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Amazing fulfillment robots coming to Amazon

Nov 26, 2012: How Amazon’s Largest Distribution Center Works tells us at [00:59] of the video that “Amazon brings in 50 000 seasonal workers here to work in a fulfillment center such as this.”

Cory Johnson looks at an Amazon.com distribution center. He speaks on Bloomberg Television’s “In The Loop.” (Source: Bloomberg)

204 Cyber Monday Items Shipped Per Second Last Year

Nov. 26 (Bloomberg) — Today’s “BWest Byte” is 204, for the number of items per second that Amazon shipped during Cyber Monday last year. Cory Johnson reports on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg)

I got quite impressed by the size of Amazon operations as shown on these Bloomberg videos yesterday. I got also interested more deeply in the technology which is behind of all this, and by searching the relevant YouTube videos, and then relevant articles on the web, I found even more interesting stuff not only about the current level of technology but also the near time future of it.

This is the most important continuation of the whole Amazon story which was excellently presented in the following 25 minutes of video summarizing Jeff Bezos’ successes up to May 2011:

Jeff Bezos Revealed: Game Changers Bloomberg TV
(you can access this video only by clicking on this link, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)

If you will read then my Amazon related trend tracking posts on this blog as well you will be pretty up to date on the whole Amazon story.

Now, to understand the importance of the near time future for Amazon fulfillment read first:
Amazon.com to Acquire Kiva Systems, Inc. [Amazon press release, March 19, 2012]

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire Kiva Systems, Inc., a leading innovator of material handling technology.

“Amazon has long used automation in its fulfillment centers, and Kiva’s technology is another way to improve productivity by bringing the products directly to employees to pick, pack and stow,” said Dave Clark, vice president, global customer fulfillment, Amazon.com. “Kiva shares our passion for invention, and we look forward to supporting their continued growth.”

“For the past ten years, the Kiva team has been focused on creating innovative material handling technologies,” said Mick Mountz, CEO and founder of Kiva Systems. “I’m delighted that Amazon is supporting our growth so that we can provide even more valuable solutions in the coming years.”

Following the acquisition, Kiva Systems’ headquarters will remain in North Reading, Massachusetts.

Under the terms of the agreement, which has been approved by Kiva’s stockholders, Amazon will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Kiva for approximately $775 million in cash, as adjusted for the assumption of options and other items. Subject to various closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2012.

About Kiva Systems

Kiva Systems, Inc. uses material handling technology and sophisticated control software to simplify operations, reduce costs and increase flexibility. Kiva solutions enable extremely fast cycle times, from receiving to order picking to shipping all in a single solution. The result is a building that is quick and low-cost to set up, inexpensive to operate, and easy to change. For more information about Kiva Systems and its solutions, please visit www.kivasystems.com.

More information:
Amazon Acquires Kiva Systems in Second-Biggest Takeover [Bloomberg, March 20, 2012]
Amazon buys warehouse robotics start-up Kiva Systems for $775 million [Boston Globe, March 19, 2012]
Amazon Acquires Kiva Systems for $775 Million [IEEE Spectrum, March 22, 2012]
Why Kiva Is Worth $775 Million to Amazon [IEEE Spectrum, March 22, 2012]
The New Amazon Distribution Model [by Steve Banker on Logistics Viewpoints, Aug 6, 2012]

Recently, Kiva Systems told its existing clients how its acquisition by Amazon would affect them. But the news also revealed something about Amazon’s distribution strategy.

So here is the news: Kiva will not be selling any new systems to new customers for the next one and a half to two years. Instead, Amazon will be filling its new one million square foot distribution centers (DCs) with Kiva robots. In its second quarter financial statement, Amazon said that it had opened 6 DCs this year, with 12 more scheduled for the remainder of 2012 (17 were built last year).

I wrote a strategic report in 2009 titled “Warehouse 2025” (available to ARC clients only) that looked at the economics of the new generation of distribution robots.

Amazon appears to practice mainly pick-to-cart. Each cart has multiple totes. Its warehouses have mezzanine levels; workers often have to push their carts onto a lift to change levels. Once a tote has been completely picked, it is placed on a conveyor and transported to pack stations. Amazon’s labor goals are roughly 160 picks per hour.

In contrast, Kiva Systems leads to higher productivity per worker. Workers work at combination pick/pack stations and the Kiva bots deliver the inventory to them to pick. The pick rate will depend on what is picked — if it is small items picked in multiple quantities, you might go as high as 1,500 items per hour; apparel is closer to 200 items per hour. In my report, I used 600 line items per hour as an average for Kiva empowered workers.

So what would this mean in terms of workers? My initial estimate was that Amazon would employ 45 percent fewer workers per DC. But one of the contacts I interviewed for my strategic report told me that number was too high; his warehouse employs 30-40 percent fewer people by using Kiva.

If you conduct a Google search on “Amazon distribution center,” you come across announcements over the past year for DCs in Virginia, New Jersey, and South Carolina. According to these articles, warehouses costing roughly $50-65 million will employ 1,500 to 2,000 workers.

But then I came across an article about a new Indiana DC. This DC is costing $150 million and the company is only promising 1,000 new workers. Could this be one of the new warehouses that will be using Kiva? The employment numbers seem to add up. This DC will employ at least one third fewer workers.

The total cost of the new Indiana warehouse also seems roughly right. Kiva is sold as a system – robots plus their warehouse control system software. But if you take the total cost of the system and divide it by the number of robots, I estimate that the cost per robot is about $20,000-$30,000. There will be about 6 to 9 robots serving each station. With a two shift operation, and the understanding that the great majority of workers will now work pack stations, you can see how the Kiva robots would add $40 million to the cost of the new DC even if Amazon buys the robots for half of the purchase price of the general market.

Let’s tackle that last assumption, that Amazon can buy the robots for half price. Part of that is based on the fact that Kiva Systems sells premium-priced, high-margin product, which Amazon will now buy at cost. But I also see falling unit costs based on a huge increase in production volume. Word on the street is that Kiva did about $100 million in revenues last year. Based on my back of the envelope calculation, one of Amazon’s new DCs will require more than 80 percent of Kiva’s total production from all of last year. If even half of the unbuilt DCs scheduled to come online this year use Kiva robots, we are looking at 5X production ramp.

Again, doing a little rough math, and depending on what you think a fully loaded warehouse worker costs and exactly how many workers become unnecessary, Kiva warehouses could save Amazon more than $20-35 million in wages and benefits per warehouse per year. If it implements Kiva at 6 DCs this year, and 20 more over the following two years, the company will get its payback for the Kiva investment.

There are some other advantages. Without buying Kiva and ramping production volumes, Amazon could never implement Kiva across its network of new DCs. Further, the company’s backlog prevents other e-fulfillment competitors (that are not Kiva’s existing clients) from copying what it is doing for at least a year and a half.

Finally, as Adrian Gonzalez pointed out in a recent posting, Amazon appears to be on a quest for same day deliveries. Kiva robots provide a blend of automation and flexibility that traditional forms of heavy automation cannot match.

What at first glance looked like an absurdly high acquisition price for Kiva Systems becomes completely rational. But the success of this investment will depend on how quickly and successfully Amazon can ramp the production.

And now you can share with me my experience of technology exploration by watching the videos embedded below:

2008: Warehouse Robots at Work

IEEE spectrum (http://spectrum.ieee.org) takes you inside Kiva Systems’ robotic warehouse, where orange robots make inventory move instead of workers. Over time the system becomes increasingly efficient, with the robots learning from the wisdom of the crowd. To read more about Kiva Systems and how their robots work, check out the article at http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/jul08/6380.

2011: A Day in the Life of a Kiva Robot

Complete Premium video at: http://fora.tv/conference/wired_business_conference_2011 Kiva Systems founder and CEO Mick Mountz narrates a play-by-play video of how Kiva robots automate a warehouse environment. —– How Robots Think: Why Artificial Intelligence Is Nothing Like the Human Mind Mick Mountz, Founder & CEO, Kiva Systems in conversation with Jason Tanz Mick Mountz is founder and CEO of Kiva Systems. Mountz founded Kiva Systems in 2003, after experiencing the inadequacy of existing material-handling technologies for ecommerce at the grocery delivery startup Webvan. Kiva’s integrated order-fulfillment solution employs hundreds of mobile robots and distributed intelligence to enable faster, more flexible ecommerce distribution centers for companies like The Gap, Saks Fifth Avenue, Diapers.com, Staples, Walgreens, and Crate and Barrel. Under Mountz’s leadership, Kiva was ranked sixth on the 2009 Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing private companies in the US. Before joining Webvan, Mountz spent three years as a product manager at Apple Computer, where he helped move new technologies like FireWire, DVD, Fast Ethernet, and 3D graphics acceleration into the standard desktop platform. He began his career as a mechanical and manufacturing engineer at Motorola. In 2008, Mountz received an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the New England region. He holds twelve U.S. technology patents.

And Amazon?
2011: Inside the Amazon Warehouse for Christmas

We go behind the scenes at the Amazon distribution centre to find out how the likes of the Amazon Kindle Fire make it to your front door.

2012: Amazon Adds That Robotic Touch

Amazon buys Kiva Systems, maker of robots for warehouses. Spencer Ante has details on Digits.

Imagine how much Amazon will be transformed as the result of this acquisition as the current process is: Fulfillment by Amazon Tour

Take a look inside one of Amazon’s world-class fulfillment centers and see Fulfillment by Amazon in action.

and Amazon’s operation is huge as told in 2009 by Mark A. Onetto, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations and Customer Service, Amazon.com

Mark A. Onetto, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations, Amazon.com, Inc. speaks in the Abbott Center Auditorium as part of Darden’s Leadership Speaker Series. Mr. Onetto leads the supply chain, warehousing, transportation and customer support operations of the largest e-retailer in the world.

But the current operation needs a lot of people:
2012: Inside Amazon Fulfillment

Take a look inside an Amazon Fulfillment warehouse! Learn about available opportunities in Fulfillment at http://www.AmazonFulfillmentCareers.com.

a lot of people, look at the employees’ aspect in:
2012: Make History with Amazon SDF 4, 6, 7!

See what it’s like to work in Amazon SDF 4, 6, & 7! Want to join the team? You can apply now for seasonal opportunities at kellyhero.com.

Compare this to the Kiva Systems Warehouse Automation at Quiet Logistics

2010: Overview of Quiet Logistics warehouse narrated by Al Dekin, Senior Vice President, Quiet Logistics & Amy Villeneuve, President & COO, Kiva Systems.

More information:
Kiva Universal playlist
Kiva Systems YouTube Channel

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Can VIA Technologies save the mobile computing future of the x86 (x64) legacy platform?

UpdateThe Third x86-based SoC Player: VIA & Centaur’s Isaiah II [PC Perspective, July 11, 2014]

… VIA, through their Centaur Technology division, is expected to announce  [on Sept 1, 2014] their own x86-based SoC, too. Called Isaiah II, it is rumored to be a quad core, 64-bit processor with a maximum clock rate of 2.0 GHz. Its GPU is currently unknown. VIA sold their stake S3 Graphics to HTC back in 2011, who then became majority shareholder over the GPU company. That said, HTC and VIA are very close companies. The chairwoman of HTC is the founder of VIA Technologies. The current President and CEO of VIA, who has been in that position since 1992, is her husband. I expect that the GPU architecture will be provided by S3, or will somehow be based on their technology. I could be wrong. Both companies will obviously do what they think is best.

It would make sense, though, especially if it benefits HTC with cheap but effective SoCs for Android and “full” Windows (not Windows RT) devices.

Or this announcement could be larger than it would appear. Three years ago, VIA filed for a patent which described a processor that can read both x86 and ARM machine language and translate it into its own, internal microinstructions. The Centaur Isaiah II could reasonably be based on that technology. If so, this processor would be able to support either version of Android. Or, after Intel built up the Android x86 code base, maybe they shelved that initiative (or just got that patent for legal reasons). …

UpdateVIA Isaiah II Gives Intel and AMD Reasons to Worry with Low-power CPUs [techPowerUp, July 7, 2014]

Only the third active licencee of Intel’s x86 machine architecture, VIA Technology, is readying its first x86 processor in years, codenamed Isaiah II. This chip is based on a brand new 64-bit x86 core design by VIA and the engineering team it acquired from Centaur Technology, another erstwhile x86 licencee, and features modern instruction sets such as AVX 2.0. VIA began sampling a quad-core processor based on Isaiah II, which was put to live test by the company, at its InfoComm 2014 booth. It was compared to Intel’s “Bay Trail” Atom and AMD’s “Kabini” Athlon chips. It turns out that the Isaiah II is pretty good, if it comes out soon enough.

The Isaiah II based quad-core chip, featuring 2.00 GHz clock speeds, and 2 MB of L2 cache, was put through SANDRA. The BGA chip was running on a VIA-made motherboard, with its own VIA VX11H chipset. It was compared to AMD Athlon 5350 (quad-core “Jaguar” with 2.05 GHz clocks), and Intel Atom Z3770 (quad-core “Silvermont” with 2.40 GHz clocks). The results are tabulated below. At 2.00 GHz, armed with the latest multimedia and cryptography instruction-sets, VIA’s chip is faster than Intel’s in most tests, despite lower clocks. It trades blows – and wins – against AMD’s chip, in most tests. VIA is expected to launch the first chips based on Isaiah II in late-August, 2014. VIA is hedging its bets with efficient compact PCs, kiosks, and digital signage, with its new chip.

Update: VIA reportedly moving x86 CPU resources to new joint venture in China [DIGITIMES, Feb 19, 2014]

VIA Technologies is rumored to have started shifting its x86 CPU technologies and related personnel to its newly formed IC design joint venture with a China government-owned investment firm, according to market watchers, adding that VIA recently notified clients that it will stop supplying x86 processors temporarily. VIA declined to comment about market rumors and pointed out that its x86 CPU business is still operating. The joint venture was announced in early 2014 with VIA owning a 20% stake in the company. The market watchers pointed out that if the rumor is true, it would mean VIA’s x86 processor platform has officially walked into history, and the China government will be able to get hold x86 technologies to develop related products. VIA has been pushing its CPU products in China for many years, mainly targeting the white-box market. With the new move, VIA may no longer release processors under its name and will instead use the name of the joint venture in the future, the market watchers said. Because VIA’s x86 CPU business is licensed by Intel, moving related resources to a new joint venture is expected to attract Intel’s attention. However, the chip giant may not be able to do much because Intel reached an agreement with the US’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) in 2010 to not interfere with competition in the CPU and chipset markets, and extend its licensing of PCI Express to VIA by at least another six years. Intel is also unlikely to wish to offend the China investment firm, which has support from the China government, the market watchers analyzed.

End of updates

After Urgent search for an Intel savior [this same blog, Nov 21, 2012] this [Can VIA Technologies save … x86 (x64) legacy platform?] is a quite legitimate and important question.

Watch Cher Wang, the founder and still the chairman of the VIA Technologies (also HTC), speaking about the enterpreneurship just February this year. One of the most important traits she considers important for the success is perseverance (as she is telling at [28:50] in the Q&A session starting at [22:37]). Looking at the current, moderate by any means success of VIA, one can clearly see this attribute of her which is helping to keep VIA still afloat. One cannot resist a suspicion that she sees great opportunity for the company to come out of its current troubles of decreasing revenue. She might quite well count on the expected failure of Intel to compete effectively in the mobile computing. As the x86 (rather the 64-bit x64) is still quite important for the transition of hundreds of millions of PCs into a full mobile computing era VIA Technologies x64 chips with their very competitive Isaiah cores, as much as 4 in a package and of sufficiently low-power and low-price might indeed become the kind of saviors of that legacy hardware platform for the year 2013 and beyond. Do not forget VIA Technologies is an extremely streamlined organisation which is using the same fabless semiconductor manufacturing model as all of the ARM ecosystem.

While Intel used the Bonnell microarchitecture for its Atom processors a significantly smaller competitor, VIA Technologies (Via Technologies Inc (2388.TW)) was relying on the processor design and development work of its 100 people subsidiary, Centaur Technology to compete with the giant, using its same time introduced Isaiah microarchitecture. Both microarchitectures were developed BTW for quite a long period of 5 years* and introduced in products in 2008. * The Bonnell story you could read in Intel’s Atom Architecture: The Journey Begins [AnandTech, April 2, 2008]

Note that Atom-powered Windows 8 tablets will use Intel’s new Clover Trail SoC, the follow-up from Medfield. Clover Trail is effectively a dual-core version of Medfield (using Saltwell core, while Saltwell contains a 32 nm shrink of the original Bonnell), but with a souped up GPU (a dual-core SGX 544MP2 rather than a single SGX 540). It’s still 32nm — but next year we’ll see the process-shrunk and rearchitected Silvermont-based [also the code-name of the new micro-architecture after Bonwell] Valleyview SoC, which technologically will be very exciting indeed. The “only” question mark is the price which I would think could not go below $50 as the latest (Q1’12 intro, with the same 32nm litography) traditional Atom model D2550, having price indication publicly available, has a published tray price (i.e. for 1K units) of $47. Intel’s whole business model is standing on those extraordinary high prices by today’s standards, and these will become unsustainable in the year 2013. Here comes VIA Technologies with its x64 foundation as described here.image (As it is a May 17, 2011 Investor Meeting slide we already know that the 22nm “Future Product” in the upper row is “Haswell”, and also that Silvermont will be incorporated into the same “Shark Bay” client platform as Haswell).

Let’s see first how VIA Technologies presented itself one and a half year ago in its VIA Embedded Intro Video [VIAMKT YouTube channel, June 9, 2011]

VIA Embedded round-up video of silicon platform products and solutions

Then as an update see Where is VIA? An interview with Christian Caldarone [Tom’s Hardware German Edition, Aug 30, 2012]

… My name is Christian Caldarone, born in 1972, and am currently in Germany as a company spokesperson for VIA Embedded. In addition, I am also responsible for the channel business [as Europe Business Account Manager]. TH: Our younger readers may know VIA only as a manufacturer of audio chips or Firewire controllers. So could you briefly introduce the company? CC: VIA was founded in 1987 in California. In 1992 the company moved its headquarters to Taipei, Taiwan. Towards the end of the 1990s it came to the acquisition of the processor manufacturer Cyrix / Centaur, and on the basis of purchased know-how we developed over the following years the C3 CPUs. In 2002 the VIA Embedded Platform Division was established. Since we are focusing increasingly on the embedded market [ VIA EPIA embedded platform, editor’s note]. In terms of the requirements of the future one has to primarily identify VIA for low power, high performance per watt, fanless and quiet design, and miniaturization. The synthesis of these factors from the manufacturer’s perspective can be found in the developed by VIA Mini-, Nano- and Pico-ITXdesigns. … <to be continued after the following short insert explaining these designs>


Embedded Boards [VIA Embedded microsite, Sept 5, 2012]

VIA Embedded Boards enable a new vision for the digital lifestyle, boasting low power consumption and rich integration on ultra compact form factors. Aimed at driving fast-emerging markets for smart connected devices, from stylish digital entertainment systems and feature-rich commercial embedded devices to mobile applications such as robotics and telematics, VIA embedded boards provide the ultimate platform for systems where size, low profile and power efficiency can be combined with a rich entertainment experience. VIA Embedded Boards EPIA Embedded Platform Innovative Architecture VIA EPIA® embedded boards are the embodiment of VIA’s feature rich and power efficient platform technologies. EPIA® boards come in a variety of flavors and form factors. A mix of low-power embedded processors, core logic, networking, connectivity and multimedia components make up the wide selection of available Mini-ITX, Nano-ITX, Pico-ITX and Pico-ITXe embedded boards.

Epan Wu discuss the past and future of the [10 years old] Mini-ITX Platform [VIAMKT YouTube channel, Dec 4, 2011]

Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division Epan Wu discusses the past and future of the 10 years old Mini-ITX Platform

The Mini-ITX was recognized as an industry open standard for small footprint embedded systems. The Nano-ITX and Pico-ITX received the same popularity for even smaller dimension embedded designs.

2002: Mini-ITX VB Series for emerging segment markets 2002: Mini-ITX Desktop Series for a wide range of uses including home media centers, PCs, and file servers 2002: EPIA Mini-ITX Series a flexible, cost effective platform for an almost unlimited variety of applications
2004: EPIA Nano-ITX Series the ideal building block for a wide variety of applications requiring even smaller dimensions March 2009: Em-ITX Series with flexible and easy to extend functionality and I/O ports for a specific vertical application end of 2009: NOW END OF LIFE EPIA Mobile-ITX Series only 6 cm x 6 cm — enabling x86 processing power in handheld system designs*
2007: EPIA Pico-ITX Series to enable x86 architecture for embedded systems where it was previously impractical for space reasons. 2012: ARM-based VAB Series ready-to-use platforms based on Pico-ITX form factor which feature ultra low power consumption, easy system integration, rich I/O and flexible software capabilities

* The EPIA Mobile ITX form factor was the smallest existing COM (Computer-on-module) form factor in the world. The total height of the board-to-board connectors was only 3 mm. It was meant to be used in areas of implementation such as: military, medical, robotics, industrial automation, transportation segments, and handheld devices. VIA_ITX_mainboards_Form_Factor_Comparison1 VIA ITX Mainboards Form Factor Comparison 3000_3210_assy-1 A technical drawing of Em-ITX board and expansion module.

A video showing you how Em-ITX can be assembled in a fanless configuration, using a specially designed chassis.

now continue with Where is VIA? An interview with Christian Caldarone [Tom’s Hardware German Edition, Aug 30, 2012]

VIA currently employs about 2000 people worldwide. The majority of them work in the Embedded Division and in chipsets/CPUs. TH: For a while, VIA chipsets were considered as viable alternatives to offerings from AMD, Intel and Nvidia. Today the company is no longer represented in this segment away from its own platforms, and also happens rather insignificant when compared to the product cycles of the above competitors. Has VIA been getting nowhere? CC: No, VIA again and again presents innovations as well, such as the recently announced QuadCore processor. It runs at 1.2 GHz, supports 64-bit instruction sets, uses adaptive overclocking, and achieved a TDP of only 27.5 watts thanks to its low-power design. In addition, it is an out-of-order architecture. Unlike the products of some competitors there are four real cores, and systems stuck with QuadCore Processor + Vx11 can handle up to 16 GB of RAM. The Vx11 chipset also includes a DirectX 11-compatible GPU called VIA Chrome 645. TH: Is VIA currently working on new x86 CPUs? The Nano/Nano X2 is now at least 5 years old [NOT TRUE as only the 65nm-based Nano is 5 years old, while the 40nm-based Nano X2 was introduced only in Q1 2011, see later] and is manufactured in 40 nm, and also the QuadCore processor is really just a variation of this design – two Nano X2 on one die. [NOT TRUE as 4 cores on 2 dies with access to the same FSB (Front-Side Bus) are integrated together on a carrier package, see later] CC: Of course, there will be new, further developed and improved processors, which is consequential, but currently there is nothing to announce. Our current products can compete well in their segment. [Note: In the article Skirmishes on the desktop: Nettop platforms compared [Tom’s Hardware German Edition, March 29, 2012] VIA’s Nano X2 beat in fact very well Intel’s current at that time Atom D2700, and in several cases could clearly outpace it.] Our customers appreciate not only our portfolio but also the long product life cycle of five to seven years. Therefore, in order to maintain pin compatibility and to support the appropriate longevity of the platform, it is not possible, for example, to perform a simple die-shrink. It sounds so simple: “The structure size is refined.” But the fact is that a die-shrink would require much reworking of the platforms.

… <to be continued later on>


Now see an Introduction To Centaur [Patrick Roberts YouTube channel, July 30, 2012]

Introduction To Centaur Technology … 400 million transistors are in their current processor design …

with the very recent Processor Whispers: About Austin powers and patents [Andreas Stiller on “The H”, Nov 5, 2012]

Austin is not only the capital of Texas and home to Dell’s headquarters, but also a hub of processor development. After all, processors from Intel (Atom), AMD and Apple are designed here. But there is another company… It’s been all but forgotten that, next to the big ones mentioned, you will also find a smaller processor company in Austin, the third of the remaining threesome of x86 developers: Centaur Technologies Inc. For 13 years now, the company has belonged to the Taiwanese chip manufacturer VIA technologies. … the chief of the centaurs, Glenn Henry, was expecting me. … In spite of dramatically poor financial figures for VIA – with around $86 million, the numbers for the first three quarters of 2012 are 23 per cent below the ones from last year – the 70-year-old is optimistic: “We don’t cost much, so even a single per cent of the x86 cake is sufficient. Also, we have interesting new markets in China and increasingly in Brazil too.” For years, the number of employees at his company – just below 100 – has remained mostly constant. And, ultimately, VIA boss Wenchi Chen is one of the richest citizens of Taiwan, with sufficiently deep pockets. Currently, work is being done on the CN-R, a small quad-core processor designed for TSMC’s 28nm process. About a year ago, Centaur released a processor called VIA QuadCore, internally referred to as CN-Q, which is divided onto two chips, in a similar way as the Pentium D was. Each single chip is a VIA Nano X2 manufactured in 40nm that was well able to compete with other chips of its class, like the Atom D510 and the AMD E-350. It is compatible with the classic Eden boards and a quad-core solution for mini-ITX boards was released a few weeks ago, the VIA EPIA P910. Centaur still doesn’t have an integrated memory controller, for external communication they are still using the VIA V4 bus with 1333MHz, which is mostly identical to the bus of the Pentium 4. It serves as a link to the much bigger companion chip from VIA with north and south bridge. However, according to Henry, there are plans to integrate the chips into a SoC. But first, the CN-R is supposed to hit the market in the classic format with clock speeds between 1.2 and 2GHz around mid-2013. Which market that’s going to be, Henry doesn’t know yet: tablets seem likely, the netbook market is all but dead, but there’s still a niche market for small desktop PCs [“mini PCs”] and mini-servers as well as the embedded sector. A few highlights could make the chip stand out among the competition: AVX2 and an advanced PadLock unit with new cryptography operations– Atom and Bobcat/Jaguar don’t offer either. In contrast to Intel’s Haswell processor, however, CN-R will neither support fused multiply-add nor offer a transactional memory extension, as the effort would have been too expensive. Just a few hours before I had arrived, another economically motivated cut had been decided: instead of the initially planned central L3 cache with 4MB, Centaur chose to go down to 2MB in order to save space, costs and, above all, energy. Centaur has to work on the latter in particularto be able to compete with the big players in the business. …


And here is the continuation of Where is VIA? An interview with Christian Caldarone [Tom’s Hardware German Edition, Aug 30, 2012]

Chipsets are passé, embedded products are the future … Chipsets in the traditional sense, such as Northbridge, Southbridge, LPC, etc., are now almost extinct. … This development has to do with the current situation. All manufacturers are increasingly focused on the platform. The idea also makes sense: when everything comes from a single source, the individual components ideally suit each other – and demands are implemented as you wish. Eventually AMD has decided with the acquisition of ATI, to develop their own solutions and to focus only on AMD platforms. The goals of AMD and VIA were simply too different: for AMD it was important to keep up in performance, while VIA’s vision was more of energy efficient platforms. VIA currently has no concrete plans for the return to the chipset division. This is however not a complete rejection. A renewed commitment to the chipset segment is possible and also necessary if customer and partner needs are pronounced strongly enough. TH: You repeatedly called the Embedded Division as VIA’s primary area of operation. The term “embedded” is often equated with tablets, industrial PCs and control systems. What is VIA’s definition of “embedded”? CC:That’s right, the term “embedded” in fact can be interpreted very differently. An early definition is that the CPU is directly soldered and a GPU is integrated. TH: According to this definition, even AMD and Intel build  “embedded” systems with GPU and other integrated components. What sets VIA apart? CC:VIA has offered such designs earlier. The unique selling proposition was also lower energy consumption, allowing a higher performance per watt. Here comes the platform approach to the game again, and AMD and Intel are just gone in the direction that VIA had already taken. There are products of higher integratin in the future, so there is a change to the name and the approach. One hears again and again: “The desktop is dead.” If you look at the current trends, we can see that everywhere. The classic desktop is ousted, various other devices take over its role. Requirements such as Always on the Move, Cloud Computing and Desktop Virtualization are put forward, thus other devices are needed and also user behavior is changed. In the thin-client area VIA is traditionally represented strong. The reason for not so clearly connecting VIA with this segment is because this is not so strongly coming from the brand. The device (as a platform) must work. … TH: How VIA currently defined (and future) its market. Formerly the most visible products are gone – which wants to make money and grow? What is the strategy? Hurts the discontinuation of Windows / PC market (in the old scale)? CC: This is a regional issue: Europe is an important market, and we are committed to continue in the embedded space. Other countries and regions specially for us are less strong on the radar. Then there is again the BRICS region [Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, note by the editor], where it first comes to ever affordable PCs, namely to provide classical desktops. One element of this is the recently introduced APC [ a mini-PC platform with a 800 MHz ARM CPU from VIA and Android 2.3 operating system, editor’s note ]. In addition to these ARM based devices, of course x86-based Mini-PCs for the desktop market continue to play a role in our strategy. Here our ARTiGO product series is to be specially mentioned. The VIA ARTiGOs are indeed classic Mini-PCs for the desktop market, but they also have some embedded features and are therefore also suitable for the semi-embedded sector. In addition to the combination of ARTiGO with Windows XP and Windows 7, we were also able to test the ARTiGO A1150 and A1200 successfully with Windows Server 2008. Besides the various Windows versions Ubuntu and SuSE are also officially supported by VIA. TH: Where VIA will surprise us in the future? The fields that are particularly prominent? Where does the company see its biggest opportunities?

Published on Sep 13, 2012 by VIAMKT. VIA Embedded was in attendance at the 2012 Digital Signage Workshop in Taipei, showcasing their range of complete package solutions for dynamic digital signage including the latest VIA Magic Box and 3D Holographic display.

CC: Our products will still be much smaller, we will consume even less electric power, and we will put even more features in an even smaller space. We see special opportunities in Digital Signage, Medical Computing and Thin Clients. Here, the thin client must be understood as a device with which to connect to the cloud. … Thin Clients with a VIA CPU offer here a special advantage for security because our own integrated PadLock Security Co-processor can take over the encryption of data. Hardware encryption is classified as 100 times more secure than pure software-based encryption, loading the CPU significantly less, and this saves even more power here. Downright secure on-the-fly encryption can be seen as an essential component of cloud computing, and thus corresponds to the requirement of the customers. … … TH: Tablets are a growing market. Will VIA in this segment offer a suitable (processor) solution? Does VIA has an ARM license? If not, would an x86 design for Win8 tablets be possible? … In China, many manufacturers are already using [ARM] solutions from VIA. Exactly these markets are targeted by our subsidiary Wonder Media with the WonderMedia PRIZM SoC [an ARM-compatible, integrated processor, editor’s note]. … There are other products – medical devices or instruments based on ARM designs. What they need is often enough to have a well-adjusted SoC. It is not always clear that there is a VIA-solution. As with the display and other components it is subject to special requirements (moisture, shock, heat, etc.). These customers also appreciate the long product life cycles. In the consumer sector, it is the opposite, since latest features require short product life cycles. We will definitely have platforms for Windows 8 in the portfolio, for whatever kind of application. So you see, VIA Technologies could theoretically have both an ARM-based Win8 tablet and one driven on the x86-base. … TH: How VIA stands for low-power servers? After all, AMD has just bought SeaMicro, and HP and other companies are now using ARM chips in servers. CC: This segment is one of the more interesting for VIA, and we expect a good chance. An ARM-based solution here would be particularly attractive and allow the clients to realize an effective and efficient platform. Linux versions and also Android run now everywhere, providing nothing in the way of the usage itself. An ARM-based server solution is limited by the performance and in scope – so to say, the usage is very specific to the application. Therefore x86 is also important for the foreseeable future. And also with our x86 CPUs we see good opportunities. There are efforts to use them as power-saving CPUs in all data centers of the world. We have even more advantages with our quad processor alongside the low power consumption: CPU virtualization, the just mentioned security co-processor, and a large L2 cache by which it can compete quite well in performance with server processors of the competitors. In terms of cache throughput in so-called heavy-lifting tasks, such as database applications, for example, there is only seven percent difference to the Xeon 5110. I had already mentioned another benefit as well: the VX11 chipset and the QuadCore processor can manage up to 16 GB memory. With Intel’s Atom CPUs it is 4 GB. Virtualization is a really exciting skill – not least for the administration. It is possible, for example, to measure the average power consumption per virtual machine and to measure the system accordingly. As the first choice it is advisable to use our platform together with the KVM [Kernel-based Virtual Machine] hypervisor since it is also officially supported by VIA. KVM is a very serious virtualization solution that for some time now is tightly integrated into the Linux kernel. The decision of the major Linux distributions Ubuntu and SuSE, to use KVM as their preferred hypervisor, has once again to be underlined. Another advantage arises also through the availability and development of the appropriate administrative and conversion tools, extensive cloud/IaaS and orchestrator solutions (see http://www.linux-kvm.org/page/Management_Tools), which have also helped to pave the way in professional, commercial use of KVM. The combination of the VIA QuadCore and the KVM hypervisor currently has the best virtualization per watt ratio in the x86 market. Extrapolating 8 virtual machines per VIA QuadCore (27.5 watts TDP), the average per VM incurred is only 3.44 Watt, while for 10 VMs it takes only 2.75 watt. The long product life cycle of the VIA platform also enables a consistently homogeneous landscape, in which, for example, only a single hypervisor OS image is required, which can then be loaded from a central point to any number of platforms. But not everything can be virtualized. A good example are services such as VoIP. So one needs additionally a small server that will work then in the most cost efficient and energy saving way. And in this context, a long product life cycle and high reliability are important. Especially for the latter making electromechanical parts unnecessary is useful as well. An unnecessary fan for VIA Eden just could not fail.


Now look at

the current business situation of the VIA Technologies:

Intel’s market share was 83.3 percent in the third quarter [of 2012], growing from 80.6 percent in the same quarter the previous quarter. AMD’s market share was 16.1 percent, falling from 18.8 percent. VIA Technologies, which largely makes chips for low-cost PCs, had a 0.6 percent market share. [Mercury Research via IDG News Service]

For the full year 2011, Intel earned 80.1% overall worldwide unit market share, a loss of 0.6% compared to 2010. In 2011, AMD earned 19.7%, a gain of 0.7% compared to 2010. VIA Technologies earned 0.2%, a loss of 0.1%. [IDC]

In the full year 2010, Intel earned 80.7% unit market share, a gain of 1.1%, AMD earned 19.0%, a loss of 1.1%, and VIA Technologies earned 0.3%. [IDC]

VIA Announces October Sales Results [VIA Technologies press release, Nov 2, 2012]

Table 1: VIA October Sales Revenue In thousands of US dollars

Net Sales 2012 2011 Y-on-Y Change (%)
October 8,816 9,112 -3.25%
January through October 97,455 124,510 -21.73%

The company is selling a lot of products to the embedded market, also as boards (see: Nano based, Nano X2 based, Eden X2 based, and Quadcore E based), as well as some of its products are appearing in 3d party end-user products sold in volume globally. Below we could see some volume offerings in the end-user category which came to the market in the last 12 months. Examples of the 3d party thin client/mini PC products: Based on Nano and VX900 chipset (MSP): – Devon IT Launches Dual DVI VIA-Based TC5V Thin Client [Jan 18, 2012] where Devon IT is a U.S. based company with offices in London, Shanghai and Bangalore, selling globally. The TC5VX comes with Windows Embedded Standard 7 and the Devon IT Thin Client – TC5VX – 2 GB RAM – 1.3 GHz – 0 GB HDD is currently sold in 7 stores for $438 and up; while the TC5VL with DeTOS 7 (a Linux based thin client operating system developed by Devon IT and including RDP 7.1 and offering Microsoft RemoteFX functionality for Windows Server 2008 R2) and the Devon IT Thin Client – TC5VL – 1 GB RAM – 1.3 GHz – 0 GB HDD is currently sold in 13 stores for $281 and up. Based on Nano X2 and VX900H chipset (MSP): – ZOTAC Launches Affordable Palm-Sized ZBOX nano VD01 Series mini-PCs [Oct 6, 2011] where ZOTAC is a Macau based manufacturer of graphics cards, mini-ITX motherboards and mini-PCs sold in all continents around the globe, and with over 6,000 workers and a combined 100,000 square-meters of factory space. ZOTAC ZBOX nano – VD01 PLUS – 2 GB RAM – 1.2 GHz – 320 GB HDD with Windows 7 is currently sold in 79 stores for $230 and up or you can buy ZOTAC ZBOX nano – VD01 – 0 MB RAM – 1.2 GHz – 0 GB HDD with Windows 7 selling for $160 and up from 28 stores. Based on Eden X2: – HP Introduces Thin Clients with Unprecedented Security, Exceptional Flexibility and Performance [Feb 13, 2012]: “… the powerful new HP t610 Flexible Series Thin Client and HP t510 Thin ClientThe HP t610 features a dual-core AMD G-series processor with integrated discrete-class AMD Radeon graphics … at 1.65 GHz … The HP t510 also features the VIA Eden X2 U4200 1GHz dual-core CPU”. The HP Flexible Thin Client – T510 – 2 GB RAM – 1 GHz – 0 GB HDD is currently sold in 70 stores for $217 and up or you can the same HP Flexible Thin Client – T510 – 2 GB RAM – 1 GHz – 0 GB HDD for $195 and up from 55 stores. The HP t510 Thin client is pre-configured with one of the following: – Genuine Windows® Embedded Standard 7 – Genuine Windows® Embedded Standard 2009 – HP ThinPro – HP Smart Zero Client Service Example of a 3d party POS terminal: Based on Nano: – Product Launch Notice-KS-6715 series [Dec 7, 2011] from the Taiwanese Posiflex Technology focusing on POS Terminals and peripherals with 350 employees and selling globally through subsidiaries in China, Malaysia, India, Germany, USA and Argentina. The Posiflex Fan-Free – KS6715 – 2 GB RAM – 1.6 GHz – 160 GB HDD (a touch based POS terminal) with Windows Embedded POSReady7 is currently sold in 12 stores for $781 and up. Windows 8: only driver support is available as follows

VIA has released Windows 8 drivers for the VX11 Media System Processor, available through the driver portal. The VX900 drivers for Windows 7 do also support Windows 8 and VIA is working with Microsoft to have them re-classified as Windows 8 drivers. Until then, the VX900 drivers for Windows 7 can be used as a solution for Windows 8, available through the driver portal. Older VIA chipsets (than the VX900 and VX11) can run Windows 8 using the default drivers built into Windows 8, but some graphical features of Windows 8 may not be supported and it is not recommended.

(+ drivers for Windows 8 for the VIA HD audio chips)


Now it is time to have

a deep insight into the latest technology advances

made by VIA Technologies:

VIA EPIA-P910 Pico-ITX Motherboard with a cassette tape for comparison

VIA EPIA-P910 Pico-ITX Motherboard with a cassette tape for comparison

VIA_EPIA P910 45 with logo L_original_VIA EPIA-P910 Pico-ITX board (measuring 10 cm x 7.2 cm) combining a 1.0GHz VIA QuadCore E-Series processor (the 2 chips on the “smaller brown” carrier on the right) and the latest VIA VX11H MSP (single chip on the “big brown carrier” on the left) for superior performance and outstanding display capabilities.

VIA EPIA-P910 board essential block diagramm from the datasheet

The essential block diagram of the VIA EPIA-P910 board from the datasheet

VIA Announces First QuadCore Pico-ITX Board with 3D Display Capabilities [VIA Technologies press release, Sept 6, 2012]

VIA EPIA-P910 features new VIA VX11H media system processor with DX11 support for immersive display environments Taipei, Taiwan, 6th September, 2012 – VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient computing platforms, today announced the VIA EPIA-P910 Pico-ITX board, the first VIA board to feature the latest VIA VX11H MSP in combination with a VIA QuadCore E-Series processor. Providing superior performance and outstanding display capabilities, the VIA EPIA-P910 Pico-ITX provides the ideal platform for a wide array of next-generation ultra compact devices for applications in health-care, logistics, fleet management and other vertical market segments. The VIA EPIA-P910 Pico-ITX is the first VIA board to include the VIA VX11H MSP which provides the latest in graphic capabilities, including DirectX 11 support, for richer textures as well as 3D stereoscopic display. In combination with a 1.0GHz VIA QuadCore E-Series processor, the VIA EPIA-P910 offers high performance computing in an ultra compact, low power design with today’s latest connectivity options including HDMI and USB 3.0. “The VIA EPIA-P910 features the most advanced technology from VIA with the latest VIA VX11H MSP and VIA QuadCore E-Series processor,” said Epan Wu Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. “It provides superior computing performance and the richest display capabilities allowing embedded system designers to innovate for immersive embedded environments.” About VIA EPIA-P910 Pico-ITX Based on the incredibly compact Pico-ITX form factor, measuring 10 cm x 7.2 cm, the VIA EPIA-P910 Pico-ITX combines a 1.0GHz VIA QuadCore E-Series processor and the latest VIA VX11H MSP to offer superior computing performance for ultra compact systems. The VIA EPIA-P910 Pico-ITX supports up 8GB of 1333MHz DDR3 memory, HD audio, HDMI, VGA and LVDS display connectivity as well as a high performance hardware HD video decoder in the shape of the latest VIA Chromotion 5.0 video processor. On board pin headers and an extension board to board connector provide support for an additional 6 USB 2.0 ports, an LPC connector, SMBus connector, PS/2 support, audio jacks, LVDS, 4 pairs of DIO and two UART ports. Rear I/O includes one HDMI port, one VGA port, 2 USB 3.0 ports and 1 GigaLAN port. For more information about the VIA EPIA-P910 please visit: http://www.viaembedded.com/en/products/boards/1950/1/EPIA-P910.html For more information about the VIA VX11H MSP, please visit: http://www.viaembedded.com/en/products/processors/1951/1/VX11_(Single-Chip).html

VIA EPIA-P910 Pico-ITX Motherboard in a hand VIA EPIA-P910 Pico-ITX Motherboard VIA_vx11_and_vx11H_blkdiagram_original_ VIA VX11 (and VX11H) Media System Processor (MSP) [“chipset” on a single chip] block diagram

VIA VX11 Media System Processor: Breathing Life into 3D and High Definition Video Playback [VIA Chipsets, Sept 5, 2012]

The VIA VX11 media system processor (MSP) family is designed for next generation desktop, small form factor and all-in-one PCs, offering a world-class HD multimedia platform for media-intensive applications. The VIA VX11 features the VIA Chrome 640\645, a genuine DirectX11 graphics processor that offers richer visual and 3D contentsfor immersive environments. The VIA VX11 DX11GPU is designed to leverage the power of parallel processing and provides support for sophisticated shading and texturing techniques such as tessellation for smoother 3D animation and more lifelike graphics. Including Shader 5.0 to integrate cohesive post graphic processing, DirectCompute 11 for scalable GPGPU computing, as well as better multithreading and control for parallel computing, the VIA VX11 MSP provides enhanced graphic capabilities for today’s media intensive applications and has been designed to support OpenCL™. The VIA VX11 MSP has received SuperSpeed USB certification from USB-IF and supports up to 3 USB 3.0 ports for data transfer speeds up to ten times faster than USB 2.0 with optimized power efficiency. The VIA VX11 MSP features the high-performance and versatile VIA Chromotion 5.0 video processor, providing ultra smooth decoding of MPEG-4, H.264, MPEG-2, and VC-1. It offers advanced filtering and cutting edge post-processing. Support for the latest connectivity standards includes Display Port, HDMI, DVP, VGA and LVDS. The VIA VX11 MSP supports up to 16GB of the latest DDR3 system memory at speeds of up to 1600MHz and is compatible with the VIA QuadCore, VIA Nano™, and VIA Eden™ processor families. Integrating all the features of a traditional North and South bridge solution into a 33mm x 33mm single chip package and leveraging the 40nm advanced manufacturing process, the VIA VX11 is a single chip solution that reduces overall silicon footprint and lowers system power consumption. VIA VX11 Media System Processor: Key Features

  • High Performance Hardware HD Video Decoder:Smooth hardware acceleration for MPEG-4, H.264, MPEG-2, and VC-1 for advanced browser streamed video technologies
  • Advanced Display Connectivity:Supports the latest display standards including DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI and VGA in multi-display configurations
  • DX11 Graphics Performance:TheVIA Chrome 640/645integrated graphics processor is fully DirectX 11 certified and includes a 128-bit 2D engine
  • SuperSpeed USB Certification:Has received SuperSpeed USB certification form the USB-IF and supports up to 3 USB 3.0 ports
  • HD Audio support:VIA Vinyl HD Audio controller supports up to eight high definition channels with a 192kHz sampling rate, delivering a richer all-round digital media experience
  • Memory Support:Memory controller technology supports the lower power, high-bandwidth DDR3 memory modules with speeds up to 1600MHz
  • Fully Integrated technology support: Supports the low power device interfaces of SDIO 3.0, UART, SPI, LPC as well as six USB 2.0 ports

VIA Chromotion 5.0 The VIA Chromotion 5.0 is a high performance video processor supports stereoscopic decoding in MVC format bringing 3D content to life. Also boasting hardware acceleration of the H.264 HD encoding technology that is driving today’s advanced online HD video streaming services, the VIA Chromotion 5.0 video processor brings crisp, smooth 1080p HD video contentto life without hogging key system resources or resorting to an additional third party decoder. The Chromotion 5.0 video processor supports the latest video codecsincluding full Blu-ray support at true HD screen resolutions, including dual 1080p HD decode and playback of MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV9, VC-1 and H.264 content. Additional enhancements include H.264 HD encoder, motion compensation, transform, de-blocking, full VLD support, and AVS support. Full frame rate playback of MPEG-2, H.264 and Windows Media Video-based codecs, including VC-1 at full 1080p resolutions, is assisted by hardware acceleration assistance and includes Advanced Profile level 4 support on WMV/VC-1 content and High Profile level 4.1 for H.264-based content. Advanced Display Connectivity Integrated display support includes a dedicated CRT interface, integrated LVDS transmitter, a multiplexed display interface for DisplayPort and HDMI and parallel digital video output port (DVP) to external HMDI/LVDS/DVI transmitter. The VIA VX11 MSP provides multi-monitor extended desktop support where two independent display engines can display different content at different resolutions, pixel depths and refresh rates. VIA Vinyl HD Audio As the PC platform increasingly becomes the central device for home entertainment, the HD Audio codecs provide home theatre quality performance with support for the latest high definition audio content in Blu-ray and other popular HD audio formats. The VIA Vinyl HD audio codec is a low power, high-fidelity 8-channel high definition audio codec designed for desktop PC audio systems, supporting QSound, DTS Connect, Dolby1 Digital Live, Dolby PCEE program, SRS Lab and Creative technologies. HD DVD Audi Content protection is also supported for full-rate lossless DVD audio, and HD DVD audio content playback.

VIA_VX11 Chip_original_ The VIA VX11 chip (the VX11H looks the same) on its carrier VIA_VX11_internal_block_diagram VIA VX11 internal block diagram Note that it has Windows 8 support and the graphics and video capabilities in the VIA VX11 and VX11H are based on S3 Graphics technology about which we should know that VIA Technologies Announces Sale of Stake in S3 Graphics [VIA Technologies press release, July 6, 2011]:

Taipei, Taiwan, July 6, 2011 – VIA Technologies, Inc. (“VIA”) today announced the signing of definitive agreement to sell all of its shareholding in S3 Graphics Co., Ltd. (“S3 Graphics”) to HTC Corporation (“HTC”). S3 Graphics is a leading provider of innovative graphics visualization technologies used in PCs, game consoles and, more recently, mobile devices.
VIA acquired S3 Graphics in 2001 with the intention to accelerate integration of graphics capabilities with its processor and chipset products. S3 Graphics became undercapitalized in 2005, and VIA introduced WTI Investment International, Ltd. (“WTI”) as a new investor to help fund the operations and R&D initiatives. WTI is a private investment company, in which Cher Wang, Chairman of VIA, is a significant shareholder.
Under terms of the agreement with HTC, total consideration for all outstanding shares of S3 Graphics will be US$300 million. Of which, VIA will receive US$147 million; and WTI will receive US$153 million. VIA will recognize a capital gain of US$ $37 million and paid-in-capital of US$ 115 million in this transaction.

Note that this $300M acquisition of S3 Graphics by HTC was based on an ongoing lawsuit against Apple by S3 Graphics to be used in negotiating with Apple. This was lost in November last year but nevertheless could have figured positively for HTC’s recent settlement with Apple (as only HTC was able to negotiate a settlement with Apple so far) in which Apple To Get $6-$8 Per Phone Fee From HTC, Analyst Says [Forbes, Nov 12, 2012]:

Apple will receive an estimated $6-$8 per phone licensing fee from HTC under the patent litigation settlement the two companies announced on Saturday, Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu said in a research note this morning.
“Financial terms were not disclosed but we believe AAPL is likely getting a net licensing fee due to its much stronger patent portfolio and we think position as undisputed inventor of the modern smart phone with touchscreen,” he writes. “We view this as a positive and the big question is whether Samsung and Motorola will also reach settlement agreements.”
He estimates that at $6-$8 per HTC phone sold, the company will generate an additional $180 million to $200 million annual revenue; he says that is lower than the range that Apple initially proposed. Wu notes that there have been previous reports that HTC pays Microsoft $5 per phone running Android.
The bottom line, he notes, is that the deal is basically immaterial to Apple. “For a lot of companies, $180-280 million in annual licensing revenue from one vendor is material but for AAPL it will likely be immaterial to its financials given its large revenue base of $193 billion and $48 billion in net income that the investment community is forecasting for FY 2013,” he writes.

World’s Smallest x86 Quad Core System, VIA ARTiGO A1250 [VIA Technologies press release, Oct 31, 2012]

ARTiGO A1250_comparison_L_medium.jpg Features USB 3.0, stereoscopic 3D and HD video support, for an immersive multimedia experience Taipei, Taiwan, 31st October, 2012 – VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient computing platforms, today announced the world’s smallest x86 quad core system, the VIA ARTiGO A1250 slim system, featuring a 1.0GHz VIA QuadCore processor and the latest VIA VX11H media system processor (MSP), in chassis the size of a paperback novel. The ultra-compact VIA ARTiGO A1250, is suitable for a myriad of applications in the home or office, including home server, home automation, hotel management, media streaming, digital signage and surveillance as well as medical and healthcare applications. The VIA ARTiGO A1250 leverages the VIA VX11H MSP to deliver an immersive multimedia experience complete with 3D stereoscopic and HD display support in a low power envelope, which a typical power consumption of a mere 32W TDP. The VIA ARTiGO A1200 can fit easily into any environment, whether it is behind a monitor or on the wall with a 10 x 10 cm VESA mount or placed alongside other home media devices. For system developers, VIA provides third party software security through a unique hardware/software design. “By leveraging the ultra compact Pico-ITX form factor, the VIA ARTiGO A1250 is able to deliver a powerful x86 quad core computing experience in the smallest system design on the market,” said Epan Wu, Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. “The VIA ARTiGO A1250 boasts the latest technology with 3D stereoscopic display and USB 3.0 support for an unparalleled ultra compact computing experience, making small truly beautiful.” VIA ARTiGO A1250 ARTiGO A1250_with mount_L_medium.jpg The VIA ARTiGO A1250 is the slimmest full featured quad core system on the market today with an ultra low-profile design measuring a mere 17.7cm x 12.5cm x 3.0cm (W X D X H), a full ten percent smaller than the VIA ARTiGO A1150 series. A power efficient 1.0GHz VIA QuadCore E-Series processor is combined with the latest highly integrated all-in-one VIA VX11H MSP which features the integrated VIA Chromotion 5.0 video processor with DX11 support for richer textures and 3D stereoscopic display. The VIA ARTiGO A1250 delivers an exceptional multimedia experience with advanced filtering and cutting edge post-processing to perform ultra smooth decoding of H.264, MPEG-2, VC-1, and WMV9 for smooth playback of the most demanding multimedia titles at resolutions up to 1080p without incurring a heavy CPU load. The unique dual-sided I/O coastline interface includes one HDMI and one VGA display port, one GigaLAN Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, audio jacks (Line-in/out and mic-in) and 12V DC-in power. For more information about the VIA ARTiGO A1250 please visit: http://www.viaembedded.com/en/products/systems/1990/1/ARTiGO_A1250_(Pico-ITX).html

Here is an introductory video looking at the VIA ARTiGO A1250. The World’s smallest x86 quad core system on the market to date. The size of the new system is compared to the A1150 (as in the press release) and the previous generation A1200 model with fanless slim design.

Current ARTiGO pricing can be checked on E-ITX.com:

VIA ARTiGO A1250 for $320 with VX11H MSP (for a configuration with 0 GB RAM, 0 ODD, 0 GB HDD, no IEEE802.11b/g/n WiFi Kit, no OS, no system testing and assembly) and up (when the missing things indicated are added), delivery is promised for DecemberVIA ARTiGO A1150 for $259 with [VX900H MSP] Chrome9 HD DX9 3D/2D Video Processor w/HDMI & VGA Display Outputs (for a configuration with 1 GB RAM, 0 ODD, 0 GB HDD, no 802.11b/g Wireless LAN Module Kit, no Antennas for Wireless LAN Module Kit, no OS, no system testing and assembly) and up (when the missing things indicated are added), next day shipment – VIA ARTiGO A1200 for $319 with VX900 MSP (for a configuration with 0 GB RAM, 0 ODD, 0 GB HDD, no Wireless LAN or 3G WAN Network, no WiFi Antennas, no OS, no system testing and assembly) and up (when the missing things indicated are added), next day shipment – Windows operating system prices (w/OEM License [and DVD]):

  • Win7 Home Premium 64-bit: $120
  • Win7 Professional 64-bit: $160
  • Win7 Ultimate 64-bit: $200
  • Win XP Pro 32-bit with OEM License ONLY: $185

CPUs used:

VIA Eden X2 Unveiled at Embedded Word 2011, World’s Most Power-Efficient Dual Core Processor [VIA Technologies press release, March 1, 2011]

VIA Eden X2 processors bring unrivalled power efficiency and fanless stability to embedded markets without compromising on performance Taipei, Taiwan, 1 March, 2011 – VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today announced the new VIA Eden X2 processor, the industry’s lowest power dual-core processor, optimized for fanless implementation in a broad range of industrial and commercial embedded systems. VIA Eden X2 will debut at Embedded World 2011, Nuremberg, Hall 12, Booth No. 574 VIA Eden X2 processors combine VIA’s signature ‘Eden’ fanless design principles, in a highly optimized, power-efficient dual-core architecture. This guarantees rock-solid stability for mission critical embedded systems without compromising on performance or features. With a component longevity guarantee of 7 years, VIA Eden X2 processors are guaranteed to extend the reach of fanless system design for years to come. “Eden X2 shows how once again VIA is setting the pace when it comes to highly optimized, power-efficient processing,” said Daniel Wu, Vice President, VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. “Embedded developers will relish the opportunity to integrate a native 64-bit, dual-core processor in passively cooled, ultra stable systems.” VIA_Eden_X2_processor_Front_and_back_medium.jpg VIA Eden X2 – Dual-Core Processing on a Fanless Power Budget Leveraging the latest 40nm manufacturing process, VIA Eden X2 processors combine two 64-bit, superscalar VIA Eden cores on one die, offering enhanced multi-tasking and superb multimedia performance on a rigidly low power budget. VIA Eden X2 processors are the most power-efficient processors on the market, designed to offer the ideal solution for fanless system design. VIA Eden X2 processors bring additional features that include VIA VT virtualization, a technology that allows legacy software and applications to be used in virtual scenarios without impacting on performance. The unique VIA AES Security Engine offers hardware-based data encryption on the fly, and essential tool in content protection and system security. VIA Eden X2 processors are natively 64-bit compatible, facilitating an essential transition for the future of the embedded industry as 64-bit operating systems such as Windows® Embedded Standard 7 allow for vastly improved data throughput per clock cycle. This makes it easier to manipulate large data sets and improves overall performance. VIA Eden X2 processors are also fully compatible with Windows CE and Linux operating systems. VIA Eden X2 processors are based on the latest 40nm manufacturing process using a VIA NanoBGA2 package of 21mm x 21mm with a die size of 11mm x 6mm. All VIA Eden X2 processors and are fully pin-to-pin compatible with VIA Eden, VIA C7 and VIA Nano E-Series processors. Product Highlights

  • Industry-leading power-efficient architecture
  • 7 year longevity guarantee
  • Advanced multi-core processing
  • Native support for 64-bit operating systems
  • High-performance superscalar processing
  • Out-of-order x86 architecture
  • Most efficient speculative floating point algorithm
  • Full processor virtualization support
  • Advanced power and thermal management
  • VIA AES hardware security features
  • Pin-to-pin compatibility with VIA processors range

VIA cProcessors are sampling now to project customers. Systems and boards featuring the VIA Eden X2 will be available in Q2 2011. For information about VIA Eden X2 processors, please visit: http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/processors/edenX2/


Basic RGB

VIA Announces VIA Nano X2 Dual-Core Processor [VIA Technologies press release, Jan 4, 2011]

Brings advanced multi-core performance to energy-efficient PCs without raising the heat Taipei, Taiwan, 4 January 2011 – VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today announced its latest VIA Nano X2 processor for mainstream PC markets. Based on a 40 nanometer fabrication process, the VIA Nano X2 delivers better computational performance and improved multi-tasking ability without consuming more power. “The VIA Nano X2 processor arrives at a time when software architectures are now optimized to for multi-thread computing,” commented Richard Brown, VP International Marketing, VIA Technologies, Inc. “Improvements in semi-conductor fabrication means we can now double the number of processor cores while maintaining the same low energy consumption levels that our customers are used to.” VIA Nano X2 processors are targeting a range of PC products that include desktop, all-in-one and mobile notebook designs while extending the reach of VIA’s processor portfolio into multitasking and performance-oriented segments. VIA Nano X2 processors offer end-users the most optimized, power-efficient computing experience on the market today. VIA Nano X2 Processor VIA Nano X2 processors are built using the advanced 64-bit, superscalar ‘Isaiah’ architecture that powers previous single-core VIA Nano processors, adopted worldwide for a growing number of market-leading mini-note, small form factor desktop, and energy-efficient server designs. Featuring two out-of-order x86 cores, VIA Nano X2 processors deliver up to double the performance on multi-thread optimized applications and also come with SSE4, native 64-bit support, VT CPU virtualization technology, and VIA PadLock™ hardware security features. VIA Nano X2 processors are also pin-to-pin compatible with previous VIA Nano, VIA C7, VIA C7-M and VIA Eden processors, facilitating easy upgrades of existing designs. Product Highlights

  • Advanced multi-core processing
  • Power-efficient out-of-order x86 architecture
  • Full support for 64-bit operating systems
  • High-performance superscalar processing
  • Most efficient speculative floating point algorithm
  • Full processor virtualization support
  • Advanced power and thermal management
  • VIA PadLock™ hardware security features
  • Pin-to-pin compatibility with other VIA processors

VIA Nano X2 processors are also compatible with all VIA media system processors and digital media chipsets including the latest VIA VX900 and VIA VN1000. VIA Nano X2 Availability VIA Nano X2 processors samples are currently available for OEMs and motherboard vendors, with systems featuring the processors expected to arrive in Q1 2011.

VIA Small Form Factor Solutions in Multi-Core [VIAMKT YouTube channel, Oct 19, 2011]

VIA Embedded discusses the role multi core processors will play in the future embedded market and how VIA is strongly positioned to fulfill the industries needs of tomorrow through our comprehensive platform solutions. Discussed are the Eden X2 platform providing the lowest power consumption with dual core in embedded, and VIA Quadcore & VIA Nano X2 platform providing competitive performance to the other solution in embedded.

VIA Nano™ X2 E-Series Dual Core Processors Debut at Embedded System Conference [VIA Technologies press release, April 29, 2011]

VIA Nano X2 E-Series processors deliver highly-optimized power-efficient dual core solution for advanced 64-bit x86 embedded system design applications Taipei, Taiwan, 29 April, 2011 – VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today announced that it will unveil its new family of low power dual core VIA Nano X2 Series processors at the Embedded System Conference, held at the McEnery Convention Center, San Jose from 2 – 5 May. The VIA booth is located at No 2032. VIA Nano X2 E-Series processors combine a highly optimized, power-efficient dual-core architecture with advanced performance for the most demanding 86-bit x86 embedded system design applications. Available in two models running at speeds of 1.2+ GHz and 1.6+ GHz, VIA Nano X2 E-Series Processors also come with a component longevity guarantee of 7 years. “The VIA Nano X2 E-Series demonstrates how VIA continues to lead the way in bringing highly optimized, power-efficient 64-bit x86 processors to the embedded market,” said Epan Wu, Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. “With their advanced performance, these processors provide developers with exciting new embedded system design options.” VIA Nano X2 E-Series Leveraging the latest 40nm manufacturing process, VIA Nano X2 E-Series processors combine two 64-bit, superscalar VIA Nano cores on one die, offering enhanced multi-tasking and superb multimedia performance on a low power budget. VIA Nano X2 E-Series processors bring additional features that include VIA VT virtualization, a technology that allows legacy software and applications to be used in virtual scenarios without impacting on performance. The unique VIA AES Security Engine offers hardware-based data encryption on the fly, an essential tool in content protection and system security. VIA Nano X2 E-Series processors are natively 64-bit compatible, facilitating an essential transition for the future of the embedded industry as 64-bit operating systems such as Windows® Embedded Standard 7 allow for vastly improved data throughput per clock cycle. This makes it easier to manipulate large data sets and improves overall performance. VIA Nano X2 E-Series processors are also fully compatible with Windows CE and Linux operating systems. VIA Nano X2 E-Series processors are based on the latest 40nm manufacturing process using a VIA NanoBGA2 package of 21mm x 21mm with a die size of 11mm x 6mm. They are also fully pin-to-pin compatible with VIA Eden, VIA C7 and VIA Nano E-Series, and VIA Eden X2 processors. Product Highlights

  • Industry-leading power-efficient architecture
  • 7 year longevity guarantee
  • Advanced multi-core processing
  • Native support for 64-bit operating systems
  • High-performance superscalar processing
  • Out-of-order x86 architecture
  • Most efficient speculative floating point algorithm
  • Full processor virtualization support
  • Advanced power and thermal management
  • VIA AES hardware security features
  • Pin-to-pin compatibility with VIA processors range

VIA Nano X2 E-Series Processors are sampling now to project customers. Systems and boards featuring VIA Nano X2 E-Series processors will be available in Q2 2011.

… The VIA EPIA-M900 and VIA EPIA-M910 are the first two Mini-ITX boards to feature the 1.2GHz VIA QuadCore E-Series processor, offering enhanced multi-tasking and superb multimedia performance on the lowest quad core power budget for next generation embedded products. The VIA QuadCore E-Series processor features a highly optimized, energy efficient multi-core architecture, which is natively 64-bit compatible and comes with a host of additional performance features including Adaptive Overclocking. To meet the low power demands of the embedded market, the VIA QuadCore E-Series processor offers industry-leading energy efficiency, with the VIA QuadCore E-Series 1.2+ GHz processor delivering a thermal design power (TDP) of only 27.5W. The distributed power of the VIA QuadCore E-Series processor makes it ideal for handling the most demanding HD video formats for immersive multi-display applications and environments. “The VIA QuadCore E-Series processor delivers world class performance in the industry’s leading power efficient package,” said Epan Wu, Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. “The high performance of the VIA QuadCore E-Series processor makes it the perfect platform for the creation of next generation digital signage displays and embedded projects.” … From: VIA Announces World’s First Quad Core Mini-ITX Boards [VIA Technologies press release, Feb 23, 2012] VIA_QuadCore_E-Series_Processor_Angle_medium.jpg

VIA Announces New VIA QuadCore Processor [VIA Technologies press release, May 12, 2011]

World’s lowest power quad core x86 processor sets the new baseline standard for the next generation of mainstream PCs and notebooks Taipei, Taiwan, 12 May, 2011 – VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today announced the launch of the VIA QuadCore processor, the lowest power quad core processor on the market today. Featuring a highly optimized, energy-efficient multi-core architecture, the VIA QuadCore processor delivers awesome multi-threaded performance across the board for multi-tasking, multimedia playback, productivity and internet browsing in a low power envelope. The distributed performance of the VIA QuadCore also makes it ideal for making the most of multi-display environments. With a TDP (Thermal Design Power) of only 27.5 watts, the 1.2+ GHz VIA QuadCore processor is 21% more energy efficient than the nearest competitor and ideal for a wide range of desktop PC, notebook, small form factor PC, all-in-one PC, and mini-server system design applications. “As a result of the rapid proliferation of high definition multimedia content and increasingly demanding multithreaded applications, a four core processor is the new baseline for today’s mainstream PC user,” said Epan Wu, Head of Processor Platforms, VIA Technologies, Inc. “The VIA QuadCore processor meets that need with the industry’s most power efficient architecture.” VIA QuadCore Processor VIA QuadCore processors combine four ‘Isaiah’ cores on two dies, offering enhanced multi-tasking and superb multimedia performance on a low power budget. Initially available at a speed of 1.2+GHz, VIA QuadCore processors are natively 64-bit compatible and come with a host of additional performance features including Adaptive Overclocking, 4MB L2 cache, and the 1333MHz V4 Bus. TDP is 27.5 watts. Other advanced features include VIA VT virtualization, a technology that allows legacy software and applications to be used in virtual scenarios without impacting on performance, and VIA PadLock with the Advanced Cryptography Engine which delivers the world’s fastest AES encryption. This hardware-based security feature offers data encryption on the fly, an essential tool in content protection and system security. VIA QuadCore processors are manufactured using the latest 40nm process, and feature a VIA NanoBGA2 package of 21mm x 21mm with a die size of 11mm x 6mm. They are also fully pin-to-pin compatible with VIA Eden, VIA C7 and VIA Nano E-Series, and VIA Eden X2 processors. Product Highlights

  • Power-efficient architecture
  • High-performance superscalar processing
  • Out-of-order x86 architecture
  • Efficient floating point unit (2 clock SP multiplies)
  • Advanced multi-core processing
  • Native support for 64-bit operating systems
  • Hardware virtualization support
  • Advanced power and thermal management
  • AES hardware security features
  • Secure Hash Algorithm: SHA-1, SHA-256, SHA-384, SHA-512
  • Pin-to-pin compatibility with VIA processor range

VIA QuadCore processors will be on display at the VIA booth at Computex (Taipei International Convention Center, Room 201D) from May 31st to June 4th, and will begin volume shipments in Q3 2011. To go to the product page for the VIA QuadCore processor, please click here.


Next look at

the preceding technology level with the Isaiah core and the companion MSPs

when they were first born “At the same power we moved the performance up with this architecture … tried to double the performance at the same power”: Glenn Henry Introduces the VIA Isaiah Architecture [VIAMKT YouTube channel, Jan 8, 2008]

Glenn Henry, president of VIA subsidiary Centaur Technology Inc. discusses the brand new VIA Isaiah Architecture for the next generation of x86 processors with the best performance per watt for the mobile internet.

and some more details are in the VIA’s New Isaiah / CN Processor [frgmstr YouTube channel, Jan 23, 2008] video:

Glenn Henry, president of Centaur technology talks about the performance of the new CN processor and compares it to Intel’s Silverthorn [Atom Z5xx with 45 nm technology released in April 2008].

See also: – the description of the he first silicon version of the new VIA Isaiah Architecture: The VIA Isaiah Architecture [Centaur Technology, Inc., January 2008] – VIA Unveils Next-Generation Isaiah x86 Processor Architecture [VIA Technologies press release, Jan 24, 2008 ]

New architecture provides substantial increases in performance and functionality with leading power efficiency to enable next generation “Small is Beautiful” computing devices Austin, Texas, US, 24 January 2008 – VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of x86 silicon and platform technologies, today announced details of the VIA Isaiah Architecture, a new x86 processor architecture that will deliver significant boosts to the functionality and performance of desktop, mobile and ultra mobile PCs while minimizing power requirements, saving on battery life and enabling ultra compact system designs. Designed from the ground up by the company’s US-based processor design subsidiary, Centaur Technology Inc., the VIA Isaiah Architecture combines all the latest advances in x86 processor technology, including a 64-bit superscalar speculative out-of-order microarchitecture, high-performance multimedia computation, and a new virtual machine architecture. The first generation of Isaiah-based products will be pin-compatible with the VIA C7 processor family, enabling a smooth transition for system builders and providing them with an easy upgrade path for current designs. The first processors implementing the VIA Isaiah Architecture will use proven 65 nanometer technology for greater power efficiency, which, combined with new enhanced power and thermal management capabilities, will ensure the best performance per watt on the market and help drive the rapidly emerging categories of green, silent and small form factor desktop PCs and home media centers, and ultra thin and light notebooks and mini-notes. “Today is an exciting day for everyone at Centaur,” commented Glenn Henry, President, Centaur Technology Inc. “With a team of less than one hundred first-class engineers, we have created from scratch the world’s most power-efficient x86 processor architecture with state of the art features, outstanding performance, and flexible scalability for the future.” “The introduction of the new VIA Isaiah Architecture is an extremely significant milestone in VIA’s processor business,” commented Wenchi Chen, President and CEO, VIA Technologies, Inc. “In achieving these new levels of functionality and performance, it provides the ideal complement to our industry-leading family of low power VIA C7 processors and will enable us to further extend our growing presence in the global x86 processor market.” Optimized for a World of “Small is Beautiful” Devices With its unique blend of high performance and low power consumption, the VIA Isaiah Architecture has been specifically optimized to meet the rapidly growing demand for smaller, more functional, and more stylish mobile and desktop computing and personal electronics devices that will allow people to fully enjoy the rich media content and interactivity of the broadband Internet lifestyle. These devices range from easily portable slim and light notebooks and pocket-sized Ultra Mobile PCs and Ultra Mobile Devices with rich multimedia and wireless broadband capabilities to Small Form Factor Green PCs and Digital Entertainment Centers that combine space saving designs with minimal energy consumption. VIA Isaiah Architecture Highlights The VIA Isaiah Architecture has been specifically designed to deliver all the performance and features necessary for running the most demanding computing, entertainment, and connectivity applications on today’s and tomorrow’s Internet, including high-definition video, 3D games, imaging, and virtual worlds, within a very low power and thermal envelope that makes it ideal for small form factor mobile devices such as Mini-Notebooks and Ultra Mobile Devices. Its key highlights include the following: – 64-bit Superscalar Speculative Out-Of-Order MicroArchitecture The VIA Isaiah Architecture comprises a host of advanced architectural features, including a superscalar and out of order architecture, macro-fusion and micro-fusion functionality, and sophisticated branch prediction, that significantly improve processor efficiency and performance. In addition, it also features a full and unrestricted 64-bit instruction set with plenty of headroom to support 64-bit operating systems and applications as they become available, and a new virtual machine architecture for running systems more securely and efficiently in virtual environments. – High-Performance Computation and Media Processing As well as support for clock speeds of up to 2GHz in initial products and a high-speed, low power Front Side Bus scalable from 800MHz up to 1333MHz, the VIA Isaiah Architecture also has a highly-efficient cache subsystem with two 64KB L1 caches and 1MB exclusive L2 cache with 16-way associativity for more effective memory optimization. For further enhanced multimedia performance, the VIA Isaiah Architecture also integrates the world’s fastest x86 processor Floating Point Unit (FPU) with the ability to execute four floating point adds and four multiplies per clock and also featuring a new algorithm that minimizes latency. Support for new SSE instructions and a 128-bit wide integer data path further boost multimedia performance. – Advanced Power and Thermal Management To minimize energy consumption and reduce heat, the VIA Isaiah Architecture utilizes new low power circuit techniques and in addition to aggressive management of active power includes support for the new “C6” power state, in which power is turned off to the caches. Extensive Adaptive PowerSaver™ Technology features further reduce power consumption and improve thermal management, including the unique TwinTurbo™ dual-PLL implementation, which acts like automatic transmission in permitting smooth transitions between activity states within one clock cycle, ensuring always-on service and minimize latency, as well as new mechanisms for managing the die temperature. – Scalable Upgrade to VIA C7™ Processor The VIA Isaiah Architecture is pin-to-pin compatible with the current VIA C7 processor family, enabling OEMs and motherboard makers to transition to the new architecture smoothly, and to fulfill a wider range of market segments with a single board or system design. – VIA PadLock™ Hardware Security Features– To enhance the confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of electronic data, the VIA Isaiah Architecture incorporates industry-leading on-die hardware cryptographic acceleration features within the VIA PadLock Security Engine, including the world’s best random number generator (RNG), an AES Encryption Engine, SHA-1 and SHA-256 hashing for secure message digests for data integrity, and a new specialized “secure execution mode” that includes features such as a secure on-chip memory area and encrypted instruction fetching. VIA Isaiah Architecture Product Availability Processors implementing the VIA Isaiah Architecture are expected to start shipping in the first half of 2008 and will be manufactured using an advanced, low power 65 nanometer process.

VIA_Isaiah_Architecture_die_plot_original_ VIA Isaiah Architecture die plot

VIA Launches VIA Nano Processor Family [VIA Technologies press release, May 29, 2008]

Power efficient processors based on ‘Isaiah’ architecture designed for optimized performance for mainstream PC markets and new device types Beijing, China, 29th May 2008 – VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today announced the new VIA Nano processor family based on the VIA Isaiah Architecture. Building on the market-leading energy efficiency of the VIA C7 processor family, the VIA Nano processor family offers as much as four times the performance within the same power range to extend VIA’s performance per watt leadership, while pin compatibility with VIA C7 processors will ensure a smooth transition for OEMs and motherboard vendors, and provides them with an easy upgrade path for current system or board designs. The first 64-bit, superscalar, speculative out-of-order processors in VIA’s x86 platform portfolio, VIA Nano processors have been specifically designed to revitalize traditional desktop and notebook PC markets, delivering truly optimized performance for the most demanding computing, entertainment and connectivity applications, including Blu-ray Disc™ HD video playback and the latest PC games, such as Crysis™. The VIA Nano processor family leverages Fujitsu’s advanced 65 nanometer process technology for enhanced power efficiency, and augments that with aggressive power and thermal management features within the compact 21mm x 21mm nanoBGA2 package for an idle power as low as 100mW (0.1W), extending the reach of power efficient green and silent PCs, thin and light notebooks and mini-notes around the world. “VIA Nano processors represent the next generation of x86 technology, providing the fundamental building blocks for a new genre of optimized computing solutions,” said Wenchi Chen, President and CEO, VIA Technologies, Inc. “‘Small is Beautiful’ is more than a design strategy; it’s our vision of where the PC market is heading and our new processors will help the market realize that dream.” VIA’s ‘nano’ association also extends to VIA’s signature silicon and platform design characteristics of power efficiency and form factor size reduction, as demonstrated by VIA’s ultra compact Nano-ITX boards and the nanoBGA2 processor packaging used for the current VIA C7 processor family and the first generation of VIA Nano processors. About the VIA Nano Processor Family Initially to be launched in two skus, the VIA Nano L-series processors for mainstream desktop and mobile PC systems and the ultra low voltage U-series for small form factor desktop and ultra mobile devices such as mini-notes:

Product & Model Name Clock Speed VIA V4 Bus Maximum Power (TDP Max)
VIA Nano L2100 processor 1.8GHz 800MHz 25W
VIA Nano L2200 processor 1.6GHz 800MHz 17W
VIA Nano U2400 processor 1.3+GHz 800MHz 8W
VIA Nano U2500 processor 1.2GHz 800MHz 6.8W
VIA Nano U2300 processor 1.0GHz 800MHz 5W

The VIA Nano processor family boasts the highly efficient VIA V4 bus interface and brings a host of technology firsts to VIA’s processor platform line-up, including:

  • 64-bit Superscalar Speculative Out-Of-Order MicroArchitecture: Supports a full 64-bit instruction set and provides for macro-fusion and micro-fusion functionality, and sophisticated branch prediction for greater processor efficiency and performance.
  • High-Performance Computation and Media Processing: The high-speed, low power VIA V4 Front Side Bus starting at 800MHz, plus a high floating point unit, support for new SSE instructions, and two 64KB L1 caches and 1MB exclusive L2 cache with 16-way associativity gives a big boost to multimedia performance.
  • Advanced Power and Thermal Management: Aggressive management of active power includes support for the new “C6” power state, Adaptive PowerSaver™ Technology, new circuit techniques and mechanisms for managing the die temperature, reducing power draw and improving thermal management.
  • Scalable Upgrade to VIA C7™ Processor: Pin-to-pin compatibility with current VIA C7 processors enables a smooth transition for OEMs and mainboard vendors, enabling them to offer a wider range of products for different markets with a single board or system design.
  • Greener Technology: In addition to full compliance with RoHS and WEEE regulations, product manufacturing will be halogen-free and lead-free at launch, helping to promote a cleaner environment and more sustainable computing.
  • Enhanced VIA PadLock™ Security Engine: Industry-leading on-die hardware cryptographic acceleration and security features, including dual quantum random number generators, an AES Encryption Engine, NX-bit, and SHA-1 and SHA-256 hashing.For more detailed information about the VIA Nano processor family, please read the introductory white paper here:http://www.via.com.tw/en/downloads/whitepapers/processors/WP080529VIA_Nano.pdfVIA Nano Processor AvailabilityVIA Nano processors are available now for OEMs and motherboard vendors, while systems featuring VIA Nano processors are expected to market in Q3 2008.For further information on the VIA Nano processor family, please visit the VIA website at: http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/processors/nano/

The VIA Isaiah Architecture [VIA Technologies, May 29, 2008]

… Initial production versions of the 1.0 GHz VIA Nano ULV processor will have a maximum Thermal Design Power (TDP) of just 5 watts (and an idle power of just 100mW), scaling up to 25 watts for the 1.8 GHz VIA Nano processor (500mW idle power). …

VIA Introduces New VIA Nano 3000 Series Processors [VIA Technologies press release, Nov 3, 2009]

VIA’s fastest and most power efficient processors yet deliver richest mobile and all-in-one desktop computing experience Taipei, Taiwan, 3 November 2009 – VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today introduced its new VIA Nano 3000 Series processors, bringing enhanced digital media performance and lower power consumption to Windows 7 thin and light notebook and all-in-one desktop PC markets. Based on the 64-bit superscalar ‘Isaiah’ architecture, VIA Nano 3000 Series processors deliver the most compelling thin and light notebook computing experience with their rich HD entertainment capabilities, including support for flawless playback of high bit-rate 1080p HD video, as well as low power consumption resulting in longer battery life. With a host of advanced features including 64-bit support, advanced CPU virtualization technology, SSE4 for enhanced multimedia processing, and the industry-leading encryption and security capabilities integrated in the VIA PadLock™ Security Engine, VIA Nano 3000 Series processors also provide a secure, high-performance solution for emerging cloud-based computing environments. “With the VIA Nano 3000 Series, we are launching our fastest and most power-efficient processors yet,” commented Richard Brown, VP International Marketing, VIA Technologies, Inc. “Coupled with our market-leading digital media chipsets, they enable the richest experience across a broad range of mobile and all-in-one system designs.” VIA Nano 3000 Series VIA Nano 3000 Series processors are built on the successful 64-bit, superscalar architecture that powers the VIA Nano 1000 Series and 2000 Series processors, which have been adopted by leading OEMs worldwide for a growing number of market-leading mini-note, small form factor desktop, and energy-efficient server designs. Available at speeds from 1.0GHz to 2.0GHz, VIA Nano 3000 Series processors deliver up to 20% higher performance using up to 20% less power than current VIA Nano processors and boast a number of new features including support for the SSE4 multimedia instruction set and VIA VT virtualization technology. Fully compatible with all Microsoft operating systems, including the new Windows 7, as well as all popular Linux distributions, the VIA Nano 3000 Series processors use the NanoBGA2 package, making them pin-to-pin compatible with VIA Nano 1000 Series, VIA Nano 2000 Series, VIA C7, VIA C7-M and VIA Eden processors for easy upgrades of existing designs. VIA Nano 3000 Series Availability VIA Nano 3000 Series processor samples are currently available for OEMs and motherboard vendors, and will enter mass production in Q1 2010. VIA Nano 3000 processors will be available in the following product skus:

Product Name Speed VIA V4 FSB Idle Power
L3100 2.0GHz 800MHz 500mW
L3050 1.8GHz 800MHz 500mW
U3200 1.4GHz 800MHz 100mW
U3100 1.3+GHz 800MHz 100mW
U3300 1.2GHz 800MHz 100mW
U3500 1.0GHz 800MHz 100mW

For further information on the VIA Nano processor family, please visit the VIA website at: http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/processors/nano/

VN1000_blkdiagramVIA VN1000/VT8261 Chipset Block Diagram

VIA Brings Enhanced Windows 7 Desktop to Life with World’s Most Power Efficient DX10.1 Chipset [VIA Technologies press release, Dec 10, 2009]

VIA VN1000 boasts Blu-ray playback, DX10.1 graphics and DDR3 memory support and coupled with VIA Nano 3000 Series processors offers the ultimate multimedia experience on next generation all-in-one PCs Taipei, Taiwan, 10 December 2009 – VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today announced the VIA VN1000 digital media chipset for next generation desktop and all-in-one PCs, offering a world-class HD multimedia entertainment platform compatible with the advanced desktop features of Microsoft Windows 7. The VIA VN1000 is the most power efficient DX10.1 digital media chipset available today, making it the perfect solution for next generation small form factor and all-in-one Windows 7 PCs that focus on entertainment, multimedia and touch screen capabilities. The DirectX 10.1 hardware environment provided by the VIA Chrome 520 IGP means Windows 7 users can enjoy a more fluid and visually enhanced desktop experience as well as the latest gaming titles. The VIA VN1000 digital media chipset features the ChromotionHD 2.0 video processor to guarantee smooth playback of the latest Blu-ray titles with superb hardware acceleration of the most demanding H.264, WM9 and VC1 codecs over the latest display technologies, including Display Port and HDMI. “The VIA VN1000 leverages our optimized VIA Nano 3000 Series processors, creating the most balanced, power-efficient, multimedia-focused desktop platform on the market today,” said Richard Brown, VP International Marketing, VIA Technologies, Inc. “Supporting the latest system memory, graphics and entertainment standards, the VIA VN1000 takes the VIA processor platform to new heights of power-efficient visual sophistication.” At the core of the VIA VN1000 lies a DirectX 10.1 graphics engine, a necessary requirement for users who want to enjoy the enhanced features of the Windows 7 desktop environment. The DirectX 10.1 engine means that Windows 7 can employ Microsoft’s advanced Windows Desktop Driver Model 1.1, bringing significant gains in system memory efficiency, overall desktop responsiveness and an improved visual experience compared to WDDM 1.0. VIA VN1000 Product Highlights Paired with the new VIA VT8261 south bridge, the VIA VN1000 represents the most power-efficient DX10.1 compliant digital media chipset on the market, consuming up to 12 watts for both north and south bridges, making it a perfect choice for Windows 7 based mini desktop and all-in-one desktop PCs designs. Offering a feature-rich specification with significant emphasis on graphics and HD video playback, the VIA VN1000 features the VIA Chrome 520 IGP, combining a DirectX 10.1 graphics engine, with support for Shader Model 4, OpenGL 3.0 graphics and OpenCL 1.0 for next-generation GPGPU applications. The high-performance ChromotionHD 2.0 video processor offers advanced filtering and cutting edge post-processing to perform ultra smooth decoding of MPEG-4/AVC, H.264, MPEG-2, VC-1, WMV-HD, and AVS video for Blu-ray content. The home theatre experience also encompasses support for the latest connectivity standards, including dual channel support for Display Port, HDMI, DVP, VGA and LVDS/TMDS. The VIA VN1000 supports DDR3 system memory at speeds of up to 1066MHz, one x8 lane and four x1 lane PCI Express II expansion slots, up to five PCI slots and a VIA Vinyl HD 8 channel audio codec. An IDE controller, support for up to four S-ATA II drives, SD/MMS/MMC card reader support and 12 USB 2.0 ports are supplemented with support for PS/2, SPI, GPIO and LPC technologies. The VIA VN1000 Digital Media IGP Chipset is fully compatible with all VIA Nano, VIA C7, VIA C7-M and VIA Eden processors and supports all Microsoft Windows platforms and popular Linux distributions. For more details regarding the VIA VN1000 digital media chipset, please visit: http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/chipsets/v-series/vn1000/index.jsp To learn more about the new VIA VT8261 south bridge, please visit: http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/chipsets/southbridge/vt8261/index.jsp

http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/processors/nano/ VIA Nano™ Processor [VIA Technologies, Nov 3, 2009]

… Here are some benchmarks comparing VIA Nano, VIA Nano 3000 and Intel Atom. Atom N270 1.6 GHz

VIA Nano DC Platform [VIA product page, Nov 2, 2010] DC = Dual Core, when it came out in January 2011 was renamed into Nano X2

Brings Blu-ray playback, DirectX 10.1 graphics and DDR3 memory support to next-generation small form factor and all-in-one desktop PCs The VIA Nano DC platform is a forthcoming processor platform from VIA – combining the latest dual core VIA Nano DC processor and the VN1000 digital media chipset to create a feature-rich, low power, high performance processor platform highly suited for today’s small form factor, all-in-one, and traditional desktop PCs. The VIA Nano DC Platform is the first truly low power processor platform that offers excellent multitasking performance, great HD media support and a casual 3D gaming experience way beyond that of competing solutions.

VIA Nano DC Processor Twice the cores, twice the performance, same energy efficiency… The VIA Nano DC processor is the first dual-core processor from VIA and will take advantage of the very latest 40nm fabrication technology to deliver up to twice the performance of VIA Nano 3000 series processors within the same rigid thermal envelope. The VIA Nano DC offers improved application multitasking by doubling the core count, bring a 100% increase in many of today’s applications that are that are now multi-thread optimized. Product Highlights

  • Advanced multi-core processing
  • Power-efficient out-of-order x86 architecture
  • Full support for 64-bit operating systems
  • High-performance superscalar processing
  • Most efficient speculative floating point algorithm
  • Full processor virtualization support
  • Advanced power and thermal management
  • Leading-edge VIA PadLock™ hardware security features
  • Pin-to-pin compatibility provides natural upgrade path from other VIA processors

VIA VN1000 Digital Media Chipset The IGP that casual 3D gamers have been waiting for... As well as delivering a rich suite of network connectivity, storage, HD audio and peripheral support that you would expect from any VIA digital media chipset, the VN1000 offers one crucial element that has eluded mainstream desktop PC users since the inception of the PC itself – true 3D gaming performance. The Chrome 520 Graphics Core The VIA Chrome 520 integrated graphics processor (IGP) is an industry leading, fully programmable DirectX 10.1 graphics engine that makes light of competing IGP solutions, offering playable frame rates for both new and classic 3D games. The VIA Chrome 520 has 32 stream processors and 4 sampling units, supports Shader Model 4, OpenGL 3.0 and OpenCL 1.0 for next-generation GPU applications. The VIA VN1000 has a 128-bit 2D graphics enginewith GDI/GDI+ acceleration, hardware 2D rotation, true color hardware cursor with 256-level blending. Here are some benchmarks that demonstrate the 3D gaming superiority of the VIA Nano DC platform. With full support for Windows Desktop Driver Model 1.1 in Windows 7, the VIA VN1000 offers a visually superior experience compared to competing IGP platforms. ChromotionHD 2.0 – Effortless HD Video The VIA VN1000 chipset also offers an excellent media playback experience with the ChromotionHD 2.0 video engine, which offers hardware accelerated video playback of the latest video codecs including full Blu-ray support at true HD screen resolutions and HDTV resolution playback of MPEG-2, WMV-HD, VC-1 and H.264 content.

The VIA Nano DC platform will be featured in a variety of desktop systems from Q1 2011. More images related to the VIA Nano DC Platform can be found here. Media Previews Read what the leading PC hardware websites are saying about the VIA Nano DC processor platform: http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/chrome-520-nano-dc-vn1000,review-32034.html

Preview: VIA VN1000 And Nano DC Platform: An IGP With Game? [Tom’s Hardware, Oct 29, 2010]

… With a pre-production CPU clocked at 1.80 GHz, the Nano DC (dual-core) platform that arrived in our lab is more a testament to the company’s ingenuity than a representation of production-ready hardware. Yet, VIA is confident in the CPU’s performance as it waits on its manufacturer to supply a die-shrunk version. Moreover, it wanted us to see what it’s doing with IGP graphics. Today’s article isn’t just proof-of-concept for a CPU, but an entire platform with a DX10.1 integrated GPU expected to lay waste to low-energy competitors. … VIA’s chipset might be ready for production, but its new CPU still needs some manufacturing tweaks. Rather than make us wait for the 40 nm part that’ll be included when this platform ships, the company previewed us with a functional 65 nm version of the CPU to show off its finished VN1000 northbridge. … Conclusion We have to admit that we were a little curious about VIA’s re-asserted interest in entry-level gaming from an IGP. After all, it had been a while since we’d tested anything from S3. But our skepticism proved justified when we threw a few of the games in our benchmark suite at it. As the IGP stands right now, many modern games won’t hit playable frame rates, even dialed down to the lowest possible quality/detail settings. Could the Chrome IGP be a viable solution in the most entry-level games? Perhaps. There remains driver work to be done before any sort of 3D is ready for prime time, though. The greater problem (and this is something even Intel will face with its upcoming Sandy Bridge design) is that games evolve at a rate that IGP technology simply can’t match, so that even this latest attempt comes up short. Putting this in historical perspective, the Chrome 520 IGP is probably more powerful than a TNT2, so entry-level gaming could simply be a matter of using older games. Of course, gaming is not what low-energy platforms are designed to do, and the Nano DC does low-energy tasks like media playback and light-duty office work very well. It even outpaces Intel’s Atom clock-for-clock, even when the Atom is complemented by Nvidia’s Next-Generation ION platform. Thus, what we have in the Nano DC is a high-performance, low-power platform that, like all low-power platforms, can’t really compete with mainstream desktop parts, as much as VIA would probably like it to. Nevertheless, it’s much more likely that the even-more-miserly production version of this platform will make a strong showing in media-oriented PCs and netbooks in the coming months. Perhaps the real question for VIA is: when, exactly, might this platform be ready for prime time? The company announced its VN1000 chipset nearly one year ago. It’s still waiting for a process shrink. And then it needs to announce design wins. This would have been a killer little platform back when it was announced (before ION 2 and before Core i3). A year later, we’re still impressed with that the solution can do. Now we just need to button it up, polish the software, and make this platform available.


Finally check

VIA Technologies’ latest embedded product direction which will define its future in the upcoming IoT (Internet of Things) “explosion” of the market:

First a market analyst opinion about the future of VIA Technologies legacy standard for the boards: An xITX Standards Question Answered [VDC Research: Embedded Microprocessor, Board & Systems Market Blog, Aug 13, 2010]

An important question with any standard computer architecture is what comes next? Any standard or family of standards that hopes to remain relevant must continually reinvent itself through new iterations. This can happen in various forms – reducing the board size, adding higher speed interconnects/switch fabrics, reducing power, etc. At the same time some standard families offer multiple paths forward in the form of multiple new standards and not all of these are always well adopted. In these instances where there are multiple iterations there are always question marks about whether all of them will gain enough market traction to be relevant and which ones will be the successful ones.

In the case of Mini-ITX, the extremely successful embedded motherboard form factor first created by VIA Technologies, VIA has done a very good job of providing a future road map for the standard and keeping it relevant by turning out a family of xITX standards. Since Mini-ITX VIA has added Nano-ITX, Pico-ITX, and Mobile-ITX – all smaller versions of Mini-ITX to address the constant need for ever smaller form factors in embedded applications.

However, a big question mark around these smaller xITX form factors was which would become the most successful? Our latest research on the embedded motherboards market seems to provide some insight.

Our numbers indicate that Pico-ITX is gaining the most traction throughout the market and will likely become the next most successful member of the xITX family after Mini-ITX. By 2012 total market dollar volume shipments of Pico-ITX are projected to be nearly double those of the slightly older Nano-ITX standard.

It appears that both Pico-ITX and Nano-ITX will have a place in the embedded motherboards market and both are important in offering customers a range of choices through the xITX family of form factors, but Pico-ITX is becoming more widely adopted in both suppliers’ product portfolios and by customers.

The competitiveness of VIA Technologies” own industry standard Pico-ITX form factor against that of 3d party ones (COM Express, QSeven and ETX) was well proven when just recently came the news that VIA Announces First Embedded ARM Based Pico-ITX Board, VIA VAB-800 [VIA Technologies press release, July 24, 2012]

Ultra low power ruggedized design ideal for a broad range of industrial and in-vehicle applications

VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient computing platforms, today announced the VIA VAB-800 Pico-ITX embedded ARM board. Featuring a choice of an 800MHz or a 1GHz Freescale ARM Cortex-A8 processor, the VIA VAB-800 combines a wide operating temperature range with extremely low power consumption to meet the demands of high-end industrial and in-vehicle fanless embedded applications.
Based on the industry standard 10 cm x 7.2 cm Pico-ITX form factor created by VIA, the VIA VAB-800 Pico-ITX board combines a rich I/O set with superb multimedia performance, supporting playback of the most demanding video formats in resolutions up to 1080p. Leveraging VIA’s hardware design expertise, the VIA VAB-800 delivers the highest I/O integration on the Pico-ITX form factor for an ultra compact yet highly flexible platform for the latest embedded devices.
The extremely ruggedized VIA VAB-800 Pico-ITX supports a wide operating temperature range from -20 to 70 degrees Celsius in an ultra low TDP envelope of only 5W and is backed with a minimum seven years longevity support.
Customers can take advantage of VIA’s worldwide embedded software development expertise to quickly create customized designs for a fast time to market approach and is available as a hardware starter kit with board support packages (BSPs) for the Android, Ubuntu and Windows Embedded Compact 7 operating systems.
“The VIA VAB-800 extends our industry leading range of Pico-ITX embedded platforms,” said Epan Wu, Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. “As a leader in hardware and software support, VIA can tailor our new ARM based offerings for customers to create systems through starter kits, customization support or offering complete systems for different applications.”

VIA VAB-800 Pico-ITX Based on the ultra compact Pico-ITX form factor, measuring 10 cm x 7.2 cm, the VIA VAB-800 combines the choice of an 800MHz or a 1GHz Freescale ARM Cortex-A8 processor with two independent, fully integrated GPUs for a power efficient platform with a max TDP of a mere 5W. The two integrated GPUs provide support for dual independent displays along with 3D/2D graphics acceleration to deliver full HD playback support for the most demanding video formats in resolutions up to 1080p.

Rear I/O includes one Mini HDMI and one VGA display port, two USB ports and one 10/100 Ethernet port. On-board features include up to 64GB eMMC Flash memory, 1GB DDR3 SDRAM, support for one SATA port, two single channel LVDS display ports, two COM ports, CAN Bus, front pin headers for line-in/out and MIC-in, a further two USB 2.0 ports, an SDIO pin header and eight GPIOs.
For more information about the VIA VAB-800 Pico-ITX, please visit: http://www.viaembedded.com/en/products/boards/1930/1/VAB-800.html
For images related to this release, please visit: http://www.viagallery.com/Products/via-vab-800-pico-itx-board.aspx
Availability
Sample units of the VIA VAB-800 Pico-ITX board are available at the time of this release.

Embedded Computers / Compact: choosing an ARM or x86 processor in a SOC [SiliconNews (Spain), Oct 23, 2012] a raw translation by Google:

Cliff Moon, Senior Director of Product Marketing, VIA Technologies, reflects on the choices and challenges facing embedded systems designers. Embedded system designers are often caught by the CPU design choices they made ​​years ago, since switching costs can be astronomical. The development often involves hardware interface chips plate designs and specific processors. It is possible that the software switching costs are even higher still, since acquiring needed CPU architectures and development tools require custom software. However, some industry trends have opened CPU platforms , and system designers are increasingly able to mix and match CPU providers, or even modify the instruction set of the CPU, to optimize the products in a wider range of applications. As usual, the semiconductor integration technology trends drives, as more functions are included in fewer chips system. While many high-volume markets may end up by having a system on a chip (SOC), most embedded designs have unique requirements to which it responds best, an integrated processor connected to general purpose hardware components specific system design.To enjoy more flexibility in these low volume products, many system designers have turned to computer technology in a Module (COM) that allows a design with a single carrier plate to serve a variety products and facilitate rapid adoption of new technologies by CPU daughter cards based on standards. The trend towards higher levels of integration has advanced peripherals standardized regarding technology high-speed interconnect, allowing COM latest standards including multichannel PCI Express, SATA, Gigabit Ethernet, USB, HDMI and DisplayPort. COM interfaces have broad support from the industry and share technical characteristics for interconnection of packet-based high level, with a hardware abstraction layer above the layer bus architecture physical and link the past. Whether the data is processed with ARM or x86, as COM interfaces are connected to a standard data transferand are compatible with a variety of types of CPU. Most COM standards still include support for E / S for general use and allow some type PC functionality. Future trends point to greater uniformity If these trends continue in the sector in terms of semiconductor integration and abstraction of hardware / software, Where will we end up? Obviously integration possibilities end when the content of silicon is in a single chip.However, history has shown that every market integration peripherals and interfaces need slightly different. Only the highest-volume markets will have their own SOC, leaving most of the designs as currently integrated with a general purpose CPU and application specific hardware. While there may be some attempt by the industry to create a common package and pinout for suppliers of silicon integrated CPU, COM approach offers technical advantages and should have a greater adoption. Even if the silicon content of COM device is reduced to a single chip, the same semiconductor chip can be used for several different COM pinouts (similar to the multiple types of connectors on COM Express). In embedded applications reduced production, it is likely that greater flexibility to reuse designs providing a replaceable module remains the main factor that overcomes most of the advantages provided by a CPU soldered to the motherboard. Since the CPU will continue to be easily replaceable, the costs of change should continue to decline as standard interfaces have greater adoption and continue software abstraction. To avoid uniformity, CPU manufacturers will face increased pressure to develop new essential functions, while trying to beat the competitors in performance and power consumption. For designers of embedded systems, the prospects are excellent, as competition in the CPU sector will drive growth and provide opportunities to create entirely new types of products.

More on that: Computer-on-Modules: new standards allow more CPU options By J. Scott Gardner, Advantage Engineering LLC [Boards & Solutions Magazine, November 2011]

With the broad adoption of new standards, such as COM Express Rev. 2.0, embedded system designers have now been decoupled from the CPU-specific legacy interfaces.
… look no further than Kontron’s announcement of broad support for ARM processors. As the market leader in COM Express, Kontron has primarily supported CPUs from its strategic partner Intel. However, the industry trends have opened an opportunity for this company to supply COM boards incorporating ARM-based CPUs from Texas Instruments. The company has also announced broader support for COM Express boards with AMD CPUs. It will compete with dozens of other COM board suppliers offering standards-based support for CPUs from all three x86 CPU vendors. Many of these COM board suppliers already deliver ARM-based products using the Qseven COM standard to take advantage of a legacy-free architecture for mobile applications. While Intel still covers the widest range of features and performance, the growth of these COM standards allows system designers to tailor each product to incorporate the CPU module that delivers the best optimization of performance, power and cost. Intel will need to accelerate innovation to keep up with these new competitive threats.

With standards-based modules and competitive pressure from AMD, VIA and ARM, Intel has less ability to restrict features to higher-priced CPUs. In the past, an Intel-based embedded systems company would need to move up to a higher-priced Intel CPU (and chipset) to access features like faster memory, 64-bit processing, virtualization, advanced power management, hardware encryption, etc. Most of these features are designed into the CPU and then turned off to allow price separation. As long as most embedded systems companies remain based on Intel, the pricing strategy affects everyone equally. However, the industry trends are opening up every COM Express and Qseven socket to competition, and other CPU vendors may offer high-end features without charging the same premium as Intel. While VIA Technologies has supplied x86 CPUs to embedded markets for over a decade, its Nano architecture should be well-positioned to take advantage of the industry trends that reduce CPU switching costs and allow VIA to compete for COM Express and Qseven sockets. For VIA, the technical advantage stems from the ability to deliver high-performance features that are only available in high-end Intel CPUs.

As an example, Intel uses the Atom architecture to address price-sensitive embedded markets, while reserving Intel Core and Xeon processor families for higher-priced applications. However, the available Atom CPUs are currently limited to only 800 MHz memory, so VIA Nano-based systems have 33% more memory bandwidth using 1066 MHz memory. The Atom comparison is further strained by the difference in the microarchitecture, since Atom dual-issue, in-order architecture puts it at a disadvantage against VIA Nano 3-issue, out of-order design. While Intel has kept VIA Nano at bay by using dual-core and hyper-threading, the newest VIA CPUs offer both dual- and quad-core versions. VIA has published a white paper with SPEC CPU2000 results that show up to a 40% performance difference at the same thermal design power of 13 watts(http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/processors/nanoX2/whitepaper.jsp). To find an Intel based COM Express module that gets better performance than modules based on VIA Nano X2 or VIA QuadCore processors, a system designer would need to move up to Intel Core. However, the power consumption increases dramatically over Atom, unless the number of cores, clock rate and memory speed are constrained – reducing the performance advantage over the VIA-based module.
Hardware encryption has become one of the high-end features that Intel reserves for its premium CPUs. Intel supports encryptionthrough AES NI (new instructions), but the Intel embedded product list appears to only offer this feature for Core i5 and higher. From its earliest CPUs, VIA has promoted hardware encryption as a must-have feature and even had its Padlock implementation validated by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Hopefully, Intel support for hardware encryption will encourage more system designers to improve security features, since software-based techniques have been less secure and consumed too much power. Competitive pressure from VIA may help make hardware encryption a standard feature that Intel enables for all of its CPUs.

VIA System-on-Modules [VIA microsite, June 8, 2012] (SOM which actually is another name for the Computer-on-module concept)

Many products in the VIA Embedded portfolio employ a modular design strategy that allows our customers the freedom to easily customize and modify existing designs creating new and exciting devices in much faster design cycles, using fewer resources.

Features:

  • COTS designs that can be tailored to specific requirements and applications
  • Full breadth of CPU performance range including multi-core readiness
  • Availability of starter kits, embedded APIs, tools, technical documentation and SDKs
  • Optimized to address SWaP-C (Space, Weight, Power, and Cost) requirements
  • Comprehensive supports of RTOS and GPOS

To understand COM Express go to Computer-on-Modules Industrial Group – Welcome to COM-IG! where you find the below illustration for the evolution of standards by this group:image >> nanoETXexpress now automatically redirects to COM Express microsite of PICMG >> COM Express Extension redirects to the same COM Express microsite of PICMG >> ETX Industrial Group to its own home page Note that the leading companies of that standardization were two large embedded companies (much larger that VIA Technologies) from Germany (Kontron) and Taiwan (Advantech), according to Advantech and Kontron unite to transform ETX®-IG into the COM-IG and unveil the COM Express Extension [joint press release, June 5, 2007]. VIA is still not a member of that effort.

COM Express® defines standardized footprints and pin-outs for Computer-on-Modules. With the new Revision 2.0, PICMG® added the compact footprint (95x95mm) to the basic footprint (125x95mm) and extended the pin-outs being future-proof. New Digital Display Interfaces (DDI) and super-fast USB 3.0 are now integrated. The new Pin-out Type 10 in COM Express® Revision 2.0 supports perfectly modules in the ultra footprint (85×55 mm).

Kontron as one of the largest suppliers of embedded computing products has a well defined strategic view introduced in From Modules up to Application Ready Platforms [Boards & Solutions Magazine, November 2011] as:

The automotive industry set the example: vehicle manufacturers no longer have a large number of small suppliers for individual parts, but a small group of suppliers organized in partnerships. These deliver complete functional units and cover a large and growing spectrum of the supply chain. A similar concentration is taking place in outsourcing in the embedded computer industry, a trend that is happening at Kontron too.
According to the customer’s needs, the company offers services in the extended supply chain, i.e. from the module to the customerspecific carrier board right up to the application-ready system, including the necessary hardware-related software. Why are companies choosing to purchase larger and increasingly more valuable functional units from external sources? The answer is to be found in the growing pressure in the market to specialize.
OEMs have to focus on their core competence in order to stay competitive in their specific markets. For example: designing GUIs for HMIs. Neither the hardware running in the background, nor the operating system, reflects the core competence of the OEM. A userfriendly, function-safe operating and display concept are the USP of a company and the key to their economic success. Consequently this is where OEMs need to concentrate their development resources.
Rising end-user demands present a further reason for outsourcing the development of computer hardware, as the latest hardware is required to deliver powerful computing performance, improved energy efficiency, and all this housed in a space-saving form factor. On top of this there are high expectations in quality and price which are essential factors for success.
Companies not specialized in computing technology find it almost impossible to fulfil these demands within justifiable technical and commercial reason. In order to stay competitive, the move for OEMs to efficiently outsource the upstream supply chain processes is more or less inevitable.

Read also from that Magazine issue: – Taking the concept behind COM Express to high levels of ruggedizationThe benefits of COM-based single board computers

Recent discussions have debated the advantages of COMs, such as COM Express, versus stackable SBCs, such as PC/104. Here’s how to get the benefits of both at the same time.

Before we proceed further we should understand VIA Technologies’ view on that from Embedded Building Blocks – A Modular Approach [VIA Technologies presentation by Cliff Moon, Oct 11, 2011] (excerpts):

SFF (Small Form Factor) Market Trend ~ Modularized Designimage

Caveats for Stackable Computerimage

What is Computer-on-Module image

When to use

Stackable Computer

COM Express

  • Applications demand different Standard I/O
  • Fast Time to Market
  • Modest QTY for Configuration-to-Order Service
  • No board designers in house
  • Existed design migration
  • Cost-effective for EAUs for 1K to 5K
  • For applications with unique I/Os (not popular I/O module)
  • Near-perfect I/O optimization
  • Board designer in house
  • Consistent I/O and CPU upgradability(more than time to market)
  • Protect the IP of the carrier board

Which approach is better?

  • Stackable Computer are optimized for flexibility and I/O expandability
  • COMs are optimized for cost, short height, CPU upgradeability, and minimal cabling
  • COMs and Stackables will both continue – Very little overlap – distinct choices – ‘Capitalizing’ versus ‘Expensing’ a design (own/rent) – Business cost analysis becomes part of decision

image image See also head of VIA Embedded interviewed about Why VIA Embedded for COM Express Module [Embedded News TV, April 15, 2012] VIA introduced the externally defined COM form factors very cautiosly and very gradually:

1. COM Express

For background see: COM Express [Wikipedia] First for the COM Express Basic Form Factor:

VIA Moves into COM Express™ Embedded Module Market [VIA Technologies press release, April 14, 2008] which introduced the VIA C7 / VIA Eden based COME7N80 COM Express module:

VIA to introduce first COM Express™ modules with VIA processor platform, enabling cost effective, flexible customization and faster time to market

VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator and developer of embedded silicon and platform technologies, today announced the extension of embedded board portfolio to include COM Express™ modules that will be the first to harness the power and thermal advantages of VIA’s processor platforms.
Measuring 95mm x 125 mm, COM Express is an industry standard embedded form factor developed by the PICMG (PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group) to provide greater connectivity and data transfer bandwidth than the original COM (Computer-on-Module) standard. The COM Express specification integrates core CPU, chipset and memory on the module, providing support for extensive connectivity options, including USB, audio, graphics, and Ethernet, through board-to-board connectors to an I/O baseboard.
Leveraging VIA’s signature low heat, power-efficient platform silicon, the new fanless VIA COM Express modules will be powered by VIA Eden™ or VIA C7® processors ranging from 500MHz right up to 2GHz. Support for a comprehensive feature set of I/O implementations through VIA’s versatile digital media IGP chipsets, while the option of onboard system memory provides vibration resistance for in-vehicle or heavy plant environments.

VIA COM Express modules are targeted at industrial PC and large OEM customers focused on dynamic application segments, including gaming, healthcare and industrial automation. Customers can take advantage of a proprietary multi-I/O baseboard for evaluation purposes, or can utilize VIA’s extensive technical support in developing a custom baseboard.

“With over six years of experience in small form factor board design and development, our entry into the embedded module market is a natural evolution for us,” said Daniel Wu, Vice President, VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. “Flexible and modular solutions are an essential expansion of VIA’s embedded platform range, strengthening our commitment to all sectors of the embedded industry.”
The first samples of the VIA COM Express modules are available now for industrial PC and larger OEMs only; for more details, please send an email to the VIA Embedded team at: embedded@via.com.tw

The first Nano CPU COM Express module: VIA_COME8X801 The First Nano CPU COM Express module VIA Nano E-Series Processor Powers COM Express™ Module [VIA Technologies press release, Aug 4, 2010] which was the first Nano E-Series based COM Express module, still available in the portfolio

VIA expands COM Express module range with the VIA COME8X80, brings optimized 64-bit performance to COM Express with the VIA Nano E-Series processor

VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator and developer of embedded silicon and platform technologies, today announced the addition of the VIA COME8X80 module to its COM Express™ portfolio; the world’s first COM Express type product to take advantage of the high performance, 64-bit VIA Nano E-Series processor.
“The VIA COME8X80 module harnesses the power of VIA Nano platform to offer a uniquely integrated and performance-optimized COM Express product,” said Daniel Wu, Vice President, VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. “The VIA COME8X80 also demonstrates our long-term commitment to bringing our leading processor technologies to the COM Express form factor.”
The VIA COME8X80 is targeted at IPC and larger OEM customers in a range of embedded segments including gaming, healthcare and industrial automation. Customers can also take advantage of a specially developed mutli-I/O baseboard for evaluation purposes, as well as VIA’s technical assistance in developing custom baseboard designs.

VIA COME8X80: Optimized Performance and Assured Longevity The VIA COME8X80 is available with a choice of either 1.3+GHz or 800MHz VIA Nano E-Series processors, combining native 64-bit and virtualization support with a high-performance superscalar architecture in a uniquely low power thermal envelope. The VIA COME8X80 also integrates the unified VIA VX800 media system processor, bringing VIA Chrome9 integrated graphics, support for VGA and dual channel LVDS displays, video acceleration for MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV9 and VC1 video formats, plus a VMR capable HD video processor. All VIA components have a guaranteed longevity of seven years. Product Highlights:

  • High performance, 64-bit VIA Nano E-Series processor
  • 18/24-bit dual channel LVDS plus VGA support
  • 3 PCI, and one x4 plus two x1 PCIe slots
  • Up to 2GB of DDR2 SO-DIMM memory
  • 10/100Mbps Fast Ethernet
  • Up to six USB 2.0 ports
  • Up to two SATA devices plus 1 IDE
The VIA COME8X80 is available to OEM and ODM customers now. For more details including a technical data sheet, please go to: http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/embedded/ProductDetail.jsp?productLine=1&id=1271&tabs=1
An image kit related to this product announcement is available here: http://www.viagallery.com/index.php?option=com_flickr4j&Task=sets&Set=72157624643775464&Page=1
About the COM Express Form Factor
Measuring 95mm x 125 mm, COM Express is an industry standard embedded form factor developed by the PICMG (PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group) to provide greater connectivity and data transfer bandwidth than the original COM (Computer-on-Module) standard. The COM Express specification integrates core CPU, chipset and memory on the module, providing support for extensive connectivity options, including USB, audio, video, and Ethernet, through board-to-board connectors to an I/O baseboard.
VIA also offers the VIA C7 / VIA Eden based COME7N80 COM Express module [which is End Of Life already]. For more details please visit: http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/embedded/ProductDetail.jsp?productLine=1&id=1270&tabs=1

With Nano X2 E-Series came other COM Express additions: – in the COM Express Basic Form Factor: VIA Announces Latest Computer-on-Module (COM) Express Module, the VIA COMe-8X90 [VIA Technologies press release, Feb 24, 2012]

Join VIA at Embedded World 2012 for the first glimpse of the VIA COMe-8X90 module

VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today announced the latest VIA COMe-8X90 module, featuring a 1.2GHz VIA Nano™ X2 E-Series dual core processor and the VIA VX900H media system processor (MSP). The ruggedized VIA COMe-8X90 module targets industrial PC and large OEM customers focused on dynamic application segments, including medical, advanced gaming, industrial automation and digital signage.
Measuring 95mm x 125mm, COM Express is an industry standard embedded form factor developed and maintained by the PICMG (PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group). COM Express modules integrate core CPU, chipset and memory on the module, providing support for extensive connectivity options, including USB, audio, video, and Ethernet, through board-to-board connectors to an I/O carrier board. The modular approach allows for short time-to market, application-specific customization, simplified development, high stability and long life cycles.
Along with the VIA COMe-8X90 module, VIA offers a comprehensive starter kit, including a multi-I/O carrier board reference design, board support packages (BSPs), display, system monitoring tools/SDKs, and design guide, enabling industrial PC and OEM customers to rapidly customize their solutions.

“Embedded modules are ideal for creating highly tailored solutions with a short time to market approach,” said Epan Wu, Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. “The VIA COMe-8X90 module provides customers with an easily customizable platform with power efficient processing and rich I/O options, allowing them to quickly create optimized products for their target markets.”

The VIA COMe-8X90 module will be on display at the VIA Embedded booth in Hall 1 of the Embedded World 2012 Exhibition and Conference, which is being held in Nuremberg, Germany from February 28th to March 1st, 2012. In addition, VIA will be presenting the latest embedded Android and x86 multi-core solutions for next generation embedded applications.

VIA COMe-8X90 Module Available in the industry standard COM Express form factor of 95mm x 125mm, the VIA COMe-8X90 module includes a 1.2GHz VIA Nano X2 E-Series dual core processor and a VIA VX900H MSP, which features the VIA ChromotionHD 2.0 video engine, boasting hardware acceleration of the most demanding video formats, including MPEG-4, H.264, MPEG-2, VC-1, WMV and Blu-ray support, for incredibly smooth playback of multimedia titles at resolutions up to 1080p. The VIA COMe-8X90 module offers support for the latest connectivity standards including 18/24-bit single-channel LVDS, VGA, Display Port and HDMI.

Onboard I/O includes two SATA II ports, one GigaLAN port, one USB client port, four USB 2.0 ports, SDIO, expansion buses for one PCIe X4 and one PCIe x1 and the VIA Labs VL800 USB 3.0 host controller which offers support for four USB 3.0 ports. System memory support includes two slots for up to 8GB of SODIMM DDR3 RAM.
For more information about the VIA COMe-8X90 module please visit: http://www.viaembedded.com/en/products/boards/productDetail.jsp?productLine=1&id=1571&tabs=1
For images related to this release please visit: http://www.viagallery.com/index.php?option=com_flickr4j&Task=sets&Set=72157629433520789&Page=1

– in the COM Express Compact Form Factor: VIA Announces Two New System-on-Module Solutions to the Growing VIA Modular Solutions Portfolio [VIA Technologies press release, March 22, 2012]

VIA COMe-8X92 and QSM-8Q90 modules allow for rapid development and application-specific customization

Measuring 95mm x 95mm, the VIA COMe-8X92 is based on the industry standard Computer-on-Module (COM) Express Compact form factor, developed and maintained by the PICMG (PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group). The VIA COMe-8X92 module combines a 1.2GHz VIA Nano™ X2 E-Series dual core processor and the VIA VX900H media system processor (MSP) providing a ruggedized solution targeted at industrial PC and large OEM customers focused on dynamic application segments, including medical, advanced gaming, industrial automation and digital signage.
“The modular approach offers Embedded customers the ideal platform for creating highly tailored solutions with a short time to market approach,” said Epan Wu, Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. “The VIA COMe-8X92 and VIA QSM-8Q90 modules further extend the VIA modular solution portfolio offering VIA customers a wider range of options to quickly create optimized products for their target markets.”

VIA COMe-8X92 Module Available in the industry standard COM Express Compact form factor of 95mm x 95mm, the VIA COMe-8X92 module pairs a 1.2GHz VIA Nano X2 E-Series dual core processor and the VIA VX900H MSP, which features the VIA ChromotionHD 2.0 video engine, boasting hardware acceleration of the most demanding video formats, including MPEG-4, H.264, MPEG-2, VC-1, WMV and Blu-ray support, for incredibly smooth playback of multimedia titles at resolutions up to 1080p. The VIA COMe-8X92 module offers support for the latest connectivity standards including 18/24-bit single-channel LVDS, VGA, Display Port and HDMI.

Onboard I/O includes two SATA II ports, one GigaLAN port, one USB client port (shared with one of four USB 2.0 ports), four USB 2.0 ports, SDIO, expansion buses for one PCIe X4 and one PCIe x1 and the VIA Labs VL800 USB 3.0 host controller which offers support for four USB 3.0 ports. System memory support includes one slot for up to 4GB of SODIMM DDR3 RAM.
For more information about the VIA COMe-8X92 module please visit: http://www.viaembedded.com/en/products/boards/productDetail.jsp?productLine=1&id=1790&tabs=1
For images related to the VIA COMe-8X92 please visit: http://www.viagallery.com/index.php?option=com_flickr4j&Task=sets&Set=72157629588824145&Page=1

– in the COM Express Mini Form Factor: VIA Announces Latest Computer-on-Module Solution, the VIA COMe-8X91 [VIA Technologies press release, May 3, 2012] VIA_COMe-8X91_Angle

Credit-card sized COM module allows for rapid development of ultra-small customized embedded solutions

VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today announced the latest addition in the growing VIA Modular Solutions portfolio, the VIA COMe-8X91. The modular design approach allows for short time-to market, application-specific customization, simplified development, high stability and long life cycles for customers to rapidly develop new and exciting devices.
Measuring 84mm x 55mm, the VIA COMe-8X91 is based on the industry standard Computer-on-Module (COM) Express Mini form factor with type 10 pin-outs. The VIA COMe-8X91 module combines an 800MHz VIA Eden™ X2 dual core processor and the VIA VX900 media system processor (MSP) providing a ruggedized, ultra compact solution targeted at industrial PC and large OEM customers focused on dynamic application segments, including medical, advanced gaming, test and measurement, industrial (machine vision system) and military applications.
In addition, with the VIA COMe-8X91 module, VIA offers a comprehensive starter kit, including a multi-I/O carrier board reference design, board support packages (BSPs), display, system monitoring tools/SDKs, and design guide, enabling industrial PC and OEM customers to rapidly customize their solutions.
“The COM Express Mini form factor provides embedded customers the ideal platform for creating highly tailored solutions where real estate is at a premium,” said Epan Wu, Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. “The VIA COMe-8X91 delivers an extremely ruggedized, power efficient solution for the creation of ultra compact embedded devices with a short time to market approach.”

VIA COMe-8X91 Module Available in the industry standard COM Express Mini form factor of 84mm x 55mm, the VIA COMe-8X91 module pairs an 800MHz VIA Eden X2 dual core processor and the VIA VX900 MSP for a low power, high performance platform. The VIA COMe-8X91 module offers support for the latest connectivity standards including 18/24-bit single-channel LVDS and either one displayport or one HDMI port (without HDCP).

Onboard I/O includes two SATA II ports, one GigaLAN port, eight USB 2.0 ports shared with one USB client port, one HD audio digital interface and two serial ports. System memory includes 1GB of onboard DDR3.
For more information about the VIA COMe-8X91 module please visit: http://www.viaembedded.com/en/products/boards/productDetail.jsp?productLine=1&id=1710&tabs=1
For images related to the VIA COMe-8X91 please visit: http://www.viagallery.com/Products/via-come-8×91-module.aspx

2. QSeven

Note: QSeven is a new standard that has been released in the past two years. The Q Seven specification is hosted by the independent Q Seven Consortium of which VIA Technologies is a supporting member. It is freely available at the consortium’s web site. Q Seven is a computer-on-module small form factor board that can be used much like an integrated circuit component. It is smaller than other computer-on-module standards such as COM Express, ETX or XTX and is limited to very low power consuming CPUs. The idea here is that processor boards and IO boards would slide into a backplane via edge connectors. This is a smaller footprint than the traditional 3U cPCI.

Seco Q7 OMAP4 dual-core module [Charbax YouTube channel, Jan 6, 2011]

This is the first OMAP4430 dual-core module for the embedded form factor market for the industrial environment for the mobile and automotive markets. Thanks to Seco’s pression on the q7 consortium, people can now swap the x86 module for an ARM architecture, it works for Windows, Android and Linux OS. Find more information at http://www.seco.it/

SECO QSeven products: An interview with Gianluca Venere at Embedded World 2012 [SECOEmbedded YouTube channel, March 30, 2012]

Gianluca Venere presents the newest Qseven products. QSeven has been launched 3 years ago as the first cross platform and modular solution that uses the same carrier board for two different architectures. New Qseven products include: Carma DevKit, the new Freescale i.MX6 processor Qseven module and module based on TI OMAP4 and for the x86 world, the new module based on AMD Qseven G series APUs. http://www.seco.com/en/itemlist/qseven/

QSeven® Series [VIA Technologies sub microsite]

With advantages of its compact size, integrated thermal solution and low cost connectors, VIA QSeven is the ideal for building block for various low power and mobile application. VIA QSeven series is a small form factor standard that is designed for low-power and mobility applications. It supports up to 12W of maximum delivered power and provides legacy free interfaces for embedded applications along with a comprehensive set of graphical interfaces such as DisplayPort, HDMI and dual channel LVDS.

See also: QSeven [Wikipedia] Image of the VIA QSM-8Q90 module on carrier board with QSeven Logo: VIA_QSM_8Q90_Module_on_Carrier_Board_with_QSeven_Logo VIA_QSM_8Q90_Module_with_QSeven_Logo Image of the VIA QSM-8Q90 module with QSeven Logo. VIA Announces Two New System-on-Module Solutions to the Growing VIA Modular Solutions Portfolio [VIA Technologies press release, March 22, 2012]

VIA COMe-8X92 and QSM-8Q90 modules allow for rapid development and application-specific customization

The VIA QSM-8Q90 module measures just 70mm x 70mm and is based on the new embedded QSeven™ form factor developed to meet the demands of various low-power and mobile applications. Featuring a VIA 1.0GHz VIA Nano E-Series processor and the VIA VX900 MSP, the VIA QSM-8Q90 module is the ideal building block for power constrained handheld application segments, including medical, advanced gaming, military and test and measurement equipment.
“The modular approach offers Embedded customers the ideal platform for creating highly tailored solutions with a short time to market approach,” said Epan Wu, Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. “The VIA COMe-8X92 and VIA QSM-8Q90 modules further extend the VIA modular solution portfolio offering VIA customers a wider range of options to quickly create optimized products for their target markets.”

VIA QSM-8Q90 Module Based on the new QSeven embedded form factor of 70mm x 70mm, the VIA QSM-8Q90 module is available with a 1.0GHz VIA Nano E-Series processor and also integrates the unified VIA VX900 media system processor, featuring the VIA ChromotionHD 2.0 video engine which boasts hardware acceleration of the most demanding video formats for incredibly smooth playback. On board system memory includes 1GB of DDR3 RAM as well as support for two 1-lane PCIe expansion and an18/24-bit LVDS connector with resolutions up to 1366 x 768.

For more information about the VIA QSM-8Q90 module, please visit: http://www.viaembedded.com/en/products/boards/productDetail.jsp?productLine=1&id=1572&tabs=1
For images of the VIA QSM-8Q90 module, please visit: http://www.viagallery.com/index.php?option=com_flickr4j&Task=sets&Set=72157629616539713&Page=1

3. ETX

From ETX-8X90:

Measuring 114mm x 95mm, ETX (Embedded Technology eXtended) is a highly integrated and compact industry standard computer-on-module form factor used in design application much like an integrated circuit component. The ETX specification integrates core CPU, chipset and memory on the module, providing support for extensive connectivity options, including USB, audio, video, and Ethernet, through board-to-board connectors to an I/O baseboard. Targeted at industrial PC and large OEM customers focused on dynamic application segments, including medical, test and measurement, industrial automation and transportation, customers can take advantage of a proprietary start-up kit including a multi-I/O baseboard reference, or can utilize VIA’s extensive technical support in developing a custom baseboard.

IA Announces First ETX® Module, VIA ETX-8X90 [VIA Technologies press release, March 22, 2012]

Industry leading performance and VxWorks RTOS support for embedded applications VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient computing platforms, today announced the VIA ETX-8X90 module which features a 1.2GHz VIA Nano™ X2 E-Series dual core processor and the VIA VX900 media system processor (MSP), providing industry leading performance in a power efficient design. The VIA ETX-8X90 module provides a highly integrated and compact platform for embedded applications in medical, test and measurement, industrial automation and transportation. The modular design approach allows for short time-to market, application-specific customization, simplified development, high stability and long life cycles enabling customers to rapidly develop new and innovative devices. Customers can take advantage of a proprietary start-up kit including a multi-I/O baseboard reference, or can utilize extensive technical support from VIA in developing a custom baseboard. In addition to support for the embedded industry leading VxWorks RTOS, the VIA ETX-8X90 runs a wide range of Windows and Linux based operating systems. “We continue to broaden the range of our Computer-on-Module portfolio with the addition of the ETX legacy form factor,” said Epan Wu Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. “The VIA ETX-8X90 module provides industry leading processing performance in the shape of the VIA Nano X2 E processor allowing existing ETX customers to quickly scale to today’s requirements.” About the VIA ETX-8X90 Module Measuring 114mm x 95mm, the VIA ETX-8X90 module is based on the industry standard ETX (Embedded Technology eXtended) legacy form factor and combines a 1.2GHz VIA Nano X2 E-Series dual core processor with the VIA VX900 MSP, providing hardware acceleration of the most demanding video formats including VC1, WMV9, MPEG-2 and H.264.

The VIA ETX-8X90 offers support for up to 4GB of DDR3 memory as well as the latest display connectivity standards including 18/24-bit dual-channel LVDS, one VGA port with resolutions up to 2560 x 1600, four USB 2.0 and two mini USB ports, two PCI and one ISA bus, one SATA port, one IDE and two COM ports as well as one 10/100 Ethernet on module.
For more information on the VIA ETX-8X90, please visit: http://www.viaembedded.com/en/products/systemonmodules/1970/1/ETX-8X90.html
For images related to this release, please visit: http://www.viagallery.com/Products/via-etx-8×90-module.aspx

For background see: ETX (form factor) [Wikipedia] And finally an Embedded World Report: SGet receives mixed reactions [EmbeddedNews.co.uk, April 18, 2012] is showing how further standardization for ARM-based embedded solutions is proceeding:

As reported in the past three issue of Micro Technology Europe, the new European standards body was formally introduced and dominated the front page of the first show daily. Called the Standardisation Group for Embedded Technologies (SGet), reaction to it was a little mixed. Some felt that they had to be on board, while others were being more cautious and there were those who were not interested at all. In the last of those categories fell Taiwanese board make Aaeon. “We are not involved with SGet yet,” said Volkmar Kaufmann, sales team manager at Aaeon. “In the embedded market there are hundreds of standards, so are they standards really?” On top of that, he said, customers wanted customisation and this meant that the standards were not really standards but more of a reference. “So one reason we haven’t joined is we are talking with our customers to find the best solution and that may be based on a standard or it may not be,” he said. “They will want connectors in different positions and so on. There are so many different requirements from customers who demand their own solutions. They don’t care what the standard is, they just want it to do what they want. They just want the performance.” But Dirk Finstel, chief technology officer for Kontron, one of the founders of SGet, defended the organisation: “It always takes three to four years to make something an official standard,” he said. “Our customers ask why this takes so long. The embedded board vendors are trying to drive technology in the market and with the new body we can do that with less bureaucracy.” Howard Lin, European managing director for Advantech, one of the first companies to join the group, acknowledged that there were a lot of standards already in the market, but said that was a reflection of the speed in which technology was developing. “Yes, there are many standards today, but these follow the new technology,” said Lin. “Some of the older standard can’t follow the changing technology, se we need new standards. The pace is increasing and we need to increase the pace of standards.” He said Advantech decided to join the group because “we are a global leader and so we should work with other vendors to define the standards”. Q Seven will be one of the first form factors to go through the SGet standardisation process and this will be followed by ULP-Com, a form factor for Arm and SoC modules announced by Kontron at the show. Adlink has already shown support for the form factor as have Fortec and Greenbase. ULP-Com uses a 314-pin connector and is 413mm high. There are two planned module footprints of 82 by 50mm and 82 by 80mm. Finstel said he expected it to take two to three months for the standard to be ratified by SGet. “Only a few people will work on the specification to drive it rather than with Picmgwhere you have a lot of people all with their own interests,” he said. “We expect ULP-Com to be ratified by the end of April.” Another founder, Congatec, was also ready to defend the decision. The company’s Christian Eder said: “Why do we need a new consortium when there is Picmg, Vita and what not? With Picmg, things take forever with lots of politics involved and interests. We are trying to freshen that up.” He said ten to 15 companies had signed upby the start of the show and expected that to grow as the show progressed. As to the silicon vendors, he said he wanted them to be involved but did not want them having such an influence that standards would be based on particular products. “It is very important to have the silicon vendors in there,” he said. “They provide the technology. But we don’t want standards that are fixed to one chip vendor. We want it open.” He said that chip vendors, like connector companies, would be on board but would not have voting rights. “Otherwise, they could block directives,” he said. Bernhard Andretzky, product marketing manager for one of the group’s founding companies MSC, said: “We see potential for the new organisation to create the standards that will be successful in the future.” Though not one of the founders, Adlink has become involved with SGet following its joint work with Kontron on the ULP-Com specification. “We were looking for the right form factor for Arm designs,” said Henk van Bremen, Adlink’s product director. “They say you can do Arm and x86 on Q Seven, but it doesn’t really work because of the lack of pins. You can’t do all the native Arm interfaces. The new form factor is going to SGet, which is why we are interested in this and have joined.” As for Via Technologies, assistant vice president Epan Wu said: “We have someone looking at the SGet consortium. We are not one of the original ones but we are looking at it and we do want to comply with industry standards and be involved with what is going on.” And Taylor Chow, managing director of Portwell, said: “We are seriously thinking of joining SGet. We need SGet because of the problems with Q Seven for Arm.”

From more information see: – http://www.sget.org/ and its Facebook siteA New COM Standard and a New Organization to Oversee It [VDC Research: Embedded Microprocessor, Board & Systems Market Blog, Sept 11, 2012] Kontron Low Power Embedded Solutions – EW 2012 [ARMflix YouTube channel, Feb 29, 2012]

Norbert Hauser of Kontron tell us about their ultra low power embedded solutions and support of various operating systems.

Kontron ULP-COM: the new ARM Computer-on-Modules Standard [KontronVideos YouTube channel, Sept 25, 2012]

The Ultra Low Power Computer-on-Modules with no moving parts are a perfect solution for small, mobile and fan less ARM applications. The form factor has a size of 82x50mm and, with the MXM 3.0 connector, a design less than 7 mm height with Memory and Flash Storage onboard is given.

China: going either for good quality commodities or the premium brands only

This was the major learning for me when I was watching the November roundtable ‘On China’: Chinese Consumerism led by CNN’s Kristie Lu Stout today. It was even mentioned that the wealthy Chinese may have a luxiory car parked on the roads leading to Shanghai airport in order to save the parking fee. I was also struck by the fact that there are around 1 million Chinese who have wealth of US$ 1 million or more, and this number will grow tzo 3-4 million this decade.

All these bode well with the findings in my post with a corresponding title: Boosting both the commodity and premium brand markets in 2013 with much more smartphones and tablets while the Windows notebook shipments will shrink by 2% [this same blog, Nov 20, 2012]. Note that this new kind of consumer computing trend is directly related to China as the leading market for smartphones already (see this, this and this) which will become the case for the tablet market as well in 2013. 

Here are the related excerpts I am copying here from the written report about the roundtable. You can watch yourself in full on Nov 24, 25, and Dec 1, 2 on CNN as described in the roundtable announcement.

From: What do Chinese consumers want? Not Barbie [CNN, Nov 21, 2012]

As China’s ranks of consumers swell — the number of middle class earners is estimated to grow 70% to 600 million by 2020 [from the current 300 million mentioned in the discussion recorded on video] — so too rises the stakes for companies looking to cash into China’s growing consumer market.

One area where Western brands have some headway against their domestic Chinese competitors is product safety, in the wake of scandals over tainted baby formula, fake eggs and exploding watermelons.

A dichotomy is growing in Chinese consumer trends between shopping for status and shopping for value.

“What that means is, people don’t buy mid-level brands, which is why you see (brands?) like Marks & Spencer, or Li-Ning, or Gap kind of struggle, because these are branded for middle-class consumers,” Rein said. “What we see is people either shop for the most expensive things they can get, like a Louis Vuitton or Hermes bag, or they go for the cheapest.”

Urgent search for an Intel savior

Update: Third-generation ultrabooks may be able to achieve 40% of notebook shipments, say players [DIGITIMES, Dec 11, 2012]

As Intel failed to achieve its goal of having ultrabooks account for 40% of total notebook shipments with its Ivy Bridge platform, and the proportion only reached about 10%, sources from notebook players believe the goal may be achievable with the upcoming Haswell platform, which is set to launch at the end of second-quarter, 2013.

The sources pointed out that compared to Ivy Bridge, Haswell’s stronger performance and cheaper price, plus the expectation that Windows 8 should become more standardized by then, should mean ultrabooks have a chance to account for 40% of total notebook shipments by the end of 2013.
Although vendors have released ultra-like notebooks with prices around US$699-899 as alternatives, since these devices lack attractiveness in terms of design and weight, while ultrabook models with specifications similar to the MacBook Air have prices a lot higher than the MacBook Air, most consumers have turned to purchase Apple’s product instead, the sources noted.

Chips are down for Intel’s CEO [Euronews YouTube channel, Nov 19, 2012]

The head of the computer chip giant Intel is to retire next year. Paul Ottelini has been CEO since 2005. The company that dominates personal computers has been struggling recently, mainly due to the consumer’s new love-affair with smart-phones and tablets, technology where Britain’s ARM Holdings is king. Intel, which is known for finding chief execs from within the company, said they would also consider external candidates.

After what I’ve described in Steven Sinofsky, ex Microsoft: The victim of an extremely complex web of the “western world” high-tech interests [Nov 13, 2012], Intel Haswell: “Mobile computing is not limited to tiny, low-performing devices” [Nov 15, 2012] and Boosting both the commodity and premium brand markets in 2013 with much more smartphones and tablets while the Windows notebook shipments will shrink by 2% [Nov 20, 2012] the news that Intel has an urgent need to find a new CEO is not a surprise for me at all.

Quite obviously Intel’s long-time business model suddenly looks like as unsustainable for the year 2013 (which also happens to be its fiscal year) not only for me as:
From: Intel CEO Paul Otellini to Retire in May [Intel press release, Nov 19, 2012]

… Paul Otellini, has decided to retire as an officer and director at the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting in May, starting an orderly leadership transition over the next six months. …

The board of directors will conduct the process to choose Otellini’s successor and will consider internal and external candidates for the job.

In addition, the company also announced that the board has approved the promotion of three senior leaders to the position of executive vice president: Renee James, head of Intel’s software business; Brian Krzanich, chief operating officer and head of worldwide manufacturing; and Stacy Smith, chief financial officer and director of corporate strategy.

From: Intel Corporation Hoped Otellini Would Stay Another Year As CEO [ValueWalk, Nov 20, 2012]

Andy Bryant, chairman of the board of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) hoped Paul Otellini could stay one more year as chief executive officer (CEO) of the company. During an Interview with Barron’s yesterday, Bryant admitted that he was surprised last week when Otellini  told him that he will retire by May next year.

“I did everything I can think of to buy myself another year [of Otellini’s leaderhip]. We were targeting further out for this,” said Bryant.

During the interview with Barron’s, Bryant said the mobile market is still a big challenge for the company. According to him,”After almost 40 years at Intel, and the Intel CEO job for 8 years, which is a really hard job, he felt it was time to move to the next generation of leadership. We do have big issues in front of us, moving to the tablet and phone markets, and he was ready to let the next generation lead those battles.”

According to him, finding a replacement for Otellini is another challenge. Intel will search for the next CEO inside and outside the company. He is considering five senior executives as candidates for the position, including Renee James, the head of software; Brian Krzanich, head of manufacturing; Stacy Smith, chief financial officer; Dadi Perlmutter, head of mobile efforts; and Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital.

Ambrish Srivastava, PhD, an analyst at BMO, said it is interesting to know that Intel is willing to hire a CEO outside the company, since the company has a deep rooted internal culture, few came from outside and succeeded.

There was an immediate negative response on the stock market showing that even without any meaningful explanations given by either board or Otellini himself the outlook for Intel turned into a one with less expectations about future performance:

image

And this was only “due to uncertainty with the CEO transition” as was explained by UBS after Intel was downgraded from a “Buy” to “Neutral” by it

There is nevertheless much more behind of this sudden change, as even Intel’s Q3 report had a few question marks hanging in the air, more notably:
From: CFO Commentary on Third-Quarter 2012 Results [Intel, Oct 16, 2012]

Q4 2012 Outlook

Revenue

Revenue is expected to be $13.6B, plus or minus $500M in the fourth quarter. The midpoint of this range would be an increase of 1% from the third quarter. This slight increase in revenue in the fourth quarter reflects the caution we are seeing in the order patterns of our customers as a result of concerns about the global economic environment, ongoing consumer softness in mature markets, and a slowing enterprise market segment.

Gross Margin

Gross margin in the fourth quarter is expected to be 57%, plus or minus a couple points, down 6.3 points from the third quarter. In response to the reductions in our demand forecast we are significantly reducing factory loadings in the fourth quarter, resulting in a forecast of approximately $500M in underutilization charges.

Related information from: Intel Corporation’s CEO Discusses Q3 2012 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Oct 16, 2012]

JoAnne Feeney – Longbow Research

And then as a follow-up, Stacy could you let us know what happened with units versus ASPs in PCs versus servers last quarter?

Stacy Smith – SVP, CFO & Director, Corporate Strategy

Yeah, it’s actually in the CFO commentary JoAnne, but in general we saw PC units up 1% versus the prior quarter and datacenter units were also up 1%. This is a quarter-on-quarter compare.

JoAnne Feeney – Longbow Research

Sorry, and the ASPs?

Stacy Smith – SVP, CFO & Director, Corporate Strategy

The PC ASPs were down 1% and the server ASPs were down 7% based on the mix kind of things that I have been talking about.

And in the Q&A part of that call Otellini himself said that:

… we do believe that when the numbers are all in, the PC consumption did grow in Q3 at about half the normal seasonal rate and will also grow in Q4 about half the normal seasonal rate. How much of that happening is macroeconomic versus the timing of the Windows 8 builds and the share of wallet, war for tablets versus PCs is TBD, and we’ll know a lot more about that 90 days from now after the Windows 8 launch, after we see Intel based tablets start shipping, when people start playing with the operating system and have all the touch based Ultrabooks out there. We’ll know a lot more. So we’ll try to quantify that a bit more for you in 90 days, but right now it’s a bit of each. …

I was just in China a week and a half ago, so there is a fairly current view. I see the same situation. China as a manufacturing center is reflecting the comments that we had in our commentary which is that the OEMs are being very cautious with their inventory comments at this point in time for all the reasons we’ve discussed and it’s as lean as we’ve seen it in normal times without the shortage of let’s say their hard drives of last year.

In terms of the channel inventory, there really isn’t very much. I went into Tier 3 city, you don’t see things stocked up or sacked up on pallet and stuff. People are generally — I think most of our customers worldwide spent a lot of Q3 thinning out their Windows 7 inventory, so they wouldn’t have an overhang at the launch. And that accounts for a lot of this inventory shipped of our billings versus the consumption that we’ve been talking about. And now with the launch of Windows 8 coming in a week or so, you’ll see a new round of build and hopefully consumption.

In terms of demand stimulation, a lot of what we are doing is really to make sure that the feature set of this season’s Ultrabooks are really consistent with where the market is, that’s why we’ve been so focused on working with our customers and the ecosystem just, for example, bring the touch SKUs in. So six to eight months ago that we did not have line of sight to 40 out of a 140 SKUs of Ultrabooks being touch enabled, it was probably five or 10; we are up to 40 now, and that’s just going to get bigger as we go into 2013. So working with the vendors and the glass manufacturers to bring the cost of touch as an increment down has been one of the key things we think we can do to drive demand.

The inventory, I thing is straight forward. The work-in-process and finished goods that we’re expecting to come down over this quarter are our Ivy Bridge products which is the mainstream high-end product we have today. And as the market picks up, Windows 8 launches, Ultrabooks pick up and so forth then that just consumes that inventory. And as I said earlier, in my comments and Stacy’s, our OEMs are running very lean right now. So any kind of demand blip would cause us to be able to reduce that even more perhaps.

In terms of the mix, there is really not much more to add than we put in our pre-release and in the comments today which is that the U.S. and Western Europe PC markets remained soft in terms of consumers. The change that we have seen and we talked about at the pre-announcement was that the enterprise PC market has gone relatively flat now and I think that’s just a reflection of large corporations making hard decisions on CapEx versus people, and where they want to put their investments and now that seems to have spilled over from the client side of the enterprise also the data center server part of the enterprise. And you know I think we will see how that sorts out over the next quarter or so as CEOs and CIOs make their next round of decisions.

In terms of China, the slowdown there was – it’s principally a notebook business and the slowdown there was in consumer notebooks.

China is in their own macroeconomic cycle slowing down, I mean the GDP forecast for the year have come down for next have come down. There is also a reasonable amount of anxiety around the change in government and that tends to put a little bit of nervousness into the system and what I don’t know is how much of that clarifies after they change, because it’s not so much they don’t know who is coming in. The issue is what are the policies, in terms of stimulus and taxation and so forth. They have been pretty generous the last year or so, a year or two rather, in terms of stimulating domestic consumption and the question is will those polices continue or not.

This earlier information given by Otellini himself and the current “supply chain” point of view collected in my post Boosting both the commodity and premium brand markets in 2013 with much more smartphones and tablets while the Windows notebook shipments will shrink by 2% [Nov 20, 2012] are definitely pointing to the following true reasons behind Otellini’s sudden departure, as reported by just very few media sources only:
Otellini Exits Intel, With Windows 8 Fate Uncertain [InformationWeek, Nov 20, 2012]
Intel chief logs off as rest of the world leaves PCs behind [The Times, Nov 20, 2012]
‘Old hands lack skills to lead Intel into mobile age’ [Bloomberg via BusinessReport, Nov 21, 2012]
Intel CEO Paul Otellini to leave company in major shake-up [Computeractive, Nov 20, 2012]

And here is a quite sarcastic but also quite true reporting:
While the Intel board was firing Paul Otellini they should have fired themselves, too [Cringely on technology, Nov 20, 2012]

So in reality it is an absolutely inevitable thing what is going now with Intel. Here is the only video comment properly reflecting that:
Intel Could Use CEO With Mobile Skills, Wang Says [Bloomberg YouTube channel, Nov 20, 2012]

Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) — Patrick Wang, an analyst at Evercore Partners Inc., talks about Intel Corp. Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini’s plan to retire in May and the outlook for his replacement. Wang speaks with Jon Erlichman, Pimm Fox and Stephanie Ruhle on Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers.” (Source: Bloomberg)

 

Background information in the full:

Intel CEO Paul Otellini to Retire in May [Intel press release, Nov 19, 2012]

Intel Corporation today announced that the company’s president and CEO, Paul Otellini, has decided to retire as an officer and director at the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting in May, starting an orderly leadership transition over the next six months. Otellini’s decision to retire will bring to a close a remarkable career of nearly 40 years of continuous service to the company and its stockholders.

“Paul Otellini has been a very strong leader, only the fifth CEO in the company’s great 45-year history, and one who has managed the company through challenging times and market transitions,” said Andy Bryant, chairman of the board. “The board is grateful for his innumerable contributions to the company and his distinguished tenure as CEO over the last eight years.”

“I’ve been privileged to lead one of the world’s greatest companies,” Otellini said. “After almost four decades with the company and eight years as CEO, it’s time to move on and transfer Intel’s helm to a new generation of leadership. I look forward to working with Andy, the board and the management team during the six-month transition period, and to being available as an advisor to management after retiring as CEO.”

The board of directors will conduct the process to choose Otellini’s successor and will consider internal and external candidates for the job.

In addition, the company also announced that the board has approved the promotion of three senior leaders to the position of executive vice president: Renee James, head of Intel’s software business; Brian Krzanich, chief operating officer and head of worldwide manufacturing; and Stacy Smith, chief financial officer and director of corporate strategy.

During Otellini’s tenure as CEO — from the second quarter of 2005 through the third quarter of 2012 — Intel:

  • Generated cash from operations of $107 billion
  • Made $23.5 billion in dividend payments
  • Increased the quarterly dividend 181 percent from $0.08 to $0.225

From the end of 2005 through the end of 2011, Intel achieved record revenue and net income. During this period, annual revenue grew from $38.8 billion to $54 billion, while annual earnings-per-share grew from $1.40 to $2.39.

In addition to financial performance, Intel, under Otellini’s leadership, achieved notable successes in areas of strategic importance. During this period, the company:

  • Transformed operations and the cost structure for long-term growth
  • Achieved breakthrough innovations, including High-K/Metal gate and now 3-D Tri-gate transistors; and dramatic improvement in energy efficiency of Intel processors
  • Reinvented the PC with Ultrabook™ devices
  • Greatly expanded business partnerships and made strategic acquisitions that expanded Intel’s presence in security, software and mobile communications
  • Delivered the first smartphones and tablets for sale with Intel inside
  • Grew the vast network of cloud-based computing built on Intel products

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) is a world leader in computing innovation. The company designs and builds the essential technologies that serve as the foundation for the world’s computing devices. Additional information about Intel is available atnewsroom.intel.com and blogs.intel.com.

Intel, the Intel logo and Ultrabook are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the United States and other countries.

*Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

Intel Corporation’s CEO Discusses Q3 2012 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Oct 16, 2012]

In the coming months consumers will see tremendous form factor and industrial design innovation. There will be more than 140 Core based Ultrabooks, more than 40 of which will have touch. This will include more than a dozen convertibles that combine the productivity of the laptop with the convenience of a tablet.

Many of the Ultrabook SKUs will hit the mainstream $699 price point with some Burst SKUs well below even that number. Q4 will see more than 20 Atom based tablets from six or more leading OEMs using Clover Trail. Clover Trail is a brand new SoC that will enable tablets as thin as 8.5 millimeters and as light as 1.5 pounds.

With three weeks of connected standby battery life and all of the compatibility that Windows users and Intel customers have come to expect, I am excited about the these products and the capabilities they bring to consumers and the enterprise.

Last month at IDF, we shared details of our next-generation Core processor codenamed Haswell. Originally targeted at 15 watts, we have made significant advancements in micro-architecture and process technology that will allow us to move Haswell down into the 10 watt envelope fostering even more innovation in form factor as well as new usage models like gesture computing and voice recognition.

John Pitzer – Credit Suisse

Paul, how do you assess how much of what’s going on in the PC market right now; is macro, timing of Windows 8 versus kind of the more structural bearish view that tablets and smartphones are just plain and simple eating into PC TAM. How do you think about those dynamics?

Paul Otellini – President & CEO

I think it’s a bit of each and I would be reticent to quantify it John. Clearly, we saw a softening in the consumer segments. We talked about that when we did the pre-announcement about a month ago and the surprise there was that China which had been very strong in those current week on us on top of continuing weakness in the mature markets of U.S. and Western Europe.

However, having said that, we do believe that when the numbers are all in, the PC consumption did grow in Q3 at about half the normal seasonal rate and will also grow in Q4 about half the normal seasonal rate. How much of that happening is macroeconomic versus the timing of the Windows 8 builds and the share of wallet, war for tablets versus PCs is TBD, and we’ll know a lot more about that 90 days from now after the Windows 8 launch, after we see Intel based tablets start shipping, when people start playing with the operating system and have all the touch based Ultrabooks out there. We’ll know a lot more. So we’ll try to quantify that a bit more for you in 90 days, but right now it’s a bit of each.

David Wong – Wells Fargo

Thanks very much. You commented on Clover Trail tablet; are you seeing many Ivy Bridge tablet designs in addition to the Microsoft Surface and can you give us some idea of how many tablet makers you are currently working with on Haswell tablets for the future?

Paul Otellini – President & CEO

I can help you on the former, not the latter. On Ivy Bridge, you know, there is, I would say, a handful, five to eight, something like that that I’ve seen off the top of my head. And for Haswell, it’s too soon to tell, I mean we have, when you start seeing an Ultrabook with a detachable touch screen, is it a tablet and it’s based on Haswell, so the tablet is an Ultrabook or is it a convertible, you know, I don’t know; lots of inventive names for these things as we go along. What I can tell you is that the level of innovation there is really unbounded; I haven’t seen this in a long time.

But, I think in terms of, just little bit near term selling season, there are some Ivy Bridge ones. They tend to be skewed more towards to the enterprise, where our customers believe that their customers, the CIOs of the world want a high performance tablet that is compatible, that is secure and that runs all their enterprise software. So I think that’s where you’ll see those migrate versus I think Clover Trail stuff which was going to be a bit more consumer centric.

David Wong – Wells Fargo

Great. And, you said you expect to qualify Haswell in the March quarter, will Haswell be appearing in systems in the March quarter or should we look for that a bit later in the year?

Paul Otellini – President & CEO

The first half.

Christopher Danely – JPMorgan

Thanks guys. So Paul can you just give us maybe just your take on what you think is going to take to pull the PC industry out of this slunk? And do you think that with the advent of tablets cannibalizing notebooks that we’re never going to see the growth in PCs we used to; is it going to be something lower than what we have been used to?

Paul Otellini – President & CEO

Again, since we don’t know how much of the flatness that we’re seeing this year in PCs as a function of which of those variables that we talked about earlier, it’s pretty hard to say that in good economic cycles that we wouldn’t return to normal growth. But, what I get back to as I lookout here, I don’t think and I said this to you guys before, I don’t think that the tablet as we’ve seen it evolve over the last several years is the end state of computing.

The innovation is going to start pouring in now that you have widely available SKUs on a widely distributed operating system that will come from multiple vendors that can unleash their creativity. And, what I can’t predict is what form factor is going to win here, but I do think that some of these things that have sort of the best of both worlds, the performance and the capability of a laptop and the form factor and convenience of a tablet, are likely to be the things that are most high volumes earners, but we honestly won’t know for 12 months.

CJ Muse – Barclays

Yeah, thank you for taking my question. I guess just as a follow-up on the inventory side. Can you discuss what you have seen downstream particularly in China and then also as part of the healthy days, my math suggest exiting December at roughly 75 days. Is that kind of the new normal we should think about for you guys in a lower PC growth rate environment or do you think that you need to be some thing lower?

Paul Otellini – President & CEO

Let me try the China one CJ, and Stacy will come to the inventory.

Stacy Smith – SVP, CFO & Director, Corporate Strategy

And I’ll do the second. Yeah.

Paul Otellini – President & CEO

I was just in China a week and a half ago, so there is a fairly current view. I see the same situation. China as a manufacturing center is reflecting the comments that we had in our commentary which is that the OEMs are being very cautious with their inventory comments at this point in time for all the reasons we’ve discussed and it’s as lean as we’ve seen it in normal times without the shortage of let’s say their hard drives of last year.

In terms of the channel inventory, there really isn’t very much. I went into Tier 3 city, you don’t see things stocked up or sacked up on pallet and stuff. People are generally — I think most of our customers worldwide spent a lot of Q3 thinning out their Windows 7 inventory, so they wouldn’t have an overhang at the launch. And that accounts for a lot of this inventory shipped of our billings versus the consumption that we’ve been talking about. And now with the launch of Windows 8 coming in a week or so, you’ll see a new round of build and hopefully consumption.

Stacy Smith – SVP, CFO & Director, Corporate Strategy

Yeah and in terms of the inventory targets, the number you threw out is in the 70s is where we’re planning to get to in Q4. Just to put that in perspective maybe two other comments on what we’re doing. One is we are taking down utilization in the factories down to sub 50%, again to take inventory out and free up the opportunity to move both space and equipment and redirect that to 14-nanometer. So it’s a pretty significant series of actions. And I also want to point to the inventory that we have in place while it’s in terms of units more than I want to hold. It’s on the order of 70% Ivy Bridge, so it’s our freshest stuff. I am not worried about the salability of the inventory, but I do want to bring the Ivy Bridge inventory levels down. It’s just healthy for us to have less.

Daniel Berenbaum – MKM Partners

When you talk about clearing inventory, does pricing come into play in any fashion on the PC, just talk about pricing a little bit on the Data Center side, clearing inventory on either the consumer side or the enterprise side, is that helping? And then follow-up also a little bit on an earlier question, is there anything else that Intel can be doing to spur demand? We’ve already seen sort of Microsoft take matters a bit into their own hands with some of the designs that they are trying to sell; is pricing help you spur demand or is there something else that you can do?

Paul Otellini – President & CEO

The short answer to your question is no on pricing. We do forward pricing with our customers. It’s priced I think aggressively to move into the mainstream price points in terms of the stuff I talked about. If you look at our PC group numbers quarter-over-quarter, the ASP was about flat year-over-year. It was down a bit, mobile was down a bit. What that reflects was really us going after some incremental share at the bottom of the market, so didn’t really change pricing but it changed the mix, and we thought it was time we could do some of that and we did it opportunistically. That’s more the driver on that side.

In terms of demand stimulation, a lot of what we are doing is really to make sure that the feature set of this season’s Ultrabooks are really consistent with where the market is, that’s why we’ve been so focused on working with our customers and the ecosystem just, for example, bring the touch SKUs in. So six to eight months ago that we did not have line of sight to 40 out of a 140 SKUs of Ultrabooks being touch enabled, it was probably five or 10; we are up to 40 now, and that’s just going to get bigger as we go into 2013. So working with the vendors and the glass manufacturers to bring the cost of touch as an increment down has been one of the key things we think we can do to drive demand.

Daniel Berenbaum – MKM Partners

And related to pricing, you’ve obviously got a wounded competitor out there now. Are you seeing that competitor get aggressive on pricing, especially in this environment? Your competitor talked about a big inventory write-down in its negative preannouncement; are you seeing lower pricing there and is that in any way impacting you?

Paul Otellini – President & CEO

I think you would have to ask them their strategy for pricing. As Paul said, we had last quarter and this quarter, we believe, we’ve won some share at the lower end of the market; that’s our strategy here. So you’ve got to ask them the question about their pricing strategy.

JoAnne Feeney – Longbow Research

Yeah, I was hoping you can elaborate a little bit more on what you are seeing and what you saw last quarter and what you expect this quarter in terms of the mix of demand, both across consumer and enterprise geographically and then PC, you know, notebooks, desktops; just some more color if you would on what kind of mix you are seeing out there and where you expect it to go and what you’re relying on to get those inventories clear say by the beginning of 2013?

Paul Otellini – President & CEO

Well, let me start with the last part. The inventory, I thing is straight forward. The work-in-process and finished goods that we’re expecting to come down over this quarter are our Ivy Bridge products which is the mainstream high-end product we have today. And as the market picks up, Windows 8 launches, Ultrabooks pick up and so forth then that just consumes that inventory. And as I said earlier, in my comments and Stacy’s, our OEMs are running very lean right now. So any kind of demand blip would cause us to be able to reduce that even more perhaps.

In terms of the mix, there is really not much more to add than we put in our pre-release and in the comments today which is that the U.S. and Western Europe PC markets remained soft in terms of consumers. The change that we have seen and we talked about at the pre-announcement was that the enterprise PC market has gone relatively flat now and I think that’s just a reflection of large corporations making hard decisions on CapEx versus people, and where they want to put their investments and now that seems to have spilled over from the client side of the enterprise also the data center server part of the enterprise. And you know I think we will see how that sorts out over the next quarter or so as CEOs and CIOs make their next round of decisions.

In terms of China, the slowdown there was – it’s principally a notebook business and the slowdown there was in consumer notebooks.

Stacy Smith – SVP, CFO & Director, Corporate Strategy

And I’ll just add in the DCG, we saw strength in the Cloud customers and over the course of the quarter weakening in the large enterprise purchases of server chips. So the mix there was more towards the Cloud.

Paul Otellini – President & CEO

Mix had been strong in the first half.

Stacy Smith – SVP, CFO & Director, Corporate Strategy

Mix had been strong in the first half, yeah.

JoAnne Feeney – Longbow Research

And then as a follow-up, Stacy could you let us know what happened with units versus ASPs in PCs versus servers last quarter?

Stacy Smith – SVP, CFO & Director, Corporate Strategy

Yeah, it’s actually in the CFO commentary JoAnne, but in general we saw PC units up 1% versus the prior quarter and datacenter units were also up 1%. This is a quarter-on-quarter compare.

JoAnne Feeney – Longbow Research

Sorry, and the ASPs?

Stacy Smith – SVP, CFO & Director, Corporate Strategy

The PC ASPs were down 1% and the server ASPs were down 7% based on the mix kind of things that I have been talking about.

Patrick Wang – Evercore Partners

Great, thanks so much. First question, I want to see if we can go back to China and Paul may be kind of recap some of the feedback you are hearing from those meetings you did have, because it seems like the slowdown in China is really impacting global PC demand and weakness out there. So just curious what the latest you are hearing?

Paul Otellini – President & CEO

Well, what I don’t know is how much of this is and China is in their own macroeconomic cycle slowing down, I mean the GDP forecast for the year have come down for next have come down. There is also a reasonable amount of anxiety around the change in government and that tends to put a little bit of nervousness into the system and what I don’t know is how much of that clarifies after they change, because it’s not so much they don’t know who is coming in. The issue is what are the policies, in terms of stimulus and taxation and so forth. They have been pretty generous the last year or so, a year or two rather, in terms of stimulating domestic consumption and the question is will those polices continue or not.

Patrick Wang – Evercore Partners

I want to talk quickly about Data Center. The trend that we’re seeing in ASPs right now are down since the last quarter; I am just kind of curious how you see that over the next couple of years, because when we take a lot at your Cloud segment, you’re forecasting pretty robust growth there. You talked about 50% growth last quarter. As that continues to really outstrip growth from your more traditional server customers, what kind of impact does that do to your blended ASPs?

Paul Otellini – President & CEO

Well, I think the better comparison for us the Data Center is year-on-year, for which the ASP was up a bit, up 1%. The down a bit was really a big shift in the mix between what would be normal enterprise growth and of slowing in the enterprise growth. In general, for storage, for networking and I think for some aspects of the internet data center the mix was actually quite good. Sometimes they – two way machines versus four way machines, but they tend to be fairly high mix and one of the fastest growing elements of the business is high performance computing which buyers buys at the top of the line of our skews. As those product lines get flushed out more and more, I really don’t see the mix shifting away from where it’s been in the first half of this year; I see the current mix being a bit of an anomaly as a result of the softness of corporate datacenter server purchases.

Glen Yeung – Citi

Stacy, maybe the first question for you. As you sort of think about your capacity for 2013 and you are obviously taking action now, what kind of PC environment are you notionally targeting and maybe just in up or down is sufficient unless you want to be more specific?

Stacy Smith – SVP, CFO & Director, Corporate Strategy

Yeah, I am going to be less specific. If you wanted the other, yeah either up or down; hold off on triangulating on a capital forecast or on a unit growth until we get to next quarter. The CapEx number as I said is going to be really be dependent on where we think unit growth is in ‘13 and ‘14 and right now we’re fighting through Q4. There is a lack of visibility on the current quarter; I want to have the 90 days to really think about what we want to put in place.

Glen Yeung – Citi

And then Paul maybe next question for you. Notionally, we won’t expect to see when we have an operating transition like we’re seeing a spark to PC demand and yet we don’t seem to be seeing that and I wonder if you could just give us your thoughts as to why you think this time that’s not happening?

Paul Otellini – President & CEO

Yeah, I don’t think, we know it’s not happening yet. I am very excited about this new operating system. As I said earlier, it brings touch into the mainstream for the first time and we know that in the last couple of years the tablets have changed the paradigm for people to use computers, they like touch, they like to make the photos get larger with their fingers and everything else is good about that. And so I think we haven’t had a chance to really judge how the consumers will embrace this in the mainstream PC space or not.

I am very optimistic as we’ve been playing with these things and we see the products being built and we take them out for testing to consumer and we’ve now on test on Windows 8, touch enabled Ultrabooks in number of the major cities around the world, across multiple demographics. The feedback is universally positive. So I think we’re just too soon to tell. The designs aren’t even launched yet and we’ll know a lot more about this 90 days from now.

Intel Reports Third-Quarter Revenue of $13.5 Billion [Intel press release, Oct 16, 2012]

Intel Corporation today reported quarterly revenue of $13.5 billion, operating income of $3.8 billion, net income of $3.0 billion and EPS of $0.58. The company generated approximately $5.1 billion in cash from operations, paid dividends of $1.1 billion and used $1.2 billion to repurchase stock.

Our third-quarter results reflected a continuing tough economic environment,” said Paul Otellini, Intel president and CEO. “The world of computing is in the midst of a period of breakthrough innovation and creativity. As we look to the fourth quarter, we’re pleased with the continued progress in Ultrabooks and phones and excited about the range of Intel-based tablets coming to market.”

Q3 2012 Key Financial Information and Business Unit Trends (GAAP, unless otherwise stated)

  • PC Client Group revenue of $8.6 billion, flat sequentially and down 8 percent year-over-year
  • Data Center Group revenue of $2.7 billion, down 5 percent sequentially and up 6 percent year-over-year
  • Other Intel® architecture group revenue of $1.2 billion, up 6 percent sequentially and down 14 percent year-over-year
  • Gross margin of 63.3 percent, 1.3 percentage points above the midpoint of the company’s updated expectation of 62 percent.
  • R&D plus MG&A spending $4.6 billion, unchanged.
  • Tax rate of 24 percent, below the company’s expectation of approximately 28 percent.

Business Outlook

Intel’s Business Outlook does not include the potential impact of any business combinations, asset acquisitions, divestitures or other investments that may be completed after Oct. 16.

Q4 2012 (GAAP, unless otherwise stated)

  • Revenue: $13.6 billion, plus or minus $500 million.
  • Gross margin percentage: 57 percent and 58 percent Non-GAAP (excluding amortization of acquisition-related intangibles), both plus or minus a couple of percentage points.
  • R&D plus MG&A spending: approximately $4.5 billion.
  • Amortization of acquisition-related intangibles: approximately $75 million.
  • Impact of equity investments and interest and other: approximately $75 million.
  • Depreciation: approximately $1.6 billion.
  • Tax Rate: approximately 27 percent.
  • Full-year capital spending: $11.3 billion, plus or minus $300 million.

For additional information regarding Intel’s results and Business Outlook, please see the CFO commentary at:www.intc.com/results.cfm.

Status of Business Outlook

Intel’s Business Outlook is posted on intc.com and may be reiterated in public or private meetings with investors and others. The Business Outlook will be effective through the close of business Dec. 14 unless earlier updated; except that the Business Outlook for amortization of acquisition-related intangibles, impact of equity investments and interest and other, and tax rate, will be effective only through the close of business on Oct. 23. Intel’s Quiet Period will start from the close of business on Dec. 14 until publication of the company’s fourth-quarter earnings release, scheduled for Jan. 17, 2013. During the Quiet Period, all of the Business Outlook and other forward-looking statements disclosed in the company’s news releases and filings with the SEC should be considered as historical, speaking as of prior to the Quiet Period only and not subject to an update by the company.

Risk Factors

The above statements and any others in this document that refer to plans and expectations for the fourth quarter, the year and the future are forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Words such as “anticipates,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “seeks,” “estimates,” “may,” “will,” “should” and their variations identify forward-looking statements. Statements that refer to or are based on projections, uncertain events or assumptions also identify forward-looking statements. Many factors could affect Intel’s actual results, and variances from Intel’s current expectations regarding such factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in these forward-looking statements. Intel presently considers the following to be the important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the company’s expectations.

  • Demand could be different from Intel’s expectations due to factors including changes in business and economic conditions, including supply constraints and other disruptions affecting customers; customer acceptance of Intel’s and competitors’ products; changes in customer order patterns including order cancellations; and changes in the level of inventory at customers. Uncertainty in global economic and financial conditions poses a risk that consumers and businesses may defer purchases in response to negative financial events, which could negatively affect product demand and other related matters.
  • Intel operates in intensely competitive industries that are characterized by a high percentage of costs that are fixed or difficult to reduce in the short term and product demand that is highly variable and difficult to forecast. Revenue and the gross margin percentage are affected by the timing of Intel product introductions and the demand for and market acceptance of Intel’s products; actions taken by Intel’s competitors, including product offerings and introductions, marketing programs and pricing pressures and Intel’s response to such actions; and Intel’s ability to respond quickly to technological developments and to incorporate new features into its products.
  • The gross margin percentage could vary significantly from expectations based on capacity utilization; variations in inventory valuation, including variations related to the timing of qualifying products for sale; changes in revenue levels; segment product mix; the timing and execution of the manufacturing ramp and associated costs; start-up costs; excess or obsolete inventory; changes in unit costs; defects or disruptions in the supply of materials or resources; product manufacturing quality/yields; and impairments of long-lived assets, including manufacturing, assembly/test and intangible assets.
  • The tax rate expectation is based on current tax law and current expected income. The tax rate may be affected by the jurisdictions in which profits are determined to be earned and taxed; changes in the estimates of credits, benefits and deductions; the resolution of issues arising from tax audits with various tax authorities, including payment of interest and penalties; and the ability to realize deferred tax assets.
  • Gains or losses from equity securities and interest and other could vary from expectations depending on gains or losses on the sale, exchange, change in the fair value or impairments of debt and equity investments; interest rates; cash balances; and changes in fair value of derivative instruments. The majority of our marketable equity security portfolio balance is concentrated in ASML Holding, N.V, and declines in value could result in impairment charges, impacting gains or losses on equity securities.
  • Intel’s results could be affected by adverse economic, social, political and physical/infrastructure conditions in countries where Intel, its customers or its suppliers operate, including military conflict and other security risks, natural disasters, infrastructure disruptions, health concerns and fluctuations in currency exchange rates.
  • Expenses, particularly certain marketing and compensation expenses, as well as restructuring and asset impairment charges, vary depending on the level of demand for Intel’s products and the level of revenue and profits.
  • Intel’s results could be affected by the timing of closing of acquisitions and divestitures.
  • Intel’s results could be affected by adverse effects associated with product defects and errata (deviations from published specifications), and by litigation or regulatory matters involving intellectual property, stockholder, consumer, antitrust, disclosure and other issues, such as the litigation and regulatory matters described in Intel’s SEC reports. An unfavorable ruling could include monetary damages or an injunction prohibiting Intel from manufacturing or selling one or more products, precluding particular business practices, impacting Intel’s ability to design its products, or requiring other remedies such as compulsory licensing of intellectual property.

    Earnings Webcast

    Intel will hold a public webcast at 2 p.m. PDT today on its Investor Relations website at www.intc.com. A webcast replay and MP3 download will also be available on the site.

    Intel plans to report its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2012 on Jan. 17, 2013. Immediately following the earnings report, the company plans to publish a commentary by Stacy J. Smith, senior vice president and chief financial officer, atwww.intc.com/results.cfm. A public webcast of Intel’s earnings conference call will follow at 2 p.m. PDT at www.intc.com.

Boosting both the commodity and premium brand markets in 2013 with much more smartphones and tablets while the Windows notebook shipments will shrink by 2%

This is my conclusion after reviewing

  • The ongoing trends in the commodity and premium brand ecosystems of Android devices:
    – Smartphones
    – Tablets

and

  • The emerging new trends in the premium ecosystem of the Windows devices:
    – Notebooks
    – Smartphones

as reported by the most knowledgeable sources.

Updates: – ODMs see weaker profits from tablet business [DIGITIMES, March 26, 2013]

As Google and Amazon reportedly will release their next-generation 7-inch entry-level tablets in the near future, sources from the upstream supply chain have estimated that related ODMs’ profits from these tablets will be about 20% less than those from notebooks.
Since tablets have a simpler design than notebooks, the ODMs are only able to earn about US$9-10 for each tablet made, lower than US$13-20 for notebooks.
In addition, fewer components needed means that ODMs will have difficulties using their purchasing advantages to earn profits, and tablet brand vendors’ demand for specific components will also impact the makers’ profits, the sources noted.
Seeing weak growth in the notebook industry, most ODMs have turned to place their focuses on the tablet market and are competing aggressively for orders through price cuts, the sources said.

Wintel camp mulls measures to rekindle weakening notebook industry [DIGITIMES, Feb 21, 2013]

Suppliers within the Wintel camp are mulling to launch a series of measures, including price cuts for their products, in the second quarter of 2013 to rekindle the stymied notebook industry caused by growing popularity of tablets, according to industry sources.
The launch of Windows 8 has failed to ignite replacement demand for notebooks in the end markets, resulting in a prolonged inventory adjustment process at the supply chain that has been going on since the third quarter of 2012, the sources noted.
With market reports indicating that global tablet shipments are likely to reach 200-300 million units in 2013, including 150 million units in China and other emerging markets, notebook vendors will see their market share continue to be eroded by tablets, commented the sources.
While agreeing to the consensus that price-cutting will be the only way to stimulate notebook demand, related PC chip suppliers are urging the major players in the Wintel camp, mainly Intel and Microsoft, to take the lead in action so that the entire supply chain can follow.
The Wintel camp has always chosen to start cutting their product prices in the third quarter each year, noted the sources, but it would be too late to safeguard the notebook industry as well as its supply chain if Intel and Microsoft do not take actions till the third quarter this year.
Since Intel usually will cut significantly its CPU prices prior to the launch of new models, the planned launch of Haswell platform in June may persuade the chip giant to lower the quotes for its Ivy Bridge family CPUs earlier, the sources revealed.
But it remains to be seen if price cuts by Intel alone could stir up notebook replacement demand amid the squeezing-out effect triggered by the rise of tablets, mobile phones and other mobile Internet devices, commented the sources.

End of updates

Before reading the sections of this post corresponding to the above, do not forget to read my own analytical posts which are based on the new product directions and supporting SoC trends (and as such predicting the year 2013 market even better than the external analyses quoted here which are mainly based on supply chain trends and market changes observed already in 2012):
$48 Mogu M0 “peoplephone”, i.e. an Android smartphone for everybody to hit the Chinese market on November 15 [Nov 9, 2012]
Lowest H2’12 device cost SoCs from Spreadtrum will redefine the entry level smartphone and feature phone markets [July 26 – Nov 9, 2012]
The low priced, Android based smartphones of China will change the global market [Sept 10-26, 2012]
Unique differentiators of Nokia Lumia 920/820 innovated for high-volume superphone markets of North America, Europe and elsewhere [Sept 6 – Nov 13, 2012]
With Asha Touch starting at $83 and Lumia at $186 Nokia targeting the entry-level and low-end smartphone markets [Nov 1, 2012]
Boosting the MediaTek MT6575 success story with the MT6577 announcement  – UPDATED with MT6588/83 coming early 2013 in Q42012 and 8-core MT6599 in 2013 [June 27, July 27, Sept 11-13, Sept 26, Oct 2, 2012]
MT6577-based JiaYu G3 with IPS Gorilla glass 2 sreen of 4.5” etc. for $154 (factory direct) in China and $183 [Sept 13, 2012]
China’s HW engineering lead: The Rockchip RK292 series (RK2928 and RK2926) example [Oct 27, 2012]
Nexus 7: Google wanted it in 4 months for $199/$245, ASUS delivered + Nexus Q (of Google’s own design and manufacturing) added for social streaming from Google Play to speakers and screen in home under Android device control [June 28, 2012]
Giving up the total OEM reliance strategy: the Microsoft Surface tablet [June 19 – July 30, 2012]
ASUS: We are the real transformers, not Microsoft [Oct 17, 2012]
Microsoft Surface: its premium quality/price vs. even iPad3 [Oct 26, 2012]
BUILD 2012: Notes on Day 1 and 2 Keynotes [Oct 31, 2012]
Acer Iconia W510: Windows 8 Clover Trail (Intel Z2760) hybrid tablets from OEMs [Oct 28, 2012]
Microsoft Surface with some questions about the performance and smoothness of the experience [Nov 12, 2012]

Update: The sections of this post are somewhat taking into the account the most dramatic disruption in the whole history of ICT, what I am calling the ‘ALLWINNER PHENOMENON’ (all ‘Allwinner et al phenomenon’ sometimes when including Allwinner’s internal mainland China competitors such as Rockchip into account as well). EVERYBODY SHOULD BE AWARE of the fact, however, that even in the latest forecasts by bigname ICT market researchers the ‘Allwinner phenomenon’ is not taken into account at all. The two very recent updates from IDC given below should therefore be read with that in mind as the ‘Allwinner phenomenon’ will add hundreds of millions to those forecasts starting as early as in 2013. Especially the numbers for the tablets will be affected. To understand more about that please read my special posts given in a newly created blog about the ‘Allwinner phenonmenon’:
Allwinner A31 SoC is here with products and the A20 SoC is coming [Dec 10, 2012]
Is low-cost enough for global success? [Dec 5, 2012]
The upcoming Chinese tablet and device invasion lead by the Allwinner SoCs [Dec 4, 2012]
$40 entry-level Allwinner tablets–now for the 220 million students Aakash project in India [Dec 4, 2012] from this alone 220 million additional tablets would have been delivered from 2013 to 2016
USD 99 Allwinner [Nov 30, 2012]
It’s a Strategic Inflection Point [Dec 1, 2012]

Update: HTC 1Q13 smartphone shipments to grow slower than expected, say sources [DIGITIMES, Dec 18, 2012]

Affected by the launch of iPhone 5 and rapidly declining smartphone prices in China, HTC reportedly has revamped its product roadmap for 2013 and is expected to see its smartphone shipments rise 10-15% sequentially in the first quarter of the year compared to a 20-30% growth projected previously, according to industry sources.

HTC has suspended development of a number of new models for 2013, reducing the visibility of its orders for handset components, the sources revealed.

HTC declined to comment on market speculation.

However, the industry watchers believe that HTC is heading for a bumpy road ahead, since shipments of its Windows Phone 8-based smartphones have not been as strong as expected, while Apple’s iPhone 5 and Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy III have continued to enjoy brisk sales.

In China, HTC is facing cut-throat competition from local white-box smartphone vendors and has been forced to enter the sub-CNY2,000 (US$321) segment, which runs counter to its established policy focusing mainly on the high-end sector, said the sources.

Update: Worldwide Smart Connected Device Market, Led by Samsung and Apple, Grew 27.1% in the Third Quarter, According to IDC [IDC press release, Dec 10, 2012]

image

The worldwide smart connected device market – a collective view of PCs, tablets, and smartphones – grew 27.1% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2012 (3Q12) reaching a record 303.6 million shipments valued at $140.4 billion dollars. Expectations for the holiday season quarter are that shipments will continue to reach record levels rising 19.2% over 3Q12 and 26.5% over the same quarter a year ago. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker, 4Q12 shipments are expected to reach 362.0 million units with a market value of $169.2 billion dollars. Holiday season growth will be driven by tablets and smartphones, which are expected to grow 55.8% and 39.5% year-over-year respectfully, while PCs are expected to decline slightly from this quarter a year ago.

From a vendor perspective, Samsung maintained the top position in 3Q12 with 21.8% market share based on shipments. Apple, which ranked second overall in shipments, led all vendors in value with a total of $34.1 billion in 3Q12 and an average selling price (ASP) of $744 across all device categories. Following Samsung’s 21.8% share and Apple’s 15.1% share were Lenovo (7.0%), HP (4.6%), and Sony (3.6%). While Samsung, Apple, and Lenovo have all grown share over the past year, HP, which is virtually non-existent in the mobile space, has dropped its share from 7.4% in 3Q11 to 4.6% in 3Q12 with shipments declining -20.5% during that time.

“The battle between Samsung and Apple at the top of the smart connected device space is stronger than ever,” said Ryan Reith, program manager, Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers at IDC. “Both vendors compete at the top of the tablet and smartphone markets. However, the difference in their collective ASPs is a telling sign of different market approaches. The fact that Apple’s ASP is $310 higher than Samsung’s with just over 20 million fewer shipments in the quarter speaks volumes about the premium product line that Apple sells.”

Looking forward, IDC expects the worldwide smart connected device space will continue to surge well past the strong holiday quarter and predicts shipments to surpass 2.1 billion units in 2016 with a market value of $796.7 billion worldwide. IDC’s research clearly shows this to be a multi-device era, although market dynamics are shifting in terms of product category. In 2011, PC’s – a combination of desktop and portable PCs – accounted for 39.1% of the smart connected device market. By 2016 it is expected to drop to 19.9%. Smartphones will be the preferred product category with share growing from 53.1% in 2011 to 66.7% in 2016. Tablets will also grow significantly with share growing from 7.7% in 2011 to 13.4% in 2016. The shift in demand from the more expensive PC category to more reasonably priced smartphones and tablets will drive the collective market ASP from $534 in 2011 to $378 in 2016.

“Both consumers and business workers are finding the need for multiple ‘smart’ devices and we expect that trend to grow for several years, especially in more developed regions,” said Bob O’Donnell, program vice president, Clients and Displays. “The advent of cloud-based services is enabling people to seamlessly move from device to device, which encourages the purchase and usage of different devices for different situations.”

Top 5 Smart Connected Device Vendors, Shipments, and Market Share, Q3 2012 (shipments in millions)

Vendor

3Q12 Unit Shipments

3Q12 Market Share

3Q11 Unit Shipments

3Q11 Market Share

3Q12/3Q11 Growth

Samsung

66.1

21.8%

33.5

14.0%

97.5%

Apple

45.8

15.1%

33.1

13.9%

38.3%

Lenovo

21.1

7.0%

13.2

5.5%

60.0%

HP

14.0

4.6%

17.6

7.4%

-20.5%

Sony

11.0

3.6%

8.7

3.7%

25.4%

Other

145.6

48.0%

132.7

55.6%

9.7%

Total

303.6

100.0%

238.9

100.0%

27.1%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker, December 10, 2012.

Smart Connected Device Market by Product Category, Shipments, Market Share, 2012-1016 (shipments in millions) 

Product Category

2016 Unit Shipments

2016 Market Share

2012 Unit Shipments

2012 Market Share

2016/2012 Growth

Desktop PC

151.0

7.2%

149.2

12.5%

1.2%

Portable PC

268.8

12.8%

205.1

17.2%

31.1%

Smartphone

1405.3

66.7%

717.5

60.1%

95.9%

Tablet

282.7

13.4%

122.3

10.2%

131.2%

Total

2107.8

100.0%

1194.0

100.0%

76.5%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker, December 10, 2012.

Update: IDC Raises Tablet Forecast for 2012 and Beyond As iOS Picks Up Steam, Android Gains Traction, and Windows Finally Enters the Market [IDC press release, Dec 5, 2012]

image

A strong competitive landscape—including surging Android tablet shipments and robust demand for Apple’s new iPad mini—has led International Data Corporation (IDC) to increase its 2012 forecast for the worldwide tablet market to 122.3 million, up from its previous forecast of 117.1 million units. In the latest forecast update of the Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, IDC also raised its 2013 forecast number to 172.4 million units, up from 165.9 million units. And by 2016 worldwide shipments should reach 282.7 million units, up from a previous forecast of 261.4 million units.

“Tablets continue to captivate consumers, and as the market shifts toward smaller, more mobile screen sizes and lower prices points, we expect demand to accelerate in the fourth quarter and beyond,” said Tom Mainelli, research director, Tablets at IDC. “Android tablets are gaining traction in the market thanks to solid products from Google, Amazon, Samsung, and others. And Apple’s November iPad mini launch, along with its surprise refresh of the full-sized iPad, positions the company well for a strong holiday season.”

In addition to increasing the unit totals for 2013, IDC also updated its operating system splits for the year to reflect Android’s growing strength in the tablet market. IDC now expects Android’s worldwide tablet share to increase from 39.8% in 2011 to 42.7% for the full year of 2012. During that same time Apple’s share will slip from 56.3% in 2011 to 53.8% in 2012. Long term, IDC predicts Windows-based tablets (including Windows 8 and Windows RT) will grab share from both iOS and Android, growing from 1% of the market in 2011 to 2.9% in 2012, on its way to 10.3% in 2016.

“The breadth and depth of Android has taken full effect on the tablet market as it has for the smartphone space,” said Ryan Reith, program manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers. “Android tablet shipments will certainly act as the catalyst for growth in the low-cost segment in emerging markets given the platform’s low barrier to entry on manufacturing. At the same time, top-tier companies like Samsung, Lenovo, and ASUS are all launching Android tablets with comparable specs, but offered at much lower price points.”

Once again, IDC’s increase in tablet shipments comes at the expense of eReaders. IDC lowered its forecast for eReaders for 2012 and beyond. While the front-lit eReader offerings from Amazon and Barnes & Noble have captured the interest of a subset of consumers who prefer a dedicated eReader, most buyers are gravitating toward multi-use tablet products and finding a ‘good enough’ reading experience on these traditional back-lit tablets. IDC now expects 2012 eReader shipments to top out at 19.9 million units, down from the 27.7 million units that shipped in 2011.

Tablet Operating Systems, Market Share Forecast and CAGR 2012-2016

Tablet OS

2012 Market Share

2016 Market Share

CAGR 2012 – 2016 (%)

iOS

53.8%

49.7%

20.9%

Android

42.7%

39.7%

21.0%

Windows

2.9%

10.3%

69.2%

Other

0.6%

0.3%

7.7%

Grand Total

100.0%

100.0%

23.3%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, December 5, 2012

Table Notes:

  • Windows shipments include Windows RT, Windows 8, and Windows 7 tablets.
  • Shipments include shipments to distribution channels or end users. OEM sales are counted under the vendor/brand under which they are sold.

The ongoing trends in the commodity
and premium brand ecosystems of Android devices

Smartphones

Motorola likely to bid farewell to Taiwan handset ODMs after Google sells plants to Flextronics [DIGITIMES, Dec 17, 2012]

The partnerships between Motorola Mobility and Taiwan-based handset ODMs such as Foxconn International Holdings (FIH) will begin to fade away, as Google, the parent company of Motorola, has signed an agreement to hand over Motorola’s manufacturing operations in Tianjin, China, and Jaguariuna, Brazil to Flextronics International, according to industry sources.

After the deal between Google and Flextronics is completed in the first half of 2013, Motorola will completely withdraw from the handset manufacturing industry, and instead will transform to a brand operator targeting mainly the mid-range to high-end smartphone segment, the sources indicated.

While the streamlining of Motorola’s operations comes as no surprise to Taiwan handset ODMs, Google’s decision to sell Motorola’s plants to Flextronics, instead of its long-tern partner FIH, has raised concerns among the industry.

Flextronics is purchasing the plants in exchange for orders from Motorola since the Singapore-based EMS giant has made little progress in gaining handset orders from Apple or major players in the Android or Windows Phone camps, the sources commented.

It is also no longer necessary for FIH to buy plants in exchange for orders, as the company has transferred from handset EMS operations to focus on smartphone ODM business, indicated the sources, adding that FIH has also managed to establish partnerships with a number of major players in the smartphone sector.

However, a deepened cooperation between Motorola and Flextronics may affect the handset component supply chain in Taiwan, the sources warned.

Digitimes Research: Android phones to account for 70% of global smartphone market in 2013 [DIGITIMES Research, Dec 6, 2012]

Android will further solidify its market leadership in the smartphone operating system race in 2013, thanks to a broad support from smartphone vendors and the rollout of a wide range of low-priced models for sale in emerging markets. Shipments of Android phones are expected to top 600 million units or over 70% of global smartphone shipments in 2013, Digitimes Research estimates.

iOS will trail Android to take the number two position in the OS ratings with a 20% share, while other smartphone platforms will share the remaining 10%.

Shipments of Windows Phones, including 7.x and 8.x models, will grow 150% on year to 52.5 million units in 2013 for a 6.1% share, followed by RIM’s BlackBerry devices with a 3.7% share, Digitimes Research estimates. Other platforms, including Tizen and Firefox, will take up a portion lower than 1%.

Digitimes Research: Global smartphone shipments to grow 30% in 2013 [DIGITIMES Research, Nov 19, 2012]

Global smartphone shipments are expected to grow 30% to 865 million units in 2013, accounting for 43.9% of total handset shipments in the year, Digitimes Research has estimated.

Factors including relationships between platform providers and hardware makers, support from telecom carriers for new models, and key developments or decisions by some vendors will affect smartphone sales in 2013, Digitimes Research believes.

Google is expected to further strengthen its control over the Android ecosystem and its production partners, which may limit the development of other platforms or variant Android models.

Microsoft’s launch of own-brand smartphones may result in a reduction in support for the Window Phone platform by hardware vendors, which should otherwise serve as a key factor to push for the growth of the Window Phone to become a third major platform in the segment.

While Amazon is likely to enter the smartphone market, 2013 may be crucial a year for Nokia and RIM (Research in Motion) to make vital decisions concerning their smartphone businesses.

Demand for high-end smartphone models in Western Europe will be affected seriously by reduced government budgets and weak consumption in the region because of the prolonged financial crisis.

However, smartphones’ growing penetration in China, Russia, India, Indonesia, South America and other emerging markets will serve as a growth driver for global smartphone shipments in 2013, Digitimes Research believes.

Google, Amazon and other vendors in China to lead pricing in low-cost smartphone segment, say sources [DIGITIMES , Nov 5, 2012]

While sales of low-cost smartphones are expected to continue growing in the next few years, Google, Amazon and other Internet service companies in China may lead price competition in the segment, according to industry sources.

Shipments of low-cost smartphones, defined as models with a selling price of less than US$150, are forecast to double every year from 2010 to 2016, increasing from 4.5 to 311 million units, according to NPD DisplaySearch.

Most of the demand (60%) is from the Asia Pacific region, where a large majority of component suppliers and manufacturing factories are located – providing both time and cost savings, said DisplaySearch.

In China, the trend for telecom carriers to continue cooperating with chipset suppliers, handset design houses and handset vendors for the launch low-priced smatphone models will continue for a while, the sources noted.

Vendors including Huawei Device, ZTE, Lenovo and Coolpad have emerged as the leading group of the smartphone suppliers in China through the offerings of low-cost models, but most of vendors has suffered losses or seen the profits of their handset business decline due to fierce price competition in the segment, the sources revealed.

Lenovo’s handset business unit is still operating in red, and Huawei and Coolpad have seen their profits decline, while ZTE and TCL have seen their handset businesses swing from profitability to loss, the sources indicated.

In order to stemming losses, or improving profitability, most branded smartphone vendors in China have been trying to expand their share in the mid- and high-end segment, while pushing their sales through local retain channels or export sales.

But other China-based smartphone vendors such as Xiaomi Technology, Internet service companies including Baidu and Shada Interactive Entertainment, as well as online retail giant 360buy, are likely to continue to adopt aggressive price strategies to pushing sales of their own models, said the sources.

In the global market, the cooperation between Google and LG Electronics for the launch of Nexus 4 at prices ranging from US$299-349 is also expected to lead to the proliferation of more low-priced Android smartphone models, the sources indicated.

Amazon, which has been aggressive in the tablet segment, is expected to release its first smartphone model in 2013 with the same price tactics, which is likely to further drive down the prices of smartphones, commented the sources.

Digitimes Research: Nexus 4 to be popular in prepaid SIM card and telecom retail channels [DIGITIMES Research, Nov 7, 2012]

Google’s Nexus 4, which comes with a 4.7-inch 720p HD display and Qualcomm quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor, is expected to become a popular model in the prepaid SIM card segment as well as in telecom retail channels for unlocked subscribers, according to Digitimes Research.

With its high hardware specifications and pricing of US$299 for the 8GB version and US$349 for the 16GB version, the Nexus 4 will cause price pressure on other comparable models rolled by rival brands.

Sales of Windows phones are expected to grow 250% in 2013 due in part to support from telecom carriers which are seeking a third platform other than Android or iOS. However, Android will continue to lead the market with a wide margin, Digitimes Research said.

Google aggressive pricing for Nexus 4 smartphone to affect sales of other brands [DIGITIMES, Oct 30, 2012]

Google’s pricing of US$299-349 for its newly released 4.7-inch, quad-core Nexus 4 smartphone is lower than market expectations, and thus could affect the sales of Android-based smartphones launched by other branded vendors, according to industry sources.

Prior to the release of the Nexus 4 in cooperation with LG Electronics, Google had cooperated with HTC and Samsung Electronics, respectively, for the launch of three generations of Nexus smartphones with prices ranging from US$500-700.

The Nexus 4 will enjoy the advantage in pricing even compared to the latest quad-core Android models rolled out by other vendors, indicated the sources, noting that Asustek Computer’s 4.7-inch Padfone 2 is available for US$600, while China-based Xiaomi Technology’s second-generation Xiaomi phone is priced at CNY1,999 (US$320).

Other Android-based smartphone vendors, including HTC, Sony Mobile Communications, Huawei Device, ZTE and even Motorola Mobility, all are likely to adjust their price strategies, since chances are high that the Nexus 4 will make a strong impact on the smartphone market, commented the sources.

China market: Nexus 4 pricing to affect sales, prices of other brands, says report [DIGITIMES, Nov 7, 2012]

The aggressive pricing strategy adopted by Google for its Nexus 4 may affect sales of Xiaomi smartphones in China and may also force other brands including Samsung Electronics, Motorola and HTC to lower the prices of their offerings in China, according to a China-based 21st Century Business Herald report.

The price of US$299 (CNY1,890) for the 8G version of the Nexus 4 is more competitive than Xiaomi’s next-generation quad-core smartphone which is available at CNY1,999, the paper noted.

Xiaomi is selling its first quad-core model below its BOM of CNY2,350 and will limit initial sales of the model to 50,000 units only, said the paper, which added that Xiaomi aims to ramp up volumes to 250,000 units to bring down the BOM when it begins to offer the second round of sales in mid-November.

Although the Nexus is not yet available in China, consumers may hesitate to pick up the quad-core Xiaomi smartphones because they have to wait for several months before Xiaomi will begin delivering the devices, said the paper.

China market: Coolpad hopes to regain mid-range, high-end smartphone share [DIGITIMES , Nov 7, 2012]

China-based handset maker Coolpad hopes to re-enter the mid-range and high-end smartphone market in China by introducing smartphone products with China Mobile that will be priced above CNY5,000/unit (US$800/unit).

In the recent years, Coolpad has been focusing on smartphones at the price range of CNY1,000/unit by cooperating with China’s three telecom service providers. Entry-level and mid-range models have accounted for 85% of Coolpad’s total shipments. The firm recently introduced a new model, Coolpad 9960 (Da Guan HD), with a 4.7-inch screen, Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, and a 13-megapixel front camera. The model will be priced above CNY5,000/unit.

Currently, China’s mid-range and high-end smartphone markets have been dominated by international brands such as Apple, HTC, Motorola, and Sony. Coolpad has been the only local brand that has a relatively strong market share.

According to industry sources, in 2012, Coolpad increased investment in R&D of high-end products by 20% on year and formed an R&D team of 800 staff to strengthen its high-end product line.

Lenovo, Huawei, ZTE faced with challenges to reach quarterly shipments of 10 million smartphones, say Taiwan makers [DIGITIMES , Nov 5, 2012]

A total of 60 million smartphones were shipped to the China market in the third quarter of 2012, and Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE shipped nine million units, 8.5 million units and 7.5 million units, respectively, with a combined market share of 41.7%, according to DRAMeXchange under consulting company TrendForce.

Except for Apple and Samsung Electronics, other international vendors including HTC, Sony Mobile Communications, LG Electronics, Nokia have not been able to attain quarterly shipments of 10 million smartphones, the sources indicated. Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE stand a chance to ship 10 million smartphones a quarter if they can strengthen their branding operations, marketing and product lines of mid-range and high-end models in overseas markets, the sources pointed out.

Lenovo has focused on entry-level smartphones priced below CNY1,500 (US$240) and relied too much on the domestic market, the sources indicated. In comparison with Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE have the advantage of cooperation with mobile telecom carriers in many countries, but their brand image is not strong enough for marketing mid-range and high-end smartphones, the sources pointed out.

PC vendors recommended to target niche smartphone market to avoid direct competition [DIGITIMES , Oct 3, 2012]

Branded PC vendors including Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Asustek Computer, which plan to reignite their smartphone businesses, are recommended to offer models with strong application platforms, sleek product design and integrated cloud computing capabilities targeting niche markets, while avoiding direct competition with smartphone vendors, according to sources at Taiwan’s handset supply chain.

Among the leading brands, HP, Dell and Asustek have not launched new handsets for some time, while Acer has made little progress in the sector although it has continued rolling out new phones, indicated the sources.

Lenovo’s performance has been exceptional, taking the second-ranked title in China’s smartphone market by optimizing an array of entry-level models priced at around CNY1,000 (US$158).

The reason major branded PC vendors are considering a comeback to the smartphone market hinges on emerging business opportunities that are anticipated to come along with the launch of Windows 8. They are hoping that sales of Windows 8-based PCs will help promote the sale of Windows Phone 8 smartphones as well.

Even so, prospects are still slim for PC brands to make a strong presence in the smartphone market, given that Apple and Samsung Electronics are currently the top-2 vendors dominating the segment, while other smartphone brands including Nokia, RIM, Sony Mobile Communications, Motorola Mobility are lagging behind with heavy losses, the sources commented.

Worldwide Mobile Phone Growth Expected to Drop to 1.4% in 2012 Despite Continued Growth Of Smartphones, According to IDC [IDC press release, Nov 1, 2012]

The worldwide mobile phone market is forecast to grow 1.4% year over year in 2012, the lowest annual growth rate in three years despite a projected record number of smartphone shipments in the high-volume holiday season. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors will ship more than 1.7 billion mobile phones this year. In 2016, IDC forecasts 2.2 billion mobile phones will be shipped to the channel.

Global smartphone volume in the fourth quarter of 2012 (4Q12) is expected to reach 224.5 million units, representing 39.5% year-over-year growth due primarily to strong consumer demand. For the year, smartphone shipments are forecast to grow 45.1% year over year to 717.5 million units. Strong smartphone growth is a result of a variety of factors, including steep device subsidies from carriers, especially in mature economic markets where carriers resell the majority of smartphones, as well as a growing array of sub-US$250 smartphones in emerging markets.

“Sluggish economic conditions worldwide have cast a pall over the mobile phone market this year,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “However, the fourth quarter will be relatively bright due in part to sales of high-profile smartphones, such as the iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S3, in addition to lower-cost Android-powered smartphones shipped to China and other high-growth emerging markets.”

Smartphone Operating Systems

“Underpinning the worldwide smartphone market is a constantly shifting mobile operating system landscape,” added Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC’s Mobile Phone team. “Android is expected to stay in front, but we also expect it to be the biggest target for competing operating systems to grab market share. At the same time, Windows Phone stands to gain the most market share as its smartphone and carrier partners have gained valuable experience in selling the differentiated experience Windows Phone has to offer. What bears close observation is how BlackBerry’s new platform, BlackBerry 10, and multiple versions of Linux will affect the market once the devices running these systems are available.”

IDC forecasts Android to be the clear leader in the smartphone mobile operating system race, thanks in large part to a broad selection of devices from a wide range of partners. Samsung is the leading Android smartphone seller though resurgent smartphone vendors LG Electronics and Sony, both of which cracked the top five smartphone vendors during 3Q12, are not to be overlooked. IDC believes the net result of this will be continued double-digit growth throughout the forecast period.

iOS will maintain its position as the clear number two platform behind Android at the end of 2012 and throughout the forecast. The popularity of the iPhone across multiple markets will drive steady replacements and additional carrier partners will help Apple grow iOS volume. However, the high price point of the iPhone relative to other smartphones will make it cost prohibitive for some users within many emerging markets. In order to maintain current growth rates, Apple will need to examine the possibility of offering less expensive models, similar to its iPod line. Until that happens, IDC forecasts iOS to ship lower volumes than Android.

The BlackBerry OS will grow slowly but largely maintain share over the coming years following the BlackBerry 10 launch next year. The new operating system and devices will be valued by some longtime BlackBerry fans, particularly those who have waited for the new OS as Research In Motion delayed its release. This will allow the company to maintain pockets of strength in higher-growth emerging markets such as Indonesia and various Latin American countries. But, as with many other new platforms, the success of BB 10 will be partly dependent upon channel advocacy, like sales associates who can effectively tell the BlackBerry story.

Windows Phone will battle with BlackBerry for the number three spot in 2013, but will gain further clarity in the years that follow. Windows Phone will build on the progress it made in 2012, with Nokia establishing its presence and HTC solidly jumping back into the race. Moreover, contributions by Samsung, ZTE, and Huawei will help grow its footprint. With more vendors releasing more devices aimed at multiple segments, sales associates will be better positioned to tell a compelling Windows Phone story and to explain the value of Windows Phone’s differentiated experience compared to market leaders Android and iOS.

Linux will trail the market leaders throughout our forecast though it is expected to be the dark horse of the forecast. K-Touch has quietly built its Linux volumes this year while Haier recently released its first Linux smartphones. In addition, multiple platforms are expected to announce and launch their Linux-based smartphones in 2013, including Samsung’s Tizen and Jolla’s SailFish. Benefiting these platforms are their ties to previous platforms from the LiMo Foundation and Nokia’s MeeGo, which could lead to greater developer interest.

Top Smartphone Operating Systems, Forecast Market Share and CAGR, 2012–2016

Smartphone OS

2012 Market Share

2016 Market Share

CAGR 2012 – 2016 (%)

Android

68.3%

63.8%

16.3%

iOS

18.8%

19.1%

18.8%

BlackBerry OS

4.7%

4.1%

14.6%

Windows Phone

2.6%

11.4%

71.3%

Linux

2.0%

1.5%

10.5%

Others

3.6%

0.1%

-100.0%

Total

100.0%

100.0%

18.3%

Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, December 3, 2012

image

Android Marks Fourth Anniversary Since Launch with 75.0% Market Share in Third Quarter, According to IDC [IDC press release, Nov 1, 2012]

The Android smartphone operating system was found on three out of every four smartphones shipped during the third quarter of 2012 (3Q12). According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, total Android smartphone shipments worldwide reached 136.0 million units, accounting for 75.0% of the 181.1 million smartphones shipped in 3Q12. The 91.5% year-over-year growth was nearly double the overall market growth rate of 46.4%.

“Android has been one of the primary growth engines of the smartphone market since it was launched in 2008,” said Ramon Llamas, research manager, Mobile Phones at IDC. “In every year since then, Android has effectively outpaced the market and taken market share from the competition. In addition, the combination of smartphone vendors, mobile operators, and end-users who have embraced Android has driven shipment volumes higher. Even today, more vendors are introducing their first Android-powered smartphones to market.”

“The share decline of smartphone operating systems not named iOS since Android’s introduction isn’t a coincidence,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “The smartphone operating system isn’t an isolated product, it’s a crucial part of a larger technology ecosystem. Google has a thriving, multi-faceted product portfolio. Many of its competitors, with weaker tie-ins to the mobile OS, do not. This factor and others have led to loss of share for competitors with few exceptions.”

Mobile Operating System Highlights

Android, having topped the 100 million unit mark last quarter, reached a new record level in a single quarter. By comparison, Android’s total volumes for the quarter were greater than the total number of smartphones shipped in 2007, the year that Android was officially announced. Samsung once again led all vendors in this space, but saw its market share decline as numerous smaller vendors increased their production.

iOS was a distant second place to Android, but was the only other mobile operating system to amass double-digit market share for the quarter. The late quarter launch of the iPhone 5 and lower prices on older models prevented total shipment volumes from slipping to 3Q11 levels. But without a splashy new OS-driven feature like Siri in 2011 and FaceTime in 2010, the iPhone 5 relied on its larger, but not wider, screen and LTE connectivity to drive growth.

BlackBerry‘s market share continued to sink, falling to just over 4% by the end of the quarter. With the launch of BlackBerry 10 yet to come in 2013, BlackBerry will continue to rely on its aging BlackBerry 7 platform, and equally aging device line-up. Still, demand for BlackBerry and its wildly popular BBM service is strong within multiple key markets worldwide, and the number of subscribers continues to increase.

Symbian posted the largest year-on-year decline of the leading operating systems. Nokia remains the largest vendor still supporting Symbian, along with Japanese vendors Fujitsu, Sharp, and Sony. Each of these vendors is in the midst of transitioning to other operating systems and IDC believes that they will cease shipping Symbian-powered smartphones in 2013. At the same time, the installed base of Symbian users will continue well after the last Symbian smartphone ships.

Windows Phone marked its second anniversary with a total of just 3.6 million units shipped worldwide, fewer than the total number of Symbian units shipped. Even with the backing of multiple smartphone market leaders, Windows Phone has yet to make a significant dent into Android’s and iOS’s collective market share. That could change in 4Q12, when multiple Windows Phone 8 smartphones will reach the market.

Linux volume declined for the third straight quarter as did its year-over-year growth. Samsung accounted for the majority of shipments once again, but like most other vendors competing with Linux-powered smartphones, most of its attention went towards Android instead. Still, that has not deterred other vendors from experimenting, or at least considering the open-source operating system, as multiple reports of Firefox, Sailfish, and Tizen plan to release new Linux-based experiences in the future.

Top Six Smartphone Mobile Operating Systems, Shipments, and Market Share, Q3 2012 (Preliminary) (Units in Millions)

Operating System

3Q12 Shipment Volumes

3Q12 Market Share

3Q11 Shipment Volumes

3Q11 Market Share

Year-Over-Year Change

Android

136.0

75.0%

71.0

57.5%

91.5%

iOS

26.9

14.9%

17.1

13.8%

57.3%

BlackBerry

7.7

4.3%

11.8

9.5%

-34.7%

Symbian

4.1

2.3%

18.1

14.6%

-77.3%

Windows Phone 7/ Windows Mobile

3.6

2.0%

1.5

1.2%

140.0%

Linux

2.8

1.5%

4.1

3.3%

-31.7%

Others

0.0

0.0%

0.1

0.1%

-100.0%

           

Totals

181.1

100.0%

123.7

100.0%

46.4%

Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, November 1, 2012
Note: Data are preliminary and subject to change. Vendor shipments are branded shipments and exclude OEM sales for all vendors.

Android Smartphone Shipments and Market Share, 2008 – 2012 YTD (Units in Millions)

 

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012 YTD

Android Total Unit Shipments

0.7

7.0

71.1

243.4

333.6

Android Market Share

0.5%

4.0%

23.3%

49.2%

68.2%

Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, November 1, 2012
Note: Data are preliminary and subject to change. Vendor shipments are branded shipments and exclude OEM sales for all vendors.

Gartner Says Worldwide Sales of Mobile Phones Declined 3 Percent in Third Quarter of 2012; Smartphone Sales Increased 47 Percent [Gartner press release, Nov 14, 2012]

Samsung Extended Its Lead in the Smartphone Market Widening the Gap with Apple

Worldwide sales of mobile phones to end users reached almost 428 million units in the third quarter of 2012, a 3.1 percent decline from the third quarter of 2011, according to Gartner, Inc. Smartphone sales accounted for 39.6 percent of total mobile phone sales, as smartphone sales increased 46.9 percent from the third quarter of 2011. 

While the mobile phone market declined year-on-year, Gartner analysts said there were positive signs for the industry during the third quarter. 

“After two consecutive quarter of decline in mobile phone sales, demand has improved in both mature and emerging markets as sales increased sequentially,” said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner. “In China, sales of mobile phones grew driven by sales of smartphones, while demand of feature phones remained weak. In mature markets, we finally saw replacement sales pick up with the launch of new devices in the quarter.” 

Smartphones continued to fuel sales of mobile phones worldwide with sales rising to 169.2 million units in the third quarter of 2012. The smartphone market was dominated by Apple and Samsung. “Both vendors together controlled 46.5 percent of smartphone market leaving a handful of vendors fighting over a distant third spot,” said Mr. Gupta. 

Nokia slipped from No. 3 in the second quarter of 2012 to No. 7 in smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2012. RIM moved to the No. 3 spot with HTC not far behind, at No. 4. “Both HTC and RIM have seen their sales declining in past few quarters, and the challenges might prevent them from holding on to their current rankings in coming quarters,” added Mr. Gupta. 

While seasonality in the fourth quarter of 2012 will help end-of-year mobile phone sales to end users, Gartner analysts said that there will be a lower-than-usual boost from the holiday season. Consumers are either cautious with their spending or finding new gadgets like tablets, as more attractive presents. 

Samsung’s mobile phones sales continued to accelerate, totaling almost 98 million units in the third quarter of 2012 (see Table 1), up 18.6 percent year-on-year. Samsung saw strong demand for Galaxy smartphones across different price points, and it further widened the gap with Apple in the smartphone market, selling 55 million smartphones in the third quarter of 2012. It commanded 32.5 percent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter of 2012. 

Table 1
Worldwide Mobile Device Sales to End Users by Vendor in 3Q12 (Thousands of Units)

Company

3Q12

Units

3Q12 Market Share (%)

3Q11

Units

3Q11 Market Share (%)

Samsung

97,956.8

22.9

82,612.2

18.7

Nokia

82,300.6

19.2

105,353.5

23.9

Apple

23,550.3

5.5

17,295.3

3.9

ZTE

16,654.2

3.9

14,107.8

3.2

LG Electronics

13,968.8

3.3

21,014.6

4.8

Huawei Device

11,918.9

2.8

10,668.2

2.4

TCL Communication

9,326.7

2.2

9,004.7

2.0

Research in Motion

8,946.8

2.1

12,701.1

2.9

Motorola

8,562.7

2.0

11,182.7

2.5

HTC

8,428.6

2.0

12,099.9

2.7

Others

146,115.1

34.2

145,462.2

32.9

Total

427,729.5

100.0

441,502.2

100.0

Source: Gartner (November 2012)

Nokia’s mobile phone sales declined 21.9 percent in the third quarter of 2012, but overall sales at 82.3 million were better than Gartner’s early estimate, largely driven by increased sales of the Asha full touch range. Nokia had a particularly bad quarter with smartphone sales, and it tumbled to the No. 7 worldwide position with 7.2 million smartphones sold in the third quarter. The arrival of the new Lumia devices on Windows 8 should help to halt the decline in share in the fourth quarter of 2012, although it won’t be until 2013 to see a significant improvement in Nokia’s position

Apple’s sales to end users totaled 23.6 million units in the third quarter of 2012, up 36.2 percent year-on-year. “We saw inventory built up into the channel as Apple prepared for the coming holiday season, global expansions and the launch into China in the fourth quarter of 2012,” said Mr. Gupta. With iPhone 5 launching in more territories in the fourth quarter of 2012, including China, and the upcoming holiday season Gartner analysts expect Apple will have its traditionally strongest quarter. 

In the smartphone market, Android continued to increase its market share, up 19.9 percentage points in the third quarter of 2012. Although RIM lost market share, it climbed to the No. 3 position as Symbian is nearing the end of its lifecycle. There was also channel destocking in preparation of new device launches for RIM, which resulted into 8.9 million sales to end users in the third quarter of 2012. With the launch of iPhone 5, Gartner analysts expect iOS share will grow strongly in the fourth quarter of 2012 because users held on to their replacements in many markets ahead of the iPhone 5 wider roll out. Windows Phone’s share weakened quarter-on-quarter as the Windows Phone 8 launch dampened demand of Windows Phone 7 devices. 

Table 2
Worldwide Mobile Device Sales to End Users by Operating System in 3Q12 (Thousands of Units)

Operating System

3Q12

Units

3Q12 Market Share (%)

3Q11

Units

3Q11 Market Share (%)

Android

122,480.0

72.4

60,490.4

52.5

iOS

23,550.3

13.9

17,295.3

15.0

Research In Motion

8,946.8

5.3

12,701.1

11.0

Bada

5,054.7

3.0

2,478.5

2.2

Symbian

4,404.9

2.6

19,500.1

16.9

Microsoft

4,058.2

2.4

1,701.9

1.5

Others

683.7

0.4

1,018.1

0.9

Total

169,178.6

100.0

115,185.4

100.0

Source: Gartner (November 2012) 

Additional information can be found in the Gartner report “Market Share: Mobile Phones by Region and Country, 3Q12.” The report is available on Gartner’s website at http://www.gartner.com/resId=2236115.

 


Tablets

Digitimes Research: Global tablet shipments to surpass that of notebooks in 2013 [DIGITIMES Research, Nov 19, 2012] 

Digitimes Research expects global tablet shipments to reach 210 million units in 2013, up 38.3% on year and surpass those of notebook for the first time, with branded tablet shipments to account for 140 million units, according to Digitimes Research senior analyst James Wang.
[Compare this to the notebook shipment forecast by Digitimes Research of 192 million units in 2012 expected to drop to 189 million units in 2013. See additional details of this forecast below in Digitimes Research: Windows 8 expected to have minimal impact on touch screen notebooks in 2013.]

In 2013, Google is expected to maintain its momentum from the Nexus series products and become the second largest tablet brand vendor worldwide with shipments of 19 million units. Apple will remain the largest tablet vendor worldwide, but its share in the global branded tablet shipments will drop to only 55.6% [i.e. 78 million units], down from more than 60% in 2012, and 37.4% in total tablet shipments (including white-box models).

With surging shipment growth for white-box tablets, Android is expected to become the largest platform in the tablet market, surpassing iOS. In 2013, Digitimes Research expects Android-based tablet shipments including white-box and branded models, to reach 121 million units, up 40.2% on year. [With the global 210 millions and branded 140 millions the white-box tablet shipments are expected to grow to 70 million units in 2013 vs. 50 millions this year. Therefore the branded Android based-tablets to become 51 millions, and as the Nexus tablets are said here to become 19 millions there will be 32 millions other branded Android tablets sold in 2013 .]

Digitimes Research also expects global tablet shipments will reach 320 million units in 2015 with branded tablets to account for 220 million units and white-box models to account for 100 million units.

Digitimes Research: Global Tablet Market to Enjoy Strong Shipment Growth in 4Q12 [DIGITIMES Research, Nov 13, 2012]

Global tablet shipments from major brands worldwide are expected to reach 40.93 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, up 72.7% sequentially and 89.7% on year, according to Digitimes Research senior analyst James Wang.

As for the tablet vendor rankings in the quarter, Apple will remain as the largest vendor worldwide, while Amazon is expected to return as the second-largest and Google will rank third with assistance from its Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. Microsoft will rank fourth, Samsung Electronics fifth, and Barnes & Noble sixth. Asustek, Lenovo and Acer will rank seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively, Wang noted.

As for the tablet processor supplier rankings, Texas Instruments (TI) will return as the second-largest with Nvidia at third. Intel will also be ranked for the first time due to Windows 8.

Taiwan makers are expected to ship 36.6 million tablets combined in the fourth quarter, up 82.3% sequentially and 86.7% on year, with the volume accounting for 89% of global tablet shipments. Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry) will be the largest tablet maker, followed by Quanta Computer, Pegatron Technology, Wistron and Compal Electronics.

Digitimes Research estimates that global branded tablet shipments will reach 104 million units in 2012, up 64% on year, with iPad accounting for 63% of the volume, down 2pp on year, while both Android and Windows will see their proportions increase.

In comparison the white-box tablet shipments are up by whopping 317% in 2012 at least (50 million units shipped as a minimum vs. 12 million units in 2011) according to sources given below: 

Digitimes Research: White-box tablet shipments to surpass 50 million units in 2012 [DIGITIMES Research, Nov 8, 2012]

White-box tablets are expected to see a surge in shipment growth in 2012 with volumes surpassing 50 million units, according to Digitimes Research senior analyst James Wang.

There are three major drivers that will help white-box tablets achieve strong growth in the year: a large number of potential consumers brought in by Android handsets, mature development of China-based processors, and decreasing costs o white-box tablets. With the addition of white-box tablet shipments, Android is expected to surpass iOS and become the largest mobile operating system in 2012, while 7-inch displays will also become the mainstream specification for tablets.

As the branded tablet PC market is seeing fierce competition in terms of technology, capacity, yield rates, patents and prices, the rise of white-box tablets has already made these players a new force in the tablet market, with some white-box players even seeing higher shipment volumes than first-tier vendors.

Digitimes Research believes that brand vendors should be aware of white-box tablet players’ developments in the future, since even platform designers such as Google and Microsoft have used their resources to increase price competition in the tablet market, and the situation may gradually turn to favor China-based players with expertise in lowering costs.


Source: Digitimes Research, November 2012
or from the Chinese version of the same [Nov 9, 2012]:

China Fabless: Rockchip rattled by Android tablet wars [by Junko Yoshida on EE Times, Sept 25, 2012]

How many tablets does China make, how big is the Chinese market?
80 percent of media tablets made in China are exported


Unit: Million of units
Source: Chinese industry estimates

For more information see also: Yoshida in China: ‘Shanzhai’ clouds tablet data [EE Times, Nov 8, 2012]

In retrospect: just 4 months ago the forecast was increased from 30 million to 40 million
Global shipments of white-box tablet PCs to reach 40 million units in 2012, say chip designers [DIGITIMES, July 25, 2012]

Forecast global shipments of white-box tablet PCs in 2012 have been upward adjusted from 30 million units originally to 40 million units due to growing demand in emerging markets including China, India, Thailand and Latin America, according to Taiwan-based design houses of ICs used in tablet PCs.

An estimated 10 million white-box tablet PCs were shipped globally in 2011, and shipments increased to 18 million units in the first half of 2012, the sources indicated.

Vendors/makers of white-box tablet PCs currently cluster in Shenzhen and Dongguan, southern China, the sources noted. A large portion originally made netbooks and have stepped into tablet PCs as chips and the Android operating systems have matured, the sources said.

White-box tablet PCs are primarily competitive in price with models launched by own-brand vendors, with retail prices standing at US$59 for 7-inch models and US$149 for 10.1-inch models, the sources indicated.

China market: Domestic chipset vendors ramping up shipments to white-box tablet PC makers [DIGITIMES, July 20, 2012]

China-based chipset solution vendors including Rockchip Electronics and Allwinner Technology have been ramping up their shipments to white-box tablet PC vendors in China, cutting out market share from Taiwan-based VIA Technologies, according to industry sources.

Shipments of white-box tablet PCs in China totaled eight million units in the first half of 2012 and are expected to reach 16-17 million units for the year, compared to 20 million projected previously, the sources indicated.

Rockchip shipped at least 1.6 million tablet chipset solutions in the first half, accounting for 20% of the white-box tablet PC segment. Rockchip’s latest ARM-based dual-core solution, the SoC RK3066, is being built using a 40nm process at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), said the sources.

Allwinner has been delivering more of its A10 solutions, which are also manufactured by TSMC utilizing a 55nm process, added the sources.

then came the news that: Demand for white-box tablets keeps growing despite keen competition [DIGITIMES, Oct 15, 2012]

Demand for white-box tablets rolled out by China-based makers remains strong currently despite the launch of US$199 models by Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Google, and the dominance of Apple’s iPads, according to industry sources.

Some white-box makers in Shenzhen are shipping 200,000-300,000 tablets a month, and a number of large-scale operators are even shipping one million units a month, buoyed by their tactics of optimizing hardware specifications, while keeping device prices low, noted the sources.

Most 9.7- or 10.1-inch white-box tablets powered by a dual-core CPU are currently quoted below US$200, while those comparable models with a single-core processor are priced at US$70-120, revealed the sources.

Some 7-inch models built with China-based Allwinner’s A10 solutions can be available for US$50, the sources added.

Additionally, the FOB prices of US$150-250 for 9.7-inch white-box tablets with dual-core CPUs, high resolution displays and 3G modules are also competitive in emerging markets, the sources commented.

Some tablet exhibitors at the ongoing HKEF 2012 (Hong Kong Electronics Fair, Autumn Edition) estimate that China-based white-box makers as a whole are shipping four million tablets a month currently.

Allen Wu, president, ARM China, predicts that shipments of Android-based tablets by China makers are likely to reach 50 million units in 2012 and increase to 100 million units in 2013.

Over 5.0 million Nexus 7s to be shipped in 2012, say Taiwan makers [DIGITIMES Research, Nov 19, 2012]

At the end of the second quarter, Google expected shipments of 2.5 million Nexus 7s in 2012 but since then it has continually placed additional orders in view of booming sales, with the cumulative shipment volume in 2012 will reach 5.0 million units based on orders released, according to Taiwan-based players in the supply chain.

While international vendors usually place orders for shipments to peak in October and November to meet year-end peak demand beginning in late November, Nexus 7 shipments are expected to remain at a high level of 700,000-1,000,000 units in both November and December, the sources pointed out.

After the launch of the 16Gb Nexus 7 for sale at US$199 and a 32GB version at US$249, Google on November 13 launched a 32GB 3G-enabled Nexus 7 for sale at US$299 and Google Play and Google’s partner AT&T have sold out available stock, the sources indicated.

While the iPad mini is thought of as a major competitor for the Nexus 7, Taiwan-based iPad mini supply chain makers indicated that Apply has not adjusted order volumes since the tablet was launched and monthly shipments remain at nearly 4.0 million units currently.

Digitimes Research: Google will become more influential in tablet market [DIGITIMES Research, Nov 2, 2012]

Senior analyst James Wang of Digitimes Research believes that Google’s recently announced Nexus 10, developed in cooperation from Samsung Electronics, and upgraded storage for the Nexus 7, are aimed at starting competition with players such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and China-based white-box tablet vendors.

Since Google has prepared a full-range of tablet products, Wang believes the company’s entry-level Nexus tablet, that has not yet been announced, will have the strongest influence on its competitors.

Google’s Nexus 7 shipments performed better than expected, and are forecast to reach 4.3 million units in 2012, accounting for about 20% of non-Apple tablet shipments (excluding white-box models), while the volume in the fourth quarter is also expected to enjoy sequential growth despite the weak global economy, Wang pointed out.

Digitimes Research estimates that Google’s Nexus series tablets will see total shipments of 19 million units in 2013 accounting for 50% of non-Apple tablet shipments. [In a later estimate Wang raised the shiments of other branded Android tablets to 32 millions, see also here in the beginning, so Google’s Nexus marketshare now is only 37% in its own category.]

But note: Nexus 7 not yet allowed to enter China market [DIGITIMES Research, Sept 11, 2012]

While the Nexus 7, the tablet co-developed by Google and Taiwan-based vendor Asustek Computer, has been witnessing booming sales in major markets around the world, it is difficult for the model to be available for sale in the China market because the China government has not yet approved its import, according to industry sources in Taiwan.

The China government’s negative attitude is interpreted as a response to Google’s announcement of withdrawing from the China market in March 2010, the sources pointed out. It is difficult for the Nexus 7 to enter the China market, even through sale of Asustek’s marketing network there, the sources indicated.

Without the Nexus 7 in the market, China-based white-box vendors of tablets are under much less competitive pressure, the sources indicated. This is because the Nexus 7 has the advantage of Google’s and Asustek’s brand image with commensurate product quality and is expected to be strongly competitive with 8GB Android 4.0 tablet models in the 7- to 9-inch range launched by China-based white-box vendors, including Ainol, Onda, Teclast and Cube, at US$149, the sources pointed out. In addition, the Nexus 7 will bring competitive pressure on tablet PC models of equal specifications offered by Samsung Electronics and China-based vendors Lenovo and Hasee Computer in the China market, the sources indicated.

Without the China market, the cumulative global sales volume of Nexus 7 will reach an estimated 3.5 million units at the end of 2012, the sources noted.

Google attitude against modified Android may lead to split in Android, say Taiwan handset makers [DIGITIMES Research, Sept 18, 2012]

Google’s opposition to Taiwan-based vendor Acer’s launch of the A800, a smartphone based on the Alibaba-developed operating system Aliyun, reflects Google’s attempt to check development of modified Android platforms, but if Google cracks down on this, developers of modified Android platforms may be forced to offer own-brand smartphones or tablets and give up on Android, resulting in an increased split in the adoption of Android, according to Taiwan-based handset supply chain makers.

Google explained that Aliyun is incompatible with the Google ecosystem and therefore unable to ensure a consistent user experience among developers, makers and consumers, the sources noted. In response, Alibaba emphasized that Aliyun, while based on open-source Linux as Google is, is not part of the Google ecosystem and therefore is not necessarily compatible with the ecosystem, the sources indicated.

Developers of modified Android platforms such as Amazon and Alibaba are not members of the Open Handset Alliance and are Google’s competitors, they need not care about Google’s attitude, the sources pointed out. However, smartphone vendors need to cooperate with Google to offer Android models and therefore have to be concerned about Google’s attitude against modified Android platforms, the sources indicated.

If Google cracks down by prohibiting smartphone vendors from adopting modified Android platforms, developers of modified Android platforms, such as Amazon, may skip vendors to directly partner with ODMs to offer their own-brand devices, with such platforms to set up their own ecosystems and thereby become more competitive with Android, the sources pointed out. For some China-based smartphone vendors which have adopted many locally developed applications, because losses arising from forgoing Android may be small, they may shift to a modified Android platforms.

Among China-based smartphone vendors, only Huawei Technologies, ZTE, Lenovo, Haier, Oppo and a few others joined the Open Handset Alliance, the sources noted. As China is the largest smartphone market around the world, Google had better pay attention to response from web service operators, smartphone vendors and consumers, the sources pointed out.

Commentary: Is it a blessing for Asustek to have Google backing? [DIGITIMES, Nov 7, 2012]

Asustek Computer has seen its brand image improve in the US and Japan recently thanks to the launch of dual-branded Nexus 7 in cooperation with Google. Asustek is proud of its product design with regard to the Nexus 7, and also aims to capture the top-vendor ranking in the Android tablet segment. But it remains to be seen whether Asustek will be able to continue to expand its brand image based on the charm of the Nexus 7, since Google has announced its Nexus 10 in conjunction with Samsung Electronics.

Google has been backing Asustek in the development of the Nexus 7, offering the Taiwan-based hardware vendor the priority to design-in its latest Android OS and to penetrate into the US tablet market jointly.

Due to aggressive pricing set for the Nexus 7, industry watchers have wondered whether the Google-Asustek cooperation would generate profits for Asustek before the production of the 7-inch tablet reaches economies of scale. But for Asustek, the dual-brand marketing was not aiming at generating profits initially but rather improving its brand image, particularly in North America.

Optimizing Asustek’s design capability and Quanta Computer’s manufacturing muscle, the Google-Asustek team is able to set the price of the Nexus 7 lower. The low-priced tactics is working as sales of the Nexus 7 have been better than expected, while Asustek’s notebook sales in the US are also improving.

Some industry watchers now estimate that total shipments of the Nexus 7 are likely to reach 4-4.2 million units by year-end 2012, while Asustek will also be able to sell more of its own brand notebooks in the US.

But the skepticism about the merits of the Google-Asustek tie-up still remains, since Google has showed its intention to control the development of the Android market, optimizing the production of the 7-inch Nexus 7 at Asustek and the 10-inch model at Samsung. Furthermore, the latest market rumors also indicate that Google may also team up with Lenovo for penetrating into the China market.

Does Google treat Asustek as a brand partner or an OEM supplier? John Lagerling, director of business development for Android, seems to have an answer to the question.

When approached by the New York Times during a recent interview seeking a confirmation of Asustek’s remarks that current shipments of the Nexus 7 have reached as many as one million units a month, Lagerling replied, “We haven’t announced numbers. We typically don’t allow our partners to announce numbers.”

The message clearly indicates that Google treats Asustek as an OEM partner, but not a dual-brand partner.

In the worst-case scenario, Google may tie up with other vendors such as HTC and Lenovo to develop its next-generation Nexus tablets, which will place Asustek under fire from rivals vying for the Android tablet market.

Asustek has estimated its tablet shipments to reach 6.3 million units in 2012, of which the Nexus 7 will account for over four million. In other words, shipments of Asustek’s own brand Transformer and Padfone tablets are limited.

Asustek’s competitive advantage will wane further if it fails to win the design-in priority for the next-generation Nexus tablets.


The emerging new trends
in the premium ecosystem of the Windows devices

[Windows] Notebooks

Third-generation ultrabooks may be able to achieve 40% of notebook shipments, say players [DIGITIMES, Dec 11, 2012]

As Intel failed to achieve its goal of having ultrabooks account for 40% of total notebook shipments with its Ivy Bridge platform, and the proportion only reached about 10%, sources from notebook players believe the goal may be achievable with the upcoming Haswell platform, which is set to launch at the end of second-quarter, 2013.

The sources pointed out that compared to Ivy Bridge, Haswell’s stronger performance and cheaper price, plus the expectation that Windows 8 should become more standardized by then, should mean ultrabooks have a chance to account for 40% of total notebook shipments by the end of 2013.

Although vendors have released ultra-like notebooks with prices around US$699-899 as alternatives, since these devices lack attractiveness in terms of design and weight, while ultrabook models with specifications similar to the MacBook Air have prices a lot higher than the MacBook Air, most consumers have turned to purchase Apple’s product instead, the sources noted.

Digitimes Research: Surface tablet to mainly devour notebook demand in the short term [DIGITIMES Research, Oct 30, 2012]

Microsoft’s recently launched own-brand Surface tablets have raised the question of whether Surface will devour consumer demand for tablets or notebooks, or maybe even both. In terms of hardware, Surface is capable of satisfying consumer demand for notebooks, but to replace other tablets, it still requires a more complete app software ecosystem, according to Digitimes Research senior analyst James Wang.

Currently, the major difficulty Surface faces in gaining a competitive edge in the tablet market is the lack of a complete app software ecosystem, which means that if Surface can achieve growth in the short term, it will mainly be at the expense of demand for notebook products.

To let Surface to become a tablet killer instead of a notebook killer, Microsoft must expand shipments of Windows RT devices to attract application designers to join and establish an ecosystem. However, due to Android’s existence in the market, most notebook vendors are hesitant about joining the Windows RT market.

Although IBM, Microsoft and Intel were able to defeat Apple previously with an open platform strategy, due to Android’s existence, Microsoft will be unable to compete against Google in terms of business model and will be forced to head to the same business direction as Apple of having a closed platform with integrated software and hardware, making it even more difficult for Microsoft to build a complimentary ecosystem built on the Windows RT platform.

The most popular strategy for platform competition is to offer a free or low-price product or service to attract users and establish an ecosystem to strengthen consumer loyalty, and then seek methods to gain profit. Apple, Google and Amazon’s strategies are all similar – by abandoning profit from some segments including hardware, operating system, software, digital content or advertising, they are able to increase their profits from the remaining segments; however, for Microsoft, since all the above segments belong to different business units, internal struggles and external industry fluctuations will all affect Microsoft’s performance in the future.

Digitimes Research: Windows 8 expected to have minimal impact on touch screen notebooks in 2013 [DIGITIMES Research, Nov 13, 2012]

Shipment growth for touch screens used in notebooks throughout the fourth quarter of 2012 and most of 2013 will at large not be affected by the release of Windows 8, according to Digitimes Research.

Research indicates that consumers are more likely to purchase tablets throughout the time period because of the wide variety of tablet products available, and because of the difference in pricing between tablets and notebooks.

The notebook shipment forecast is expected to drop by 192 million units in 2012 to 189 million units in 2013 as a result, as well as due to a lack of recovery in the global economy.

However, Digitimes Research pointed out that the expected drop in notebook shipments will also be due to notebook makers increasing the mainstream sizes of their products to 14- and 15-inch, which will thus decrease the amount of panels available for producing notebook products.

Despite the shipment drop, the usage rate for touch panels used in notebooks is expected to increase to 10% in 2013, added Digitimes Research.

Digitimes Research: Asustek to compete with Acer for top-3 worldwide notebook vendor spot in 2013 [DIGITIMES Research, Nov 15, 2012]

Weak Global notebook demand is expected to reshuffle the top-10 notebook brand rankings in 2013, with Lenovo expected to successfully take over Hewlett-Packard’s (HP) leading position. Meanwhile, Asustek Computer, which will rank as the fourth-largest brand vendor worldwide in 2012, will compete against Acer to become the third-largest vendor in 2013.

Toshiba, the sixth-largest notebook brand worldwide in 2012 is expected to be surpassed by Apple in 2013.

With top brand vendors starting to lose their edge, the four new stars in the notebook brand market – Lenovo, Asustek, Apple and Samsung – are expected to see their combined market share rise from 40.9% in 2012, to 43.2% in 2013.

As for upstream ODMs, their contributions to global notebook shipments is expected to grow from around 70% in 2011 to 75% in 2013, while electronic manufacturing service (EMS) providers will step out of the design business and turn to focus mainly on manufacturing.

In 2013, Pegatron Technology and Wistron are expected to have the best performance among the top-five makers as the former will benefit from increased orders from Lenovo and Fujitsu, while the later will benefit from its enlarged cooperation with Asustek.


Source: Digitimes Research, November 2012

HP, Lenovo aim to ship 40 million notebooks each in 2013, say Taiwan makers [DIGITIMES, Nov 19, 2012]

Despite a stagnant global notebook market in 2012, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Lenovo aim to ship 40 million notebooks each in 2013, respectively increasing by 25% and 33.3-37.9% from 2012, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers.

As there have been no signals to indicate an economic rebound in the US and Europe, and demand for Windows 8 notebooks will not take off in the near future because consumers will take time to get accustomed to the new operating system, HP and Lenovo may be too optimistic about their notebooks sales in 2013, the sources analyzed.

Among other vendors, Samsung Electronics aims to ship 17 million notebooks and 40 million tablets in 2013, hiking from 2012 by 21.4% and 300% respectively, while Toshiba and Acer have set respective goals of shipping 20 million units, growing from 2012 by 25%, and 28 million units which will rise by 7.7%, the sources noted.

Lenovo 3Q12 global PC market share rises to 15.6% [DIGITIMES, Nov 9, 2012]

Lenovo saw its total global sales volume of notebooks, desktops and tablets during the third quarter of 2012 increase by 10.3% on year, with corresponding global market share rising to 15.6%, according to the company’s fiscal second-quarter 2012 (July-September) report released on November 8.

Lenovo posted sales revenues of US$8.7 billion, gross margin of 12.1%, net operating profit of US$206 million, pre-tax profit of US$204 million, and net profit of US$162 million for the third quarter of 2012.

Lenovo reached the largest PC market shares in China, Japan, India, Russia and Germany in the third quarter, and is likely to do so soon in Brazil, the company pointed out.

Lenovo shipped 8.5 million handsets in the third quarter, of which seven million were smartphones, the company indicated.

Notebook vendors headhunt R&D talent from ODM partners [DIGITIMES, Nov 19, 2012]

As notebook brand vendors grow more interested in-house R&D and manufacturing to promote their brand image, sources from the upstream supply chain have seen some notebook vendors starting to headhunt talent from their ODM partners.

Sources from notebook ODMs also pointed out that vendors have changed their outsourcing strategies and will check with their chassis and hinge suppliers for component materials and prices, and have their in-house R&D teams complete industrial design before handing the work to ODMs.

The sources pointed out that the new strategy is expected to expand in the notebook industry in 2013 and should benefit notebook brand vendors in terms of gaining more control over component costs as well as keeping their product designs confidential.

Acer and Hewlett-Packard (HP) have already started adopting the strategy.

Acer recently pointed out that the company will increase its R&D investment by 20% each year for the next three years. The company currently has about 1,000 R&D engineers. Lenovo will also continue strengthening its R&D and manufacturing abilities and is set to achieve an in-house production rate of 20% in 2013. Samsung’s in-house production rate is expected to maintain at 85-90% in 2013.

Notebook ODMs offer extra services to attract tablet orders [DIGITIMES, Nov 19, 2012]

With notebook shipments estimated to only have a single-digit percentage growth on year in 2013, notebook ODMs including Quanta Computer, Compal Electronics and Wistron, are aggressively trying to land tablet orders by offering extra services, according to sources in the upstream supply chain.

In addition to offering preferences over price, product specifications and shipment conditions, Compal and Wistron also offer their exclusive touchscreen solutions from related subsidiaries to attract downstream brand vendors to place orders.

Meanwhile, Quanta is offering services through its cloud computing expertise and the company reportedly has assisted brand vendors such as Amazon, to build data centers and successfully acquired their tablet orders.

In 2013, Compal estimates it will ship 6-8 million tablets, up from two million units in 2012, while Wistron expects its tablet shipments to reach six million units, up from 2.5 million units in 2012, and Quanta with shipments of 14-15 million units, up from 10 million units in 2012.

11.6-inch becomes niche-market size for notebooks, say Taiwan makers [DIGITIMES, Nov 15, 2012]

As global sales of netbooks have been decreasing due to competition from tablets, 11.6-inch has become niche-market size, according to Taiwan-based notebook supply chain makers.

Among notebook screen sizes, 11.6- and 13.3-inch have accounted for a relatively small proportion of total shipments, the sources indicated. However, as Samsung Electronics and Acer have launched inexpensive 11.6-inch Chromebooks and Asustek Computer has launched a 11.6-inch VivoBook touch-control notebook, an increasing number of 11.6-inch notebooks are available for sale, the sources commented.

Despite shrinking sales, demand for netbooks still exists, especially in emerging markets, the sources indicated. As most netbooks are have screen sizes of 10-inch, and 10.1-inch is so far the upper limit for typical tablet screen sizes, 11.6-inch notebooks are likely to see considerable demand in the global market, the sources pointed out.

Windows 8 may not start a PC replacement trend for enterprises until after 2014 [DIGITIMES, Nov 19, 2012]

Demand for Microsoft’s Windows 8 is unlikely to start emerging until 2013 for the consumer market, while for the enterprise market, demand is expected to come at an even later time and may not appear until 2014, according to sources from the PC industry.

Although Microsoft is trying to present its latest innovations in Windows 8 to response to consumers’ fluctuating demand, it turns out that consumers need more time to understand the new advantages that the product provides and relatively delay acceptance for the new operating system.

Although notebook brand vendors have a high expectation for the year-end holidays this year, their order placement to the upstream supply chain still shows they are cautious about the shipment performance during the traditional peak season.

To prompt enterprises to adopt Windows 8, Microsoft has recently noted that the company will stop providing support to Windows XP in April, 2014 with most of the enterprises expected to turn to Windows 7 and some to Windows 8 as stability and necessity are the major considerations for enterprises to make a purchase.

Component makers concerned Windows 8 demand may not emerge until 1Q13 [DIGITIMES, Nov 19, 2012]

Some upstream component makers have recently started to be concerned that the PC replacement trend expected to be brought on by Windows 8 may not occur in the fourth quarter of 2012 as originally estimated, but will take off in the first quarter of 2013, according to sources from upstream supply chain.

Since an operating system usually needs to have serious debugging after launch, the sources believe consumers may hold back their new PC purchases until some time later and their actions would impact demand for Windows 8-based systems in the fourth quarter.

However, the component makers are still placing high hopes on the new operating system to bring growth.

Notebook ODMs facing uncertainty as brand vendors take over R&D [DIGITIMES, Nov 7, 2012]

Acer plans to release a new notebook that is designed and developed in-house, creating an alert among notebook ODMs that brand vendors are trying to become more involved in R&D and the component purchasing of their notebook products which could impact ODMs’ profitability, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.

The sources pointed out that Acer’s in-house developed notebook features Windows 8 and a touchscreen display and will be showcased at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2013, at the earliest. Related R&D has already been completed and Acer is currently seeking a partner to conduct assembly.

So far, the device is the only in-house developed project that Acer plans to release in the short term and shipments will be limited, indicating that the project is a test for Acer to try out its R&D capabilities, the sources noted.

With Lenovo also planning to expand its in-house production by establishing its own plants, if Acer also decides to conduct R&D in house, it could seriously impact the values of ODMs for their clients.

However, some ODMs pointed out that they are not concerned about the moves and believe the possibility of the new business model emerging is low since the brand vendors have already outsourced their R&D to ODMs for a long time, and rebooting their R&D capabilities will require a long period of learning.

Since Wintel is no longer dominating the PC market, brand vendors will also need to spend R&D resources on ARM and Android, which would seriously increase their burden.

At its Windows 8 product launch conference, Acer also revealed that the company will focus more on product R&D and will increase its R&D resources by at least 20% every year.

Commentary: Notebook ODMs face uncertainties in tablet market [DIGITIMES, Nov 7, 2012]

The rise of tablets and smartphones, plus the economic downturn in the US and Europe, have been causing PC brands such as HP, Dell and Acer to report unsatisfactory sales results. This has been affecting the performance of notebook ODM firms such as Quanta Computer, Compal Electronics and Wistron.
ODM firms have been hoping that Windows 8 can stimulate a new wave of demand as consumers switch to new PC models with the Microsoft operating system in 2013. Also, ODM firms have been aggressively fighting over tablet orders as demand in 2013 is likely to reach 200 million units.
Quanta Computers targets revenues from non-notebook business to increase to 30% of total revenues in 2012. Compal is looking to ship 6-8 million tablets in 2013, while Wistron aims to achieve its tablet shipment target of 6 million units in 2013.
Compal’s and Wistron’s targets of shipping 6-8 million tablets to a market whose total shipments are expected to reach 200 million in 2013 show how difficult it has been for notebook ODMs to obtain tablet orders.
One of the reasons is that most of the market has been dominated by Apple while other tablet vendors such as Amazon and Google have yet to see strong sales. Manufacturing orders have been over-concentrated, causing tough competition among firms. As a result, both Quanta and Compal have trimmed their tablet divisions.
The ODM firms have been facing uncertainties regarding tablet orders, such as multiple platforms, unstable orders, and different device sizes.
Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms continue to dominate the market while Microsoft’s Windows comes in third. Samsung is planning to develop its own platform and HP’s webOS may also become one of the major players. The multiple platforms mean firms need to bet on the right one to maintain orders.
As for orders, clients may place large volumes expecting strong sales in the end market. But when sales turn out worse than expected, inventory will build up and orders will be cut. That is the case with Amazon’s Kindle Fire earlier this year. For the tablet segment, manufacturing partners are under much higher pressure from inventory management.
Another uncertainty comes from the size of the devices. There are currently products that are 7-, 8.9-, 9.7-, 10.1-, and 11.6-inch. A small difference in size can mean significant differences in revenues.
In addition, profits have been unstable. Some tablet brands want to increase market share by resorting to low price and sacrificing their gross margin. This directly affects the profit margin of ODM firms.

Taiwan component makers worried about Lenovo plans to hike in-house notebook production [DIGITIMES, Oct 8, 2012]

As China-based vendor Lenovo plans to increase in-house production of own-brand notebooks and will therefore procure components instead of letting ODMs release orders, as a result Taiwan-based component makers have felt pressure of losing orders, according to Taiwan-based notebook supply chain makers.

In-house production currently accounts for 20-30% of Lenovo’s shipments of notebooks, desktops and other types of PCs, the sources indicated.

Lenovo will have LCFC (Hofei) Electronics Technology, its joint venture with Taiwan-based ODM Compal Electronics in Hofei, northern China, start volume production at the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013, to increase in-house production of notebooks, the sources pointed out. In addition, Lenovo is setting up PC production lines in the US and will do so in Brazil in 2013, with volume production to begin in 2013, the sources noted.

In addition to increasing in-house production, Lenovo may set up a supply chain consisting of China-based component makers, the sources pointed out.

Compal/Lenovo joint venture expected to output 3-5 million notebooks in 2013 [DIGITIMES, Sept 4, 2012]

The notebook manufacturing joint venture of Compal Electronics and Lenovo in Hefei, China was reported by local media to enjoy more than 10 million units of notebook production volume in 2013, but sources from notebook players estimate that the plants may only be able to output around 3-5 million units next year as their yield rates still need improvement, while the related process of shifting orders from other ODMs to the joint venture may also affect the total output volume from the joint venture.

The sources pointed out that Compal and Lenovo’s cooperation will create benefits for both firms as Lenovo will be able to directly control the quality of its products, understand the ODM manufacturing process and reduce its cost, while Compal will be able to tighten its relationship with Lenovo and benefit from Lenovo’s orders.

The joint venture will start pilot production in October and start mass production in the fourth quarter of 2012 with monthly capacity at around 300,000 units. Initially, the plants will focus on notebook production, but will later add production for all-in-one PC. The local media has reported that the plants will manufacture about one million notebooks in 2012, 13 million units in 2013 and 20 million units in 2014.

Currently, Lenovo has 51% stakes in the joint venture with Compal holding the remaining 49% and some market watchers are concerned that Lenovo may shift all its Compal orders to the joint venture, affecting Compal’s own orders and profitability since Compal will need to share its profit with Lenovo for any order received by the joint venture.

Commenting on the concerns, Compal president Ray Chen has noted that the two firms have already signed a contract to avoid from this type of situation, but he refused to reveal further details of the contract.

In 2013, sources from the supply chain pointed out that Lenovo will still maintain about 30% of notebook shipments being in-house manufactured and will outsource the remaining 70% with the orders to the joint venture considered as outsourcing.

Compal Electronics lays off tablet R&D, testing personnel [DIGITIMES, Oct 23, 2012]

Taiwan-based notebook and tablet ODM Compal Electronics has laid off more than 100 employees responsible for tablet R&D and testing.

Compal confirmed the layoffs, explaining that the company recruited staff members to meet growing orders for tablets in 2011 but orders received have been far short of expectations and therefore it is necessary to adjust manpower. Although Compal stressed that only one wave of layoffs is planned, internal sources indicated that there may be more.

Compal’s staff cuts signal that tablet vendors have encountered difficulties and notebook supply chains are under pressure, industry sources pointed out. For tablet vendors, the iPad has dominated the high-end segment while competition in among entry-level models, which includes the Amazon Kindle Fire series and Google Nexus 7, is already intensive, the sources analyzed. In addition, tablet vendors originally rested their hopes on Windows 8 models, but Microsoft’s launch of the Windows RT Surface at US$499, and Apple’s planned launch of the iPad mini will cut into their competitive advantages, the sources said.

Compal’s tablet clients are mainly Acer and Lenovo, the sources indicated.

In September 2011, Quanta Computer laid off over 1,000 production line workers due to a large decrease in orders for tablets from RIM, and in October 2011 Inventec laid off 432 employees because Hewlett-Packard reduced its tablet orders.

Lenovo to launch a table-shaped all-in-one PC [DIGITIMES, Nov 5, 2012]

Lenovo plans to launch a Windows 8-based all-in-one PC that features a similar industrial design as Microsoft’s Surface [on June 18, 2012, a Microsoft tablet of the same name was unveiled, the original Microsoft Surface was rebranded as Microsoft PixelSense, see the About Microsoft PixelSense [Microsoft PixelSense press page, June 18, 2012]], a table-shaped PC. The machine features four legs and when the display is laid flat, it becomes like a table and can be used by multiple users simultaneously, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.

The all-in-one PC features a 27-inch display with initial shipments of 20,000 units.

In addition to Lenovo, Acer, Asustek Computer and Hewlett-Packard (HP) all plan to launch new all-in-one PCs with some models will appear as soon as the end of 2012.

At Computex 2012, Asustek chairman Jonney Shih demonstrated an all-in-one PC product under its Transformer series and the all-in-one PC can be detached and become an 18.4-inch tablet, supporting both Windows 8 and Android; however, the product, so far, still has not yet been mass produced.

Meanwhile, Acer has also launched two Windows 8-based all-in-one PCs with special designed hinge and Lenovo also displayed its IdeaCentre A720 with a function to lay out flat.

In 2012, all-in-one PC shipments are expected to reach 16.4 million units, up 20% from 13.7 million units in 2011, according to figures from IHS iSuppli, while IDC also forecast that the all-in-one PC shipments will reach 17 million units in 2013.


[Windows] Smartphones

FIH reportedly lands handset orders from Microsoft and Amazon [DIGITIMES, Nov 26, 2012]

Foxconn International Holding (FIH) has reportedly landed handset orders from Microsoft and Amazon and is set to launch the devices in mid-2013, according to sources from the upstream supply chain. However, both the parent company Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry) and FIH declined to comment about clients or orders.

Foxconn is the major manufacturer of Apple’s iPhone products, while its subsidiary FIH has clients including Nokia, Sony, Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE.

Microsoft’s own-brand handset will adopt its Windows Phone 8 operating system, the sources noted.

The sources pointed out that Microsoft and Amazon’s own-brand handsets will only have a limited shipment volume initially and may become a new business model for the manufacturers in the future.

In addition to provide manufacturing services to first-tier brand vendors, FIH also supplies white-box handsets to regional vendors in China, Europe and the US.

Taiwan IC design houses to benefit from Samsung aggressive product roadmaps in 2013 [DIGITIMES, Dec 7, 2012]

… the Korea-based vendor is reportedly set to adopt a more aggressive ‘shotgun’ strategy wherein many models will be created in the smartphone, tablet, notebook, LCD TV and DSC sectors that cover a wide range of market segments in 2013, according to industry sources.

In the smartphone sector, Samsung will move into the Windows Phone platform and roll out models targeting the entry-level, mid-range and high-end segments simultaneously, in an attempt to duplicate its success in the Android space, the sources revealed.

Digitimes Research: Android phones to account for 70% of global smartphone market in 2013 [DIGITIMES Research, Dec 6, 2012]

Shipments of Windows Phones, including 7.x and 8.x models, will grow 150% on year to 52.5 million units in 2013 for a 6.1% share

Worldwide Mobile Phone Growth Expected to Drop to 1.4% in 2012 Despite Continued Growth Of Smartphones, According to IDC [IDC press release, Nov 1, 2012]

For the year, smartphone shipments are forecast to grow 45.1% year over year to 717.5 million units.

Windows Phone will battle with BlackBerry for the number three spot in 2013, but will gain further clarity in the years that follow. Windows Phone will build on the progress it made in 2012, with Nokia establishing its presence and HTC solidly jumping back into the race. Moreover, contributions by Samsung, ZTE, and Huawei will help grow its footprint. With more vendors releasing more devices aimed at multiple segments, sales associates will be better positioned to tell a compelling Windows Phone story and to explain the value of Windows Phone’s differentiated experience compared to market leaders Android and iOS.

Top Smartphone Operating Systems, Forecast Market Share and CAGR, 2012–2016

Smartphone OS

2012 Market Share

2016 Market Share

CAGR 2012 – 2016 (%)

Windows Phone

2.6%

11.4%

71.3%

Total

100.0%

100.0%

18.3%

Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, December 3, 2012

The previous forecasts taken together mean:
– IDC: 18.7 million Window Phones in 2012 (calculated as 2.6% of 717.5 million units)
– IDC: 161 million Window Phones in 2016 (with 71.3% CAGR of that 18.7 million)
– DIGITIMES Research + IDC: 46.6 million Window Phones in 2013 (150% growth predidicted for WP in 2013 by DIGITIMES Research over 18.7 million given by IDC for 2012)
which makes DIGITIMES Research’s forecast of 52.5 million Window Phones in 2013 quite feasible for me, at least for three reasons:

  1. Samsung aggressive move into the Windows Phone platform as noted above by DIGITIMES.
  2. The kind of breakthrough for the WP8 Lumias, and WP8 in general, especially against iPhone 5, as described by my recent blog entries ragarding:

    High-end smartphones state-of-the-art:
    Lumia 920 vs. iPhone 5 (and vs. Android, Galaxy S3, HTC One X+) [Dec 7, 2012]
    Windows Phone 8 vs. Android 4.1 and 4.2 [Dec 6, 2012]

  3. The additional, not yet recognized end-user and business partner advantages as described in all detail in my:
    – Lead post: Marko Ahtisaari from Nokia and Steven Guggenheimer from Microsoft on the Internet of Things day of LeWeb Paris’12 [Nov 6, 2012]

Uncertain Windows 8 future may relatively affect Windows Phone 8 [DIGITIMES, Nov 5, 2012]

Although Microsoft has been aggressive promoting its new Windows 8 operating system (OS), a weak global economy has the notebook supply chain remaining conservative about the OS’ contribution to their performance in the fourth quarter and the OS’ uncertain future may relatively affect the software giant’s plan for its Windows Phone 8 platform, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.

Microsoft’s aggressive promotion of Windows 8 touchscreen functions is meant to blur the boundaries between smartphone, tablet, notebook and desktop through a similar usage experience, while expanding its advantages in the IT industry through a unified OS platform structure and gain some benefits from the smartphone market, where the company is currently still behind.

Microsoft originally hoped to strengthen its Windows Phone 8 penetration through a PC replacement trend brought by Windows 8, but since the OS may not trigger a replacement trend as expected, while Microsoft’s smartphone partners such as High Tech Computer (HTC) and Nokia are also conservative about their Windows Phone 8-based product shipments, the sources believe Microsoft’s plans for its operating systems will be further delayed.

Microsoft’s launch of own-brand smartphones in 2013?
It is based on rumors that Microsoft Is Reportedly Testing Its Own Smartphone [TechCrunch, Nov 2, 2012]

First it built the Surface, and now Microsoft is said to be working on another new hardware product, this time a smartphone. That’s according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, which says Microsoft is currently working with Asian component suppliers on its own handset design, though it isn’t yet clear whether or not the device will ever go into mass production.
Details about what a Microsoft smartphone would look like are scarce, but the report does say that the version being currently tested has a screen between four and five inches, which is in keeping with recent designs from Apple and Android handset OEMs. It’s also probably pretty reasonable to assume that any device Microsoft puts out now will have more in common with the flagship phones from its hardware partners for Windows Phone 8, which include Nokia and HTC, than with its previous Kin smartphones. The teen-focused Kin carried Microsoft’s branding, but was made by Sharp, and lasted only 48 days on the market.
Microsoft had made a more dedicated approach to creating its own hardware with the Surface, albeit to mixed reviews. And as the WSJ reports, it’s also been more aggressive about enforcing hardware standards with its partners in recent years, both in terms of the look and makeup of Windows-certified PCs and in minimum specs for partner mobile handsets. That Microsoft could be considering an approach like Apple’s, wherein it would sell both hardware and software and control all aspects of the ecosystem, definitely seems more plausible than it has in the past.
Also, rumors have been building that Microsoft is working on a smartphone since back in June, thanks to Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund, who said that Microsoft was already working with a “contract manufacturer” to create their own Windows Phone 8 mobile device. Then at the beginning of October, Boy Genius Report received a tip that Microsoft was indeed working on its own smartphone, that would sell alongside and compete with partner OEM devices like the HTC 8X and Nokia Lumia 920. The company has shown it’s willing to go there with the Surface, and Nokia CEO Stephen Elop even said on a conference call two weeks ago that a Microsoft-made device would be a boost to the entire Windows Phone 8 device sales ecosystem.
Even if it didn’t become a top seller in and of itself, a Microsoft-branded smartphone could offer Windows Phone what the Nexus line provides Android: a place to show off the latest and greatest software, experiment and build hype around the platform. I think the biggest risk would be in potentially alienating hardware partners, but so far the Surface doesn’t seem to have dampened the enthusiasm of Windows PC OEMs all that much, and Elop has already declared his support. If nothing else, a Microsoft-made Windows Phone 8 smartphone would be interesting, and generating interest is maybe the key ingredient to Microsoft’s future mobile success.

Why Microsoft believes latest-gen Windows Phones are ‘killer hardware’ [TechRadar, Nov 18, 2012]

INTERVIEW We talk to the head of Windows Phone: Terry Myerson

For the last year, Nokia has been the poster child for Windows Phone but recently HTC and Samsung have seemed more in favour.

Samsung announced their Windows Phone 8 handsets first and the HTC 8x was handed out to enthusiasts at the Windows Phone 8 launch.

We asked corporate vice president of the Windows Phone Division Terry Myerson to explain how Microsoft juggles partnerships with rival phone makers and how much influence manufacturers have on the design of Windows Phone.

“We work in different ways with each of them on the engineering and on the marketing,” Myerson told TechRadar.

Nokia gets priority when it comes to development because of the commitment it’s made to Windows Phone; “Nokia is exclusive to Windows Phone and we definitely, on the engineering side, prioritise platform work to support their differentiation coming through.”

Despite the restrictions it puts on handset specs, Microsoft doesn’t want to see the same handset from every phone maker. “Our goal is that Windows Phone is a platform that our partner differentiation can shine through on.

We do spend time planning with HTC and Samsung, sitting down with them and collaborating on what a product is where their differentiation elegantly coexists with Windows Phone and what we bring. There are different cultures to each of these companies and they all have their own plans for how they want to bring their technologies to market.”

“The best devices”

He’s predictably enthusiastic about the handsets that come out of the collaboration with all three partners. “I think the result is the most fantastic killer hardware we’ve ever had, not only for the windows ecosystem – I think these devices are better than any device – well, I they’re the best devices. They’re colourful, they’re beautiful, they’re thin, amazing cameras…”

Some of what you see in Windows Phone 8 handsets is Microsoft’s idea, some comes from the OEMs. “In the case of wireless charging, that was definitely Nokia’s initiative to say they wanted that; they had technologies inside their labs, they took the initiative to put forward a number of engineering designs. There were definitely platform modifications we made to support their innovation but Nokia led on that. All the credit goes to them.”

“The Wallet feature is a place where the Windows Phone team thought about how to use NFC. Roaming content though SkyDrive, encryption; these are all features coming from Microsoft. But the wide angle camera that HTC did with Skype in mind, Nokia’s wireless charging – those are innovations coming from our hardware partners.”

Although app developers get far more access to the platform in Windows Phone 8, Microsoft is still keeping some control and treading a fine line between the free for all of Android that Google is increasingly trying to rein in and the central control of the Apple ecosystem.

We like to think of it as the structured ecosystem that allows the differentiation of partners to shine though on our platform, at the same time providing consumers the confidence that we will protect their privacy, keep malware off the platform, provide a consistently familiar user experience, and providing developers confidence they can write apps once and target our platforms. So there is more structure and structure at times can feel constraining but also there are benefits to it. It’s helpful that everyone drives on the same side of the road, for example…”

Why was the SDK so hard to get?

Myerson is unapologetic about not making the Windows Phone 8 SDK widely available before the launch (when most developers didn’t have phones to work with) and concentrating instead of key developers to get big-name apps; 46 of the top-selling 50 apps from other phones will be on Windows Phone 8 (and yes, he knows who the missing four are and is working on changing their minds).

The sheer number of apps in the Store is far from the most important thing. “It’s a balance; definitely there is magic that occurs in that long tail of apps, [you get some] delightful things… but it is also true that working with these incredibly popular mobile apps is important as well.”

Windows Phone 8 is the future and it’s getting all the marketing love at the moment, but Windows Phone 7 is far from dead. Myerson assured us. “We’re going to have more to say about 7.8 in the coming weeks,” he promised.

I would expect both platforms to exist for quite some time, from a global point of view. Windows Phone 7.8 devices will span much lower price points than Windows Phone 8 devices, initially, and given the application compatibility across the platforms, it makes the ecosystem stronger to have more device and more price points. We value every 7 and 7.8 customer we have; we’ll continue to work for them as well but it is true that Windows Phone 8 is our future platform.”

Of course that only matters if Microsoft can finally start selling Windows Phone devices in significant numbers. Just as Steve Ballmer promised you wouldn’t be able to escape Windows 8 ads, Myerson promises what sounds like an advertising blitz, focussing on Windows Phone rather than on the handset makers.

This holiday it’s very important to us to get out there and tell the Windows Phone story: how we do have this amazingly unique point of view, the smartphone that can be so personal and reflect your interests and the people in your life. Telling that in the most pure sense without confusing them which brands we’re talking about is important. We need consumers to understand and love Windows Phone.”

More advertising money

Certainly Microsoft has promised to advertise Windows Phone better before, without much to show for it, and Myerson seems happy to admit it.

“We weren’t out there with same experience as Windows, even we though shared the same brand; we didn’t have all the right teamwork in place with our partners on the go to market, and we were not advertising the product. We were not out there telling the story to consumers – and that changes now. We will start telling our story. We are going to go out there and advertise the product and tell people.”

What’s different now? In a word, Windows 8 – but also more operator support. “It’s a special time. We have a great product that expresses this unique differentiated point of view, that we are the most personal smartphone, we’ve got killer hardware from partners and we have a great partnership with the mobile operators.

“The fact that they’ve ranged so many phones at such great price points is fantastic. And of course having Windows out there at the same time is exciting; making the experience familiar to users and being the best phone for Windows; if you’re a Windows user, this is the phone for you.”

Intel Haswell: “Mobile computing is not limited to tiny, low-performing devices”

Update: Intel releases updated Haswell CPU roadmaps to production partners, say sources [DIGITIMES, Jan 18, 2013]

Intel reportedly has provided its production partners with updated roadmaps of its 22nm Haswell CPUs, which will be available in June, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.

The first wave of Haswell processors to be launched in the second quarter of 2013 will include Core i7-4770K, i7-4770, i7-4770S, i7-4770T, i7-4765T, i5-4670K, i5-4670, i5-4670S, i5-4670T, i5-4570, i5-4570S, i5-4570T, i5-4430 and i5- 4430S, the sources revealed.
[…K, …T and …S are all desktop processors just as the i5-4430; when the Haswell mobile processors with …M, …U and …Y will be available?]

Haswell-based Core i3-series CPUs [the Haswell mobile processors with …M, …U and …Y will be available here?] and high-end Ivy Bridge E processors will not be released until the third quarter, the sources added.

Along with the upcoming 22nm Haswell processors, Intel will also launch its Lynx Point 8-series chipsets, including the Z87, H87 and H81 for desktops and the Q87, Q85 and B85 for business platforms, said the sources.

Intel set to announce Haswell processors at Computex 2013 [[DIGITIMES, Jan 21, 2013]

Intel is set to host a conference prior to Computex 2013 in June announcing its upcoming Haswell series processors jointly with downstream partners, according to sources from PC players.

The sources noted that the new CPUs will appear on June 2 and related PC products will be showcased at Computex, hosted from June 4-8.

Intel also internally forecasts the new CPU platform to account for 14-16% of its total CPU shipments in the third quarter, the sources noted.

Since consumer demand for Windows 8 is expected to start rising after the operating system has been launched for eight months, with the launch of the new CPU platform, the sources expect the PC market to start recovering in the third quarter.

Update: Third-generation ultrabooks may be able to achieve 40% of notebook shipments, say players [DIGITIMES, Dec 11, 2012]

As Intel failed to achieve its goal of having ultrabooks account for 40% of total notebook shipments with its Ivy Bridge platform, and the proportion only reached about 10%, sources from notebook players believe the goal may be achievable with the upcoming Haswell platform, which is set to launch at the end of second-quarter, 2013.

The sources pointed out that compared to Ivy Bridge, Haswell’s stronger performance and cheaper price, plus the expectation that Windows 8 should become more standardized by then, should mean ultrabooks have a chance to account for 40% of total notebook shipments by the end of 2013.

Although vendors have released ultra-like notebooks with prices around US$699-899 as alternatives, since these devices lack attractiveness in terms of design and weight, while ultrabook models with specifications similar to the MacBook Air have prices a lot higher than the MacBook Air, most consumers have turned to purchase Apple’s product instead, the sources noted.

Update: Intel progressing in development of 14nm technology, says CTO [DIGITIMES, Dec 5, 2012]

Intel CTO Justin Rattner on December 4 said that Intel’s development of 14nm technology is on schedule with volume production to kick off in one to two years and development of 18-inch wafers is under way through cooperation with partners.

Rattner also noted that Intel’s aggressiveness over technology advancement will allow Moore’s Law to extend for another 10 years.

At the end of 2013, Intel will enter the generation of 14nm CPUs (P1272 [process: a shrink from the previous P1270 22-nm process as well as a reduction in power consumption]) and SoCs (1273), while expanding its investments at its D1X Fab in Oregon, and Fab 42 in Arizona, the US and Fab 24 in Ireland, and will gradually enter 10nm, 7nm and 5nm process generations starting 2015.

As for Intel’s competitors, Samsung is already set to enter 20nm in 2013 and is already working on its 14nm node, while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) 20nm process will enter small volume production in the second half of 2013 with the first 3D-based FPGA chips to also start.
Globalfoundries has previously announced its 14nm FinFET process will start pilot production at the end of 2013 and enter mass production in 2014.
As for 18-inch wafers, Intel has invested in Holland-based ASML for its EUV technology, and related technologies are expected to start entering production in 2017.

Mobile computing is not limited to tiny, low-performing devices”. That was Intel’s battle cry two months ago when its next-generation core, aka Haswell was introduced, see at the very end of this video report:

IDF 2012: Intel shows new Haswell chips [networkworld YouTube channel, Sept 11, 2012]

Intel’s David (Dadi) Perlmutter showed demonstrations of systems running on its new Haswell processor, due in 2013, at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco on Sept. 11. … The technology demo of Haswell vs the 3d generation Ivy Bridge shows the same core performance but running at less then half the power … “Next year we are going to fit the best performing graphics and media capabilities on mother earth that will fit into extremely thin, extremely nice, extremely sneak form factor. So mobile computing is not limited to tiny, low-performing devices”.

A detailed analysis published 2 days ago (Nov 13)  concluded:

Intel’s Sandy Bridge core served as an impressive starting point, with unmatched performance in the x86 ecosystem. Haswell builds on this foundation, with powerful ISA extensions and a substantially more aggressive execution core and cache hierarchy. Moreover, Haswell is the first Intel core that will take full advantage of the 22nm FinFET process technology. While the Ivy Bridge graphics architecture is new, the CPU core was mostly unchanged. More importantly, the circuit design was focused on a low-risk and faster migration to a new process, rather than achieving peak performance, efficiency or density.

Overall, we estimate that a Haswell core will offer around 10% greater performance for existing software, compared to Sandy Bridge. For workloads using the new extensions, the gains could be significantly higher. In theory, AVX2 and FMA can boost performance by 2×, but the impact on most vectorizable workloads will be much lower. Research from AMD has shown that lock elision gains 30% for the right workloads, although the benefits depend strongly on the actual concurrency.

Haswell will be the first big x86 core to compete against ARM-based cores in tablets. While the performance will be dramatically higher, the power budgets are very different. Haswell SoCs will reach 10W, while competing solutions are often closer to 4W. The real question is the relative efficiency of Haswell SoCs, and the advantage of the massive x86 software ecosystem. Fortunately, Windows 8 provides an opportunity to accurately measure performance and efficiency. The results will inject some hard data into discussions that have been otherwise vacuous and largely driven by marketing.

For details see the whole Intel’s Haswell CPU Microarchitecture [Real World Tech, Nov 13, 2012] article.

The next-generation Haswell was presented at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco as (source):

  • 4th Generation Intel Core Microprocessor, built on 22 nm process technology
  • Next Generation Intel HD Graphics with Microsoft DirectX 11.1, Open GL 4.0, OpenCL 1.2 support
  • Significant 3D and media performance improvement
  • Three Simultaneous Display, HDMI, DisplayPort, with high-resolution up-to 4Kx2K
Abbreviations: PEGPCI Express Graphics; IMCIntegrated Memory Controller; LLCLast Level Cache; DMIDirect Media Interface; DDR3L (2 channels) – Double Data Rate type THREE (3) synchronous dynamic random access memory Low-voltage; 4Kx2K4096 x 2160 native resolution corresponding to the highest LCD Monitor resolution such as the 36.4″ (92 cm) DuraVision FDH3601, the highest resolution of the Digital cinema, as well as 4K UHDTV (also called 2160p).

Then it goes into different type of client platforms, code named Shark Bay as follows (leaked by a Chinese “bigpao007” user information):

which means the following incorporation varieties of the Haswell into the various Shark Bay client platforms:

  • The standard voltage (SV) quad-core Haswell-QC with GT3/GT2 graphics core
  • The standard voltage (SV) dual-core Haswell-DC with GT2/GT1 graphics core
  • and the Lynx Point-H PCH (Platform Controller Hub) separate chip for both of them 
  • The ultra low voltage (ULV now renamed ULT – probably for ULTra) dual-core Haswell ULT with GT3/GT2/GT1 graphics core and Lynx Point-LP PCH (Platform Controller Hub) within the same Multi-Chip Package (MCP, also called MCM – Multi-Chip Module)
  • Wireless networking modules code-named Wilkins Peak with the top level “Wilkins Peak 2” supporting 2T2R (2 Transmitter, 2 Receiver) 802.11ac and Bluetooth. Intel should also support 2.4GHz and 5GHz dual-band, and the theoretical peak speed is 1750Mbps (1300Mbps +450 Mbps). The new module will be backward compatible with the current 802.11b/g/n.
  • Gigabit Ethernet LAN controller chips code-named Clarkville specifically Clarkville-LM for which no more information known yet

Which means the following essential difference:

Skyrim running @ 1080p on 4th gen Intel core with Intel HD Graphics “GT3” (codename) [channelintel YouTube channel, Oct 18, 2012]

Missed IDF SFO 2012? Check out Skyrim running @ 1080p on new level of Intel Graphics (code name “GT3”) on 4th gen core based mobile PC (reference platform)

From The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Wikipedia article:

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing open world video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It is the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls action role-playing video game series, following The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Skyrim was released on November 11, 2011 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. … Skyrim is powered by Bethesda’s own Creation Engine, a new engine created prior to Skyrim‘s release.[25][26]

Intel Corporation’s CEO Discusses Q3 2012 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, Oct 16, 2012]

Last month at IDF, we shared details of our next-generation Core processor codenamed Haswell. Originally targeted at 15 watts, we have made significant advancements in micro-architecture and process technology that will allow us to move Haswell down into the 10 watt envelope fostering even more innovation in form factor as well as new usage models like gesture computing and voice recognition.

… we expect an increase in inventory reserves as we start production on our next-generation micro-architecture product codenamed Haswell which we expect to qualify for sale in the first quarter of 2013.

Q: … you said you expect to qualify Haswell in the March quarter, will Haswell be appearing in systems in the March quarter or should we look for that a bit later in the year?

Paul Otellini – President & CEO

The first half.

Intel’s David (Dadi) Perlmutter talks Haswell, perceptual computing [EE Times YouTube channel, Sept 12, 2012]

Intel’s general manager of architecture talks about the firm’s upcoming fourth generation core microprocessor, Haswell, and some of the new functionality it will enable on upcoming ultrabooks, including gesture and voice recognition.

Intel CPO Talks About Haswell Progress and More in IDF Keynote [Intel® Premier IT Professionals, Sept 11, 2012]

What’s a CPO?
Chief Product Officer. And at Intel that is Dadi Perlmutter who is also an executive vice-president.
He delivered today’s opening keynote at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) on Collaborating to Shape the Future from Datacenter to Devices. So while developers are the key focus on this conference, there are topics that are of interest to IT professionals as well.
Instead of the rah-rah of some of the previous IDFs, Perlmutter began with a subdued acknowledgment of the 9/11 anniversary. That subdued approach carried over to much of the rest of his presentation as there were no big new product unveilings…only a progress report on offerings Intel has already announced.

Briefly, here’s the status report:

    • The 4th generation Intel Core, aka Haswell, is on track for launching next year. It is designed with mobility in mind, based on 22 nm technology, will have 20X [reduced] connected standby power [over the 2nd generation, and initially operating at about 10 watts], and delivers demonstrably smoother graphics.

    • New Ultrabooks based on the 4th generation processor will be thinner and faster, and will include Windows 8 in detachable, convertible, clamshell and other innovative form factors.

    • Intel is making progress on interactive PC experiences with a natural conversation beta using Nuance Dragon this year and moving into production in Q1 2012. Dragon runs native on the platform because it requires the high-performance of the CPU.
    • There are 20+ Atom Cloverdale chip tablets design wins coming with or shortly after the Windows 8 launch.
    • Smartphones based on the Intel Atom have launched with five partners and Intel says they are making steady progress with a competitive roadmap for smartphones.
        As usual, there were some cool demos.
          • Gary Flood, President Global Products and Services of MasterCard demonstrated the company’s PayPass Wallet utilizing Intel Identity Protection Technology in conducting a secure traction using Near Field Communications (NFC) on an Ultrabook.
          • Dadi showed a new intelligent Coca-Cola machine with a QR Reader, microphone, camera, and wifi. Designed by SIA, the intelligent system utilizes the Core i7.
          • Gesture recognition with a 3D camera connected via USB showed natural hand and finger movements.
              Dadi didn’t even use the term “compute continuum” this year—which was the focus of CEO Paul Otellini’s keynote last year. But, in what was probably the biggest news for the developer audience, he announced a $1 million Perceptual Computing Developer Challenge. “Perceptual computing” is all about ways you can interact with a computer beyond the keyboard and mouse, like voice, gesture, facial analysis, and more. Details for the contest and a free copy of the Intel Perceptual Computing SKD 2013 Beta are at intel.com/software/perceptual.

              Note that the below article is based on the June 5, 2012 BIOS Enabling Rev 1.0 presentation from the BIOS Application Engineering Team of the Ultrabook for Shark Bay Platform Enabling (put online on the German 3Dcenter.org on Nov 9, 2012):
              Intel Haswell ULT Processors Power Saving Features and Lynx Point-LP Chipset Detailed [WCCF Tech, Nov 12, 2012]

              Intel’s Haswell ULT (Low Power) processors would be featuring new and improved features which would help them maintain a low power draw without sacrificing much of their performance. These features have been detailed along with the Lynx Point-LP chipset which would support the Haswell ULT Mobile processors.

              Haswell ULT Low Power – 24 MHz BCLK and C9/C10 Support

              Back at IDF 2012, Intel demonstrated an Haswell chip which was capable of running an Unigine Heaven demo with a power draw of only 7.5 Watt. That is one significant improvement in power efficiency compared to its 22nm Ivy Bridge architecture. What helps Haswell ULT maintain such a lowerdraw, the answer is support for a new 24 MHz BCLK which will put the CPU at a standby operating frequency of 192 MHz at idle mode, once the user puts the CPU back in working mode the Haswell ULT chip would be restored to normal settings through software correction.

              Haswell ULT CPUs would also arrive with new C-State modes – C8, C9, C10. All three of which would only be available on ULT chips and not the desktop or normal mobile variants. In this state, the Haswell ULT would trigger Off state for VccIO and in C9/C10 state, the voltage would go down to 0V minimizing power draw to the max limit.

              Haswell and Lynx Point Cross Thermal Management

              Since Haswell ULT is a complete SOC (System On Chip), the Lynx Point-LP chipset and the CPU would be cross connected for easier thermal management between both. For instance, if the Lynx Point-LP exceeds its Tjmax limit, a signal would be sent to the Haswell-ULT issuing PCHHOT warning signal. Lynx Point-LP, to increase power efficiency gets rid of CPU overclocking, SATA IDE mode and DMI/FDI/PECI controllers. Lynx Point-LP upto 6 PCI-e 2.0 x16 lanes but doesn’t offer support for PCI-e 3.0. VGA output have been removed from the PCH, so you would have to rely on either DVI or HDMI for display connectivity. Connectivity on the Lynx Point-LP chipset includes 8 USB 2.0 ports, 4 USB 3.0 ports, 3 SATA III ports and integrated HD Audio.

              Overall, Haswell ULT and Haswell is looking as a nice improvement to Ivy bridge when it comes to power efficiency and graphics improvement. The Haswell ULT and Haswell U Processors arrive in Q2 2013 whereas the desktop Haswell processors along with the 8 Series Lynx Point Motherboards are expected to debut in April 2013.

              Preliminary roadmap information given out under NDA by Intel at the same time was also 3 days ago put  on the German 3Dcenter.org online from the June 5, 2012 Shark Bay Haswell ULT/Lynx Point-LP -Intel® ME 9.5 FW Features Overview Rev 1.1 presentation:

              In August there was the following roadmap leak as well which seems to be less than the above one: Intel’s Fourth Generation Haswell Mobile Processors to Launch in Q2 2013, New Ivy Bridge Mobile Chips in Q4 2012 [WCCF Tech, August 7, 2012]

              The latest Intel roadmap leak has confirmed that Haswell M-Series (Mobile) processors would launch in 1H of 2013 along with newer Ivy Bridge mobile chips in Q4 2012 and Q1 of 2013.

              The roadmap shows that Intel’s fourth generation processors known as Haswell would launch in Q2/Q3 2013 featuring a new 22nm Tri-gate architecture which would bring improved IPC performance over Ivy Bridge.

              Nokia HERE Maps for everything, for FireFox OS in a strategic partnership with Mozilla

              A highly recommended prerequisite reading: The Where Platform from Nokia: a company move to taking data as a raw material to build products [April 7, 2012]

              So, while Microsoft was struggling today with Steven Sinofsky, ex Microsoft: The victim of an extremely complex web of the “western world” high-tech interests [this same blog, Nov 13, 2012] Nokia made a big leap forward on its 2 year’s to counter the lethal dangers of Be aware of ZTE et al. and white-box (Shanzhai) vendors: Wake up call now for Nokia, soon for Microsoft, Intel, RIM and even Apple! [Feb 21, 2011] phenomenon it recognized earlier than every other high-tech company in the “western world”.

              Below there is the collection of the information made public today which shows quite well that in mid-term they could even become the most successful “western” high-tech company to overcome the tide raising from China towards the legacy high-tech companies. Their strategic partnership with Mozilla for the FireFox OS is even showing that they are not stupid at all to put all their eggs in the Windows Phone bag (albeit it is publicly only to bring HERE to that OS). They have already a very well positioned Asha and Asha Touch product line in the lower end (see With Asha Touch starting at $83 and Lumia at $186 Nokia targeting the entry-level and low-end smartphone markets [this same blog, Nov 1, 2012]), and now with FireFox OS they could have a 3d one positioned for what they called “taking advantage of future technology disruptions and trends” (see Nokia under transition (as reported by the company) [this same blog, March 11, 2012]).

              Nokia redefines digital map landscape by introducing HERE as new brand for its location and mapping service [Nokia press release, Nov 13, 2012]

              Nokia extends its service across devices and operating systems

              Nokia announces new partnership with Mozilla and planned acquisition of 3D capture company, earthmine

              San Francisco, California – Today Nokia introduced HERE, the first location cloud to deliver the world’s best maps and location experiences across multiple screens and operating systems. With the new brand, HERE, Nokia aims to inspire a new generation of location services and devices that make the mobile experience more personally significant for people everywhere.

              “People want great maps, and with HERE we can bring together Nokia’s location offering to deliver people a better way to explore, discover and share their world,” said Nokia President and CEO Stephen Elop. “Additionally, with HERE we can extend our 20 years of location expertise to new devices and operating systems that reach beyond Nokia. As a result, we believe that more people benefit from and contribute to our leading mapping and location service.”

              Pushing location beyond Nokia
              To further extend its location services, Nokia is launching a maps application for iOS under the HERE brand. Based on HTML5, it will include offline capabilities, voice-guided walk navigation, and public transport directions. The application is scheduled to be available for free download from Apple’s App Store in the coming weeks.

              Nokia further announced a strategic partnership with Mozilla to bring new location experiences to the Firefox OS. Nokia plans to debut a mobile Web version of HERE Maps for the new Firefox OS next year. The companies are working together to give people the best mapping experience on Firefox OS.

              “Mozilla is a leader in HTML5, building the Web as a platform for developing compelling applications, and location is a key part of that platform,” said Jay Sullivan, Mozilla Vice President of Products. “We are excited to work with Nokia as the combination of Firefox OS and HERE’s location platform provides rich possibilities for mobile application developers to create amazing experiences for users.”

              Nokia also demonstrated an Android OS-based reference application and announced plans for the availability of a HERE SDK for Android OEMs in early 2013. This is aimed at enabling partners to create location-based applications for Android devices with Nokia’s leading content.

              Innovating modern mapmaking
              To advance the 3D capabilities of HERE, Nokia announced the planned acquisition of Berkeley, Calif. company earthmine. The company’s reality capture and processing technologies will become integral parts of HERE’s 3D map making capabilities.   

              Nokia expects the transaction to close by the end of 2012.

              “Maps are hard to get right – but location is revolutionizing how we use technology to engage with the real world,” said Michael Halbherr, Executive Vice President of Location & Commerce and responsible for the HERE brand. “That’s why we have been investing and will continue to invest in building the world’s most powerful location offering, one that is unlike anything in the market today.”

              Using LiveSight(TM) to see more of the real world
              As part of its announcement, Nokia introduced LiveSight(TM), a technology based on a highly accurate, 3D map of the world.  LiveSight(TM) provides the most precise and intuitive augmented reality experience and uses a phone’s camera viewfinder to make discovering the world as easy as lifting up a phone. Nokia City Lens, which was developed exclusively for Nokia Lumia devices, is the first application providing a LiveSight-enabled experience.

              “Establishing a new brand is the right move for Nokia in the map and location business.  Nokia’s assets in this space are world class. We believe mapping and location will be increasingly important to developing next generation devices and services across a wide array of segments,” said Crawford Del Prete, Executive Vice President and Head of worldwide research at IDC.

              iOS, Android, Firefox OS: HERE is available everywhere [Nokia Conversations, Nov 13, 2012]

              Today’s announcement means that we’re bringing HERE to all devices and operating systems to give more people, with any type of device the ability to use the best location platform in the world. This openness is what sets HERE apart from other digital maps in the world. And with HERE, location will set Nokia apart.

              Introducing HERE Maps for iOS

              We’re making HERE Maps available in the Apple App Store: iOS users can more easily access our rich mapping experience with a single tap on their home screen. The app has been developed with the same HTML5 technology that powers the mobile web and is therefore very versatile and optimized for mobile use.

              With HERE Maps for iOS you can get smart directions to navigate your way around town, whether you’re driving, walking or taking public transportation, so let’s have a closer look at all the features available.

              What is HERE Maps for iOS?

              With HERE Maps for iOS you can save an area to your device, so you can explore even without data coverage. You can save an area in advance and use it later at up to 4 different zoom levels.

              Since you don’t walk on the same routes you drive, HERE Maps for iOS gives you dedicated voice guided turn-by-turn walk navigation that guides you along the best route for walking there: pedestrian routes, through parks, down alleyways, and more. With voice navigation, you will spend less time looking at your phone and more time enjoying getting there.

              Because HERE Maps for iOS has been designed for urban use, the voice navigation only works for journeys on foot. However, there’s also public transportation and driving directions in over 500 cities and you can make transfers easily with detailed public transport connections. With live traffic information and incident notices, you know where the traffic is, so you can spend less time driving there and more time being there.

              With HERE Maps for iOS you can organize favourite places by categories such as “Hip Bars” or “Cheap Eats” and sync them withHERE.com so you can build your personal map on the go and easily find them again.

              For instance, you can add a place to your favourites on your phone and post a review when you get home: wherever you are, you’re always in sync. This feature is very easy to use because you can sign-on with your Nokia or Facebook accounts.

              On an iPad you can also see the top 25 places nearby at a glance: HERE Maps automatically displays up to 25 best places near you in a scroll window at the bottom of the screen. Simply tap a place and get all the details or scroll down and filter your results by category (shopping, going out, sights and more).

              Whether you’re making plans for later or just want to share a great new find, HERE.com lets you share locations with just a tap, including how to get there, with a simple link sent over SMS, email, or social networks.

              Introducing HERE Maps for Firefox OS

              Because one of the main attributes of HERE is its openness, we’re also partnering with Mozilla to create new location experiences for Firefox OS. In the coming months, we will introduce HERE Maps for Firefox OS and we’ll continue working, together with Mozilla, to give people the best mapping experience on the OS.

              One more thing… HERE Android API

              HERE Maps for iOS and Firefox OS are not our only effort to give everyone the ability to use the best location platform in the world. Today, we’re also introducing HERE Maps API for Android, which will made available to partners in the next months.

              In apps built with the HERE Android API, users will be able to interact with extruded 3D buildings, search for specific buildings and preview their routes in detail to more realistically show where they’re going.

              To showcase what partners can offer when they build Android apps with our HERE API, we have prepared a reference app in the following video.

              Read more about HERE for iOS, Android and Firefox OS here:http://conversations.nokia.com/?p=103078 In apps built with the HERE Android API, users will be able to interact with extruded 3D buildings, search for specific buildings and preview their routes in detail to more realistically show where they’re going. To showcase what partners can offer when they build Android apps with our HERE API, we have prepared a reference app in this video.

              Disclaimer: this is not an actual app that we are releasing in the Google Play Store, it is just a reference app we have developed to showcase which features we are offering to partners for their location-based Android apps.

              Follow us on Twitter: @heremaps.

              HERE: the next generation of location services [Nokia Conversations, Nov 13, 2012]

              Mapping and location-based services are integral to Nokia’s future and a key way that we stand out from the crowd.

              Nokia’s commitment to building the leading location offering is demonstrated every day around the world in its rich set of location-based apps like Nokia Drive, Nokia Transport, Nokia Maps, Nokia Pulse and Nokia City Lens. Quite literally, Nokia helps people navigate their world. But this is only the tip of the iceberg: as a result of our acquisition of NAVTEQ and other mapping industry players, Nokia was the first to build the world’s most accurate and comprehensive global digital map by sending teams to verify every street in every city.

              The next step forward – sensing our world

              We can do more with our location heritage and mapping expertise, and go beyond a digital version of the paper map. Maps can be more than getting a person from point A to point B. They should bring places to life and inspire us to sense our world.

              This is why today we are introducing HERE, the world’s first location cloud that delivers a location platform, location content and location apps across any screen and any operating system.

              Just like digital cameras created possibilities that were unthinkable with analog photography, today’s digital mapping has amazing potential to grow into what we call computational cartography, the ability to produce maps on-demand and tailored to their actual use cases. Today’s digital maps are generic – i.e. always the same, irrespective of the content they visualize. We also believe that this game-changing evolution in mapmaking should be available to more businesses and more people around the world – it should expand beyond cars and beyond Nokia devices.

              “Location based experiences need to evolve from an app-centric approach towards a holistic customer experience; consumers want services that are optimized for multi-mobile device use and available on demand, everywhere”, said Thilo Koslowski, VP and Lead Automotive Analyst, Gartner.

              What does it mean?

              Nokia Lumia and HERE are naturally made for each other, providing the best location experience on a smartphone, but we aren’t reserving HERE just for Windows Phone. Instead, we are opening it up to all devices and operating systems to give everyone, with any type of device, the possibility to recognize and the ability to use the best location platform in the world. This openness is what sets HERE apart from other digital maps in the world. And with HERE, location will be an even more powerful differentiation for Nokia.

              We’re making HERE Maps available for iOS in the Apple App Store as a HTML5-based app and introducing HERE Maps API for Android. We will also introduce HERE Maps for Firefox OS and we’ll continue working, together with Mozilla, to give people the best mapping experience on the OS.

              We are introducing LiveSight, a technology based on a highly accurate, 3D map of the world, which provides the most precise and intuitive augmented reality experience. Nokia City Lens, developed exclusively for Nokia Lumia devices, is the first application using LiveSight.

              Our industrial collection of data is about to leap a chasm with the planned acquisition of earthmine. earthmine offers a complete solution for collecting, processing, managing, and hosting 3D street level imagery.

              So stay tuned. There is so much more to say in the coming hours and days and the long-term, and we’re looking forward to your continued feedback as we move ahead. You can also follow us on Twitter: @heremaps.

              LiveSight: immersive experiences you can act on [Nokia Conversations, Nov 13, 2012]

              Read more about LiveSight at http://conversations.nokia.com/?p=103081 After type pads, touchscreens and voice recognition, we want sight recognition to be another standard way to interact with the world around you. But it’s not only about sight recognition; it’s also about live map information. In one word, it’s… LiveSight. Nokia City Lens, developed exclusively for Nokia Lumia devices, is the first application providing a LiveSight-enabled experience.

                Nokia City Lens, exclusively available for Nokia Lumia, is one of our most-talked-about apps and we’re very proud of it. Using the phone’s camera viewfinder, Nokia City Lens provides an augmented reality overlay view of buildings and instantly highlights places of interest. Nokia City Lens is basically turning sight into the next interface for searching the world around you. Although Nokia City Lens is powered by a complex system of collection technologies, it’s very easy to use. After all, what could be simpler to use than sight? It’s the most human sense for sensing and exploring the world.

                After type pads, touchscreens and voice recognition, we want sight recognition to be another standard way to interact with the world around you. But it’s not only about sight recognition; it’s also aboutlive map information. In one word, it’s… LiveSight. Nokia City Lens, developed exclusively for Nokia Lumia devices, is the first application providing a LiveSight-enabled experience.

                LiveSight is a collection of mechanisms:

                • 3D sight interface: buildings are detected by our collection technologies with high accuracy and feeling of depth

                • Line of sight: with the line of sight view, only POIs in sight are displayed

                • Freeze frame: save a live view to inspect the city without having to hold the camera pointed at the target

                • Building directory: click on a building to see what is inside

                  This new technology is going to address everyday actions like finding a store indoor, finding your friends in a crowd or your parked car. Yes, with LiveSight you can create a place for your parked car.

                  “We’ve all been there — trying get to where we are going by following that dot on our phones; you take a few steps in one direction to see if the dot moves where it should; with LiveSight you can orient yourself by simply lifting up your phone and looking through the camera view finder and find your destination whether it is right in front of you or three blocks away” said Peter Skillman, head of UX Design for HERE.

                  You can also follow us on Twitter: @heremaps.

                  Innovating modern map making with earthmine [Nokia Conversations, Nov 13, 2012]

                  Because we know that maps are hard to get right, we have been investing and will continue to invest time and money to build the world’s most powerful location offering, one that is unlike anything in the market today. Content creation in cartography is a continuous quest to make maps more precise and to map the whole world. We useinnovative collection technologies (e.g. LiDAR, cameras, etc.) and a team of local experts to create close to perfect digital copies of reality.

                  Innovating map making

                  Map makers today have a vast array of data at their disposal and digital technology has made the map accessible to everyone. But at their core today’s digital maps are little changed from paper maps: they are static because they represent the world at the moment the data is captured and they still require a lot of work and imagination to get the most out of them.

                  We believe, in fact, that location services are revolutionizing how we use technology to engage with the real world. This is why we are innovating every aspect of what a cartographer does: we use data that’s never been incorporated into maps and then make sense of it in a way that transforms the experience. We are innovating what we capture, the way we capture it, and how we model to give rise to a new generation of user experiences.

                  earthmine acquisition

                  Today our industrial collection of data is about to leap a chasm with the planned acquisition of earthmine.

                  earthmine offers a complete solution for collecting, processing, managing, and hosting 3D street level imagery. This will add competitive advantages and increased differentiation to HERE‘s Location Content and Location Platform, sustaining competitiveness in B2B (e.g. data for in-car navigation systems) and driving highly engaging user experiences.

                  earthmine has developed the first truly scalable 3D mobile mapping solution, enabling collection of entire metropolitan areas, states or countries from tens or hundreds of thousands of linear miles of roadway. By combining high fidelity and resolution panoramic imagery with 3D data for every pixel in every image, the result is quantifiably more than just pretty pictures.

                  earthmine is going to be a major asset in our arsenal of collection tools in that it complements our internal technologies with capabilities that enhance what we are already doing. The most obvious is the sensor design and integration that can be seen on a earthmine car, which enables mobile mapping and is massively scalable. And when we collect with earthmine we get the same wealth of visual and other sensor data that enables us achieve our mapmaking automation goals. By next year, with earthmine we will expand the number of countries to 31 in which we are automatically collecting 3D information. Additionally, earthmine brings advanced image processing capability and geographic information system tools that make the processed imagery and data readily available enabling us to move faster than we otherwise could.

                  Follow us on Twitter: @heremaps.

                  I will add to that the following eartmine case study video as a latest one:
                  earthmine Helps 911 Dispatchers [earthmine YouTube channel, June 19, 2012]

                  earthmine Helps 911 Dispatchers in Columbia County – Courtesy of WJBF News Channel 6

                  Fueling the future of digital maps [Nokia Conversations, Oct 25, 2012]

                  NAVTEQ True utilizes a unique combination of technologies to create a 3D model of the real world. We combine rotating LIDAR, positioning sensors, panoramic cameras, and high res multi view cameras to capture real world dimension, fueling more realistic and interactive location experiences for you.

                    At the heart of any location experience is the understanding of where you are and what’s around you, an awareness often achieved by using a map. While today’s digital maps are much more advanced than the maps of just 20 years ago, they will continue to get more accurate and comprehensive, simplifying how we navigate and interact with an ever-changing world.

                    So, how do we build a high quality map and keep it fresh? At the core of the process is our innovative collection technologies blended with a team of local experts.

                    Using their intimate knowledge of local road networks and surrounding areas, these experts, who drive millions of roadways each year, use specially equipped vehicles to collect and verify location data.

                    Depending on local conditions, product requirements and a variety of other factors, the local drivers use distinct collection technology, ranging from highly mobile pedestrian collection tools to the sophisticated NAVTEQ True technology.

                    NAVTEQ True is actually composed of four unique technologies:

                    • 360° LIDAR: Rotating lasers capture 1.3 million 3D digital data points every second, which generates a virtual 3D model of the world around the vehicle.

                    • Position Sensors: GPS and military grade Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensors measure the vehicle’s speed, orientation and even gravitational forces to provide highly precise location references to every point within the virtual 3D model.

                    • Panoramic Cameras: These cameras layer in a 360° images synchronized to the 3D LIDAR points—giving us the most true to life representation of the world

                    • High Resolution Multi-View Cameras: High-resolution images give us the opportunity to increase automation so we can more quickly bring advanced location content to more people.

                      Worldwide, NAVTEQ True technology is gathering an immense amount of data.

                      For instance, in one single day, we might collect 12 million signage images, two million panoramic images, a trillion LIDAR points, and 65 million million (65,000,000,000,000!) colour pixels. We’re not just taking pictures of the world; we’re creating a new data model of the world.

                      With this level of high quality data, NAVTEQ True technology is capturing real world dimension, fueling more realistic and interactive experiences. With data collected by NAVTEQ True, you can explore the world more easily and in a whole new way – you can instantly see all the best places to eat and things to do and see it right on your phone’s camera display. It’s like having x-ray vision, revealing the hidden spots you might otherwise miss. 

                      You can experience an implementation example of the collected data in 3D with Nokia City Lens for Nokia Lumia. Simply by following the instructions on the right.

                      I will add to that the following NAVTEQ video giving more explanation about the excellence of Nokia’s mapping technology:
                      Building the most accurate and fresh map [NAVTEQCompany YouTube channel, Oct 5, 2012]

                      Discover what is behind the collection process of NAVTEQ Maps, and how our expert team uses cutting edge technology to create maps that are more precise and rich in details than ever before.

                      Frequently Asked Questions: Maps on Windows Phone 8 [Nokia Conversations, Oct 31, 2012]

                      Compass

                      With Windows Phone 8 officially introduced last Monday and the first smartphones based on this platform being shipped or reviewed, it’s time to have a quick overview of its location-based apps and experiences.

                      As you may already know, Nokia is delivering the backbone for all location experiences on Windows Phone 8 and offering Nokia Drive to all Windows Phone 8 partners, empowering this new OS with voice guided turn-by-turn car navigation.

                      Since we made these announcements, some legitimate questions have been asked on Twitter, on this blog and in the first reviews of Windows Phone 8. I would therefore like to summarize them and provide some clarification.

                      What does it mean that the Nokia Location Platform is powering the Windows Phone 8 ecosystem?

                      It basically means that location-based apps for Windows Phone 8 developed by Nokia (e.g. Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive, Nokia City Lens and Nokia Transport), apps developed by Microsoft (e.g. Bing Maps) and apps by any other developer make use of basic functionalities provided by Nokia.

                      It also means that some features like offline maps are now completely embedded into Windows Phone 8. You can find this option in your smartphone settings.

                      WIndows Phone 8 Start Screen Windows Phone 8 Settings

                      Is Nokia Maps on all Windows Phone 8 smartphones?

                      The Nokia Location Platform is powering the Windows Phone 8 ecosystem, not Nokia Maps, which is an app. On non-Nokia Windows Phone 8 smartphones, the default mapping application is Windows Phone Maps. This is running on top of our map data. It is using our geocoding, our traffic information and our routes, but it’s ultimately developed by Windows Phone, with a custom UI, search and POI database.

                      Where is turn-by-turn navigation?

                      Nokia Drive is the application that provides voice-guided turn-by-turn car navigation on Nokia smartphones and with Windows Phone 8 it’s also being made available to other manufacturers. Nokia Drive has been rewritten from the ground up specifically for Windows Phone 8, to leverage the power of this OS and offering new features.

                      We are currently testing it and a beta version will be made available very soon. On a Nokia smartphone like Nokia Lumia 920, you will find a tile on the start screen that will take you to the Windows Phone Store to download Nokia Drive Beta. Other manufacturers and Microsoft will decide in which countries and on which devices Nokia Drive will be offered to their customers.

                      You will be very pleased to know that some of the features you have requested the most, spoken street names and route planning options to avoid toll roads, ferries, etc., have been included in this release. However, while currently in beta, Nokia Drive for Windows Phone 8 won’t support My Commute just yet and we strongly suggest you to make use of the offline maps to enjoy your travels.

                      What’s new in Nokia Maps for Windows Phone 8?

                      On Nokia smartphones with Windows Phone 8, the default mapping application is Nokia Maps. We’ve been working hard during the past few months to develop a great new release specifically for Windows Phone 8. In a previous blog post I’ve explained all the features we are including in Nokia Maps for Windows Phone 8 or currently working on.

                      While the first version of Nokia Maps for Windows Phone 8 was being preinstalled on our newest smartphones (v 2.9), we were already working on an update with even more features. This is why, when you first start your new Nokia smartphone with Windows Phone 8, we encourage you to immediately update Nokia Maps and enjoy all the latest features (v 3.0).

                      In a nutshell, you won’t only be able to use offline maps but also offline search and routing, also for public transport. You can use turn-by-turn walk navigation or start Nokia Drive to get voice-guided, turn-by-turn car navigation. Last but not least, you will also find your way indoors with the support of venue maps in almost 18,000 buildings in 40 countries (and counting).

                      ‘Nokia Maps offers the most advanced mobile maps offering to consumers today with largest global coverage, highest quality mapping data and true offline availability’ said Francisco Jeronimo, Research Manager, European Mobile Devices, IDC. 

                      Nokia Maps Starbucks in Manhattan Nokia Maps Navigation

                      What’s new in Nokia Transport for Windows Phone 8?

                      Nokia Transport (aka Nokia Transit in North America) has also been updated with great new features. Just like Nokia Maps, we started working on a new version of Nokia Transport immediately after preinstalling it on the Nokia smartphones with Windows Phone 8. This is why you will find an update in the Windows Phone Store in coming days.

                      With the new version of Nokia Transport for Windows Phone 8, automatic over-the-air updates help ensure you have the latest information on schedules and routes as well as on newly supported cities. You can now get a combined segment map and detail view to orient yourself at a glance: just tap or swipe a specific segment of your journey to expand an intuitive map and detail view that easily lets you see where you are and where you need to be.

                      New display settings will give you the options to select miles or kilometers, the time of departure or the time you have until the next departure and plan ahead by setting time and date of your journey.  From Nokia Transport, you can now also launch the turn-by-turn walk navigation provided by Nokia Maps to get to the next stop or to your final destination. The search history has also been redesigned to be easier to use and to support entries management. For example, you can now manually delete previous searches and keep the history tidier.

                      Nokia Transport Overview

                      What is Nokia City Lens?

                      Nokia City Lens turns sight into the next interface for searching the world around you. The app provides information about each building or landmark in the area, giving people an at-a-glance understanding of what restaurants, museums, shops and others places of interest are nearby. Seeing a place of interest through augmented reality provides a wealth of information not available with the naked eye, allowing you to see the world around you using your smartphone instead of having to perform web searches.

                      The technology powering Nokia City Lens is particularly advanced and accurate. We are capturing real world dimension, fueling more realistic and interactive experiences. It’s like having X-ray vision, revealing hidden spots you might otherwise miss.

                      Nokia City Lens comes preinstalled on Nokia smartphones with Windows Phone 8 and we are already busy working on the next release, which you can learn more in this previous blog post.

                      Image credit: Walt Stoneburner