Toshiba And SanDisk Launch 3D Flash Chip

April 10, 2015 by admin  
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Toshiba has announced the world’s first 48-layer Bit Cost Scalable (BiCS) flash memory chip.

The BiCS is a two-bit-per-cell, 128Gb (16GB) device with a 3D-stacked cell structure flash that improves density and significantly reduces the overall size of the chip.

Toshiba is already using 15nm dies so, despite the layering, the finished product will be competitively thin.

24 hours after the first announcement, SanDisk made one of its own regarding the announcement. The two companies share a fabrication plant and usually make such announcements in close succession.

“We are very pleased to announce our second-generation 3D NAND, which is a 48-layer architecture developed with our partner Toshiba,” said Dr Siva Sivaram, executive vice president of memory technology at SanDisk.

“We used our first generation 3D NAND technology as a learning vehicle, enabling us to develop our commercial second-generation 3D NAND, which we believe will deliver compelling storage solutions for our customers.”

Samsung has been working on its own 3D stacked memory for some time and has released a number of iterations. Production began last May, following a 10-year research cycle.

Moving away from the more traditional design process, the BiCS uses a ‘charge trap’ which stops electrons leaking between layers, improving the reliability of the product.

The chips are aimed primarily at the solid state drive market, as the 48-layer stacking process is said to enhance reliability, write speed and read/write endurance. However, the BiCS is said to be adaptable to a number of other uses.

All storage manufacturers are facing a move to 3D because, unless you want your flash drives very long and flat, real estate on chips is getting more expensive per square inch than a bedsit in Soho.

Micron has been talking in terms of 3D NAND since an interview with The INQUIRER in 2013 and, after signing a deal with Intel, has predicted 10TB in a 2mm chip by the end of this year.

Production of the chips will roll out initially from Fab 5 before moving in early 2016 to Fab 2 at the firm’s Yokkaichi Operations plant.

This is in stark contrast to Intel, which mothballed its Fab 42 chip fabrication plant in Chandler, Arizona before it even opened, as the semiconductors for computers it was due to produce have fallen in demand by such a degree.

The Toshiba and Sandisk BiCS chips are available for sampling from today.

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Raspberry Pi Making Moves

March 2, 2015 by admin  
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The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced that its pint-sized computer has now sold a whopping five million units.

The announcement came via Twitter, where the official Raspberry Pi account boasted that the five million milestone makes it the big-selling computer manufacturer in the UK of all time.

Just confirmed the big news we’ve all been waiting for: we’ve now sold more than 5 million Raspberry Pis.

— Raspberry Pi (@Raspberry_Pi) February 17, 2015

We think that this means that in just under 3 years, we’ve gone from zero to being the biggest selling UK computer manufacturer ever. Yowza.

— Raspberry Pi (@Raspberry_Pi) February 17, 2015

This comes just two weeks after the firm announced sales of 4.5 million Raspberry Pi computers, suggesting that its latest model, the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, has proved popular since it went on sale on 2 February.

Raspberry Pi said previously that it aims to ship three million units of the new model within 12 months, and Tuesday’s announcement suggests that it’s on track to smash that target.

The firm has yet to announce exactly how many Raspberry Pi 2 models have shipped, but we are likely to hear official figures in the next few weeks.

The second-generation device was unveiled at the beginning of this month, improving on the original Raspberry Pi with 1GB RAM and support for Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system.

It also boasts expanded GPIO pins and advanced power management and connectivity, making it possible to connect up to four USB devices, including powered devices such as hard drives.

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ARM Buys Offspark For IoT

February 19, 2015 by admin  
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ARM has snaffled up Dutch Internet of Things (IoT) company Offspark.

The move is designed to improve ARM’s security credentials for IoT offerings.

Offspark is the creator of PolarSSL, a widely used protocol for IoT security products, and ARM hopes that the combined companies can offer a one-stop shop for IoT developers.

Krisztian Flautner, ARM’s IoT manager, said: “PolarSSL technology is already deployed by the leading IoT players.

“The fact that those same companies also use ARM Cortex processor and software technologies means we are now able to provide a complete bedrock solution for the industry to innovate from.”

The product will be renamed ARM Mbed TLS, but will remain open source, reports Tech Week Europe.

Paul Bakker, CEO of Offspark, added: “Security is the most fundamental aspect in ensuring people trust IoT technology and that is only possible with a truly tailored solution.

“Together, ARM and Offspark can provide security to the edge of any system and we look forward to working with our partners to help them deliver some exciting new projects.”

Developers will be able to license the technology for commercial use as well as embedding it into future ARM products.

Last week the company released the ARM Cortex-A72 processor, a 64-bit effort offering support for Android 5.x Lollipop and incorporating the big.LITTLE architecture that prioritises jobs to different processor cores based on their computational requirements.

A message on the Offspark website indicates that it has been taken down and redirects to ARM.

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ARM Develops IoT For Students

February 3, 2015 by admin  
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ARM has created a course to teach IoT skills to students at University College London (UCL)

The course is designed to encourage graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) to seek careers in IT.

The IoT Education Kit will teach students how to use the Mbed IoT operating system to create smartphone apps that control mini-robots or wearable devices.

Students are expected to be interested in building their own IoT business, or joining IoT-focused enterprises like ARM. The course will also try to limit the number of Stem graduates pursuing non-technology careers.

ARM reported statistics from a 2012 study by Oxford Policy and Research revealing how many engineering graduates (36 percent of males, 51 percent of females), technology graduates (44 percent, 53 percent) and computer scientists (64 percent, 66 percent) end up with non-Stem jobs.

The IoT Education Kit will be rolled out by UCL’s Department of Electronics from September 2015, with a week-long module for full-time and continuing professional development students.

The Kit comprises a complete set of teaching materials, Mbed-enabled hardware boards made by Nordic Semiconductor, and software licensed from ARM. A second teaching module for engineering graduates is being developed for 2016.

“Students with strong science and mathematical skills are in demand and we need to make sure they stay in engineering,” said ARM CTO Mike Muller.

“The growth of the IoT gives us a great opportunity to prove to students why our profession is more exciting and sustainable than others.”

UCL professor Izzat Darwazeh also highlighted the importance of Stem skills, saying that “many students are not following through to an engineering career and that is a real risk to our long-term success as a nation of innovators”.

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HP Has Two More Tablets In Route

January 27, 2015 by admin  
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HP is about to put out two tablets later this year.

The names are expected to be the HP Pro Slate 10 EE G1 and HP Pro Tablet 10 EE G1 and they were found on the world wide wibble by Notebook Italia,.

Both tablets are powered by an Intel quad-core Bay Trail Atom Z3735F processor. Accompanying the processor package is 2GB of RAM, as well as 32GB of internal storage. Both the Pro Slate and Pro Tablet come with 10.1-inch displays, as well as 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC.

The Pro Slate sticks with Android, while the Pro Tablet opts for Windows 8.1. The tablets mean they will each come with a stylus, but it would appear that the stylus is just a stand in for your finger, rather than doing anything useful.

Pro Slate will set you back $400.00 and Pro Tablet cost $499.

HP has yet to officially announce either device.

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Will Marriott Block Wi-Fi

January 5, 2015 by admin  
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The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will render a decision on whether to establish rules regarding hotels’ ability to block personal Wi-Fi hotspots inside their buildings, a practice that recently earned Marriott International a $600,000 fine.

In August, Marriott, business partner Ryman Hospitality Properties and trade group the American Hotel and Lodging Association asked the FCC to clarify when hotels can block outside Wi-Fi hotspots in order to protect their internal Wi-Fi services.

In that petition, the hotel group asked the agency to “declare that the operator of a Wi-Fi network does not violate [U.S. law] by using FCC-authorized equipment to monitor and mitigate threats to the security and reliability of its network,” even when taking action causes interference to mobile devices.

The comment period for the petition ended Friday, so now it’s up to the FCC to either agree to Marriott’s petition or disregard it.

However, the FCC did act in October, slapping Marriott with the fine after customers complained about the practice. In their complaint, customers alleged that employees of Marriott’s Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville used signal-blocking features of a Wi-Fi monitoring system to prevent customers from connecting to the Internet through their personal Wi-Fi hotspots. The hotel charged customers and exhibitors $250 to $1,000 per device to access Marriott’s Wi-Fi network.

During the comment period, several groups called for the agency to deny the hotel group’s petition.

The FCC made clear in October that blocking outside Wi-Fi hotspots is illegal, Google’s lawyers wrote in a comment. “While Google recognizes the importance of leaving operators flexibility to manage their own networks, this does not include intentionally blocking access to other commission-authorized networks, particularly where the purpose or effect of that interference is to drive traffic to the interfering operator’s own network,” they wrote.

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Can Imagination Push IoT?

December 15, 2014 by admin  
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Imagination Technologies will take on the Raspberry Pi with the release of a single-board minicomputer for both Android and Linux developers.

In a bid to power a range of devices in the ever-growing world of the Internet of Things (IoT) space, the MIPS-based Creator CI20 can run both Linux and Android operating systems (OS) and is said to deliver both high performance and low energy consumption.

When it hits the market in January, the development board will target the likes of open source developers, the maker community and system integrators to provide them with tools and encourage them to create a wide range of applications and projects.

The Creator CI20 is based around a system on a chip (SoC) combining CPU, graphics and I/O circuitry, featuring an I/O connector block compatible with that of the Raspberry Pi, meaning it could be plugged into many of the same projects.

The board comes with a 1.2GHz MIPS32-based dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM with PowerVR SGX540 graphics for OpenGL 2.1 and ES 2.0 compatibility, meaning its capable of 1080p gaming at 30fps. It also features Ethernet connectivity alongside 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 plus 4GB storage onboard.

While it’s easy to compare the Creator CI20 to the Raspberry Pi, Imagination’s executive vice president of marketing, Tony King-Smith, told V3.co.uk that the develop board is not intended as a direct rival.

“We’re not trying to compete with devices like Raspberry Pi and Arduino, which many developers will already have, we’re giving them more options, and we believe this is a pretty rich offering,” he said.

King-Smith said that the Creator CI20 is ideal for the IoT revolution because of its embedded wireless capabilities, but also because it is capable of running mature OS such as Linux and Android that support graphical user interfaces.

“This will make IoT interesting, whether you’re looking at a thermostat or a sensor or whatever, it’s a compelling user interface that gets people excited,” he added.

Imagination has also launched a Creator Programme alongside the developer board to stimulate an IoT ecosystem around the device.

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Adobe Eases Privacy Concerns

November 14, 2014 by admin  
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Tests on the latest version of Adobe System’s e-reader software reveals the company is now collecting less data following a privacy-related row last month, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Digital Editions version 4.0.1 appears to only collect data on e-books that have DRM (Digital Rights Management), wrote Cooper Quintin, a staff technologist with the EFF. DRM places restrictions on how content can be used with the intent of thwarting piracy.

Adobe was criticized in early October after it was discovered Digital Editions collected metadata about e-books on a device, even if the e-books did not have DRM. Those logs were also sent to Adobe in plain text.

Since that data was not encrypted, critics including the EFF contended it posed major privacy risks for users. For example, plain text content could be intercepted by an interloper from a user who is on the same public Wi-Fi network.

Adobe said on Oct. 23 it fixed the issues in 4.0.1, saying it would not collect data on e-books without DRM and encrypt data that is transmitted back to the company.

Quintin wrote the EFF’s latest test showed the “only time we saw data going back to an Adobe server was when an e-book with DRM was opened for the first time. This data is most likely being sent back for DRM verification purposes, and it is being sent over HTTPS.”

If an e-book has DRM, Adobe may record how long a person reads it or the percentage of the content that is read, which is used for “metered” pricing models.

Other technical metrics are also collected, such as the IP address of the device downloading a book, a unique ID assigned to the specific applications being used at the time and a unique ID for the device, according to Adobe.

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Amazon Tops Apple

November 13, 2014 by admin  
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A mere five months after Apple snatched J.D. Power’s tablet satisfaction award away from Samsung, it has lost it to up-and-coming Amazon.

Apple’s iPad finished in second place in the latest satisfaction survey conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, with a score of 824 out of a possible 1,000. For the first time, Amazon took first place, scoring 827.

Samsung came in at 821 for third, while Asus and Acer filled out the first five, but those stragglers’ scores were under the category average.

J.D. Power’s satisfaction score included five separate measurements for performance, ease of operation, features, styling and design, and cost, with each accounting for different percentages of the final number. Performance, for example, counted as 28% of the total; cost for 11%.

Apple received high scores in performance and styling and design, while Amazon performed best in ease of operation and cost, said Kirk Parsons, senior director of telecommunications services at J.D. Power.

“Within the tablet segment, there’s a balance of cost and value, and for this period, Amazon was at the equilibrium,” said Parsons. “For the money, [Amazon tablets] do what buyers need them to do. And the Mayday feature really helped them in ease of operation.”

Mayday is a feature on Amazon’s higher-end tablets that lets customers video chat with support representatives using the device.

Parsons called out Amazon’s Fire HDX, which launched in October 2013 in a 7-in. size and a month later in an 8.9-in. format, for driving the brand’s scores. Amazon now sells the 7-in. Fire HDX for $179; the 8.9-in. model starts at $379. “The new Fire HDX did really, really well” in the survey, Parsons noted.

J.D. Power polled nearly 2,700 U.S. tablet owners who had had their current devices for less than a year. The survey period ran from March to August.

The last time J.D. Power published tablet customer satisfaction scores, Amazon placed fourth. Its jump to first was a small surprise, said Parsons. “I figured [Amazon's] scores would improve, but I didn’t think they’d take the top spot,” he admitted.

Price is increasingly important to satisfaction, said Parson, as costs fall and capabilities climb across the board, making it more difficult for premium-priced tablets like Apple’s iPad, to retain their polled positions. On average, tablet customers now spend $345 on their tablets, $48 less than in April 2013, a decline of 12%.

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HP Increases SlateBook Pricing

August 13, 2014 by admin  
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Hewlett-Packard’s SlateBook 14 laptop with Google’s Android OS has started shipping on schedule, but it’s priced at $429, which is $30 more than the company had said it would cost.

The laptop, which has a 14-inch screen and Android 4.3, was announced in June. At the time, HP said it would be priced at $399.

It is available on HP’s website.

The SlateBook 14 was introduced after customers told HP they wanted laptops with Android. The laptop has an interface similar to that on Android tablets and can adjust mobile apps to run on the larger touchscreen. Users will also be able to sync laptop data with mobile devices and vice versa.

The laptop is also for those who rely on the Web for most of their computing, much like Chromebooks. It has a few advantages over Chromebooks, with support for key Android apps such as Skype. Android also boasts better wireless printing support than Chromebooks.

The laptop weighs 1.68 kilograms and offers nine hours of battery life, according to specifications on HP’s website.

It has a quad-core Tegra 4 processor, 2GB of DRAM and 16GB of storage. Connectivity features include 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. It also has a webcam, USB 3.0 port and a micro-SD slot for expandable storage.

It could be a strong multimedia laptop with a 1920 x 1080 pixel screen and an integrated graphics processor that can handle 4K video. TVs can be connected to the laptop through an HDMI port.

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