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Global Technology Power Players Unite to Form Alliance for Wireless Power

Wireless technology leaders Samsung and Qualcomm Incorporated have joined other technology leaders to form the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), it was announced today.

The independently operated organization's mission is to promote global standardization of a wireless power transfer technology that offers spatial freedom, to develop product testing, certification and regulatory compliance processes, and to foster industry dialogue with regulators on wireless power policy development. The alliance is targeting a broad base of consumer electronic devices to establish a worldwide wireless power technology ecosystem.

Worldwide Semiconductor Market Grew 3.7% in 2011 to $301 Billion

Worldwide semiconductor revenues increased more than 3.7% year over year to $301 billion in 2011, according to the latest version of the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Semiconductor Applications Forecaster (SAF). The industry weathered the macroeconomic uncertainties in the U.S and Europe, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, China's slow down in the second half of the year, and floods in Thailand. Meanwhile, device applications, such as smartphones, media tablets and e-readers, automotive infotainment, notebook PCs, datacenter servers, and wireless and wired communication infrastructure drove robust consumption of semiconductors.

IDC's SAF tracks more than 100 semiconductor companies. Over 40 of these companies experienced year-over-year revenue growth greater than 5%, while about the same number of companies saw their revenue decline by more than 5%.

Killer Technology Launches New Killer High-Performance Network Controllers

Killer Technology (formerly Bigfoot Networks, before its Qualcomm buyout), launched two new network interface solutions aimed at gaming and enthusiast PCs, these include the Killer Wireless-N 1202, and Killer E2200 gigabit Ethernet, which are successors of Killer Wireless-N 1102/1103 and Killer E2100, respectively. Built in the mPCIe card form-factor, the Killer Wireless-N E1202 has quite a bit of Atheros DNA loaded into it (another subsidiary of Qualcomm), apart from Wireless-N, the E1202 also includes a Bluetooth controller. The Killer E2200 high-performance gigabit Ethernet controller will be available as both PCIe add-on card and embedded form (for motherboard manufacturers), it could be a refined, performance-optimized successor of the Killer E2100. Killer's USP is high performance using advanced offload of the network stack to a native application processor, resulting in lower pings that could help in multiplayer gaming. Both solutions will be available soon.

Source: Engadget

TSMC Faces Acute 28 nm Capacity Shortage

Taiwan's premier semiconductor foundry, TSMC, is reportedly facing an acute shortage in 28 nm manufacturing capacity. This shortage is expected to relax in Q3, 2012, according to sources. Qualcomm, AMD, and NVIDIA are the three biggest patrons of the 28 nm process, Qualcomm uses it to manufacture performance ARM application processors, while AMD and NVIDIA use it for their new generation GPUs. Although launched at the very end of Q4 2011, AMD's HD 7970 shipped a relatively small volume due to low manufacturing capacity. NVIDIA launched only two 28 nm GPUs, the GTX 680, and GT 640M, and has had to delay launch of more models, due to this reason, according to source. Qualcomm, meanwhile, shifted some of its orders to UMC.

Source: DigiTimes

Wintel Tablets to Start at $599, Enjoy Higher Adoption Than WoA Tablets

Wintel (slang for Windows+Intel architecture) tablets, which launch along with Microsoft's latest Windows 8 operating system, which grab a greater market-share than WoA (Windows on ARM) tablets by the end of 2012, DigiTimes research predicts. This, despite the fact that the x86 and ARM versions of the operating system will be released simultaneously. PC majors such as HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer, ASUStek and Toshiba, have all pledged 1-3 models of Wintel tablets by the end of 2012. Although still an emerging market-segment, tablets will see a clash between x86 and ARM architectures, as they are wooing for the same exact class of devices for the first time in computing history. Intel has made a lot of progress in miniaturizing the Atom processor, while led by the likes of Qualcomm and NVIDIA, ARM processors are getting stronger.

Sources: DigiTimes, PCLaunches

Intel's Semiconductor Market Share Surges to More Than 10-Year High in 2011

Fueled by strong sales growth in its core chip businesses—and boosted by a major acquisition—leading semiconductor supplier Intel Corp. in 2011 attained its highest annual market share in more than 10 years, according to the IHS iSuppli Competitive Landscape Tool from information and analytics provider IHS (NYSE: IHS). Intel in 2011 increased its overall semiconductor market share to 15.6 percent, up 2.5 percentage points from 13.1 percent in 2010, according to the final IHS semiconductor estimate for the year. This represents the highest market share for Intel going back to at least 2001, when it reached 14.9 percent. Over the last five years, Intel’s share of the market ranged from 11.9 percent to 13.9 percent.

“Intel in 2011 captured the headlines with its major surge in growth,” said Dale Ford, head of electronics and semiconductor research for IHS. “The company’s rise was spurred by soaring demand for its PC-oriented microprocessors, and for its NAND flash memory used in consumer and wireless products. Intel’s revenue also was boosted by its acquisition of Infineon’s wireless business unit. The company’s strong rise helped it to stave off the rising challenge mounted by No. 2 semiconductor supplier Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., which had been whittling away at Intel’s lead in recent years.” The table below presents the final 2011 semiconductor market share ranking from the IHS.

Embedded Graphics: Imagination Tech Supplies More GPU IP than all Others Combined

Jon Peddie Research (JPR), the industry's research and consulting firm for graphics and multimedia, announced estimated mobile devices graphics chip shipments for 2011. Mobile devices include smartphones, tablets, cameras, vehicles, and game consoles.

The market for smart mobile devices is soaring. Mobile devices are not necessarily replacing the PC, but they are outselling PCs. Increasingly mobile devices have a graphics processor and those processors are integrated in the device's system on a chip (SoC) application processor.

Nokia Windows 8 Tablet Concept Art Surfaces

Earlier this week, we learned about Nokia working on a Windows 8-driven tablet. Concept art of this tablet (probably designed by well-informed fans), suggests that the tablet, Nokia "Lumia Coffee Tab", is essentially a stretched-out Lumia 800, which is its flagship Windows-driven smartphone that's extensively marketed with the monies it received from Microsoft to go Windows. The tablet features a 10.1-inch screen, and is designed to be competitive with Apple's iPad.

Interestingly, Nokia will have to use Windows 8 ARM, since the tablet reportedly uses a Qualcomm-made processor, and it is reported that Windows 8 ARM could arrive much later than Windows 8 x86. Could this mean Microsoft handing out Nokia exclusive early-access to Windows 8 ARM? Microsoft is evidently desperate to give its mobile versions of Windows a single potent launch-pad manufacturer, and as one of the most competent mobile phone makers, Nokia is the chosen one. Microsoft looks aware that the post-PC future of computing is very real, and approaching fast.

Sources: MyNokiaBlog, PCLaunches

Nokia Reportedly Prepping a Windows 8 Tablet for Q4

Finnish phone maker and Microsoft BFF Nokia is said to be planning the release of a tablet by the end of the year. Nokia's tablet would run Windows 8 and is supposed to have a 10-inch touchscreen and a Qualcomm dual-core processor (Snapdragon S4 most likely).

Rumored to arrive in Q4, the mobile device is claimed to be made Compal Electronics who'd deliver 200,000 units in the first production wave. Pricing info is not available at this point.Source: Digitimes

Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H and Z77X-UD5H Pictured, Too

Here are the Z77X-UD5H and Z77X-UD3H pictured up-close. The two form Gigabyte's upper-mid range and mid range offerings based on the Intel Z77 chipset, supporting socket LGA1155 "Ivy Bridge" and "Sandy Bridge" Core processors. The Z77X-UD5H is an extremely feature-rich offering, in some aspects a more complete package than even the G1.Sniper 3. It provides a 15-phase CPU and 2-phase memory VRM. Expansion slots on this board include two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 (x16/NC or x8/x8), one PCI-Express 2.0 x16 (electrical x4), three PCIe 2.0 x1, and one legacy PCI.

Qualcomm and Microsoft to Provide Developers with Snapdragon-Based Windows Test PCs

Qualcomm Incorporated today announced that its Snapdragon processor will be joining Microsoft Corp.'s Windows on ARM developer seeding program. Qualcomm is working with Microsoft to provide test PCs to select developers in order to test and optimize apps for forthcoming Snapdragon-powered Windows on ARM PCs and tablets. This invitation-only program will combine a pre-release version of Windows on ARM with next-generation, high performance Snapdragon S4 test PCs. These test PCs are not representative of commercial form factors or the final Windows on ARM experience; they are designed to give developers early access to building and testing Windows Metro style apps on Qualcomm's latest technology.

The Windows on ARM developer seeding program will help ensure that Windows Metro style apps available in the Windows Store work great on all Windows 8-based PCs, including those with Qualcomm's ARM-compliant Snapdragon processors.

Jon Peddie Research: Qualcomm Shipped the Most Mobile Devices GPUs Last Year

Jon Peddie Research (JPR), the industry's research and consulting firm for graphics and multimedia, announced estimated mobile devices graphics chip shipments and suppliers' market share for 2011.

We found that shipments during the fourth quarter of 2011 of GPUs in mobile devices (tablets and smart phones) had a CAGR for the year (Q1 to Q4) of 18%. Samsung's sales surged in Q3 and Q4 giving them the highest CAGR for the year (39%), Followed by Apple (26%), and Qualcomm (16.5%) which was already enjoying high shipment rates.

In terms of shipments Qualcomm led the pact and ended up with 31% market share for the year, followed by Apple (23%) and TI (17%).

Qualcomm Atheros Launches 802.11ac Product Ecosystem

Qualcomm Atheros Inc., the networking and connectivity subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM), announced today the launch of its 802.11ac Wi-Fi ecosystem. With the growing number of devices and bandwidth-intensive multimedia applications placing greater demands on wireless networks, 802.11ac—the newest chapter in the Wi-Fi technology evolution—expands performance and coverage to enable HD video-grade connectivity across increasingly crowded networks. Qualcomm’s portfolio of 802.11ac products target mobile, home and office networking, including smartphones, tablets, PCs, laptops, televisions, home routers, gateways and enterprise access points. Qualcomm is introducing its multi-channel portfolio to enable end-to-end 802.11ac performance benefits to speed adoption of the new Gigabit-capable Wi-Fi networking technology.

“Qualcomm Atheros is enabling a client-to-infrastructure 802.11ac ecosystem by combining its Wi-Fi expertise across virtually all segments with Qualcomm’s position in mobile channels,” said Craig Barratt, president, Qualcomm Atheros. “By enabling client devices, such as smartphones, tablets and notebooks, with easy migration from 802.11n to 802.11ac, Qualcomm Atheros is paving the way for rapid adoption of products based on the new Wi-Fi standard. This should provide for a smooth, full-scale transition to Gigabit-capable Wi-Fi networking within the next two years.”

Microsoft Tells ARM Partners to Pick Notebook Vendors

Windows (PC) will make its first transition to a machine architecture other than x86 in decades with Windows 8 Windows on ARM (WOA), and Microsoft wants to make absolutely sure that it has a well-oiled ecosystem in place to propel its growth. Currently, Microsoft picked three potent players among ARM processor vendors, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments (that have experience and can ship in Zerg volumes), and NVIDIA (which has demonstrated a lot of engineering potential with its latest Tegra products).

Microsoft reportedly asked the three ARM players to pick two notebook vendors each (one major, and one minor) with which they will work to develop some of the first WOA portable computing devices. Qualcomm selected Samsung and Sony, Texas Instruments chose Toshiba and Samsung, while NVIDIA chose Acer and Lenovo. Among these, Samsung, Toshiba, and Lenovo are the major partners. Surprisingly, Taiwan-based companies have an insignificant role in this ecosystem. ASUS, which has thus far been the largest client of NVIDIA for Tegra processors, has been left out. Now that downstream partners are selected, upstream ODMs such as Quanta Computer, Compal Electronics, Wistron and Pegatron Technology, which manufacture for those companies, are getting their R&D teams in shape to compete for the next-generation platform. The finishing line of ARM's marathon run to get into PCs is in sight.Source: DigiTimes

Phoenix Technologies Working on SCT 2.2 System Firmware for Windows 8

BIOS developer Phoenix Technologies announced its latest SecureCore Tiano (SCT) version 2.2 UEFI firmware that will be designed for PCs running Windows 8 operating system. The desktop client motherboard BIOS industry is currently dominated by AMI with its AMIBIOS and AMI-UEFI solutions, although Phoenix' AwardBIOS is still found on certain channel PC motherboards. It's with mobile computing devices that Phoenix' firmware solutions get a lot more prevelent. SCT 2.2 is looking to mark the company's bid to return to competitiveness in the PC motherboard BIOS market.

SecureCore Tiano 2.2 is a UEFI BIOS/firmware that conforms to UEFI 2.3.1 specifications, TCG 2.0, 1.2 (Trusted Computing Group) specifications, ACPI 4.0 and 5.0, SMBIOS 2.7, NIST-SP800-147, and USB 3.0 native, making it a feature-packed solution. In addition to Windows on x86 PC platforms (Win32, Win64, WoW64), Phoenix will develop firmware support for the upcoming Windows on ARM (WoA) platform. It is collaborating with ARM majors Qualcomm and Texas Instruments in this regard.Source: DigiTimes

TSMC 28 nm Technology in Volume Production

TSMC today announced that its 28nm process is in volume production and production wafers have been shipped to customers. TSMC leads the foundry segment to achieve volume production at 28nm node.

TSMC’s 28nm process offering includes 28nm High Performance (28HP), 28nm High Performance Low Power (28HPL), 28nm Low Power (28LP), and 28nm High Performance Mobile Computing (28HPM). Among these technology offerings, 28HP, 28HPL and 28LP are all in volume production and 28HPM will be ready for production by the end of this year. The production-version design collateral of 28HPM has been distributed to most mobile computing customers for their product-design use.

AMD to Claim Share of Tablet Pie with Brazos-T APU Platform

Microsoft's leap of faith into the tablet OS market which is dominated by Apple iOS and Google's Android OS, with Windows 8 operating system will be driven by two distinct hardware platforms - x86, led by Intel and its Clover Trail Atom platform, and ARM, and its swarm of client manufacturers such as Samsung, Qualcomm, etc. The third player out to claim its share of the pie is AMD, with its Brazos-T platform. Similar to Intel's Clover Trail, Brazos-T is an x86-based platform, it uses an ultra-low power accelerated processing unit (APU), codenamed "Hondo".

Hondo is a low-wattage, low-footprint APU that packs two x86-64 "Bobcat" architecture cores, an AMD Radeon HD 6250 DirectX 11 compliant graphics core, single-channel DDR3 IMC, and integrated PCI-Express. Like Clover Trail, it is a 2-chip solution, with the other chip being the "Hudson" M2T chipset, which provides an array of display connectivity options, SATA and USB connectivity. The key feature with Hondo APU is its low power consumption of just 2W, and TDP of 4.5W. The chipset is designed to consume just 1W. Both the APU and chipset are built on the 40 nm process. The platform is slated for Q2 2012, just in time for Windows 8 tablets to hit the market.

Source: DonanimHaber

Lenovo Skylight Lights Up The Web with Industry's First ARM-Based, Qualcomm Smartbook

Lenovo today announced the Lenovo Skylight, the first ARM-based smartbook based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipset platform. Skylight harnesses the best of smartphones and netbooks to create a new mobile consumer device. With a stunningly sleek and slim design, all day battery life, robust wireless connectivity and custom interface with live web gadgets, Skylight is designed to transform the mobile Internet experience. The Skylight smartbook connects with AT&T 3G mobile broadband service in the U.S.

"The web has become the window to the world for more and more people, helping them connect with friends and family across town or thousands of miles away," said Peter Gaucher, executive director, Mobile Internet Product Management, Lenovo. "Skylight combines the long battery life and connectivity of a smartphone with the full web browsing and multimedia experience of a netbook to create one of the first devices in this developing smartbook category. Consumers want choices. They can now choose from a full portfolio of Lenovo mobile consumer devices including netbooks, smartbooks and laptops."

Industry Majors Support Chrome OS, Free Software in the Making

A day into its announcement, Google's ambitious new venture, the Chrome operating system, is receiving support from some of the biggest players in the IT industry. The company also confirmed that Chrome OS will be a free of charge software, requiring no purchase of license to use it. To ensure the OS gets adequate momentum, Google is working with the likes of HP, Acer, Lenovo, ASUS, Toshiba, Texas Instruments and Qualcomm (some of the most relevant names in the netbook industry). The company also detailed about the developer support it plans to spread, with possible pre-release versions towards the end of the year. To the consumer, this means that major computer manufacturers could sell netbooks with Chrome OS preinstalled, with seamless support for their hardware. Early community software development will ensure a good selection of software for the netbook by the time the OS becomes release-grade, ready to be shipped with millions of netbooks.Source: Google

ARM Showcases Prototype Netbooks

Standing up against an almost unassailable domination of x86 machine architecture, even in the ULPC segment, ARM showcased netbooks based on processors such as Freescale iMX515 and Qualcomm Snapdragon. The processors, ARM claims, are capable to run 720p HD video, and operate at speeds of up to 1 GHz. The best way ARM sees to compete with x86, is to support operating systems that run on it, such as Linux.

The growth and propagation of Ubuntu seems to be a good opportunity to cash on. ARM is reportedly working with Canonical to devise a full-featured ARM-supportive variant of Ubuntu. Meanwhile, Adobe has announced that it is working on an ARM-supportive Flash 10 plugin. Ubuntu's ARM edition should be out by April, by when we can get realistic figures about ARM netbooks' performance. The netbooks will be priced in the US $250 range and are expected to start selling from June. A video covering the presentation can be viewed here.

Source: ZDNet

Qualcomm Acquires Handheld Graphics and Multimedia Assets from AMD

Qualcomm Incorporated and AMD today announced that Qualcomm has acquired certain graphics and multimedia technology assets, intellectual property and resources that were formerly the basis of AMD's handheld business. The acquisition enhances Qualcomm's multimedia capabilities, allowing Qualcomm to strengthen its leadership position in delivering more advanced products that redefine next-generation mobile user experiences.
“This acquisition of assets from AMD's handheld business brings us strong multimedia technologies, including graphics cores that we have been licensing for several years,” said Steve Mollenkopf, executive vice president of Qualcomm and president of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies. “Bringing this technology in-house creates even greater synergy as we seamlessly integrate the best-in-class multimedia performance AMD offers into our system-on-chip (SoC) products.”
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