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U.S.A. Loses 3rd Place in TOP500 Supercomputer Standings... To Switzerland?

The United States has been being pushed down in the TOP500 standings for some time courtesy China, whom has taken the 1st and 2nd place seats from the US with their Sunway TaihuLight and Tianhe-2 Supercomputers (at a Linpack performance of 93 and 33.9 Petaflops, respectively). It seemed though the crown was stolen from America, 3rd place was relatively safe for the former champs. Not so. America has been pushed right off the podium in the latest TOP500 refresh... not by China though, but Switzerland?

Exascale Supercomputer Technology Buoyed by $258M Grant by US Dept. of Energy

Developing supercomputers isn't for the faint of heart. Much less it is for those that are looking for fast development and deployment time-frames. And as such, even as the world's supercomputers are getting increasingly faster and exorbitantly expensive to develop and deploy, players who want to stay ahead have to think ahead as well. To this end, the US Department of Energy has awarded a total of $258M in research contracts to six of the US's foremost tech companies to accelerate the development of Exascale Supercomputer technologies (AMD, Cray, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Intel, and NVIDIA.) These companies will be working over a three year contract period, and will have to support at least 40% of the project cost - to help develop the technologies needed to build an exascale computer for 2021. It isn't strange that the companies accepted the grant and jumped at the opportunity: 60% savings in research and development they'd have to do for themselves is nothing to scoff at.

Supercomputers birthed from the project are expected to be in the exaFLOPS scale of computing performance, which is around 50 times more processing power than the generation of supercomputers being installed now. Since traditional supercomputing knowledge and materials are known to falter at the objective level of exaFLOPS performance, the PathForward program - which looks to ensure achievement of such systems in a timely fashion to ensure US leadership in the field of supercomputing - will need to see spurred research and development, which the $258M grant is looking out to do.

AMD Doesn't Regret Spinning off GlobalFoundries

AMD co-founder Jerry Sanders, in 2009 was famously quoted as stating that "real men have fabs," a jibe probably targeted at the budding fab-less CPU designers of the time. Years later, AMD spun-off its silicon fabrication business, which with a substantial investment of the Abu Dhabi government through its state-owned Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC), became GlobalFoundries (or GloFo in some vernacular). This company built strategic partnerships with the right players in the industry, acquisitions such as IBM's fabs, and is now at the forefront of sub-10 nm fab development. It remained one of AMD's biggest foundry partners besides TSMC and Samsung, and is manufacturing its AMD processors at a brand new facility in Upstate New York, USA.

AMD, on the other hand, doesn't regret spinning off GloFo. Speaking at Merrill Lynch Global Technology and Investment Conference, CTO Mark Papermaster said, that going fab-less has helped AMD focus on chip-design without worrying about manufacturing. Production is no longer a bottleneck for AMD, as it can now put out manufacturing contracts to a wider variety of foundry partners. Its chip-designers aren't limited by the constraints of an in-house fab, and can instead ask external fabs to optimize their nodes for their chip-designs, Papermaster said. 14 nm FinFET has added a level of standardization to the foundry industry.

Source: Expreview

IBM Research Alliance Builds New Transistor for 5 nm Technology

IBM, its Research Alliance partners GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Samsung, and equipment suppliers have developed an industry-first process to build silicon nanosheet transistors that will enable 5 nanometer (nm) chips. The details of the process will be presented at the 2017 Symposia on VLSI Technology and Circuits conference in Kyoto, Japan. In less than two years since developing a 7 nm test node chip with 20 billion transistors, scientists have paved the way for 30 billion switches on a fingernail-sized chip.

The resulting increase in performance will help accelerate cognitive computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and other data-intensive applications delivered in the cloud. The power savings could also mean that the batteries in smartphones and other mobile products could last two to three times longer than today's devices, before needing to be charged.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Cutting Staff Through Earlier Retirements

It would seem business is not as usual for GLOBALFOUNDRIES, which started as the spin-off from AMD's manufacturing arm way back on March 2, 2009. Blaming the capricious chip market's fluctuations, the company is looking to divest longtime employees in all three of its U.S. semiconductor manufacturing plants, including Essex Junction, which it acquired from IBM in 2015 by... receiving a $1.5 billion payment from the company. And as part of the deal, GLOBALFOUNDRIES agreed to be IBM's exclusive provider of semiconductor chips through 2025.

"We go through these ebbs and flows," Spokesman Jim Keller said Wednesday. "Right now we're at a point where some customers delayed their orders. We're in a period where we don't have as much business." The "voluntary separation" program is part of a larger cost cutting initiative that will look for other efficiency savings as well, though "layoffs are also a possibility". Keller would not say how many of GLOBALFOUNDRIES' 2,800 employees at Essex Junction are eligible for the early retirement program. Most of the workers eligible are in "support roles," such as administrative, sales or finance.

Source: USAToday, VTDigger

IBM and NVIDIA Team Up on World's Fastest Deep Learning Enterprise Solution

IBM and NVIDIA today announced collaboration on a new deep learning tool optimized for the latest IBM and NVIDIA technologies to help train computers to think and learn in more human-like ways at a faster pace. Deep learning is a fast growing machine learning method that extracts information by crunching through millions of pieces of data to detect and rank the most important aspects from the data. Publicly supported among leading consumer web and mobile application companies, deep learning is quickly being adopted by more traditional business enterprises.

Deep learning and other artificial intelligence capabilities are being used across a wide range of industry sectors; in banking to advance fraud detection through facial recognition; in automotive for self-driving automobiles and in retail for fully automated call centers with computers that can better understand speech and answer questions.

Tech Industry Leaders Unite, Unveil New High-Perf Server Interconnect Technology

On the heels of the recent Gen-Z interconnect announcement, an aggregate of some of the most recognizable names in the tech industry have once again banded together. This time, it's an effort towards the implementation of a fast, coherent and widely compatible interconnect technology that will pave the way towards tighter integration of ever-more heterogeneous systems.

Technology leaders AMD, Dell EMC, Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Mellanox Technologies, Micron, NVIDIA and Xilinx announced the new open standard to appropriate fanfare, considering the promises of an up-to 10x performance uplift in datacenter server environments, thus accelerating big-data, machine learning, analytics, and other emerging workloads. The interconnect promises to provide a high-speed pathway towards tighter integration between different types of technology currently making up the heterogeneous server computing's needs, ranging through fixed-purpose accelerators, current and future system memory subsistems, and coherent storage and network controllers.

Industry Leaders Join Forces to Promote New High-Performance Interconnect

A group of leading technology companies today announced the Gen-Z Consortium, an industry alliance working to create and commercialize a new scalable computing interconnect and protocol. This flexible, high-performance memory semantic fabric provides a peer-to-peer interconnect that easily accesses large volumes of data while lowering costs and avoiding today's bottlenecks. The alliance members include AMD, ARM, Cavium Inc., Cray, Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Huawei, IBM, IDT, Lenovo, Mellanox Technologies, Micron, Microsemi, Red Hat, Samsung, Seagate, SK hynix, Western Digital Corporation, and Xilinx.

Modern computer systems have been built around the assumption that storage is slow, persistent and reliable, while data in memory is fast but volatile. As new storage class memory technologies emerge that drive the convergence of storage and memory attributes, the programmatic and architectural assumptions that have worked in the past are no longer optimal. The challenges associated with explosive data growth, real-time application demands, the emergence of low latency storage class memory, and demand for rack scale resource pools require a new approach to data access.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Announces its 7 nm FinFET Technology

GLOBALFOUNDRIES today announced plans to deliver a new leading-edge 7nm FinFET semiconductor technology that will offer the ultimate in performance for the next era of computing applications. This technology provides more processing power for data centers, networking, premium mobile processors, and deep learning applications.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES' new 7nm FinFET technology is expected to deliver more than twice the logic density and a 30 percent performance boost compared to today's 16/14nm foundry FinFET offerings. The platform is based on an industry-standard FinFET transistor architecture and optical lithography, with EUV compatibility at key levels. This approach will accelerate the production ramp through significant re-use of tools and processes from the company's 14nm FinFET technology, which is currently in volume production at its Fab 8 campus in Saratoga County, N.Y. GLOBALFOUNDRIES plans to make an additional mutli-billion dollar investment in Fab 8 to enable development and production for 7nm FinFET.

"The industry is converging on 7nm FinFET as the next long-lived node, which represents a unique opportunity for GLOBALFOUNDRIES to compete at the leading edge," said GLOBALFOUNDRIES CEO Sanjay Jha. "We are well positioned to deliver a differentiated 7nm FinFET technology by tapping our years of experience manufacturing high-performance chips, the talent and know-how of our former IBM Microelectronics colleagues and the world-class R&D pipeline from our research alliance. No other foundry can match this legacy of manufacturing high-performance chips."

GlobalFoundries to Skip 10 nm and Jump Straight to 7 nm

Silicon fabrication company GlobalFoundries is reportedly planning to skip development of the 10 nanometer (nm) process, and is aiming to jump straight to 7 nm. The company currently operates a 14 nm FinFET node. In 2015 the company acquired semiconductor manufacturing assets from IBM, and is using them to fast-track its development. When it's ready, the 7 nm node will offer both optical and EUV (extreme ultra-violet) lithography. Driving the EUV product is an IBM 3300 EUV fabricator at the company's advanced patterning center, in its Albany, New York fab.

Source: SemiWiki

Western Digital and IBM Announce Patent Acquisition and Cross-License Agreements

Western Digital today announced that it has acquired more than 100 patent assets from IBM (NYSE: IBM). The parties also entered into a patent cross-license agreement. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Patents acquired by Western Digital are in distributed storage, object storage, and emerging non-volatile memory. Western Digital expects the IP to further strengthen its technology leadership position and drive value creation for the company and its customers. The patents will augment Western Digital's existing portfolio of more than 10,000 patents and patent applications.

"This agreement reflects our continued focus on innovation and sets the stage for even more rapid advancement and commercialization of new data storage solutions," said Mike Cordano, president and chief operating officer, Western Digital. "We are building on Western Digital and IBM's long-standing relationship and look forward to future collaborations and business opportunities."

Seagate Engineers Tiered Archive System for HPC Storage

Seagate Technology plc. today introduced ClusterStor A200, a first-of-its-kind tiered archive storage system for high performance computing (HPC). The A200 helps reduce storage and operational costs by up to 50 percent compared to tier-one storage platforms.

The A200 was designed to complement the rest of Seagate's ClusterStor family of scale-out storage systems. It allows customers to non-disruptively migrate designated data off of the performance-optimized, primary storage tiers while keeping it online for fast retrieval. This avoids a common problem in shared HPC environments where the organization is forced to choose between having all of the data available to make the best analysis versus the time required to retrieve data from tape. Performance of the primary storage is often improved by migrating data and freeing up space for more efficient data layout. The pre-configured ClusterStor A200 solution includes an automatic policy-driven hierarchical storage management (HSM) system and near limitless scale-out capacity.

Moore's Law Buckles as Intel's Tick-Tock Cycle Slows Down

Intel co-founder Gordon Moore's claim that transistor counts in microprocessors can be doubled with 2 years, by means of miniaturizing silicon lithography is beginning to buckle. In its latest earnings release, CEO Brian Krzanich said that the company's recent product cycles marked a slowing down of its "tick-tock" product development from 2 years to close to 2.5 years. With the company approaching sub-10 nm scales, it's bound to stay that way.

To keep Moore's Law alive, Intel adopted a product development strategy it calls tick-tock. Think of it as a metronome that give rhythm to the company. Each "tock" marks the arrival of a new micro-architecture, and each "tick" marks its miniaturization to a smaller silicon fab process. Normally, each year is bound to see one of the two in alternation.

IBM, NVIDIA and Mellanox Launch Design Center for Big Data and HPC

IBM, in collaboration with NVIDIA and Mellanox, today announced the establishment of a POWER Acceleration and Design Center in Montpellier, France to advance the development of data-intensive research, industrial, and commercial applications. Born out of the collaborative spirit fostered by the OpenPOWER Foundation - a community co-founded in part by IBM, NVIDIA and Mellanox supporting open development on top of the POWER architecture - the new Center provides commercial and open-source software developers with technical assistance to enable them to develop high performance computing (HPC) applications.

Technical experts from IBM, NVIDIA and Mellanox will help developers take advantage of OpenPOWER systems leveraging IBM's open and licensable POWER architecture with the NVIDIA Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform and Mellanox InfiniBand networking solutions. These are the class of systems developed collaboratively with the U.S. Department of Energy for the next generation Sierra and Summit supercomputers and to be used by the United Kingdom's Science and Technology Facilities Council's Hartree Centre for big data research.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Completes Acquisition of IBM Microelectronics Business

GLOBALFOUNDRIES today announced that it has completed its acquisition of IBM's Microelectronics business. With the acquisition, GLOBALFOUNDRIES gains differentiated technologies to enhance its product offerings in key growth markets, from mobility and Internet of Things (IoT) to Big Data and high-performance computing. The deal strengthens the company's workforce, adding decades of experience and expertise in semiconductor development, device expertise, design, and manufacturing. And the addition of more than 16,000 patents and applications makes GLOBALFOUNDRIES the holder of one of the largest semiconductor patent portfolios in the world.

"Today we have significantly enhanced our technology development capabilities and reinforce our long-term commitment to investing in R&D for technology leadership," said Sanjay Jha, chief executive officer of GLOBALFOUNDRIES. "We have added world-class technologists and differentiated technologies, such as RF and ASIC, to meet our customers' needs and accelerate our progress toward becoming a foundry powerhouse." Through the addition of some of the brightest and most innovative scientists and engineers in the semiconductor industry, GLOBALFOUNDRIES solidifies its path to advanced process technologies at 10 nm, 7 nm, and beyond.

Lenovo Unveils Latest ThinkPad X1 Carbon to Celebrate 100 Millionth ThinkPad

PC computing leader Lenovo today announced, at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show, the cutting edge ThinkPad 2015 product portfolio. Featuring the latest generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon, the world's lightest 14-inch performance ultrabook, the iconic brand celebrates 100 million units shipped and continues to build on its unique heritage enjoyed by loyal and passionate fans around the world.

Lenovo also introduced the ThinkVision X24 monitor, bringing gorgeous ultra-thin IPS panel technology to the computing workspace, and ThinkPad Stack, a unique power bank that offers mix and match interlocking accessories to maximize productivity and minimize clutter.

AMD to Power Next-Generation NES

Nintendo is working on a next-generation gaming console to succeed even the fairly recent Wii U. The company is reacting to the plummeting competitiveness of its current console to the likes of PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. Reports suggest that Nintendo would make a course-correction on the direction in which it took its game console business with the Wii, and could come up with a system that's focused on serious gaming, as much as it retains its original "fun" quotient. In that manner, the console could be more NES-like, than Wii-like.

Nintendo could ring up AMD for the chip that will drive its next console. It's not clear if AMD will supply a fully-integrated SoC that combines its own x86 CPU cores with its GCN graphics processor; or simply supply the GPU component for an SoC that combines components from various other manufacturers. The Wii U uses IBM's CPU cores, with AMD's GPU, combined onto a single chip. There's no word on when Nintendo plans to announce the new console, but one can expect a lot more news in 2015-16.Source: Expreview

GLOBALFOUNDRIES To Acquire IBM's Microelectronics Business

IBM and GLOBALFOUNDRIES today announced that they have signed a Definitive Agreement under which GLOBALFOUNDRIES plans to acquire IBM's global commercial semiconductor technology business, including intellectual property, world-class technologists and technologies related to IBM Microelectronics, subject to completion of applicable regulatory reviews. GLOBALFOUNDRIES will also become IBM's exclusive server processor semiconductor technology provider for 22 nanometer (nm), 14 nm and 10 nm semiconductors for the next 10 years.

The Agreement, once closed, enables IBM to further focus on fundamental semiconductor research and the development of future cloud, mobile, big data analytics, and secure transaction-optimized systems. IBM continues its previously announced $3 billion investment over five years for semiconductor technology research to lead in the next generation of computing. GLOBALFOUNDRIES will have primary access to the research that results from this investment through joint collaboration at the Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), SUNY Polytechnic Institute, in Albany, N.Y.

Lenovo Completes Initial Closing for Acquisition of IBM's x86 Server Business

Lenovo and IBM today announced that they have completed the initial closing for Lenovo's acquisition of IBM's x86 server business under the terms described in their announcement on Monday, September 29, 2014. Lenovo is acquiring System x, BladeCenter and Flex System blade servers and switches, x86-based Flex integrated systems, NeXtScale and iDataPlex servers and associated software, blade networking and maintenance operations. IBM retains its System z mainframes, Power Systems, Storage Systems, Power-based Flex servers, and PureApplication and PureData appliances.

As part of the agreement, Lenovo and IBM have also established a strategic alliance where Lenovo will serve as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to IBM and will resell select products from IBM's industry-leading storage and software portfolio. These include IBM's entry and midrange Storwize storage product family, Linear Tape Open (LTO) products, and elements of IBM's system software portfolio, including Smart Cloud software, General Parallel File System and Platform Computing solutions.

Lenovo Set to Close Acquisition of IBM's x86 Server Business

Lenovo announced today that conditions for Lenovo's acquisition of IBM's x86 server business have been satisfied and the parties anticipate they will begin closing the transaction effective on October 1, 2014. The acquisition will make Lenovo the third-largest player in the $42.1 billion global x86 server market. Lenovo is acquiring System x, BladeCenter and Flex System blade servers and switches, x86-based Flex integrated systems, NeXtScale and iDataPlex servers and associated software, blade networking and maintenance operations. IBM will retain its System z mainframes, Power Systems, Storage Systems, Power-based Flex servers, PureApplication and PureData appliances.

"With the close of the x86 acquisition, Lenovo will add a world-class business that extends our capabilities in enterprise hardware and services, immediately making us a strong number three in the global server market," said Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO of Lenovo. "Now, our priorities are to ensure a smooth integration and deliver a seamless transition for customers. By combining Lenovo's global reach, efficiency and operational excellence with IBM's legendary quality, innovation and service, I am confident that we will have competitive advantages to help us drive profitable growth and build Lenovo into a global enterprise leader."

Worldwide Purpose-Built Backup Appliance (PBBA) Market Revenue Declines -2.5%

Worldwide purpose-built backup appliance (PBBA) factory revenues declined -2.5% year over year to $664.5 million in the first quarter of 2014 (1Q14), according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Purpose-Built Backup Appliance Tracker. In addition, the total PBBA open systems market fell -2.6% year over year in 1Q14 with revenues totaling $598.9 million while the mainframe market experienced a decline of -1.1% for the same period. Total worldwide PBBA capacity shipped for open systems and mainframe PBBA systems reached 398,280 terabytes, increasing 7.1% year over year.

"The worldwide PBBA market is showing maturity coupled with a typically slow first quarter of the calendar year," said Robert Amatruda, Research Director, Data Protection and Recovery. "We expect the PBBA market will resume growth over the months ahead as customers continue to embrace appliance form factors to meet their growing data protection and recovery challenges."

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Names Tom Caulfield as GM of its New York Fab

GLOBALFOUNDRIES, a leading provider of advanced semiconductor manufacturing technology, today appointed Dr. Thomas Caulfield as senior vice president and general manager of the company's latest leading-edge 300mm semiconductor wafer manufacturing facility (Fab 8), located in Saratoga County, NY. Caulfield, an accomplished industry leader with more than 20 years of technical and global executive experience, will lead the operations, expansion and ramp of semiconductor manufacturing production at Fab 8, where GLOBALFOUNDRIES supports customers on the world's most advanced semiconductor manufacturing technology platforms including 28 nanometer (nm), 20 nm, and the recently announced 14 nm FinFET platform.

"We are expanding our Fab 8 manufacturing campus, strengthening strategic partnerships, and deepening customer relationships so we can offer our customers leading-edge technology and a more flexible and cost-effective way of doing business," said GLOBALFOUNDRIES CEO Sanjay Jha. "Tom is a proven and respected industry leader with more than two decades of semiconductor technology and manufacturing experience and we are excited to have him join our team to drive the next phase of growth at Fab 8."

IBM Board Approves 16 Percent Increase in Quarterly Cash Dividend

The IBM (NYSE:IBM) board of directors today declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $1.10 per common share, payable June 10, 2014 to stockholders of record May 9, 2014. Today's dividend declaration represents an increase of $0.15, or 16 percent higher than the prior quarterly dividend of $0.95 per common share. This is the 19th year in a row that IBM has increased its quarterly cash dividend, and the eleventh year in a row of double-digit percent increases. IBM has increased its dividend by over 800 percent since the beginning of 2000 and doubled the dividend in the past five years. With the payment of the June 10 dividend, IBM will have paid consecutive quarterly dividends every year since 1916.

Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer said, "Today's announcement reinforces our commitment to delivering value to shareholders. We will continue to invest aggressively in our strategic growth areas including cloud, big data analytics, social, mobile and security to position the company to drive growth and higher value for our clients."

IBM Creates Big Data & Business Analytics Center of Competence in Greece

IBM has announced that it will establish a new Big Data and Business Analytics Center of Competence in Athens, Greece advancing its ability to deliver Big Data and Business Analytics technical and consulting capabilities in the region, drawing on an emerging generation of highly skilled local expertise.
The new center will help companies to better leverage analytics and cognitive computing capabilities, improving business operations and enhancing their competitiveness in the global marketplace.

The new Center will lead Big Data and Business Analytics client engagements in the region, working closely with IBM's global network of Business Analytics Centers in Berlin, Beijing, Dallas, London, New York, Tokyo, Washington and Zurich.

Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium Releases HMC 2.0 Specification

The Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium (HMCC), dedicated to the development and establishment of an industry-standard interface specification for the Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) technology, today announced its continued work to build the HMC ecosystem and support for the industry adoption of this groundbreaking technology through the development of a new interface specification. Today the HMCC also released a first draft of the new specification to a growing list of consortium adopters that now numbers more than 120. The new specification supports increased data rate speeds advancing short-reach (SR) performance from 10 Gb/s, 12.5 Gb/s, and 15 Gb/s, up to 30 Gb/s. The new specification also migrates the associated channel model from SR to VSR to align with existing industry nomenclature. The ultra short-reach (USR) definition also increases performance from 10 Gb/s up to 15 Gb/s.

The HMCC, founded by leading memory providers Micron Technology (Nasdaq:MU), Samsung Electronics, and SK hynix, has begun circulating this draft specification to a broad range of adopters, with the goal of incorporating adopter members' input and targeting a completion date of May 2014 for the final version. The first-generation specification was completed and released publicly in April 2013; several developer and adopter companies, including Altera, Xilinx, and Open-Silicon, have already begun leveraging the specification to design products and solutions that incorporate HMC technology.
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