Vuzix has told the world+dog that the small time chipmaker Intel has invested $24.8 million in the company to speed up the launch of its internet-connected specs.
Intel bought preferred stock that is convertible into common shares equivalent to 30 percent of Vuzix, Vuzix said in a press release.
New York-based Vuzix develops computerised, internet-connected glasses and other video eyewear aimed at consumers, businesses and entertainment. Intel is dead keen to get its foot in the door of such market having been too late into the smartphones and tablets fad.
It is the second big deal to be announced in a month. In December, Italy’s Luxottica said it was joining forces with the US chipmaker to develop glasses that combine its top fashion brands with technology that could allow wearers to access information about their health or location.
Intel has also teamed up with watch retailer Fossil and fashion brand Opening Ceremony to develop wearable devices such as fashion bracelets with communications features and wireless charging.
It is all early days yet, but it seems that Intel is preparing the ground.
Money that Intel has diverted to notebook manufacturers to stimulate demand for the machines is set to dry up next year.
That’s according to Taiwanese government quango Market Intelligence and Consulting (MIC), which also predicts the PC industry will flatline or even fall during the year.
Analyst Charles Chou told the Taipei Times that firms that got subsidies from Intel in an attempt to push notebook sales will find themselves out of pocket when Intel cancels the subsidies. He said that the only growth areas were likely to be Chromebooks and sales of machines to educational markets.
But in brighter news he said that we’ll all see more affordable 4K LCD TVs in 2015. He expects that the market wordwide will hit close to 30,000 units.
But if you don’t want a 40-inch or above LCD TV, the news is not too bright. 32-inch panels don’t have big margins and the manufacturers are concentrating their efforts on making ever bigger LCD TVs, in a pursuit of healthier profits.
However, the manufacturers can’t pull the plug on 32-inch or smaller LCD TVs because people in many countries don’t have the money to spend on mega TVs.
It’s also likely they don’t have the space, either.
A number of vendors plan to release large screen Chromebooks in the first half of 2015 with prices set to challenge Wintel based notebooks.
Google has laid out a reference framework for Chromebooks which means they will cost less than $300 per unit, according to a report from market intelligence firm Digitimes Research.
Dell and Acer will take the lead in cutting prices, with the former introducing a 15.6-inch Chromebook and Acer will introduce a model with the same size screen early next year.
Both are set to use Intel’s Broadwell-U microprocessor and the prices will mean stiff competition as Microsoft wants its hardware partners to produce notebooks costing less than $250.
However, Microsoft cannot hope to get hardware vendors to make Windows 8.1 with Bing machines for the same price point and with similar performance. Although Microsoft has cut licensing fees for Windows in an attempt to beat off competition from Chromebooks, the bill of materials to make notebooks precludes screens 15 inches and above.
Average selling prices (ASPs) of Intel based ultrabooks and tablets fell by close to eight percent this year in all markets worldwide.
ABI Research said that household income needed to buy either a tablet or ultrabook fell by 30 percent during the year, giving access to many new households.
The market research company surveyed 22 different countries between 2013 and 2014 and estimates ASPs fell by 8.5 percent for tablets and 7.1 percent for ultrabooks.
The price drops mean a wider range of countries can now afford the gadgets and even though growth is falling for both types of devices, analyst Stephanie Van Vactor said “affordability could help prevent a drastic decline in sales”.
The affordability index is highest for the US, Japan and Germany, but some countries showed a marked decline in prices. She said Chile, for example, saw a fall in prices of 56 percent for both ultrabooks and tablets.
But India saw an increase in prices of 22 percent for the devices.
Van Vactor estimates we’ll continue to see competition increase and that means prices will once again fall next year.
Intel has pledged to write a cheque for at least $550 million in the Promised Land over the next five years.
This is part of Intel’s promise to spend a total of $6 billion to upgrade its Kiryat Gat plant for the manufacture of new advanced chips for its next generation devices.
The $550 is part of Intel’s offset purchase arrangement with the state, which is providing the company with grants of up to $600 million over the next five years as well as a major tax break through 2023. Intel will get two $300 million grants, distribution of which will be spread over five budget years.
Although these figures look great for Chipzilla, executives will be happier with the news that it will only have to pay a corporate tax of only five percent until 2023. Others in Israel have to give the tax man 26.5 percent. In return, Intel committed to hiring at least 1,000 new employees, at least half of whom will be residents of communities in southern Israel. In addition, the company promised to spend at least $550 million.
Intel is committing to spend what it is getting from the government in direct grants, but the Economy Ministry claims the arrangement was great for the Israeli economy.
“This arrangement will have a very positive effect on hundreds of small businesses and suppliers,” said Ziva Eiger, director of investments at the Industrial Cooperation Authority.
“Offset agreements such as this are platforms for leveraging public expenditures for the benefit of the Israeli economy, both for training and encouraging further expansion of small suppliers for the local and world market, and to enhance Israel’s brand as an attractive place for foreign investment,” Eiger added.
“As a result of this agreement, Israelis can look forward to thousands of more jobs being available. It is a model for offset agreements that can provide benefits to all sides.”
Revenue from worldwide sales of semiconductors will rise by nearly 10 percent this year, its strongest performance since 2010.
Figures released by IHS Technology show that global revenues will be worth $353.2 billion this year, a rise from $322.8 billion in 2013.
Dale Ford, chief analyst at IHS, said the growth is broad based – a nearly all semiconductor suppliers have benefited.
IHS segments the semiconductor market in 28 ways, and Ford said that 22 of those have grown this year, compared to 12 showing growth in 2013.
DRAM and flash memory were the movers and shakers in the market, and while revenues for those sectors have risen by around 20 percent, other segments are also showing healthy growth.
DRAM and light emitting diodes (LEDs) have shown growth, and microprocessor markets are also showing strong growth.
Mediatek and Avago are showing strong growth in the semi league table.
The top five players, as the following table shows, are Intel, Samsung, Qualcomm, Micron, SK Hynix and Texas Instruments.
Intel and Chinese e-commerce giant jd.com have signed a deal with each other to create a new type of laboratory.
According to the Xinhua news agency, both companies will work on creating 3D product displays and “visual fitting rooms”, smart hardware, and servers for enterprises for promoting online shopping.
Xinhua said jd.com is one of the world’s top 10 internet companies and Intel will help it improve its existing e-commerce services as well as working on new applications related to ID authentication, security, and database monitoring.
Jd.com has something like 25 million registered users.
No financial details of the deal between the two corporations was released.
Intel has been trying to reposition itself in the last 18 months as more of a general purpose corporation, rather than just a manufacturer of X86 chips. It also wants a chunk of the lucrative pie known as the internet of things, and is still desperate to make its mark in the mobile and tablet markets.
This deal, then, is something of an oddity.
Server company Rackspace has joined an IBM inspired server group, snubbing its primary chip supplier, Intel.
The Openpower foundation was formed a year ago and has something like 80 worldwide members, working on producing server technology built using IBM rather than Intel microprocessor architecture.
The group already has members including Nvidia, Tyan and Google.
Rackspace has been working behind the scenes with the group for over 18 months, but openly declared its hand yesterday. Senior director Aaron Sullivan said that Openpower has an open firmware stack, and better access to chips, memory and storage than, for example, Intel.
Other additions to the powerful consortium include Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Mumbai Indian Institute of Technology, and worldwide distributor Avnet.
Openpower said its first summit will be held mid March at the San Jose Convention Center in California.
Bitter semiconductor rivals Intel and AMD are set to up the stakes in 2015 with a fresh assault on the tablet market.
Both companies are often seen as the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of the chip market, continually foraying into battles where no one actually gets hurt.
But Digitimes, which is privy to both companies’ future roadmaps, said that they’ll foray out once more in an attempt to capture some slice of the tablet pie – estimated to represent 200 million units in 2015.
Intel has been forced to provide subsidies to companies in an attempt to bolster its rather feeble market share in the tablet and mobile markets.
It will kick off the show by releasing a system-on-a-chip (SoC) device codenamed Cherry Trail, which will be built using a 14 nanometre process and may be with the world as early as March next year. The chip will have lower power consumption and support Windows and Android operating systems, said the wire.
But AMD is not going to stand still after receiving that SoC on the jaw. It will introduce an X86 device dubbed Nolan, and an ARM device called Amur in the second half of next year.
While most people haven’t even moved to 4G phone networks yet, manufacturers are already talking about standards for the next faster generation of 5G phones.
Major vendors are engaging with the formal standards process, according to ABI Research. Those include Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung, mobile operators and academic bodies.
Research director Philip Solis sad: “These companies are all waving their 5G flags, although 5G definitions and visions remain very vague. But this is not merely marketing. These companies are most certainly putting a stake in the ground that will leverage their, work, competitive strengths, and, most crucially, patents.”
He said that Qualcomm in particular is keeping its head low, but other vendors such as Apple and Google are getting actively involved.
Solis said that efforts by vendors to use their patents will be fiercer than for 4G.
But despite the competitive edge, Solis said that companies are working together “so the standardisation process can hit the ground running”.
Intel’s recently announced plans to invest shedloads into its Chengdu plant might be revealing much about its cunning plan for the future.
The move was a little unusual, as it did not come with the huge tax breaks and other sweeteners that Intel has required from Israeli governments and the US. This indicates that Intel needed a plant in China.
The move followed another similar-sized investment aimed at consolidating China’s wireless chip sector. The smart money suggests the two moves are linked Intel wants China to become a major centre for the company’s belated push into wireless chips.
Intel could be positioning both of these plants to manufacture smartphone chips. Intel failed to recognise the importance of mobile devices earlier, with the result that most of the market is now dominated by companies like sector leader Qualcomm, and mid-sized players like MediaTek, which mostly use chips based on an architecture supplied by European chip giant ARM.
Beijing wants to create a homegrown player to take down Qualcomm but its domestic chip sector consists of mostly small design houses that lack the resources to become major global players.
Unigroup, which is based out at the Tsinghua University, merged two of the biggest domestic players, Spreadtrum and RDA Microelectronics, into a single company. Intel joined that initiative in September, when it purchased 20 per cent of the new company for $1.5 billion. This makes it bigger than China’s largest chipmaker SMIC.
What Intel appears to be doing is getting itself onside with the Chinese and helping their domestic chip making plans with the idea of getting a foot in the door behind the bamboo curtain. Antitrust watchdogs are less likely to snap at its heels, or treat it as a problem, like they do Qualcomm and in the long term, it will have its fingers in the pies of a growing Chinese chip industry.
The Dark Satanic Rumour Mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn which claims that Intel has bumped off its Broadwell H range.
The rumour is based on pure speculation and common sense. Earlier this year Intel told the world that it would be launching its low-power Broadwell processors in “early spring” and Kirk Skaugen, who heads up Intel’s PC Client Group, showed a roadmap to prove it.
Spring was expected to see millions of units in preparation for a very early spring fifth-generation Core launch of our traditional Celeron, Pentium, Core i3, i5, i7 which will be on Broadwell-U and Skylake in the second half of 2015.
But the higher-powered quad-core variants of Broadwell such as the Broadwell-H and Broadwell-M were not mentioned but were expected in “work week 29” and “work week 36” in 2015. That would mean late July to early September.
But if Skylake also appears in the second half of 2015, it seems that Broadwell chips is surplus to requirements. Intel could go traight to Skylake for the higher-performance notebook models — after all . Skylake has a better CPU core, graphics and media subsystem than Broadwell.
Axing of Broadwell could also be a return to the “tick-tock” method for Intel. Skylake fully ramped in the second half of 2015 means that Intel could conceivably mean that the 10-nanometer Cannonlake product will be ready for deployment for back-to-school in 2016.
Intel has said that it will write a $1.6 billion cheque to upgrade its factory in the city of Chengdu in western China.
The surprise move shows how Chipzilla is deepening ties in a market that is proving increasingly troublesome for rivals like Qualcomm. It also is unlikely that Intel got the sort of sweeteners for the deal which it expects from the US and Israeli governments to set up shop.
Intel said it will receive local and regional government support for construction, but it would be less likely to be the sort long term tax perks that Intel is used to.
Intel executive vice president William Holt said in the statement. “The fully upgraded Chengdu plant will help the Chinese semiconductor industry and boost regional economic growth.”
The announcement comes three months after Intel purchased a minority stake in a government-controlled semiconductor company to jointly design and distribute mobile chips, an industry that China considers to be of strategic importance.
Intel is doing better in China than Qualcomm which is expected to announce that it is writing a huge cheque to make Chinese antitrust regulators go away.
China’s investigation into Qualcomm and Microsoft have prompted an outcry from foreign business lobbies. They say the Chinese government is increasingly adopting strong-arm tactics to yield technology-sharing or other arrangements beneficial to domestic industry.
Analysts say there is a broad recognition that foreign companies must do more to stay in China’s good graces.
Chipzilla has taken the approach that if you want the Chinese government to like you, you have to invest in the local industry.
Dell and Intel have interviewed over 5,000 people with jobs to find out what they think about technology.
It is stating the obvious to say both Intel and Dell want small, medium and large organisations in the 12 countries they surveyed to buy more tech, rather than less.
What’s completely clear is that the days of X86 dominance are well and truly over. Tablet use is growing, and 81 percent of employees want their devices to perform well. Low powered Celeron, i3 and i5 chips don’t really cut the mustard here.
Although 97 percent of people spend some time in their employer’s office, 35 percent work in public places for at least two hours a week.
Offices are a problem and 48 percent of the employees are continually distracted with one in five people wearing headphones to cut out the white noise.
A staggering 51 percent of people in their offices don’t talk to their physical neighbours but send them instant messages or emails instead.
A lot of people who work from home benefit from the lack of distraction, with 30 percent sleeping more, and 46 percent being less stressed. But even this is no paradise as their time is taken up by nuisances such as spouses, children, parents and pets.
Here’s good news for Intel and Dell. Some feel poor technology holds them back and stops them pursuing their careers.
An astonishing 92 percent believe voice recognition will be used instead of keyboards, 87 percent think tablets will supplant laptops, 87 percent think all computers will use hand gestures and 88 percent think keyboards and mice will be obsolete pretty soon.
Intel has been doing its best to explain why its Braswell chip has been delayed.
For those who came in late, Braswell was supposed to be a 1Q 2015 launch, but it kept being delayed. The latest news is that it will not be seen in the shops until June and August 2015.
Kirk Skaugen, who heads up the company’s PC Client Group said the main reason was cost.
Intel has been having problems getting its 14 nanometer manufacturing technology to yield at economically acceptable levels. Although the company describes the current yield rate of its 14 nanometer technology as being in a “healthy range,” Intel indicated that the yields still are not where the prior generation technology was at this stage of its ramp.
Broadwell costs will actually remain higher than those for the 22 nanometer Haswell family of products until the third quarter of 2015.
This is all very tricky considering that Braswell is intended to be a very low-cost part for entry-level desktops and notebooks. While Intel can take a couple of quarters of elevated costs to get Broadwell right for the higher-value segments of the PC business, it has the luxury of waiting until Braswell’s manufacturing costs are lower than last year’s 22 nanometer Bay Trail’s costs for more cost-sensitive PCs.
Intel has been all about platform cost reduction with Bay Trail-M/D and has been working to reduce the platform bill of materials costs for its Bay Trail-M/D products. Since the low-end PC market is focused more on cost than on performance, these Bay Trail products may continue to hold their own against AMD’s newly announced Carrizo-L until Braswell arrives.