Intel’s Security Exec Jumps Ship

December 18, 2014 by admin  
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Michael Fey has left Intel Security Group to become chief operating officer at Blue Coat. Blue Coat is apparently not the traditional garb of a British Holiday Camp entertainer, but apparently a privately owned network security company.

Fey was one of the few top McAfee managers to stay with the company after it was bought by Intel in 2011. McAfee is now part of Intel Security Group, where Fey had been chief technology officer. Fey said that his role at Blue Coat would be “very similar” to his old job but he was allowed to focus on the cloud and the advanced threats space more.

“Blue Coat had tremendous growth behind the scenes and now I get to focus on taking that growth and trying to get it to the billion-dollar revenue mark,” he told Reuters.

Since the $7.7 billion acquisition by Intel, McAfee has lost senior managers and key talent in technology development, research and sales. At Blue Coat, Fey will replace David Murphy, who will stay on as a strategic adviser to the board.


McAfee’s Biometric Software Coming Soon

December 9, 2014 by admin  
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A McAfee security product that will use biometric technology to authenticate users will be available for download by the end of the year, said Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group at Intel, last week.

“Your biometrics basically eliminate the need for you to enter passwords for Windows log in and eventually all your websites ever again,” Skaugen said.

Further product details were not immediately available. But one of the major inconveniences in using PCs and tablets is remembering passwords, which biometrics can tame.

An average user has about 18 passwords and biometric authentication will make PCs easier to use, Skaugen said.

Biometric authentication isn’t new. It’s being used in Apple Pay, where fingerprint authentication helps authorize credit card payments through the iPhone or iPad. Intel has been working on multiple forms of biometric authentication through fingerprint, gesture, face and voice recognition.

McAfee is owned by Intel, and the chip maker is building smartphone, tablet and PC technology that takes advantage of the security software. Intel has also worked on biometric technology for wearable devices like SMS Audio’s BioSport In-Ear Headphones, which can measure a person’s heart rate.

Intel also wants to make PCs and tablets easier to use through wireless charging, display, docking and data transfers. Such capabilities would eliminate the need to carry power brick and cables for displays and data transfers. Such capabilities will start appearing in laptops next year with sixth-generation Core chips code-named Skylake, which will be released in the second half.


Dell Unveils 720TB Storage Server

November 18, 2014 by admin  
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Dell has unveiled the DCS XA90, an “ultra-dense” storage server capable of holding 720TB of data in a single 4U chassis.

Described by CEO Michael Dell on stage at the Dell World conference as “the power of a diesel truck in a Mini Cooper”, the DCS XA90 storage server means that a single Dell modular data centre of these units would hold 220PB of data, nearly a quarter of an exabyte.

“In a world where we could download our memories into those servers, we could house the experiences of about 90 people, an entire neighbourhood of digital lives,” said Dell.

He explained that the development of the DCS XA90 was driven by the demand for data storage that is “speeding us towards an exascale future”.

“That is what drove Dell to develop the DCS XA90 for our customers seeking extreme storage density and flexibility as they build out the cloud infrastructure of the future,” Dell added.

The DCS XA90 also packs two independent server nodes featuring Intel Xeon E5-2600v3 processors into each chassis, which Dell said makes it better for data-intensive analytics as well as archival storage.

As part of the announcement, Dell also revealed its PowerEdge FX architecture, a 2U enclosure with six PowerEdge server, storage and network IOA sleds built specifically to fit into the FX2 chassis and support varying workloads.

Due to ship in December, the PowerEdge FX architecture is described as “next-generation convergence” and a game changer in the IT industry, offering the flexibility to build configurations to meet requirements while simplifying management.

“There are other vendors who talk about convergence purely by doing an architecture rack,” said Dell’s server marketing vice president Ravi Pendekanti .

For example, HP’s Moonshot platform “just puts a bunch of blades together”, while Oracle’s Exadata platform “does one thing, and one thing really well, which is run Oracle’s enterprise applications”, he said.

The PowerEdge FX, which stands for ‘flexible infrastructure’, comprises a specially designed 2U rack-mount FX2 enclosure that can be filled with a choice of sled modules offering differing capabilities, enabling customers to adopt a building block approach to their infrastructure.

At launch, the sleds comprise a handful of full-width, half-width and quarter-width compute modules that allow customers to pick the performance and density required for applications such as web hosting, virtualisation or running databases, plus a half-width storage sled that can provide direct attached storage for the compute nodes.


Can Plastic Replace Silicon?

May 7, 2014 by admin  
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Can plastic materials morph into computers? A research breakthrough recently published brings such a possibility closer to reality.

Researchers are looking at the possibility of making low-power, flexible and inexpensive computers out of plastic materials. Plastic is not normally a good conductive material. However, researchers said this week that they have solved a problem related to reading data.

The research, which involved converting electricity from magnetic film to optics so data could be read through plastic material, was conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa and New York University. A paper on the research was published in this week’s Nature Communications journal.

More research is needed before plastic computers become practical, acknowledged Michael Flatte, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Iowa. Problems related to writing and processing data need to be solved before plastic computers can be commercially viable.

Plastic computers, however, could conceivably be used in smartphones, sensors, wearable products, small electronics or solar cells, Flatte said.

The computers would have basic processing, data gathering and transmission capabilities but won’t replace silicon used in the fastest computers today. However, the plastic material could be cheaper to produce as it wouldn’t require silicon fab plants, and possibly could supplement faster silicon components in mobile devices or sensors.

“The initial types of inexpensive computers envisioned are things like RFID, but with much more computing power and information storage, or distributed sensors,” Flatte said. One such implementation might be a large agricultural field with independent temperature sensors made from these devices, distributed at hundreds of places around the field, he said.

The research breakthrough this week is an important step in giving plastic computers the sensor-like ability to store data, locally process the information and report data back to a central computer.

Mobile phones, which demand more computing power than sensors, will require more advances because communication requires microwave emissions usually produced by higher-speed transistors than have been made with plastic.

It’s difficult for plastic to compete in the electronics area because silicon is such an effective technology, Flatte acknowledged. But there are applications where the flexibility of plastic could be advantageous, he said, raising the possibility of plastic computers being information processors in refrigerators or other common home electronics.

“This won’t be faster or smaller, but it will be cheaper and lower power, we hope,” Flatte said.


Dell Unveils Laptop/Tablet Hybrid

April 21, 2014 by admin  
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Dell unveiled a new 11.6-in. screen rugged laptop that has literally has a twist — the screen can rotate 180 degrees to turn the device into a tablet.

At first, the Latitude 12 looks like a laptop. But within the display panel, the screen rotates 180 degrees and the laptop turns into a tablet once placed on the keyboard.

The new Latitude 12 laptop is part of a new Rugged Extreme line of laptops, which also includes the Rugged Extreme 14. The new laptops are robust and can withstand six-foot drops and remain protected from extreme weather conditions.

The laptops have hard covers that add a layer of protection, but also make the products heavy. The Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme weighs 2.72 kilograms with a four-cell battery, while the 14-in. counterpart weighs 3.54 kilograms with a six-cell battery and no optical drive.

The laptops can also withstand solar radiation, “explosive atmosphere” and weather ranging from -20 degrees to 145 degrees Fahrenheit (-29 degrees to 63 degrees Celsius), according to specifications provided by Dell. The products are targeted at field workers like emergency responders and the military, and will compete against Toughbook rugged laptops from Panasonic.

The Latitude 12 rugged laptop has a starting price of $3,649, while the Latitude 14 begins at $3,499. The laptops will ship next month.

The hybrid design in Latitude 12 has been borrowed from the company’s XPS 12 Ultrabook Touch, which has a 12.5-inch screen that can similarly flip to turn the laptop into a tablet. The resistive touch screens on both laptops can show images at a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels.

The laptops will have storage options of up to 512GB solid-state drives. Users can configure the laptop with Intel’s latest fourth-generation Core processorscode-named Haswell. The laptops will come with either Windows 8.1 or 7, or Ubuntu Linux operating systems.

Other features include support for up to 16GB of DRAM, Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet through a connector. The laptop also has USB 3.0, USB 2.0, VGA and HDMI ports. Mobile broadband and docking are available as options.


What Do Smaller Controllers Mean?

March 10, 2014 by admin  
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If you want a wearable Internet of Things, the electronics have to be as tiny and as energy efficient as possible. That’s why a new microcontroller by Freescale Semiconductor is noteworthy.

The company has produced the Kinetis KLO3 MCU, a 32-bit ARM system that is 15% smaller than its previous iteration but with a 10% power improvement.

Internet of Things is a buzzword for the trend toward network-connected sensors incorporated into devices that in the past were standalone appliances. These devices use sensors to capture things like temperatures in thermostats, pressure, accelerometers, gyroscopes and other types of MEMS sensors. A microcontroller unit gives intelligence and limited computational capability to these devices, but is not a general purpose processor. One of the roles of the microcontroller is to connect the data with more sophisticated computational power.

The Kinetis KLO3 runs a lightweight embedded operating system to connect the data to other devices, such as an app that uses a more general purpose processor.

Kathleen Jachimiak, product launch manager at Freescale, said the new microcontroller will “enable further miniaturization” in connected devices. This MCU is capable of having up to 32 KB of flash memory and 2 KB of RAM.

Consumers want devices that are light, small and smart. They also want to be able to store their information and send it to an application that’s either on a phone or a PC, Jachimiak said.

This microcontroller, at 1.6 x 2.0 mm, is smaller than the dimple on a golf ball, and uses a relatively new process in its manufacturing, called wafer level chip scale packaging. The process involves building the integrated package while the die is still part of a wafer. It’s a more efficient process and produces the smallest possible package, for a given die size.


LPDDR4 Smartphones Coming Next Year

January 6, 2014 by admin  
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A modern phone with 2GB of memory works just fine and since all Android chips and the OS itself support 32-bit mode only, it doesn’t makes much sense to jump over 3.5GB anytime soon.

Still, 64-bit support for Android might be coming after all and Samsung has a solution for people who want more than 3GB on their phone. Samsung has announced the first 8 gigabit (Gb) 4GB RAM module based on low power double data rate 4 (LPDDR4 memory).

It is a 20nm chip and has the lowest energy consumption and higher density to date. Four 8Gb dies combine to offer a single 4GB module we should see them in smartphones and tablets in the near future.

With 3.1 Gbps bandwidth the new LPDDR4 can deliver a 50 percent speed boost over the existing DDR3 and LPDDR3 based chips. Samsung also claims that LPDDR4 will enable a data transfer rate per pin of 3,200 megabits per second (Mbps), which is twice that of the 20nm-class LPDDR3 DRAM.

The Samsung claims that the chip needs 1.1 volts which is 40 percent less than what you would need for 20nm DDR3 chips and mass production starts in 2014.

It is not known when we can expect to see phones and tablets based on LPDDR4 anytime soon, but a dreamer can hope that phones such as Samsung Galaxy S5 might end up using one. After all this should be the next big thing, at least this is what Samsung wants you to believe.


New USB Chip Developed

October 18, 2013 by admin  
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Silicon Motion says it has begun shipping samples of a new USB 3.0 controller chip for flash drives that could boost performance by up to 50%.

The company said the new SM3267 integrated controller is expected to deliver up to 160MB/s read, and 60MB/s write speeds through a single channel; that would be a 30% to 50% performance improvement over today’s USB 3.0 flash drive technology.

Even though the USB 3.0 specification has the capability to support 4.8Gbps throughput speeds, the speed of a USB 3.0-enabled flash drive is dictated by the speed of the accessing flash devices in the drive. Today, most consumer-USB 3.0 flash drives support about 100MB/s read speeds.

We are pleased to announce that SM3267 has received design-ins from most of our current USB controller customers, including many top-tier OEMs, and we expect SM3267-based USB 3.0 flash drives will be commercially available starting in the fourth quarter of 2013,” Wallace Kou, CEO of Silicon Motion, said in a statement.

The new integrated chip will also be able to run at lower voltages, from 5 volts to 1.2 volts, enabling a 25% to 30% lower USB flash drive device temperature compared with other USB 3.0 flash controller products in the market, Silicon Motion said.

The new IC will support the vast majority of NAND flash technology, including new triple-level cell (TLC), multi-level cell (MLC), high speed Toggle, and ONFI DDR NAND manufactured by Samsung, Toshiba, SanDisk, SK Hynix, Micron and Intel.

The new chip has already passed both USB-IF compliance testing and WHCK (Windows Hardware Certification Kit) tests for Windows 7 and Windows 8.

The new IC is available in a Chip-on-Board (COB) and in a 48-pin QFN green package.


Micron Ships Hybrid Memory Cube

October 11, 2013 by admin  
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Micron Technology has announced that is is currently shipping 2GB Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) engineering samples that represent a dramatic step forward in memory technology and are designed for applications that require high-bandwidth access to memory like data processing, data packet buffering or storage.

According to Micron, the Hybrid Memory Cube uses advanced through-silicon vias (TSVs)-vertical conduit that connect a stack of individual chips in order to combine high-performance logic with Micron’s DRAM. The current engineering sample features a 2GB memory cube that consists of four 4Gb DRAM dies. It provides 160GB/s of memory bandwidth while using up to 70 percent less energy per bit when compared to currently available technologies.

Micron expects 4GB HMC engineering samples to be available in early 2014 while volume production of both 2GB and 4GB HMC is scheduled to begin later in 2014.


WiLan Loses In Court

July 25, 2013 by admin  
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Wi-Lan has suffered defeat in its patents trial against Alcatel Lucent, Ericsson, HTC and Sony, as a Texas court decided that the firms did not infringe its patents.

Wi-Lan filed a lawsuit against Alcatel Lucent, Ericsson, HTC and Sony in 2010 claiming the firms infringed patents that relate to data transmission over wireless networks. However a Texas court ruled that the four firms did not infringe Wi-Lan’s patents and found one patent Wi-Lan asserted against HTC and two it asserted against Alcatel Lucent invalid.

Wi-Lan had asserted that Alcatel Lucent and Ericsson infringed three patents, none of which claims were upheld by the court. The firm also asserted that HTC and Sony infringed another patent, and there the court not only judged against infringement but invalidated the patent.

Alcatel Lucent and HTC both said that Wi-Lan was trying to stretch its patents to cover technology in their devices.

Sally Julien, a spokeswoman for HTC said, “HTC believes that Wi-Lan has exaggerated the scope of its patent in order to extract unwarranted licensing royalties from entities who have been focused on bringing innovation forward in their own products.”

Kurt Steinert, an Alcatel Lucent spokesman said, “We think this validates our belief that Wi-Lan was stretching the boundaries of its patents, and the jury confirmed that belief.”

Wi-Lan has managed to get several companies to license its technology including Dell and Panasonic, and in May it initiated legal proceedings against Blackberry over a patent relating to Long Term Evolution network technology. However in this case the firm did not prevail against two large telecom equipment companies and two big smartphone makers.