Panasonic ARMs will be fabbed at Intel

Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2014 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: SoC, Panasonic, Intel, arm

Intel has been fabbing ARM chips for Altera since the end of last year after their unprecedented move of allowing non-Intel designs into their fabs.  This decision allowed Intel to increase the percentage of time the fabs were active, as they are no longer able to keep them at full capacity with their own chips and have even mothballed the new Fab 42 in Arizona.  Altera is a good customer, as are Tabula, Netronome and Microsemi but together they are still not enough to bring Intel's capacity close to 100%.  The Register has reported on a new contract with the ink still wet from signing; Panasonic will now be using Intel's Fabs for their ARM based SoCs.   The immense size of Panasonic should keep Intel busy and ensure that they continue to make mountains of money licensing their 14nm-process tri-Gate transistors as well as the Fab time.

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"Intel has notched up another customer for its fledgling Foundry business as it tries to make money out of its manufacturing and engineering expertise besides x86 processor sales.

The world's most valuable chip manufacturer said on Monday that Panasonic's audio-visual gear will make future system-on-chips (SoCs) in Intel's factories."

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Source: The Register

CES 2014: Firefox OS to Power Panasonic Smart TVs

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 04:18 AM |
Tagged: Panasonic, mozilla, Firefox OS, CES 2014, CES

Firefox OS is a thin Linux layer which immediately loads Gecko, the rendering engine behind Firefox and other Mozilla products, to handle everything else. The entire OS interface is developed in HTML5, CSS, Javascript, and other web standards. It suffices to say that it can handle web apps very easily (it is one).

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Panasonic and Mozilla have entered into a partnership, announced at CES, for future smart TVs to be powered by Firefox OS. This can be very useful for Panasonic. Provided they keep up with certifying new releases, performance should be about the only other barrier preventing their product from running the popular apps as they arise. It also lifts the burden away for developer support.

On the other hand, this could also be good for Firefox OS and the web itself. Mozilla is not a stupid organization and, while they certainly like their products adopted, I would not be surprised if they hope this effort brings content out to play. Netflix and other content providers who want to be on Panasonic's platform would need to support their flavor of Firefox OS. Netflix, in particular, has already made inroads with HTML5 albeit with certain encryption extensions.

Atwood's Law applies to televisions, too!

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Source: Panasonic

IFA 2013: Panasonic Launches 20" ToughPad 4K UT-MB5 Tablet For Business Users

Subject: General Tech | September 9, 2013 - 01:49 AM |
Tagged: tablet, Panasonic, ifa 2013, 4k

At the IFA 2013 trade show in Berlin, Germany, Panasonic is showing off a prototype 20” tablet with 4K high resolution display called the ToughPad 4K UT-MB5. The tablet is aimed at professional users in sales and marketing as well as artists, architects, and engineers. The UT-MB5 will come in two models: standard and performance. The performance SKU features a faster Intel Core i5 vPro processor and NVIDIA discrete graphics versus the standard version.

The Panasonic ToughPad 4K UT-MB5 is a 20” tablet with a carbon fiber case that measures 12.5mm thick and weighs 2.35 kg (5.18 lbs) for the standard version. The performance version weighs slightly more at 2.7 kg (5.95 lbs). The front of the tablet is dominated by a 20” 4K IPS display with a resolution of 3840 x 2560 (230 PPI), aspect ratio of 15:10, and 176-degree viewing angles. Above the display is a 720p webcam. The UT-MB5 has USB 3.0, SD card, optical smart card, and headphone ports. Panasonic further offers a desktop cradle that allows users to use the tablet as a desktop system by connecting a wireless keyboard and mouse. The desktop dock also expands the IO options to include HDMI output and an Ethernet port. The tablet is ruggedized and rated to be able to withstand drops up to 76cm while turned on.

Panasonic ToughPad 4K UT-MB5.jpg

Internal hardware on the 20” ToughPad includes an unspecified Intel Core i5 vPro processor, discrete NVIDIA Geforce graphics, up to 8GB of RAM, a 128GB (standard) or 256GB (performance) SSD, and Windows 8.1 Pro. There are also wireless radios for 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Panasonic also provides an optional digitizer called the Electronic Touch Pen. The custom pen connects to the tablet using Bluetooth and uses an infrared camera that can reportedly identify every pixel on the high resolution display. The pen has 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity and can also report angle of tilt.

Panasonic rates the UT-MB5 tablet at around 2 hours of battery life off of a full charge. The company sees the device as a portable touchscreen rather than a mobile tablet, and at 20” and 5+ pounds it is more of a desktop replacement than a mobile device.

The Standard SKU will be available in November for GBP 3,335 (~$5,217) in Germany and Europe. There is no word on US availability yet, however. Panasonic has stated that the higher-end Performance UT-MB5's pricing and availability will be announced at a later date. In the meantime, users can check out the standard version at the IFA show in Berlin in Hall 5.2/101.

It looks like a neat device that should be a hit for professional artists, architects, engineers, and business users alike. It comes with a premium price tag but the display and accurate digitizer is likely worth it!

Source: Panasonic

Panasonic Launches New Microcomputers With ReRAM Storage

Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2013 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: RRAM, Panasonic, memristor

RRAM (Resistive RAM) and "Memrisitor" non-volatile memory technology has been theorized about in the past, but it is finally starting to make its way into actual products. Specifically, Panasonic announced a new series of 8-bit MN101R microcomputers that feature RRAM memory for storage.

The Panasonic microcomputers are intended to be used in environmental sensors, healthcare monitors (blood pressure, activity, et al), fire alarms, and electronic passports. Panasonic expects to ship a million of these ReRAM-equipped boards a month. The company claims that the move from NAND flash to ReRAM results in up to a 50% power savings and increased memory durability supporting as much as 10-times higher re-write cycles. Additionally, the ReRAM is five times faster at writes than both NAND flash and EEPROM due in part to not having to perform a data erase during each write.

Panasonic ReRAM MN101L-01-E.gif

Panasonic and Crossbar (a start-up working on RRAM) have some impressive figures to share, but enthusiasts should not get their hopes up just yet. The Panasonic microcomputers are using a scant 64KB of ReRAM paired with 4KB of SRAM. While a good first step, the technology still has a ways to go before we start to see it enter mobile devices and traditional PCs.

With that said, it does have a lot of potential, and I’m excited to finally see an actual physical product come out of all the resistive RAM research!

More information on the Panasonic MN101R series and the ReRAM technology can be found here.

Source: Panasonic

CES 2013: Panasonic Unveils Two New Ruggedized Toughpad Tablets Running Windows 8 and Android

Subject: General Tech | January 9, 2013 - 02:51 AM |
Tagged: CES, windows 8, toughpad, tablet, ruggedized, Panasonic, Android, ces 2013

Panasonic is continuing to branch out from ruggedized notebooks into the world of tablets, and this time around the company is releasing two new ruggedized tablets that succeed the current-generation FZ-A1. The new Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 will run Windows 8 Pro while the JT-B1 will run Android 4.0 and use ARM hardware.

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The Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 packs some respectable hardware for this type of ruggedized product. A dual core (with HyperThreading for four total threads) Intel Core i5-3437U processor running at 1.9GHz base/2.9GHz turbo, up to 8GB of RAM, and up to a 256GB SSD comprise the basic internal specifications. On the outside is a 10.1” touchscreen with active digitizer along with USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI, microSDXC, RJ45, and serial ports. The FZ-G1 can also host a dedicated GPS and tap into Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular networks. The tablet is rated for various Mil-spec standards such that it can survive harsh working environments of industrial, military, public safety, et al jobs. The tablet does not come cheap though, as the ruggedized form factor comes at a high price – starting at $2,899 for the base model. Still, it is interesting to see that tablets are even being embraced in roles that ruggedized notebooks have long dominated. Notably, Panasonic has stated that it hopes to capture 50% of the ruggedized tablet market by 2015.

Processor Intel Core-i5 3437U @ 1.9GHz (2.9GHz turbo)
Memory 4-8GB
Storage 128-256GB SSD
Display 10.1" touchscreen w/ active digitizer @ 1920x1200
IO Full size: USB 3.0, HDMI, micro SDXC (optional), USB 2.0, LAN, and serial port or dedicated GPS.
Wireless 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, optional 4G LTE or 3G
Dimensions 10.6" x 7.4" x 0.75"
Weight 2.43 lbs
OS Windows 8 Pro
Rugged MIL-STD-810G, 4' drop, IP65, 14° to 122°F (operational temp range)

While the FZ-G1 runs Windows and has x86-64 hardware, the Panasonic Toughpad JT-B1 is smaller and goes with ARM internals and Google’s Android mobile OS. This 7” tablet maintains the same MIL-spec ratings as its bigger sibling, but weighs half as much. The JT-B1 features a 7” touchscreen with a resolution of 1024x600, a front and rear camera, and a micro USB port on the outside. Internally, the JT-B1 tablet includes a dual core TI OMAP 4660 (similar to the SoC used in Amazon’s Kindle HD tablets) running at 1.5GHz, 1GB of RAM, 16GB ROM for storage, and Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular radios.

toughpad-jt-b1.jpg

The Panasonic JT-B1 will run Android 4.0 and has a starting price of $1,199 making it only viable for the specialized industries that need such a ruggedized device--it is no Nexus 7 (but that’s a good thing for certain jobs).

Processor TI OMAP 4460 @ 1.5GHz (dual core)
Memory 1GB
Storage 16GB ROM
Display 7" touchscreen @ 1024x600
IO Micro USB, Front 1.3MP webcam, rear 13MP autofocus camera with LED flash
Wireless 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, optional 4G LTE and 3G
Dimensions 8.7"x 5.1" x 0.7"
Weight 1.2 lbs
OS Android 4.0
Rugged MIL-STD-810G, 5' drop, IP65, 14° to 122°F (operational temp range)

Both of the Panasonic Toughpads will be available later this year. The FZ-G1 will be available in March for $2,899 and the JT-B1 will be available in February for $1,199. You can find the full press release over at Engadget.

Tablet Pricing (base) Availability
Panasonic FZ-G1 $2,899 March
Panasonic JT-B1 $1,199 February

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

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Source: Engadget

Storage Visions - The Panasonic DataArchiver - 108TB of Blu-Ray Archival Storage in a 6U Chassis

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2013 - 09:59 PM |
Tagged: Panasonic, ces 2013, CES, bluray

At Storage Visions I came across a clever device from Panasonic. The DataArchiver:

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This is a 6U rack-mount chasses, capable of being filled with 108TB of Blu-Ray discs. Several stacks of 12-disc cartridges load into two drawers. A handler rides between the two drawers, fetching cartridges as needed, and loading the discs into the 12 installed Blu-Ray drives:

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This system provides excellent long-term archival storage of Blu-Ray discs (when handled properly - as it does), and for the extra cautious, the system can even mount and access the discs as RAID-5 or 6 volumes, allowing for single or double protection from faulty discs / disc sectors. The DataArchiver also implements AES256 across all discs in the array. Certainly an interesting piece of archival technology.

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Source:

Panasonic, NHK Show Off 145” 8K Plasma Television

Subject: General Tech | April 30, 2012 - 09:46 PM |
Tagged: UHD, tv, plasma, Panasonic, nhk, 8k, ultra hdtv

Over the weekend I saw a post over at Tom’s Hardware that made my jaw drop. Panasonic and Japanese TV broadcaster NHK have managed to create a 145” plasma with an 8K resolution(!). The massive television’s 7,680 x 4,320 pixel resolution conforms to the Ultra High Definition specification.

Panasonic-Intros-145-Inch-8K-Resolution-Plasma-Display-2.jpg

Other specifications of the TV include an RGB vertical stripe phosphor array, 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, and 60Hz refresh rate. Pixel pitch is .417mm horizontal and .417mm vertical. In a video demonstration by DigInfo (seen below), the companies reported that the TV uses a new method for updating the pixels that eliminates flickering. Such flicker would be caused by the TV updating the picture at 60Hz and having to update 4,320 vertical lines of pixels! Panasonic has developed a new way of driving the pixels that scans and updates multiple lines in each frame at a time.

Panasonic will be showing off the 8K plasma at the SID International Symposium from June 3 to June 8, and Institute of Technology from May 24 to May 27. Consumers have heavily invested in 1080p televisions and now 4K is starting to be common on the content side of things. This 8K resolution is a neat proof of concept but it will likely be quite a while before content creators move to recording in 8K and consumers get their hands on it. Even so, that doesn’t stop me from drooling over this TV (and dreading how much the video card that can drive such a display at native resolution will cost)!

Panasonic Launches Ruggedized ToughPad A1 and B1 Tablets

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2012 - 11:52 PM |
Tagged: toughpad, tablet, ruggedized, Panasonic, mobile, CES, Android

Panasonic dropped a new tablet on us at CES. Literally, they dropped the tablet on stage to show just how tough their new ruggedized ToughPad really is. The A1 and B1 ToughPad tablets are Android powered 10" and 7" tablets rated to be dust and water resistant. Both tablets are MIL-STD-810G and IP65 rated and ready to perform in very extreme work environments.

Toughpad_A1.jpg

The ToughPad A1 is Panasonic's 10" Android tablet and brings some decent hardware to bear. On the outside, the ruggedized exterior and rubberized edges absorb shock and keep dust and water out. The front of the tablet includes a 10" multi-touch display with a resolution of 1024 x 768 and 500 nit brightness. The touchscreen can be used by either finger gestures or an included digitizer. Further, the front of the tablet houses a 2 megapixel front camera as well as microphone, ambient light, accelerometer, and digital compass sensors. The tablet internals include a 1.2 GHz Marvell dual core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal memory, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR, and optional 3G or 4G modems. A lithium Ion battery rated at 7.4 volts, 4690 mAh is also nestled inside. A microSDHC card slot, micro USB 2.0, and micro-HDMI connector as well as a stylus holder are also present. The device runs Android 3.2 and supports TPM chips and hardware encryption. It weighs 2.1 pounds (the price of going rugged, I suppose) and has an MSRP of $1200 USD.

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The B1 model is the 7" version and will be available in the fall. Exact specifications on this model are not yet known; however, expect it to follow closely in line with it's bigger sibling's dual core processor, 1 GB of RAM, ruggedized exterior, and hefty price tag.

Unfortunately, all I can think about when looking at this tablet is how the heck Panasonic expects to sell this for $1200 bucks. This is definitely not a consumer tablet and moreso something businesses will invest in for workers in harsh (to electronics anyway) environments.

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Panasonic Updates Toughbook 19 Tablet With New Internals

Subject: Mobile | June 10, 2011 - 04:30 PM |
Tagged: Toughbook, tablet, Panasonic, fully-rugged

Panasonic recently announced a series of upgrades to its Toughbook 19 convertible tablet, including new Intel Sandy Bridget processors, increased RAM and hard drive space, and a brighter LCD screen. After being on the market for five years, the Toughbook 19 and its ruggedized chassis is ideal for military usage or anyone needing a portable computer that is likely to be subjected to extreme operating conditions.

As the first time Panasonic has used a standard voltage Intel CPU, the upgraded Toughbook has gained decreased boot-up time and faster overall system performance compared to its predecessors. Despite the standard voltage processor, Panasonic has been able to maintain the computer’s fan-less design which is important for reliability in harsh operating conditions such as when used around water and sand. The new model comes standard with an Intel Core i5 2520M at 2.5GHz, 4GB of RAM (upgradeable to 8GB), either the 32 or 64 bit version of Windows 7 Pro, and either a 320GB 7200 RPM hard drive or a 128GB SSD (upgradeable to 256GB).

Further, an SDXC card reader, ExpressCard slot, Intel WiFi chip supporting 802.11 b/g/n, 3G, GPS, Bluetooth, and optional 4G LTE modem that will be available later this year.  Numerous security features and a dual-touch touchscreen (including stylus).  The new Toughbook fits into the same chassis as the older models, enabling users to upgrade the device and continue to use it with existing expansion and vehicle docks. The LCD has also receive an upgrade. The 10.1” XGA touchscreen uses Panasonic’s TransreflectivePlus technology, which features and adjustable LED backlight as well as an internal reflective layer that uses reflected sunlight to help illuminate the screen. Panasonic claims that the screen is capable of 6000 nit of brightness.

Panasonic expects that the new Toughbooks will be available in September 2011, and will start at an estimated street price of $3,349 USD from authorized retailers. A standard three-year limited parts and labor warranty. You can read more about the new rugged convertible tablets on Panasonic’s website.

Source: Engadget