Intel starts shifting their executives and planning for the future

Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2012 - 11:44 AM |
Tagged: Intel

The names are familiar to those of us who obsess over technology; Dadi Perlmutter, Paul Otellini, Mooly Eden, Andy Bryant and others have defined Intel for a while now and are obviously quite good at their jobs.   However just as Andy Grove and others of the old guard had to change their positions at Intel after many years of service, the current stars of Intel are also beginning to age.  The Register reports today on the movement of employees at Intel, which reflect a much more positive change in structure than the restructuring which recently took place at AMD.

Kirk Skaugen is a name to pay attention to, he has replaced Mooly Eden as head of PC chip operations while Mooly heads to Israel to take over Intel's operations in that country.  Another name that may become very familiar is Diane Bryant, the once CIO is now general manager of the Data Centre and Connected Systems Group.  Dale Perlmutter remains Intel's chief product officer, but he is one of the few that did not move.  Read the full article to see which other names will help Intel in coming battles with AMD, ARM and others.

perlmutter.jpg

"Management changes at Intel make it more clear who might end up running the company – after the current execs decide to retire many years hence – and who is going to be leading the fight against ARM processors at the bottom of the Intel line and RISC processors at the top."

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Source: The Register

After Hours Gaming League (AHGL) -- Season 2 begins.

Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2012 - 03:59 AM |
Tagged: day9, ahgl

What do you do when you leave work?

Last summer, Sean (Day[9]) Plott hosted a Starcraft 2 tournament for those who may not be professional gamers -- but who are professionals. Employees of Amazon, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Yelp, and Zynga fought for Starcraft supremacy. In the playoff finals, Microsoft bested Zynga both in tagline (“Macro hard, Microsoft” vs. “glhf play farmville on facebook”) as well as the evermore important win count. For their success, Microsoft received $5000.01 of Sean Plott’s money to be donated to Amnesty International, their charity of choice. This week, Day[9] announced season 2 of the AHGL where about 30 teams will compete in two separate ladders: one for Starcraft 2, and the other for League of Legends.

ahgl.jpg

Huh, if they drop it… will it bounce?

The teams for each game were announced with Starcraft 2 having a much larger turnout with 29 teams.

Adobe Amazon AMD Digital Extremes
Dropbox EA Epic Ernst & Young
Facebook FactSet Geek Squad Google
IBM Intel Legend3D LinkedIn
Microsoft Mozilla NVIDIA Palantir
Pipeworks Qualcomm RapidShare Shopify
TwitchTV Twitter Western Digital Zappos
Zynga      

 

League of Legends is much more modest with just 11 teams competing.

Amazon EA  Epic Ernst & Young
FactSet Gearbox Google Intel
Microsoft Promethean World Zappos  

 

While there tournament itself is exciting, I am slightly more interested in the commentary to be had if fierce rivals such as AMD and NVIDIA, or Intel and Qualcomm manage to face each other. Is it cheating for Amazon to own Zappos? There still does not appear to be any announcements regarding the casters for the events apart from Day[9] himself, although persumably "Husky" will make a return. Check it out at their website.

Source: AHGL

ARM isn't worried about Intel ... wonder if the reverse is true?

Subject: General Tech | January 20, 2012 - 01:06 PM |
Tagged: Medfield, Intel, arm

With Medfield being a large part of CES 2012, there is a currently a big focus on Intel's foray into the mobile world.  One company that does not seemed worried is ARM who have been, and continue to be, the largest supplier of processors for mobile applications.  DigiTimes spoke to Jeff Chu of ARM who stated that his company does not perceive Intel as a threat to their market share.  That perception is largely based on the limited product lines that Intel currently offers, as compared to ARM who offers a very wide variety of platforms. 

On the other hand intel, even with record breaking income, might be a little concerned about ARM.  With Windows on ARM arriving to the market some time in the near future Intel could see erosion in their desktop business, as for that matter so could AMD.  As well with companies like Caxeda creating rack mount servers utilizing ARM processors both of the major server chip suppliers should probably be a little worried.  After all there are about four ARM processors per person on the planet currently.

DT1_r.jpg

"ARM is not under competitive pressure from Intel's move into processor platforms for handheld devices, because Intel does not let clients know the value of adopting its platforms while ARM has provided different application platforms for different partners for market segmentation, according to director of consumer, client computing, Jeff Chu for ARM.

Chu pointed out that ARM has already developed products to correspond to Intel's Medfield platform, and since Intel is currently only promoting one platform, ARM's different application platforms allow the company to achieve its goal of market segmentation."

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Source: DigiTimes

Harry Reid Announces Senate Delay On PIPA Vote

Subject: General Tech | January 20, 2012 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: SOPA, pipa, Internet, Copyright

After the numerous website protests of SOPA and PIPA on Wednesday, quite a few representatives and senators started to backpedal on their support for their respective bills. Among the politicians that retracted their full support for the bill include:

  • Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire)
  • Roy Blunt (Missouri)
  • John Boozman (Arkansas)
  • Scott Brown (Massachusets)
  • Orrin Hatch (Utah)
  • Tim Holden (Pennsylvania)
  • Lee Terry (Nebraska)
  • Jeff Merkley (Oregon),
  • Ben Quayle (Arizona)
  • Marco Rubio (Florida)

A fairly nice boost to the SOPA/PIPA opposition group. While both SOPA and PIPA are far from dead, both bills have now been delayed from being voted on in the House of Representatives and the Senate. We reported on the SOPA delay here, and Lamar Smith has since stated that he will be pushing for a SOPA vote around February 24th. Now, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid, a democrat from Nevada, announced that a PIPA vote would be delayed until a compromise can be reached. On one hand, this means that PIPA is far from dead and the wording of "compromise" implies a slight wording change here or there so that they can pass it with less opposition. If; however, I'm being optimistic, the delay gives Americans more time to talk with their representatives about the bill and their concerns. Reid further stated that (allegedly) piracy costs the economy "billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year," and that:

"We made good progress through the discussions we’ve held in recent days, and I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks.”

Make of that what you will, but personally I'm of the opinion that it's not time to get comfortable. Keep the pressure on our Representatives and Senators by calling and sending letters. For example, one concern that I would like answered is this: Using the MegaUpload take-down as an example, why exactly do we need this law that takes away due process when that very same technique was used to take down a website. Obviously we already have methods in place to combat believed piracy, and a court system to, as fairly as possible, charge and punish those found guilty; therefore, why do we legitimately need SOPA and/or PIPA?

Kodak Files Chapter 11, Looks To Bankruptcy For Protection

Subject: General Tech | January 20, 2012 - 01:24 AM |
Tagged: kodak, chapter 11, bankrupt, restructure, patents, cameras, photography

Eastman Kodak company has been on the rocky edges financially for some time and late last year there were rumors that Kodak would be filing for bankruptcy. Well, it looks like the company's financial position is now official, as they have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and are working to restructure their US operations and become profitable. The company has paired with Lazard, FTI Consulting Inc and Sullivan & Cromwell to assist them in shaving down their business into a lean, mean, picture capturing machine. Under their Chapter 11 filing, Kodak will work to bolster liquidity by trimming down the business to its core and monetizing their "non-strategic intellectual property." The IP likely will involve Kodak selling off some of their non-core patents for imaging. After all, they have a catalog of 1,100 patents, so they definitely have plenty of room to work with in monetizing their assets.

Kodak.gif

According to Tom's Hardware, since 2003 the company has shut down 13 manufacturing plants, 130 processing facilities, and shed 47,000 workers. Further, to help with the restructuring process, they have obtained $950 million debtor-in-possession loan through Citigroup that will mature in 18 months. This should give the company enough cash to tide them over while they restructure and prepare to sell off certain assets. Kodak states that "Kodak aims to build company that will be successful in the marketplace – and a positive force in the communities we call home." It is important to note that the non-U.S. based operations of Kodak are not affected by the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

Kodak has set up a web page to detail their restructuring efforts.

Source: Kodak

FBI Arrests Seven People for Insider Trading of Dell and Nvidia Stock

Subject: General Tech | January 19, 2012 - 06:40 PM |
Tagged: dell, nvidia, insider trading, tech, Law, ethics

There is an important distinction between working within the confines of the law to make the most profit possible and going outside those lines to make a profit while hoping you don't get caught. To drive that point home, the FBI has stated "what distinguishes you from the dozens who have been charged is not that you haven’t been caught; it’s that you haven’t been caught yet." Assistant Director in Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk wrote that when referring to a recent bust of seven individuals accused of insider trading of Dell and Nvidia stock. The arrests, made as part of Operation Perfect Hedge, include seven men who are connected by "friendship or business association."

funny-pictures-fbi-cat-installs-surveillance-while-you-are-away.jpg

Thanks to three of the seven men cooperating with the FBI, we know that the men used information about Dell and Nvidia's quarterly earnings prior to any public release of such earnings documents to purchase stock to resell after positive earning documents caused the stock value to increase or to short their stock to avoid losses that would be incurred by lower than expected quarterly earnings causing the stock price to drop. On the Dell side of things, two employees in the know provided quarterly earnings numbers to various hedge funds. The first employee, Sandy Goyal, is charged with providing a hedge fund with Q1 earning results for 2008 in exchange for $175,000. The hedge fund then used that insider information to make $3.8 million dollars. Another (former) Dell employee, Jesse Tortora furnished three hedge funds with quarterly earnings numbers who each then made $4 million on Q1 information and $53 million on the Q2 information, $1 million in profit, and the final Hedge fund avoided #78,000 in losses by selling stock before the inevitable price drop thanks to knowing the negative earning numbers before hand.

Finally, Danny kuo knew someone who worked at Nvidia and provided information to the other members of the insider trading group.

Let this be a lesson to those business folks that slept through ethics classes, stay away from insider trading, especially when you are paid for the information as you are just asking to get caught. (Cue the "Cops" theme song).  Normally we don't cover this kind of news; however, I thought it applicable since it involves Dell and Nvidia.  Also, speaking of quarterly earnings, Josh will have all the details from today's Intel Earnings Call up soon.

Source: FBI

TSMC finds Samsung to be a competing Foundry

Subject: General Tech | January 19, 2012 - 11:51 AM |
Tagged: TSMC, Samsung, fab

When thinking of foundries one first tends to think of Intel, TSMC and GLOBALFOUNDRIES, but from what TSMC's Chairman revealed yesterday you might start thinking about the Fab 4 instead.  Samsung have been making DRAM and NAND memory for quite a while now as anyone who has inspected their DIMMs or SSD is well aware and their hard drive business is well known.  What has not been in enthusiasts' minds is the System LSI (Large Scale Integration), component of Samsung which designs logic chips for cellphones, SOCs, sensors and many other low powered tasks. 

While TSMC remains much larger than the System LSI portion of Samsung but TSMC feels that Samsung could become a major competitor over the coming year.  TSMC's product lines certainly do overlap some of Samsung's currently and there are new projects in the work that TSMC sees as vulnerable.  DigiTimes specifically mentions the TSV chips powering 3D TVs and the possibility of competition when Apple looks to source the 3D TVs they will be adding to the set top boxes they currently sell.

pkg_technicalinfo_TSV_01.gif

"Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, has now identified Samsung Electronics as a potential and formidable competitor in the market in which it still controls a dominant share.

During a Q&A session at TSMC's investors meeting on January 18, Morris Chang, TSMC chairman and CEO, said that Samsung will substantially expand what it calls the System LSI division. In addition to servicing its clients, the business also plays a major role in supplying Samsung's own-brand system products such as smartphones and tablets with logic chips, Chang indicated."

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Source: DigiTimes

Alienware X51 Desktop -- Console Sized PC, $700 and up.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems | January 18, 2012 - 07:25 PM |
Tagged: GTX 555, GT 545, dell, alienware

Alienware has been long known for two things: having interesting case designs, and being prohibitively expensive. For the last five years or so, Alienware has been a subsidiary of Dell to displace their gaming XPS product line into a non-gaming higher-end line. They have recently announced their X51 product line as Jeremy noted earlier, but what does that mean for someone interested in PC Gaming?

alienware-1.jpg

Like how it looks? Dude, you’re getting a Dell!

Jeremy’s post went through the range of base models and their associated prices. The main product page listed the features of the higher-end base unit along with two other points: the chassis can be vertically or horizontally mounted; and you can upgrade your core components easily. While the latter statement is great to make, it should also be noted that with a maximum 330W power supply, your upgrade options -- while potentially easy -- are quite limited.

x51-3.png

The choice in video cards is split between the GeForce GT 545 and the GeForce GTX 555: these are both OEM-only GPUs and thus benchmarks are at this time difficult to find. The GT 545 contains 144 CUDA cores clocked at 870/1740 MHz with the memory clocked at 1998 MHz. Should you opt for the higher-end GTX 555, your GPU contains exactly twice the CUDA cores (288) clocked slightly slower at 776/1553 MHz and a slightly lower memory clock of 1914 MHz.

alienware-2.jpg

Dude, you regretting a Dell?

In terms of Alienware-specific perks, Alienware has developed the “Alienware Command Center”; this application allows you to customize the lighting on your chassis as well as control programs and tweak your system. While a nice value-addition, it is obviously more gimmicky than practical; but really, isn’t that a large portion of why you are purchasing an Alienware computer? At least they look to be decent gimmicks. The price also does not appear to be too high compared to what you are getting from what I can tell. You would obviously be in a better position to assemble a desktop yourself and probably even commission your local small business computer store to do it for you, but the Alienware’s price does not appear to be in a distant galaxy.

So what do you think?

Source: Alienware

Lucid Cloud Gaming (VGWare) and XLR8 on Tablets Demo

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 18, 2012 - 03:29 PM |
Tagged: CES, lucid, xlr8, vgware, cloud

Even though CES 2012 is behind us, there are still some things we took photos or video of that we wanted to show you.  First up, Lucid had a suite off the strip to demonstrate a couple of new technologies coming from the company in 2012.  VGWare is the current name for the cloud-based gaming technology based on the Lucid GPU virtualization technology that allows for games to be rendered on a server and played on a remote machine with only minimal hardware.

In the video above you see two integrated-GPU based notebooks playing Modern Warfare 2 (two instances) and Madagascar being rendered on a machine running an NVIDIA GTX 480 GPU.  

Lucid intends to offer this technology to larger-scale companies that would want to compete with someone like OnLive or maybe even software developers directly.  While that is what we expected, I told them that I would like to see a consumer version of this application - have a single high-powered gaming PC in your home and play games on multiple "thin client" PCs for LAN parties, etc.  What do you all think - is that something you see as useful?

The second demo was for Lucid's XLR8 software that promises to improve performance of gaming on PCs, phones and tablets by intelligently managing display synchronization and GPU performance.

The really interesting part about XLR8 is the flexibility it offers - in our video you see it running on an ASUS Transformer tablet via the NVIDIA Tegra 2 SoC.  Frame rates jumped about 40% but we didn't get enough hands on time with the configuration to truly make a decision on whether or not it was an improved gaming experience.  Hopefully Lucid will get this technology to us soon for some hands-on time.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

DX11 to beam up Captain

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2012 - 02:24 PM |
Tagged: gaming, star trek online

Gaming news is a little light this week, partially because of CES coverage eating up most reviewers time but also because some review sites are blacked out today in protest of SOPA/PIPA.  However, [H]ard|OCP has something for Trekkies to check out.  They are in on the DX11 beta for Star Trek Online which allows those using mid or high end features to enjoy more eye candy when playing.  They take you through the steps to enable DX11 as it is not going to be enabled by default as well as checking the quality improvements and any impact on frame rates.  If you are on this MMORPG it is an article well worth checking out.

H_trek.jpg

"Star Trek Online has recently added DX11 Beta support, and we wanted to know how AMD's latest Radeon HD 7970 compared to NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580 in the game and if DX11 provided any kind of performance difference over DX9. Our results were not what we expected."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP