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IBM Opens the First Server Remanufacturing Center in China

IBM today announced the opening of the first-ever server remanufacturing center in China. The new center, located in Shenzhen, will help reduce the impact of e-waste on the environment by extending the life of older IT equipment that otherwise would go into landfills. IBM will also buy back select IBM Power Systems from clients as they upgrade to new IBM equipment.

The new facility expands IBM's global remanufacturing and refurbishment operations in Australia, Singapore, Japan, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany and the United States. The Shenzhen facility will initially remanufacture hundreds of mid-range IBM Power Systems, which are reconditioned, tested and certified using rigorous processes and original manufacturing standards, or rebuilt to meet specific customer requirements. The facility will rapidly expand to remanufacture 100,000 PCs and low-end and mid-range IBM and non-IBM servers per year by 2014.

IDC: Worldwide Server Market Revenues Increase 5.8% in 2011

According to the International Data Corporation's (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, factory revenue in the worldwide server market decreased 7.2% year over year to $14.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011 (4Q11). This was the first quarterly decline in factory revenue in two years. Worldwide server shipments increased 2.0% to 2.2 million units in 4Q11 when compared with the year-ago period.

For the full year 2011, worldwide server revenue increased 5.8% to $52.3 billion when compared to 2010, while worldwide unit shipments increased 4.2% to 8.3 million units.

On a year-over-year basis, all three classes of servers experienced decreased factory revenue totals in the fourth quarter. Volume systems experienced a 2.0% year-over-year factory revenue decline to $8.8 billion, while midrange revenue decreased 4.6% to $1.8 billion when compared to 4Q10. Additionally, high-end system revenue declined 18.4% to $3.7 billion in the quarter. This is the first time all three server classes have experienced year-over-year declines in revenue since the third quarter of 2009.

IBM Research Announces New Advances in Device Performance for Quantum Computing

Scientists at IBM Research (NYSE: IBM)/ (#ibmresearch) have achieved major advances in quantum computing device performance that will accelerate the realization of a practical, full-scale quantum computer. For specific applications, quantum computing which leverages the underlying quantum mechanical behavior of matter has the potential to deliver computational power that is unrivaled by any supercomputer today.

Using a variety of techniques in the IBM labs, scientists have established three new records for reducing the error in elementary computations and retaining the integrity of quantum mechanical properties in quantum bits (qubits) – the basic units that carry information within quantum computing. Furthermore, IBM has chosen to employ superconducting qubits which use established microfabrication techniques developed for silicon technology, providing the potential to one day scale up to and manufacture thousands or millions of qubits.

Dell Expands Award-Winning ProSupport to Cover More Brands and Countries

To help customers address the inefficiencies and lost costs of managing multiple support vendors, Dell ProSupport for Multivendor has been globally expanded beyond x86 to include support for storage, networking and UNIX products. This expansion also includes support for additional vendors for servers, desktops and laptops. By consolidating support under one service provider, customers can ensure consistent processes and reduce the resources required to manage complex services contracts from multiple vendors, ultimately simplifying IT management and reducing their IT costs.

“Our customers rely on the expertise, global network and 24x7 availability of Dell ProSupport for their Dell systems and can now experience those same benefits across their entire environment,” said Doug Schmitt, vice president, Dell Services. “With the latest expansion of Dell ProSupport for Multivendor, customers around the world can rely on Dell for all of their support needs. From end-user systems to complex data centers and everything in between, customers will save time and money and receive the same award-winning support they’ve come to expect from Dell ProSupport.”

IBM Contract-Manufacturing Trinity APUs for AMD

In a significant development, AMD reportedly disclosed at the Financial Analyst Day event that it has begun manufacturing its "Trinity" accelerated processing units (APUs) at IBM's foundries. With the creation of Global Foundries, AMD went fabless, relying on Global Foundries (its former manufacturing division) and the likes of TSMC to manufacture its products. Till date, Global Foundries has handled manufacture of most of AMD's CPU products, and socket FM1 APUs, while BGA APUs and chipset have been manufactured at TSMC.

What makes AMD's partnership with IBM for manufacturing a significant development is the fact that IBM can handle high-volume production, and has a proven track-record with semiconductor manufacturing process R&D, it also holds a wide range of silicon fabrication IP, rivaled only by Intel. Chips manufactured at IBM will only add to the volumes created by Global Foundries, Big Blue won't completely replace it as AMD's foundry partner. The ability to ship in greater volumes plays a significant role in scoring design wins, apart from pure performance of the product. For example, Lenovo would want to be absolutely sure you can ship in large quantities before designing a major product around your chip.Source: Xbit Labs

Dell Names John Swainson President of New Software Group

Dell today announced the appointment of John Swainson to serve as President, Software Group, effective March 5, 2012. Mr. Swainson will report to Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell.

The Software Group will build on Dell’s software capabilities and provide greater innovation and organizational support to create a more competitive position in delivering end-to-end IT solutions to customers. The organization will add to Dell’s enterprise solutions capability, accelerate profitable growth and further differentiate the company from competitors by increasing its solutions portfolio with Dell-owned intellectual property.

IBM Creates 9 nm Transistors Using Carbon Nanotubules

Researchers at IBM have developed the smallest carbon nanotubule transistor, that is 9 nanometers (nm) across. In comparison, the smallest transistors possible using silicon is 10 nm across. IBM claims its new transistor consumes less power while being able to carry more current than today's technology.

"The results really highlight the value of nanotubes in the most sophisticated type of transistors," says John Rogers, professor of materials science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "They suggest, very clearly, that nanotubes have the potential for doing something truly competitive with, or complementary to, silicon." Currently, the smallest production-grade transistors are 22 nm across.

28 nm struggles: TSMC & GlobalFoundries

Making silicon chips is not easy, requiring hugely expensive fabs, with massive clean-room environments and at every process shrink, the complexity and difficulty of making the things goes up significantly. It looks like TSMC and GlobalFoundries are both having serious yield problems with their 28 nm process nodes, according to Mike Bryant, technology analyst at Future Horizons and this is causing a rash of non-working wafers – to the point of having nothing working with some chip designs submitted for production. It seems that the root cause of these problems are to do with the pressures of bringing products to market, rather than an inherent problem with the technology; it just takes time that they haven't got to iron out the kinks and they're getting stuck: "Foundries have come under pressure to release cell libraries too early – which end up with designs that don't work," Bryant said. In an effort to try and be seen to treat every customer equally, TSMC is attempting to launch ten 28 nm designs from seven companies, but it's not working out too well: "At 45-nm, only NVIDIA was affected. At 28-nm any problems for TSMC will be problems for many customers" said Bryant.

IBM Reports 2011 Fourth-Quarter and Full-Year Results

IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced fourth-quarter 2011 diluted earnings of $4.62 per share, compared with diluted earnings of $4.18 per share in the fourth quarter of 2010, an increase of 11 percent. Operating (non-GAAP) diluted earnings were $4.71 per share, compared with operating diluted earnings of $4.25 per share in the fourth quarter of 2010, an increase of 11 percent.

Fourth-quarter net income was $5.5 billion compared with $5.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010, an increase of 4 percent. Operating (non-GAAP) net income was $5.6 billion compared with $5.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010, an increase of 5 percent.

IBM Research Determines Atomic Limits of Magnetic Memory

Punctuating 30 years of nanotechnology research, scientists from IBM Research (NYSE: IBM) have successfully demonstrated the ability to store information in as few as 12 magnetic atoms. This is significantly less than today’s disk drives, which use about one million atoms to store a single bit of information. The ability to manipulate matter by its most basic components – atom by atom – could lead to the vital understanding necessary to build smaller, faster and more energy-efficient devices.

While silicon transistor technology has become cheaper, denser and more efficient, fundamental physical limitations suggest this path of conventional scaling is unsustainable. Alternative approaches are needed to continue the rapid pace of computing innovation.

Christmas Special: The PC Technology of 2011

Welcome to the TechPowerUp 2011 PC technology Christmas special. We hope that you will enjoy reading it while tucking into your turkey, Christmas presents and a little too much wine... In this article, we go through the technology of 2011 that has had the most significance, the most impact and was generally the most talked about. It's not necessarily the best tech of 2011 which is the most significant though, since lemons can be just as significant as the ground-breakers in how they fail to deliver - and the backlash that goes with it.

January: Intel Sandy Bridge i5 & i7

Released on January 9th, the new Intel Core i5 & i7 processors were based on Intel's second generation Core architecture built on a 32 nm production process (HEXUS review). They included an IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor) physically on the same piece of silicon along with HyperThreading. These new dual and quad core processors soundly beat all previous generations of Intel processors in terms of processing performance, heat, power use, features and left AMD in the dust. Therefore, Intel badly needed some competition from AMD and unless you have been living under a rock, you will know how that turned out in October with the launch of Bulldozer. Sandy Bridge was a sound win and is generally considered to be the only architecture worth considering at this point. The i5-2500K is currently at the sweet spot of price/performance. It comes at a stock speed of 3.3 GHz, but typically overclocks to an amazing 4.5 - 5 GHz with a decent air cooler and without too much difficulty in getting there. Models in the budget i3 range were released at various times later. See this Wikipedia article for details.

DDR4 May Use 3D Stacking Technology

Micron Technology, one of the biggest DRAM companies, has announced that it's working the JEDEC standards organization for computer memory, to standardize a new DRAM interface and die-stacking technology called three-dimensional stacking, or 3DS, which may be incorporated into the upcoming DDR4 standard. X-bit labs has a nice summary of how 3DS works:
The idea behind 3DS is to use specially designed and manufactured master-and-slave DRAM die, with only the master die interfacing with the external memory controller. 3DS technology uses optimized DRAM die, single DLL per stack, reduced active logic, single shared external I/O, improved timing, and reduced load to the external world. This combination of features can improve timing, bus speeds, and signal integrity while lowering both power consumption and system overhead for next-generation modules, according to Micron.

R&D: IBM's Racetrack Memory, Data Storage At Superfast DRAM Speeds

Racetrack memory, is a new type of magnetic memory that has magnetic domains "racing" along tiny nanometer sized wires, giving performance similar to conventional DRAM. Invented by IBM Fellow, Stuart Parkin, it has been in development since about 2004, with a working prototype having now been unveiled containing 256 "racetrack" cells, each containing a single wire. The technology works by sending very fast electric pulses down these wires, measured in nanoseconds, which transmit very fast moving magnetic domains which are then read by a magnetic head either as a one or a zero, depending on their direction. IBM said in a statement: "This breakthrough could lead to a new type of data-centric computing that allows massive amounts of stored information to be accessed in less than a billionth of a second."

IBM to Produce Micron's HMC in Debut of First Commercial, 3D Chip-Making Capability

IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Micron Technology, Inc. announced today that Micron will begin production of a new memory device built using the first commercial CMOS manufacturing technology to employ through-silicon vias (TSVs). IBM's advanced TSV chip-making process enables Micron's Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) to achieve speeds 15 times faster than today's technology.

Micron's Hybrid Memory Cube features a stack of individual chips connected by vertical pipelines or “vias,” shown above. IBM’s new 3-D manufacturing technology, used to connect the 3D micro structure, will be the foundation for commercial production of the new memory cube.

IBM will present the details of its TSV manufacturing breakthrough at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting on December 5 in Washington, DC.

Workers of Supplier for Apple and IBM in China Strike

Over a thousand workers in Shenzhen, China went on strike against their employer Jingmo Electronics Corporation (JEC), which is a supplier for companies like Apple and IBM. According to China Labor Watch (CLW), a New York-based watchdog of labor rights in China, and an advocate of ethical consumerism, "the motivation behind the strike was the factory’s decision to make workers work nightly overtime." CLW goes on to add that the workers had been asked to work from 6 PM to midnight and sometimes even up to 2 AM on top of the usual four to four and a half day shifts from 7 AM to 11.30 or 1 PM to 5 PM.

CLW goes on to add that the workers "commonly worked anywhere from 100 to 200 hours of overtime a month," but the factory refused to let them put the hours in at the weekend because under Chinese labour law JEC would have had to double the wages. Authorities dispatched several hundred riot policemen to tackle striking workers. CLW called upon Apple and IBM to assume responsibility of for these workers' dissatisfaction, and work with JEC to improve the working conditions in the factory. Responding to the strike, JEC agreed to cut the average overtime hours, and resume operations soon.Source: Channel Register

AMD Appoints Mark Papermaster as Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer

AMD (NYSE: AMD) announced today that Mark Papermaster, 50, has joined as the company’s senior vice president and chief technology officer. He will report to President and Chief Executive Officer Rory Read and will oversee all of AMD’s engineering, research and development (R&D), and product development functions as the head of the newly-formed Technology and Engineering Group. Papermaster, who was most recently vice president of Silicon Engineering at Cisco, will be responsible for establishing and executing the company’s technology and product roadmaps, integrated hardware and software development, and overseeing the creation of all of AMD’s products.

The advanced research and development team led by Senior Vice President of Research and Development Chekib Akrout, as well as the engineering teams residing in AMD’s Products Group, will now report to Papermaster. Akrout, 53, will maintain responsibility for leading AMD’s processor core development as well as system-on-a-chip (SoC) design methodology. In recognition of his ongoing technical and management contributions, Akrout will continue serving on AMD’s senior leadership team responsible for key decision making and strategy setting.

Apple Emerges Victorious Against Psystar, But Have They Really Triumphed? (UPDATED)

In a court ruling on Wednesday 28th September 2011, Apple’s assertion that any kind of ‘Hackintosh’ was, is and always will be, illegal, was conclusively affirmed. This will bring great dismay to Psystar customers, potential purchasers of other “alternative Macs” and the many PC enthusiasts who want to run the latest Apple OS on the high-spec rigs they’ve built themselves from hand-picked components. This ruling has unfortunately sounded the death knell for enterprising and surprisingly plucky upstart outfit, Psystar, who showed what could be possible with an open mind and technical skill. UPDATE after the jump.

HP Kills TouchPad, Could Spin Off PC Business

PC major HP announced its decision to scrap TouchPad, the company's flagship tablet device. But in a move that could rattle the OEM industry, there are feelers that HP might spin off its PC business. This is similar to what IBM did with its PC division, resulting in the subsequent creation of Lenovo. This move could take effect as early as by the end of this year. This is one of the most extreme makeovers in the company's 72-year history. It is sought to increase the company's long-term competitiveness against rival IBM.

It is not known if the decision to spin off the PC division will affect any of the 300,000 jobs HP maintains worldwide. HP's PC division (that sells desktop PCs, notebooks, and netbooks and related support services), is its biggest revenue generator, but also it's least profitable division. Whatever the reasoning behind this, the decision is a 180 degree turn from last decade, when HP spent no less than US $24 billion to acquire Compaq Computer, on its road to become the biggest PC vendor.

Source: MSNBC

IBM Scientists Demonstrate Computer Memory Breakthrough

For the first time, scientists at IBM Research have demonstrated that a relatively new memory technology, known as phase-change memory (PCM), can reliably store multiple data bits per cell over extended periods of time. This significant improvement advances the development of low-cost, faster and more durable memory applications for consumer devices, including mobile phones and cloud storage, as well as high-performance applications, such as enterprise data storage.

With a combination of speed, endurance, non-volatility and density, PCM can enable a paradigm shift for enterprise IT and storage systems within the next five years. Scientists have long been searching for a universal, non-volatile memory technology with far superior performance than flash – today’s most ubiquitous non-volatile memory technology. The benefits of such a memory technology would allow computers and servers to boot instantaneously and significantly enhance the overall performance of IT systems. A promising contender is PCM that can write and retrieve data 100 times faster than flash, enable high storage capacities and not lose data when the power is turned off. Unlike flash, PCM is also very durable and can endure at least 10 million write cycles, compared to current enterprise-class flash at 30,000 cycles or consumer-class flash at 3,000 cycles. While 3,000 cycles will out live many consumer devices, 30,000 cycles are orders of magnitude too low to be suitable for enterprise applications (see chart for comparisons).

Intel Equipped to Lead Industry to Era of Exascale Computing

At the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC), Kirk Skaugen, Intel Corporation vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group, outlined the company’s vision to achieve ExaFLOP/s performance by the end of this decade. An ExaFLOP/s is quintillion computer operations per second, hundreds times more than today’s fastest supercomputers.

Reaching exascale levels of performance in the future will not only require the combined efforts of industry and governments, but also approaches being pioneered by the Intel Many Integrated Core (Intel MIC) Architecture, according to Skaugen. Managing the explosive growth in the amount of data shared across the Internet, finding solutions to climate change, managing the growing costs of accessing resources such as oil and gas, and a multitude of other challenges require increased amounts of computing resources that only increasingly high-performing supercomputers can address.

IBM Microprocessors to Power the New Wii U System from Nintendo

IBM today announced that it will provide the microprocessors that will serve as the heart of the new Wii U system from Nintendo. Unveiled today at the E3 trade show, Nintendo plans for its new console to hit store shelves in 2012.

The all-new, Power-based microprocessor will pack some of IBM's most advanced technology into an energy-saving silicon package that will power Nintendo's brand new entertainment experience for consumers worldwide. IBM's unique embedded DRAM, for example, is capable of feeding the multi-core processor large chunks of data to make for a smooth entertainment experience.

IBM and Samsung Announce Joint Research into New Semiconductor Technology

IBM and Samsung today announced they will collaborate on basic research into new semiconductor materials, manufacturing processes and other technologies. The agreement calls for the two companies to jointly develop new semiconductor process technology that can be used in a broad range of applications -- from smart phone handsets to communications infrastructure.

For the first time, Samsung researchers will join IBM scientists in the Semiconductor Research Alliance at the Albany Nanotech Complex, Albany, N.Y., where researchers will investigate new materials and transistor structures, as well as innovative interconnect and packaging solutions for next-generation technology nodes. The research developments from this joint activity are planned to enable the delivery of industry leading silicon solutions that are optimized for performance, power consumption and size.

Oracle in Market for a Major Chipmaker

Oracle corporation is on a big buying spree after this year's acquisition of Sun Microsystems, a prominent server builder. Oracle wants to strengthen its enterprise IT business with the acquisition of a major chip-maker, right now AMD, IBM (its processor division), and NVIDIA are being named by prominent analysts. “You’re going to see us buying chip companies,” Ellison, 66, said yesterday at Oracle’s annual meeting in San Francisco. Currently its subsidiary, Sun Microsystems has its own processor architecture, the SPARC. Gleacher & Co. analyst Doug Freedman predicts Oracle is chasing AMD, IBM (chip division) and NVIDIA. “You’ve got to think it’s focused on enterprise hardware, on the server,” he said. “AMD jumps off the screen.”Source: Bloomberg

Samsung Unveils First 16GB ‘Very Low Profile’ Module in IBM’s Newest Blade Server

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., the world leader in advanced memory technology, announced today that it will demonstrate for the first time a 16-Gigabyte (GB), very low profile (VLP) memory module at the VM World 2010 in an IBM H22V blade server, running on Intel Xeon™ 5600-series processors.

Based on 4-gigabit (Gb), 40 nanometer (nm)-class DDR3, the new modules use 18 4Gb dual-die packaged (DDP) chips, and operate on 1.35 volts of electrical current. The 16GB 40nm-class DDR3 memory provides a powerful green solution, consuming 70 percent less power than four 4GB DDR3 modules and over 40 percent less than two 8GB modules, in setting a new “standard” for lower power consumption in servers. The module’s very low profile (18.75 mm high) allows it to be used in extremely compact blade servers.

Rambus Sues IBM Despite USPTO Intervention

Patent troll Rambus is at it again, this time suing IBM to reverse ruling on a memory system patent dispute after the US Patent and Trademark Office intervened in an earlier case ruling that IBM's patent 2002 memory controller-related patent applications weren't infringing on its IP. Rambus maintains that US Patent Office's ruling that gave a clean chit to IBM was in error.

In a lawsuit filed Monday in the federal court in San Jose, California, Rambus said the US Patent and Trademark Office erred through a series of decisions in finding that a patent application assigned to IBM did not interfere with its own patent obtained at the end of 2002. "The board committed errors of fact and law in its orders, decisions, and judgment," Rambus said in its complaint.Source: Reuters
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