Tag: hybrid

BT goes on hybrid fibre diet

Fruit-and-fibreBT has surprised everyone by announcing that it is deploying next generation hybrid-fibre across the United Kingdom from 2016/17.

Dubbed G.fast broadband technology, it will provide “most homes” with speeds of ‘up to’ 500Mbps  and there’s also a “premium” option for up to 1000Mbps.

At present most of BT’s national deployment is dominated by its  hybrid Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) broadband technology, which delivers download speeds of up to 80Mbps by running a fibre optic cable to your local street cabinet and then using VDSL2 over the remaining / existing copper line from the cabinet to your home.

This works for properties that exist up to 400 metres away from their street cabinet, although the service has been known to reach 2,000 metres at a slower speed.

G.fast is similar technology but it requires more radio spectrum and needs to run over much less than 250 metres of copper. As a result the high capacity fibre optic line has to be taken even closer to homes, usually as far as a smaller remote node that can be built on top of a telegraph pole, inside a street cabinet or underground.

This is expensive, although BT should not need to dig up your garden or run a new physical line into homes.

BT conducted a field trial of mock-up G.fast technology earlier this year and on the shortest 19 metre copper line it managed to achieve aggregated speeds of around 1000Mbps or 231Mbps upload and 786Mbps download. By comparison the “long” 66 metre line produced 200Mbps upload and 696Mbps download.

There will be two pilots which will start this summer in Huntingdon and Gosforth with 4,000 homes and businesses participating to see if the technology scales up.

BT will set up G.fast from different points of its network, with the pilots allowing it to assess various rollout options. It is also planning to develop a premium fibre broadband service for those residential and business customers who want even faster broadband, of up to 1Gbps.

 

Intel thinks PC market a-ok

Intel-logo “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,” an Intel spokesperson said, before insisting that the PC market isn’t seriously in the doldrums.

At a New York event, Intel execs showed off an Intel sponsored IDC survey that claimed the PC market holds enormous potential, and that there is no better time than now to buy a PC. Cash strapped people in Europe and the US may disagree – instead spending their cash on daily necessities like food instead of replacing functional consumer electronics.

The survey said 97 percent of respondents consider their PC their main computing device, and of these respondents, 41 percent plan to buy a PC in the coming year. Many also said they would rather give up exercise, sweets, caffeine, and TV than their computers.

As AllThingsD points out, a rather different recent IDC document showed PC sales trends are the worst they’ve ever been, ever, not just in the US and Europe, but also in emerging markets like Latin America and Asia.

Intel’s Merlin Kister said retailers were partly to blame because they frequently do not show off the capabilities of hybrid-style notebook, tablet crosses.

Sales of slim HDDs are soaring

seagate-hddEarlier this year Seagate and Western Digital introduced a range of 5-millimetre and 7-millimetre HDDs/SSHDs and it appears they will have no shortage of customers. According to IHS, sales of 5- and 7-millimetre drives will soar to 133 million units by 2017, up from just five million last year.

Ultra thin hard drives and hybrid drives are used in Ultrabooks and other thin devices, which are expected to slowly squeeze more traditional form factors out of the consumer market in coming years.

IHS reckons shipments of 9.5mm drives will drop to 79 million units by 2017, down from 245 million in 2012, reports Electronicsfeed.

However, it won’t all be smooth sailing for hard drive makers. Shipments of SSDs are still growing at a fast pace. SSD shipments are projected to climb some 90 percent this year, hitting 64.6 million units, whereas hard drives shipments are slowing down. They are expected to drop five percent to 545.8 million units. Ultra thin hard drives and hybrids will help in the short term, but SSDs will continue to find new markets as prices of NAND drop.

The big hope for hard drive makers is that they will manage to score more design wins with their new thin drives, as they are still a lot cheaper than SSDs. This is where they can expect some help from Microsoft, as Windows 8.x is a lot more bloated than iOS or Android, so there is a chance that cheap Windows hybrids and tablets will have to use mechanical drives, or hybrid drives.

“Both the thinner HDDs along with hybrid HDDs could even start finding acceptance in ultrathin PCs and tablet PCs—two products that now mostly use solid-state drives as their storage element. Hard disks have lost market share to SSDs, which offer better performance and can be more easily used to achieve a thinner and lighter form factor crucial to tablets and ultrathin PCs,” said Fang Zhang, storage systems analyst at IHS.

In the long run, however, hard drives have no place in tablets or hybrids, or 2-in-1s as Intel likes to call them these days. In any case they are a cheap and proven interim alternative, as they will enable vendors to come up with cheaper ultrathin devices before SSD prices come down to acceptable levels.

Peugeot unveils hybrid-air powertrain for superminis

psa-air-drivetrainFrench carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen is taking the road less travelled with its latest concept car. The company has developed a hybrid gasoline vehicle that does not rely on batteries to store energy. The PSA Hybrid Air system uses compressed air instead.

The oddly shaped concept is said to be very efficient and it should achieve 81 miles per gallon, with very low carbon dioxide emissions to boot. The idea of using compressed air to store energy has been around for ages, but Peugeot engineers believe it might give their eco-cars a competitive edge in the future.

Hybrid cars usually rely on costly and heavy battery packs to store energy. According to Fast Company, the typical battery pack used in hybrids and electric vehicles costs about $11,000. Battery packs are bulky, heavy and they have a limited lifecycle, which is not the case with a simple compressed air system.

However, there are quite a few downsides to Peugeot’s approach. Air compressors are not very efficient and compressed air can’t match the efficiency or energy density of batteries or liquid fuels. So, although compressed air is a cheap and simple way of storing energy, a lot of energy is wasted in the process.

Peugeot hopes the simplicity and low cost of its approach outweighs the drawbacks. Compressed air cars should end up a lot cheaper than battery based hybrids and the simple, low-tech approach should allow designers to incorporate it into existing cars with relative ease.

Peugeot’s compressed air technology is intended for small B and C segment vehicles, with engines up to 110 horsepower. Like other hybrid designs, PSA’s Hybrid Air features regenerative breaking and it can operate in three modes, compressed air only, internal combustion or a combination of the two for peak power.

In terms of fuel efficiency, hybrid air vehicles could deliver 45-percent savings in fuel usage and a 90-percent increase in range compared to a similar vehicle powered by a traditional petrol engine.

PSA plans to start fitting the new drivetrain to several B-segment models in 2016 and it could license the technology to other carmakers.

Ovum: the cloud is unstoppable

clouds3Analyst house Ovum has released a report that forecasts trends to watch in the cloud for 2013 which predicts the industry shows no signs of slowing down.

According to senior analyst Laurent Lachal, cloud computing will evolve to tackle two challenges it has faced so far, namely reducing implementation costs and boosting innovation. Vendors and enterprises face some problems with successfully building both private and public clouds, but Lachal insists they will “make it work” in 2013 – on their own and as part of increasingly complex ecosystems.

Public, private, and hybrid clouds are building momentum, according to Lachal, and increasingly approaching enterprise grade class, but Ovum believes it is “early days” for both vendors and enterprises. We can expect the cloud to begin reaching its maturity in 2013, however, it will take another five years before this is complete, according to Ovum.

Ovum believes that in 2013, cloud computing will begin to form its own ecosystem. Rather than being viewed as a single platform as part of a larger infrastructure, public clouds will be seen as a central ecosystem hub both for cloud service providers and consumers.

“They offer a new way to accelerate participation in the rapidly evolving social networking and mobile ecosystems of the internet age,” Lachal said. “Some industry sectores are benefiting from the data centre as a hub, an increasingly cloud computing-centric ecosystem of partners that assembles in a key location or data centre such as around financial exchanges, web and online services, or media content”.

Data itself will drive further adoption of the cloud. As cloud services along with the apps that run on it generate data, cloud services and applications are needed to make sense of it, Ovum said. This means that cloud will evolve in line with other upcoming industry trends such as machine to machine communication, smart cities initiatives, the consumerisation of IT, open government data, and big data.

Ovum notes that the market is currently focused on big data in particular, however, the group thinks that from this year onwards there’s going to be an interest in the shift from vendors and enterprises to turn data into a manageable resource – something they can make money from. The start, Ovum believes, will be data abstraction, sharing, and valuation.