Tag: intel

Get ready to wear a smart shirt

fobwatchA survey from Gartner said that less wearable electronic devices for fitness will ship in 2015 because of confusion in the marketplace.

While 70 million wearables will ship in 2014, that figure will fall to 68 million next year.

That is because the entry of smartwatches into the marketplace will have overlap in functionality.

But the figure is set to rise again in 2016 because lower cost machines will be available along with a variety of different designs.

The push to get people to use fitness wearables is being funded by a number of industry giants including Qualcomm, Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Nike and Intel.

Gartner sys the five main form factors are smart wristbands, sports watches, other fitness monitors, heart rate monitor chest straps and so called smart clothes.

This last category has the biggest potential for growth, according to Gartner and so-called “smart shirts” are no becoming available.  The research firm didn’t say whether the next step will be “smart pants”.

While smartwatches will come in many different price range, those costing $150 or over are likely to include accelerometers and gyroscopes but unlike health wristbands will have to tell the time and have the capacity to send and receive texts.

Intel scrambles PC and mobile processor divisions

ScrambledEggIntel has decided to merge its PC and mobile processor divisions under one roof, claiming that the line between tablets and laptops has blurred.

Starting from next year, Intel will form a  division called the Client Computing Group, which will include the teams that develop its Core processors for desktops and laptops, as well as those that develop its Atom chips for smartphones and tablets.

According to an internal email from CEO Brian Krzanich, the changes are supposed to improve lines of communication between product teams and help Intel better reach manufacturers that use its products.

Krzanich said that the market was evolving and Intel must change faster to stay ahead.

He claimed that the days when Intel served the PC market with its Core processors and the smartphone and tablet markets with its low-power Atom chips, were gone. The emergence of hybrid computers, which can switch between a laptop and a tablet, has done much to blur the boundary, he reckons

Intel’s Core M processors, for instance, are used in traditional laptops but also in hybrid computers and tablets. The current structure of the company no longer matches where the market is headed, he said.

Kirk Skaugen, who leads what is called the PC Client Group, will run the Client Computing Group when it’s formed.

The Mobile and Communications Groupwill be broken up. The teams that develop mobile processors will join the new client group, while the remainder, which builds modems, will be part of a new wireless R&D group.

Herman Eul, who leads the mobile group today, will oversee the move to the new structure until at least the end of the first quarter, with a new role for him to be announced after that.

The Mobile and Communications Group reported an operating loss of more than US$1 billion in the third quarter, in part because it has been making payments to tablet makers to encourage them to use its chips. Because of those and other efforts, Intel has said it aims to get its processors into 40 million new tablets this year.

Your car will be watching you

bigbrotherBy 2019 shipments of factory installed driver monitoring systems (DMS) with inward facing cameras will reach 6.7 million in number.

The systems include eye tracking technology which analyses the movements of your eyelids and the direction you’re gazing in and allows for personalisation in your vehicle, security, health tracking, distraction and detection of fatigue, according to market research firm ABI Research.

Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and Volkswagen already have some of these features but Toyota has deployed advanced eye tracking systems in its Lexus brand and both Volvo and General Motors will install similar systems in the future.

And in a further twist, chip companies Nvidia and Intel ears are perking up as they sense business headed their way.

It’s not just cars that will deploy such systems, however.  ABI Research said in its report that companies SmartDrive and Lynx are targeting commercial vehicle fleets.

Intel drives down Chromebook prices

Intel-logoLenovo and Asustek are expected to release Chromebooks next year that will cost $149.

The machines will be powered by Rockchip technology and that is in the embrace of Intel for design and distributing its SoFIA chips, according to Digitimes Research.

The price will be around 25 percent less than the cheapest machine on the block – the C720 from Acer.

But the move is also likely to put Intel at loggerheads with its long time partner Microsoft, which is desperate to knock the Google Chromebook project on the head, and has lowered its licensing fees in a bid to be competitive and keep its place in the notebook market.

The research outfit thinks that both machines will use an 11.6-inch screen. The Lenovo device is likely to appear early next year.

Intel expects Chinese small chipmaker rebellion

1900-intl-forces-including-us-marines-enter-beijing-to-put-down-boxer-rebellion-which-was-aimed-at-ridding-china-of-foreigners-Intel boss Brian Krzanich has been consulting his i Ching and expects ARM to be a spent force in China within a few years.

He claims that new semiconductor partners in China will migrate to Intel and give up on ARM technology more widely used in smartphones and tablets.

Intel this year signed deals with Rockchip and Spreadtrum Communications to use Intel’s technology to make chips for low-cost smartphones and tablets aimed at China’s fast-growing consumer market.

Spreadtrum and Rockchip specialise in smartphone and tablet platforms that are easy for manufacturers to use. At the moment they use ARM technology.

Intel has been writing agreements with the Chinese chipmakers which still allow them to make ARM-based chips, but Krzanich thinks that in a couple of years they will not see the point.

With Qualcomm offering high-end chips based on ARM and Taiwan’s MediaTek attacking the Chinese market with inexpensive chips also designed using ARM, adopting Intel’s architecture is the only way that anyone can offer a way to differentiate with better performance and features.

The only way for small manufacturers to compete is by going to Intel, he reasons.

Intel and Rockchip are working on an Intel-branded tablet SoC, with Rockchip contributing expertise on connectivity, graphics and its experience in China’s domestic market. Spreadtrum, is working with Intel on SoCs expected out next year.

Since both outfits are small, they lack the resources to make separate chips based on Intel and ARM technology over the long term.

Krzanich said Intel might collaborate with more companies there.

Intel’s Skylake is an escargot

Cooked_snailsWord on the street is that Skylake processors may be delayed.

Intel has been promising that Skylight will be in developers paws early 2015 ahead of shipping “by the second half of the year.”

Digitime’s Joanne Chen claims that Skylake will be held back so as not to dent sales of Broadwell-based notebooks.

The report claims that Intel has set the RTM schedule for the Skylake to the 37-47th weeks of 2015 which is the end of August to the end of October.

The later schedule, Chen claims, would damage the release of Windows 10 notebook sales, because Skylake-based models will not be able to reach retail until late September.

“Windows 10-based notebooks are already facing many negative factors that could impact their shipments in 2015: most enterprises are expected to finish their PC replacement by the end of 2014 after Microsoft terminated support for Windows XP; Microsoft will offer free upgrade to Windows 10 for existing Windows 8/8.1 notebooks; and Windows 10 lacks attractive features,” Chen wrote.

While it is possible that Intel has allowed itself room in September for a later ship date without exposing itself to accusations of breaking its promises, the matter of Windows10 is important. The Skylake delay is expected to worsen Windows 10-based notebooks prospects, and may in turn weaken the notebook market’s performance in the second half of 2015.

Intel releases Core M for OEMs

bendIntel has hit the market with a range of faster Core M chips which are hitting the shops just a few months after its first Core M lineup was announced.

Intel has added four more Core M’s to its list. Like the launch chips, these four are dual-core designs that support HyperThreading. Like the earlier chips, these are spec’d with a TDP of 4.5W.

However, these are faster than the launch models, with a base clock speed of 1.2GHz, which is burstable through Turbo up to 2.9GHz.

What really sets these chips apart from the initial Core M models is that their TDP is scalable, based on what the builder wants to do with it. For example if the chip is set to be used in a notebook with very little free space, the OEM could opt to drop the chip down to 3.5W and lose 600MHz in the process. A bulkier notebook could handle a hotter chip better, so a higher TDP can be used. Any one of these new chips could be tweaked to peak at 6W and add 200MHz to the clock. That would put a chip like the M-5Y71 at 1.4GHz, rather than 1.2GHz.

The chips also offer the same flexibility for graphics. The IGP in the initial Core M chips were clocked at 100MHz base, while these new CPUs start at 300MHz. The top-end clock for the top two models can reach 900MHz, whereas some of the launch models peak at 850MHz.

All four of these new models have officially launched, but it is likely that they will not hit the market until early 2015.

Intel impedes Windows 10

Intel-logoA report said that sales of notebooks using Microsoft Windows 10 are likely to be hit because Intel will be tardy releasing an appropriate chip.

Digitimes Research said that the Intel Skylake microprocessor is supposed to be ready at the beginning of the third quarter in 2015 but will probably not hit the streets until the end of next year or even 2016.

The news will plunge Microsoft into the depths of despondency.  It is already taking a hit because uptake of the notoriously shabby Windows 8.x isn’t going to plan.

Windows 10 is supposed to be the summum bonum – that is to say it will work properly because there won’t be a Windows 9.

Digitimes Research estimates that Intel’s delays won’t make the acceptance of Windows 10 any easier and it appears the alliance between Microsoft and Intel is crumbling.

Intel could not be contacted for comment at press time.

The report is here.

AMD faces Nvidia threat

AMD, SunnyvaleNvidia is ahead of AMD on the graphics front and it won’t be until next year that the Sunnyvale firm catches up.

That’s according to financial analyst Sean Chandler, who works for Seeking Alpha.

He said in a note to his clients that the Nvidia “Maxwell” architecture has put AMD under heavy pressure in the consumer graphics arena.  And that’s worry investors and taking its toll on the AMD share price.

Chandler said that while AMD’s restructuring are widely seen as positive, the firm “still needs to release competitive technologies to remain relevant”.

Nvidia Maxwell, he said, means “monumental advancements” in both efficiency and performance.

Nvidia’s 60watt 750Ti is comparable to AMD’s 150 watt R7 260X, he said.  And Maxwell also outforms AMD in performance efficiency per die size.

He added that the rumour mill suggests AMD may respond with 20 nanometre chips now chip foundry TSMC has got the shrink down pat.

He suggests to investors: “AMD is almost certainly not out of the game, but be cautious and don’t pour all of your eggs into one basket.”

Intel readies server shifts

intel_log_reversedRoadmaps seen by sources close to chip manufacturer Intel say there’s a series of sea changes for server chips to be released in the second quarter of 2015.

According to reporters at Taiwanese wire Digitimes, Intel will release processors for servers based on Haswell-EX  as it readies other products for workstations too.

It is scheduled to introduce Skylake Xeons in the third quarter as well as Broadwell Xeons during the third quarter of next year.

That means – as is the tradition at Intel – we’ll see several processors phased out including Xeon Phis, Itaniums and other microprocessors, according to the wire.

Meanwhile the same media says that Intel will manage to ship a milllion units of its so-called “Education Tablets” this year.  The machines are largely aimed at developing markets.  Shipments will exceed three million units in 2015.

Intel revises its pay outs for vendors

Intel-logoIt looks as if Intel will stop providing pay outs – in euphemistic terms – subsidies, for people making mobile phones using its technology.

According to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, while Intel had an apparently sparkling set of financial results recently, it is going to restrict these payouts to all but the biggest players

It is significant that despite these sparkling results, Intel’s mobile unit, as we reported yesterday, was a loss making venture.  Intel beancounters don’t like making losses.

Digitimes said that Intel is concentrating on reducing costs for the bill of materials making up smartphones.  The writing on the wall for Intel has been clear to the chip giant for quite some time.  Vendors using ARM chips and non-Windows operating systems feel a little bit freer to pursue their own path.

According to the same report, Asustek, one of the bigger Taiwanese vendors, ordered over seven million Intel Atom processors but the level of rebates remains unclear.

Asustek will almost certainly continue getting pay offs from Intel because it’s estimated it will soak up at least fifteen million processors during the calendar year 2015.

Chromebooks put pressure on Microsoft

winbookThe success of Chromebooks has forced Microsoft to drop its licensing fees on Windows 8.1 notebooks, in a move that is forcing down prices on the products and is good news for buyers.

According to financial analysts at Seeking Alpha, Samsung has decided to use an X86 processor for its Chromebook 2 – a win for Intel in the X86 stakes.

HP and Acer are already selling Windows 8.1 notebooks for less than $200 and that is likely to create something of a frenzy in the run up to the holiday period.

Seeking Alpha points out that Intel’s mobile chip unit posted an $1.04 billion operating loss for its financial third quarter, despite selling chips for 15 million tablets during that quarter.

Intel is attempting to make “significant reductions in contra revenues next year”, but the financial analysts say X86 mobile chips will carry on losing money.

Samsung has dropped using ARM based processors for its Chromebook in favour of Intel, but the bad news is that most market research shows that sales of tablets are slowing, particularly in mature markets.

Seeking Alpha said: “Intel is losing big money in its quest to sell 40 million tablet chips this year.”

Moore’s Law offered glimmer of hope

Intel-logoResearchers at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have thrown Intel a lifeline in the shape of self assembling molecules.

Alexander Liddle, a materials scientist at NIST pointed out that Intel has just gone into production on a 14 nanometre generation of chips.

Liddle explained that at these sizes the problem is creating multiple masking layers and optical lithography “is simply not capable of reliably reproducing the extremely small extremely densie patterns. There are tricks you can use such as creating multiple, overlapping masks, but they are very expensive,” he said.

He said two pieces of research by NIST, by IBM and by MIT show a way to deposit thin films of a polymer on a template so that it self-assembles into precise even rows 10 nanometres wide.

“The problem in semiconductor lithography is not really making small features – you can do that but you can’t pack them together,” he said.  “Block co-polymers take advantage of the fact that if you make small features relatively far apart, you can put the block co-polymer on those guiding patterns and fill in the small details,” he said.

He’s optimistic that the NIST model will give him accurate results.

Microsoft waves goodbye to Nokia

nokia-lumiaThe Nokia brand name can’t be worth very much because Microsoft is going to ditch it from its line of phones.

It originally planned to use the Nokia name for as long as 10 years but freshly fledged CEO Satya Nadella is obviously revisiting just about everything ex-CEO Steve Ballmer had committed to.

Microsoft bought Nokia for a rather expensive $4.6 billion but the former Finnish mobile phone unit had already seen its fortunes wane.

Microsoft already had a mobile phone division so plenty of people scratched their heads and wondered why it even bothered to pay that much money for a firm that had seen its day.

Microsoft is currently going through a gigantic culling exercise which will see over 12,000 people lose its jobs.

Microsoft, like its long time partner Intel, has never really hit it big in the mobile phone market.

Future phones will be sold under the name of Microsoft Lumia, it appears.

Notebooks to become cheap as chips

notebooksThere is a long held adage about buying notebooks and that is don’t buy them in the fourth calendar quarter.

Intel always release new chips  in the New Year and it’s always wise to wait for that to happen rather than get all excited before Yule.  But just because chip prices will come down in early 2015, don’t rush to buy a new notebook because there is, of course, trouble on the Windows 8.1 scene.

Personally, I need a new notebook and would have bought one by now but for the fact that it’s very hard to buy one with the reasonable operating system Windows 7 any more.  This is because Microsoft, as usual, is behaving like a headless chicken.

Microsoft has a sound track record of getting operating systems and operating environments wrong every other time it releases one.  Just as Vista was a dog, so Windows 7 was pretty good and therefore Windows 8.1 was certain to be a dog.

It has decided not to bother with Windows 9 and its next operating system will be called Windows 10 – a bit of a cause for concern because Windows 9, compared to Windows 8, was probably going to be pretty good but now it’s calling Windows 9, Windows 10, that is a bit of a worry.

There’s other good news on the scene if you’re up for a new notebook, because Taiwanese based market research company Digitimes Research reckons that first tier vendors’ 8GB tablets are going to drop to $99 or less. It claims major Chinese vendor  Lenovo is starting this particular price war.