Author: Staff Writer

Uni speeds up quantum silicon chip

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 14.51.59A team of scientists at the University of Surrey claimed that they’d demonstrated the fastest ever quantum switch using a silicon chp.

The researchers said they demonstrated a quantum on/off switching time of about a millionth of a millionth of a second.

Dr Ellis Bowyer, a Surrey University scientists, said: “Quantum computing exploits the fact that according to quantum mechanics, atoms can exist in two states at once, being both excited and unexcited at the same time. This… is most famously illustrated by Schrodinger’s quantum cat which is simultaneously dead and alive.”

He said that silicon ofer a very clean environment for phosphorous atoms which are trapped inside where our quantum information is being stored. He said that the research put the atoms into a superposition state with a few trillionths of a second laser pulse and then created a new superposition which depends on the exact time at which a second laser pulse arrives.

He said that the team at the university has had extra funding from the YK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to see if it’s possible to connect these quantum objects to each other, to make bigger building blocks for quantum computers.

The next stage in research is to create fast quantum silicon chips.

Bowyer said: “The time is drawing nearer when we’ll be able to make a computer that does a tremendous number of calculations simultaneously, and that provides unprecedently secure computing, impenetrable to hackers.”

IBM sounds alarm over mobile app security

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 14.39.31The Ponemon Institute and IBM have jointly released a report which they said displays “the alarming state” of mobile insecurity.

According to the research, 40 percent of large companies – including many in the Fortune 500 – aren’t protecting the mobile apps they build.

And they’re not good against protecting their BYOD (bring your own device) gizmos against cyber attack. That leaves the gates to their corporate treasure chest effectively open.

The survey looked at security practices in over 400 large enterprises and claims that the average company doesn’t test half of the mobile apps they build. And what’s even worse is that 50 percent of these enterprises don’t devote any budget whatever towards mobile security.

IBM and the Ponemon Institute estimate that malicious code infests and infects over 11.6 million mobile devices.

The organisations surveyed spend an average of $34 million a year on mobile app development, with only 5.5 percent spending part of the budget on security.

“End user convenience is trumping end user security and privacy,” IBM said.


Wang takes over HTC hot seat

htc-isntCher Wang, the chairwoman of troubled mobile phone manufacturer HTC and a co-founder of the business has displaced Peter Chou to become the new CEO, right away.

Chou won’t leave the company – he is to work on developing new products.

HTC has suffered in the last three years because although it’s had some good products, it lacks the financial muscle of an Apple or a Samsung to perform marketing miracles and so sell more phones.

Chou had already ceded some of his CEO role to Wang, while the company has seen some restructuring.

According to Cnet, Chou admitted that he took on too much during his reign as CEO and told the wire he wanted to concentrate on new things and the company’s product portfolio.

Wang said Chou will become head of the HTC Future Development Lab, and tasked with finding new growth opportunities.

Wang co-founded HTC in 1997 and the company was an early adopter of the Android operating system. It was also early to market with a Windows phone and at one time was ahead of Samsung and Apple in market share.

Chinese government downs Reuters

android-china-communistThe Chinese government seems to believe that if its citizens read Reuters websites their minds will be totally corrupted.

Reuters said both its English and Chinese websites were inaccessible in China today, and it appears to be the government that’s made them unavailable.

Communist China blocks a large number of foreign websites – the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and Bloomberg are all banned.

Reuters asked the government internet watchdog what was going on but the watchdog doesn’t appear to be listening, yet.

The news service said in a statement that it is committed to fair and accurate journalism across world. “We recognise the great importance of news about China to all our customers, and we hope that our sites will be restored in China too,” Reuters said in a statement.

The company’s financial and data services to Chinese clients haven’t been tampered with.


Solar panels go through the roof

solarsA report said that total global solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity will be 498 gigawatts in 2019, a 177 percent increase over capacity in 2014.

IHS said that last year the market became supply driven. That trend will continue until 2019 when the use rate of module projection will exceed the peak usage rate in 2010. That is when the global market really started to soar.

As this chart from IHS shows, China leads the pack in using solar panels, followed by Japan, the USA, the UK, Germany and India.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 11.03.43

And there’s good news if you’re in the mood to buy, because the average selling prices of standard modules will fall by 27 percent between 2015 and 2019.

Thin film modules aren’t experiencing stellar growth patterns, but IHS believes that this year market share for those will be around seven percent.

That market share is likely to remain at around seven percent between now and 2019.


Chromebooks upset the PC apple cart

chromebookThere’s more bad news for the PC market as it appears that Google Chromebooks are taking market share in the low end and the education markets.

ABI Research said Chromebooks, which rely heavily on the cloud, start up much faster than Windows PCsand are pretty affordable too, have “gained traction” in the North American market.

And it’s not just home users who are buying them – organisations are buying them too, with shipments close to five million last year.

Analyst Stephanie Van Vactor said that cloud services and the collapse of economies worldwide were the impetus for designers and developers to create cheap and cheerful devices, like the Chromebook.

“Chromebooks were the result, and the ‘anytime anywhere” access to content is a mobile-centric game changer,” she said.

The education market in particular has a yen for Chromebooks, mostly because of Google Apps for Education, she said. The business and the education sector together accounted for 62 percent of Chromebook shipments.

Another factor is the price. The average selling price for a Chromebook is $226 in the States, while it’s $420 for a tablet – presumably an Apple iPad.

“Google has taken to heart the popularity of mobile devices and developed a personal computing device that is a functional solution,” said Van Vactor. She said: “This style of computing works for the on the go lifestyle people are becoming accustomed to and will continue to impact the future of computing as the market shifts and changes.”

Devices fail in 2015

A not so mobile X86 PCThe outlook for PCs looks pretty grim in 2015, according to data released by Gartner.

The market research outfit said that PCs and ultra mobiles will deliver revenues of $226 billion this year, but that will be a 7.2 percent decline.

You have to take the current strength of the US dollar into account, Gartner warned, but even after that, the global market will show a 3.1 percent drop during the year.

Gartner forecasts that so called traditional PCs – that includes desktops and notebooks – will fall from 252,881,000 units this year, to 236,341,000 units in 2017.

The firm said that PC vendors are raising their prices to stay profitable but this is having a Catch 22 effect because it’s forcing customers to keep their purses tightly closed. Home users are also not expected to lash out on new devices.

Mobile phones will grow by 3.5 percent during this year and Gartner believes that rather than buy PCs, people will buy smartphones instead. Tablet sales will suffer because of that.

Roberta Cozza, a research director at Gartner, said: “Following rapid growth, the current mature consumer installed base for tablets is comparable to that of notebooks. Not only is the tablet segment nearing saturation in mature markets, but the influx of hybrids and fabulist will compete directly with tablets in emerging markets.”

She seems to think that despite Apple’s high prices, many users of high end Android devices will move to iOS.

Back up kit worth over a billion

emcboxThe market for customised backup appliances reached $1 billion worldwide in the fourth quarter of last year.

This market represents standalone disk products that use software, disk arrays, server engines, and more specifically data coming from backup software.

IDC said that the market for this kind of kit rose by four percent in 2014 and generated revenues of $3.26 billion.

Annual capacity in 2014 rose by 42.8 percent compared to 2013 to a staggering 2.68 exabytes.

Liz Conner, a research manager at IDC, said reasons for the rise in revenues included better software, data tiering, file sharing, data analytics and more investment in integrated systems.

In the fourth quarter, top of the storage pile was EMC with 63.8 percent market share, dwarfing the other players Symantec (11.5%), IBM (6.7%), HP (4%) and Quantum (2.3%).


ICO demands transparency for government outsourcing

parliamentThe Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said today that when the government outsources technology it’s often very opaque.

Head of Policy at the ICO Steve Wood said freedom of information laws haven’t always been able to follow the public pound.

“We’re calling on public authorities and contractors to consider transparency from an early stage, before a contract is even signed. And we’re asking whether the government might need to step in to make sure the public can access the information they should be entitled to from big government funded contractors,” he said.

Expenditure on outsourced public services represents half of the £187 billion the government spends on goods and services. Sometimes, the ICO said, it is hard for people to negotiate their way through outsourcing contractors’ deals.

The ICO conducted a survey and 75 percent of people said that private companies acting on behalf of public authorities should be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.


Ofcom draws a super broadband line for BT

btlogoUK regulator Ofcom said that from the 1st of April, BT will have to maintain a margin between its wholesale and retail superfast broadband that’s enough to allow competition from other providers.

The regulator said that the rules will allow BT to keep its current flexibility to set its own wholesale fibre prices but it must not set those prices in a manner that will stop others from matching its prices and making a profit.

While BT is the biggest retail provider of fibre broadband services, it is forced under regulation to let other operators sell superfast broadband to ordinary people too, using a process dubbed virtual unbundled local access.

Ofcom seems happy enough that BT is, at the moment, allowing other companies to compete in the superfast market but wants to make sure that continues in the future.

What’s triggered Ofcom’s interest is that BT is a new entrant to the sports content market and gives BT Sport free to superfast broadband customers. The regulator wants to make sure that it doesn’t have an unfair advantage over the competition.

The number of people using superfast broadband in the UK is now 3.7 million, with providers offering speeds of up to 76Mbit/s. The industry eventually wants to offer speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s in the future.

Intel, Google, TAG to make smart watch

Swiss Watches the BrandEver eager to join the fashion bandwagon, chip giant Intel has joined up with TAG Heuer and Google to create a smart watch which they will launch before the end of the year.

TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver told a press conference at a Swiss watch trade show that the deal is a “marriage of technological innovation with watchmaking credibility”.

The watch will use the Android Wear platform and use Intel chips but it’s unclear quite how much it will cost when it’s released.

Intel suit Michael Bell, who is the general manager of Intel’s new devices group, said that making a luxury watch in collaboration with TAG Heuer and Google brings the vision of wearable technology that bit nearer.

The Google man, David Singleton, said that the Swiss watch has inspired generations of artists and engineers. And Google. He said that Google can now imagine a better, beautiful and smarter watch.

Apple releases its range of smart watches next month, and much will depend on whether that is a flop or a success. Intel has never been particularly brilliant at creating reference designs that have long battery lives and its other ventures into consumer technology have all, without exception, been damp squibs.

TAG Heuer doesn’t make cheap watches, so you probably have to have a chunk of disposable income to impress – or alternatively depress, your friends.


How people solve problems

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 15.24.39Scientists at Aarhus University have devised a computer game that they say has given insight into the way people solve problems.

The game – called Quantum Moves – has been played 400,000 times by regular people. It involves moving atoms around a screen and scoring points for the best moves.

And that means ordinary people are helping research into quantum physics, according to research director Jacob Sherson. He said that a human’s way of solving a problem is very different than a computer’s approach to similar problems.

The whole idea is to help build quantum computers by providing data. Sheraton said: “The players showed us that there’s an unexploited capacity for ingenuity in the human brain. We see solutions that a computer would never have allowed, and which optimise the process.”

Initial research said that females are better at solving problems than males.

“It would be very interesting to find that the feminine brain has a different – and more efficient approach than the masculine,” said Sherson.

The insights from Quantum Moves means that the university has developed another game called Quantum Minds, which the team hopes will give even better insight into the way our brains work.

And you can try it out yourself, by going to this web page.

Samsung signs up Mediatek

Samsung HQ Silicon Valley - MM picGiant Korean chaebol Samsung has signed a deal with Mediatek to supply application processors for smartphones, with shipments set to start in the second half of this year.

So says Digitimes Research, which said that currently there is a hole in Samsung’s lineup. Samsung currently uses Marvell and Spreadtrum to provide applictation processors.

But apparently Samsung is unhappy with its two suppliers because it’s claimed supply and support was indifferent.

Mediatek actually competes with Samsung in both the Chinese and Indian markets but it seems that because of the range of the products it supplies.

But it seems a deal has been satisfactorily struck.

It is something of a puzzle that Samsung feels it needs to turn to Mediatek because the Korean company has advanced semiconductor fabrication equipment and expertise of its own inhouse.

But Digitimes Research speculates that Samsung still needs help from outside, particularly in the wearable marketplace.On the face of it, the Mediatek partnership is intended to bolster Samsung’s low end range of phones, but it may also begin to supply its high end models too.


Opera buys privacy company

tim-cook-securityOpera Software bought a Canadian company called SurfEasy, for an undisclosed amount.

SurfEasy has a VPN (virtual private network) system aimed at securing smartphones, tablets and PCs, Opera said.

A VPN adds an extra level of net security to filter traffic between the web nd devices.

Opera said that over 90 percent of US net users are now worried about their online privacy and want to protect themselves when they’re online.

Opera, which has 350 million users worldwide said that privacy and security has always kept that as its top priority

The CEO of Opera, Lars Boilesen, said more and more people are looking for security on phones and other devices.

The said Opera will collaborate with the SurfEasy team to create joint products, using the Opera browser as the basic foundation for the collaboration.


Osborne backs the internet of things

gosborneGeorge Osborne, the UK chancellor of the exchequer, has promised to throw £40 million into research into the internet of things (IoT). He made the announcement during yesterday’s 2015 budget speech in the House of Commons.

And, in addition, Osborne said that it will spend a further £100 million in R&D on smart cities and future infrastructure in the UK.

Osborne said the UK government was still committed to improving net connections and wants to spend £600 million for better networks and ultrafast broadband across the UK.

The government is also spending money on looking at digital currency and improving wi-fi connections in public places.

Osborne said the IoT would connect everything from urban transport to medical devices to household appliances.

The £40 million will be used to create business incubators for startups that will work on the government’s smart cities initiative.

The tech industry is investing hundreds of millions in IoT applications, but so far there is a distinct lack of standardisation and there are worries about security when billions of devices are all potentially connected to each other.