OCZ's new controller; Toshiba

Subject: General Tech | December 3, 2013 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: purchase, ocz, toshiba

It is hard to say just how much per gigabyte Toshiba paid but for $35 million US they now own all of OCZ's storage, both consumer and enterprise.  In the statement released at OCZ it is implied that not much will change at OCZ, the sales teams and engineers stand a good chance of retaining their jobs and the OCZ brand will live on.  This lends credence to the statement made by OCZ yesterday that all warranties will continue to be honoured after their bankruptcy which should make many an enthusiast feel much more secure.  It will be very interesting to see what the future will hold for Toshiba's SSD business now that they have access to all of OCZ's intellectual property.  The Register has comments and a link to the press release here.

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"The Japanese concern has indeed ridden to OCZ's rescue, thanks to a $US35m cheque that will see it “acquire OCZ's client and enterprise solid state drive business” according to the canned statement about the deal."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft buys Nokia, the second largest maker of cell phones

Subject: Chipsets | September 3, 2013 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, nokia, windows phone, purchase, billions

At a mere $7.2 billion, Microsoft just picked up all of Nokia's devices and some of their software in an attempt to streamline production and win market share from Apple and Android devices.  Nokia tends to be the manufacturer that people think of when they think of Windows phones, with HTC a close second.  The current market share of Windows phones is minuscule and for that matter so is Nokia's; what might not be clear from some of the stories you have been reading is that Nokia has a large share of the phones currently being manufactured.  As you can see from the Reuters graph below they are actually second only to Samsung in terms of manufacturing, this existing infrastructure may help Microsoft greatly as they structured as a software company ... Surface being the exception that proves the rule. 

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From Reuters

The Inquirer believes this could mean a resurgence of competing mobile OS designs, with Google owning Motorola it seems likely that Samsung and HTC are going to want to diversify their lineup of phones even though Google has suggested they will not provide preferential treatment to Motorola.  Microsoft may still provide licenses to HTC but with this major change you can expect the rumours of HTC developing a mobile OS to become verified as well as a lot more news on Tizen, Samsung's home grown OS.  Blackberry could be doomed at this point, with nothing unique to offer in the way of secure connectivity now that they have moved to ActiveSync and dated hardware they are reduced to a niche market consisting solely of those who want a physical keyboard on their phone.  This purchase is as painful to Finland as the death of BlackBerry will be for Canada.

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The other interesting part to this story is the return of Stephen Elop to Microsoft as he only left them in 2010, previously he headed their business software division.  You can follow the odds on his likelihood of taking the reins from Ballmer by following the link from this article; Stephen has tossed hardware across a room so he is certainly qualified.  If he did take over Microsoft it would signal a 'mobile first' mentality which might help sales of Win8 on mobile devices but would not bode well for the desktop users.  If he is not placed in charge of the entire company it would likely mean that we will see him head a mobile division while someone else handles a desktop OS.  That has not worked well for Microsoft historically, we shall see in the coming months which direction the company chooses.  Hopefully they will remember they sell a server OS.

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"MICROSOFT SURPRISED NO ONE on Tuesday when it announced that it picked up Nokia's devices unit and licensed some of its software for a cool £4.6bn in cash. While many see the deal as two struggling companies merging for a final shot at success, we think the deal should have Apple and Google worried."

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Source: The Inquirer

McAfee picks up Stonesoft, Intel continues to focus on network security

Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2013 - 03:16 PM |
Tagged: stonesoft, security, purchase, mcafee, Intel

A small security firm called Stonesoft was acquired by Intel, or rather McAfee, for just under $400m.  They provide not only software and services but actual network appliances which utilize their proprietary Stonesoft Security Engine to provide secure connectivity.  This makes a lot of sense when you think back on Intel's statements when purchasing McAfee, they are not interested in only providing security at the software level but are interested in moving to the hardware level.  You can find out a bit more at The Inquirer.

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"SECURITY VENDOR McAfee has bought software security firm Stonesoft to add to its range of network security products.

McAfee, which is owned by Intel, is one of the biggest security vendors but has so far been focused on end-point products such as anti-virus and firewall software that runs on consumer PCs. Now the firm has made a move to go deeper into the network, buying security software vendor Stonesoft for $389m in cash."

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Source: The Inquirer

Lenovo still might have a taste for Blackberrys

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2013 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: blackberry, Lenovo, rumour, purchase

As we have heard before there are rumours that Lenovo is interested in possibly buying Blackberry, or at least trying.  The hurdle they face is not economic, not only do they have 2 billion in cash lying around looking for something useful to do they managed to make some impressive profits in the PC business at a time where their competitors were feeling the downturn in the economy.  The hurdle will be regulatory, as mentioned before the Canadian Government is leery of trend for major Canadian companies to sell themselves to foreign investors.  On the other hand, would the government be willing to watch a company go down the path Nortel was forced to travel, with the entire company and IP being sold piecemeal?  It is hard to predict, especially since this is still at the rumour stage, but from the information The Register published it would seem that the rumours were enough to float Blackberry's stock up by 10%.

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"Shares in BlackBerry, the company formerly known as both RIM and a world leader in smartphone shipments, jumped up ten per cent on Monday after Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing said that a buyout "could possibly make sense."

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Source: The Register

Won't sell Surface? You won't have a choice if we buy you!

Subject: General Tech | February 4, 2013 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: dell, microsoft, purchase

It is a bit of an exaggeration to entertain the thought that Microsoft is involved in buying Dell so that they will finally have a supplier that will have to sell Surface tablets but you can bet there will be some Dell branded Win8 ultra-portables bearing touchscreens released in the near future.  Microsoft and Dell have been close partners for quite a while, on the retail side but more importantly on the enterprise side and there will not be any changes to that partnership if Microsoft does indeed purchase a part of Dell.  What might change drastically is Dell's product lineup; with no stockholders demanding a steady dribble of short term profits regardless of the effect of long term profits Dell will be free to develop products and product lines which might be more varied.  That does not guarantee success in the development and sales of new products, but it will be interesting to see what Dell comes up with if the sale does go through.  On the other hand it could be that Dell's allegiance will be torn between the various companies involved in this buy out and that innovation will be stifled by it.  Get more predictions from The Register right here.

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"It’s a comment on the times that Dell floated in 1988, just as IBM compatible PCs – systems running Intel chips fused with the then-new Windows operating system – were exploding into people's homes and workplaces, taking the PC from the hands of enthusiasts. Two decades later, Dell's going private as PC sales tumble at the expense of tablets while web2.0 companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Zynga are the ones listing."

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Source: The Register

Lenovo to buy RIM? That's a little hard to swallow.

Subject: General Tech | January 25, 2013 - 01:16 PM |
Tagged: RIM, Lenovo, blackberry, purchase, rumour

We are looking at all opportunities -- RIM and many others” is the actual quote from Chief Financial Officer Wong Wai Ming that spurred the speculation that Lenovo is going to buy RIM.  These rumours have spread to the point that Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has gone on record to say that any such proposal would be scrutinized by the government before it could go through.  If you look over the past five years of the Harper government and how they have treated foreign acquisition of large Canadian companies you will notice a pattern, the sale of MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates Ltd. to an American based company was blocked, sale of Potash Corp to the Australians was blocked and while Nexen was purchased by a Chinese mining firm, the current Canadian government is on record as saying no more state companies will be allowed to buy oil sands firms.

It is not just the regulatory hurdles that make this sale seem unlikely, at least in the terms pundits are currently bandying about.  Lenovo did base their current success on purchasing IBM's hardware line but it was at a time when IBM chose to move out of the hardware business; IBM did not have to sell off that successful business but instead saw an opportunity in doing so.  RIM on the other hand is in trouble and if they try to flog their hardware business off to the highest bidder they are not going to meet with the success that IBM did.  In fact, even without seeing the 10 new phones that will be arriving in the near future, it is not a stretch to theorize that they will not have the speed and attractiveness of Samsung or HTCs current or upcoming models. 

What is sexy about RIM is behind the scenes, their architecture (at least now that they've moved away from the single point of failure model) and the security features that Blackberrys on a proper BES have.  Native ActiveSync support is nice as BYOD becomes more common in the corporate world but those devices lack the security assurances that a Blackberry has, which is what makes it attractive to Governments and Security Agencies across the world in addition to corporate users.  It is also the only part of the company that IBM found interesting when the last set of RIM rumours circulated.  It is possible that the stories such as you can see at The Register have some merit, it would seem far more likely that Lenovo would be considering a purchase similar to their IBM purchase, sell and support the hardware but not the software side.

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"Lenovo CFO Wong Wai Ming says the company is actively pursuing ways to improve its position in the mobile device market, spurring speculation that the Chinese firm may be planning to cozy up with Research in Motion – or even swallow it whole."

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Source: The Register

Motherboard manufacturer merger mayhem

Subject: General Tech | September 28, 2012 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: purchase, merger, asus, asrock

The news from DigiTimes yesterday that Haswell will take even more features away from the motherboard and place them on the CPU signalled a problem for second and third tier manufacturers was worrying.  With less and less features being available for motherboard manufacturers to use to distinguish their products the market becomes less profitable for those boards which can't afford the additional costs incurred by including Thunderbolt or other high end features.  That could well spell the end of several current motherboard manufacturers.

If that wasn't enough to worry you about the possibility of having less choice in system parts in the future, how about the news coming out of SemiAccurate that ASUS is looking to purchase ASRock's motherboard business.  If that was to occur ASUS would own a huge portion of the first tier of motherboards and swamp Gigabyte with the volume they could produce.  At the same time they could leverage ASRock's lower cost motherboard business and compete with the second tier motherboard manufacturers.  With the competition being so fierce and the added features being so limited, at least for Intel boards, the third tier would not have a snowballs chance in the market and would collapse except for a few custom boards for niche markets.   Not the best news for enthusiasts or cost conscious consumers.

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"Currently word has it that an offer has been made for Asrock, and Pegatron is essentially fine with the terms. This would take the #1 and #3 mobo makers and combine them, leaving the industry with one massive behemoth, one solid player, and a lot of minnows struggling to make waves. As of now, there is a first tier of Asus and Gigabyte, then Asrock, MSI, and ECS at less than half of that volume, plus a few niche players in the motherboard market."

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Source: SemiAccurate

Remember VIA Technologies?

Subject: General Tech | August 16, 2012 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: VIA, purchase

There was a time when VIA was a common name in computers for motherboard chipsets and low power processors, but it has been quite a while since they've been in the news.  It's PC division has been having a very rough couple of years; only their telecom, USB and ARM branches have been bringing in money.  They do however own quite a few patents which has attracted the attention of an unnamed China-based communications chip player who, according to DigiTimes, are looking to purchase VIA.  This will likely have little effect on the North American market but could put them in much better standing in the Asian markets.

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"In the first half of 2012, VIA suffered net losses of NT$1.86 billion (US$62 million) and compared to the same period a year ago, the amount increased 63% with EPS already at negative NT$1.89. Although the company achieved an on-month growth in July revenues, due to the weak global economy and strong competition in China's white-box market, market watchers are mostly conservative about its future performance."

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Source: DigiTimes

Micron goes on a spending spree, picks up Elpida and a big majority of Rexchip shares

Subject: General Tech | July 3, 2012 - 02:07 PM |
Tagged: purchase, billions, micron, Elpida, rexchip, powerchip, DRAM, flash

Micron has been very busy lately, spending $2.5 billion USD to purchase Elpida and another $334 million USD to purchase another 24% of DRAM maker Rexchip from Powerchip.  The latter of those purchases gives Micron a total of 89% of the existing shares of Rexchip which may not give them outright ownership of Rexchip but gives them such a huge majority that they can determine the outcome of any vote which is presented to shareholders.  Rexchip brings a single 300mm Fab working on 30nm process to the table, which gives Micron a bit more manufacturing capability to utilize for what is likely to be a busy season for them.

The Elpida purchase is much bigger for both the industry and Micron, especially as they decided to buy the company outright instead of purchasing a subsidiary or only the IP of Elpida.  Instead the company will remain intact for the near future though there will likely be changes to the executive structure as they are integrated with Micron.  Not only does this purchase give them access to all property, intellectual or physical, that Elpida currently possesses it give Micron an in at Apple as it was Elpida that supplied much of the chips used by Apple.  That would put Micron in the enviable position of supplying both PC and Apple products.  DigiTimes breaks down the deal here.

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"Micron Technology and Elpida Memory's trustees have signed a definitive sponsor agreement for Micron to acquire Elpida, according to the US memory chipmaker. The agreement has been entered into in connection with Elpida's corporate reorganization proceedings conducted under the jurisdiction of the Tokyo District Court.

Micron revealed that under the agreement, JPY200 billion (US$2.5 billion) total consideration and less certain reorganization proceeding expenses will be used to satisfy the reorganization claims of Elpida's secured and unsecured creditors. Micron will acquire 100% of the equity of Elpida for JPY60 billion to be paid in cash at closing."

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Source: DigiTimes

Intel's interconnect business grows after buying Cray's technolgy

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2012 - 01:03 PM |
Tagged: purchase, interconnect, Intel, cray, aries

Anyone who follows the supercomputer business has had quite a bit of excitement recently, with major shifts in the market becoming quite frequent.  Intel started it off by purchasing QLogic's Infiniband networking technology which allows the connection of separate high performance computers over an extremely low latency and high bandwidth path, utilizing PCIe.  This will give Intel a big edge when clustering multiple HPCs on a network. 

Next it was AMD's turn as they snagged SeaMicro out from underneath Intel's nose and purchased the rights to their 3D torus interconnect technology.  This is a processor agnostic interconnect for within an HPC which is targeted at low power processors and is specifically designed to get the most efficient use of every watt that the system consumes.  This could lead to some ironic HPCs which use AMD's interconnect technology to link together large amounts of Intel Atom processors.

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Today a bigger change was announced, to the tune of $140 million, as Intel purchased Cray's interconnect technology.  This architecture is the polar opposite of SeaMicro's and focuses on creating the most massively powerful HPCs possible on current technology and requires an immense amount of electricity to power.  For quite a while Cray utilized AMD's HyperTransport technology and favoured large amounts of Opteron processors to power its supercomputers but that relationship soured thanks AMD's supply problems and delayed technology refreshes.  Cray abandoned AMD and never even looked at Intel's QPI, instead they designed an interconnect technology of their own, one which could use any processor.  Now that technology belongs to Intel.  You can see what The Register thinks this move signifies in their full article.

"Intel really is taking networking and system interconnects very seriously, and is buying the interconnect hardware business from massively parallel supercomputer maker Cray for $140m."

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Source: The Register