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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nokia loses its magic touch

Once the darling of the booming cellphone business, and still the largest handset maker, Nokia has become a Finn sandwich. I predict its PC and cellphone competitors will surround and slowly eat the market leader.

Nokia's latest products tell the story of its loss of leadership.

The N900 announced late last week is Nokia's attempt at an iPhone killer. In fact, Nokia has already lost the battle for smart phone dominance and even the race to be a runner up to the iPhone.

While the company experimented with Internet tablets, Apple not only launched the most compelling mobile experience for access the Web, it defined the smart phone battle as PC 2.0—having the biggest, most active ecosystem of software developers.

For a year or more Apple's ads have been trumpeting the notion that for any cool idea you might think of it has "an app for that." Behind the scenes of its fight for consumer mindshare, Apple has rallied developers behind a solid OS based on a subset of its well known desktop software. Kleiner Perkins' $100 million venture capital fund for iPhone app startups didn't hurt, either.

By contrast, the N900 is based on Maemo, Nokia's Linux variant which has been rarely by the company despite five generations of development. Developers are getting mixed messages from Nokia about whether they need to support Maemo, the upcoming open source version of Symbian Nokia is developing or Moblin, the mobile Linux variant of Nokia's new design partner, Intel.

No doubt there are some lively meetings in Espoo on this issue these days. Meanwhile, Apple is winning the smart phone battle, and developers are getting the idea that the Google Android OS might morph into their second-best bet, an iPhone like environment for the rest of us. After all HTC and Samsung are already shipping iPhone-like Android handsets.

While Apple has taken leadership of the consumer smart phone, Research in Motion is doing a decent job hanging on to its lead in the corporate world. It has long owned this market with the "Crackberry," the addictive handset for mobile email. It is already selling its Storm and Bold handsets that deliver iPhone-like cachet to its business users while Nokia is still getting the N900 ready for an October release.

Make no mistake, the N900 is a great design. It packs a Texas Instruments OMAP 3430 with the ARM Cortex-A8 processor, up to 1Gbyte of application memory and OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics acceleration. It supports 10/2 HSPA, Wi- Fi and Adobe Flash 9.4. It has 32Gbyte of storage expandable to 48Gbyte and a 5Mpixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics.

One heck of a device—and at an estimated 500 Euros ($710) —one heck of a price. Were it not for the high price, slowness to market, software confusion and wide availability of alternative handsets, it might have been a decent but distant number two to the iPhone.

Motorola gets back in the game with Android phone

Playing catch up in the rapidly evolving smart phone market, Motorola Inc. unveiled its first Android-based handset and a proprietary service designed to emphasize social networking applications.

The service, Motoblur, syncs contacts, posts, messages, photos and other items from multiple sources including email accounts and social networking services like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, and automatically delivers them to the smart phone's home screen.

"We really believe that Motoblur is going to be a differentiator for us," said Motorola Co-CEO Sanjay Jha, in introducing the product at the GigaOM Mobilize '09 conference here.

Motorola's new 3G handset will be known as Cliq in the United States and Dext elsewhere in the world, Jha said. It will be available in the United States later this quarter exclusively through T-Mobile, and in other parts of the world sometime in Q4.

Cliq features a 3.1-inch HVGA touchscreen display, a 5Mpixel auto focus camera with video capture and playback at 24fps, a 3.5mm headset jack, a music player with pre-loaded Amazon MP3 store application, Shazam, iMeem Mobile, and a pre-installed 2Gbyte microSD memory card with support for up to 32Gbyte of removable memory, according to Motorola.

Back in the game
After a string of successful products including the popular Razr, Motorola has slipped in recent years. The firm now ranks fourth in the world among handset manufacturers, trailing Nokia, Samsung and LG Electronics. In smart phones, Motorola has been outshone by Apple, Palm, Research in Motion, Samsung and others. Jha acknowledged that the company was in need of compelling new phones.

"It finally looks like Motorola is putting out more competitive devices, which for a while has been a problem," said Allan Nogee, a principal analyst at InStat, of the Cliq introduction.

Tina Teng, senior analyst for wireless communications at market research firm iSuppli Corp., said while Motorola has had a pretty successful smart phone available in China, the firm has lagged behind competitors in the North American market. Teng noted that the success of the Cliq depends not only on the performance and capabilities of the device itself, but also the community developing applications for Android.

"For smart phones, the competition is not in the hardware itself, but the applications," Teng said. "I would expect Motorola added on their own applications, which can be totally different from what we have seen in G1."

The G1, made by HTC Corp., was the first Android-based handset introduced in the U.S. last year.

Nogee said Motorola's entry into the Android-based smart phone market is certainly late, and that the company has foundered for a few years, losing significant market share. But he added that cellphone users are pretty fickle and likely to buy one brand of phone one time and another the next.

Sony to bring 3D viewing to the home

Sony Corp. announced plans to lead the way in delivering new 3D viewing experiences by bringing 3D to the home in 2010. The company will continue to accelerate its efforts across the Sony Group to create both attractive 3D hardware and content, and provide new forms of 3D enjoyment.

Sony's 3D compatible BRAVIA LCD TVs incorporate frame sequential display and active-shutter glass systems, together with its proprietary high frame rate technology to enable the reproduction of full high definition high-quality 3D images, and will form the centerpiece of Sony's 3D entertainment experience for the home.

In addition to 3D compatible BRAVIA LCD TVs, Sony will also develop 3D compatibility into many more of its devices, such as Blu-ray disc products, VAIO and PlayStation3, to provide a multitude of ways in which 3D content—from 3D movies to stereoscopic 3D games—can be enjoyed in the home.

In the growing industry of 3D cinema, Sony has supported and driven the expansion of 3D by providing a wide variety of professional equipment for the shooting, production and screening of movies in 3D. The number of digital 3D screens is increasing rapidly, and is expected to reach 7,000 by the end of 2009. In addition to 3D movies, Sony's range of professional 3D products is also driving the growth of 3D production and distribution across a range of entertainment industries, from theater and music performances to sport and beyond.

Embracing the "make.believe" (make dot believe) philosophy, which signifies the company's ability to turn ideas into reality, Sony will strive to further enhance synergies across its group companies. Sony will leverage its wealth of technology and engineering resources spanning both professional and consumer markets to bring the optimum 3D viewing experience to the home, from 2010 and beyond.

Intel tips ultra small solid-state drive for handheld apps

Intel Corp. announced its latest entry into the solid-state drive market with the Intel Z-P140 PATA solid-state drive designed for handheld mobile devices. Smaller than a penny and weighing less than a drop of water, these 2Gbyte and 4Gbyte ultrasmall devices are fast, low-power and rugged, with the right size, capacity and performance for mobile Internet devices, digital entertainment and embedded products, said Intel.

SSDs use flash memory to store operating systems and computing data, emulating hard drives. The Intel Z-P140 PATA SSD has an industry standard parallel-ATA (PATA) interface and is optimized to enhance Intel-based computers, and will be an optional part of Intel's Menlow platform for mobile Internet devices debuting in 2008.

The Intel Z-P140 is the smallest SSD in its class, making it attractive to designers and manufacturers of mobile and ultra-mobile devices. Comparatively, the Intel Z-P140 is 400 times smaller in volume than a 1.8-inch HDD, and at 0.6g is 75x lighter. It is also a much more durable alternative to HDDs.

The 2Gbyte and 4Gbyte capacities are large enough to store mobile operating systems, applications and data such as music or photos. It is extendable to 16Gbyte for added storage capacity.

"Our mission is to provide world-class non-volatile SSD and caching solutions that are designed, optimized and validated to enhance Intel Architecture-based computing platforms," said Pete Hazen, director of marketing for Intel's NAND products group. "Our customers are finding the Intel Z-P140 PATA SSD to be the right size, fit and performance for their pocketable designs. This is Intel's latest offering as we continue to expand our product line of reliable, feature-rich and high-performing SSDs."

The Intel Z-P140 PATA SSD offers read speeds of 40MBps and write speeds of 30MBps. Critical to mobile applications, its active power usage is 300mW, and only 1.1mW in sleep mode, which helps to extend a device's battery life.

With a 2.5 million hours MTBF rate, this PATA-based chip scale package delivers reliable solid-state performance in an extremely tiny footprint. The Intel Z-P140 is currently sampling with mass production scheduled in the first quarter of 2008. The 4Gbyte version will follow the 2Gbyte product.

The Intel Z-P140 PATA SSD adds to the current Intel Z-U130 USB Solid-State Drive family introduced last March. The Intel Z-U130 USB Solid-State Drive has a USB standard interface and is used as a faster storage alternative for a variety of Intel-based computing platforms such as servers, emerging market notebooks and low-cost PCs as well as embedded solutions.

Intel has also demonstrated technology for future high-performance SSDs with a serial ATA interface that will round out the full family of Intel SSD offerings. The technology will be announced as a product line in 2008.

Intel Tips Core 2 Duo Launch Plans, Phases Out IDE

Intel is expected to disclose its launch plans surrounding its next-gen Core 2 microprocessors, as well as a new low-voltage Core Duo chip that will be featured in thin-and-light notebooks from Dell and HP.

Intel is expected to disclose June 6 its launch plans surrounding its next-generation Core 2 microprocessors, as well as a new low-voltage Core Duo chip that will be featured in thin-and-light notebooks from Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

Of longer-term importance, however, will be the introduction of the Intel P965, or "Broadwater," chip set, which marks the end of older parallel ATA disk drives and IDE storage within the PC.

The introductions are scheduled to be made in a speech delivered by Anand Chandrasekher, Intel's senior vice president and general manager of its marketing group, at the Computex show in Taipei.

While Intel's Core chips, including its Core Duo, continue to outsell Advanced Micro Devices' own Athlon64 and Athlon64 X2 components, AMD's Athlon line has traditionally outperformed Intel's chips. However, early benchmarks of Intel's Core 2, or "Conroe," processor have impressed reviewers, and may widen Intel's lead in the marketplace.

Intel plans to begin shipping server, desktop and laptop processors based on the company's new Core microarchitecture in June, July and August, respectively, Chandrasekher is expected to announce.

How Bluetooth, UWB, and 802.11 stack up on power consumption

Today, for example, nearly 2 billion people use mobile phones on a daily basis, for voice services as well as for a growing number of data-centric Internet applications.

By 2013, analysts predict that one in every three mobile phones sold will be a smartphone. Entertainment-based mobile devices are also on the rise with the digital still camera (DSC) household penetration rate expected to reach 80% by 2010 in the United States alone.

Wireless technologies such as Bluetooth, Ultra-wideband (UWB) and WLAN, all make this wireless data transfer viable today, yet each has its own obstacles which makes its use in the mobile market challenging. Additionally, due to the inherent nature of each of these technologies, some may be better suited than others in applications requiring, for example, a high bandwidth or a wide operating range.

In the case of the mobile market, one of the main requirements is long battery life. Therefore, one key factor that must be evaluated when determining which technology to implement in a mobile device design is power consumption.

Throughput is also an important factor as it contributes to the technology's overall power consumption. Choosing the right wireless technology is crucial to developing an optimal, commercially-viable mobile device.

Understanding power consumption

At the end of the trip, the consumer returns home only to find that the camera has a mere 5% of its battery power left, making it impossible to transfer the camera's content to another device, such as a desktop computer.

During typical camera usage, this is exactly the type of capability that today's consumer demands.

Given this scenario, it is easy to see why low power consumption and high throughput are so critical. Standby power and active power consumption (e.g., in a cellular phone the power attributed to talk time, or in this case, attributed to data transfer) must therefore be reduced in order to increase battery life.

Consequently, today's designers require implementation of a wireless technology which supports multiple low power modes, regardless of whether the device's active power is on or it is in standby mode.

Throughput (e.g., power per Mbit of data) also plays a critical role here because even if a protocol's active power is high, it may ultimately exhibit the lowest total power energy consumption, and therefore provide the best power efficiency, if it transfers data extremely fast.

Microsoft slims down Mac Office choices with Business Edition

Microsoft is streamlining its Mac Office offerings by introducing a Business Edition and getting rid of two other editions of Office 2008. The company now offers Office 2008 for Mac Business Edition and Office 2008 for Mac Home & Student, with the business version going for $399.95 (or $239.95 for an upgrade).

The Mac Business Unit (Mac BU) announced the change on its blog today, saying that it was made to help simplify offerings and make it easier for customers to decide what's best for them. Previously, the Mac BU offered three versions of Office 2008: Office 2008 for Mac, Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition, and Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition. Needless to say, by the titles alone, those products are hard to differentiate—how do I know whether I just want regular Office 2008 for Mac, or Home and Student edition? What's the deal with Special Media Edition?

According to the Mac BU, the Business Edition of Office 2008 has all the standard applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Entourage, all SP2), as well as "new tools to provide a more complete productivity package for the enterprise." Those include Entourage 2008 Web Services Edition, Document Connection for Mac, and numerous Extras (such as templates, clip art, and lynda.com training). The blog post doesn't specifically talk about the Home & Student edition, so we assume it's the same package that Microsoft offered previously—it contains all the main applications, minus the Exchange and Automator support that comes with the regular version of Entourage for $149.95.

Though we're sure there are some users who will mourn the passing of the Special Media edition—a version that came with Microsoft Expression Media, a digital asset management suite that let users users import, annotate, organize, archive, search, and distribute their media files. However, it's clear that its inclusion in the lineup was just confusing users, and likely wasn't selling all that well at $499.95 anyway. With just two clearly named options, it's much easier for users to decide what version they need and get on with the productivity.

Intel legal eagle Sewell jumps ship to head Apple legal team

Apple announced Tuesday that former SVP and general counsel of Intel, Bruce Sewell, will be replacing the retiring Daniel Cooperman as the head of Apple's legal department. Intel had announced that Sewell had decided "leave the company to pursue other opportunities" yesterday, amid the announcement that CTO Pat Gelsinger was making a similar move. Sewell will become the senior vice president of Legal and Government Affairs as well as general counsel beginning next month.

Sewell served as Intel's general counsel since 2001 and had served on the company's legal team since 1995. Most recently, he has been working on an appeal for the huge fine levied by the European Union for anticompetitive practices. Prior to working for Intel, he was a partner with Brown and Bain PC, which Fortune notes was the law firm that represented Apple in its "look and feel" case against Microsoft over copying of the Mac's GUI.

Sewell is Apple's third general counsel in as many years, ever since former general counsel Nancy Hienen was let go. Hienen left after nine years with the company following an internal Apple investigation into backdating of stock option grants in 2006. Her replacement, Donald Rosenberg, left Apple to join Qualcomm after less than a year. Steve Jobs then hired Daniel Cooperman away from Oracle to replace Rosenberg in late 2007.

At Apple, Cooperman oversaw all of Apple's legal business, including worldwide legal policies, corporate governance, securities compliance, commercial licensing, intellectual property, employment law, litigation, patent law, mergers and acquisitions and legal support for Apple’s various business units. He also managed Apple's Government Affairs and Global Security groups. Sewell will certainly have his work cut out for him, but his experience at Intel should have him well-prepared for working at Apple. "With Bruce's extensive experience in litigation, securities and intellectual property, we expect this to be a seamless transition," said Jobs in a statement.

Power gating and dynamic frequency scaling

Moorestown's massive reduction in idle power draw is accomplished using the same basic technology, power gating, that Intel used to reduce Nehalem's idle power. Power gating lets Intel address the problem of leakage current, which I've gone into some detail on in a previous post. And, also like Nehalem, Intel has divide up the Lincroft SoC into different power and clock regions that can be downclocked or turned off independently of one another.

Also included is an increased number of clockspeed levels at which parts of the Lincroft SoC can operate. The idea here, as in all dynamic power optimization schemes, is to dynamically scale frequencies to match the workload. By adding more granular frequency scaling options for Lincroft's different functional blocks, the part can more closely fit its performance profile to a workload's needs within a given timeslice.

The main problem with doing this kind of dynamic frequency scaling aggressively in normal server or desktop computing applications is that there's always some latency involved in these power state transitions, and that latency saps performance. (In other words, all of the frequency scaling potential in the world is no good if the chip takes too long to react to and adapt to real-time changes in a workload.) But my guess is that this latency/performance issue is less critical in mobile applications for a variety of reasons (limited multitasking, relatively simple applications, low OS overhead, etc.), so Intel can just go nuts with the number of power states.

Intel has also extended this dynamic frequency scaling to Moorestown's memory bus, so that the platform can scale memory latency and bandwidth (and bus power draw) to match the current workload.

Moorestown also implements hyperthreading to boost performance-per-watt, but I really can't see this doing anything for a smartphone. This is a feature that will help Moorestown in netbooks, if the platform finds a use in that vertical.

Intel tips Moorestown details, talks up x86 smartphones

At Hot Chips this past week, Intel's Rajesh Patel revealed more details of the chipmaker's upcoming Moorestown platform. Patel, who is the lead architect of the platform's system-on-a-chip (SoC) part, also made it clear that he really does believe that Moorestown is a bona fide "smartphone" platform that will give us the world's first x86-based phones. I wasn't actually at the presentation, so I didn't get close enough to Patel to tell if there was any crack smoke on his breath as he made this smartphone claim, but I did get hold of the materials, so let's take a look.

Intel still isn't giving any real power draw information on Moorestown, other than to say that the platform has reduced Menlow's 1.6W idle power draw by 50 times. There's not a word said on how much it has reduced Menlow's peak power draw, so my guess is that the answer is "not much." This being the case, it's safe to assume that Moorestown's peak power draw is still well above (possibly by an order of magnitude) a comparable high-end ARM-based solution, but Intel plans to make up for this with a combination of very low idle power and a whole ton of spatial and temporal granularity in frequency scaling.

The result will be a part aimed at what Intel calls "high-end smartphones" (think the new Nokia 900, for example), with very good performance-per-watt for low-intensity smartphone workloads. But what will probably keep this hyperthreaded, x86-based beast of a "smartphone" platform out of any real smartphones is the fact that it has way more absolute performance than anyone needs on a phone right now. Intel will be asking users to pay for that performance with worse battery life than a comparable (probably single-chip) ARM-based solution, when in the end the ARM part is perfectly adequate for 99 percent of what people do on a smartphone, i.e., casual gaming, media playback, Web surfing, messaging, social networking, etc. I think almost everyone is going to pick the battery life over the performance.

Moorestown will be a better mobile gaming platform than anything from ARM, though, so if someone makes a gaming handheld out of it that won't be a bad thing. It's also the case that the platform may have a great future in point-of-sale terminals and other verticals where x86 compatibility is actually an advantage.

Ultimately, though, I expect that in late 2010 I'll be writing an article about the channel availability of Moorestown-based smartphones that reads a lot like the one I did on Menlow-based MIDs. The real x86 smartphone action is going to happen at the 32nm process node, with Medfield, Moorestown's successor. But that's a topic for another day.

HEC National Digital Library (DL)

HEC National Digital Library (DL) is a programme to provide researchers within public and private universities in Pakistan and non-profit research and development organizations with access to international scholarly literature based on electronic (online) delivery, providing access to high quality, peer-reviewed journals, databases, articles and e-Books across a wide range of disciplines. DL has launched ebrary and McGraw Hill Collections to provide around 50,000 online books in addition to more than 23,000 journals that have been made available through the Digital Library Programme.The e-books support programme will allow researchers to access most of the important text and reference books electronically in a variety of subject areas.

Benchmarks & Language Implementations


Intel® G45 Express Chipset

Intel® G45 Express Chipset [Graphics and Memory Controller Hub-GMCH] Programmer's Reference Manual (PRM) is now available

The PRM describes the architectural behavior and programming environment of the chipset and graphics devices. The GMCH's Graphics Controller (GC) contains an extensive set of registers and instructions for configuration, 2D, 3D, and Video systems. The PRM describes the register, instruction, and memory interfaces and the device behaviors as controlled and observed through those interfaces. The PRM also describes the registers and instructions and provides detailed bit/field descriptions. This information is critical to the development and maintenance of Intel graphics drivers for this hardware.

Multi-core technology

Multi-core technology

Developing new levels of system intelligence, energy efficiency, and processing performance, Intel® multi-core technology enables improved computing experiences while paving the way for to the evolution of tera-scale computing.

News Highlights

At the Computer History Museum today, Intel Corporation unveiled more than 70 futuristic projects and concepts underway in its labs in the areas of the environment, healthcare, visual computing, wireless mobility and more, reflecting areas where the company is investing some of its annual $6 billion in research.

  • Visual Computing -- Programming everyday computers for best graphics and real time visual computing
  • Wireless -- Ultra-fast and smarter technology for shrinking wireless world
  • Health -- Connecting people and information for better health and healthcare
  • Environment -- Better the environment through smarter computer energy consumption
  • Life Sciences -- Scientific discovery with academia for long term research breakthroughs

Product Technologies

Revolutionary mobile technologies

Revolutionary mobile technologies

As our future becomes increasingly connected, Intel is developing advanced technologies that are enabling an entirely new line of laptops, Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs), and more.

Powering business

Powering business

Providing advanced manageability, security, and energy-efficient performance, Intel's business-optimized technologies address business challenges and opportunities today and tomorrow.

Intel Corporation

Intel is the world's largest semiconductor chip maker, based on revenue.series of microprocessors, the processors found in most personal computer. Intel was founded on July 18, 1968, as Integrated Electronics Corporation. Intel also makes motherboards chipsets, network cards and ICs, flash memory, graphic chips, embedded processors, and other devices related to communications and computing. Founded by semiconductor pioneers Robert Noyce and Gorden Moore, and widely associated with the executive leadership and vision of Andrew Grove, Intel combines advanced chip design capability with a leading-edge manufacturing capability. Originally known primarily to engineers and technologists, Intel's successful "Intel Inside" advertising campaign of the 1990s made it and its Pentium processor household names. The company is the inventor of the

Intel was an early developer of SRAM and DRAM memory chips, and this represented the majority of its business until the early 1980s. While Intel created the first commercial microprocessor chip in 1971, it was not until the success of the personal Computer (PC) that this became their primary business. During the 1990s, Intel invested heavily in new microprocessor designs fostering the rapid growth of the PC industry. During this period Intel became the dominant supplier of microprocessors for PCs, and was known for aggressive and sometimes controversial tactics in defense of its market position, particularly against AMD, as well as a struggle with Microsoft for control over the direction of the PC industry.The 2009 rankings of the world's 100 most powerful brands published by Millward Brown Optimor showed the company's brand value rising 4 places – from number 27 to number 23.

In addition to its work in semiconductors, Intel has begun research in electrical transmission and generation.