The First Slice Of Raspberry Pi Gets Taste Tested

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2012 - 08:28 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, hardware, embedded systems, arm

We’ve been covering the Raspberry Pi computer for quite some time now, and after a slew of delays the boards are finally shipping. UK based hardware site Bit-Tech has managed to snag one of the Model B Raspberry Pi boards and recently posted a review of the small ARM computer.

raspberrypi.jpg

They do note that the ARM11 processor leaves a lot of performance to be desired, but no other boards offer the same features for the price. Once software matures to the point that hardware accelerated drivers are available out of the box, the user experience should improve. Also, the relatively powerful Videocore IV GPU will really start to shine.

Head on over to see how they tested the board, what sort of overclocking headroom the SoC has, and what their final verdict is!

Further Raspberry Pi coverage:

Anyone else still waiting on their slice of Pi to arrive in the mail?

Source: Bit-Tech

Intel Announces Q1 2012 Earnings: Not a Record, but Close

Subject: Editorial | April 23, 2012 - 05:12 PM |
Tagged: trinity, Q1, Ivy Bridge, Intel, earnings, atom, arm, amd, 2012

Guess what? Intel made money. A lot of money. This is not surprising. The results were not record breaking, but they did beat expectations. Intel had a gross revenue of $12.9 billion for the quarter, with a net income of $2.7 billion. Gross margins decreased (slightly) to 64%, but the reasons for this are pretty logical as we discover down below. Compared to Q4 2011, results are still significantly down, but this is again expected due to seasonal downturns. In Q4 they had $13.9 billion in gross revenue and $3.4 billion in net income with a gross margin of 64.5%.

 
Currently Intel is showing inventory at near historic lows, and this is due to a variety of factors. The PC market has been growing slower than expected due to the hard drive shortage that started last fall. Intel has adjusted manufacturing downward to account for this, and has worked to ramp 22 nm products faster by cutting back 32n production and converting those 32 nm lines. Intel is very aggressive with Ivy Bridge, and it expects 25% of all shipments in Q2 to be 22nm products. This is probably the fastest and most aggressive ramp that Intel has ever done, and it will continue to put AMD in a hole with their 32 nm production.
 
intel_logo.jpg
 
The second half of the year should see some significant growth on the PC side. The primary push will be the release of Windows 8 from Microsoft. This, combined with the near complete recovery of hard drive production, should push PC growth the record levels. Ultrabooks are an area that Intel is spending a lot of money to promote and develop with their partners. There are some 26 Ultrabook designs on record so far, and Intel expects this number to rise rapidly. The big push is to decline the overall price of Ultrabooks, as well as enabling touch functionality for a more affordable price. While not mentioned during the conference call, AMD is also pushing for ultra-thin notebooks, and once Trinity enabled products hit the street, we can expect a much more aggressive price war to be waged on these products.
 
Smart phones are another area that Intel is actively trying to expand into. This past quarter we saw the introduction of the Orange, Lava, and Lenovo phones based on the Medfield platform. So far these have been fairly well received by users and media alike, though the products have certainly had some teething issues. Intel still has a lot of work to do, but they finally realize the importance of this market. Intel expects that there will be 450 million smart phones shipped in 2012 (from all manufacturers), and that it is expected to grow up to 1 billion shipped a year by 2015/2016 (if not sooner). Intel wants to get into those phones, and is adjusting their Atom strategy to fit it. While in previous years Atom lagged behind other processor development from Intel, they are pushing it to the forefront. We can expect to see Atom based products being manufactured on 22 nm, and then aggressively pushed to 14 nm when that process node is available. Intel feels that they have a significant advantage in process technology that will directly impact their success in achieving higher rates of utilization across product lines in the mobile sector. If Intel can offer an Atom with similar performance and capabilities, tied with a significantly lower TDP, then they feel that a lot of phone manufacturers will look their way rather than use older/larger/more power hungry products from competitors.
 
Finally, Intel essentially has little interest in becoming a foundry for other partners. They are currently working with a handful of other countries to produce products for them, but I think that this might be a short term affair. Intel will either stay with a few partners to produce a low quantity of parts, or Intel will learn what they have to about producing products like FPGAs and eventually start producing chips of their own. When Intel fabs their own parts, they essentially get paid twice as compared to foundries or 3rd party semiconductor companies.
 
Intel continues to be profitable and successful. Ivy Bridge is going to be a very big product for Intel, and they are going to push it very hard through the rest of this year. Mobile strategies are coming to fruition and we see Intel getting their foot in the door with some major partners around the world. Servers, desktops, and notebook chips still comprise the vast majority of products that Intel ships, but mobile will become a much stronger player in the years to come. That is if Intel is able to execute effectively with accelerated Atom development on smaller process nodes. ARM is still a very worthy competitor, and a seemingly re-invigorated AMD could provide some better competition with Trinity and Brazos 2.0 in the notebook/tablet market.
 
Margins will be down next quarter due to the aggressive 22 nm ramp. With any new process there will be problems and certain inefficiencies at the beginning. As time passes, these issues will be resolved and throughput and yields will rise. Intel does expect a larger PC growth through the next quarter and a higher gross revenue. It will be interesting to see if Ultrabooks do in fact take off for Intel, or will competitors offer better price/performance for that particular market. Needless to say, things will not slow down through the rest of this year.
Source: Intel

ARM aims to make TSMC the Fab of choice for their customers

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2012 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: arm, TSMC, fab, cortex a15, cortex-a9, 28nm, 40nm

ARM has developed some optimizations for their chips, provided that the customer purchasing them uses TSMC to fabricate them.  ARM has licensed a large variety of fabrication companies to produce their chips but with their familiarity with TSMC's 28nm and 40nm processes they have been able to introduce performance enhancing optimizations specific to TSMC.  It could taste a bit like favouritism but is much more likely to stem from the volume of TSMC's production as well as the maturity of the 40nm process node.  The 28nm node could be a bit of a problem for ARM as we have seen that TSMC is not having an easy time producing enough good dies for their customers; this is why you cannot buy a GTX 680.  As The Inquirer points out, if ARM wants to make sure their customers can get their hands on reasonable volumes of chips, they will want to create optimizations specific to other manufacturers sooner rather than later.

arm-cortex-a15.jpg

"CHIP DESIGNER ARM has released a slew of optimisation packs for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) 28nm and 40nm process nodes.

ARM, which licenses designs to many chip designers, including Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Nvidia and Samsung, has given TSMC a boost by offering processor optimisation packs for the firm's 28nm and 40nm process nodes. ARM claims the optimisation packs for its Cortex-A5, Cortex-A7, Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A15 processor cores help designers make use of TSMC's process node nuances to get the most out of their designs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Raspberry Pi Computers Pass EMC Compliance Testing

Subject: General Tech, Systems | April 8, 2012 - 08:38 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, pcb, emc test, computer, compliance testing, arm

The highly anticipated Raspberry Pi ARM computer has run into several launch hiccups, the most recent being that the distributors -- RS and Farnell -- refused to sell and ship the devices without the Raspberry Pi passing the proper electromagnetic interference testing. While such certification is not required for Arduino or Beagle Boards, the companies stated that because the Raspberry Pi was (more) likely to be used as a final consumer product (and not a development board) it needed to obtain and pass EMC testing to ensure that it would not interfere with (or be interfered by) other electronic devices.

According to a recent blog post by the charity behind the ARM powered Linux computer, the Raspberry Pi has passed the EMC compliance testing with flying colors -- after a few hiccups with a network hub used to test the Raspberry Pi while it was being hit with an EM field were sorted out.

Raspberry-Pi.jpg

The team has been working out of Panasonic’s facility in South Wales to test the Raspberry Pi. Due to having the lab area for a whole week, they managed to knock out consumer product inference testing for several other countries as well. Mainly, the Raspberry Pi is now compliant with the UK CE requirements, the United States’ FCC, Australia’s CTick, and Canada’s Technical Acceptance Certificate (TAC).

Assuming the paper work is properly filed and RS and Farnell accept the certifications, the Raspberry Pi units should begin winging their way to customers shortly. Are you still waiting on your Raspberry Pi, and if so have you decided what you intend to use it for yet?

If you are interested in the Raspberry Pi, be sure to check out some of our other coverage of the little ARM computer!

Once again, ubiquitous computing spells the end of Wintel

Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2012 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: arm, Intel, windows, Android, embedded systems

A story at The Register spells out the end of Windows, this time by 2016.  The growth of cellphones with enough processing power to be more than just glorified telephones is going to change the market, of that there can be no doubt.  On the other hand without some serious upgrades to the interface it seems very unlikely that a cellphone will be sitting on a desk with a mouse, keyboard and monitor connected to it.  In fact the very idea that ARM will one day outsell x86 processors is absurd, last year 2.2 billion ARM processors were sold, that number may be higher than all the processors AMD and Intel ever fabbed.  Keep that in mind when someone tells you that ARM may one day outsell CPUs intended for use in Windows machines.  

Android outselling Windows could be a reasonable prediction for the near future, but again it is hard to imagine Android replacing Windows Server or business oriented Linux distros, even if they are running on an ARM processor.  Then again, stranger things have happened.

skyisfalling.jpg

"Windows might be on the rise in the world of embedded systems, but if IDC's prognostications are right, then Windows is about to get its kernel handed to it with the rise of Android on what the market researcher dubs "smart connected devices."

By IDC's reckoning, makers of PCs, tablets, and smartphones shipped some 916 million units of machinery in 2012, raking in an astounding $489bn in moolah."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Windows 8 To Be Released "Around October"

Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2012 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: windows on arm, windows 8, microsoft, arm

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview has been out for a few weeks now, and despite the controversy around the new interface it does seem to be coming along nicely as far as development and bug testing is concerned. While the Windows On ARM has received much less attention and Microsoft has publicly released very little about it, we can only assume that the company is working hard on getting it up and running on upcoming ARM tablets.

There have been several reports on release time frames, and the general consensus for the Windows 8 release will be Q4 2012 at the latest. Alternatively, if Bloomberg's sources "with knowledge of the schedule" are to be believed, the public will be getting both Intel and ARM versions of Windows 8 a bit earlier than expected. Specifically, Microsoft has chosen their upcoming operating system to "go on sale around October." Microsoft will also be releasing more specific dates during an event for its hardware partners in April.

WinSetup13.PNG

Apparently, Microsoft has been rather strict with device makers in regards to hardware configurations allowed for launch devices that are to be powered by the Windows on ARM version of Windows 8. Of the ARM launch devices, only three of them will be tablets. Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows business, has stated that both the ARM and Intel/AMD versions of Windows 8 will be released at the same time, and that “I wouldn’t be saying it’s a goal if I didn’t think we could do it.” Microsoft restricting the designs is likely the reason they are able to get WoA out of the door at the same time as the tried and true x86 and x64 versions.

More information on Windows 8 can be found around the site:

Source: Bloomberg

Patriot's new ARM powered HTPC

Subject: Systems | March 15, 2012 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: htpc, patriot, patriot PBO Alpine, arm

The new Patriot PBO Alpine is an ARM powered, Android 2.2 device which promises to deliver 1080p video and Dolby Surround sound from a box measuring 4.5" x 4.5" x 1".  It sports HDMI and S/PDIF audio out, an ethernet port as well as two USB ports which is a good thing as you will want to use a mouse and keyboard as opposed to the bundled remote which was [H]ard|OCP's least favourite thing about this media streamer.  Apart from that one disappointment, the PBO Alpine walked away with a Gold Award thanks to great video quality and some extras that Patriot tossed in to make this HTPC stand out in the crowd.

H_Alpine.jpg

"On the heels of its Box Office success, Patriot Memory has a brand new HD media player coming to market that is powered by an ARM926 processor and running Android 2.2. Could the PBO Alpine the next edition to your HD home entertainment experience? With a tremendous feature set inside a tiny footprint, we think it is worthy."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

ARM Cortex-MO+ Lowest Power Processor Yet At 9µA/MHz

Subject: Processors | March 14, 2012 - 06:21 AM |
Tagged: RISC, embedded systems, cortex-m0+, cortex-m, arm, 32-bit

ARM has recently announced a new 32 bit processor for embedded systems that sips power and is one of the lowest power designs yet. This new ARM processor is a new entrant to the Cortex M lineup and has been labeled the ARM Cortex-MO+. The chip features a full 32-bit RISC instruction set and is manufactured using the older, and low cost, 90nm process.

Cortex-M.jpg

The magic happens when we look at the power draw, and according to ARM it will sip power at a mere 9µA (9 microamps) per Megahertz (MHz). It can further run any code designed for (existing) Cortex-M series processor including the Cortex-M3 and Cortex-M4. The new Cortex-M0+ is intended to be used in embedded systems and as microcontroller applications controlling larger machinery.

There is no word yet on pricing or availability; however, support has been promised by the Keil Microcontroller Development Kit and third part software such as Code Red, Micruim, and SEGGER. Freescale and NXP Semiconductor further have been named licensees of the technology thus far. In the case of NXP Semiconductor, they plan to replace existing 8 bit microcontrollers with the ARM Cortex-MO+ in devices such as their UPS units, active cabling, and touchscreens. Freescale, on the other hand, plans to develop their own version of the Cortex-MO+ in the form of the Kinetis L series processor. They will further use the low power chip to operate appliances, portable medical systems, and lighting (among others).

Source: Bit-Tech

Nokia To Release Windows 8 ARM Tablets (WOA) Later This Year

Subject: Mobile | March 13, 2012 - 10:35 PM |
Tagged: WOA, windows 8, tablets, nokia, microsoft, arm

Earlier this year we heard talk of several planned Windows On ARM tablets that would run the upcoming Windows 8 operating system, and now more planned tablets have emerged. Asus is planning to release four Windows 8 tablets (two WOA versions), and according to Digitimes, Nokia will be joining the fray with their own WOA tablets.

WinSetup13.PNG

Allegedly, Nokia will launch a 10" ARM tablet powered by Qualcomm's dual core System on a Chip (SoC) processor. The tablet will run the Windows on ARM version of Windows 8, and their sources have expressed that the Nokia tablet will further fuel the mobile tablet market and provide healthy competition for the iPad juggernaut.

Further, according to "sources at upstream component suppliers," Nokia will be outsourcing the manufacturing of their Windows 8 tablet to Compal Electronics. Also, the sources have stated that the first production batch will consist of 200,000 units.

Don't forget to check out our guide on virtualizing Windows 8 to get an idea of how the new interface works. More information on the Windows On ARM front as it develops.

Source: DigiTimes

Raspberry Pi Linux Computers Delayed By Manufacturing Hiccup

Subject: Systems | March 10, 2012 - 10:30 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, computers, arm

It seems that not all is sweets (pie, of course) and celebration for the folks over at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, as the initial batch of their ARM powered Linux computers have experienced what the charity has dubbed a “hiccup” at the manufacturing stage. It seems that while they specified magnetic jacks in the design materials, the wrong RJ45 network jacks for the boards were soldered on accidentally by the Chinese factory. According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the dud jacks in question were the result of the manufacturer using non magnetic jacks instead of RJ45 connectors with integrated magnetic connections. They further stated that they had been aware of the problem for four days prior to the announcement, but needed to “do some further tests to make sure nothing else was affected.”

RJ45 Network Jack_Raspberry Pi Hiccup.jpg

They are currently sourcing the proper network jacks, and are receiving help from their manufacturing and distribution partners RS Components and Premier Farnell. It is not all bad news; however, as it seems they caught the issue quickly enough to maintain the release schedule for the initial batch of Raspberry Pi boards. The issue is a relatively minor one that is easily rectified by desoldering the dud jacks and soldering on the new ones with integrated magnetics. The manufacturing factory is nearly finished with the replacement on the initial batch and they expect the boards to get out to consumers on time. The less than ideal news is that, there may be a slight delay for those waiting on pre-orders of boards outside of the initial batch as they are still trying to source enough networking jacks as mentioned above.

'We are very, very sorry.” they stated in the blog post. In the end, they believe it to be a mere small bump in the road and have promised to keep users updated on the manufacturing status of the eagerly awaited Raspberry Pi computers. More information along with X-rays of the dud networking jacks can be found on their blog.

Source: Raspberry Pi