NRAM research gets a financial boost

Subject: General Tech | June 15, 2015 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: non-volatile RAM, Nantero, NRAM, STT-MRAM, RRAM, memristor, hp, Panasonic, toshiba

Non-volatile memory technology is now at a turning point where we find out which technology will be doomed to be BETAMAX and which will carry on to become the VHS equivalent; hopefully that analogy is not too accurate as VHS was not the better of the two.  Allyn discussed the reasons why the market is looking for a new technology back in 2012 and his predictions that NAND still had some life in it have been proven over the past few years but we are seeing new limitations with the current technology.

In the past we have covered HP's Resistive RAM, also called a Memrisitor, which has been in development for many years but has finally appeared in some Panasonic microcomputers which control sensors.  STT-MRAM, spin transfer torque magnetoresistive random access memory, is Toshiba's project and while we still haven't seen any product it has been in development for more than 3 years and news of prototypes should arrive soon.  Lastly is NRAM, nano-RAM so named for the use of carbon based nanotubes in its design which is being developed by Nantero.

It is Nantero which is in the news today, having secured $31.5 million in funding this year, triple what they have seen in previous years according to the numbers The Inquirer has.  This particular technology offers densities in the terabytes per chip, storage which requires no active power source once written to and data retention of over 1,000 years at 85 degrees Celsius.  The speeds should match those expected from STT-RAM but at a fabrication price closer to the much lower cost RRAM; don't hold off buying your next SSD but do not think that market is going to get boring any time soon.

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"It got $31.5m in an over-subscribed round to continue developing its nanotube-based non-volatile RAM (NRAM) semiconductor technology, which it says has DRAM read/write speed and is ultra-high density – think terabits."

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Source: Slashdot

HP Sprout and the Dremel Idea Builder; an artistic pair

Subject: General Tech | May 28, 2015 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: touchscreen, sprout, scanner, Realsense 3D, idea builder, hp, dremel, 3d printer

HP's Sprout is a 23" 1080p touchscreen all-in-one PC powered by a Core-i7 4790S and a GT 745A, fairly run of the mill as far as that form factor goes, but it also includes the so called HP Illuminator.  That device is part of the stand and sits above the top of the screen, it has a DLP projector paired with an Intel RealSense 3D camera as well as a more traditional 14.6MP camera.  The DLP projector is used to project a virtual workspace onto a 20-point capacitive touch mat placed in in front of the Sprout, not only increasing the area you have to work in but offering some unique interface options.

With the RealSense camera you can easily scan 3D objects and save them as .obj files which makes the partnership with Dremel make more sense, scan a real life object and then start printing it from their 3D printer, the Idea Creator.  The touch mat will also work with the Adonit Jot Pro stylus included with the system for those who prefer to use one when creating and can also help with creating in so called blended reality.  MAKE has a video of the device that will have you making 3D objects like you were a Dimac master named Barry.  For our overseas readers, if you happen to have an HP store somewhere near you then you can pop in and try the Sprout to see if it is as impressive as it sounds. 

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"It’s a powerful concept, and today at MakerCon, HP’s Sprout division (a MakerCon and Maker Faire sponsor) announced a partnership with Dremel to help move toward a full-cycle approach. Dremel’s 3D printer, the thousand-dollar Idea Builder, was featured in Make:‘s 3D printing issue last year, and performed well."

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3D displays go professional; HP's Zvr

Subject: Displays | April 10, 2015 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: hp, 3d display, Zvr

3D displays have had limited success in the gaming market, while interesting most gamers have instead opted for high resolution and high refresh rate monitors over 3D.  However there is great potential for 3D displays in professional applications such as CAD/CAM and medicine; imaging actually seeing a 3D representation of a model or organ instead of trying to visualize it from a 2D screen.  NitroWare.net had a change to see the HP Zvr 23.6-inch Virtual Reality Display in action and you can too by following the link.

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"HP Australia gave NitroWare.net an exclusive preview in Sydney of its new zSpace powered 3D Virtual Reality Monitor aimed to complement its professional desktop and mobile workstation line. The Zvr Display introduces head-tracking and an interactive stylus to enable 3D/VR interactivity and manipulation via an off-the-shelf product from a mass-market OEM."

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MWC 15: HP Spectre x360 Has Broadwell Core i5 and i7

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | March 1, 2015 - 11:07 PM |
Tagged: spectre x360, spectre, mwc 15, MWC, hp, Broadwell

HP announced their updated Spectre x360 at Mobile World Congress. Like the Lenovo Yoga, it has a hinge that flips the entire way around, allowing the laptop to function as a 13.3-inch tablet with a 1080p, IPS display. There are two stages between “tablet” and “laptop”, which are “stand” and “tent”. They are basically ways to prop up the touch screen while hiding the keyboard behind (or under) the unit. The stand mode is better for hands-free operation because it has a flat contact surface to rest upon, while the tent mode is probably more sturdy for touch (albeit rests on two rims). The chassis is entirely milled aluminum, except the screen and things like that of course.

The real story is the introduction of Core i-level Broadwell. The 12.5-hour battery listing in a relatively thin form-factor can be attributed to the low power requirements of the CPU and GPU, as well as its SSD (128GB, 256GB, or 512GB). RAM comes in two sizes, 4GB or 8GB, which will depend slightly on the chosen processor SKU.

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Which pun would be more annoying?
"Case closed" or "I rest my case"...?

Prices start at $899 and most variants are available now at HP's website.

Source: HP

HP's big budget enterprise storage reveal

Subject: General Tech | December 2, 2014 - 12:29 PM |
Tagged: hp, StoreServ, File Persona

HP is showing off some spiffy kit in Barcelona which will be priced just a wee bit beyond the budget of a consumer but is still fun to look at.  How would you feel about 3.6 petabytes of hybrid flash and disk storage on a 16Gbit/s fibre channel with reported performance of up to 900,000 IOPS all for the low price of $1.70/GB?  In the table below the new kit bears a 'c' in their name and for those who no longer wish to think about spinning rust it is the 7200, 7400 and 7450 that are all flash storage.  Also new is File Persona which allows users that have a StoreServ File Controller to access data at the file level as well as the block level access that was supported previously.  The latter two pages of The Register's article feature HP's Stephen Bacon, Senior Manager for File and Object Storage Product Management and Marketing answering questions about the new products and software.  Ah, it is nice to dream of unlimited budgets.

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"Attendees at HP’s Discover event in Barcelona this week are getting a bumper crop of StoreServ hardware and software announcements, expanding the HW range and adding object access and better data protection."

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Source: The Register

Only 1920x1080 or better need apply

Subject: Mobile | November 27, 2014 - 05:35 PM |
Tagged: 1080p, Chillblast, Prestige i5-4200SH, dell, Inspiron 17 7000, hp, Beats Special Edition, Lenovo, Yoga 2 13, toshiba, Satellite S70-B-10U

Sick of the standard laptop screen resolution of 1366x768, especially on a laptop with a 17" screen?  The Register has collected five laptops which have a 1080p resolution, several of which feature touchscreen capabilities for use with Win 8.1 and range in screen size up to 17.3". There is a variety of quality, the lower cost HP notebook does not feature an IPS display and so is not as sharp as some other models but then again it is not as expensive as the other models either.  There is not much in the way of benchmarks but it is not too hard to estimate performance based on the components which are inside these laptops as they are common among the current generation of laptops.  This review focuses on the screen, much like your eyes do.

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"For the more discerning eye, that’s just not enough, and while we’ll be looking at the more expensive HiDPI laptops soon, full HD laptops are certainly more affordable these days, especially if you’re prepared to trade having a high-performance CPU or a speedy solid-state drive for a crisper, higher resolution image instead."

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Source: The Register

Hewlett-Packard (HP) Splits Into Two Companies

Subject: General Tech, Systems | October 6, 2014 - 07:27 PM |
Tagged: restructure, layoffs, hp inc, hp, hewlett-packard enterprise

HP's restructure initiative has been ongoing for years, leading to tens of thousands of layoffs. This occurred in several phases, with low-margin businesses grouped alongside highly profitable ones. Originally, HP considered spinning off PC devices but later paired it with its highly profitable printing products.

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Today, HP announced plans to split into two companies: HP Inc., the aforementioned PC and printing division, and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, which will handle servers, networking, and other infrastructure as well as enterprise software and services. Shareholders will receive stock in both companies in an "intended to be tax-free" transaction. Obviously, that may vary by jurisdiction.

The reasons are fairly straight-forward. Print and PC are not heavily growing markets, especially not compared to their enterprise division. These two companies are roughly equal in size, so separating them highlights each side's strengths and weaknesses, and allows new investors to bet on one without giving money to the other. While Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is expected to be the higher-growth company, HP Inc. is expected to get into 3D printing as a consumer service. It will also inherit the logo, likely because it is something that consumers still identify with.

Current CEO, Meg Whitman, will be CEO of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and Chair of HP Inc.

The "transaction" for shareholders is expected by the end of FY15. It will also align with the loss of 5000 jobs, resulting in 55,000 layoffs since Whitman joined the company. I have yet to hear anything about where these cuts will occur.

Source: HP

HP Releases Cheaaaaaap PCs and Windows Tablets

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 30, 2014 - 04:15 AM |
Tagged: Windows 8.1, hp, cheap tablet, cheap computer

Before I get into the devices, the $149 HP Stream 8 tablet and certain models of the HP Stream 13 laptop (the ones with an optional 4G modem) includes "free 4G for life" for customers in the USA. Reading in the fine print, the device company apparently signed a deal with T-Mobile for 200MB/mo of 4G service. Of course, 200MB will barely cover the Windows Update regimen of certain months, but you have WiFi for that. It is free, and free is good. I can guess that T-Mobile is crossing their fingers that dripping a drop of water on the tongues of the thirsty will convince them to go to the fountain.

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If it works? Great. That is just about the most honest way that I have ever seen a telecom company attract new customers.

Back to these devices. Oh right, they're cheap. They are so cheap, they barely have any technical specifications. The $199.99 HP Stream 11 laptop has an 11-inch display. The $229.99 HP Stream 13 laptop has a 13-inch display and can be configured with an optional 4G modem. Both are passively cooled (more fanless PCs...) and run on a dual-core processor. Both provide a year of Office 365 Personal subscriptions. Both are available in blueish-purple or pinkish-purple.

The two tablets (7-inch Stream 7 and 8-inch Stream 8) are a similar story. They run an x86 processor with full Windows 8.1 and a year's subscription to Office 365. Somehow, the tablets are based on Intel quad-core CPUs (rather than the laptop's passively cooled dual-cores) despite being cheaper. Then again, they could be completely different architectures.

While HP is interested in, you know, selling product, I expect that Microsoft's generous licensing terms (see also the Toshiba alternative we reported earlier) is an attempt to push their cloud services. They know that cheaper device categories cannot bare as much royalties as a fully-featured laptop, and not having a presence at those prices is conceding it to Google -- and conceding that to Google is really giving up on cloud services for those customers. The simple solution? Don't forfeit those markets, just monetize with your own cloud service. I doubt that it will harm their higher-end devices.

The four devices (Stream 7 - $99, Stream 8 -$149, Stream 11 - $199, Stream 13 - $229) are coming soon.

Source: HP

Cheap laptops are expected to cut into mobile GPU sales

Subject: General Tech | September 24, 2014 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: amd, nvidia, hp, dell, asus, acer, toshibe, mobile gpu

The growing market of low cost $200 to $400 10" to 15" laptops is expected to cut into the sales of AMD and NVIDIA's mobile GPUs as they are forced to focus more on higher end models.  That is a much smaller market and the margins generally favour the laptop vendor as opposed to the company providing the mobile GPU.  This will be felt more strongly by NVIDIA as AMD's APU lineup will appear in the smaller and less expensive notebooks but will still have an effect on AMD's bottom line over the coming quarters.  DigiTimes also mentioned that AMD's R9 390X is due out in the first half of 2015 and that both companies are currently reducing the price of their GPUs in the hopes of increasing their sales volumes on the desktop.

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"Notebook vendors including Hewlett-Packard (HP), Dell, Lenovo, Asustek Computer, Acer and Toshiba, will launch low-cost models with CPUs with integrated graphics in the fourth quarter of 2014 and therefore AMD and Nvidia are expected to see demand for their discrete mobile GPUs decrease, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers."

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Source: DigiTimes

The abysmal adoption rate of desktop and mobile touchscreens

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 12:34 PM |
Tagged: win 8, dell, Samsung, LG, Lenovo, hp, touchscreen, IDC

The International Data Corporation's latest Worldwide Quarterly PC Monitor Tracker shows that there were a mere 32.5 million touchscreen monitors shipped in Q2 2014, which accounts for 0.4% of the discrete monitors sold.  This may have been a direct influence on the pitiful market penetration of Win 8 in SMB and Enterprise, as the much touted touchscreen support was meaningless to their users interaction with computers.  The mobile side is a bit better but not much; DisplaySearch pegs the percentage of laptops with a touchscreen sold in 2013 was about 11% with a predicted 40% share by 2017 which still falls short of representing half of the market.  You can pop by The Register for a link to some of the findings.

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"Market monitor IDC's latest word on monitors goes some way to explaining limp enthusiasm for Windows 8: people just aren't buying touch-screen monitors.

Windows 8's user interface was designed to work on mouse-driven and poke-enabled devices. It's racked up plenty of sales, but not much love."

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Source: The Register