Author: Staff Writer

January weak for semiconductor sales

renesas-chips (1)The European Semiconductor Industry Association (ESIA) said that sales in January 2015 were weak – but that’s true for most other regions too because of seasonal factors.

Sales in Europe were driven by discrete semi devices, optoelectronic devices, microprocessors and MOS.

Semiconductor sales amount to $2.944 billion – that’s a drop of 3.2 percent compared to the same period the year before.

Worldwide, semiconductor sales in January amounted to $28.532 billion – up by 8.7 percent compared to January 2014.

EISA released the following chart for the worldwide market.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 16.23.11

Android ruled the smart roost in 2014

Android building, WikimediaIn 2014 Android was dominant as the operating system for smart devices – including smartphones and tablets.

And while Google’s Android OS will rule the roost this year too, as more “intelligence” goes into cars, glasses, and watches, ABI Research thinks its dominance will reach its peak between 2014 and 2019, showing only a modest CAGR of 10 percent.

Android will have competition from Chrome and Firefox, according to Stephanie Van Vactor, an analyst at ABI Research.

She predicts that those will show CAGRs of 29 percent and Chrome respectively in that time period.

Of course Chrome is also a Google product, but she thinks Android will work well with it.

The move to smart devices means that people will have a lot more choice in choosing an operating system. The research company didn’t say how well it thinks Microsoft’s OS for smartphones and the like will do.

 

Apple, Google scramble to fix bug

330ogleBoth Google and Apple devices are vulnerable to a bug and the companies are rushing to create patches for people that have such devices.

The bug – named Freak – has been in devices for years and follows US government rules in the 1990s which forced tech vendors to offer weak encryption for devices being exported abroad. While the US government changed those rules, the vulnerability remained in later iterations of the software.

Google has apparently already fixed the bug, while Apple will push an update as early next week.

Freak stands for factoring attack on RSA-Export keys – and was apparently first discovered by French researchers, whose findings were later confirmed by other experts in the field.

Quite a few well known websites, including government websites, support the less secure encryption but Google has advised people to disable that support.

IBM makes gold for Alchemy API

IBM logoBig Blue said it has bought a company that specialises in creating scalable cognitive computing application program interface (API) services and deep learning technology.

IBM said it has bought the company because it is complementary to its own development of next generation cognitive computing apps.

The move brings 40,000 developers into its own Watson framework.

The Denver based company was founded in 2005 and its software processes billions of API calls per month, IBM said. It’s available in eight different languages – English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.

IBM didn’t say how much it paid for AlchemyAPI but it will integrate the firm’s software into its own Watson offerings.

Server market grew in Q4 2014

HP-MicroServerFigures supplied by market analyst company Gartner showed that the worldwide server market grew 4.8 percent in shipments for the fourth quarter of 2014.

And revenues grew 2.2 percent in that quarter, compared to the fourth quarter of 2013.

Jeffrey Hewitt a VP at Gartner, described server market for the whole of 2014 as showing strong growth. Growth for the whole year was 2.2 percent.

“Hyper scale data centre deployments as well as service provider installations drove the X86 market upwards,” he said. “Enterprises had less unit growth impact because of the ongoing presence of physical server consolidation through X86 server virtualisation. This overall market growth developed despite declines in both mainframe and Unix platforms.”

HP was the leader server vendor in the quarter in terms of revenues, but only grew 1.5 percent in the whole year. Its market share is 27.9 percent worldwide. IBM showed a decline of 50.6 percent, and Lenovo had extraordinary growth of 743.4 percent. This is because IBM sold its X86 server business to Lenovo in the fourth quarter.

Dell is the second biggest vendor with 17.3 percent in terms of revenues, IBM third, Lenovo fourth and Cisco fifth. “Others” had a market share of 28.6 percent.
HP also led the pack in terms of shipments, pushing out 642,007 units in the fourth quarter.

Intel loses the plot – analysts

Intel-logoA financial analyst said that an announcement made by Samsung at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona has thrown into sharp relief Intel’s inability to capture market share.

Mark Hibben, at Seeking Alpha, said that while the CEO of Intel, Brian Krzanich, delivered a keynote at MWC, Samsung’s announcement of the Galaxy S6 phone shows that the California company is way behind in its egregious goals.

Hibben said that Samsung is targeting Apple’s iPhone 6, “making it clear that Apple and Samsung completely dominate the mobile device world, leaving Intel with only aspirations”.

The Galaxy S6 smartphone uses a Samsung 64-bit processor, using the company’s 14 nanometre FinFET process.

He said this shows that ARM has leaped into the process lead over Intel, which only has its SoFIA on a 28 nanometre TSMC process, said Hibben. That, he thinks, makes Intel two generations behind process tech for smartphones.

He said companies like Apple and Samsung “can deploy staggering capital resources in the pursuit of non Intel Inside”.

Intel made a $4.2 billion loss in its mobile group in 2014.

 

Schmidt triggers Euro debate

Google's Eric "Google Glass" SchmidtThe chairman of Google was summoned to meet the European Competition Commissioner yesterday, as investigations continue into alleged monopolistic habits.

Margarethe Vestager called Eric Schmidt in to discuss a number of complaints about Google, according to a report by Reuters.

Vestiges has already met a number of people complaining about Google, including executives from Microsoft and German press Axel Springer.

Google has, according to the report, has tried to settle the complaints about search engine three times, but all blandishments from the behemoth have been rebuffed.

If the competition commissioner finds that Google has been squeezing out other players in the European market, she could decide that the company has to dish out a tenth of its global revenues, that’s around $6 billion or so.

Smartphone sold over a billion last year

smartphones-genericIn 2014, sales of smartphones to individuals reached 1.2 billion units worldwide, a rise of 28.4 percent compared to 2013.

Worldwide sales of smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2014 saw an increase of 29.9 percent compared to the same quarter in 2013, totalling 367.5 million units, according to Gartner.

And in the fourth quarter, Samsung lost its number one spot to Apple – as a result of product introductions in Apple’s case, and erosion of sales in Samsung’s case.

Samsung lost 10 percent in market share, according to Anshul Gupta, a Gartner analyst. “Samsung continues to struggle to control its falling smartphone share, which was at its highest in the third quarter of 2013. This downward trend shows that Samsung’s share of profitable premium smartphone users has come under significant pressure,” said Gupta.

For the whole year, Samsung remained the leader, shipping 307,597 units worldwide, while Apple shipped 191,426 phones.

The top five vendors in the fourth quarter were Apple, Samsung, Lenovo, Huawei and Xiaomi, according to Gartner. These last three vendors are all Chinese companies.

Enterprise to boost tablet sales

cheap-tabletsA report said that adoption of tales by commercial enterprises are set to boost sales in Western Europe.

IDC said the commercial market for tablets will reach over 11 million units by 2019 – that’s 130% CAGR.

The tablet market so far has largely been driven by home users, and by early adopters in corporations. Newer designs are lighter, better connected and have options including keyboards.

IDC said that devices are now shipping with features that IT departments like, particularly in security, and both Samsung and Apple have started to target the corporate market.

According to Chrystelle Labesque, a research manager at IDC, over two thirds of the enterprises IDC surveyed in Western Europe have already deployed tablets.

The main reason for their adoption in enterprises include price erosion, more features and increasing employee productivity.

The news couldn’t come any sooner for vendors selling tablets for personal use. All indications are that there is a degree of saturation in this sector.

 

United bans lithium ion batteries

United AirlinesUnited Airlines said it will stop carrying cargo of lithium ion (li-ion) batteries, following tests.

United is the second US airline to announce it would cease shipping quantities of li-ion – last month Delta made a similar decision.

The tests were carried out by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to the BBC. The FAA filled a container with 5,000 batteries and a small heater. The heat ignited fires in other batteries with temperatures soaring to 600 degrees Celsius. Then an explosion blew open the container door.

A second test had a similar effect.

Li-ion batteries are known to be very volatile. Some years ago, Mike Magee’s INQUIRER carried dramatic pictures of a laptop exploding at a Japanese conference, pictures which hit news outlets worldwide.

Other airlines are expected to follow United and Delta’s move.

Intel ready to release the Atom

Intel Q4_14_ResultsIntel has announced details of its new family of Atom processors, and, as we predicted it has changed its naming strategy to mirror the Core series of processors.

Intel is renaming its Atom family with x3, x5, and x7 designations.

At the low end, the 28nm Atom x3, is basically a smartphone chip with Intel Architecture (SoFIA). The Atom x3 will be available in three distinct variants; all of which will come with integrated modems. All three are 64-bit capable.

The Atom x3-C3130 tops out at 1GHz, incorporates a Mali 400 MP2 GPU, and includes an integrated 3G (HSPA+) modem. The Atom x3-C3230RK has a clock speed of 1.2GHz and has a Mali 450 MP4 GPU, and a 3G modem. The Atom x3-C3440 clocks in at 1.4GHz, features a Mali T720 MP2 graphics core, incorporates a Category 6 LTE modem, and can optionally support NFC.
After looking at its own benchmarks, Intel said that the Atom x3-C3230RK can offer up to 1.8x the media editing performance of competing SoCs from Qualcomm and MediaTek.

The Atom x5 and x7 are Cherry Trail-based and the first Atom SoCs to be built using a 14nm manufacturing process. Both processor families support 64-bit processing, incorporate eighth generation Intel graphics, and support Windows and Android. They also support RealSense, True Key, and Pro WiDi. They don’t feature integrated modems but support Intel’s next generation XMM 726x and 7360 LTE modems.

Intel insists that the x7 offers two times the graphics performance of the existing Atom Z3795 in the GFXBench 2.7 T-Rex HD benchmark and 50 percent greater performance on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark.
Intel has already announced that the Atom x3 and Bay Trail-based Atom x5 and x7 processors are shipping, and that products using the processors should be available during the first half of 2015.

Server 2003 nemesis looms

Microsoft campusMicrosoft abandons support for Windows Server 2003 on July the 14 this year and that means servergeddon for IT managers who don’t keep up with the upgrades.

In fact, according tech company Insight UK, there are five “power struggles” set to happen in enterprises and public organisations on Bastille Day – that’s the 14th of July.

Insight estimates that 24 million servers worldwide could well be affected – and nearly 40 percent of Server OSes are Windows 2003.

Microsoft wants people to use its Azure Data Centre Migration but many have left things too little and too late.

Insight thinks that migrating servers could take an estimated 18 months, and short term patches cause problems in the migration.

And another problem is lack of compatability and interoperability problems, while new environments will require time to get to grips sure.

Sure enough, this is leading Insight to one conclusion – it can help you out. “Panic is not an option,” said MD Emma de Sousa, after telling enterprises that they better had panic, and quickly.

 

Lenovo goes tablet crazy

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 11.38.21Announcements from the Mobile World Congress (MWC) are as thick as blankets of snow this week, and Lenovo has joined in the chase for more business by announcing a range of three tablets.

Lenovo, according to market watchers, has been doing comparatively well in the tablet market.

Today it announced the A Series Android tablets, the Tab 2 A7 and A10-70 and a Windows tablet too.

The A10-70 has a 10.1-inch FHD screen, and Dolby Atmos. The machine runs Android 4.4, uses a MediaTek quad core processor, weighs 500 grams and is 8.9 millimetres thick. It will cost £180 and ships in April.
The Tab 2 A8 weighs in at 360 grams and comes with a dual SIM card slot, and costs £130 for the wi-fi model. It will ship in June.

The Windows Ideated MIIX 300, uses Windows 8.1, has an Intel Atom chip inside, and a media card reader. It will ship in July and will cost around £150.

 

HTC gets all virtual

smartphone-shoppingMany people find wearing virtual reality headsets gives them a headache or makes them feel sick, but that hasn’t stopped Taiwanese firm HTC by announcing it will sell a system later this year.

The company made its announcement at the Mobile World Congress, an annual shindig in Barcelona where vendors vie with each other to attract attention for forthcoming products.

HTC is cooperating with Valve, a US company that specialises in video games, to let you pretend you’re walking around virtual rooms and psychotically blasting virtual foes to cyber eternity.

The HTC unit, called the Vive, can show video at a whopping 90 frames a second, and has two 1200 x 1800 pixel screens. It includes a number of sensors including an accelerometer and a gyroscope.

HTC has had a somewhat troubled time in the last two years as its core mobile business suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous vendors like Apple and Samsung. A VR headset is a new departure for the company, which also used the MWC shining to launch an Android handset to not much enthusiasm.

Hitachi Data Systems targets telco big data

server-racksThe IT division of Hitachi said it has started to sell an analytics package aimed at telecom service providers.

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) said that its Live Insight for Telecom is aimed at giving providers real time information into networks, services and application level performance.

This, HDS claims, will let them predict network activity using both real time and historical data in parallel

Analytics is big business now – for example IBM is betting the farm on big data and the cloud.

So companies like HDS are claiming their products will reduce subscriber “churn”, lower the operational costs and give them new sources of revenue.

HDS claims that are close to seven billion mobile subscribers worldwide, with 78 percent of households in the developed world connected to the web.

But, it continues, even though telco providers can access tens o