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Intel Oak Trail to beat ARM with MeeGo specific prices

As per Digitimes Intel starts mass producing Oak Trail platform [Nov 24]

… specifically for tablet PCs, with the combination of Atom Z670 processor and SM35 chipset the initial product, according to industry sources.

The Oak Trail platform will sell at about US$25 with MeeGo, and the price for Oak Trail and Microsoft’s Windows 7 will be higher.

There were a couple of news regarding the state of MeeGo a month ago as well:

For developers’ eyes only: MeeGo version 1.1 [Oct 21]

Today marks a new project release of the MeeGo software, the open-source next-gen operating system for computing devices that Nokia and Intel kicked off earlier this year. The release brings it to version 1.1. This includes updates to the Core operating system, together with the Netbook, In-Vehicle and Mobile Handset packages. An updated Software Development Kit (SDK) for version 1.1 will follow shortly. So MeeGo’s well on its way and showing great progress.

So what is a “project release”? Let’s start with what it isn’t. This isn’t a finished product for you to load up on to your phone and use on a day-to-day basis. The user interface is neither finished nor is it representative of what the experience will look like on future Nokia devices (we’re creating our own unique experience using Qt). What it is, is a generic version intended to allow developers and device manufacturers to get familiar with the code and the capabilities of future devices.

Version 1.2 is scheduled for April 2011, by which point the MeeGo handset user experience software should be pretty much complete. For all the technical details, jump to meego.com.

MeeGo 1.1 Release [Oct 28]

This release includes:

  • Core OS 1.1 – consolidated common base operating system for all UXs
  • Netbook UX 1.1 – complete set of core applications for netbooks
  • In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) UX 1.1 – includes a sample IVI home screen and taskbar built with Qt 4.7 and speech recognition
  • Handset UX 1.1 – technology snapshot implements basic development UX for voice calling, SMS messaging, web browsing, music and video playback, photo viewing, and connection management
  • SDK 1.1 Beta – SDK for MeeGo Core OS and supported UXs will be released during the coming days before the MeeGo Summit conference in Dublin.

Looking Ahead to MeeGo 1.2

MeeGo development continues forward on a six-month cadence. MeeGo 1.2 is scheduled for April of 2011 and it will include a Handset UX release with a complete set of applications, and support for other device usage models.

Relative to that nothing really new came out of the MeeGo camp. Chippy has a good Report: Timeline for MeeGo Netbooks, Tablets and Smartphones [Nov 20] for those who want to understand in all details what Meego will bring next year and when. Author’s final conclusion  is:

We could see MeeGo netbooks with AppUp as early as January with ‘features’ such as quick-boot, lower cost, a simple-to-use operating system with a social-networking slant. We’re unlikely to see too much excitement around these early devices though because platforms and applications need to develop to create products with any major selling points. ARM do have an opportunity to get MeeGo on a netbook-style device in order to create an interesting long-battery-life product.

Tablets could appear in the early part of 2011 as 3rd-parties are already working on UI solutions based on MeeGo 1.1 but for interesting multi-touch products, with an application store, this won’t happen until around June 2011.

The first MeeGo smartphone requires MeeGo V1.2 and won’t happen, either on Intel or ARM until around June 2011. That phone is likely to be a Nokia product and its success will be critical to MeeGo.

Everything up until this Nokia/MeeGo phone can be called Phase-1 – led by Intel/Nokia investment. If these products show class-leading features and the developers start to create applications then we’ll start to see Phase 2 products created through independent investment that are true indicators of MeeGo momentum. That story starts in Q3 2011.

This means that Intel cannot effectively compete against ARM for another half year at least. Intel’s ally in the MeeGo strategy is also under reorganisation:

The mid-2000s represent something of a high-water mark for Nokia. In 2005, it was the undisputed king of the mobile market having sold its billionth handset.

Today, while Nokia remains the world’s largest seller of mobile phones, its prospects have changed dramatically. The company now faces slipping market share, competing mobile operating systems and a world where Apple and Android are regarded as the smartphone leaders.

… The fightback will be headed by Stephen Elop, the former head of Microsoft’s business division, who replaced outgoing CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo on 21 September.

Nokia’s new CEO just hired a new chief marketing officer to help the once-hot cellphone maker fix its dying brand.

Digitimes recently also had the opportunity to talk with ARM president, Tudor Brown and share his views regarding the market for tablet PCs in 2011, and the role of Taiwan’s hardware manufacturers in the booming business. Brown also discussed ARM’s business opportunities in a PC industry that is moving toward increased mobility. See:

Tablet PCs are opportunities to redistribute profits among supply chain players, says ARM president [Nov 19
Toward increased mobility: Q&A with ARM president Tudor Brown [Nov 24]

The leading vendor in Taiwan  meanwhile unveiled its strategy as follows:

Acer adopts AMD CPU for tablet PCs [Nov 25]

Among Acer’s announced initial batch of tablet PCs, a 10.1-inch Windows 7-based model is believed to use AMD’s Ontario APU codenamed C-50, according to sources from notebook players.

… The dual-core C-50 APU, which consumes only 9W of power, is currently priced at about US$55-60 and includes an integrated Radeon HD 6250 graphics chip [and also UVD dedicated hardware acceleration for HD video including 1080p resolutions, see later].

Live and interact in total mobility – Tablets according to Acer [Nov 23]:

… support of its goal to simplify content consumption – a strategy which began with the development of Acer’s multimedia sharing system, Clear.fi. Acer’s strategy is based on the concept of sharing multimedia content and enjoying it across any device, and Tablets are ideal devices for this purpose.

A 10.1” Android tablet for a superb mobile and home entertainment experience … Designed for HD entertainment, this tablet comes with a high resolution, high color contrast display, allowing you to play or share HD video with your friends wherever you are. … Available April 2011

7” Android Tablet: the epitome of mobility … On the 7” (1280×800) 16:10 aspect ratio full touch screen, you can enjoy games, photos, videos while keeping up with your emails or your favourite social networks. Video chat or record a video with the front-facing HD camera. With HDMI support, hooking it up for a big screen video experience is easyier than ever! … Available April 2011

10.1” Windows Tablet: Versatility in a tablet form factor … an extremely innovative solution that combines touch screen user-friendliness with the comfortable experience of a physical keyboard. In fact, the tablet comes with a docking device that includes a full-size keyboard and more connectivity options to enhance the user experience. … Thin and light (only 15 mm and less than 1kg), and with a 10.1”, high resolution display, it’s easy to carry around and really unobtrusive. This tablet ensures outstanding entertainment and a superior touch experience. … Available February 2011

Acer debuts 10.1-inch Windows 7 tablet: AMD-powered, inbuilt 3G, coming February 2011 [Nov 23]

Acer aims at largest global market share for tablet PCs in 2-3 years, says CEO [Nov 26]. A detailed interview.
Compal, Wistron to station in Chongqing, says Acer source [Nov 23]:

…accepted an invitation from Acer to set up production bases in Chongqing, western China, to support Acer’s operational headquarters there, according to a source inside Acer.

Acer’s headquarters in Chongqing will start operations in the second or third quarter of 2011 and are expected to handle half of Acer’s PC shipments in 2012, which is about 30 million units, the source said.

More information regarding AMD’s new APUs based on brand new Bobcat cores see in my post SoC advances for client, server and mobile basestation level [Aug 25, with updates going as of Nov 25]

More information regarding Intel’s Oaktrail see in my posts:
Windows 7 tablets/slates with Oak Trail Atom SoC in December [Nov 1, with updates going as of Nov 24]
Intel SoC for Cloud Clients [June 27, with updates going as of Aug 23]

More information on the current leading edge in ARM offerings see in my posts:
Marvell ARMADA with sun readable and unbreakable Pixel Qi screen, and target [mass] manufacturing cost of $75 [Nov 4]
Marvell ARMADA beats Qualcomm Snapdragon, NVIDIA Tegra and Samsung/Apple Hummingbird in the SoC market [again] [Sept 23, with updates going as of Nov 2]

More information regarding Windows slates/tablets see in my posts:
Windows 7 tablets/slates with Oak Trail Atom SoC in December [Nov 1, with updates going as of Nov 24]
Windows slates in the coming months? Not much seen yet [July 13, with updates going as of Oct 9]

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Marvell beaten by Chinese chipmakers in sub 1,000 yuan handset procurement tender of China Mobile

Follow-up: First real chances for Marvell on the tablet and smartphone fronts [Aug 21 – Sept 25, 2011]

No international vendors win China Mobile procurement bid for 6 million TD-SCDMA CMMB handsets, says report [Nov 15, 2010]:

China Mobile will procure 12 models of inexpensive TD-SCDMA CMMB handsets, with an equal procurement volume of 500,000 units for each model, the report indicated. The seven local suppliers are ZTE with three models, Huawei Device, Lenovo and Coolpad each with two models as well as K-Touch, Hisense and New Postcom each with one model.

Vendors, including Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Samsung Electronics, all failed in the competition because China Mobile asked for a unit procurement price of below 1,000 yuan (US$150) and they do not offer such inexpensive TD-SCDMA handset models, the report pointed out. Consequently, the seven China-based vendors eat the whole pie, with prices ranging from 350 yuan [US$52.7] to 650 [US$97.8] yuan.

Seven of the 12 models will use TD-SCDMA chips developed by China-based Leadcore Technology, a member of Datang Telecom Technology & Industry Group, and five models will be equipped with chips developed by China-based Spreadcom [Spreadtrum] Communications and T3G (originally China-based but has merged into ST-Ericsson).

Details on the model number, TD-SCDMA chipset vendor, and CMMB chip vendor for each handset are as follows (source Marbridge Daily):

China Mobile sub 1000 Yuan procurement results -- Nov-2010

Earlier reports about the tender announcement were:
China Mobile to procure 6 million TD-SCMA handsets, says Chinese media [Oct 8, 2010]: “Of the total, 3.6 million will be of entry-level models and 2.4 million mid-range products. … the latest procurement effort is largely due to the fourth phase of the China Mobile’s TD-SCMA network construction. When completed, demand for TD-SCMA end-use products is expected to increase substantially.”
China market: Inexpensive TD-SCDMA handsets to be available in 4Q10 [Oct 13, 2010]: “Pushed by China Mobile, TD-SCDMA handsets and smartphones at retail prices of about 500 yuan (US$75) and 1,000 yuan respectively will be available in the China market in the fourth quarter of 2010. … China Mobile is setting up its fourth-phase TD-SCDMA network of more than 100,000 base stations and expects the number of TD-SCDMA subscribers to increase from 13.42 million currently to 100 million in 2012.”

Please note the globally rock-bottom nature of 350 yuan [US$52.7] for entry-level models and of 650 [US$97.8] yuan mid-range products. No wonder that such a low-cost and high-performance system-on-a-chip (SoC) leader as Marvell Technology Group Ltd. had no chance to succeed through any of its handset manufacturing partners. Despite of its long stated aim to capitalize on huge volumes made possible by the sub 1,000 yuan TD-SCDMA handsets:

Marvell Empowers Mass Market TD-SCDMA OPhones with PXA920 Chipset [Sept 8, 2009]:

The Marvell PXA920 [which later has obtained the additional name Pantheon 920] comes with a dedicated high performance ARM instruction set compliant Sheeva™ processor and an integrated release 7 (TD-SCDMA, TD-HSDPA, TD-HSUPA) TD-SCDMA baseband [processor] as well as a China Mobile proven EDGE modem.

“China Mobile Research Institute believes that the OPhone platform operating on the Marvell PXA920 will catalyze the hyper-growth of TD-SCDMA smartphones as it provides a powerful combination of value-added services on a feature rich, high performance and highly affordable platform. We believe that the PXA920 solution will help us realize China Mobile’s vision of sub-1000 RMB [sub $146] TD OPhones in the near future,” said Bill Huang general manager of China Mobile Research Institute. “Marvell has worked with us from the start of the PXA920 program [2 years ago] and we are excited by the rapid progress we have made towards realizing this milestone. China Mobile will work closely with Marvell and handset eco-system partners to deploy the PXA920 and we look forward to the rapid launch of next generation TD-SCDMA OPhones based on the Marvell PXA920.”

“It is an especially proud moment for me to work with China Mobile on the mass market launch of TD-SCDMA OPhones in China,” said Shanghai-born, Weili Dai, Marvell co-founder and vice president and general manager of the company’s Consumer and Computing Business Group. “Marvell’s mission is to make technology more useful and more affordable to more of the world’s consumers. The PXA920 realizes a shared vision of China Mobile and Marvell to make powerful and affordable smartphones accessible to everyone. With the first single chip solution for TD-SCDMA, Marvell is raising the technology bar for the entire industry.

Marvell’s Vision and Long Term Commitment to China Positions Company for Next Phase of Growth [Sept 7, 2009]:

Marvell, with approximately $3 billion in revenues in fiscal year 2009, has nearly 700 employees in its Shanghai campus and is aggressively planning to expand its operations in China. The company has focused on building its presence in the China market for most of its 14 year history, initially developing strong relationships with enterprise customers like Huawei and ZTE.

Last week, Marvell celebrated the culmination of several years of investment in the China smartphone market with the introduction of the Marvell® PXA920, the first commercially available single-chip solution, enabling mass market availability of TD-SCDMA smartphones. Developed by Marvell’s research and development center in Shanghai, the PXA920 is a high performance, super integrated chipset that makes the new smartphones far more affordable than feature phones currently offered by China Mobile while providing enhanced performance versus current smartphones.

Update: That opportunity was realized only 2 years later. See:First real chances for Marvell on the tablet and smartphone fronts [Aug 21, 2011]

Marvell Technology Group CEO Sehat Sutardja on Bloomberg [Sept, 2009]:

Our strategy is to focus:

  1. Focus on high-end smartphones
  2. Move smartphones to mainstream cell/feature-phone price range
  3. Work with China Mobile [world’s largest mobile company] for TD-SCDMA

Marvell Drives $99 Smartphones to Market With New Pantheon Platform [Feb 12, 2010]
Marvell Affirms Significant Progress in TD-SCDMA Mobile Phone Chipset at Mobile World Congress 2010 – Company Showcases Array of New Smartphones Developed for the China Market Powered by Marvell’s Low Cost, High Performance Processors [Feb 15, 2010]:

More than 90 percent of all OPhones (EDGE and TD-SCDMA) shipped since launch last September are built on Marvell’s power efficient, high performance silicon technology.

In addition to OPhones, Marvell recently announced new breakthrough developments in cellular silicon technology with the new Pantheon(TM) communication processors which enable development of sleeker, high performance smartphones with HD-quality, live instant video, voice, data and 3D graphics for gaming and other popular mobile applications for consumers.

“Marvell is proud to have been an early technology partner to China Mobile on the development of the OPhone smartphone and we are delighted to see the rapid and broad adoption of China’s TD-SCDMA standard,” said Ms. Weili Dai, Marvell’s Co-founder and Vice President and General Manager of Marvell Semiconductor’s Consumer and Computing Business Unit. “… The collaboration with China Mobile affirms our commitment to drive the smartphone for mass market adoption and to deliver the ‘always-on lifestyle’ to consumers around the world.”

China Mobile’s vision of the sub-1000 RMB (sub $150) TD-SCDMA OPhones will become a reality because of our collaboration with leading companies like Marvell,” said Bill Huang general manager of China Mobile Research Institute. “Marvell and China Mobile are excited by the rapid progress we have made in the TD-SCDMA technical cooperation.”

As the world’s first solution with a built-in TD-SCDMA platform solution with a 55nm design, the Pantheon 920 is a high performance, highly integrated solution that helps make smartphones far more affordable than feature phones while providing enhanced performance compared to current smartphones.

The Pantheon 920 processor [exactly the same as the PXA 920 announced in Sept 2009]supports all leading open operating system (OS) software platforms and come with a dedicated high performance ARM instruction set compliant Marvell CPU processor, high performance HD video, 3D graphics accelerators, and industry’s leading TD-SCDMA modem with 2.8Mbps HSDPA and 2.2Mbps HSUPA.

Certainly it could be the case that the next round of China Mobile tender for sub 2,000 yuan (sub $300) handset procurements will be won by Marvell.  The sub 1,000 yuan (sub $150) segment, however, has been lost for them.

Background on Chinese chipmakers now succeeding against Marvell and all other international operations

When looking into the background of local chipmakers, especially that of the biggest winner Leadcore technology, one thing becomes absolutely clear. The telecommunication chip supply is as much under state control as the whole telecommunication market. Moreover every strategy related decision, which of this procurement process is just one example, is under direct control of the Central Commitee of the Chinese Communist Party. As as consequence there is no wonder that no international chip maker has any chance to penetrate the mass handset market technologically viable for local chipmakers. It is quite probable that the Central Commitee wants to build an internationally competitive local chip industry via the huge volumes available on their home handset market. Some evidence:

–   Leadcore Unveiled oPhone Solutions to Strengthen the High-end TD-SCDMA Handset [April 23, 2009]

On April 23, 2009, in the Leadcore Technology Annual Client Conference 2009, Mr. Sun Yu, the president of Leadcore Tech revealed the progress of TD-SCDMA terminals development. Mr. Sun Yu said that more than 60 handsets are based on the Leadcore solutions in the current 100 TD-SCDMA handsets. More than 70% TD-SCDMA terminals products in the market were derived from the Leadcore’s DTivy. The Pecker test terminal launched by the Leadcore technology occupied the vast majority share of TD-SCDMA test terminal market. He also revealed that China Mobile was taking its great effort to R&D the solutions of OMS-based TD-SCDMA handset, oPhone, which will be released by Leadcore on April 23, 2009.

TD Forum Attended Leadcore Technology Client Conference to Witness the New Heights of Chip Manufacturers [April 22, 2010]

Continuous innovation to lead the future – the core technology wonderful debut thirteenth China Beijing International High-Tech Expo [May 27, 2010],  as translated from Chinese by Google:

展会期间联芯科技展位受到了中央领导以及参展观众的高度关注,取得良好反响。 Core Technology Alliance booth during the exhibition by the central leadership and the participating audience attention and achieved good response. 中共中央政治局委员、市委书记刘淇,中共中央政治局委员、国务委员刘延东,国务委员、公安部部长孟建柱,均来到联芯科技TD联盟展位驻足参观,了解公司最新技术与市场化成果。 CPC Central Committee, Liu Qi, Party Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, State Councilor Liu Yandong, State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu, are the core technology to the joint booth TD Union stopped to visit, understand the latest technology and market results.

General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPC, Chinese President and Chairman of Central Military Commission, Jintao Hu paid an inspection visit to Spreadtrum Communications (Shanghai) Co., Ltd [Jan 18, 2010]
Hu calls for independent innovation [Jan 18, 2010]:

Hu Jintao (R front), general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, shakes hands with young members of the research and development team as he inspects Spreadtrum Communications, Inc., in Shanghai, east China, on Jan. 16, 2010. Hu Jintao made an inspection tour in Shanghai on Jan. 14-17. [Xinhua]

… At the Spreadtrum Communication, Inc., a high-tech company founded by returned overseas students, Hu said independent innovation is the lifeline of a company. He told the company staff “I hope you could make further breakthroughs in core technologies, so as to boost China’s communication industry.”

Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. Announces $44 Million of New Financing [May 5, 2009]:

“We very much appreciate and are excited to receive this nearly interest-free financing.  This indicates the Chinese government’s strong support and high confidence in Spreadtrum to develop semiconductor products in 2nd and 3rd generation wireless communications in the Chinese market.  We plan to use our borrowings under the loan to increase R&D investment in our GSM and TD-SCDMA projects and to expand our IC operations in China.  With our strengthened financial position, we are more confident in our ability to overcome the difficulties caused by the current worldwide economic and financial crisis and do not expect to need to raise additional funds in the near future,” said Dr. Leo Li, president and chief executive officer of Spreadtrum Communications, Inc.

And these are just the visible indications that local chipmakers are getting huge government subsidies. And T3G, now a wholly owned subsidiary of ST Ericsson, has also been a very much preferred player because of its parent’s huge patent portfolio and international Ericsson influence in the strategic (for China’s local and foreign market efforts) LTE wins (see: IMT-Advanced (4G) for the next-generations of interactive mobile services, China is triumphant [Oct 24, 2010]). With that they can beat even the best international chip house, the Marvell Technology Group.

1. Leadcore Technology (part of the state-owned Datang Telecom Technology & Industry Group)

The current outcome is not the first time for the biggest winner Leadcore Tedchnology (with seven of the 12 models using its TD-SCDAM chip, i.e. 58% or 3.5M chips) as evidenced by one and a half years old news of Leadcore Technology Gets Big Order from China Mobile [May 21, 2009]:

Leadcore Technology Co., Ltd., together with its three partners, wins nearly a half of the CNY 600 million subsidy from China Mobile in the telecom carrier’s latest round of bidding for TD-SCDMA terminal procurement

Leadcore’s mobile phone chips are applied in five models of TD-SDMA mobile phones that are ordered by China Mobile this time.

The TD-SCDMA network operator has ordered 11 models of mobile phones, including the Leadcore chip-powered low-end TD-SCDMA devices launched by ZTE Corporation (SZSE: 000063 and SEHK: 0763) and LG, as well as the Leadcore chip-based flagship broadband TD-SCDMA products rolled out by LG, ZTE, and Yulong Computer Telecommunication Scientific (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd.

The other companies share the TD-SCDMA terminal order from China Mobile include T3G Technology Co., Ltd., Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPRD), Dopod Communication Corporation, Motorola, Samsung, Huawei Technologies, Hisense, and Guangzhou New Postcom Equipment.

Leadcore Technology’s lead on the technology market for TD-SCDMA terminals goes back to the very beginning as was reported by Datang Licensed TD Tech from Leadcore [Sept. 30, 2009]:

Sun Yuwang, president at Leadcore Technology, once said that more than 60 of the over 100 TD handsets that have gotten network access licenses in the country have been equipped with Leadcore chips, with an additional 14 new models afoot. Among the top four PC makers in the world, Lenovo, HP and Acer have all adopted Leadcore’s products.

Leadcore’s TD chip shipment outpaced 1 million pieces this past April, topping 2 million by the end of this August. Now the company is holding more than 60% of the domestic TD chip market.

Leadcore’s dominance has been further evidenced by TD Forum Attended Leadcore Technology Client Conference to Witness the New Heights of Chip Manufacturers [April 22, 2010]:

Dr. Jing Wang, Secretary-general of TD Forum attended the conference and witnessed great achievements gained by TD-SCDMA chip manufacturers since TD-SCDMA commercialization one year ago. With the further mature of TD-SCDMA market and gradually strengthened cooperation among related parts of TD-SCDMA industry, the problems occurred in the development of TD-SCDMA industry will be resolved effectively.

Leadcore is part of the state-owned Datang Telecom Technology & Industry Group which has the following structure:

with officially provided links as below:

Affiliations

Datang Telecom Technology & Industry Holdings Co.,Ltd.

Datang Telecom Technology Co.,Ltd.

GoHigh Data Networks Technology Co.,Ltd.

Unit in charge

State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council

Among the affiliate links given above there is no link for Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) although on the stucture image it is listed as part of the Datang Telecom Technology & Industry Holdings Co.,Ltd.

Datang Telecom Technology & Industry Holdings has agreed to acquire US$102 million worth of Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) shares to bring its stake in the foundry chipmaker to 20%, according to a Chinese-language sina.com report.

The report said SMIC will use the new funds mainly to expand advanced process capacity at its 12-inch fabs.

Datang, directly owned by China’s central government, is currently the majority shareholder of SMIC with a 16.6% stake.

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) will pump at least US$2 billion into research and development annually in the future, aiming to develop “world-class” technologies and manufacturing within the next five years, according to Jiang Shang Zhou, chairman of the China-based foundry chipmaker.

SMIC is now undertaking a project to ramp up 45nm process capacity, which will cost it a total of about US$4 billion, Jiang noted. In addition, the company’s next move to a 32nm technology will initially require US$600 million, Jiang added.

Soon the Datang Telecom Technology & Industry Group will be even larger as per the news that China Potevio to merge with Datang [July 15, 2010]:

The government has decided to merge two State-owned telecom equipment makers – China Datang Corp and Potevio – by the end of this year, sources from Datang said on Wednesday.

The merged entity is expected to become the third-biggest telecom equipment maker in China after Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp, the source said.

Datang is a large power generation company and one of the key promoters of the TD-SCDMA standard in the nation.

China Potevio is a leading IT equipment manufacturer and service provider. Its main businesses span the manufacture of telecommunications products, the application of telecom products, and the informatization of broadcasting and TV.

The group is also playing an active role in high-tech investments as per Datang Telecom planning PE fund [May 20, 2010]:

Telecom equipment maker Datang Telecom on Wednesday said it plans to set up a 5 billion yuan ($732.18 million) private equity (PE) fund for investments in the booming Internet of Things (IOT) industry.

Datang will partner with the Wuxi New District Venture Investment Group, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Wuxi Guolian Development (Group) Co to set up the PE fund with a corpus of 1 billion yuan in the first stage.

The company will invest 200 million yuan during the first stage of fundraising and hold a 40 percent equity stake in the fund management company being set up to manage the private equity fund.

IOT refers to networks of real-world objects linked to the Internet that interact through web services. The technology is based on the concept that all real-world objects can be identified and managed by computers if they are equipped with radio tags and linked to the Internet. Technologies such as radio frequency identification and sensors form the cornerstones of the network.

What is the current status of the group  and Leadcore itself in relationship to China’s own TD-SCDMA and TD-LTE technologies? The Datang Telecom Group was awarded “2nd China Annual 3G Prize” [June 30, 2010] press release is giving all the details (emphasis is mine):

Since Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of PR China issued 3G licenses in January 2009, in TD-SCDMA industry DTG has occupied 30% of market share in system equipment, and 50% in chips and Solutions.

Currently, DTG possesses the most comprehensive TD-SCDMA solutions for all circumstances in the industry, and is competent to provide complete, end to end TD-SCDMA and TD-LTE business solutions. DTG has already provided network equipment supply and construction services to Guangdong, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, and other key provinces. DTG actively cooperated with China Mobile to accomplish coverage of complex scenes, such as, intensive urban areas, large scaled stadiums, maglev trains and Cross-ocean Bridge, and provided premium green network with TD-SCDMA technology. All products provided by DTG are ready for smooth evolution towards TD-LTE.  This award collectively represents high recognition and acceptance towards Datang Telecom Group for its contribution in promoting the development of Chinese telecommunication industry.

LeadCore Technology, winner of “TD-SCDMA terminal chip and the best solution provider”, is the core enterprise specialized in TD-SCDMA terminal industry in DTG. As a chip enterprise in the upstream position of industrial chain, Leadcore Technology always focuses on layout of industrial chain and value chain; Leadcore adheres to technology innovation and market-orientation; promotes industrialization of innovation achievements,  persists in pursuing win-win situation from cooperation and also coordinates with the partners from industrial chain, so as to promote rapid and healthy development of TD-SCDMA industry.

2. Spreadtrum Communications, Inc (founded by Chinese expatriates in 2001, a public company since 2007 with principal executive offices and most operations in China but incorporated in Cayman Islands)

Spreadtrum and Hisense Jointly Launched the World’s First Affordable TD-SCDMA Phone Supporting CMMB Digital TV [Jan 10, 2010]

Hisense N51 was jointly developed by Spreadtrum and Hisense in a highly collaborative technical partnership. Executive Vice President of Hisense Communication, Ms. Wenlin Yang, said: “Hisense and Spreadtrum share a long history of co-operation. Partnering with Spreadtrum, we successfully won the bid of ‘thousand-yuan 3G mobile phones’ project of China Mobile’s ‘TD-SCDMA Terminal Special Incentive Fund Project.’ Through our six-month joint efforts and Spreadtrum’s very competitive TD-SCDMA and CMMB solutions, the Hisense N51 was introduced. … “

President and CEO of Spreadtrum Communications, Inc., Dr. Leo Li, said: “… Spreadtrum provides highly integrated TD-SCDMA/HSDPA/GSM/GPRS/EDGE baseband chip SC8800H and RF chip QS3200, which effectively reduce the cost of development and manufacturing of Hisense Communication products. Therefore, Hisense Communication is able to introduce cost-effective handsets such as N51 by targeting the Chinese 3G market quickly to meet the needs of consumers. Spreadtrum CMMB mobile TV chip SC6600V provides Hisense N51 with vast application space. Particularly, Hisense N51 is currently the world’s only 1000 RMB level TD-SCDMA phone that supports CMMB.”

Spreadtrum’s TD-SCDMA Chip Adopted in the World’s First 3G OPhone Lenovo O1 [Dec 14, 2009]:

Lenovo Mobile Communication Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “Lenovo Mobile”) launched the world’s first TD-SCDMA standard-based OPhone smart phonesLenovo O1, with immediate sales in all local markets in mainland China. The phone is based on Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (hereinafter referred to as “Spreadtrum”, Nasdaq: SPRD) TD-SCDMA solution, and supports China Mobile OPhone OS smart phone operating system.

Spreadtrum and Lenovo Mobile, in a highly collaborative technical partnership, jointly developed Lenovo O1.  This new handset runs on the China Mobile led developed Intelligent Terminal software platform – the OPhone platform.  Lenovo 01 uses Spreadtrum’s TD-SCDMA/HSDPA / GSM / GPRS / EDGE baseband chip SC8800S and radio frequency (“RF”) chip QS3200.

Spreadtrum and China Telecommunications Technology Labs Announce Strategic Partnership to Promote New Technologies and Services [May 15, 2009]

A unique industry chain capability has developed in China’s mobile phone industry, which now comprises of design, R&D, support, production, marketing, etc. This development will enhance the competitiveness of phones made in China for the local and overseas markets. With the strategic partnership of CTTL and Spreadtrum, our cooperation will create new technologies and services in wireless communications and multimedia terminals. For example, we expect to innovative services by utilizing our combined resources and new techniques in 2G and 3G networks to develop high-tech information security technologies for the mobile and multimedia markets. Our cooperation will simultaneously broaden and strengthen interactions in the industry chain.

… China Telecommunications Technology Labs (“CTTL”), founded in 1981, was named under the authorization of the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) and the State General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ). Currently, CTTL is administrated by the China Academy of Telecommunications Research (CATR) and was formed through re-organization and merges of four divisions of CATR, i.e. the Research Institute of Telecommunications Transmission (RITT), the Telecommunications Metrology Center (TMC), the Research Institute for Industry Standard of Posts and Telecommunications (PTISR), the CTTL Anti-seismic Research Institute of Telecommunications Equipment, BaoDing (ARITE). It is a leading high-tech laboratory with the following missions: telecommunications technology development, telecommunications product standards and test methods research, telecommunications metrology standards and methods research, products inspection, verification and technical assessment and testing instruments metrology and evaluation of communications software.

Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. Announces $44 Million of New Financing [May 5, 2009]:

“We very much appreciate and are excited to receive this nearly interest-free financing.  This indicates the Chinese government’s strong support and high confidence in Spreadtrum to develop semiconductor products in 2nd and 3rd generation wireless communications in the Chinese market.  We plan to use our borrowings under the loan to increase R&D investment in our GSM and TD-SCDMA projects and to expand our IC operations in China.  With our strengthened financial position, we are more confident in our ability to overcome the difficulties caused by the current worldwide economic and financial crisis and do not expect to need to raise additional funds in the near future,” said Dr. Leo Li, president and chief executive officer of Spreadtrum Communications, Inc.

Spreadtrum: TD-based Chip Shipment Totaled 100,000 [March 6, 2009]:

Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. clarified on March 3, 2009 that the shipment of its TD-SCDMA-based chips totaled nearly 100,000.

Earlier, the shipment of Spreadtrum’s TD-SCDMA-based chips was reported to reach 10,000 or so. The number is inaccurate, explained the Nasdaq-listed company, adding that mobile phones adopting its chips accounted for nearly one third of China’s procurement of 300,000 TD-SCDMA cellphones and terminals.

The Shanghai-based company incurred a net loss of USD 31.3 million for the third quarter of 2008, in contrast to a net profits of USD 6.1 million Q3 2007 and USD 2.6 million in Q2 2008

Spreadtrum Announces World’s First TD-SCDMA/HSDPA/EDGE/GPRS/GSM Single-chip RF Transceiver – The QS3200 RF transceiver features high integration and low power consumption and provides 2G/2.5G/3G/3.5G multimode support [Feb 16, 2009]:

Followed by the GSM/GPRS single-chip RF transceiver, the QS500, and the GSM/GPRS/EDGE single-chip RF transceiver, the QS1000, today Spreadtrum announced the QS3200, the world’s first single-chip RF transceiver to support multimode such as 2G/3G/3.5G. The QS3200 offers great improvement over the other TD-SCDMA RF chip on signal transmission, reception, and power amplification in addition to the integrated features and low power consumption in Spreadtrum’s other chip solutions.  The launch of the QS3200 makes Spreadtrum one of the total solution providers in the wireless communications market and takes a positive step forward in commercializing TD-SCDMA technology.

Spreadtrum Announces SC6600V: First Single-Chip Demodulator/Decoder for CMMB-Based Mobile TV [May 7, 2008]

Spreadtrum’s new SC6600V solution is an integrated CMMB demodulator and source decoder chip and is the first single chip solution that supports both AVS and H.264 video decoding standards.  As the first CMMB single chip solution for mobile TV, the SC6600V is designed for feature phones.  The SC6600V adopts an integrated platform design for communications and mobile multimedia to reduce the design period of Spreadtrum’s customers.  … Spreadtrum’s SC6600V single-chip solution is designed to enable handset makers and carriers to offer mobile TV feature in feature phones at reasonable prices, instead of being relegated to expensive SmartPhones as most mobile TV solutions are currently.

CMMB is a homegrown mobile TV standard that applies to mobile devices such as mobile phones, PDAs and Portable Media Players (PMPs).  It features free mobility, rich video and data services.  In addition, it provides consumers with cost-effective mobile TV service that satisfies most consumers’ needs and is expected to be used in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

Mr. Ma Jv, President, Academy of Broadcasting Science of the State Administration of Radio Film and Television, indicated that, “We are very glad that Spreadtrum has developed the SC6600V, the first CMMB-based Mobile TV single chip solution for mobile phones, which integrated demultiplex, channel decoder and source decoder.  We believe that it will help CMMB start to grow its market quickly, and we hope Spreadtrum will continue to unleash its technology strengths, allowing it to contribute to the CMMB industry’s ongoing development and road to becoming prosperous.”

Spreadtrum Communications Completes Acquisition of Quorum Systems [Jan 16, 2008]:

With the acquisition of Quorum, Spreadtrum gains a highly skilled RF engineering team of 30 engineers with an average of 10 years of industry experience. The combination of Spreadtrum’s leading single-chip baseband solutions with Quorum’s complementary, low-power high-performance RF designs is expected to strengthen Spreadtrum’s competitive position in the wireless market, including in 2G, 3G, RF, baseband, physical layer software, protocol and applications. Since its founding in 2003, Quorum has created multi-band transceiver designs ranging from GSM/GPRS/EDGE to WCDMA and 3G HSDPA application, plus a recently announced TD-SCDMA platform.

3. T3G (an ST Ericssson subsidiary since December 2008)

Key Milestones:

T3G has achieved an impressive record of world firsts in bringing innovation to China:

  • The world’s first ASIC based TD-SCDMA system level call achieved in 2004
  • The world’s first international TD-SCDMA call in 2004
  • The world’s first 384Kbps commercial TD-SCDMA/EDGE dual-mode Samsung phone, powered by T3G’s chipset in 2005
  • The world’s first ASIC based 2.8Mbps TD-HSDPA system call achieved in 2007
  • The world’s first 2.8 million TD-HSDPA/EDGE dual-mode dual-band commercial data card powered by T3G’s chipset in 2008
  • Completed the world’s first TD-LTE end-to-end application demonstration on multimode soft modem platform in 2009
  • Launched the world’s first TD-HSPA chip in 65nm in 2009

Strong presence and identity in China:

ST-Ericsson, through its subsidiary T3G, has been actively developing platforms for the TD mobile standard since 2003. The company’s extensive investment in technology and product development has given it a leadership position in the market. The company provides solutions to Chinese and global handset manufactures and design houses. It offers mobile chipsets, software protocols, system reference designs and customized technical support. In May 2009, ST-Ericsson was selected by China Mobile as a major technology partner for the development of its highend and low-cost handsets. The company will also support four of its customers to commercialize their mobile phones during 2009-2010.

  • ST-Ericsson’s 550 employees are based in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong
  • ST-Ericsson (ST-NXP Wireless) acquired T3G in December 2008. T3G was established in January 2003 as a joint venture. Its founding partners were Philips Semiconductors (later NXP Semiconductors, and finally ST-NXP Wireless), Datang Mobile, Samsung Electronics, and since 2005 also Motorola. T3G is based in Beijing.

Datang set to sell off T3G stake [June 19, 2008]:

Datang Mobile, the second largest stakeholder of T3G, is putting its 32.11 percent stake on sale for 122.2 million yuan, according to a notice posted on the website of Beijing Equity Exchange.

The move comes on the heels of the collapse of Commit Inc, another major TD-SCDMA chipmaker, which has dimmed the prospects of TD-SCDMA.

There are rumors that Geneva-based semiconductor maker STMicroelectronics might take over Datang Mobile’s stake in T3G.

Commit has had its own share of woes, forcing it to shut shop at the end of April after failing to secure fresh funding and pay its employees for months. Commit’s shareholders include Hyper Market, Texas Instruments, Nokia, LG and State-owned Potevio and Datang Telecom, parent of Datang Mobile.

Industry observers blame Commit and T3G’s woes on the slow roll-out of TD-SCDMA in China.

ST-Ericsson and China Mobile to Bring TD-SCDMA to the Mass Market [May 26, 2009]:

China Mobile has selected ST-Ericsson’s company in China, T3G, as a major technology partner for the development of its high-end and low-cost handsets, based on the 3G standard TD-SCDMA. ST-Ericsson will also support four of its customers to commercialize their mobile phones during 2009-2010.

Under the agreement, ST-Ericsson, the 50/50 joint venture between Ericsson and STMicroelectronics, will develop a new low-cost platform to support its customers to offer affordable TD-SCDMA devices to the China consumers. ST-Ericsson will also support customers to develop high-end mobile phones, based on existing and new platforms such as the T7210, which will allow consumers to enjoy high-speed broadband and multimedia services.

“Although ST-Ericsson is a recent joint venture, our subsidiary T3G has been actively developing platforms for the mobile standard for more than six years, achieving an impressive record of world firsts in bringing innovation to China,” said Alain Dutheil, President and CEO of ST-Ericsson. “Our dedicated local R&D team, as well as our strong commitment to continuous innovation and close cooperation with customers, will enable China Mobile to offer a broad range of handsets for the mass market as well as for the high-end segment.”

ST-Ericsson’s T7210 mobile platform supports TD-SCDMA dual-band in 2010-2025MHz/1880-1920MHz frequencies, and has successfully completed handovers of voice and high-speed data services in order to operate optimally in Chinese dual-band network environments.

ST-Ericsson Continues to Drive Innovation in TD Market [Sept 14, 2009]:

ST-Ericsson, a world leader in wireless platforms and semiconductors, and its Chinese subsidiary T3G today announced the industry’s first TD-HSPA modem chip samples in 65nm. This new chip is smaller than existing products, making it easier to implement in mobile devices, and is also designed to reach significantly lower power consumption.

ST-Ericsson reaches key milestones in China [Nov 27, 2009]:

Confirms clear market leadership in the TD-technology

  • Five million TD chipsets shipped
  • ST-Ericsson’s solutions power more than 100 models of TD devices, including handsets, data cards and embedded devices

ST-Ericsson, a world leader in wireless platforms and semiconductors, has reached two important milestones, confirming its market leadership in the Chinese homegrown 3G standard, TD-SCDMA. ST-Ericsson, through its Chinese subsidiary T3G, has been leading the innovation in the TD market since 2003, bringing numerous industry firsts.

… Read more at:  http://www.stericsson.com/press/Strong_presence_china_English.pdf

ST-Ericsson to cooperate with China Mobile on TD-LTE [Feb 16, 2010]:

ST-Ericsson, a world leader in wireless platforms and semiconductors, announced today it will cooperate with China Mobile on TD-LTE development and will support a demonstration of TD-LTE at Shanghai World EXPO in 2010.

ST-Ericsson will also actively participate on other TD-LTE projects organized by China Mobile, including trial and interoperability testing (IOT) with infrastructure vendors.

Bill Huang, General Manager of China Mobile Research Institute, said: “China Mobile and ST-Ericsson are co-operating very successfully on TD-SCDMA technology and we are happy to extend our partnership into the TD-LTE area and then multi-mode technologies in future. We share a common goal of creating a global LTE market encompassing both TDD and FDD technologies.”

ST-Ericsson’s key milestones in LTE:

  • In December 2009, ST-Ericsson and Ericsson were first to achieve LTE and HSPA mobility with a multimode device. Read more at www.stericsson.com/press_releases/LTE_HSPA.jsp
  • 2009: Fully working LTE chipset available and interoperability testing of the platform with operators
  • 2008: Platform interoperability tests activities initiated with network vendors
  • 2007: First handheld LTE prototype available and first handheld public demonstration at Mobile World Congress in 2008
  • 2004-2005: ST-Ericsson started research and standardization activities related to LTE

ST-Ericsson launches feature rich mobile internet platform in China – T6718 enables development of cost-effective and power-efficient multimedia TD-HSPA handsets [May 27, 2010]:

The T6718 is the first commercial 65 nanometer-based TD-HSPA platform, enabling manufacturers to quickly produce compact, cost efficient and feature-rich mobile broadband handsets for the Chinese market. ST-Ericsson expects the T6718, which can support downlink speeds of 2.8Mbps and uplink speeds of 2.2Mbps, to be in commercial products from Q3 2010.

… Handsets based on the T6718 platform will be able to deliver up to seven hours of talk-time or 25 days of standby on one battery charge. Incorporating software support for Assisted-GPS (AGPS), the T6718 will also enable location-based services, such as navigation and local search.

T6718 TD-HSPA/EDGE:

The dual mode TD-HSPA/EDGE modem is integrated with an ARM processor to deliver small size, fast response time and low power. This is also the first TD-HSPA solution to take advantage of the additional size and power benefits of the 65 nm process node.

The T6718 delivers a rich Internet experience including fast browsing, streaming video, broadcast television and other multimedia services on a touch-screen display. The 5 Mpixel camera support and video recording capability coupled with the graphics hardware accelerator provide a great visual consumer experience. Furthermore, the T6718 has the lowest power consumption in its class which means more hours enjoying music, video, internet access and talking.

High performance and low power consumption

  • The first commercial 65 nanometer based TD-SCDMA
    platform
    on the market
  • Talk time up to 7 hours and stand by up to 25 days on one battery charge (standard 1000mAh battery)
  • ARM926 processor up to 416 MHz

Cloud Computing Strategy for Digital China: Taiwan is leading the way except IOT

In my post Be aware of mainland China and Taiwan stronger manufacturing links in ICT [Sept 2] it has already been proven that mainland China and Taiwan are fast becoming essentially one in the important ICT sector. Moreover, it was a recent acceptance of IMT-Advanced (4G) for the next-generations of interactive mobile services, China is triumphant [Oct 24] as major effect of that acceptance. It is more visible for mainland China as for them the #1 issue is Could China close the gap in mobile Internet? It should! [July 21]. For Taiwan the issue in this regard was the one related to Intel dismisses WiMAX Program Office [July 1] only. With IMT-Advanced (4G) accepted by ITU the Taiwanese concern about their strong and already very much advanced WiMAX commitment has also been resolved since the WirelessMAN-Advanced within IMT-Advanced is in fact a kind of WiMAX 2.

With such triumphant continuation assured for both the Taiwanese mobile Internet as well as that of mainland China (see 3.9G TD-LTE rollout in 2012 with integrated 2G, 3G and 4G? [July 19]) for an ardent China technology watcher like myself the next issue is what about their cloud computing strategies?

For mainland China the most visible manifestations of any cloud foundation related strategies of their own have been the OPhone OS (OMS) 2.0 based on Android 2.1 [July 5] and the Mobile search SaaS battle [June 28]. On behalf of the large international ICT players, on the other hand, the most visible mainland China related cloud effort has been so far the SAP’s Business ByDesign SaaS to be relaunched on July 31 with mobility as one of key attractions [July 28] only. So a kind of core coverage has already been provided on my “Experiencing the Cloud” blog.

-With a TD-LTE (time division long term evolution) testing lab jointly established by Taiwanese end-user instruments makers in China becoming operational, China Mobile, one of China`s big three telecom service providers, will move to expand its cooperation with them on 4G business in the country soon.

Yvonne Li, president of Taiwan`s Far Eastone Telecommunications Co., Ltd., one of founders of the TD-LTE testing lab, has confirmed that several Taiwanese handset makers, including High Tech Computer (HTC) Corp. and Asustek Computer Inc., have sent their smartphones to the lab for testing, which will be adopted by China Mobile for launch in China in 2011 at the earliest.

Also, Taiwan-based MediaTek Inc., a globally leading handset IC designer, is expected to count on the lab to accelerate development of its chipsets for TD-LTE phones, industry insiders noted.

Through the testing lab, Li stressed that Taiwanese firms relative to 4G communications can tap China Mobile`s supply chain of 4G phones more easily in the future than before. In short, the lab will also help step up cooperation between the Chinese telecom service provider and Taiwanese manufacturers.

Li also indicated that his firm has moved to expand collaboration with China Mobile on value-added mobile services, with the former`s application software and e-book readers already available on the latter`s online shopping store. Prospectively, said, the cooperation will open the door wider to China`s e-book reader market for other Taiwanese firms in the future.

So far, China Mobile has decided to set up over 3000 TD-LTE base stations in six metropolises, such as Beijing and Shanghai, in China, and, to counter underdevelopment of related 4G phones, has planned to rely on Taiwanese suppliers` cutting-edge product R&D capability to boost promotion of the 4G services.

Taiwan-based mobile telecom carrier Far EasTone Telecommunications (FET) has launched 25 Chinese-language Android applications om Mobile Market, the online store operated by China Mobile, with market response better than originally expected, according to FET.

The 25 applications, with 23 ones free and two chargeable, are selected from S Mart, FET’s online store of which 40% are for chargeable download, FET indicated. The launch on Mobile Market has hit a record of 43,000 downloads a day and reached more than 140,000 downloads cumulatively, FET noted. With 40 more applications under review by China Mobile, FET expects to have 100 applications available on Mobile Market at the end of 2010.

Most of the applications on Mobile Market should be for free use in order to cultivate habits, a necessary measure to pave the way for launching more chargeable applications in the future, FET pointed out. FET plans to invest NT$300 million (US$9.6 million) in three years offering free applications to tap the China market.

Taiwan has about 15.42 million computer users and 14.46 million being habitual Internet browsers, 63.9% of which have shipped [shopped?] online, up 10 percentage points from the corresponding 53.9% of last year, according to a recent survey by the Research, Development & Evaluation Commission (RDEC) under the Taiwan Cabinet.

Online shoppers have spent on average this year NT$13,864 (US$447.23) per person, surging 41.24% from last year`s NT$9,816 (US$306.75). In addition, 26.4% of the browsers have used online financial services, up five percentage points from that recorded a year earlier. Such uptrend reflects the increasing dependence on the Internet by Taiwanese in home economy, or the art and economics of home management.

The survey shows that 86 of every 100 households in Taiwan own computers, with 81 being online browsers. This year the proportion of mobile online users has increased to 53% from last year`s 41.9%; while 75.6% of the island`s 12-and-older people have used computers and 70.9% have used the Internet.

Some 64.9% of Taiwan`s online users have participated in Internet communities, 48.8% have joined MSN, and 41.4% have participated in Facebook, with 34.9% having set up personal blogs.

The joint venture … will be the first manufacturer of cloud computing equipment co-founded by industries on the two sides of the Taiwan Straits.

Tian [Sounin, Skycloud Chairman] noted that mainland China has included cloud-computing development in its 12th Five-Year Plan, setting to push for one mega cloud computing plan each in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Wuxi and Nanjing in five years.

Of the five mega programs, the one for Beijing will cost at least RMB50 billion (US$7.5 billion at US$1:RMB6.6) in investment and create an industry revenue four times the investment costs. The one for Shanghai is also expected to create revenue the same size of the Beijing plan.

According to executives of Chunghwa Telecom Co., Ltd., the mainland`s top three telecom carriers—China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom—will also start their own cloud-computing programs.

Taiwan`s Ministry of Economic Affairs estimated global revenue in cloud-computing industry will reach US$409.6 billion in 2012 and Taiwan has designed cloud computing as next NT$1 trillion (US$33 billion at US$1:NT$30) industry.

The cooperation is for Skycloud help CHT market CHT-developed cloud computing infrastructure and application services and ICT-based intelligent services/solutions for home, business and government use in China, with Skycloud to provide hardware and system integration services, CHT pointed out. In addition, CHT will set up an exhibition center of its cloud computing products in a cloud computing park developed by Skycloud in Beijing, with completion scheduled for the end of January 2011, CHT indicated. CHT will then introduce its cloud computing products, the HiCloud CaaS (compute as a service), to the China market in March-April 2011, the company noted.

Skycloud, in order to promote cloud computing business, has set up 13 offices around China and the nationwide promotion network will be expanded to 35-40 offices in 2011, Tian [Edward, Skycloud chairman] pointed out. Skycloud has been in cooperation with Taiwan-based IC design house VIA Technologies, and both sides will set up a China-based joint venture in 2011 to develop terminal devices specifically for cloud computing application, Tian indicated.

Two top companies of Taiwan and China have signed a memorandum of understanding to start the cooperation on jointly tapping the commercial opportunities in cloud computing services for companies in the Greater China area.

Lu Shyue-ching, chairman of Chunghwa Telecom Co. and concurrently head of the Taiwan Cloud Computing Consortium (TCCC), inked the document with chairman Edward Tian of the Beijing-based Skycloud Technology (China), Inc.

The pact marks the closer cooperation between the two companies, but executives at Chunghwa Telecom, the leading telecommunications service company in Taiwan, said the project also represents the beginning of mutual assistance between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait concerning cloud computing services.

They said Chunghwa Telecom will team up with Taiwan-based enterprises to formally start providing services in the Chinese market in 2011, including shipping the turn-key projects there.

The partners of Chunghwa Telecom in Taiwan include Quanta Computers, Inventec, and Trend Micro Incorporated.

Skycloud Technology, a leading cloud computing system integration company, has become a bellwether of the cloud computing sector in China after integrating resources at several other companies, including Centrine Data Systems, CE Open Source Software, and a software firm set up by the Beijing University of Technologyto form the China Cloud Computing Technology and Industry Alliance (CCCTIA).

Chunghwa Telecom is playing a similar role in Taiwan.

Shareholders of Skycloud Technology (China) also include Yahoo founder Jerry Young, and executives from Taiwan like chairman Barry Lam of Quanta Computer, president Chen Wen-Chi of VIA Technologies, and chairman Steve Chang of Trend Micro, a computer and Internet security company.

Skycloud Technology, which aims to bring enterprises in China into the “cloud era,” was understood to have won several contracts to develop cloud computing projects in China, including the one at Beijing Zhongguancun.

Chunghwa Telecom Co., Ltd. and Inventec Corp. yesterday announced cooperation on four cloud-computing projects, including establishing a cloud-computing equipment laboratory, developing cloud-computing equipment for end-user market, and setting up an online store offering content applications.

Also, the two companies decided to work with Skycloud Technology (China) Inc. on integrated solutions for mainland China`s cloud-computing market, which is estimated at around NT$1 trillion (US$33 billion at US$1:NT$30) over next five years.

Inventec will place all the application software it co-develops with content-service developers on Chunghwa Telecom`s cloud-computing Internet data centers set up around the island. Industry watchers said Inventec and Chunghwa Telecom do not rule out the possibility of founding a joint venture to develop cloud-computing application software. Chunghwa Telecom executives said the jury is still out on the joint venture plan.

The idea of the two companies’ online content store is inspired by Apple Store. The online store will help Taiwan`s developers of cloud-computing software open online shops to sell their products.

… Meanwhile, Platform Computing, a leading company in cluster, grid and cloud management software with 80 percent of the global market share, said on Monday that it planned to build an operating center in Taiwan within six months. The Canada-based company expects the new center to handle its cloud computing business in the greater China area …

  • Update [Nov 16]: Gene Perez from GMS (Santa Maria, California, US) noted in the comment below, that “labor is pretty damn cheap there as well”. Indeed, the graph below is showing the case for Taiwan (from U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table 1 of International Comparisons of Manufacturing Productivity and Unit Labor Cost Trends or http://www.bls.gov/fls/prodsuppt.xls):
  • Something similar for Greater China (PRC) from the same source [Nov 17] which shows that manufacturing employees in Greater China get upto 10 times less than even their counterparts in Taiwan — a huge competitive edge for many years and decades ahead which is when combined with cloud computing foundation will be an even more killing combination than upto now:

Table 1.  Hourly compensation costs of manufacturing employees in China, 2002-2008

Year National currency basis
(Yuan)
U.S. dollar basis
(US$)
Index1
(US = 100)
2002 4.74 0.57 2.1
2003 5.17 0.62 2.2
2004 5.50 0.66 2.3
2005 5.95 0.73 2.4
2006 6.44 0.81 2.7
20072 8.06 1.06 3.4
2008 9.48 1.36 4.2

The current issue for me is therefore Taiwan related. What is the cloud computing strategy in Taiwan? How that strategy has taken into consideration the huge potential of mainland China? Not only as a market to sell into but as well as a huge and growing ICT industry to collaborate with.  What is the role of the government there? Etc.

Below are my findings for which it was more than enough to collect information from the relevant Taiwan Economic News of China Economic News Service (CENS). I would highly recommend to subscribe to that service.

  • Items #1-3 are showing that Taiwan’s lead in cloud computing has been well established by their government led efforts in the last two years. Item #4-5 are indicating that from large international ICT players Microsoft has been the first to engage in this very early period. Item #6 is about the first government assisted megaprojects.
  • Item #7 is referring to the latest Gartner view on mainland China.
  • Item #8 is about the IOT (Internet of Things) situation (notable here is the active liason work of  Newland Group of Greater China), while item #9 is about the cloud computing effort as a whole in Taiwan.
  • Item #10 is about Intel’s involvement coming quite late to the party.
  • Items #11-12 are about Chungwa Telecom (Taiwan’s #1 telecom service provider) efforts being with the government from the very beginning.
  • Item #13 is a report about the one year results of another government lead effort to build a mighty e-Book Industry, application-wise closely related to the whole cloud computing strategy.
  • Items #14-20 are about some “grass-root” efforts indicating the building strengths of ICT industry players in the joint cloud computing effort:
    – #14: HTC which is also the most promising ICT brand in Taiwan [Oct 18]
    – #15: a joint brain-drain effort by their major ICT players
    – #16: BenQ-AUO Group
    – #17: Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone, not to lag behind Chunghwa Telecom
    – #18: Inventec
    – #19: Chungwa-Fujitsu collaboration
    – #20: Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., known internationally as Foxconn

1. Taiwan`s MIC Prescribes Manufacturing-to-Service Upgrade to Sharpen Edge (2008/12/24)

Despite the global economic downturn, the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Taiwan and its Industry & Technology Intelligence Services (ITIS) have been sponsoring a series of seminars themed “Discovering Taiwan 2008: Building Future Industries.” As part of this program, the Market Intelligence Center (MIC) of the Institute for Information Industry (III) has been exploring, based on tapping opportunities within the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, various issues, including “the developmental trends of Taiwan`s IT sector; building new superiorities in Taiwan`s IT sector by tapping green concepts and values; and the outlook on the ten key IT software issues in 2009.”

The MIC believes that it is critical for Taiwan to upgrade its industrial competitiveness by shifting from manufacturing to offering service-oriented products.

Top-10 IT Software Issues

After intensive investigation and interviews with companies and experts, MIC summarizes in the following the 10-top issues concerning the IT software industry in Taiwan.

1. Microsoft … Windows 7 operating system in 2010 …

2. IT software developers … vital to focus on energy-saving, carbon-reduction in 2009, as global information-software developers try to build new products … to help enterprises cut energy consumption and upgrade IT equipment operation efficiency in 2009.

3. The increasingly mature business model Cloud Computing, or the Internet-based “Cloud” development and use of computing. It is computer tech that enables offering IT-related capabilities as service, allowing users to access technology-enabled services online. With such increasingly mature computing meeting the trend of businesses to streamline computing equipment, Cloud would gain more attention and stir more buzz in 2009.

4. The Software as a Service (SaaS) will become a major option for enterprises. Eliminating the need to install, run an application on customers` own PC, SaaS is a model of software deployment that offers as service customers to access, run programs online. Like the Cloud Computing, SaaS allows enterprises to better control costs for software installation, maintenance, making such option a top-choice for SMEs.

5. With SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) solutions for systems development and integration increasingly maturing, and after IT software developers` aggressive promotion, such solution will no longer be a buzzword but more widely adopted in 2009.

6. Open-code software to be used for mobile applications: After Google`s promotion of Linux cellphone open software architecture and Nokia`s release of the Symbian code, open-code software will be rapidly applied in mobile applications in 2009.

7. … information security of smartphone applications …

8. Personal Data Protection Law …

9. Taiwan`s contract software-developers …

10. Knowledge Process Outsourcing or KPO will continue to gain momentum, with the American legal profession already adopting such model. KPO is simply having staff in a different company or subsidiary of the same firm in the same country or offshore do knowledge- and information-related work to save cost, or a form of outsourcing. The highly localized, customized KPO is the next stage in the IT-outsourcing evolution.

2. Four Taiwanese Companies, Institutes Set Up Taiwan Cloud Computing Center (2010/01/29)

The four members include telecom carrier Chunghwa Telecom Co., Ltd. (CHT), anti-virus software company Trend Micro Inc., government-sponsored technology R&D institute Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), and information technology (IT) industry knowledge center Institute for Information Industry (III).

The center will be responsible for helping push six emerging industries on the island into the cloud computing field, and develop Taiwan into a global supply base of cloud-computing equipment and an application headquarters.

Taiwan`s Premier Wu Den-yih said earlier that the TCCC is expected to further upgrade the development of local information and communication technology (ICT) industry and that the Executive Yuan (the Cabinet) has enlisted cloud-computing a key sector for priority development.

Targeted cloud-computing applications in Taiwan include medical-care and educational industries in the initial stage; as well as six emerging lines for the second stage, such as green energy, tourism, health-care, biotechnology, dedicated agriculture, and culture/creativity industries.

3. ITRI Kicks Off Operation of Cloud Computing Research Center (2009/12/29)

Since setting up the Cloud Computing Research Center in September of 2009, the ITRI has actively recruited top engineers with related technical background, including Dr. Chiueh Tzi-cker, the head of the center, and sought cooperation with enterprises, in an effort to activate the center as soon as possible and assist industries on the island to carve out new niches through earlier involvement in the technology.

Chiueh noted that the center will be dedicated to development of software, hardware and application services based on cloud computing technology. Plus, he added that ITRI will establish a containerized data center, which will be installed with a total of up to 2,000 servers and related necessary equipment.

4. MOEA Signs MOU With Microsoft to Tap Cloud Computing Technology (2009/11/09)

Besides, Taiwan`s Economic Minister Y.S. Shih and Microsoft`s CEO Steve Ballmer also announced at the MOU signing a joint investment to establish the “Software and Services Excellence Center” on the island, which will employ engineers from Taiwan`s nationally funded Industrial Technology Research Institute and Institute for Information Industry to develop and apply the could computing technology.

Also, Shih said that through collaboration with Microsoft, Taiwanese R&D institute and enterprises can gain invaluable experience in development of application services based on the technology. Besides, he added, technically supported by Microsoft, the government can also effectively assist local enterprises to apply such technology to step up development of the island`s emerging industries as creative culture and e-book reader sectors.

… Microsoft has also signed a cooperation agreement with Taiwan`s largest telecom company, Chunghwa Telecom Co., to develop application services and platforms based on the technology.

5. Microsoft to Pour 90% R&D Resources Into Cloud Computing (2010/10/28)

There are many opportunities for Taiwanese OEMs/ODMs (original equipment /design manufacturers) in the “cloud computing” era, due mainly to strong demand for data-center construction and hardware such as servers, according to Zhang Yaqin, corporate vice president of Microsoft and chairman of Microsoft`s Asia-Pacific R&D Group.

In addition, Zhang said, Taiwanese information technology (IT) hardware makers have enjoyed strong advantages in making terminal products.

In the future, Zhang said at a recent IT industry trend forum held in Taiwan that major battlefields of the IT industry would lie in platforms, cloud computing, and portable devices. Any company that wins in the three fields would be the next-generation leader, Zhang said.

6. Multibillion Cloud Computing Projects Kick Off in Taiwan (2010/07/09)

At a cloud-computing forum recently held in Taipei, attending Taiwan government officials and top executive of Taiwan`s No.1 telecom carrier announced the commencements of their five-year, multibillion-dollar cloud computing projects.

Government representatives said the government will funnel NT$24 billion (US$750 million at US$1:NT$32) in five years into cultivating Taiwan`s cloud-computing industry, with the ultimate goal set to transform the island`s information-communications technology (ICT) industry into the cloud-computing industry.

Chunghwa Telecom Co., Ltd. will invest NT$40 billion (US$1.2 billion) in five years to set up the island`s biggest cloud-operation and data centers, the company`s chairman, S.J. Lu, vowed,

To smoothen the development of the Taiwan industry as expected, a cloud-computing alliance representing around 80 of the island`s manufacturers will set up a system-test platform, according to Lu, who is chairman of the alliance.

7. Gartner Says IT Spending in China Will Reach $216.7 billion in 2010 (2010/05/07)

… the IT economy in China is driven by large verticals, rather than by consumer IT spending; however, it is slowly evolving toward the consumer market.

… Demand from Chinese companies for emerging technologies like software-as-a-service (SaaS), virtualization, cloud computing, unified communications and green IT is low but rising. IT vendors should help their channel partners continue to build skill sets around these emerging technologies, as spending on these technologies may help drive IT spending to 2013 and beyond.

8. MIT-invented IOT Seen as Moneymaker for Taiwan and China (2010/06/29)

Even in this age of lightning speed Internet communication and technologies, the concept of IOT (Internet of Things), attributed to the 1999-founded Auto-ID Center of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is reportedly just catching on with firms in Taiwan and China. IOT, arguably the Net-era sibling of the original universal bar code that is still ubiquitous and tracks goods in quantifiable terms, is manifested as a self-configuring wireless network of sensors whose purpose is to interconnect RFID-tagged routine things via the Internet.

Companies in Taiwan and China eager to tap business opportunities of Internet of Things will form an alliance in late June to develop industry standards for their operations in Greater China.

The alliance will consist of telecoms from China such as China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, as well as those from Taiwan as Chunghwa Telecom, Far EasTone Telecom and Taiwan Mobile. Such move reflects the telecoms` optimism about the potential of IOT, touted as the next major moneymaker in telecommunications valued at US$1 trillion worldwide by 2020, as well as seen by leading economies as a pivotal industry to drive growth and offset economic downturns.
[More information: Heavyweight Manufacturers Co-open Cross-Strait IOT Alliance (2010/07/21); ??? “Sensor China” Internet of Things Alliance established in our city, Wuxi Daily (2010-6-28) ??? <<< the exact relationship is not yet clear ]

President Barrack Obama of the U.S. reportedly equates IOT with green energy in degree of importance, believing these two key sectors can generate short and long term benefits.

Futuristic Inventory Management

As with the UPC or barcode, industry executives say that if daily objects like canned goods, books, shoes or auto parts are integrated with micro-identifications that are linked via the Internet, depleting stock or product waste will be minimized as suppliers can track effectively and instantly inventory levels, whether in Mumbai or the Mojave Desert. Industry watchers say that IOT can theoretically encode 50 to 100 trillion objects and track their movements via the Net.

China Mobile president J.Z. Wang summarizes IOT as “extensive sensing, reliable transmission, and intelligent treatment.” Market analysts at the Topology Research Institute, a Taiwan-based market consultant, cites a real-world product incorporating extensive sensing: the world`s first IOT-enabled fridge that was recently introduced by the Haier Group, China`s No.1 household appliance maker. Linked via the Net to the supermarket, the fridge has a display panel that tells the user freshness of foods in the supermarket as well as characteristics, origins of food stored in the freezer.

Upbeat Outlook

Despite its budding stage in China, revenue from the IOT sector as from infrared sensors and RFID manufacturing is expected to top US$14.7 billion by the end of this year and US$36.7 billion by 2015.

During a tour in August 2009 of the Wuxi Internet of Things Research Institute, Chinese premier J.B. Wen proposed to set up the “Experience China” center to enable the world to experience everything in China through IOT applications. Now upgraded to a national organization, the center in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province is China`s first IOT city.

Also China has invited Taiwan`s IOT developers to visit the officially-invested IOT facilities in Wuxi, with the invitees including Chunghwa Telecom, D-Link, Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), GemTek, First International Telecom, Tatung, and Alpha Networks.

Wen`s IOT vision and instructions have spawned a slew of developments: Since early this year, China has accelerated interconnecting telecom networks, telecasting and broadcasting networks and the Internet, offering subscribers on a single platform wide ranging services including voice, data and telecasting and broadcasting, with the triple-play network considered the foundation of China`s IOT future.

Vice Chairman of Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) X.Q. Zhang says that the commission will aggressively promote six measures to develop IOT and other emerging industries in China, including interconnecting the three networks, inspiring investments in IOT projects, and creating demand for IOT applications.

IOT Fever

Apparently China is serious about building the IOT sector in the nation. Chengdu, capital city of the southwestern province of Sichuan, announced in May a municipal IOT project with estimated revenue of US$4.4 billion; Guangzhou, the capital city of the southernmost province of Guangdong, announced plans to generate IOT revenue of US$14.7 billion in five years; Shannxi Province has launched an IOT alliance; Jiangxu Province has started a plan to build an IOT industry valued at US$58.8 billion; and Beijing announced the establishment of a national committee to set IOT standards.

Y.J. Lee, a senior market researcher at Topology, advises Taiwan`s IOT developers to watch closely China`s standardization of its RFID and electronic-labels, as well as try to work with China`s agency on IOT protocols based on its homegrown TD-SCDMA 3G technology and take part in China`s IOT infrastructural projects. Lee also believes that entering China`s market and working with its standard-setters will help Taiwan`s IOT developers penetrate other emerging IOT markets, as well as become a dominant global player.

Lee notes that Taiwan`s IOT developers lag their Chinese counterparts as China Mobile, China Unicom, Invengo Information Technology and Tongfang in terms of network and service technologies, as China offers opportunities for field testing of integrated systems. In contrast, Taiwan is ahead of China in integrated-circuit design, components and equipment manufacturing, making the two sides more friend than foe.

Taiwan Makers Contracted

As such, the Newland Group in China, recognized as the No.1 IOT equipment supplier in Greater China, recently announced it would contract Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd., United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), Largan Precision Co., Ltd. and Faraday Technology Corp. as suppliers. [See also: Newland Europe & Taiwan.]

[From that recent announcement: “Wang said she had approached Chairman Terry Gou of the Hon Hai Group and Honorary Vice Chairman John Hsuan of UMC over cooperation deals on Internet of Things. She added that the Internet of Things industry in mainland China and that in Taiwan can complement each other with their own advantages. For instance, Taiwan is good at raid frequency identification (RFID), high-end chips, barcode test, and consumer-premise equipment while the mainland is adept at matrix code and sensor transmission. Newland’s executives pointed out that Newland is moving to integrate upstream, middle-stream and downstream sectors of Internet of Things to constitute a complete supply chain for the mainland’s Internet of Things market.”]

Newland is one of the three Chinese manufacturers contracted by China Telecom, China`s No.1 telecom carrier, to supply IOT equipment.

Regarding Taiwan`s lack of field testing of integrated systems, Topology`s Lee suggests Taiwan`s IOT developers focus on applications for urban life, transportation, residence, finance, retail, energy, production, and agriculture.

Wireless Sensor Network

Y.S. Hsieh, another Topology analyst, suggests Taiwan`s equipment supplier emphasize wireless sensor network, with service providers to use the network to develop IOT applications like intelligent data transmission system, homecare for seniors, as well as home and community security. She notes that although manufacturing of WSN equipment as chips, modules and end equipment is mature in Taiwan, very few developers are capable of integrating such equipment and no open interoperability platforms have been set up on the island. These deficiencies hamstring development of Taiwan`s IOT industry, she stresses.

China`s significance in global RFID manufacturing, including manufacturing of tag, reader, and infrastructure equipment, also strengthens its IOT development, according to watchers in Taiwan. China`s RFID strength is driven by robust demand, which totaled around US$1.4 billion in 2008, with the global market valued at US$5.2 billion, up from 2007`s US$4.9 billion.

9. Taiwan Sees Sunny Future in Cloud Computing (2010/07/22)

The government of Taiwan is vigorously working with the island`s information and communications technology (ICT) sector on strategies to facilitate the development of cloud-computing industry. The emerging industry has been singled out as an area that could fast-forward the island`s ICT sector into a leading provider of system-integration services incorporating software and hardware.

Cloud computing is a cost-effective alternative for delivering computing power to organizations over the Internet. Computer hardware, software and information are provided online based on demand, like electricity, and service is charged by usage. Some analysts figure that cloud computing can save a company of 200 employees about 30% on software expenses.

Late last year, the United States Federal Government launched the Apps.gov, a cloud-computing application site, which is a major feature of the Obama Administration`s initiative to cut down operating costs while boosting government efficiency. The federal government is estimated to be able to save US$75 billion by offering administrative services via the cloud site.

Government Support

Taiwan`s government-backed Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center (IEK) estimates that the global market for cloud applications and services will top US$160 billion in 2015. The Executive Yuan, Taiwan`s Cabinet, projects the island`s cloud-computing industry will generate revenue totaling NT$1 trillion (US$31.2 billion at US$1:NT$32) and create 50,000 jobs in 2014.

The government`s first step to materialize its cloud policy is “Government Cloud” or “G Cloud” plan, which will provide contracts to local manufacturers to help them foster cloud computing capability. “G Cloud” will offer applications associated with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), medical services and healthcare, homeland security, online education, digital content, tax, electronic invoice, trade, and finance services. Applications will be stored in “container data centers,” which eliminate the need to download memory-consuming applications to end-user devices like desktops, laptops, and handheld gadgets.

Senior government officials pointed out that South Korean and United States governments have combined information centers in all government organizations across the two countries into two to three centers and are equipping these centers with cloud-computing capability to cut software leasing costs.

Cloud Computing Alliance

An alliance of 65 Taiwanese manufacturers is planning to co-organize a private company to vie for contracts under the ambitious project. The alliance was launched on April 7 with coordination by ITRI. Alliance members include Wistron, Quanta Computer, Inventec, Accton Technology, Chunghwa Telecom, Far EasTone Telecom, and Taiwan Mobile.

… Chunghwa, Taiwan`s No.1 telecom carrier, will help the government foster Taiwan`s cloud-computing industry with its Internet Data Centers (IDCs) across Taiwan. The company is building a center in Banqiao, Taipei County. … Inventec Corp. Chairman Shiqin Li, expects Taiwan to ship its first integrated cloud-computing system by the end of this year. Insiders of the Taiwan industry estimate that the United States or mainland China would be Taiwan`s first export destination.

Quanta Computer, the world`s No.2 contract supplier of laptops, has entered into alliance with Chunghwa Telecom to set up a cloud-computing platform for enterprises and will open a cloud-computing company at yearend to sell the applications.

The enterprise cloud-computing platform, Quanta`s vice president, T.J. Fang stresses, will not only provide applications to Taiwan`s 80,000 manufacturers but also to the millions of manufacturers in mainland China. He adds that the platform`s applications may be bundled with Quanta`s servers and storage equipment or even as total solutions.

Currently, Quanta`s enterprise cloud-computing applications will at least include enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply-chain management, work-process management, provision of software crucial to product designs, and emergency response centers (ERCs).

According to Fan, Quanta has been involved in cloud-computing development for some time and sees the new IT sector as a chance to evolve into a software-service provider from a hardware manufacturer. “Quanta has established an R&D center to develop application software and expects cloud computing to bring it another NT$1 trillion [US$31 billion] of revenue after notebook-computer production,” he says. He stresses cloud-computing application software can help small and midsize businesses slash software licensing fees.

Microsoft on Board

Taiwan`s strength in developing the cloud-computing industry convinced Microsoft to open a Software and Service Excellence Center (SSEC) in Taiwan, its first on the island and fourth in the world, in early June. Microsoft will work with the first batch of Taiwanese tenants in the center, including Quanta, Inventec and Delta Electronics, to develop new generation of cloud servers.

… Microsoft expects more than 100 Taiwanese ICT companies to join the center in developing cloud computing solutions over the next three years.

Security Concerns

W.N. Jan, a senior consultant and director general of Market Intelligence and Consulting Institute (MIC), categorizes the cloud industry chain into service provision coupled with transmission and service equipment. “MIC`s viewpoint is that service provision involves bigger business opportunities and its business model emphasizes offering services on the Internet. Accordingly, information security will become a top concern in cloud applications,” he notes.

MIC`s surveys, Jan says, show that Taiwan`s enterprises still are hesitant to embrace cloud services all because of security concerns. “CIOs and CTOs are reluctant, or even opposed, to using cloud services,” he stresses. To fix the issue, the Legislative Yuan, he says, is revising an act associated with protection of computer-processed personal data to regulate all enterprises holding personal data.

10. Intel Joins Hands With Taiwan in Developing Cloud-Computing Technology (2010/10/29)

Paul Otellini, president and chief executive officer of Intel, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday (Oct. 28), aiming to join hands with the Taiwanese government, universities, and enterprises in the development of the cloud-computing industry.

Otellini pointed out that the Internet population will top 4 billion in the coming years, leading to the emergence of various Internet-access devices, such as TV and set-top box, which will bring good business opportunities for both Taiwan and Intel.

He pointed to the tremendous change in the pipeline for Internet-access devices, whose functions will cover intelligent control, two-way interaction, hi-tech sensing, and distant care, saying changes in this sector in one year will equal changes in the past 50 years. In the future, mobile devices will have constant connection with the Internet and digital signals, enabling people to access information and entertainment services anytime, according to him.

Lu Shyue-ching, chairman of Chunghwa Telecom, reported that his company has signed an MOU with Intel for the joint development of cloud-computing technology, as well as close- and open-end platforms for smart TV. The company has also joined Open Data Center Appliance, in order to accelerate the development of cloud-computing technology. In addition, it signed an MOU with NTT.com the other day for the same purpose.

11. Chunghwa Telecom Projects Sales at NT$220B in 2015 (2010/10/19)

The telecom carrier has designated overseas operation, cloud computing, iEN, movie-on-demand and value-added mobile services as major growth drivers for sales over the next five years. Mainland China is set to be the company`s major overseas market as soon as its mainland branch starts operation early next year.

For cloud computing service, the company will spend NT$40 billion (US$1.29 billion) over next five years beginning this year on installation of cloud computing facilities. The service is estimated to drive up the company`s sales over the next 10 years.

12. Chunghwa Telecom Unveils Five-Year Roadmap (2010/07/27)

Over the next five years, the company`s investments will focus on cloud computing, digital convergence, intelligent energy network, information-communication technology, movie-on-demand (MOD) service, value-added mobile service, and reinvested businesses at home and overseas.

Many of the investment projects are associated with the bright future of related markets in mainland China, where the central government has worked out development projects for intelligent energy network and digital convergence industries.

13. Year One for Taiwan`s e-Book Industry (2010/02/09)

Joining the global rush into the rapidly evolving e-book market, Taiwanese e-reader makers are joining hands with content suppliers in launching e-book services whose reach could extend to the huge market across the Taiwan Strait.

Such ventures were at center stage during the 2010 Taipei International Book Exhibition, held at the Taipei World Trade Center on Jan. 27-Feb. 1.

BenQ, for instance, teamed up with eBook Japan to launch eBook Taiwan during the book fair. eBook Taiwan enables readers to tap a bonanza of digital content via its e-reader, dubbed the BenQ nReader.
Jerry Wang, vice chairman of BenQ, claims that the combination of eBook Taiwan and BenQ nReader offers consumers a reading experience approaching that of print publications and enables them to buy books with just a touch on the e-reader.

eBook Taiwan is an open-end platform with a webpage featuring a safe, stable, smooth, and simple design. It serves as a neutral outlet for Taiwan`s digital-content providers, with a reasonable sharing of profits and a DRM (digital rights management) mechanism capable of offering publishers full protection of their rights. Thanks to the support of cutting-edge technologies such as a high-clarity, high-compression post-production tool, chapter-based sales management, and the ability to support multiple formats including ePub, EFI, PDF, and TXT, e-books can be easily put on the shelf of the platform. This capability enhances timeliness and enriches the content of the platform, which in turn will boost consumer willingness to use it.

In addition to the provision of popular books and magazines in traditional Chinese characters, simplified Chinese characters, and Japanese, eBook Taiwan also offers publication and delivery of magazines simultaneously with the print versions. More than 10,000 books and magazines covering a variety of fields are now available on the platform, and readers can even access parts of books and summaries of feature reports in magazines before placing purchase orders.

In view of the e-book surge, market insiders are calling 2010 “year one for Taiwan`s e-book industry.” This underscores the rosy outlook of the industry, which has been incorporated into the government`s flagship development plan for the digital content industry. The government predicts that the production value of the local e-book content industry will hit NT$30 billion (US$937 million at NT$32:US$1) in two years and NT$100 billion (US$3 billion) in four years.

Attracted by the huge market potential, growing numbers of domestic electronics firms have been jumping onto the bandwagon for e-readers and related products. The Economics Ministry reports that total investment by local firms in e-readers and components/parts has topped NT$15 billion (US$469 million), with major participants including Prime View, BenQ, Delta, Hon Hai, Gold Circuit Electronics, and ASUS.

The Topology Research Institute predicts that Taiwan`s e-reader market will reach 100,000 units this year, compared with 1 million in the Chinese market and only a fraction of 9.1 million globally (including 6.8 million in the U.S.). Topology believes that the global e-reader market will remain in the fledgling stage for two more years before embarking on a period of vigorous development.

14. HTC Debuts Two New Models in London (2010/09/16)

Along with the new models, HTC also debuted a free Internet service, dubbed HTCSense-com, which will enable subscribers to tap cloud-computing service offered by HTC. The service is similar to Microsoft’s MyPhone service and Apple’s MobileMe service. The service, for instance, enables owners to give directions to their lost phones via the Internet, such as making it ring, sending messages to the phone for the obtainer, locking up the phone, or even eliminating data stored in the phone.

15. Taiwan`s Hi-Tech Manufacturers Go to U.S. to Solicit Talents (2010/09/13)

Delegation members planned to offer a total of 1,200 jobs covering R&D specialists, market researchers, market managers, and accountants.

The delegation was accompanied by a cloud-computing alliance, which would visit Intel, Microsoft and IBM.

16. BenQ-AUO Group Eyes US$22 B.-beyond Revenue This Year: Chairman Lee (2010/09/01)

According to Lee, BenQ-AUO will focus its future development on medical care, cloud computing, green energy, and environment protection etc.

BenQ-AUO group has opened a hospital in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province of China with more than 3,000 beds. The group is scheduled to inaugurate another big hospital by the end of 2011 in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province of China.

17. Taiwan`s Top 3 Telecom Companies Zero in on Market for Application Services based on Cloud Computing (2010/02/09)

Not to lag behind Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone have been stepping up their business deployment in the emerging segment for cloud computing technology-based services.

For instance, Taiwan Mobile has cooperated with Fubon Financial Group on constructing an extensive cloud computing network for their respective subsidiaries.

… Far EasTone has also been in talk with HP, IBM, Quanta Computer, Data Systems Consulting Co., Ltd. and related software developers on formation of a cooperative alliance, in which the telecom company will take charge of building a cloud computing platform and other members will supply needed software and hardware for operation of the platform.

18. Inventec Announces Venturing Into Cloud Computing, Online Gaming (2009/12/16)

Inventec Corp. of Taiwan recently announced plans to step into the high-potential cloud-computing business, and will provide software download online by the year-end, as well as moving into online gaming in 2010.

… Chiu Chuan-chen, president of Inventec`s software business division, pointed out that his company has been cultivating the software business for more than 10 years and now is the right time to commercialize products. Inventec`s software business would first focus on two major fields, including the intelligent learning and healthcare, while keeping an eye on online gaming.

19. Chunghwa, Fujitsu Collaborate on E-Commerce and Others (2009/11/17)

The pact is part of Chunghwa Telecom`s efforts to enhance cooperative ties with Japanese hi-tech manufacturers. … In the near future, Chunghwa plans to work with Japanese internet-TV, digital-content and TV shopping service providers.

20. Hon Hai Joins Forces With III to Develop Cloud Computing Software (2009/06/03)

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd., the largest EMS (electronic manufacturing service) provider, has joined forces with the government-funded Institute for Information Industry (III) of Taiwan to develop Cloud Computing application software as the first Taiwanese company to get engaged in the field.

Hon Hai and III will seek financial aid from the government for establishing the first lab of Cloud Computing as a joint venture between industries and the government on the island. So far, the Ministry of Economic Affairs has already lifted restrictions on official subsidization of development of related application software, paving the way for local companies to dedicate their energies to the field.

Hon Hai has decided to invest a total of NT$1.9 billion (US$58.46 million at US$1: NT$32.5) in constructing an R&D building in Kaohsiung Software Technology Park, southern Taiwan, to specialize in research and development of digital contents and information service offerings.

On the other hand, by investing in R&D of Cloud Computing, Hon Hai is to diversify its business operation into information services from manufacturing. Furthermore, the firm plans to apply Cloud Computing platform to the long-distance health care, showing its determination to venture into the medical care industry.

Marvell ARMADA with sun readable and unbreakable Pixel Qi screen, and target [mass] manufacturing cost of $75

Update: OLPC plans solar charging, satellite Internet for XO-3 [July 20, 2011]

The XO-3 will become available early next year or perhaps sooner, and price is still being determined, but it will still be under $100, Negroponte said.

The tablet will also include a camera on top of the screen, placed inside the bezel surrounding the display. A microphone will be placed in the bezel under the screen, and USB 2.0 ports and a headphone jack will be on the sides.

Decisions are still being made about the display, which is holding up development of the device, Negroponte said. OLPC wants a transflective screen, much like the current XO, but with improved richness in e-ink and transmissive modes. OLPC plans to use spin-off Pixel Qi’s hybrid screen …

The original post:

Pixel Qi’s problems with mass manufacturing are well described in the latest June 3. update of Pixel Qi’s first big name device manufacturing partner is the extremely ambitious ZTE [Feb 15, 2011].

This all comes together in a prototype form to be shown sometime in the middle of February 2011 as per OLPC XO-3 Tablet Delayed [Nov 3]. Product delivery would be ready by the end of 2011 in a form suitable for developed countries, then a year later in another form for developing nations of the world. While an advanced cloud client capability based on then latest version of Google’s Android operating system will be perfect for the 1st world countries, the 3d world will get a next generation version of the current XO-1 and XO-1.5 computer from OLPC .

Follow-up: High expectations on Marvell’s opportunities with China Mobile [May 28, 2011]

Update: that plan is going well with the progress as best reported by XO-1.75: cutting through the nonsense [Jan 11, 2011] referring to the corrections by the VP of Hardware Engineering at OLPC to errors in a CES 2011 report, and also comments throughout the blogosphere regarding the absolutely coincidental announcement by Microsoft of their ARM support:

There were several errors in that [CES 2011] news article [with title: OLPC cuts price of XO 1.75 laptop to $165, power by half [Jan 7, 2011]] which I would like to clear up:

  • the XO-1.75 will not have an 8.9” screen, but will continue with the sunlight readable 7.5” screen designed by Mary Lou Jepsen (now at Pixel Qi) used in the XO-1 and 1.5.
  • the $165 price is fiction (BOM price hasn’t been finalized), but probably not very far from the truth for the non-touchscreen equipped version. Please don’t forget that since we don’t add any profit margin, the laptop price directly depends on the volume ordered.
  • the switch to ARM was completely independent of any future support for ARM in Windows. That support was announced this week, while I’ve been pursuing this ARM design for three years, with active development over the last eight months. Furthermore, we are using the Marvell Armada 610, which won’t be supported by Windows (if you believe M$).
  • Linux has shipped, and will continue to ship, on EVERY XO produced. You can believe random commenters, or you can believe the person who signs off on every SKU produced.

I’ll also add that a lot of work has gone into software development, including porting Fedora 14 to ARM and adding multi-touch support to the Sugar UI. This has been a long time in the making, and the announcement of Microsoft’s ARM port is a coincidence. Sorry, no riveting conspiracies here.

Some media reports have been implying that mass production will start by mid-year. This is incorrect. It may possibly be that the design is finalised by then, but planning and tooling for mass production and deliveries is quite an endeavour beyond that.

If you want the real information on the XO-1.75, look at the OLPC Wiki page. Right now, they’re up to Alpha test model 2. If you want to view or take part in the development discussion, head over to the devel mailing list (strictly speaking, this list is for software development, but the community are discussing the hardware there too).

Notes [Jan 11, 2011]: On the OLPC Wiki page for the XO-1.75 there is a link to the Announce: OLPC software strategy [July 7, 2010] in which you can find the following crucial statements:

XO-1.75 and beyond

XO-1.75 software development is underway. Today we’re announcing that we’re planning on using Fedora as the base distribution for the XO-1.75. This wasn’t an obvious decision — ARM is not a release architecture in Fedora, and so we’re committing to help out with that port. Our reasons for choosing Fedora even though ARM work is needed were that we don’t want to force our deployments to learn a new distribution and re-write any customizations they’ve written, we want to reuse the packaging work that’s already been done in Fedora for OLPC and Sugar packages, and we want to continue our collaboration with the Fedora community who we’re getting to know and work with well.

[Fedora was chosen more than two years ago and delivered in the very convenient Fedora 10 on SD card [Nov 28, 2008] format. This is why it has such a widespread use in the OLPC community, especially among adults who do not want to use the child focused graphical interface called Sugar but rather a desktop environment on their XOs.]

BACK TO THE ORIGINAL [Nov 4, 2010] POST:

Whatever will be delivered by Windows 7 tablets/slates with Oak Trail Atom SoC in December [Nov 1] or anything else the next XO-3 tablet effort outlined below will be an enormous threat to the current ICT establishment, everybody included (mighty Apple as well).

Two undisputed technology leaders are behind the whole engineering effort: Marvell Technology Group Ltd. for the leading System-on-a-Chip (SoC) capability and Pixel Qi Corporation for the incredible screen.

Follow up: Marvell to capitalize on BRIC market with the Moby tablet [Feb 3, 2011]
Follow-up: Kinoma is now the marvellous software owned by Marvell [Feb 15, 2011]

Update [Jan 6, 2011]: Marvell 100 series tablet [Jan 6, 2011] is giving quite a credibility to the follow-up project described in the rest of our post

[CES 2011] Marvell’s foray into the tablet market sees this rather cute and well designed model, the 100 series. Unlike other tablets that are in the market, this one comes with Android 2.2 (instead of 2.1), while sporting a rather young, all-white design with all the lines in the right places. A microSD memory card slot is there for expansion purposes, and you won’t get multi-touch support on the 10” display which is a bummer, so forget about zooming in or out in Angry Birds. There is 1GB of internal memory inside, while Wi-Fi connectivity is supported although 3G will not be present when it hits the market sometime this year for $199 a pop [with $99 manufacturing cost — see in the below video]. Of course, as with Marvell’s OLPC project, the 100 series will target the educational environment more. It is pretty heavy, but it won’t weigh a ton like most textbooks. Looks hardy enough to stand up to the rigors of restless kids, too! Interestingly enough, being an Android-powered device, it has more than the usual 4 buttons of Home, Menu, Back and Search, but will include the “Up” and “Down” buttons, too.

Update [Jan 10, 2011]: Mobylize Tablet on ABC News: Good to Know [Jan 10, 2011]


Note while watching the video that the LCD screen used in the tablet has wide viewing angle.

Update [Nov 2]: Sehat Sutardja: An Engineering Marvell by IEEE Spectrum [Nov 2, in print Oct 27 but with the title of Marvell Inside] is describing the extremely deep electronic engineering mentality lead by the CEO of Marvell Technology Group Ltd. as the secret recipe for success from the very beginning:

Sehat already had plans for the first product: a better read channel for disk drives. It sounds incredibly specialized and it is, but it’s also one of the drive’s key components. The read channel takes the analog signal coming from the magnetic head as it scans the disk, converts the noisy signal to digital, and puts that information out onto the bus that will take it to the computer. Existing read channels used a bipolar transistor on a complementary-metal-oxide semiconductor substrate (BiCMOS), but Sehat planned to use only CMOS. That way the channels could be manufactured by a chip foundry like the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., so Marvell wouldn’t have to build its own fab. Using CMOS also meant that the device would consume less power. This would, however, present an engineering challenge: Existing CMOS read-channel designs were much slower than BiCMOS.

… they convinced Seagate Technology to take a chance. Ken Burns, an executive at Seagate, told them that the company’s next-generation drive would need a read channel at 240 Mb/s—could Marvell deliver? … They told Burns yes. In less than three months the Marvell team hit the 240-Mb/s mark, and Seagate became Marvell’s first customer. … Today, in terms of units sold, Marvell has about 60 percent of the market for hard drive systems-on-a-chip.

“This little start-up, with one product line, put Texas Instruments out of the read-channel business,” Ohr [an analyst with Gartner] says.

Added later: Winner: Pixel Qi’s Everywhere Display by IEEE Spectrum [Jan 20, 2010] is well describing the innovative screen technology in a way that the leading mind behind, Ms. Mary Lou Jepsen is also well represented. Here is a key excerpt from that:

The Pixel Qi display consumes far less power than traditional LCDs, drawing a peak of about 2.5 watts, of which the backlight accounts for about 2 W, says Jepsen. Turn off that light and slow the refresh rate, and you can maintain a static image—such as the page you’re reading now—with just half a watt. That’s still more power than is needed by electrophoretic displays, the generic term for the kind made by E Ink [and used in most e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle devices]. Electrophoretic screens are bistable, which means that the pixels can maintain a static image powerlessly. But e-paper also requires a higher operating voltage than the Pixel Qi screen, which means that if future e-paper displays offer faster refresh rates, their power advantage will likely wane.

… Pixel Qi has also beat E Ink to color. In the Spectrum conference room, Jepsen cranks the backlight all the way up to show off the color and video playback. The video is perfectly watchable, although it probably wouldn’t be your first choice if movies were the primary application [like with the TV sets]. The colors don’t look as saturated as they would on a glossy cinema display, but at least the blacks in dark scenes are very black. In other words, the Pixel Qi screen offers an excellent compromise for a class of gadgets defined by their low-cost versatility.

READ ALL the details below in order to understand the reality of the – seemingly, believe me just seemingly – bombastic claim in the introduction (… this will be an enormous threat to the current ICT establishment …)!

Here is the video interview accompanying the article referred in the introduction, to start with:

This engineering effort goes back to May with announcement that One Laptop per Child and Marvell Join Forces to Redefine Tablet Computing for Students Around the World [May 27]. The most important details  are (emphasis is mine):

The new family of XO tablets will incorporate elements and new capabilities based on feedback from the nearly 2 million children and families around the world who use the current XO laptop.  The XO tablet, for example, will require approximately one watt of power to operate (compared to about 5 watts necessary for the current XO laptop).  The XO tablet will also feature a multi-lingual soft keyboard with touch feedback, enabling it to serve millions more children who speak virtually any language anywhere in the world.

The device is also decidedly “constructionist” in natureBy design, it combines hardware and software to deliver a platform that will enable educators, students and families around the world to create their own content, and learn to read, write, and create their own education programs and share all of these experiences via a mesh network model.  The device will also feature an application to directly access more than 2 million free books available across the Internet.

“While devices like eReaders and current tablets are terrific literary, media and entertainment platforms, they don’t meet the needs of an educational model based on making things, versus just consuming them.  Today’s learning environments require robust platforms for computation, content creation and experimentation – and all that at a very low cost,” said Dr. Nicholas Negroponte, Founder and Chairman of One Laptop per Child.

… “Marvell has made a long-term commitment to improving education and inspiring a revolution in the application of technology in the classroom.  The Moby tablet platform – and our partnership with OLPC – represents our joint passion and commitment to give students the power to learn, create, connect and collaborate in entirely new ways,” said Weili Dai, Marvell’s Co-founder and Vice President and General Manager of the Consumer and Computing Business Unit.  “Marvell’s cutting edge technology – including live content, high quality video (1080p full-HD encode and decode), high performance 3D graphics, Flash 10 Internet and two-way teleconferencing – will fundamentally improve the way students learn by giving them more efficient, relevant – even fun tools to use.  …”

Marvell indeed has all the necessary SoC prerequisites and credentials for such a fantastic goal (both technically and market-wise) as described in my post Marvell ARMADA beats Qualcomm Snapdragon, NVIDIA Tegra and Samsung/Apple Hummingbird in the SoC market [again] [Sept 23] (BTW the most popular post on my blog by far).

The details of the original plan were described in OLPC’s Negroponte says XO-3 prototype tablet coming in 2010 [May 27] with an accompanying video interview shown below:

OLPC and Marvell collaboration has since significantly been strengthened as evidenced by (emphasis is mine):

One Laptop Gets $5.6M Grant From Marvell to Develop Next Generation Tablet Computer [Oct 4]

Negroponte says the deal, signed in the past week or so but not previously announced, runs through 2011. “Their money is a grant to the OLPC Foundation to develop a tablet or tablets based on their chip,” he says. “They’re going to put the whole system on a chip.”

… it will form the basis of what might be called an interim step, a tablet developed by Marvell (and also apparently modeled partly on its own Moby tablet for the education market) that is intended for children in the developed world. As such, it won’t be the machine OLPC wants to distribute in developing nations. … The Marvell tablet will also utilize the Android operating system, while the XO 3 will be based on Linux, among other differences, Negroponte says.

“The first one would definitely not have our brand. It’s a First World machine,” Negroponte says. The plans are for Marvell to develop this initial machine, in partnership with OEMs and a partner in education, and release it for sale sometime in 2011, he says.

Negroponte says a follow-on version, based more completely on OLPC’s designs, will hopefully be ready in 2012. “The second one…would have our brand on it, because it will be identified with and for the developing world,” he says.

OLPC’s Negroponte: Tablets must be a ‘constructionist’ medium [Sept 30]

Tablets are all about consumption, said Negroponte. “You could say that Apple makes peripherals for iTunes,” he said. In a developing world and educational environments, you need haptics and ways to make tablets constructive. “You can’t turn these kids into couch potatoes,” he said. “You learn by making.”

Cloud computing won’t fly where OLPC plays. “Clouds are fine for us, but there are no clouds over Ethiopia, Rwanda and Gaza,” he said.

Marvell co-founder talks technology in education, R&D [Oct 7]

On her relationship with Negroponte, Dai said she met him five years ago and they talked about moral causes and technology. Marvell had the mesh networking technology used in the original XO. “The priority was affordable technology for poor countries,” she said. “Nicholas set a bar. In many ways, he invented the e-book, netbook microcosm and form factor. The other piece was to make those devices affordable.”

What’s the OLPC’s role today? Dai said that in many respects the OLPC is a design shop—something Negroponte has noted after laying out plans for the next-generation XO. “OLPC sets a bar and the industry takes it and commercializes it,” she said. “It’s like the old days where Bell Labs would create and others would commercialize it.”

Marvell Delivers Vision of 21st Century Classroom Technology at NBC News’ ‘Education Nation’ Summit [Sept 27]

Marvell to Fund Next Generation Education Apps [Sept 27]

Marvell, one of the world’s largest chipmakers, announced today that it’s launching a competition to recognize and fund the most clever new education apps for classroom tablets. The challenge invites ambitious, intelligent software developers around the world to create apps that transform the way students learn. Three winners will share prize money totaling $100,000, along with access to Marvell’s considerable engineering resources for support and testing.

The $100K Challenge, unveiled at the NBC News’ Education Nation summit, is a part of Marvell’s Mobylize campaign, the company’s long-range commitment to mobilizing technology innovation, speeding education innovation and bringing to students everywhere the inexpensive yet powerful tools they need to learn, connect and collaborate in new ways.

The campaign and the $100K Challenge were inspired by Marvell’s new Moby tablet reference design. The classroom-friendly Moby tablet reference design is a high-performance, low-power device based on Marvell’s ARMADA™ application processor and Google’s Android™ operating system. It’s the platform for which developers enter the $100K Challenge will design their applications – and it’s perfect for the part. It’s equipped with 1080p HD, advanced 3D capabilities and full Flash internet. For developers, the Moby tablet reference design provides far-reaching possibilities. For students, it opens vast horizons, at a price school districts can afford.

Marvell Co-Founder Weili Dai Named 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year by Major US-China Technology Association [Oct 4]

Ms. Dai is the only woman co-founder of a major, public semiconductor company in the world, and has helped lead Marvell’s 15 years of growth from start-up to a current market capitalization of $12 Billion.

… Today, Marvell is the third-largest fabless semiconductor company in the world, and ships more than a billion chips per year. Marvell provides two out of every three chips used in storage media critical to the infrastructure of the Information Age; its broad portfolio of leading network and communications solutions and high performance, low-power chips have rapidly become the technology of choice behind a broad range of connected electronics — such as tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices. From a half dozen employees in 1995, Marvell has today more than 5,700 employees on four continents.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Visits Marvell’s Silicon Valley and Shanghai Operations as Part of Historic Asia Trade Mission [Sept 12]

“It is my passion to work to bridge my two homelands – China and the U.S. – and try to promote cooperation and economic growth in both powerful nations, particularly in the areas of semiconductor, communications, education and green technologies,” said Weili Dai, Marvell’s Shanghai-born co-founder. “For that reason, I am very proud that the Governor chose to launch his Asia Trade Mission from Marvell’s Silicon Valley campus and then a few days later, visited our Shanghai design center.  I am also proud that Shanghai government officials were able to join Governor Schwarzenegger in highlighting the exciting new developments at our Shanghai design center.  It is an honor that reflects well on Marvell’s global leadership and growing industry influence.”

During his visit, the Governor toured demonstrations of Marvell’s latest communications, computing and consumer technology and presided over the dedication of the expansion plans at the company’s Shanghai Zhangjiang facilities, including the plans for a three-way research consortium between Marvell, China’s prestigious Tsinghua University and the University of California Berkeley.  Additionally, Marvell announced its support of the Governor’s Executive Order to promote integration of advanced technologies in early education with a donation of eReaders and tablets to PS7 Middle School, a St. Hope Public School in Sacramento, California, and Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Experimental Primary School in Shanghai, China.

In China, Marvell has operations in Shanghai, Beijing, Hefei and Shenzhen. Marvell’s Japan design center is in Tokyo; its South Korea operations are in Seoul.  Marvell has strategic business relationships with the world’s largest telecom, mobile, and consumer electronics manufacturers in the region.

The screen technology in question comes from Pixel Qi as per ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD AND PIXEL QI SIGN CROSS-LICENSE AGREEMENT FOR SCREEN TECHNOLOGY [March 30]. The details here are:

OLPC receives full license to all Pixel Qi “3qi” screen technology, including 70+ patents in process and all current and future IP developed by Pixel Qi for multi-mode screens. Pixel Qi is leading the design of new screens for OLPC’s next-generation XO laptops. The agreement also calls for Pixel Qi to receive full license to the dual-mode (indoor and outdoor) display technology used in the XO.

“A huge barrier to getting computers to mass use in the developing world is limited access to electricity. Pixel Qi is designing new screens for OLPC that will keep laptops going even longer between recharges and excel in long-form reading while providing color and video,” said Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of One Laptop per Child.

Mary Lou Jepsen, founder and CEO of Pixel Qi, added, “OLPC’s focus on the need for low-cost, low-power devices led me to invent power-efficient LCD screens that are optimized for reading. Commercial tablets, notebook computers and smart phones have precisely the same needs. This is one of the few examples in which cutting-edge computer technology first deployed for developing nations benefits the developed world as well.”

Pixel Qi is actually an almost three years old start-up by Mary Lou Jepsen, former CTO of OLPC. She made a very early commitment to support OLPC further on as described in her post about the Next Generation OLPC Laptop [May 21, 2008]. It contains a HUGELY important remark:

In essence, the future of computing is all about the screens.

She was a very early pioneer of that approach for the XO-1 computer designed by OLPC. Mark Foster, who was the engineering chief there, described her particular contribution (besides her overall influence as CTO) in Mark J. Foster at Stanford EE Computer Systems Colloquium (Part 1) [October, 2006] as (emphasis is mine):

Another thing that’s really unusual about our machine is the LCD display. Our CTO, in fact, has created something that is really special. What this panel does is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen reflective color, I’ve seen transflective color, I’ve seen transmissive panels, I’ve never seen anything like this. This panel is truly a reflective monochrome panel. No backlight, you see a 1200X900 dot per inch seven and a half inch LCD. And it’s dense. At 200 DPI, we’re talking very close to laser print quality. Certainly from the original laser printers. It’s really nice.

And then, magically, you turn on the backlight, and you see color. Really unusual, pixel structure, it’s all 100% Mary Lou’s invention, and this is a really neat part of the machine. Completely new text, I’m really delighted to have this component in our box, because it gives all kinds of cool benefits that we can exploit. In particular, it’s inexpensive, straight, but also very low power consumption. And this ability to instantly go between a monochrome, a very high-res monochrome mode with a great reproduction of text or whatever it may be, and immediately flip to color mode when you want to is totally cool. I wish I had brought one with me today, and show you, my apologies that I did not.

But, it’s running, it works, and in fact, just this last week, we did some [xx] on the panel, that doubles it’s reflectivity. We actually measured, and the goal of double that reflectivity worked. So it’s a really neat trick, and again, there’s no other system out there like this. And it’s something that is invention purely of OLPC. Not that someone came and told us. Mary Lou created this, pushed it into the LCD manufacturers and made it real. Really neat stuff.

And Mark Foster is the person to judge that properly since himself has been introduced in the above Stanford EE talk as a true pioneer:

He’s led different projects in portable computing at Apple, at DEC [Digital], and at Zenith. He created the first notebook with Ethernet, which was the Z-Note [introduced on the same date as Windows 3.1, see the Z-Note press release [Apr 6, 1992]]. The first true sub notebook [with 8.5-inch (viewable) black-on-white VGA], which was the Z-lite [see the press release [Nov 16, 1992]]. And the thinnest notebook in the world at the time, which was the Hi-Note Ultra [From Digital].

Indeed, there were a couple of quite innovative ideas put into the XO-1 laptop as has been described by their inventor in A Conversation with Mary Lou Jepsen [Jan 17, 2008]

It defies conventional wisdom to put a display expert in charge of a laptop architecture, but since the cost of the screen in a laptop is more than $100, it was the main barrier of entry to building a low-cost laptop.

What I’ve found coming to this project is that people who design computers don’t know a lot about displays, and in fact by starting with the display and designing the computer kind of backwards, rather than just slapping a display onto a motherboard, we can design a whole new architecture.

The architecture we’ve created is very powerful, not just for low-cost laptops, but for high-end laptops as well.

… If you look at what’s been happening in computers for the past 40 years, it’s been about more power, more megahertz, more MIPS. As a result, we’ve had huge applications and operating systems. Instead, at OLPC we focused on an entirely different kind of solution space. We focused on low power consumption, no hard drive, no moving parts, built-in networking, and sunlight-readable screens.

… we had to design a laptop that was also the infrastructure. It has mesh networking, which is the last mile, 10 miles, 100-mile Internet solution. The solar repeaters and active antennas that we’ve added into the mix cost about $10 a piece and help to relay the Internet. If one laptop in a village is connected to the Internet, they all are.

Yes, it might be just a trickle, a low-bandwidth connection from the Internet to the laptop, but between the laptops is a high-bandwidth connection through the mesh network. We use 802.11s, which is the standard for mesh.

… We use an AMD chipset, the LX-700, which allows you to turn the CPU on and off in a hundredth of a second. It’s not noticeable to the users whether the motherboard is on or off because the moment they hit the keyboard or get a Skype phone call or what have you, the CPU and motherboard are back up and running.

That also allows us to run the mesh at extremely low power: 400 milliwatts, compared with my ThinkPad laptop, which uses approximately 10 watts just to run Wi-Fi.

… We had to get rid of the hard disk, because not only is it the second most expensive component in a laptop after the screen, but it’s also a huge power hog, and the number one cause of hardware failures is hard disk failure. That’s three strikes against it. Instead, we used flash memory, which people are starting to use.

… I should also talk about the low-power display. We did something I’ve been doing for a long time in different kinds of display technology: putting memory directly into the display itself. You can’t do that with amorphous silicon, which is the standard transistor process used in LCD. To keep costs to a minimum, I used a standard process for the screen. But you can add memory in the timing controller. That means the screen can stay on while the rest of the motherboard or the chipset is off.

Why would you want to do that? It turns out that most of the time you’re using a laptop or a desktop, the CPU isn’t really doing much, even while it’s running at multiple hundreds of megahertz. Right now I’m staring at my laptop. Not a single pixel on my screen is moving. What’s the CPU doing on? What’s the motherboard doing on? The way to get to low power—the big secret—is to turn stuff off that you’re not using. But nobody has ever made a laptop with a screen that self-refreshes. You really do have to keep flipping the liquid crystal molecule; they like AC fields. The liquid crystal molecules fall apart in DC. You need to keep only two images in memory for that, and you can keep the screen on all day long.

We also put a tiny ARM core in our Wi-Fi chip. We used the Marvell chip because it’s the only Wi-Fi chip with a tiny ARM core in it, which means Wi-Fi can also stay up and running while the CPU is off.

… I came up with this idea for a sunlight-readable screen by starting with a transflective process, which was used briefly on cellphones but wasn’t very readable inside or outside (it was very dim) and so was dropped from most products. What I did differently was to put color filters over the transmissive part of the pixel only, instead of the mirror part of the pixel, and I used—get this—a colorless color filter over the rest of the pixel as a spacer.

In a transflective display, part of the pixel is reflective and part of it is transmissive. People think of it as kind of the worst of both worlds, so it hasn’t been that popular. Again, these displays are considered dim, high power, and not that readable.

Each big LCD fab had developed a transflective process, so, I thought, why not use this process and then change the pixel layout by putting a little sliver of a color filter (red, green, or blue) over part of each pixel and then changing the bulk layout of the pixel as well? For best compatibility with minimal image-generation systems, I used diagonal stripes of color so that we would get square-root-of-3 resolution in X and Y in color mode, when compared with the black-and-white (grayscale) resolution. You see, each pixel is black-and-white (grayscale) in reflection and shows a single color in transmission (red, green, or blue when the backlight is on). Strictly speaking, therefore, you get one-third the resolution in color. The human visual system isn’t digital, however. It’s analog and biological, and through this pixel layout we get higher perceived resolution—about 800 by 600 in color. You get all this with a low-cost and low-power TTL (transistor-transistor logic) interface that can be used because the true pixel count is so low. I’m just making the pixels do double or triple duty.

Soon after this interview appeared on ACM Queue Mary Lou Jepsen made the announcement that Higher resolution than we thought – the XO laptop screen [May 28, 2008]

The XO screen has been shown to be higher resolution than we thought. Michiel Klompenhouwer from Philips Research says the color resolution is effectively 984×738, even though strictly speaking straight division indicates color resolution of 692×520 (this is 1/3 of 1200×900 our black&white resolution). We have been saying for some time that the resolution is about 800×600, but his new study shows a more exact way of measuring perceived resolution. Michiel presented an analysis of our screen and other display pixel layouts at the Society for Information Display Annual Meeting this week in Los Angeles in a talk entitled “Comparing the Effective Resolution of Various RGB Subpixel Layouts” SID08.

Because of that XO design she became a true ICT industry celebrity which is well expressed by the New Statesman in The NS Profile: Mary Lou Jepsen [April 30, 2009]

The XO is the cheapest, least power-hungry notebook computer ever produced, a device that may eventually prove one of the most important educational tools of its time – and for which last year Time magazine named Jepsen one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Along the way, her design sparked a mainstream computing revolution. Jepsen’s primary intention was to “innovate at the bottom of the pyramid”, creating a simple computer for educational use in impoverished areas. But it turned out that computer users in industrialised countries also wanted inexpensive, environmentally friendly laptops. The netbook was born. Just two years after the XO was first released, nearly every major PC brand is selling an inexpensive, low-performance mini-laptop, and analysts predict sales will have reached 50 million by the end of the year. “Every time I meet with the CEO of a big laptop company, they tell me they ‘studied’ my design,” Jepsen has said.

While some could argue that her effort had nothing to do with the birth of netbooks (attributed to Asustek alone) the fact is that Taiwanese companies were intrigued by the idea of a low-cost PC from her 2005 and 2006 attempts with different Taiwanese manufacturers to collaborate. As was described by Ministry of Information (Taiwan) article Small Laptop, Big Splash [April 1, 2008]:

In December 2005, Barry Lam, chairman of Quanta Computer, agreed to manufacture the XO-1. Then, in April 2006, a second Taiwan technology group, Chi Mei Optoelectronics, joined at the urging of the conglomerate’s octogenarian founder and philanthropist, Shi Wen-lung.

… the head of the project at Quanta is Dandy Hsu, general manager and vice president of the company’s Educational Product Business Unit and one of two OLPC board members in Taiwan.

Hsu says bringing the XO-1 to mass production took Quanta nearly two years–an eternity by original design manufacturing /original equipment manufacturing (ODM/OEM) standards.

… Obviously, the XO-1 wasn’t a typical laptop project. “Normally, when we design a commercial notebook, we have Microsoft’s Windows or other software that will run on the device,” Hsu explains. Usually hardware engineers design commercial laptops around the requirements of the marketplace’s dominant operating systems (OS) and application program interfaces (API), then use these for testing as the design work proceeds.

Software was not available for the XO-1 because it was being developed simultaneously by OLPC, which oversaw a team of volunteer engineers designing a Linux-based OS for the XO-1 and writing code for its open source application programs.

… Engineers faced other surprises. In March 2006, when the XO-1 motherboards were ready for testing, OLPC held a “country conference,” which was attended by “delegates” from the governments that intended to purchase the machine. The result was a decision to upgrade the XO-1 with a more powerful CPU. This was no minor modification.

“Change the CPU and you’re talking about a completely new machine,” Hsu says.

Then, later in March, came devastating news. Quanta had recently completed the sale of its subsidiary, Quanta Display, and new owner AU Optronics decided not to manufacture the XO-1 screen, the most critical component of the project.

The XO-1 appeared dead. OLPC’s chief technology officer, Mary Lou Jepsen, disappointed and exhausted from more than a year of intense work for OLPC, left Taiwan for home. Hours later, she was near death as well, having gone into adrenal [mellékvese] failure on the flight to Boston.

In April 2006, two weeks after her illness, Jepsen returned to Taiwan and approached the Chi Mei Group, a Tainan-based conglomerate, to ask if it would manufacture the XO-1’s display.

“Mary Lou is one of the heroes of this project–a selfless, beautiful thing,” says Scott Soong of Chi Mei subsidiary Chi Lin Technology. Soong is the other OLPC board member in Taiwan, along with Quanta’s Dandy Hsu.

By August 2006, Chi Lin Technology had a working prototype of the XO-1’s dual-mode screen. Jepsen says that without Scott Soong, “the display would not exist. He found ways around the seemingly impassable roadblocks during the design and production process.”

“In the concept, the engineering … we did that fairly quickly; then it was tweaking and tweaking and tweaking,” Soong says.

Later, Chi Mei assembled the Taiwan-made display components at its LCD factories in China.

Another Chi Mei contribution is the plastic housing, the fabulously cheerful green and white material that makes the XO-1 so recognizable.

Summing up, Soong says, “I’ll be honest with you. What Chi Mei has done is build a world-class display nearly at cost. This is not just another project for us. Nobody wanted to let this project down. Everybody went above and beyond to ensure success.”

“That is true for Quanta, and that is true for us,” he says. “And true for all of the other partners.”

From this chronology it is quite visible that OLPC XO-1 had ample publicity for notebook manufacturers of Taiwan to pick the idea, but in not so innovative way (they could not do that either because of intellectual property rights protection). Read the local Taiwanese news article of that time High Time for Low-priced Laptops [Nov 17, 2007] to understand the launch time situation for XO, Asus EeePC, and Intel Classmate (the latter also getting the lead from the OLPC idea).

Follow-up: Pixel Qi and CPT alliance for sunlight readability [Dec 22, 2010]
Follow-up: Pixel Qi’s first big name device manufacturing partner is the extremely ambitious ZTE [Feb 15, 2011]

For the even more industry paradigm changing output from Mary Lou Jepsen’s own company, Pixel Qi, read the following posts in her blog (the posts are in backward chronology):

  • CES [Jan 4, 2010]

Windows 7 tablets/slates with Oak Trail Atom SoC in December

Intel “is aiming to mass produce its Oak Trail platform for its Sleek Netbook segment targeting the tablet PC market in December 2010. The Oak Trail platform is a combination of Intel’s Lincroft (Atom Z6xx series) processor with Whitney Point chipset.”
See: Intel reveals Chief River platform for notebooks [Digitimes, Nov 1].

… specifically for tablet PCs, with the combination of Atom Z670 processor and SM35 chipset the initial product, according to industry sources.

The Oak Trail platform will sell at about US$25 with MeeGo, and the price for Oak Trail and Microsoft’s Windows 7 will be higher.

This notification given to Intel manufacturing partners in Taiwan might remove the long-standing barrier for Microsoft to introduce its long awaited Windows 7 slates to the market as early as in the second half of November, with retail availability in December. This would be even more than that since on November 20th the company will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Windows. Steve Ballmer might also have an additional, big case for celebration as whatever he has been telling in the last months there had been no sufficient evidence to back his claims, see: Windows slates in the coming months? Not much seen yet [July 13 – Oct 6, 2010]. And for people interested in technical details it has been well known all along that the Moorestown Atom chip (Atom Z6xx series) has not been developed to run the prime Windows software so Microsoft should wait for arrival of a Windows 7 capable version, code-named Oak Trail and originally promised for early 2011 availability only. See: Intel SoC for Cloud Clients [June 27 – Aug 23].

What kind of Windows 7 tablet/slate might soon arrive with Oak Trail availability? Will such a “sleek netbook” device (as per Intel’s new terminology) be able to compete with Apple’s highly successful iPad or even surpass that in capabilities. Before those devices are announced no definite answers could be given. Nevertheless there is sufficient evidence already that there could be very big surprises in that regard.

Here is Dell Inspiron Duo flipping tablet/netbook device first shown on the Intel Developer Forum in September:

Dell Inspiron Duo.jpg

Update: Dell is definitely the #1 Microsoft ally now as evidenced by Michael Dell: Developing Windows smartphones ‘easier’ than Android [Nov 2]

More information:
Hybrid Dell Inspiron Duo Tablet : A Netbook and A Tablet Device [Sept 19]
Dell’s Atom-powered Inspiron Duo: 10-inch netbook / tablet hybrid with a crazy swivel (update: more video and detailed press photo!) [Sept 14]
Dell to Reinvigorate Its Brand Name with New Campaign [Oct 21]

The marketing campaign will include television spots, due to start November 6, and print ads about a week later. According to the company, the campaign would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Even Intel Free Press, a 3 weeks only Intel tech news initiative is drawing attention to it by a title telling a lot – Free Shot: Looking for Tablets this Holiday Season? [Oct 8]:

This is the first year when tablet computers have a chance of hitting a relative’s top 10 wish list for the holidays. In addition to the widely popular iPad, several new touch screen tablets are rumored to be coming before the end of the year, including the hybrid Dell Inspiron Duo tablet-netbook. Moving away from a physical keyboard and familiar computing experience might scare away many people, but Dell seems to have found a nice middle ground. This video shows how the 10-inch touch screen flips transforming the tablet slate into a traditional netbook with keyboard.

Look at the video and you will be more than convinced.

There is also an explicit confirmation from Microsoft in Ballmer: Windows 7 tablets to be seen by Christmas [Oct 5]:

A spokesperson said Microsoft can confirm three Windows 7 slates: one from Hanvon in China, Toshiba’s Libretto W100 (which doesn’t really count because it’s a limited-quantity prototype) and the Dell Inspiron Duo Tablet, which Dell has said will be available later this year.

We can already see from this that there will be other vendors with Windows 7 slates/tablets. There is more evidence to support that:
Intel: Our Tablet Design Momentum Is Very Strong [Oct 13]
Acer tablet PC line launching on November 23rd, priced from $299 to $699 [Oct 27]
Acer set to unveil multiple tablets on Nov. 23 [Oct 29]
Acer first tablet PC aimed at fulfilling telecom carrier demand [Oct 29]
Asustek details tablet PC plans [Oct 29]
Latest Update On ASUS Tablets – 7-Inch to 12-Inch Range [Oct 29]

Furthermore Intel has already started to mount a strong market attack:
– via their own CEO at the current earnings conference call with: Intel CEO praises iPad, throws down gauntlet [Oct 12]
– via the well-known market research company iSuppli explicitly stating: Intel Aims to Enter Tablet Market With Oak Trail Processor [Oct 19]
– via their own Intel Free Press with an extensive article about Reports of Netbook’s Death Greatly Exaggerated, Experts Say [Oct 26]

And this is all before the 25th anniversary of Windows! Watch the news!