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.
Google said it was partnering with Asus, Hewlett-Packard Co and Dell to offer a specialized version of its Chromebox PC that comes with videoconferencing gear, including a video camera and speakers.
The first Chromebox for meetings to be available is made by Asus and goes on sale in the U.S. on Thursday for $999, Google said. Customers can also pay a $250 annual service and management fee, though the first year is included in the product’s sales price.
The product uses Google’s free Hangouts video chat technology to connect up to 15 separate video streams from users in different locations.
The product will put Google in competition against Cisco Systems Inc and Polycom Inc, which make the video conferencing systems used by many corporations.
The world’s largest Internet search engine, Google makes the vast majority of its revenue from advertising. But Google also sells services to corporate customers, including special versions of its online apps such as email and word processing, as well as Chromebook laptops aimed at business users.
The US and UK are stragglers when it comes to consumer broadband download speeds and appear far down in table rankings.
This puts the countries, swaggering authoritarian surveillance monsters that they are, rather low down on the satisfaction scale.
The ranking produced by Ookla is based on results from Speedtest servers, and is called the Net Index.
“Based on millions of recent test results from Speedtest.net, this index compares and ranks consumer download speeds around the globe,” is the explanation.
“The value is the rolling mean throughput in Mbps over the past 30 days where the mean distance between the client and the server is less than 300 miles.”
Hong Kong takes pole position and it is credited as having download speeds in the area of 71.03 Mbps. There is a big drop of around 20 Mbps down to Singapore in second place with 52.85 Mbps and third is Romania, where speeds are 50.82 Mbps.
You have to look a long way down the list before arriving at the UK, which is in 25th place. Here, or there depending on where you live, consumers get a rather meagre sounding 23.55 Mbps.
The United States weighs in at 31st place and has download speeds of 20.77 Mbps. This puts it below the UK, Germany, Estonia, Hungary, Greece and 25 others.
Closer to home the European Commission has published its report on Broadband Coverage in Europe (2012) and reveals progress on broadband coverage targets. It found that while broadband has improved, it could be faster.
Twitter Inc said it has put in place a security technology that makes it harder to spy on its users and called on other Internet firms to do the same, as Web providers look to thwart spying by government intelligence agencies.
The online messaging service, which began scrambling communications in 2011 using traditional HTTPS encryption, said on Friday it has added an advanced layer of protection for HTTPS known as “forward secrecy.”
“A year and a half ago, Twitter was first served completely over HTTPS,” the company said in a blog posting. “Since then, it has become clearer and clearer how important that step was to protecting our users’ privacy.”
Twitter’s move is the latest response from U.S. Internet firms following disclosures by former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden about widespread, classified U.S. government surveillance programs.
Facebook Inc, Google Inc, Microsoft Corp and Yahoo Inc have publicly complained that the government does not let them disclose data collection efforts. Some have adopted new privacy technologies to better secure user data.
Forward secrecy prevents attackers from exploiting one potential weakness in HTTPS, which is that large quantities of data can be unscrambled if spies are able to steal a single private “key” that is then used to encrypt all the data, said Dan Kaminsky, a well-known Internet security expert.
The more advanced technique repeatedly creates individual keys as new communications sessions are opened, making it impossible to use a master key to decrypt them, Kaminsky said.
“It is a good thing to do,” he said. “I’m glad this is the direction the industry is taking.”
Africa’s demand for Internet access to the rest of the world will grow by an average of 51 percent every year until 2019, ahead of all other regions, according to a forecast by research company Telegeography.
Rapid economic growth and wider Internet use will drive the increase in demand, which will be met mostly by turning on unused capacity in existing cables, according to Telegeography analyst Erik Kreifeldt. Terrestrial links are in demand partly because much of Africa still relies on satellite, which is far more expensive per bit than wired broadband, he said.
Most Internet bandwidth between continents is provided by undersea cables built and financed by groups of service providers. From Africa, most of those links go to Europe. Other carriers pay to tap into those cables and link their customers to the Internet. In some parts of Africa, running cables from coastal areas to the interior is a challenge so satellite remains the major Internet source, Kreifeldt said.
The capacity of international cables landing on African shores is just a fraction of the bandwidth available between Europe, the U.S. and Asia. After seven years of the growth that Telegeography forecasts, from 2012 through 2019, Africa will have 17.2Tbps (bits per second) of links to the outside world. That’s up from just 957Gbps in 2012 but will still be only about one-quarter of the international capacity of Latin America and less than that of Canada, according to Telegeography.
The hunger for the Internet varies among African countries. Through 2019, bandwidth demand is expected to grow fastest in Angola, at 71 percent per year; Tanzania, at 68 percent; and Gabon, at 67 percent.
Many new cables have been built to Africa and around the continent in the past several years, giving service providers excess fiber capacity that can be turned on when needed, Kreifeldt said. As that fiber gets lit up and supply rises, prices should fall for enterprises and other users in African countries, he said. However, due to relative scarcity, a given amount of bandwidth between Africa and Europe costs about 10 times as much as the same size connection between Europe and North America, he said. Africa’s bandwidth gains aren’t expected to shrink that gap.
Amazon Elastic Transcoder was developed to offer an easy and low-cost way to convert media files from their source format into versions that will play on devices like smartphones, tablets and PCs.
The new feature lets anyone use Amazon Elastic Transcoder to convert audio-only content like music or podcasts from one format to another. Users can also strip out the audio tracks from video files and create audio-only streams. An option that, for example, can be used to create podcasts from video originals that are compatible with iOS applications that require an audio-only HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) file set, Amazon said.
The output from Elastic Transcoder is two-channel AAC, MP3 or Vorbis. Metadata like track name, artist, genre and album art is included in the output file and users can also specify replacement or additional album art.
Users of the service pay for the length of their converted content. For audio-only transcoding, prices start at $0.0045 per minute. That compares to the video version, which costs from $0.015 per minute for standard definition content and $0.03 per minute for high-definition clips, according to Amazon’s website.
For users who want to try out the service, the AWS Free Tier offers up to 20 minutes of free audio output per month. The service was announced for video in January and is still tagged as a beta.
Hardkernel’s Odroid XU board has incorporated Samsung’s eight-core Exynos 5 Octa 5410 chip, which is based on ARM’s latest processor designs. Samsung recently announced a new eight-core chip, the Exynos 5 Octa 5420, which packs faster graphics and application processing than the 5410. The 5420 has not yet been shipped yet, however.
The Odroid board is priced at $149 through Aug. 31, after which it will be offered for $169. Samsung for many months has said that a board with an eight-core chip would be released, and has shown prototype developer boards at conferences.
Odroid-XU will provide developers an opportunity to write programs tuned for Samsung’s octa-core chip, which has been a source of controversy. Analysts have said the eight-core design is overkill for small devices like smartphones and tablets, which need long battery life.
The eight-core chip design also takes up a lot of space, which prevented Samsung from putting LTE radios inside some Galaxy S4 models. Qualcomm, which hesitantly moved from the dual core to the quad-core design on its Snapdragon chips, on Friday criticized eight-core chips, calling the idea “dumb.”
Despite the criticism, the board will give developers a first true glimpse of, and an opportunity to write and test applications for, ARM’s Big.Little design. The design combines high-power cores for demanding applications with low-power cores for mundane tasks like texting and calling.
Samsung’s iteration of Big.Little in the Exynos 5 Octa 5410 chip combines four processors based on ARM’s latest Cortex-A15 processor design, which incorporates four low-power Cortex-A7 CPUs. The Cortex-A15 is ARM’s latest processor design and succeeds the previous Cortex-A9 core, which was used in popular smartphones like Apple’s iPhone and the Galaxy S3. Samsung said the eight-core chip provides a balance of power and performance, with the high-power cores kicking in only when necessary.
The board has an Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX544MP3 graphics processor, 2GB of low-power DDR3 DRAM, two USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports. Other features include Wi-Fi, Ethernet and optional Bluetooth. Google’s Android 4.2 operating system is preloaded, and support for other Linux distributions like Ubuntu is expected soon. The board has already been benchmarked on Ubuntu 13.04.
Intel’s new SSD 530 series was detailed a while ago, but now it is finally official. Intel has formally announced the new drives in three form factors: mSATA, M.2 and 2.5-inch.
The drives will be available in a wide range of capacities, starting at 80GB, through 120GB, 180GB, 240GB, 360GB and 480GB for 2.5-inch drives. As for M.2 and mSATA drives, they will be available in 80GB, 120GB, 180GB and 360GB capacities.
Intel’s new 530 drives are based on 20nm MLC flash and the brains behind the brawn come from LSI, in the form of the SandForce SF-2281 controller. Although transfer speeds will vary depending on capacity, the fastest 530-series drives will deliver read speeds of up to 540MB/s and write at 490MB/s. As for random performance, they boast 41k IOPS in random read and 80k IOPS in random write.
Intel also says the 530-series is its most power efficient storage product to date, which is hardly surprising, but it is good news for notebook vendors who will use mSATA units.
The U.S. Defense Department is proposing to share some of its radio airwaves with private industry, a nod to growing pressure from the wireless industry and the Obama administration that federal agencies ease their control of valuable spectrum.
In a letter released by the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday, the Department of Defense offers to share the airwaves it now dominates in the slice of frequencies from 1755 megahertz (MHz) to 1780 MHz with spectrum-hungry wireless and Internet companies.
The military would rearrange its systems within that slice of spectrum as well as the 2025-2110 MHz band and compress programs into the 1780-1850 MHz band that it would retain.
The Defense Department uses the airwaves for programs such as pilot training and drone systems and has faced criticism from some in the industry and in Congress for resisting efforts to open those airwaves for commercial use to satisfy growing demands posed by data-hungry gadgets and services.
The Pentagon had pointed to its own need for airwaves as its use of drones and other reliance on wireless technology grows. It also had estimated the process of moving its programs to new frequencies would cost more than $12 billion.
Under the new plan, the Defense Department drops the cost estimate to $3.5 billion by compromising on sharing slices of airwaves without completely clearing any of the spectrum bands.
In the letter, originally sent on July 17 to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which oversees federal airwaves, DOD Chief Information Officer Teresa Takai called the proposal “a workable balance to provide access to the 1755-1780 MHz band most desired by the commercial wireless industry while ensuring no loss of critical DoD capabilities.”
The NTIA, in its own letter to the FCC, said it had not had enough time to review the proposal and could not yet endorse it.
The FCC, with NTIA’s help, is preparing for several auctions of airwaves to take place in coming years, including one that would sell off chunks of federally controlled spectrum. They will be the first reshuffling of airwave ownership since 2008.
Congress has required the FCC to auction off the 2155-2180 MHz band by February 2015 and the industry has sought to pair up that slice of spectrum with the valuable 1755-1780 MHz band, arguing it would collect more money. Lawmakers in the House of Representatives have introduced a bill to ensure such pairing.
The FCC has been drafting a notice of proposed rulemaking that would seek public comments on how the FCC should auction those federally owned or already cleared airwaves to the wireless companies and an FCC official said the agency’s notice will address the Pentagon’s new proposal.
President Barack Obama last month directed federal agencies to look for ways eventually to give up or share more of their airwaves with the private sector. This followed his June 2010 call to open up 500 MHz of federal spectrum for commercial use.
Yahoo announced on Wednesday that it bought Qwiki for an undisclosed sum, as the firm’s spending spree continues.
Qwiki started out as a video focused search engine in 2011, before making its way into the iTunes Store as an app that turns images and videos into digital story boards.
Yahoo announced its acquisition of Qwiki on Wednesday, although it kept quiet about what it plans to do with the company and how much it spent. However, according to Allthingsd, Yahoo spent approximately $50m to further expand its digital offerings.
What’s more, while it’s unclear what Yahoo’s plans are at present, it’s likely that the firm is looking to challenge Vine and Instagram in the social video market.
Yahoo announced the news, naturally, on Tumblr. It said, “We’re excited to announce that Yahoo acquired Qwiki – a company that uses awesome technology to bring together pictures, music and video to capture the art of storytelling.
“We will continue to support the Qwiki app, and the team will join Yahoo in our New York city office to reimagine Yahoo’s storytelling experience. Stay tuned … there’s much more to come!”
Qwiki also had something to say, posting on its website, “Thank you for being a part of our story – one which is far from over. The Qwiki app will live on as a standalone entity inside Yahoo, where we will grow our thriving community and where our team will continue to work to help you share life’s best experiences.
“We are proud of the work we’ve done, and humbled by unwavering support from the NY tech community. New York is such a big part of who we are, and what we will become.”
Yahoo’s buyout of Qwiki is the latest in a series of acquisitions by the firm. Recently the firm announced that it bought Tumblr for a cool $1.1bn, with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer promising “not to screw it up”.