Raspberry Pi To Get Mass Storage

September 25, 2015 by  
Filed under Computing

Comments Off on Raspberry Pi To Get Mass Storage

Bittorrent and WD have teamed up to create a 1TB drive for the Raspberry Pi. The Pi Drive has been designed especially for the Raspberry Pi Model B+ and the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, and offers a viable way to turn a Pi into a media centre, NAS and PVR all in one.

BitTorrent Sync makes it possible to sync content from all your devices straight to the drive, bypassing the cloud and making it an excellent backup device.

It differs from a standard hard drive, not least because it’s low-powered enough to be run off the USB port that charges your Pi, using a splitter cable supplied – no mean feat for a mechanical drive.

It’s not perfect. It’s a standard 2.5in drive but with a USB connection rather than a SATA which means it’s bigger than the Pi and you’ll need to create a bespoke case or let it all hang out in true maker fashion.

Essentially, it’s the same type of drive that you would see if you smashed open one of WD’s external drives, but it would take a brave soul to do so and this way you get the right cable and software to make it all work together.

The tie-up between BitTorrent and WD comes as the former announces version 2.2 of the Sync service which we have been following since inception.

The new version offers a clearer delineation between home and pro users. Home users can buy a lifetime licence for $39.99 which covers all 2.x releases. This comes in addition to the perpetual free version which will no longer be limited to 10 folders.

Instead the monetized version will come from business customers who remain on a monthly fee, and pro user subscriptions for advanced features such as collaboration and file sharing introduced in version 2.1.

The Pi Drive retails at $80 with a 35 percent discount offer through BitTorrent with the code WDPIDRIVE1TB. UK sellers are yet to be confirmed, but will form part of the newly launched BitTorrent Sync reseller programme that launches with this edition.


Drones To Have Intel Inside

September 10, 2015 by  
Filed under Computing

Comments Off on Drones To Have Intel Inside

Intel is taking its competitive game up a notch by investing in its own drones.

Intel has written a check for more than US$60 million to Yuneec International, a Chinese aviation company and drone maker.

This is not the first time that the Chipmaker has invested in drones. It has written smaller amounts for the drone makers Airware and PrecisionHawk. The Yuneec deal is its largest investment in a drone company yet.

Apparently Intel thinks that drones are potential computing platforms for its processors.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said he believed in a smart and connected world. And one of the best ways to bring that smart and connected world to everyone and everywhere has been drones.

Amazon and Google are developing drones as they seek new ways to deliver items to consumers, Intel just wants to make sure that its chips are delivering the payload. There is no indication that it is building a secret airforce which it will use to take down competition – that would be silly.

Yuneec makes a range of drones built for aerial photography and imaging. Its technology also powers manned electric aircraft.


Qualcomm To Wirelessly Charge BMWs

September 8, 2015 by  
Filed under Computing

Comments Off on Qualcomm To Wirelessly Charge BMWs

Qualcomm has launched its new Official Safety Car for season two of the FIA’s Formula E Championship.

For those not in the know, the Formula E Championship is for electric cars, and they are no longer the milk floats that English people get stuck behind in narrow streets.

The new Official Qualcomm Safety Car is the BMW i8 but it will be charged wirelessly with an advanced Qualcomm Halo 7.2kW wireless charging system.

The Qualcomm Halo 7.2kW wireless charging system delivers twice the amount of energy to the BMW i8′s batteries per hour as compared to last year’s 3.6kW system.

This halves the full charge time, enabling the vehicle to fully charge in one hour. Employing Qualcomm Halo DD technology, with magnetic architecture optimization, ensures higher coupling coefficients and drives lower system currents, higher inefficiencies and the ability to support higher power levels.

A Qualcomm spokesman said that an open championship has encouraged teams to develop their own powertrain tech.

This ensures that the racing remains highly competitive, and it supports the goal of Formula E to advance the development of new technologies for electric vehicles and to bring those technologies, vital to sustainable mobility, to the attention of millions of people around the globe, a spokesman said.

Qualcomm’s general manager of wireless charging, Steve Pazol said Qualcomm was excited to continue its support of Formula E in this second season.


Will Qualcomm Give Some Workers The Boot?

July 23, 2015 by  
Filed under Computing

Comments Off on Will Qualcomm Give Some Workers The Boot?

Qualcomm is undergoing major restructuring and one side-effect of the overhaul is that some 4,000 jobs might be slashed.

The company, according to our well informed industry sources, will announce this during the upcoming Qualcomm Q3 FY15 earnings conference call that Is scheduled for July 22. We could not find out which jobs will be affected, but we expect that the company will shad more light on it during the call.

In December 2014 the company announced that it would slash some 900 jobs and it ended up slashing roughly 1,500 jobs. This will be the first major announcement and it comes at a bad time, as the company’s sales numbers are not that great. Qualcomm lost its highest end customer, Samsung, and companies like HTC who are using the Snapdragon 810 are not too happy about company’s highest end SoC offering.

Qualcomm has around 31,300 employees, which is still not that much considering that Intel has some 100,000, but its main SoC competitor, MediaTek, has just over 10,000 employees making its operational costs much smaller.

If the number of employees 31,300 didn’t change in recent months, slashing 4,000 jobs would mean cutting the 12.8 percent of the workforce. This is a major adjustment, no question about it.

Still, we believe that the server division will start making some money in 2016 and the new Snapdragon 820 is expected to start shipping later this year. In the long run, the company is more than fine, it is just that the competitors have changed from Nvidia and Intel to MediaTek.


Qualcomm Has No Plans To Split

July 16, 2015 by  
Filed under Computing

Comments Off on Qualcomm Has No Plans To Split

US chipmaker Qualcomm has told the world that it will not be dumping its “essentially useless chip making” business.

Hedge fund Jana Partners said in April that Qualcomm would make a pile more dosh if it just stuck to being a patent troll and stopped trying to flog “essentially worthless” chips.

Apparently Qualcomm thought about it. Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs the idea has been talked about for a long time, but came to the conclusion that the status quo contained a lot more “synergies.” Apparently synergies are a good thing to have about the place, particularly if you have a breeding pair.

Jacobs was less optimistic about Jana Partners’ idea which was apparently full of dis-synergies which might eat the synergies – or just diss them in public.

Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs said all this intensifying industry competition was not enough to spin off his chip business from its patent-licensing business.

Jacobs said, however, that the company is always evaluating its options and that the situation could change in the future, so maybe there a future for a Qualcomm troll walloping other companies with dis-synergies.


Qualcomm Strengthens IoT Lineup

June 5, 2015 by  
Filed under Computing

Comments Off on Qualcomm Strengthens IoT Lineup

Qualcomm is wedging its foot more firmly in the Internet of Things (IoT) door by announcing a range of moves to secure its position in the market.

The first announcement sees the firm expanding its Internet of Everything (IoE) platform with the addition of six new ecosystem providers: Ayla Networks, Exosite, Kii, Proximetry, Temboo and Xively by LogMeIn.

“This will further simplify the development of devices that use WiFi to connect to the IoE by increasing cloud service flexibility and making these solutions available in a broader global reach,” Qualcomm said.

Qualcomm has also introduced two connectivity solutions, the QCA401x and QCA4531, which bring WiFi capabilities to connect products across development platforms and “give customers an expedited and cost-effective path to deployment”.

The QCA401x is designed to ease manufacturer demand for increased computing and memory while lowering size, cost and power consumption, Qualcomm said.

It features a fully integrated micro controller unit with up to 800KB of on-chip memory and an expanded set of interfaces to directly interconnect with sensors, display and actuators, further reducing system cost, size and complexity.

The QCA401x also includes a suite of communication protocols including Wi-Fi, IPv6, and HTTP, as well as an advanced security feature designed to maximise security in IoT devices.

The QCA4531 is a low-cost turnkey solution that brings high-performance connectivity with a user-programmable Linux/OpenWRT environment.

It is designed to serve as an IoT node taking advantage of the Linux framework and as a hub to enable an IoT Ecosystem.

“As the [IoT] ecosystem expands, the QCA4531 is ideal for multi-protocol bridging and communication, bringing together multiple wireless medium and bridging between different ecosystems,” said Qualcomm.

The QCA4531 can function as an Access Point supporting up to 16 simultaneous devices, and is also power-optimised to enable appliances to meet international standards for energy efficiency.

The firm also banged on about the development of its subsidiaries Qualcomm Technologies, Qualcomm Atheros, Qualcomm Life, and Qualcomm Connected Experiences, and their progress across its range of IoT technologies.

Broadly, this includes an increased focus on providing better connectivity in the smart home with the AllSeen Alliance, as well as the development of more wearables in more countries, deploying more connected cars, more active engagements in smart city developments and partnering with more customers for connected healthcare.

“Driven by the significant growth and diversity of interconnected devices, Qualcomm companies are delivering the solutions and collaborating with technology leaders to empower manufacturers to create the best connected experiences in homes, businesses, cars and cities,” the firm said.

Qualcomm also announced additional features in its AllPlay smart media platform, including Bluetooth to WiFi re-streaming, custom audio settings and optimised synchronisation. The new AllPlay feature combines Bluetooth and WiFi for “whole home streaming”.

This means that all local or cloud-based music on a consumer’s smartphone can be streamed to any Bluetooth-compatible AllPlay speaker and then re-streamed over WiFi to multiple AllPlay speakers, all in sync.

This allows simple wireless connectivity to individual speakers or an entire home audio system over the user’s existing home WiFi network, providing an advantage over Bluetooth-only speakers which are limited to one-to-one streaming.

“The range and capacity of WiFi, coupled with the ubiquity of Bluetooth, is a game-changing combination for manufacturers and consumers alike,” said Sy Choudhury, senior director of product management at Qualcomm.

“AllPlay device manufacturers like Hitachi and Monster can now offer their customers more connectivity options and access to myriad streaming services throughout their home with this new capability.”

Qualcomm announced last month that it has teamed up with Dutch semiconductor maker NXP to bolster its near field communication offering, expanding the technology outside the smartphone and into IoT devices.

NXP’s embedded secure element will be integrated across Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800, 600, 400 and 200 processor-based platforms.

The new offering features a module variant derived from the recently launched NXP PN66T NQ220 module, now named the NQ220.


Toshiba And SanDisk Launch 3D Flash Chip

April 10, 2015 by  
Filed under Computing

Comments Off on Toshiba And SanDisk Launch 3D Flash Chip

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.


Raspberry Pi Making Moves

March 2, 2015 by  
Filed under Computing

Comments Off on Raspberry Pi Making Moves

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.


ARM Buys Offspark For IoT

February 19, 2015 by  
Filed under Computing

Comments Off on ARM Buys Offspark For IoT

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.


ARM Develops IoT For Students

February 3, 2015 by  
Filed under Computing

Comments Off on ARM Develops IoT For Students

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”.