One would have presumed that come launch of Microsoft's online store, it would soley be flooded with nothing more than MS owned products, both hardware and software. But if you head on over and check it out as of now you will see that they're going well beyond with third party hardware and software including Sony netbooks, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing software etc.
AMD/ATI partner VisionTek is making efforts to branch out into market segments other than just VGA and it begins by partnering with Bigfoot Networks, the company behind the Killer NIC for gamers, said to provide much better performance (lower pings and CPU usage) than traditional NICs.
VisionTek call it the Killer Xeno Pro and we learn that this variant uses a PCI-e x1 interface and comes with a much better software package.
Pricing and availability is yet to be disclosed.
There is a new list of the top 10 technologies that will be strategic for companies in 2010.
The list was compiled by the Gartner who defines a strategic technology as one that can have a significant impact on the enterprise within two years.
So what is on the list? What new technologies should you be concerned with for 2010? After each we will give you a little of our take.
Gartner lists the following:
This is being shoveled to the IT world in great and greater volumes. The thing is for anyone that is in IT and understands security this is not a solution. It is a method for service providers (including software service providers) to save money at the expense of the customer. We know that security for these types of services are nowhere near what they need to be yet we now hear it is a leading strategic technology for 2010.
This is actually an old one that is just getting more prominence because it is now economically viable to run much of this from a computer. In the past it was decision flow charts and long documents covering "what if"
Again a regression back in time. Many Many years ago the concept of the client/server was nothing more than a server (mainframe) and a dumb terminal (client) all of the processing was done on the server and the client was used to display the results only. Yet here we are 20 years down the road and seeing a return to this model. I guess the more things change... It is also a way to push cloud computing on the market as the "client OS" can be pushed from a cloud based service.
IT for Green
This one is actually one that we agree with completely. IT and its services have to become more ecologically conscious. However, we must proceed with caution as the "green" initiative has been used as an excuse to push cloud computing
Reshaping the Data Center
This is another move that we can support. The shift from the traditional floor space eating Data Centers to a more modular "Pod" based setup. Take a look at the trailer based setup that Google and Microsoft have to get an idea.
This is the security experts nightmare, Social Computing. You see everyone wants to be connected to their personal lives even when at work. But should a company support that? Should a company really engage in using a Facebook, Twitter, or other social computing products? Personally I say no. It is enabling a decay in the way information is presented and consumed. The short attention span posts found on Twitter and places like Facebook should not be the way companies talk to the world.
Security - Advanced Monitoring
Ah, another move towards the cloud. This one is interesting in that it does provide a needed service but, can take the control away from many companies. The problem is not that many companies do not know how to deal with threats. It is in fact that too many companies do not even know there are threats. Since upper management lacks this knowledge they often will not spend the money on hiring the right people to perform this service in house. If someone offers them this for a reasonable cost they will jump at it.
It is sadly not the right way to go, but one that is inevitable.
We have been in contact with Seagate an others about this move and it seems that too many enterprise class companies are not going to consider this as viable until they see a clear standard. Right now everyone has their own way of making SSDs, USB keys, pretty much any type of Flash memory. There are also long term usage issues that must be resolved before considering this in a mission critical space.
Virtualization for Availability
Another one that has been long in coming. In fact many companies use this already. with Products like VMWare's ESX and VSphere using V-Motion it is easy to setup. With V-Motion live migration you store the VM (Virtual Machine) images on a central SAN (Storage Area Network) this is then connected to a bank of identical servers (at least two). If one server goes down or is overloaded V-Motion can automatically shift those VMs to another server to keep you up and running. The down side is that the initial cost is pretty hefty for the equipment you must have to use this. Because of this Virtualization for Availability will remain out of the reach for many companies.
Depending on how you read this it can mean applications for mobile devices like smart phones and smart books or it can again be a push towards cloud services. Either way you are looking at increased security risks. The loss of a corporate device is not something to be taken lightly, while storing all of your applications and data on a remote server leaves you open to a larger base of attack (the bigger the target the more attacks per minute).
It is an interesting list. Gartner does know what they are doing here. Indeed all of these should be carefully watched. Especially as they are not all they seem on the surface. Many of these are technologies that have been out for years, but now are being pushed as a method to reduce costs. The rub is that most of these will take a lot of money to get in place and working, this leave the small, medium and many larger businesses out as they just do not have the funds to invest in this type of project.
So, while it is nice to cover these and talk about them as strategic technologies that companies should plan for, it is not really going to make that large of an impact and certainly not in the 2-3 year time frame. Adoption of any high capital outlay technology is significantly slower than that especially in a slow economy.
In timely fashion with the launch of Windows 7 this coming Thursday, Microsoft plans to open its first "Microsoft Store" in Scottsdale. To help gather the masses MS has decided to give the first 1,000 visitors free gift bags as well as tickets to an Ashley Tisdale concert set to kick off come 5PM.
Every PC buyer on launch day gets a free HP printer and a copy of Office 2007 Home & Student. The strategy partly mirrors Apple's tendency to offer concerts at flagship stores as well as its giveaways, though the Mac producer rarely offers special discounts.
Microsoft is known to be patterning its store design closely after Apple retail with answer bars and open spaces but with an emphasis on customization as well as all of Microsoft's main product lines, including Windows Mobile, Xbox 360 and Zune.
NVIDIA's Tegra is looking pretty good right now. First it manages to land in Microsoft's Zune HD player. This iPod Touch competitor has been doing great so far with many stores reporting that they are sold out of them and waiting for stock. This is good for both Microsoft and NVIDIA. For MS it shows that they can compete in the Apple centric PMP market. For NVIDIA it shows that Tegra is a viable product and one that is capable of doing the job in a small package.
Now we hear that Nintendo is planning to drop Tegra (either the current or next gen version) into their new DS portable game player. This is great news and one that is sure to push the Tegra towards the 50% company revenue goal that NVIDIA CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang talked about earlier this year.
The news comes from multiple sources and seems to be close to the mark. Of course neither NVIDIA nor Nintendo are commenting on this as of this writing but our sources also confirm this and say that we should see quite a few more items with Tegra under the hood, including SmartPhones, Netbooks, SmartBooks and more. Some of these devices have already reached internal testing by different providers. This means we could see even more Tegra based products alone with the Nintendo DS next year.
In the wake of the (somewhat inaccurate) news of the GT200 parts being discontinued we hear that many partners have ordered significant quantities of NVIDIA's new Fermi GPU. In some cases it was ordering Fermi that caused the shortage of GT200 GPUs in the first place. According to a few sources that we spoke with they anticipated delivery of Fermi GPUs earlier as such they were shifting from production of the GTX 260, 275 and 285s for the holiday season.
As such many manufacturers have had to shift allocation from their EMEA divisions to the US to meet demand there this has caused a false famine in parts at some companies.
Now while all of that is interesting, it does point out one thing. The GT300 appears to have been pushed back from the original production date. We have heard that originally GT300 was supposed to launch around the end of October. Now the time for the public launch is sometime in the middle of November. This could be the reason for the early demo of the Fermi Architecture instead of an actual launch.
All of that aside, OEMs are very eager to get their hands on Fermi. All of the ones we spoke to believe the GT300 will be quite the performer once they are able to get it out in the stores. The Fermi team has their work cut out for them as they still have yet to show Fermi Running DX11 or any type of real gaming performance. We hope they are up to it though, as it is sort of boring in a one sided GPU world.
I tell you it must be the time of year. It seems like most of the new traveling around is a lot of mudslinging. After the round of bad FUD over NVIDIA (stupidly) showing off a fake card (I still think it is not a big deal). We now hear that someone is throwing mud at Microsoft's Project Pink.
This brings many, many doubts to mind about the project and what is going on behind the scenes here. Why would someone leak information to an Apple oriented site about an MS project? Why would they then follow up there if they are trying to give context?
There is really one thing that jumps top mind. The Zune HD launch was successful, Microsoft out did themselves with it and now someone, is worried about the chances of a phone in this device, or about a phone with the same type of functions the Zune HD has. This type of mud slung in the right directions pulls the attention away from the success of the Zune HD. Most people remember bad news before they remember good news (and of course recent news better than older obviously). If you throw in a scandal, name names, and "leak it" from an inside source it is a readers' dream. Once the seeds are sown and the news makes its rounds, well the damage is done.
So in the next few months I would keep your heads down. Otherwise you might get hit by a flying mud.
The folks at Digitimes have some info to share about Apple's upcoming tablet PC. It's been discovered that this unit is actually being manufactured by Foxconn and is expected to commence shipping at the beginning of next year.
All we know about it at this stage is that it will use a 10.6" display and Foxconn could perhaps secure the panels from its subsidiary Innolux display. The main point of focus for this tablet PC will be more so towards e-book functionality as opposed to music, and in Apple likeliness it'll also boast long battery life, easy internet connectivity and a very simple user interface.
We sure know Apple don't like their feet being trodden on and they'll go to any measure to ensure their image maintains its separative values. This of course goes right down to their logo.
They've had stern words with companies in the past who have dared try anything similar using the fruit we all know and love and now they're shaking the finger at Australian based company Woolworths for their latest design.
"While we can't rule anything out, we haven't got any plans (when it comes to computers and gadgetry) at the moment." But is their logo an apple, or does it even look like one? The Australian-based Woolworths claims that their logo is simply a stylized "W" paired with an "abstract leaf symbol". One could, however, also say that it's a stylized person with outstretched arms, or an "apple being peeled".
Microsoft has an uphill battle against the iTunes App Store and Apple knows it. Today Apple announced that downloads from the iTunes App Store have topped two billion. This is an impressive number no matter what type of application it is that it being downloaded.
Of course some people will say that the iTunes App Store has gotten cluttered with crap (and this is true) but still 2 Billion downloads is a lot. Apple did not break out the details of the 2 billion but you can be sure that many of the apps are the free or "lite" versions that people grab before shelling out the money for the full version.
Still, no matter what, MS is going to have to rush to catch up, as of today they have a grand total of nine, seven games and two utilities. This is in contrast with the 85,000 in the App Store. Of course anyone that has browse through the App Store knows that a good number of that 85k is nothing but trash.
Someone over at Google might be having one too many at lunch recently. For some reason they have sent a cease and desist order over to Cyanogen.
If you are not familiar with Cyanogen it is a software that allows you to root your Android Phone.
So why would Google do this? My thoughts are that someone jumped the gun on this and in typical corporate lawyer fashion; they do not understand the technology or method so they jump in it as a threat. Why do I think this? Well take a look at the order from Google and you will easily see it.
The order is asking the developer of Cyanogen to stop distributing the closed-source Google apps like Gmail, Maps, and YouTube as these are meant for "Google Experience" devices. All sounds ok so far, that is until you discover that Cyanogen is targeted those same devices and not at non Google Experience products.
The developer of Cyanogen is working to start up talks with Google to see if he can not only talk some sense to them but to actually find out what they are really talking about.
Ah the game of leapfrog is so much fun, your ahead, I'm ahead. It never stops. This game is even more fun for the IT industry. The four major players (well three actually) fight for position in the market place. Each wants to be "first" at something. For example AMD was able to say they have the "First" Native Dual and Quad Core CPUs. Intel can say they were "First" to 32nm. ATi (AMD) can say they were "First" to use Physics on the GPU and the First to leverage the GPU as a processor. NVDIA...First with PhysX and Full scale GPGPU support…
Well you get the picture. So, why do I bring this all up? Simply because Intel is announcing that they will have a 22nm process for 2011. This means that by the time that AMD (Global Foundries) is hitting bulk production of 32nm CPUs, Intel will be cranking out a full node smaller.
They are getting to this size with a reduction in leakage thanks to a new version of their Hi-K Metal Gate (HKGM) material. This reduction in size (and leakage) means more energy and heat efficient CPUs. A reduction in process also means being able to pack more transistors into the same space, which of course means more functionality.
Of course all of this comes as we see Intel gearing up for a Q4 production of the new 32nm Gulftown Hexa-Core CPU. Intel is also showing off its new Sandy Bridge 32nm architecture. All in all it looks like a pretty good future for Intel.
Hmmm, you know that we do not like FUD here. We try our best to qualify rumor from verifiable facts. That having been said we have some interesting news this morning.
It is about the much talked about GT300. You see there is a rumor that nVidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang will be heading out to TSMC very soon to talk about yield, pricing and a few other finer points. Now this all on its own is an interesting item, but when you add in the fact that a few of the OEMs I talk to are also saying they have meetings with Huang about the GT300 coming soon, you have a good likelihood that we may see a GT300 very soon.
How soon? Well that is the tricky part. According to a few of my contacts I am hearing that yields are around 40-50%. These are not substantiated as I do not know anyone that works directly for TSMC. However, the idea of a Visit to TSMC by Huang would usually mean a couple of things. Either the yields are below where they need to be for a launch. Or they are there and it is time to finalize price.
I am leaning toward the later as everything I am hearing puts the launch around the beginning to middle of November with retail availability in mid-December. Again, bear in mind that this is information that I cannot confirm but some of the evidence at hand would seem to back it up.
And the plot thickens around Google and Apple over Google Voice. You see there is this tiny little investigation going on as to why Apple would reject Google Voice and any applications that use it. The simple answer? Why, Apple is saying they never did reject it. Honest they were only checking it out but had never rejected it or any other app (like GV Mobile).
The wrench in that monkey is that Google is saying they were personally told it was rejected by Phil Schiller. This could be a problem if it is true as it would mean that Apple is *gasp* not telling the truth about the rejection of Google Voice and associated applications.
This should be a very interesting investigation and will raise questions (again) about the way Apple handles apps for the iPhone, the exclusive contract they have with AT&T and a few other things about the iPhone.
We all know that Pat Gelsinger is leaving Intel for EMC. This was an announcement made the other day and on the surface did not seem to be much of a big deal. But, as with many things what is in a press release is often not even close to the real truth behind the matter.
If sources are to be believed Pat left Intel not for greener pastures, but because he failed to deliver Larrabee. This corresponds with other rumors we heard about techs leaving for failing to product a working Larrabee by the stated deadline.
Of course the issue of Larrabee being delayed would not be so bad if it was not for the CPU Vs. GPU war between Intel and nVidia. This little tiff brought attention to Larrabee for what it was supposed to be, and also for what it was not, working.
Of course as with any rumor or confidential source all of this must be taken with a grain of salt. Still there are two things we know; Larrabee is nowhere near ready and Pat Gelsinger has left Intel for EMC.
Makes you wonder doesn't it?
If you are tired of heating how nVidia has pushing Cuda support into everything then I have some good news for you. The guys over at AMD have penned a deal with Pixelux. They guys are the one that developed the Digital Molecular Matter engine they have (and still are) a key part of the way Lucas Film and Lucas Arts create effects.
Recently Pixelux was allowed to release an end user plug-in version of DMM for Maya that allows pretty much anyone (that can afford and use Maya) to create effects the same way the Pixelux does.
So what does this have to do with AMD? Well you see AMD in their usual fashion has been pushing an open platform; this is OpenCL (Cuda is also OpenCL just nVidia's version). Well Pixelux is now going to work with AMD to develop OpenCL acceleration for their DMM engine.
This is a very cool development for AMD. Normally they end up taking a back seat to the much more vocal companies like Intel and nVidia. This time they are the ones getting the support for an industry standard rendering application and one that could lead to more.
There has been a lot of talk about Apple's Snow Leopard. Some good, some bad but most of the talk has been in the middle. One of the things that is good in Snow Leopard but is not generally talked about is Grand Central Dispatch.
This handy little piece of software enables the OS to efficiently utilize multiple cores. Now OSX has always been able to handle SMP (Symmetric Multi-Processing) due to its BSD roots but it has had an issue dealing with multiple threaded applications. Yes it could handle them but not always the most efficiently.
Bring in Grand Central Dispatch to fix this problem. It allows for a very effective method for dealing with multi-threaded applications and allows OSX to finally take full advantage of Nehalem's Hyper Threading.
So why am I tell you all of this? Well because Apple has done something with GCD that they usually do not do. They have pushed it out to open source. This means that anyone can use the code base to develop applications that can take advantage of this new technology.
That is a pretty cool thing and not a normal Apple move. Maybe they are opening up finally...Nah probably not.
I think it is time for another award around here. This one goes to Steve Jobs. That is right, the master mind behind Apple. Apple is arguably one of the most successful marketing companies on the face of the planet. They could hype a pair of old shoe laces into something revolutionary and spectacular. They know the market they are playing to and know how to cater to their frenzy.
So when Steve made the comment "Originally, we weren't exactly sure how to market the Touch." many people thought he was joking or simply covering something up. I do not think ANYTHING at Apple is ever even considered without knowing how market it and exactly who it is marketed to. The comment came in response to questions about why a camera was not included with the iPod Touch. Apple chose to shove a low end camera into the iPod Nano instead.
Jobs said in the same comment "What happened was, what customers told us was, they started to see it as a game machine." I am not sure how this is true when the iPhone was not see that way until the 3G S. Granted the touch has all of that now.
Still this week's award for most foolish (and obvious) inconsistent statement goes to Steve Jobs.
Ok on the rumor meter we are keeping track of the ones that come true and the ones that do not.
For this update we have;
No new iPod Touch (delayed launch) - could be due to camera issues reported earlier
New iPod touch is out but not with the camera mentioned. So far it is a small update (using similar hardware to the iPhone 3G S) prices will shift down a little 8GB will be $199 32GB $299 and 64GB will be $399.
iPod Nano - Getting bigger screen and Nike + improvements not larger capacity
iPod Nano is getting a camera and microphone (on the 8GB version) instead of the iPod Touch, and FINALLY FM Raido. Of course the Zune HD will have HD radio so the Nano is going to be behind in that regard. The Nano did indeed get an update to Nike +, and also has a voice over control.
HD video to the iPhone - Rumor is help up by Harmon Kardon listing HD output as an option on one of their dock products.
Nothing on this yet.
iPod Classic - Getting a 160GB flavor
True 160GB will come out at $249.99 spot
As the camera was the "One more thing" I have serious doubts that the iPod Touch will get a camera any time soon. We will have more as things develop.
Hmmm, methinks AMD might have a new marketing strategy. So think on this...AMD cannot compete one on one with Intel. If you put them up clock for clock there is very little chance that an AMD CPU will beat the correspondingly clocked Intel CPU.
So if you are AMD what do you do? Well you start by pricing your products lower than the other guy and say that Dollar for Dollar you have the better product. Now that marketing strategy is great, but really will only last so long. So what else can you do?
To put it simply to take CPUs with Cores and Cache that do not meet full QC. This is not to day they are bad, just that they do not meet full QC. You market these as less expensive products so as to mitigate the normal loss you would have with these "failed" parts.
Now this is a good enough solution as you can sell them for less to the consumer but it is not enough to combat Intel and its dominance. To do that you need an extra...edge. This comes in the form of small BIOS tweaks that magically turn on extra cores and cache that is disabled. Suddenly that X3 you bought is a Quad and that Cacheless Athlon II X4 is a Phenom II X4. Not a bad move at all, but a tad sneaky.
Still when you are dealing with a performance powerhouse like Intel you need all the help you can get. You are still not beating them clock for clock but you are able out price them in a very underhanded way.
The future looks bright for ATi, Microsoft and DX11. Windows 7 is receiving some of the best press that MS has received in the last 5-7 years. This is a great comeback after the technical press and bloggers condemned Windows Vista before it even hit the shelves. Of course this has all changed.
DX11 is taking off much faster than DX10 did and we have even seen some game developers postpone games to recode their engines to take advantage of the new DX. We know of roughly 4 games that should be DX11 and available at the time that Windows 7 Launches.
Two of these titles Grid and DiRT are popular games that should help to bolster sales of Windows 7 for gaming. But on the opposite side we have ATi already showing off DX11 hardware and with highly anticipated titles (like Grid and DiRT). Meanwhile nVidia might show off DX11 capable hardware in September. ATi has already promised DX11 hardware on the shelves for the Windows 7 Launch.
We also see faster driver support from hardware manufacturers. At the same time in Vista's life many hardware companies were still waiting and reluctant to port their existing drivers over. Not so with Windows 7. Many products are already shipping with working and stable drivers for the new OS despite it not actually available for purchase yet.
All of this spells a very good holiday season for these three companies as tech enthusiasts scramble to get DX11 hardware, games and OS as quickly as possible. Unless nVidia can get something out in working form very soon they might lose some of that money this year and have to wait for next.