Tag: intel

Intel buying its way into China

Intel Q4_14_ResultsMegachip maker Intel has decided that the only way to get around the inscrutable Chinese is to invest in shed loads of scrute and buy its way into the market.

Intel is pouring billions of dollars into expanding its influence in China, where fewer than half the country’s roughly 500 million mobile phone users have smartphones and the market is ruled by Qualcomm.

Intel is apparently trying to use its relationship with PC clients in China as a foot in the door to mobile devices. It is chummy with Lenovo, the No. 1 global PC seller, and its hardware powers a handful of Lenovo smartphones. It is also mates with Chinese internet giant Tencent, which includes a joint research centre, helps ensure that the WeChat maker’s software works smoothly with Intel chips.

Intel paid $1.5 billion in September for a 20 percent stake in state-run Tsinghua Unigroup, which controls two domestic mobile chipmakers. It did not need to spend that much, in some observers thought that it was double the outfit’s value. In December, Intel said it would pay $1.6 billion to upgrade its factory in the central Chinese city of Chengdu, which cost $300 million to build a decade ago. The plant, designed for back-end testing, will absorb some of the work previously done in a shuttered Costa Rican facility.

That appears to suggest that Chipzilla is shifting a lot of its tech to China. The idea being that it will intergrate itself into the local supply chain and impress the Chinese officials, who are having a few problems with Qualcomm. Intel may be more favorably treated by Chinese regulators because of its stake in Tsinghua Unigroup—as well as its willingness to build high-end local labs. So far, Intel hasn’t been touched in China’s crackdown on foreign companies.

The next battle is believed to be for wearable tech and if Intel has invested in Chinese start-ups it might have a leg-up and a way to make these as cheap as possible.

US tech economy suffering because of paranoia

Senator McCarthy On 'Face The Nation'The US economy is officially suffering because its government is not reigning in its paranoid security services.

One of the world’s biggest markets, China, has said that it is no longer using high-profile US technology brands for state buys, amid ongoing revelations about mass surveillance and hacking by the US government.

That means that key brands, including Cisco, Intel, Apple and McAfee — among others — have been dropped from the Chinese government’s list of authorised brands.

The number of approved foreign technology brands fell by a third, based on an analysis of the procurement list. Less than half of those companies with security products remain on the list.

Chinese companies were said to offer “more product guarantees” than overseas rivals. Some claim it has cost the US government many billions of dollars figure on the impact of the leaks.

US companies have been moaning that the activities by the NSA are harming their businesses in crucial growth markets, including China. However, the US government has claimed that its aggressive spying plan meant that Americans were safer and spying on everyone was the only way to catch terrorists.

This included backdoors being placed in US products sold overseas. Those revelations sparked a change in Chinese policy by forcing Western technology companies to hand over their source code for inspection. That led to an outcry in the capital by politicians who accused Chinese companies of doing exactly the same thing, when they hadn’t.

Microsoft said its fourth-quarter earnings that China “fell short” of its expectations, which chief executive Satya Nadella described as a “set of geopolitical issues” that the company was working through.

HP said its fiscal first-quarter earnings had “execution issues” in China thanks to the “tough market” with increasing competition from the local vendors approved by the Chinese government.

However Cisco has been suffering the most. Earlier this month at its fiscal second-quarter earnings, the networking giant said it lost 19 percent of its revenue in China, amid claims the NSA was installing backdoors and implants on its routers in transit.

Intel brings the Joy of X to the Atom

atomIntel has finally woken up to the fact that its esoteric branding of Atom chips is leading to a lot of confusion amongst suppliers and customers.

Historically Intel has thought that customers and suppliers would instinctively know the difference between the Atom Z3735F or the Atom Z3735G.

Now Intel has decided to bring in naming designations which are similar to its Core brands and Xing up Atom at the same time.

New Atom chips will have the X3, X5 and X7 designations. An Atom X3 will deliver good performance, X5 will be better and X7 will be the best, an Intel rep said.

Faster X7 chips for high-end tablets may have better graphics and more wireless connectivity options than X5 chips and will cost more.

Intel’s name change comes ahead of the Mobile World Congress trade show, where Intel is expected to announce new mobile chips. It’s likely that X3 will be the formal name for Atom smartphone chips code-named Sofia, while the Atom X5 and X7 will be names for tablet chips for Cherry Trail.

In 2009, Intel similarly renamed its Core processors, a move met with some opposition among chip enthusiasts. The resistance quickly crumbled as the new names caught on.  It is likely that the Atom name changes will be greeted with the same enthusiasm.

Apple Air gets Broadwell

27151_1_intel_rejects_the_idea_that_they_are_going_bga_only_fullIntel’s disappointingly delayed Broadwell chips have found a customer in the fruity cargo cult in the shape of Apple’s MacBook Air.

From Intel’s perspective this is great news.  Not only will it get a customer for its silicon, the Tame Apple Press will start chanting that the chips are brilliant, innovative and state of the art.

Sure enough ITPro talks about how the “silicon giant’s fifth Generation Core processor” promises 90 minutes extra battery life compared to Intel’s fourth generation.

What appears to be happening is that Apple will use Intel’s new Broadwell-Y Core M processors. Apple thinks that the fact they have 4.5W performance and fanless.

However Apple is not the only one to use this chip. Panasonic is also set to use the chipmaker’s latest release, revealing that the Broadwell processor powers its Toughbook 54 laptop, so has HP.  Toshiba has used the fifth generation Broadwell processors to improve the battery life of its Kira Ultrabook laptops, claiming they now have a 13 hour battery life.

What is a little odd is that the Core M is more of a business chip, being designed for Intel’s wireless offices rather than Apple’s normal consumer users.

It is also very late into the shops as Intel wrestled with the production process.  Apparently, the process took ages to fix the yields. But Intel is into high yields now, and in production on more than one product, with many more to come later this year.

 

Broadwell may be desktop bound after all

privacy-policy-512760_640Rumours that Intel was going to can its plans to bring its Broadwell chip to the desktop are now looking a little shaky.

The tech publication CHW.net claims  that it has confirmed the release of BDW-S and even BDW-K in a few weeks.

A recent roadmap showed showing BDW-K but no BDW-S in Q2 2015 but CHW found that  ASUS has listed support of 5th generation processors on the main spec sheets of various Z97 motherboards.

This might be a little weak evidence.  The specification of 5th generation support has been there for a long time and axing the chip has been a more recent decision.

The ASUS spec also mentions Broadwell-S too, something which has been dropped from the roadmap for ages.

But it is interesting because if BDW-S actually releases, it would mean that the launch of Skylake-S might be delayed a bit further, to allow Intel to make money on it.

 

AMD’s Zen may borrow Skylake features

zen_as_a_frogThe dark satanic rumour mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn that AMD’s  next-generation high-performance micro-architecture code-named “Zen” might have borrowed a few ideas from Intel.

The first central processing units to use “Zen” for client PCs will be the code-named “Summit Ridge” chip that is expected to feature up to eight cores, a DDR4 memory controller, a PCI Express 3.0 controller and up to 95W thermal design power. The chip will use 14nm FinFET process technology by either  GlobalFoundries or Samsung Electronics.

WccfTech claims AMD will return to its traditional practice of introducing server processors powered by the latest microarchitectures first and then follow with chips for client PCs.

Without providing any details, the report claims that the new architecture features certain technologies found in the upcoming Intel “Skylake” processors. We are not sure how AMD could do this without a major court case, but what it could do is implement x86/x87 extensions, enhancements as well as various new instructions introduced by Intel in its central processing units.

Many official and semi-official revelations indicate that Skylight Intel will support AVX 3.2 (512-bit instructions), SHA extensions (SHA-1 and SHA-256, secure hash algorithms), MPX (memory protection extensions), ADX (multi-precision add-carry instruction extensions) and other innovations.

If AMD does run AVX 3.2, it will have to come up with a new floating-point unit (FPU) to run 512-bit instructions. AMD’s FPU currently features two 128-bit FMAC (fused multiply–add capability) pipelines that can be unified into one large 256-bit-wide unit if one of the integer cores dispatches an AVX instruction.

What this means is that if AMD’s “Zen” supports AVX 3.2, will need an all-new FPU that will be different from Bulldozer and will need a fully-fledged 512-bit FPU. Otherwise, execution of 512-bit AVX 3.2 instructions will be slower than an asthmatic ant with a heavy load of shopping.

 

Bohr lays law on Moore

moores-920x460-mooreIntel is working out a way of using Moore’s law beyond the 10  nanometre (nm) node.

Mark Bohr, senior fellow for logic technology development at Intel, told hacks he will take part in a panel discussion on the move beyond 10nm and the many challenges it poses soon.

Per the existing roadmap, the company expects to move to 10nm in 2016 and to 7nm in 2018.

“I still believe we can do 7nm without EUV [Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography] and deliver improved cost per transistor. I’m not going to say exactly how, because our competitors watch what we do closely,” Bohr said.

Intel has published papers on III-V [three-five] devices and that is one of the new materials that CHipzilla is looking at to move to 7nm.  As always Intel is worried about balancing performance against manufacturability .

However all this flags the fact that EUV, for long considered the best bet to replace current 193-nm lithography and extend Moore’s law beyond 10nm, isn’t ready.  In fact it has been half-backed for nearly a decade.

“Scaling does continue to provide lower cost per transistor, and it is Intel’s view that cost reduction is needed to justify new generations of process technology,” he said.

“Going forward, heterogeneous integration will become increasingly important, but we may not be able to do it all on one chip, so you will see more use of SoC solutions such as 2.5D integration, where two are mounted side by side on a substrate, or full 3D integration, stacking chips on top of each other, each one tuned for a different [manufacturing] process to perform different functions, Bohr said.

Stevenson made a rocket for Intel’s bottom line

lal303543Digging among the rubble of Intel’s financial results you can’t help be struck by the ability of CIO Kim Stevenson whose department managed to make the company an absolute fortune in 2014.

Stevenson’s global IT budget was just over $1 billion to provide IT for more than 106,000 denizens – which would be expected to be a black hole on Intel’s balance sheet.   However she managed to generate over $351 million in revenue for the semiconductor maker.

What she did was explain to the accounts department, how her department saved the company money by using the technology that it did.  Speaking to CIO Journal she said that it was important to let the company see behind the curtain and understand how value is generated.

Last year, Intel cut IT spending to 2.3% of revenue from 2.5% in 2012. The company also reduced the number of data centres globally down to 61 in 2014 from 87 in 2011.

Stevenson built several analytics projects which were designed to make the company more efficient, for example the first one involved helping salespeople become more efficient in outbound calls to resellers. The IT team got input about what a sales win looked like and created a probability model based on machine learning. It told the salespeople which resellers to call, in which order.

In 2013, Intel moved a few salespeople over to the new system and after the first quarter, they discovered that those people were five times more productive than their peers, she said.

Then her team helped the sales people change the conversation to tailor specific discussions to the reseller’s interest. In 2014, this initiative accounted for $76.2 million in revenue for Intel.

The company also used analytics to help business management teams make critical decisions related to pricing, such as when to raise or lower product prices and when to use rebates. The IT organization worked for two years to create a data model to help the company better manage prices and inventory. Part of that included a recommendation engine that helped salespeople bundle and cross sell products. Intel has set a $1 billion goal over four to five years to increase revenue.

It all paid off. In 2014, the first year, Intel increased revenue by $264 million. “We did a little better than we thought,” said Stevenson.

Intel is open source king

Intel Q4_14_ResultsThe once famous proprietary chipmaker Intel is set to become the largest contributor to the open sauce Linux.

A report from the Linux Foundation said Intel was the largest corporate sponsor of new contributions to the Linux computer operating system.

This means that Intel has replaced some top notch software companies, having made more than 10,000 more changes to Linux Kernel.

It makes sense, Linux plays a significant role in computers integrated inside communications networks and industrial equipment, which are vital segments for Intel.

Doug Fisher, who heads Intel’s software group, is also on the board of the Linux Foundation he said that Intel wants to explore new markets through its chips by integrating it in wearable computing, connected appliances and mobile technologies. Intel has hired several thousand software developers to assist in developing new features for Linux.

Intel has made $350 million in revenue during 2014 by using a component of the IT infrastructure it supplies, according to the company’s annual IT business review.

The report suggested Intel is exploiting IT services in a better way like data analytics and collaboration tools for “optimized business workflows and [to] unlock new insights” to generate millions of dollars of new revenue.

Intel’s Skylake is delayed

menunggu-godot-samuel-beckettIt is starting to look like we will not see Intel’s new Skylake CPU until the Intel Developer Forum on August 15.

It had been expected that the sixth-gen announcements and corresponding 100-series chipsets would start to appear in the second quarter. But it appears that Intel was just talking about the lowest-end, Core M-branded members of the family.

A plausible recently leaked product roadmap puts both the mobile Skylake-U and desktop Skylake-S on the fast track to third quarter debuts between July and September.

This would suggest that everything is gearing up for a big IDF event.

This is bad news for the likes of Microsoft and hardware manufacturers who look to the release of a new chip to boost PC sales. There is some evidence that some buyers are refusing to upgrade until Skylake is out.

VR-Zone has its paws on a document that not just corroborates the August unveil deadline, but also hints at the aggressive TDPs of some of the roster’s members. The top-of-the-line quad-core K CPU will blow 95 watts of maximum heat, but there will be more energy-efficient 65 and 35W variants.

Of course there are some fears that Intel will make the same mistake that it did with Broadwell which was so late some of us dubbed it the Godot chip.

Intel plans Xeon E7-v3 CPUs with up to 18 Cores

Intel-Core-MIt seems that Intel is planning a version of its Xeon E7-v3 CPU with up to 18 Cores under the bonnet.

 CPU-World.com has dug up a list of specifications for some of the upcoming Xeon E7 series processors from Intel.

The information has not been confirmed by Intel but since the list comes from a CSV (Comma Separated Value) price list for the X-series server products from IBM it is likely to be reliable.

The CPUs based on Haswell are baked using the 22nm process. It seems to be 165 W TDP which is hardly a low power envelope but given that it is running a chip with 18 physical cores at 2.5 GHz it is pretty good.

The list is

Model                                   Cores    Frequency          TDP

Xeon E7-4809 v3               8              2.0 GHz                 115W

Xeon E7-4820 v3               10           1.9 GHz                 115W

Xeon E7-4830 v3               12           2.1 GHz                 115W

Xeon E7-4850 v3               14           2.2 GHz                 115W

Xeon E7-8860 v3               16           2.2 GHz                 140W

Xeon E7-8867 v3               16           2.5 GHz                 165W

Xeon E7-8870 v3               18           2.1 GHz                 140W

Xeon E7-8880 v3               18           2.3 GHz                 140W

Xeon E7-8880L v3             18           2.0 GHz                 115W

Xeon E7-8890 v3               18           2.5 GHz                 165W

Xeon E7-8891 v3               10           2.8 GHz                 165W

Xeon E7-8893 v3               4              3.2 GHz                 140W

 

Core counts range from four through 18 cores, and clock speeds  from 1.9 GHz through 3.2 GHz. More cores operate at lower clock speeds.

No word on price yet but these processors are likely to be very expensive so they are only going to go into server situations where they are going to get shedloads of use.

Intel’s diversity plans revealed

diversityatintel.rendition.cq5dam.thumbnail.606.336Intel’s Rosalind Hudnell is working on an ambitious plan to create a more diverse staff base at Intel.

Hudnell is Intel’s chief diversity officer,  and is responsible for implementing the company’s much publicised $300 million initiative to bring more women and under-represented minorities into its workforce by 2020. Talking to IT World she said that the company is diverse, but not diverse enough.

If she pulls it off she could break Silicon Valley’s dominance by white and Asian males, but she has an uphill battle as efforts so far have been inconsistent

Intel had 107,600 employees worldwide at the end of 2013.  Only 24 percent are women and four percent African-Americans.

Intel does have women top executives including Renee James, who is president, and Diane Bryant, who runs the Data Centre Group. And let us never forget Genevieve Bell. Intel already provides same sex domestic partner benefits; it also offers LGBT and faith- and culture-based resources to workers.  Gender and race diversity is apparently a  little tricky.

Intel is establishing specific numbers on hiring a more diverse workforce and tying executive compensation to meet those goals. However, even with Intel’s renewed commitment to diversity, the company’s workforce will still be just about 32 percent women in five years.

Most of the $300 million will be applied over five years to change hiring practices, “retool human resources”, whatever that means, fund companies run by minorities and women, and promote STEM education in high schools.

The problem is getting talent. Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) degrees are still mostly taken by men. Around 74 percent of computer professionals and 86 percent of engineers are men.

Intel aims to build a larger pipeline of qualified candidates over time by investing in STEM education.

Intel is monitoring its diversity initiative based on 59 measures related to gender, race, education and corporate role. For example, Intel wants employ more women, Hispanic and African-Americans in technical and engineering roles, which are dominated by white and Asian males. A diversity goal for the technical group will be different from the non-technical group, which employs a larger percentage of women.

Intel will also step up investments in companies run by minorities and women. That means change for the capital investment program, which is known for relying on word-of-mouth for funding decisions and being unresponsive to companies seeking investment.

“We’ll be very clear and transparent about what we’re looking for,” Hudnell said. “We’ll have a diverse advisory board that will probably make those decisions,” Hudnell said.

 

Intel thinks it has Apple by the short and curlies

Intel Q4_14_ResultsIt is rare that a company claims to have control of Apple, but it seems that Intel believes that it has Jobs’ Mob wrapped around its little finger.

After ten years working with Apple, there are rumours that Jobs’ Mob is considering ditching Chipzilla and will start making its own Mac chips.  After all Apple already creates its own chips for the iPhone and iPad based on designs from ARM and then has manufacturers like Samsung build them.

The Tame Apple Press thinks that eventually Apple’s ARM chips will be so powerful, Apple won’t need Intel anymore.

But in an interview with Business Insider, Intel’s CFO Stacy Smith brushed off those concerns and  claimed that Intel is so far ahead of the competition when it comes to PC processors that Apple – and just about every other PC maker – has no choice but to use Intel chips.

Smith said that Apple was a  “great partner of ours” and like Intel they like bringing really cool stuff to the market.

Intel’s leadership over the rest of the industry is extending. We’re not delayed relative to the industry. Intel is ahead of the industry, Smith said.

For Jobs Mob that means that if it abandons Intel it will have to lose lots of performance in its new Macs.

Intel thinks that Apple customers would have to take such a big step off performance if Jobs’ Mob abandoned Intel it is not worth it.

Of course, Smith fails to understand that if Apple decided to walk away from Intel, it would simply tell its customers its solution was better and the Tame Apple Press would agree with it. Apple has never been about performance, it has always been about the design and the Apple logo.

 

 

Intel buys German chip company

Intel Q4_14_ResultsGiant US microprocessor combine Intel has paid an unknown amount of money to snap up a Germany chip company.
Lantiq, owned since 2009 by a private equity company makes semiconductors used in different applications including broadband, wi-fi, and fibre connections.
Lantiq was sold to private equity company Golden Gate for a quarter of million euro. Lantiq was originally a wing of Infineon.
It’s believed that the Intel acquisition is part of its attempt to be a major player in the much hyped “internet of things”.
But while there is no doubt that the internet of things will generate a lot of revenue, there is no one standard and other companies, including Qualcomm and Google want to grab a share of that market too.

 

Intel hears Bell and changes its approach

Genevieve_Bell_Workers_in_the_world For years Intel has been an engineer’s company, pushed the technology of its chips, and followed a religion based on shrinking and tick following tock.  However, it seems that its mindset is changing – and it appears to be something to do with the influence of its vice president anthropologist Genevieve Bell.

Yesterday Intel held a product announcement for its 5th Gen Intel Core vPro Processor. In the bad old days we would have been given a spec sheet of all the product’s wholesome goodness and be told how great it was. We would have popped back to the office with a picture of a chip and wrote it up something like “Intel wants a world without wires”.

But the actual technology almost took a back seat – instead there was Bell.

Bell told us about how the workplace was changing along similar lines to the Industrial revolution. The needs of the Industrial revolution created a demand for documentation and lead to the evolution of the typewriter. The typewriter transformed the office and lead to a more diverse workplace, with more women entering for the first time.

Bell argued that technology is doing the same thing now and the workplace is changing and becoming more diverse as older people now work longer and with more ethnic diversity.  This change is as a result of evolving technology and a move to more creative and collaborative business practices.

So what does this have to do with the 5th Gen Intel Core vPro Processor? Answering that question suddenly laid bare Intel’s cunning plan and explains  Chipzilla’s actions of the last few years. The concept of Intel actually having a cunning plan is surprising, after Intel appeared to miss the so-called mobile revolution, we thought its direction was similar to that of a headless chicken, but Bell seems to be encouraging a different role, which it if pulls off could see Intel at the centre of significant workplace change.  Intel is thinking less about the technology, and more about how that technology is going to change the workplace. It is creating small technology combos which could make for bigger changes – not, as it has done in the past in technology, but in the workplace.

Tomasz Klekwski, Intel’s EMEA business market manager said that the technology itself was not enough to bring about the sorts of transformations which Intel wants to take place.  In other words, it is not just the chip – it is how the chip fits into the organisation and what transformations the organisation has a result.

5th Gen Intel Core vPro Processor, for example, has wireless features which enable companies to dump a huge amount of fiddly networking cabling.  It creates technology which can wirelessly and automatically connect to video screens in meeting rooms and charge and connect laptops but also build hot deskwork environments.

All this is a mobile future but it is far different from the consumer based technology being pushed by Apple and its new chum IBM which emphasises tablets, BYOD and simply packages consumer tech for businesses.

It is a vision which has an Intel notebook at its centre – admittedly one that might turn into a laptop, is super-thin and with a long battery life, but Chipzilla’s traditional money-spinner nevertheless.  But listening to Bell and Tom Garrison, Vice President, PC Client Group sell the idea in its historic context it starts to make sense.

As Garrison pointed out – consumer ideas do not work well in the business, and the money is rarely in consumer devices but more in engineering business changes.

The concept that this is all marketing bollocks is not far from the mind of any sceptical journalist, but if you accept the historical approach to the rise of technology touted by Bell you had to admit, Intel is onto something better than simply repackaging consumer fads.

If she is right, then it did not matter too much that Intel missed the mobile computing trend. Sure, it was big enough and should have had a chip in place, but mobile phones and tablets, even the Internet of things are going to be the side-salad in any serious business evolution. It will be small things that make a difference and if you know what the business is evolving into you can make the products it needs.

Intel will have a hard time selling this vision – both to IT journalists and its own staff.  The first thing we noticed yesterday was that Intel suits dominated the poorly dressed media – in fact we had the impression that the meeting was more being held for them. Secondly many hacks walked away from the event to write headlines like “Intel wants a world without wires”. Or to sing the praises of the 5th Gen Intel Core vPro.

But as the meeting pointed out, much of the technology of the 5th Gen Intel Core vPro has been around for a decade and slowly evolving. What Intel is noticing is that people are finally starting to switch on and use its functionality. This suggests that companies are getting what IT hacks and technology companies haven’t – it is not about the technology stupid it is how it creates a change.  If Intel is the only one to gets that, it will be the only one which makes a lot of money as the workplace changes.