagger. Anyone running Android 4.4.4 and earlier is in trouble, according to Kaspersky, as they face an opponent created by “very professional cyber criminals” that can allow for in-app purchase theft and all the problems that come with privilege escalation.

And guess what? Android users dangle themselves in the way of the Triada threat when they download things from untrusted sources. Does no one listen to anything these days? Does it even matter? Kaspersky said in a blog post that the likely apps can “sometimes” make their way onto the official Android store.

There is something different about this attack. Kaspersky reports on a lot of these things, but Triada exploits Zygote, and that is a first.

“A distinguishing feature of this malware is the use of Zygote, the parent of the application process on an Android device that contains system libraries and frameworks used by every application installed on the device. In other words, it’s a demon whose purpose is to launch Android applications,” Kaspersky explained.

“This is the first time technology like this has been seen in the wild. Prior to this, a trojan using Zygote was known only as a proof-of-concept. The stealth capabilities of this malware are very advanced.

“After getting into the user’s device Triada implements in nearly every working process and continues to exist in the short-term memory. This makes it almost impossible to detect and delete using anti-malware solutions.”

The security firm added that the complexity of Triada’s functionality proves that professional cyber criminals with a deep understanding of the targeted mobile platform are behind the creation of this malware.

Kaspersky reckons that it is nigh on impossible to rid a device of the malware, and suggested that you might as well nuke your phone and start again.


Intel Putting RealSense Into VR

March 16, 2016 by  
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Intel is adapting its RealSense depth camera into an augmented reality headset design which it might be licensing to other manufacturers.

The plan is not official yet but appears to have been leaked to the Wall Street Journal. Achin Bhowmik, who oversees RealSense as vice president and general manager of Intel’s perceptual computing group, declined to discuss unannounced development efforts.

But he said Intel has a tradition of creating prototypes for products like laptop computers to help persuade customers to use its components. We have to build the entire experience ourselves before we can convince the ecosystem,” Bhowmik said.

Intel appears to be working on an augmented-reality headset when it teamed up with IonVR to to work on an augmented-reality headset that could work with a variety of operating systems, including Android and iOS. Naturally, it had a front-facing RealSense camera.

RealSense depth camera has been in development for several years and was shown as a viable product technology at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2014. Since then, nothing has happened and Microsoft’s Kinect sensor technology for use with Windows Hello in the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book knocked it aside.

Intel’s biggest issue is that it is talking about making a consumer product which is something that it never got the hang of.

RealSense technology is really good at translating real-world objects into virtual space. In fact a lot better than the HoloLens because it can scan the user’s hands and translate them into virtual objects that can manipulate other virtual objects.


Samsung Bring 15TB SSD To Market

March 15, 2016 by  
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Samsung has now officially announced and started to ship its new Samsung PM1633a line of solid state drives for Enterprise Storage Systems, which includes the highest capacity SSD ever made by Samsung, the 15.35TB PM1366a model.

Revealed back during the 2015 Flash Memory Summit in August last year, the now available Samsung PM1633a enterprise SSD series is based on a standard 2.5-inch form factor and features a 12Gbps Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) interface. It also uses Samsung new controller as well as Samsung’s own 3rd generation 256Gb 48-layer TLC V-NAND.

As noted, the Samsung PM1633a lineup is based on Samsung’s 256Gb V-NAND flash chips. The 256Gb dies are stacked in 16 layers to form a single 512GB package and by adding up a total of 32 NAND packages, you get the 15.36TB model. According to Samsung, the 3rd generation 256Gb V-NAND will provide both significant performance as well as reliability improvements compared to the PM1633 drive which used 2nd generation 32-layer 128Gb V-NAND flash.

The controller has also been upgraded to concurrently access large amounts of high-density NAND flash and the PM1633a 15.36TB model comes with no less than 16GB of cache.

When it comes to performance, the Samsung PM1633a provides sequential read and write performance of up to 1,200MB/s while random 4K performance is set at up to 200,000 IOPS for read and up to 32,000 IOPS for write. The new Samsung PM1633a enterprise SSD also offers high high reliability date with 1DWPD (drive writes per day), adding up to 15.36TB that can be written every day without failure, which is quite important in the enterprise market.

While the 15.36TB model of the Samsung P1633a is already shipping to select enterprise customers, Samsung is also promising a wide range of capacities, including 480GB, 960GB, 1.92TB, 3.84TB and 7.68TB. According to Samsung, enterprise managers can now fit twice as many drives in a standard 19-inch 2U rack compared to a 3.5-inch storage drive.

Unfortunately, Samsung did not reveal any details regarding the price but we doubt that such high capacity and performance will have a low price tag.



Toshiba Announces New Line Of SSDs

March 3, 2016 by  
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Toshiba has announced its newest line of consumer grade SSDs based on 15nm TLC NAND, the Toshiba SG5 SSD series.

The new Toshiba SG5 SSD series will be available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities as well as a couple of different form-factors, standard 2.5-inch and two different M.2 form-factors.

As noted, the Toshiba SG5 SSD series is based on 15nm TLC NAND with yet to be details controller and will offer sequential performance of up to 545MB/s for read and up to 388MB/s for write.

The 2.5-inch version of the Toshiba SG5 SSD series will be available in all aforementioned capacities, the M.2 2280-S2 (single side) form-factor version will be available in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities and the M.2 2280-D2 (double side) version will only come in 1TB capacity.

The rest of the features are pretty standard for a consumer-grade SSD so you are looking at a power consumption 4.5W to 5.6W under load and 0.65W in idle and it includes Toshiba’s QSBC (Quadruple Swing-By Code) error correction technology.

Unfortunately, Toshiba did not unveil any details regarding the actual price of the new SG5 series SSDs but did say that it should be available sometime during this quarter.



Kingston Creates Self-Destructing USB Device 

January 22, 2016 by  
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Kingston has taken the covers off its 2016 range at CES in Las Vegas and the most notable device on the list is the ‘self-destructing’ latest DataTraveler 2000 USB hard drive.

What makes it interesting is that it has a built-in keypad that allows it to be PIN protected when inserted into any device and can be set to ‘self-destruct’ after 10 incorrect log-in attempts. Better still, it comes with an aluminium cover to prevent the self-destruct accidentally being triggered in your bag.

Compatible with USB up to 3.1, it offers speeds of up to 135MBps read and 40MBps write. It is also designed to be OS independent, and includes up to 256-bit AES protection without any drivers on the host device.

“We are excited to add DataTraveler 2000 to our existing line-up of fast and encrypted USB flash drives for organisations and SMBs,” said Valentina Vitolo, flash business manager at Kingston. “It is the perfect option to deploy in the workforce where a uniform encrypted data storage solution that works on many different operating systems is in use.”

The device will be available later in the quarter. Prices are to be announced, but capacities will range from 16GB to 64GB.

Next up is the KC400, the latest addition to the SSDNow range powered by an eight-channel Phison controller and quad-core internal processor. It will be available is capacities from 128GB to 1TB with speeds of 550/540MBps read/write on the 256GB drive.

The MobileLite range of WiFi-enabled SD card readers has been expanded with the addition of the Wireless G3 and Wireless Pro. The G3 offers a 5600mAh onboard battery to charge mobile devices via the mobile app, and makes it even easier to transfer to and from mobile devices.

Both offer wireless 802.11ac connectivity, while the Pro edition adds an extra little something in the form of a 64GB flash storage option. Both have USB 3.0 and SD card slots, with an adapter for microSD. There’s also an Ethernet port so you can use it as a hotel room hotspot.

Last up, following on from the success of the HyperX CloudII headset, Kingston has released a special edition for Xbox One users which has garnered the moniker of ‘official’. It adds an inline volume control and comes in a hard-shell case.

This year’s offerings are less focused on the traditional Kingston flash product lines, and once again don’t increase capacities.



xCodeGhost To Wreak Havoc On IOS Devices

November 23, 2015 by  
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A security firm has released a list of ongoing and incoming threats that cover a range of things from Apple’s iOS to the Internet of Things (IoT).

In its third report this year, Quick Heal warns that Apple users in particular better brace themselves for impact as more and more malware writers who’ve earned their stripes targeting Android users turn their attention to iOS.

“As the number of iPhone owners rises across the world, iOS has become a new potential target for Android malware authors and hackers. It is expected that Android malware will soon be altered to attack iOS users as well, and jailbroken iOS devices will be the first wave of targets for these attacks,” explained the firm (PDF).

“Recently, the ‘XcodeGhost’ malware was found on the Apple App Store and this is just the beginning of such attacks.”

In a section on wearables, Quick Heal predicts hackers will increasingly target fitness trackers, something that other security researchers have already warned about.

A lot of space in the report is reserved for Android-flavoured threats, and users are offered advice on protecting themselves such as if there is an option to use a password over a touch sign-in, then you ought to take it.

“A group of researchers have discovered a serious security flaw in the Android Lollipop version running on devices right now. This flaw allows attackers to bypass the lockscreen of an Android smartphone by using a massive password and thereby exposing the homescreen,” it explains.

“The attack essentially works by opening the in-built camera application and afflicts people using a password to protect their Android device and lock their screen.”

The most significant Android threat is a rascal called Android.Airpush.G, which claims 30 percent of the bug pool and is the kind of adware thing that makes you want to take a hammer to your phone screen. The second most prominent issue is Android.Reaper.A, which can haul in a large data harvest when in place.

Quick Heal is not the only security company in town, and a post on the Symantec website also seems set to put the fear into the Apple user community. That post, read it here – if you dare, says that the Mabouia ransomware is capable of causing a problem for Mac and PC users alike.

Fortunately, Mabouia is a proof-of-concept attack that a researcher shared with both Apple and Symantec. Symantec says that the PoC effort achieves at least one first.

“Mabouia is the first case of file-based crypto ransomware for OS X, albeit a proof-of-concept. Macs have nevertheless already been targeted by ransomware in the form of browser-based threats,” it explained.

“For example, in 2013, researchers at Malwarebytes discovered browser-based ransomware that targeted Safari for Mac users through a malicious website. The website directed Windows users to a drive-by download, while Mac users were served JavaScript that caused Safari to display persistent pop-ups informing the user their browser had been “locked” by the FBI for viewing illegal content.”


Is Intel Trying To Destroy Micron?

November 6, 2015 by  
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Wall Street analysts have downgraded Micron technology’s value after Intel’s announcement that it will expand investment in NAND.

Intel plans to invest up to $5.5 billion over the coming years to use its Dalan, China, facility to expand its NAND manufacturing capacity. Initial 3D NAND production is expected to commence in second-half 2016 in Dalan.

Barrons has said that with pricing pressure already present in DRAM, Intel’s move puts Micron in a state of uncertainty.

This is a little odd given that Intel and Micron are chums, but Barron’s Rajvindra Gill said that the move will reduce Chipzilla’s dependence on Micron.

More than half of output is expected to use 3D NAND in the next two to three years and Intel’s focus on the technology reduces its reliance on Micron as a supplier while transforming it into a competitor, Gill said.

Micron be the last one standing when the mergers and acquisitions the industry is seeing and be an industry also ran.

Intel’s focus on the non-volatile memory market could put the pricing and supply/demand environment under pressure.

Micron has already had difficulties setting up 3D NAND versus its peers and now has another significant challenger entering the market, Gill said.

Intel’s move to NAND places a major Micron customer at risk. While Intel noted that its relationship with Micron remains strong and that it will continue to focus on 3D Xpoint, we believe the IM Flash Agreement could be at risk.

With Intel producing more NAND on its own, it could look to lower its reliance on the joint venture.

Intel has a right to sell its portion of the joint venture to Micron. If Intel elects to do so, a closing date would be set within two years. Sales to IM Flash sales to Intel were $101 million in the third quarter, or 8 per cent of trade NAND revenue.