Category: Products

AMD bullies Nvidia with $399 Hawaii card

radeon-r9-290A few weeks ago AMD introduced its Volcanic Islands products at an event in Hawaii. Most of the line-up were just rebrands, but the flagship R9 290X and R9 290 weren’t. 

The Hawaii cards are based on all new silicon, 6.2bn transistors crammed onto a 28nm die. AMD did not announce the prices at the event, but a couple of weeks later it launched the R9 290X at $549. The price was lower than expected and it forced Nvidia to slash the price of the GTX 780 by $150.

Just as Nvidia countered the R9 290X, AMD decided to make its life miserable once again. The Hawaii Pro version of the card, the R9 290, launched at $399 – making it $100 cheaper than the GTX 780, which went down from $649 to $499 last week.

There is, however, a slight problem for Nvidia. The R9 290 ends up significantly faster than the GTX 780 and in some cases it can even give the $999 GTX Titan a run for its money.
So, the new card is $100 cheaper than what Nvidia has to offer, yet it’s faster. There is one problem though, reviewers report the R9 290 can get very loud, but it seems like a small price to pay considering the price/performance ratio. In addition, it’s only a matter of time before AIB partners come up with non-reference designs, with custom coolers to keep the noise down.

Nvidia was already forced into two price cuts following AMD’s launch. First it slashed the prices of its sub-$199 products to compete with AMD’s rebranded R7-series. Then it slashed the prices of the GTX 780 and GTX 770, only to be undercut by AMD’s new $399 card. Most punters were expecting the R9 290 to end up at ~$449, but like we said last month, AMD had a couple of good reasons to launch it at $399 – and it did.

Nvidia simply doesn’t have much wiggle room left. Perhaps it’s feeling a bit like Guy Fawkes, and hoping bonfire night is merely a damp squib.

The Itanium lives on in HP kit

HPWe don’t know how many Itanium microprocessors Intel still manufactures in its wafer manufactories.

The chip hasn’t been an Intel runaway success but today HP said it lives on its mission critical HP Nonstop technology for X86 servers.

According to HP, eight of the top 10 world banks use HP Nonstop and now the company is selling Integrity blade servers based on the Itanium 9500 series.

HP is, it said already developing tech to extend Nonstop to the X86 but it willtake several years before adoption, the company said.

Blade systems NB56000c-cg and NB56000c are already available, with prices varying. Resellers should contact their HP account manager for more information.

Ciena tweaks its channel

CienaThe BizConnect programme from Ciena is being modified.

That’s the message from Nigel Williams, VP of global channels and strategic alliances.

He said in his blog that Ciena is now letting its solution provider partners offer its branded services directly to enterprise customers.

Ciena will provide support, training, lab equipment, evaluations, certifications, customer upsell and other services to its solution providers.

He said Ciena partners from regional VARs to global system integrators wanted to layer branded services combined with equipment sales, and that was the reason for the change.

Notebook market continues to plunge

notebooksWhile the notebook PC showed sequential growth in the third quarter the news is not good.

That’s according to market research company IHS, which said shipments “plunged” on a year to year basis.

IHS said that mobile PC shipments were 47.9 million worldwide, a rise of six percent from the quarter before. But despite this sequential growth, the market has now shrunk for five consecutive quarters on a year for year basis.

Craig Stice, senior principal analyst at HIS, said: “Amid the onslaught of tablets, the notebook PC market now is desperately seeking any reason for optimism. However, even with a respite from the sequential decline and a few other hopeful developments, the mobile PC business still on track to decline for the full year of 2013.”

He said the global PC market is forecast to fall again this year, repeating its decline in 2012. That was the first decline in 11 years.

Quantum creates channel cloud services

Clouds in Oxford: pic Mike MageeData management firm Quantum said it has introduced a new channel programme.

The programme – aimed at managed service providers (MSPs) and value added resellers (VARs) offer a cloud back up service using Quantum’s virtual dedupe appliances and vmPro back up software.

The programme uses capacity based, all software subscriptions services which lets VARs and MSPss brand, market and sell Backup as a Service (BaaS).  The offering scales as revenue grows and so Quantum thinks that reduces up front capital hardware expenses.

The programme includes online sales and pre-sales training at no charge; customisable matering material; free access to Quantum software for trial and demonstration and technical and support training.

AMD shakes up high-end GPU market

radeon-r9-290AMD has lifted the NDA veil off its new flagship Radeon card and the first reviews and products announcements are popping up on the interweb. The press loves the R9 290X. AMD went to great lengths to keep the launch price a secret until the last possible moment, which appears to have been a very good move.

Most observers were expecting the new card to launch with a $599 or even $699 price tag, but it ended up at $549. This sounds like a very good deal as it wipes the floor with Nvidia’s $649 GTX 780 and it can even take on Nvidia’s $999 Titan card in some tests. Clearly Nvidia will have to do something to counter AMD’s launch and it already has a new version of the GTX 780 in the works, but pricing will be a problem and the R9 290X will erode Nvidia’s margins on GK110 products.

As far as specs go, the R9 290X is the first card based on AMD’s new Hawaii GPU. It features GCN 2.0 architecture, 512-bit memory bus, 2,816 shaders and it’s the biggest GPU AMD has ever built. Reviews indicate that performance is not an issue, although the card tends to get hot and loud in AMD’s high performance “Uber” mode. The cooler is not that great, which leaves a lot of room for AIB partners to play around with custom designs.

Another question is the Pro version, or the R9 290. The NDA will reportedly be lifted in a week and there is still no word on the price. The XT-based R9 290X is shaping up to be quite a performer, but the Pro version will offer plenty of performance at a much more attractive price point. However, it is still unclear how AMD plans to price it. At $449 it would be a nice deal, but if AMD really chooses to stick it to Nvidia and sacrifice margin, it might end up at $399, which would be very disruptive.

Nvidia has already reduced the prices of its sub-$199 cards to counter AMD’s rebranded R7 and R9 series products. Now it remains to be seen how low it can go and it won’t be easy – Nvidia’s GK110 GPU has about a billion transistors more than AMD’s Hawaii, which makes it quite a bit more expensive to produce, yet it ends up slower in most versions.

See Also
AMD declares war on Nvidia

Dell Precision M3800 workstation raises the bar

Dell logoDell has rolled out a new Dell Precision mobile workstation and it’s a very interesting piece of kit. Dell claims the new M3800 is the world’s lightest and thinnest workstation, which is hard to dispute as it weighs in at just 4.15 pounds and it’s a mere 18mm thick.

But the really good stuff is under the bonnet. It features a 15.6-inch IPS display with a staggering 3200×1800 resolution, or 205 pixels per inch. Only the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus and Lenovo’s new Yoga 2 Pro offer such a resolution on a Windows machine. The screen is tucked away under a sheet of Gorilla Glass and it has five-finger multitouch support.

dell-m3800

It’s got the brains to back it up, too. It is powered by an Intel Core i74702HQ processor and Nvidia’s Quadro K1100M professional GPU. It can be configured with up to 16GB of DDR3 and there’s no shortage of storage options, as it has two standard 2.5-inch bays and a mini-card SSD option.

The M3800 goes on sale November 14 in the US, with prices starting at $1,799. Not exactly cheap, but similarly specced products from Lenovo and Samsung don’t come cheap, either.

Partners line up to give MS an 8.1 gong

windowscomputexWindows 8.1 goes on general release today as a free upgrade for people with Windows 8, and it will also be on new Wintel machines worldwide too.

As we reported from Computex earlier this year, Microsoft was essentially forced to re-institute the start button and to make other improvements following a more than lukewarm welcome from the channel and from end users at launch.

Microsoft has a partner blog, here, and according to The Final Step, to CCS Media and to Centrix software. James Hardy, at CCS Media says: “I genuinely believe that Windows 8 offers more in a touch device that can be found anywhere else on the market. Windows 8.1…. provides IT departments with the ability to customise devices to suit the needs of their business.”

We’d be interested to hear from other partners what they believe to be true about Windows 8.1 – we suspect that not all of them are going to be quite so gung ho about the upgrade as the three companies listed above.

Hitachi improves its cloud services

cloud 1Hitachi Data Services (HDS) said that it has introduced private cloud services and other improvements.

The private cloud services include consulting and transition services to companies and a cloud automation suite to its Unified Compute Platform, reference architectures with Cisco and data security capabilities for its Unified Storage.

The company said that the private cloud services use an open architecture with storage, compute and network layers; APIs; open interfaces; portals and global services.

It claims that using its private cloud services will bring customers savings, and is up 70 percent faster to deploy than traditional approaches.

HDS costs the materials by a pay-per-use model driven by service levels and including all hardware, software and services.

Salesforce integrates multiple IDs

Salesforce_Logo_2009Giant CRM company Salesforce said it has released a service connecting employees, customers and partners to any app on any device.

Called Salesforce Identity, the service is intended to make accessing data universally, wherever it is stored.

The company said that the service lets firms create a connected app and strategy, which can then be managed from a central location.

The service includes a single sign on, authorisation identities for mobile devices for Salesforce CRM and custom applications built using its Platform Mobile Services.

It also lets social collaboration be built into a system, including Facebook and Google. Pricing starts at $5 per user a month, including single sign on, mobile identity, cloud directory, multi-factor authentication and other services.

Argos takes on Tesco with tablet

Argos MyTabletRetail outlet and online firm Argos has launched the MyTablet for less than £100 – in a bid to challenge Tesco’s recent tablet introduction, the Hudl.

The seven inch unit comes with pre-loaded games and apps and also includes an Argos app so you can shop for items including, er, tablets.

The unit has a 1024×600 LCD, and 8GB of memory – but you can expand the memory to 32GB using a Micro SD card. The processor is a 1.6GHz dual core chip, while the OS is Google’s Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2.

Argos said the unit is aimed at teenagers and has built in parental controls. It comes in pink or silver colours. The unit has two megapix camera and a front facing camera. It supports wi fi and Bluetooth and apps pre-loaded include the BBC iPlayer, Angry Birds, an e-book reader, Facebook and Twitter.

The unit goes for sale tomorrow from argos.co.uk and argos.ie, as well as the 700 shops it has in the UK and Ireland.

Nermin Hadjarbegovic, our Bosnian reported:: “This is just a publicity stunt.”

Distribution is a balloon

MongolfierA maker of jewellery is showing a 90 percent picking improvements at its pan-European distribution centre using warehouse management software, it claims.

That’s according to BalloonOne, which integrated its warehouse management system with gem firm Pandora’s Microsoft Dynamics AX planning software.

BalloonOne says that 80 percent of orders Pandora received use pick and pass for a high volume of product lines in each pick.

Pandora is also using BalloonOne’s Accellos to automate its invoicing process.

Kristian Willumsen, VP of supply chain development at Pandora, says: “By comparing year on year performance, we are seeing picking improvements as high as 80 per cent.”

PC market continues to be weak

IDC graphIDC released figures estimating that worldwide PC shipments accounted for 81.6 million units in Q3 of 2013 – that’s a drop of 7.6 percent, compared to the previous year.

But IDC said it had expected a decline of 9.5 percent for the quarter.  It said that shipments were weak in the early part of the quarter but business buys and channel intake of Windows 8.1 based systems happened in September.

IDC said emerging markets continued to be weak, while the channel and vendors were stock heavy on Ivy Bridge systems and eroded by lower priced smartphones and tablets.

Upgrades from Windows XP boosted shipments in the enterprise desktop section.

Rajani Singh, senior research analyst at IDC, said that the US market hasn’t changed that much. There may be a small increase in the fourth quarter, he said. But that will be followed “by a challenging 2014”.

In EMEA the PC market continued to decline with weak consumer demand a shift to tablets.  The channel maintained lean inventories during the period.

The only bright light were “pockets of investments” despite companies still being reluctant to spend any money.

Lenovo is the top vendor and is expanding into the channel, while HP and Dell were numbers two and three.  Acer and Asus both were weakened by lack of spend by consumers. Asus doesn’t have a significant corporate user base.

Companies start taking their tablets

Keep taking the tabletsMore and more tablets are being used in companies with large numbers now being used to access corporate data and apps.

That’s according to a survey from Ovum, which points out that using tablets is changing the way people work.

The survey, conducted in the second quarter of this year, showed that 17.6 percent of people had been given tablets by their employers, compared to 12.5 percent in 2012.

And the number of personal tablet owners grew from 28.4 percent in 2012 to 44.5 percent in 2013, meaning that more personally owned tablets find their way into the workplace.

Richard Absalom, analyst at Ovum, said: “The primary route for tablets into the enterprise is through the consumer/employee channel. Over 66 percent of employees who personally own a tablet use them for work.”

Absalom said that employees use many different devices to get to corporate data and content – tablet or BYOD strategies should be put into that context. “Tablet deployments have the potential to change the way that businesses operate,” he said. “The primary challenge ofr the enterprise is to turn tablet usage into a genuinely transformative deployment.”

Bull flies red rag with fast data analytics

scotbullBull Information Systems has put together a new big data analytics tool called “bullion fast data analytics”, designed to look at data from the digital economy in real time.

It has been built using Pivotal based technologies in combination with Bull’s bullion servers.

Bull points out that this year there are roughly 3 Zettabytes of data floating around, or 400 Gigabytes for everyone on the planet, with this figure only set to increase to up to 40 Zettabytes by 2020. So for it’s very useful for organisations to be able to sift through this data and extract relevant information, whether that is managing crises, or building customer loyalty. Of course, we have all heard about “big data” this year.

Fast data analytics is, Bull asserts, the “first platform to integrate new data fabrics, modern programming frameworks, cloud portability and support for legacy systems”. The architecture has been designed on top of Pivotal Greenplum Database and Gemfire, and the company promises the end product makes analytics less complex, shifting the focus from software tinkering to applying the actual information.

The company says its technology is highly flexible and can “significantly” reduce Total Cost of Ownership, as well as having been validated with Pivotal and VMware at Bull’s R&D labs. It runs in a virtualised environement, promises lower latency, and cost savings.

VP of Bull’s enterprise service business, Jacqueline Moussa, said the company offers a “unified and robust platform”.

“Organisations can take advantage of lower implementation and operations costs and quick real-time analysis of the huge amounts of data being produced each hour,” Moussa said.