Tag Archive: chips


In a deal that would be one of the biggest-ever foreign takeovers of a Japanese firm, Applied Materials Inc. agreed to acquire Tokyo Electron Ltd. to create to create a powerhouse provider of chip manufacturing equipment.

The all-stock deal announced by the two companies on Tuesday is effectively a takeover by Applied and values Tokyo Electron at $9.3 billion, a modest premium to its market value of 872.3 billion ($8.8 billion). Shareholders of Applied, valued at $19.7 billion under the deal, will own 68 percent of the new company. Both the CEO and CFO of the new company will come from Applied.

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ejection_seat

The recent management shake-up at chip giant Intel has claimed its first high-profile casualty. Dadi “David” Perlmutter, a well-respected executive VP who had been a leading but unsuccessful contender in the race to succeed former CEO Paul Otellini, will be leaving the company early next year, after 34 years.

Intel confirmed the move in a regulatory filing made public today.

Perlmutter, who heads up Intel’s Architecture group, the business unit that designs and manufacturers its chips that go into personal computers, servers and other devices, will leave the company in February.

After Otellini announced that he would retire earlier than expected last year, Perlmutter (pictured below) was among the candidates who pitched Intel’s board of directors on the CEO job, but lost out to the unusual joint offering of then-COO Brian Krzanich and president Rene James.

david-perlmutter_1

Perlmutter’s departure isn’t entirely surprising. Within days of Krzanich taking over as CEO, there were reports that he had moved to take direct control over Intel’s Architecture Group, and had delegated Perlmutter to a vaguely described transitional role, though Intel never made that role official.

Regulatory filings show that Perlmutter made about $15.7 million in total compensation from Intel last year, and, as of February of this year, he owned 1,968,599 shares of Intel worth nearly $47 million at today’s share price.

Perlmutter, a native of Israel, had long been seen as the company’s “Mr. Inside,” possessing a skill for getting things done. He was less effective at the public-facing portions of the jobs. A keynote he gave in Sept. 2012 – intended to reignite some excitement around Intel’s strategic plans to improve personal computers amid flagging sales – fell pretty flat.

His first big success at Intel came with the Centrino line of mobile processors that launched in 2003 and soon dominated the notebook market. Later, he was responsible for the Core line of chips that effectively replaced Intel’s longtime Pentium brand of PC processors.

Intel shares fell 41 cents, or 1.75 percent, to $23.66. The shares are up by nearly 15 percent this year.

Here’s how Intel described the move in the 8-K filing made public this morning:

“On October 18, 2013, David Perlmutter, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Intel Architecture Group, notified Intel Corporation (“Intel”) of his intention to leave Intel effective February 20, 2014, the 34th anniversary of his start of employment at Intel, to pursue other opportunities in his life and professional career. Throughout his career at Intel, Mr. Perlmutter led many of the product, technology and business transformations at Intel.

Until his departure in February 2014, Mr. Perlmutter will provide transition assistance to Intel’s Platform Engineering Group and on other matters as requested by management and will continue to participate in all applicable Intel compensation and benefit plans and arrangements. Mr. Perlmutter will receive post-employment benefits as described in the “Executive Compensation” section of Intel’s proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 3, 2013, including acceleration of the vesting of certain equity awards pursuant to company policy for employees age 60 or over and relocation assistance under the terms of Mr. Perlmutter’s relocation agreement.”

MacBook Pro

“Apple” and “lower pricing” are not terms you hear very often in the same sentence, but today you will hear it many times over. Apple has quietly cut the price of both the MacBook Pro with Retina display and MacBook Air, and in the case of the MacBook Pro, the specs have been bumped, too.

The entry level 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is now priced at $1,499, where as previously it was $1,699, which is a huge saving. There’s still a $1,699 model, but you get a 2.6GHz dual-core Core i5 processor and 256GB SSD for that extra $200.

Both 15-inch MBP Retina laptops have seen a spec boost. The $2,199 version now ships with a 2.4GHz quad-core Core i7 (previously it used a 2.3GHz chip) and the high-end $2,799 model has had its 2.6GHz quad-core Core i7 replaced with a 2.7GHz chip. The RAM has also been doubled from 8GB to 16GB.

MacBook Air

The MacBook Air retains its existing spec sheet as far as we can tell, but the 13-inch version with a 256GB SSD has had its price reduced by $100 to $1,399.

So if you’re in the market for a MBP or Air, you’re probably really glad you didn’t buy one last week, as you’ve now got an extra $100-$200 to spend on accessories or tweaking some of the components before visiting the checkout. These price and spec changes are available immediately, so either head down to a store or visit Apple online to pick one up.

Ouya console

After breaking a funding record on Kickstarter last year the team behind the $99 Ouya console has been hard at work getting the tiny games console manufactured and shipped to backers. Come June, over 68,000 of them should be in the hands of Kickstarters, and a number of retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, Gamestop, and Target, will be more than happy to sell you one.

That’s not the end of the Ouya, though. Julie Uhrman, Ouya founder and CEO, is already looking to the future and has made a bold promise: every year we will see the hardware used inside the Ouya refreshed in order to take advantage of the latest components. At the same time, the $99 price point will be kept.

The first Ouya uses a Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, but with a yearly refresh that could be replaced with a Tegra 4 twelve months after launch. Depending on prices, even the Tegra 4 may be overlooked for an even more powerful processor by then.

Ouya mainboard (no case)

As the Ouya has a board that just slides out of the case, it seems likely an upgrade program will also be put in place. Existing owners could save a bit of money and just purchase the new board for their existing case rather than a whole new unit, but that’s yet to be confirmed.

Yearly updates is certainly a different approach to a gaming platform, but it’s one that will remove uncertainty for developers at least. If popular, the Ouya will be an ever-present platform, that regularly supports the latest hardware while continuing to support all games that have gone before.

As for the games and their promotion, Ouya is also taking a different approach. The app store will be curated not by sales, but through engagement. So while Angry Birds might sell millions, if a less popular game is played more regularly by its gamer base, it will appear higher in the charts on Ouya and receive more promotion. By doing this, the Ouya team will highlight games people enjoy above those that are marketed heavily and get picked up by everyone.

Most consumers who want to own Apple devices only think about an iPhone, iPod, iPad, MacBook, or iMac. But there is another Apple product that’s aimed at the professional or power home user: the Mac Pro. Prices start at a hefty $2,499, but in return your get a desktop machine with up to 12 cores and therefore a lot of performance.

Unfortunately, Apple has neglected to update or promote the Mac Pro line for quite a while and they still rely on Intel’s Xeon processors. Now it seems even if you do want one, soon you won’t be able to across Europe.

From March, Apple has announced it will no longer be offering the Mac Pro for sale across all countries within Europe. The reason is one of regulatory requirements. Apparently, Amendment 1 of regulation IEC 60950-1, Second Edition comes into effect on March 1 and the Mac Pro power supply and wiring does not come up to spec. So rather than updating the internals of the machine, which Apple clearly doesn’t want to do, it will instead stop offering it for sale.

If you want a Mac Pro you will have to be quick. The existing stock will likely be sold until February 28, but after that Apple probably won’t be allowed to sell any that are left and will end up recycling them rather than shipping them back to the US. Who knows, we may even see a sale of the hardware to clear it nearer the end of the month.

Apple’s failure to update the Mac Pro demonstrates the changing marketplace for consumers. People want Apple laptops or super thin all-in-one desktops like the new iMac. The market for performance desktops and servers, with Apple’s name on at least, has all but disappeared as far as the company are concerned.

via 9to5Mac

Surface

Unlike its competitors, Microsoft has largely stayed out of the hardware business. They have the Xbox and a line of input devices, but coming up with the Surface RT was a big step for them. And the Surface RT is a genuinely different computing experience, one that can be enjoyable in the right circumstances.

Those interested in a laptop replacement may find the Surface RT insufficient, which is why the Surface Pro is being released early next year. Even though the Pro is not yet available, there are some pretty clear areas where I feel the RT version isn’t quite ready for prime time.

Surface

The many keyboards of Surface

I had a lot of hope for the Surface’s keyboard. I’ve noticed that Windows Phone 8 has a fantastic software keyboard — it handles auto-correct well and has excellent logic when it comes to figuring out where your finger is trying to press. The same can not be said for Windows RT, unfortunately. The virtual keyboard has pretty good auto-correct, but the layouts for both docked and split modes leave much to be <a href="http://xphonegadget.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/waterproof-ipod-shuffle-green-4th-gen-2gb-by-underwater-audio-free-and-discounted-waterproof-headphone-promotion/&quot; title="Waterproof iPod Shuffle GREEN (4th Gen 2GB) by Underwater Audio – Free and Discounted Waterproof Headphone Promotion! <>” target=”_blank”>desired. The split keyboard, for example, makes the keys either too small or positions the keys away from the edge of the tablet. As a result, I am not nearly as capable a typist on the Surface’s virtual keyboard as I am on an iPad or Android tablet.

Fortunately, Microsoft released two different very clever keyboards for the Surface. There’s the Touch Cover, a buttonless touchpad with grooves and raised “keys” that allow you to type in much the same way you do on a virtual keyboard. It takes about a day of serious typing to get used to, but once you do adjust the keyboard a very good experience. Then the Type Cover is available for those of us who would prefer to hit press-able keys when typing. The Type keyboard feels about twice as thick as the Touch Cover, which adds a little to the bulk of the tablet when carrying it around, but the keyboard works well and will mean more words per minute for almost all users.

Neither of these keyboards use the same auto-correct as the virtual keyboard, so when you misspell something there’s no pop-up or suggestion to replace. You are left with that menacing red squiggle as though you were using a regular laptop. To make things all the more frustrating, the Touch Cover does offer a basic form of auto-correct where the OS assumes you meant to type a word and corrects it without even warning you. This seems to only happen if the keyboard detects your fingers on more than one key, and then it makes a judgement call for you. While this sounds really helpful, it’s somewhat maddening to see some words change right in front of you without warning or explanation while completely ignoring other words that you have clearly misspelled.

Surface

A barren wasteland of apps

When I first booted up the Surface RT I knew that the app selection wasn’t going to be stellar. I have been using Windows 8 on my desktop since the Developer Preview (in other words, over a year), and have watched as the slow trickle of apps seeped into the corners of the Windows Store. It makes perfect sense — neither iOS nor Android had a bustling ecosystem at launch, and there is a clear chicken-and-egg issue that must be dealt with. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a ton of developers interested in making quality RT apps and Microsoft isn’t making any public cries for help, like Google did in the early days.

This situation is made worse when you see paid apps for things like “meme generation”, basic services that are available on dozens of websites for free. This is not unique to the Windows Store, it also plagues iOS and Android, but when crapware like this show up in the recommended rotation you’ve got a problem. Because Microsoft can’t let the store appear stagnant by promoting the same 30 apps, occasionally you open the Windows Store and see offerings that are clearly not something anyone would recommend.

Surface

The perils of Desktop Mode

Desktop Mode is the place you go to when you want to be productive. It allows you to escape the Modern UI (formerly known as Metro) and go back to the real world with, you know, windowed apps. It works great on my desktop and the Windows 8 laptops I have tested. Sadly Desktop Mode isn’t touch friendly, which puts the Surface RT at a disadvantage.

While the Touch Cover and Type Cover do include trackpad areas, they are quite tiny and not particularly comfortable to use for more than a few minutes. For the most part this is fine because the Surface is a tablet. Because of the touchscreen you would ideally never need a mouse, unless maybe you were on a website that wasn’t formatted for touch. Explorer for Windows 8 includes a lot of functions that make touch use easier. For example, folders include select all functions and when you long press you can get to the right-click pretty quickly. Selecting multiple items out of a folder or trying to use any of the menu options in the top right of a given window are just a few of the things in Desktop Mode that aren’t particularly finger friendly.

Doing anything at all on the taskbar, aside from accessing pinned apps, is just a bad idea. The icons are way too small and you will miss more often than not. This isn’t such a big deal on Surface RT, since not a lot happens in the taskbar. For the Surface Pro, especially if you install a lot of apps that prefer the desktop for use, this is going to become a problem pretty quickly. Since the Surface Pro isn’t out yet, there’s not a lot to say about how Microsoft plans to handle that.

Commendable, but not recommendable

My time with Microsoft’s first attempt at their own tablet confirmed that a Surface Pro is something I am interested in. The Surface RT hardware is fantastic, combining everything I want out of a 10-inch tablet and everything I want out of a travel laptop. I feel like Windows RT struggles to compete with Chrome OS, and I hope that Microsoft is learning from some of the things that aren’t quire right with this first Surface and makes sure that the release of Surface Pro goes off without a hitch. Otherwise, I’m afraid that the first generation may be the only generation of Surface.

Read more: 5 cool Surface RT features

Arduino Power Strip

For those of us that keep servers at home, for whatever reason, the jump between consumer grade and professional grade hardware can be significant. While it has gotten much cheaper in recent years to build a server, things like networking equipment and power management remain fairly expensive. One of the most useful tools in a server admin’s arsenal when trying to remotely manage hardware are power strips that can force a server to power cycle by cutting power to the outlet. It’s not something you do often, but it’s can come in handy. Recently Alberto Panu released the details to a project that takes an Arduino and turns it into a Telnet-capable power strip.

Like any Arduino project that requires playing with electricity, this is not for the casual enthusiast. The project details a DIY method to build a box that allows you to connect up to six items to mainline power and control them by logging in to the microcontroller in the box and issuing commands to either cut power entirely or cut power and then restore ita connected device. This same project could be easily adapted for a much simpler power strip that used residential outlets, but that is very different from what was done here.

Arduino Power Strip

Once the box was built, all you would need to do in order to use it would be to log in via Telnet. For example, if you had a terminal client installed on your phone you could login and control the power from anywhere.

While this implementation is certainly a bit more industrial than what an average tinkerer would build in their free time, it is undeniably cool to see Arduino used in such a way.

More at Panu.it

Ever since Apple introduced the new iPad with a very high resolution display everyone has been waiting for the competition to catch up. Apple then leaped further ahead by adding similar high resolution panels to its MacBook Pro line of laptops. More recently we’ve seen Linus Torvalds suggesting that 2560 x 1600 should be the standard laptop screen resolution, and Google/Samsung introducing the Nexus 10 tablet with a 2560 x 1600 display.

While all that has been going on, Hitachi, Sony, and Toshiba created a new company called Japan Display (JD). Its main purpose was to innovate and develop new display technology. Six months of R&D later, and JD is showing off three new displays and a range of tech at FPD International 2012 in Japan.

The three panels offer HD solutions for smartphones, tablets, and vehicles. There’s a 5-inch 1080p panel that’s 438ppi (a little below Sharp’s new 5-inch screen), a 7-inch 2560 x 1600 panel that’s 431ppi, and a 12.2-inch 1920 x 720 curved display for use in cars. But it’s the new technology that makes these panels stand out as much as their high resolutions.

Both the 5- and 7-inch panels feature JD’s WhiteMagic, Pixel Eyes, and IPS-NEO technology and come in at under 1mm thickness. WhiteMagic supplements the typical red, green, and blue pixels in a display with white pixels. That means you can still view a bright image on the screen even if the backlight is turned off. The advantage of this is two-fold. By turning the backlight off more often you save on power and extend battery life. No backlight and white pixels also make it easier to see the display outdoors.

Pixel Eyes is JD’s method of integrating the capacitive touch-panel directly on to the display. This means the touch display can be thinner, but also is more sensitive to touch input. JD believe this will allow for better pen input alongside the more typical finger tapping. Another benefit of combining the panel and the display is less reflections, which again improves the visibility of the display in a range of lighting conditions.

Finally there’s IPS-NEO, which is JD’s latest iteration of IPS technology. Quite simply it improves the viewing angles of the display as well as increasing the contrast. Overall it’s a better display even before you add in WhiteMagic and Pixel Eyes.

Japan Display hopes to have the smartphone and tablet displays in mass production next year. As for the curved car display, it looks like a work in progress, but gives us a hint at a future where vehicles no longer have any real instrumentation on the dash–it will just be one or multiple displays.

via DigInfo.tv

Color Epaper Video

Every day it feels like there are more e-paper gadgets in the world. E-book readers such as the Kindle are the most common, but every once in awhile you see some new idea using the technology in a bid to replace real paper or something fun like that.

These displays offer a low power and low cost solution for displaying static information (text and graphics). With color e-paper displays, like the Mirasol e-paper, companies will be able to offer flexible displays with magazine style graphics. While a color e-reader sounds impressive, one company has gone a step further and figured out how to get video working with the display technology.

Project Vivit wasted no time in showing off their new technology, rushing the very first functioning prototype to a trade show floor in Japan this week. The 6-inch display played a color video of an ice thickness map, though it is unclear what the actual frames per second or the resolution of the display is. Since it’s e-paper, the colors on offer are pale but solid. It’s easy to see the colors, but they do not stand out vibrantly as you would expect on a traditional LCD panel.

Vivit is an e-paper sign company, and has stated that they have no intention of manufacturing an e-reader or any other consumer grade device. This technology is being developed for their customers, who want signs that will allow for basic animations rather than full on commercials. Since e-paper displays are flexible and can easily be made weatherproof, it’s not hard to see why this will be of interest to advertisers.

Since there’s no real technical specifications being made public yet for the display, it’s hard to gauge exactly how useful that display would be in something like an e-reader anyway. A video-capable, full-color e-book reader would be an impressive piece of technology, especially when you consider the current pricing and battery life of similar products on the market today.

via Tech-On!

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