Chip-equipment maker Applied Materials has surprised most of the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street with a better-than-expected third-quarter profit. It appears that contract manufacturers are spending more on technology used to make smartphone and memory chips.
The company also forecast current-quarter adjusted profit largely above analysts’ average estimate. Chief Executive Gary Dickerson said that demand for DRAM chips is expected to grow in the current quarter.
Applied Materials, which also provides equipment to make flat panel displays and solar cells, forecast an adjusted profit of 25-29 cents per share for the fourth quarter. Wall Street was expecting a profit of 26 cents per share.
Applied Materials expects revenue growth of about 10 to 17 percent, implying revenue of $2.19 billion to $2.33 billion for the quarter. Analysts on average were expecting $2.28 billion. Applied Materials’ net income rose to $301 millionin the third quarter ended July 27, from $168 milliona year earlier. Revenue rose 14.7 percent to $2.27 billion.
Revenue in the company’s silicon systems business, which brings in about two-thirds of total sales, rose 16 percent to $1.48 billion.
During the 3D Revolution 2014 presentation held in Rome, Intel has showed its updated SSD roadmap unveiling the new August Ridge SSD 750 Series which will be available in multiple form-factors, including lately popular M.2.
Spotted by Techpowerup.com, the Intel SSD 750 Series will be aimed at both the consumer and the professional market segments and be available in three form-factors, including 2.5-inch SATA 6Gbps, mSATA 6Gbps as well as the M.2 form-factor.
The new 750 SSD Series will most likely be available in all the popular capacities, up to 960GB, and be based on 20nm MLC NAND flash.
Unfortunately, the roadmap does not reveal many details regarding the performance of the SSD 750 Series but does note that it should launch in Q4 2014.
Box has made its HTML5 document viewing tool called Box View available for developers to incorporate into their companies’ products and services.
It was unveiled in beta mode last September at the firm’s annual Boxworks conference and is designed to help firms ensure that documents in any format can be viewed online. The tool is based on technology Box acquired in its acquisition of Crocodoc.
Box product manager Sean Rose explained in a blog post, “Box View is an API that converts Office and PDF documents to easily embeddable HTML5, enabling developers to create beautiful experiences around content. Gone are the days of forcing users to deal with broken and inconsistent experiences across platforms.
“With just a few simple API calls, developers can create an elegant and consistent content experience across all platforms.”
Box cited some customers that are already using this service, such as UberConference, Xero and Shake to ensure that they can send information to partners, customers and contractors quickly and easily.
Furthermore, the firm has based the pricing model for the tool on a per-use basis, rather than a traditional per-user basis.
For users of the service as a Box-branded platform – so it displays the Box logo, rather than the customer’s own logo – it’s free for 1,000 document uploads per month. After that it’s priced at 2.5 cents per document.
Custom use of the tool so the customer’s own logo is displayed costs $250 per month for 2,500 uploads. Each document after that costs five cents per upload, but enterprise users can thrash out a deal with Box for any service they expect to handle over 10,000 document uploads a month.
“Most developers will never have to pay anything for Box View, and, for those that do, Box View pricing is built to scale alongside your app’s user base,” added Rose.
As part of this encouragement to developers to incorporate Box into its tools the firm has also unveiled new pricing models around its APIs, to again focus on usage levels rather than user numbers.
Integrating with Box in general is free for developers, and up to 25,000 interactions with the Box Content API is free too. For 25,000 or more API interactions the cost is $500 per month. Any more than this and custom deals are available.
Box VP of Platform Chris Yeh explained that this move was designed “specifically for businesses that want to leverage the APIs at scale” to help keep pace with the growth the firm is seeing.
“More than 35,000 developers are building on Box. Every month, our platform sees one billion third-party API calls, and the Box OneCloud ecosystem just reached 1,000 app integration partners,” Yeh said.
The updates come at a busy time for Box after it filed to go public earlier this week in a listing worth $250m, as it looks to build on its early success in the enterprise market.
nVidia has unveiled what it claims is “the world’s first mobile supercomputer”, a development kit powered by a Tegra K1 chip.
Dubbed the Jetson TK1, the kit is built for embedded systems to aid the development of computers attempting to simulate human recognition of physical objects, such as robots and self-driving cars.
Speaking at the GPU Technology Conference (GTC) on Tuesday, Nvidia co-founder and CEO Jen Hsun Huang described it as “the world’s tiniest little supercomputer”, noting that it’s capable of running anything the Geforce GTX Titan Z graphics card can run, but at a slower pace.
With a total performance of 326 GFLOPS, the Jetson TK1 should be more powerful than the Raspberry Pi board, which delivers just 24 GFLOPS, but will retail for much more, costing $192 in the US – a number that matches the number of cores in the Tegra K1 processor that Nvidia launched at CES in Las Vegas in January.
Described by the company as a “super chip” that can bridge the gap between mobile computing and supercomputing, the Nvidia Tegra K1, which replaces the Tegra 4, is based on the firm’s Kepler GPU architecture.
The firm boasted at CES that the chip will be capable of bringing next-generation PC gaming to mobile devices, and Nvidia claimed that it will be able to match the PS4 and Xbox One consoles’ graphics performance.
Designed from the ground up for CUDA, which now has more than 100,000 developers, the Jetson TK1 Developer Kit includes the programming tools required by software developers to develop and deploy compute-intensive systems quickly, Nvidia claimed.
“The Jetson TK1 also comes with this new SDK called Vision Works. Stacked onto CUDA, it comes with a whole bunch of primitives whether it’s recognising corners or detecting edges, or it could be classifying objects. Parameters are loaded into this Vision Works primitives system and all of a sudden it recognises objects,” Huang said.
“On top of it, there’s simple pipe lines we’ve created for you in sample code so that it helps you get started on what a structure for motion algorithm, object detection, object tracking algorithms would look like and on top of that you could develop your own application.”
Nvidia also expects the Jetson TK1 to be able to operate in the sub-10 Watt market for applications that previously consumed 100 Watts or more.
It is starting to look like chip makers are having cold feet about moving to the next technology for chipmaking. Fabricating chips on larger silicon wafers is the latest cycle in a transition, but according to the Wall Street Journal chipmakers are mothballing their plans.
Companies have to make massive upfront outlays for plants and equipment and they are refusing, because the latest change could boost the cost of a single high-volume factory to as much as $10 billion from around $4 billion. Some companies have been reining in their investments, raising fears the equipment needed to produce the new chips might be delayed for a year or more.
ASML, a maker of key machines used to define features on chips, recently said it had “paused” development of gear designed to work with the larger wafers. Intel said it has slowed some payments to the Netherlands-based company under a deal to help develop the technology.
Gary Dickerson, chief executive of Applied Materials said that the move to larger wafers “has definitely been pushed out from a timing standpoint”
Samsung appears to have delivered a huge snuff to Android OS maker Google. Samsung’s new smartwatch Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, the sequels to the poorly reviewed original Galaxy Gear are going to ship without Android.
Instead, the new Gears run Tizen, another open source operating system that Samsung, Intel, and others are working on. It is starting to look like Samsung wants to distance itself from its reliance on Google for software and services.
Samsung’s official reason is that Tizen has better battery life and performance. The new Gears can get up to an extra two days of battery life by running Tizen, even though they have the same size battery. The Galaxy Gear barely made it through a day on one charge.
To be fair Android isn’t optimized to run on wearable devices like smart watches, but Samsung didn’t want to wait around for Google to catch up. It was clearly concerned about beating Apple to market. So far Apple has not shown up.
Sinclair ZX80 and runaway success story, the Raspberry Pi might be about to get its own monitor after a Kickstarter campaign to create a low cost 9in screen for it has exceeded its $90,000 goal in a single weekend.
The HDMIPi monitor from startup Raspi.tv presently stands at $100,996 on Kickstarter, an increase of $8,000 in just the last four hours. The concept behind the monitor is to create something small and affordable but with maximum 1920×1080 resolution. Even though the project has had to scale down its ambitions to 1200×800 resolution to fit the business plan, Raspberry Pi fans have flocked to crowdfund the device.
Put in perspective, that’s higher than HD 720p resolution, or as they describe it, “slightly better resolution than the 720p HD footage on BBC iPlayer”.
Monitor cases will be available in a variety of colours, designed by none other than Paul Beech, who designed the original Raspberry Pi logo.
Although primarily designed for the Raspberry Pi, the HDMIPi is a standard HDMI monitor and can be used for other devices – Android sticks, video cameras, games consoles and beyond.
Raspi.tv has pledged to ship orders in February 2014, delays permitting, and is already working on enhancements. It has described touch functionality as something that might become available as a bolt-on at a later date, saying that “enough people have mentioned it that we are sitting up and taking notice”.
As ever with the Raspberry Pi ecosystem, everything is a bit Ryanair, and power supplies, surrounds and so on are not automatically included, though of course, in the true DIY spirit, you can always make your own.
The company will stop selling plasma TVs for consumer use and PDP-related products for commercial use, such as Interactive Plasma Displays, with the current line of TVs. It expects to stop business operations at three of its display plants — the Amagasaki P3 Factory, the Amagasaki P5 Factory and the Amagasaki P4 Factory — by the end of March 2014.
Samsung and LG continue to produce plasma display televisions, but theirs are lower-end or entry-level models; they have generally put development dollars into LCD TVs, according to Paul Gray, a research analyst with NPD DisplaySearch.
“Samsung and [LG] were at best uncommitted to PDP,” Gray said in a blog post. And as for Panasonic, Gray said its “PDP research team had to counter every move in LCD and translate it to their technology…. Inevitably, they slowly lost ground.”
Since 2000, Panasonic has been the leading PDP maker. It led the global flat-panel display market by using PDP for large displays and LCD screens for small- and medium-sized displays. Only three years ago, Panasonic claimed 40% of the plasma display market.
In 2010, plasmaaccounted for 40% of flat panel TVs; this year, PDPs are expected to represent only 5% of the flat-panel market, according to according to market research firm NPD DisplaySearch.
Over the past two years, Panasonic has lost $15 billion through investments in flat-panel TV production, according to financial reports.
Plasma displays have increasingly lost market share to LCD TVs as they moved to LED backlights that narrowed the performance gap between the two technologies.
“With the rapid development of large-screen LCDs, and facing the severe price competition in the global market brought on by the Lehman Shock in September 2008, the company consolidated production in the Amagasaki P4 Factory, made a shift towards commercial applications and worked to improve the earnings of the business,” Panasonic said in a recent statement.
Panasonic will now focus its attention on “non-TV applications” and is moving to reduce its fixed costs for production of both plasma and LCD panels.
The move away from plasma HDTVs is reminiscent of the video tape wars of the 1970s and 1980s.
Chip makers including Broadcom and Renesas Electronics are putting more focus on in-car entertainment with faster processors and networks for wireless HD movies and navigation, aiming to keep drivers informed and passengers entertained.
With PC sales slipping and the mobile device market proving highly competitive, chip makers are looking for greener pastures in other sectors like in-car entertainment and information.
From Renesas comes the R-Car M2 automotive SoC (System-on-a-Chip), which has enough power to handle simultaneous high-definition navigation, video and voice-controlled browsing.
The SoC is meant for use in mid-range systems. It features two ARM Cortex A-15 cores running at up to 1.5GHz and Renesas’ own SH-4A processor plus the PowerVR SGX544MP2 from Imagination Technologies for 3D graphics. This combination helps the M2 exceed the previous R-Car H1 with more than three times the CPU capacity and approximately six times better graphics performance.
Car makers that want to put a more advanced entertainment system in their upcoming models should go for the eight core R-Car H2 SoC, which was announced earlier this year. It is based on ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture, and uses four Cortex-A15 cores and another four Cortex-A7 cores.
The H2 will be able to handle four streams of 1080p video, including Blu-Ray at 60 frames per second, according to Renesas. Mass production is scheduled for the middle of next year, while the M2 won’t arrive in larger volumes until June 2015.
Broadcom on the other hand is seeking to drive better networking on the road. The company’s latest line of wireless chipsets for in-car connectivity uses the fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless standard, which offers enough bandwidth for multiple displays and screen resolution of up to 1080p. Use of the 5GHz band for video allows it to coexist with Bluetooth hands-free calls on 2.4GHz, according Broadcom.
Broadcom has also implemented Wi-Fi Direct and Miracast. Wi-Fi Direct lets products such as smartphones, cameras and in this case in-car computers connect to one another without joining a traditional hotspot network, while Miracast lets users stream videos and share photos between smartphones, tablets and displays.
The BCM89335 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Smart Ready combo chip and the BCM89071 Bluetooth and Bluetooth Smart Ready chip are now shipping in small volumes.
The screens, called microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) displays for the tiny moving parts they contain, are being developed by the Japanese company in partnership with Qualcomm and were on show at the Ceatec electronics show just outside of Tokyo.
Behind each pixel in a MEMS display is a backlight that flashes red, green and blue in fast succession, and in front of it is a tiny shutter can be opened to let light through.
Synchronized to the backlight, the shutter can control the amount of each color of light allowed through. The eye perceives these flashes as the desired hue.
In contrast, today’s LCD screens create colored pixels using three filters. The filters swallow about two thirds of the brightness of the backlight before it leaves the display, said Akira Imai, deputy general manager of Sharp’s new business development center.
The MEMS display can allow all the light through, so the intensity of the backlight can be reduced using less power for the display, said Imai.
In a portable gadget, the screen often consumes more power than any other component, so reducing its demands can have a big impact on battery life.
The screens on show at Ceatec were 7-inch models with 800 pixel by 1,280 pixel resolution. The colors were bright and the screen image was sharp, although people viewing the screens did tend to see a brief flash of red, green and blue pixel each time they turned their eyes away from the display. That’s something Sharp is working on, said Imai.
Sharp also showed a version of the screen working in several low power modes.
The development work with Qualcomm began earlier this year when the U.S. company said it would invest $120 million into Sharp. The money, which was invested in two parts, was accompanied by Qualcomm’s MEMS expertise. Sharp has a long history in flat-panel display technology, especially LCD, and has recently been working on a new type of display called IGZO, on which the MEMS display is partly based.