What Microsoft will do with the Nokia Devices and Services now taken over, but currently producing a yearly loss rate of as much as $1.5 billion?
In the information made officially available for this transition (see below) there are no answers for that question. It only becomes clear that the new Microsoft Devices Group under formation needs to be put into much more efficient organisation, with significantly better strategic setup than any of its constituent parts were before. This would be not an easy task as this group will “oversee an expanded devices business that includes Lumia smartphones and tablets, Nokia mobile phones, Xbox hardware, Surface, Perceptive Pixel (PPI) products, and accessories”.
The stock market, so far, was positive about this:
Source: Google Financse – Yahoo Finance – MSN Money
The real explanations for that optimism are not related to the acquisition itself at all. Instead to the more and more visible signs of “Microsoft 2.0” which will end the “Microsoft 1.0” era of “loss of business focus” and “morphing into a different company, whose focus may be different from selling low margin mid and low end mobile phones, mostly in very competitive markets”. The speculation is that the upcoming “Microsoft 2.0 is about MICROSOFT on every device” instead of “Microsoft 1.0 which was about Windows on every computer”. There is even an overall consensus that the nominally $7.2 billion Nokia acquisition will be soon quite easily written off (as well as other unpaid previous strategic investments), as in fact that costed to Microsoft only $4.5 billion in reality.
Note here as well that my findings last week are quite well proving the above line of thoughts: Microsoft is transitioning to a world with more usage and more software driven value add (rather than the old device driven world) in mobility and the cloud, the latter also helping to grow the server business well above its peers [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, April 25, 2014].
So before the Nokia Devices and Services transition information released officially, read the below stock market expert opinion:
Microsoft Completes Nokia’s Acquisition: Expect A Significant Write-Off, Mitigated By A Tax Advantage [Paolo Gorgo on Seeking Alpha, April 28, 2014]
While we believe that Microsoft will have a hard time digesting and turning around an unprofitable division like Nokia’s handset business, having to deal with three different operating systems (Microsoft’s own WinPhone, Asha and now even a forked version of Android that powers Nokia’s new X range), and operating in a very competitive sector where only Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) and Apple (AAPL) can now turn a profit, we are fully aware that only time will tell investors if a happy ending out of Nokia’s acquisition is possible.
Some recent moves, however, following Microsoft’s CEO transition may indicate that the climate that lead to the Nokia’s acquisition has already changed, and allow for some educated guesses about what we estimate as the most probable outcome.
Microsoft 1.0 morphing into Microsoft 2.0
John Kirk recently wrote one of the most interesting analysis of Microsoft’s business model, and how it may be evolving:
Microsoft 1.0 had one of the most successful business models of all time. But no matter how successful Microsoft became, management seemingly could not abide the thought of any other technology company sharing the spotlight of success.
- If a competitor was being successful with customers Microsoft wasn’t addressing, Microsoft had to have those customers as well.
- If a competitor was being successful in a market where Microsoft didn’t compete, Microsoft felt compelled to compete there as well.
- Most damning of all, if a competitor’s success could be attributed to its business model, Microsoft felt compelled to assimilate that business model and make it their own.
Microsoft wasn’t setting their own agenda. Instead, they were letting the successes of their competitor’s set the agenda.
The analysis goes on describing how Microsoft behaved in relations to Apple’s iPod success, and how it failed trying to win that market (do you remember Zune?).
In the mobile market, Microsoft tried once more to copy Apple’s strategy, becoming an integrated hardware/software producer through the Nokia acquisition.
A failed attempt, already: no one, for example, would expect Apple to license its iOS free of charge to other OEMs in an attempt to create a sustainable ecosystem.
Time to try analyze Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, first moves, and what they may mean related to the Nokia acquisition.
Nadella cuts Windows umbilical cord
The launch of Word, Excel and Powerpoint in the Apple App Store, ahead of the Windows platform, was a clear indication that Nadella may be pursuing a different strategy from Ballmer:
The move was anticipated, pragmatic (given the contrasting installed bases of the two tablets, especially in enterprises), and only relates to one product on one device. But it was just about as symbolic as a gesture could be, reinforcing the promises which Nadella made on his accession to the throne – to put mobile and cloud strategies at the heart of Microsoft’s growth plan.
The Office for iPad announcement makes all this explicit, though it also raises new questions – particularly, whether Nadella is less sold than Ballmer on the idea of creating an integrated hardware/software platform, Apple-style, for mobile, post-PC and cloud-attached devices.
Back to John Kirk’s analysis, we’d like to highlight one of his forecasts for Microsoft 2.0 we completely agree with:
Unprofitable strategies (like Windows RT, the Surface tablet, Windows Phone 8, buying Nokia, moving to a functional organization) will be undone. This will take some doing but the process has already begun.
In other words (with our note added in brackets and Italic):
Microsoft 1.0 was about Windows on every computer. Microsoft 2.0 is about MICROSOFT on every computer. [we would probably use the word “device” instead of computer to underline a post-PC era]
Another write off, soon? A definitive “probably”, although Microsoft investors shouldn’t be too worried
A quick look at some recent Microsoft write offs, mostly due to acquisitions / entries into unknown territories that were not completely successful (some numbers are missing for attempts like Zune, etc. that did not technically require a write-off):
We do believe that Nokia might soon become Microsoft’s next big write off, as the Redmond company morphs into a different company, whose focus may be different from selling low margin mid and low end mobile phones, mostly in very competitive markets .
The way the deal was structured, however, will probably mitigate the negative impact for Microsoft investors.
Kudos to Robert Cringely for his bright use of lateral thinking at the time the Nokia acquisition was announced:
I don’t think Nokia has to succeed in order for Microsoft to consider the acquisition a success.
So why, then, did Microsoft buy Nokia? The stated reason is to better compete with Android and iOS, furthering Ballmer’s new devices and services strategy, but I think that game is already lost and this has more to do with finance than phones.
Microsoft, like Apple and a lot of other companies, has a problem with profits trapped overseas where they avoid for awhile U.S. taxation. The big companies have been pushing for a tax holiday or at least a deal of some sort with the IRS but it isn’t happening. So Apple, sitting on $140+ billion has to borrow $17 billion to buy back shares and pay dividends because so much of its cash is tied-up overseas. But not Microsoft, which just bought Nokia – a foreign company – with some of its overseas cash. Redmond said so today. That makes the real price of Nokia not $7 billion but more like $4.5 billion, because it’s all pre-tax money.
So what does that make Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia?
Calling the Nokia acquisition money laundering may probably be a stretch, but as many analysts noticed when the deal was announced, the real “cost” to Microsoft is less that the number reported, because of the use of overseas funds.
Add to this that a write-off can be positively seen as a creative “NOL generating” financial operation for a very profitable company, and you get to our point: as Microsoft’s new strategies, which may include de-emphasizing the device and services reorganization, become clearer, Nokia may represent the last bad news generated by “Microsoft 1.0” loss of business focus, and a not-too-expensive price to pay for Microsoft investors while moving to a better focused Microsoft 2.0.
Nokia Devices and Services transition information released officially
Microsoft officially welcomes the Nokia Devices and Services business [press release, April 25, 2014]
Microsoft and the Nokia Devices and Services business are coming together as one to deliver a family of devices and services that will delight consumers and empower businesses.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (left) and executive vice president of Microsoft Devices Group Stephen Elop share a moment as the deal that brings together Microsoft and the Nokia Devices and Services business closes today.
Microsoft Corp. announced it has completed its acquisition of the Nokia Devices and Services business. The acquisition has been approved by Nokia shareholders and by governmental regulatory agencies around the world. The completion of the acquisition marks the first step in bringing these two organizations together as one team.
“Today we welcome the Nokia Devices and Services business to our family. The mobile capabilities and assets they bring will advance our transformation,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “Together with our partners, we remain focused on delivering innovation more rapidly in our mobile-first, cloud-first world.”
Reporting to Nadella is former Nokia President and CEO Stephen Elop, who will serve as executive vice president of the Microsoft Devices Group, overseeing an expanded devices business that includes Lumia smartphones and tablets, Nokia mobile phones, Xbox hardware, Surface, Perceptive Pixel (PPI) products, and accessories. Microsoft welcomes personnel with deep industry experience in more than 130 sites across 50 countries worldwide, including several factories that design, develop, manufacture, market and sell a broad portfolio of innovative smart devices, mobile phones and services. As part of the transaction, Microsoft will honor all existing Nokia customer warranties for existing devices, beginning April 25, 2014.
Windows Phone is the fastest-growing ecosystem in the smartphone market, and its portfolio of award-winning devices continues to expand. In the fourth quarter of 2013, according to IDC, Windows Phone reinforced its position as a top three smartphone operating system and was the fastest-growing platform among the leading operating systems with 91 percent year-over-year gain. Furthermore, with the Nokia mobile phone business, Microsoft will target the affordable mobile devices market, a $50 billion annual opportunity, delivering the first mobile experience to the next billion people while introducing Microsoft services to new customers around the world.
Microsoft will continue to deliver new value and opportunity, and it will work closely with a range of hardware partners, developers, operators, distributors and retailers, providing platforms, tools, applications and services that enable them to make exceptional devices. With a deeper understanding of hardware and software working as one, the company will strengthen and grow demand for Windows devices overall.
As with any multinational agreement of this size, scale and complexity, Microsoft and Nokia have made adjustments to the deal throughout the close preparation process. As announced previously, Microsoft will not acquire the factory in Masan, South Korea, and the factory in Chennai, India, will stay with Nokia due to the tax liens on Nokia’s assets in India that prevent transfer. As a result, Microsoft will welcome approximately 25,000 transferring employees from around the world.
More information about Microsoft’s expanded family of devices and services is available here.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
Microsoft refers to Microsoft Corp. and its affiliates, including Microsoft Mobile Oy*, a subsidiary of Microsoft. Microsoft Mobile Oy develops, manufactures and distributes Lumia, Asha and Nokia X mobile phones and other devices.
1 IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, February 2014
2 Strategy Analytics Inc.
* Oy being a Finnish abbreviation of Osakeyhtiö which translates to Limited company ala Wikipedia
From Nokia Corporation Interim Report for Q1 2014 [April 29, 2014]
The following table sets forth a summary of the results for discontinued operations, for the periods indicated, as well as the year-on-year and sequential growth rates.
Note: The –16.9% operating margin for the discontinued operations in Q1/2014 means a loss of $452 million (EUR 326 million). That is huge, considering even that in the previous Q4/2013 quarter the loss was “only” $274 million (EUR 197.6 million), as with that the ongoing annual loss rate could be estimated close to $1.5 billion.
The year-on-year and sequential declines in discontinued operations net sales in the first quarter 2014 were primarily due to lower Mobile Phones net sales and, to a lesser extent, lower Smart Devices net sales.
On both a year-on-year and sequential basis, our Mobile Phones net sales were affected by competitive industry dynamics, including intense smartphone competition at increasingly lower price points and intense competition at the low end of our product portfolio. Our Smart Devices net sales were affected by competitive industry dynamics including the strong momentum of competing smartphone platforms.
On both a year-on-year and sequential basis, discontinued operations unit volumes declined in the first quarter 2014. The year-on-year decline in discontinued operations unit volumes was due to lower Mobile Phones unit volumes, partially offset by higher Smart Devices unit volumes. Sequentially, the decline in discontinued operations unit volumes was primarily due to lower Mobile Phones unit volumes and, to a lesser extent, lower Smart Devices unit volumes.
Discontinued operations Average Selling Price (ASP) declined on both a year-on-year and sequential basis in the first quarter 2014. The year-on-year and sequential declines in discontinued operations ASP were due to lower ASPs for both Smart Devices and Mobile Phones.
Discontinued operations ended the first quarter 2014 within our normal 4 to 6 week channel inventory range
Non-IFRS Gross Margin
The year-on-year decline in discontinued operations non-IFRS gross margin in the first quarter 2014 was primarily due to lower Smart Devices gross margin and, to a lesser extent, lower Mobile Phones gross margin. Compared to the first quarter 2013, Smart Devices non-IFRS gross margin was negatively impacted by the absence of the reversal of approximately EUR 50 million of previously recognized inventory related allowances for our Windows Phone 7-based Lumia products which benefitted Smart Devices non-IFRS gross margin in the first quarter 2013 as well as approximately EUR 20 million of allowances related to excess components in the first quarter 2014. Compared to the first quarter 2013, Mobile Phones non-IFRS gross margin in the first quarter 2014 benefitted from lower warranty costs, mainly offset by the negative affect of approximately EUR 40 million of allowances related to excess components.
On a sequential basis, the decline in discontinued operations non-IFRS gross margin in the first quarter 2014 was primarily due to lower Mobile Phones gross margin and, to a lesser extent, lower Smart Devices gross margin. On a sequential basis, Smart Devices non-IFRS gross margin in the first quarter 2014 benefitted from the absence of approximately EUR 50 million of net allowances related to excess component inventory, future purchase commitments and an inventory revaluation that negatively impacted Smart Devices non-IFRS gross margin in the fourth quarter 2013, partially offset by approximately EUR 20 million of allowances related to excess components in the first quarter 2014. Compared to the previous quarter, Mobile Phones non-IFRS gross margin in the first quarter 2014 benefitted from lower warranty costs, mainly offset by the negative affect of approximately EUR 40 million of allowances related to excess components.
Non-IFRS Operating Expenses
On both a year-on-year and sequential basis, the decline in discontinued operations non-IFRS operating expenses in the first quarter 2014 was due to lower operating expenses in both Mobile Phones and Smart Devices.
Non-IFRS Operating Profit
The year-on-year decline in discontinued operations non-IFRS operating profit in the first quarter 2014 was primarily due to lower Smart Devices and Mobile Phones non-IFRS operating profit. On a sequential basis, the decline in discontinued operations non-IFRS operating profit in the first quarter 2014 was due to lower Mobile Phones non-IFRS operating profit, partially offset by higher Smart Devices non-IFRS operating profit.
Discontinued operations non-IFRS other income and expenses was an expense of EUR 22 million in the first quarter 2014, compared to an expense of EUR 18 million in the first quarter 2013 and an expense of EUR 9 million in the fourth quarter 2013.
The year-on-year decline in discontinued operations operating profit in the first quarter 2014 was primarily due to lower Smart Devices and Mobile Phones operating profit. On a sequential basis, the decline in discontinued operations operating profit in the first quarter 2014 was due to lower Mobile Phones operating profit, partially offset by higher Smart Devices operating profit.
Discontinued operations other income and expenses was an expense of EUR 32 million in the first quarter 2014, compared to an expense of EUR 65 million in the first quarter 2013 and an expense of EUR 15 million in the fourth quarter 2013. On a year-on-year basis discontinued operations other income and expenses was a lower expense primarily due to lower restructuring charges.
From #1: Conversations LIVE: Ask me anything with Stephen Elop [Conversations : now part of Microsoft, April 28, 2014]
Earlier today we hosted a live Q&A session with Stephen Elop on his first day as the Executive Vice President of the Microsoft Devices Group.
Re: You’re so cool killed Nokia …Thanks to you, Meego, Symbian, Meltemi buried …Once you get it all comes back to haunt
I know that there is a lot of emotion around some of the hard decisions that we had to make. Back in late 2010 and 2011, we carefully assessed the state of the internal Nokia operating system efforts. Unfortunately, we could not see a way that Symbian could be brought to a competitive level with, for example, the iPhone that had shipped THREE years earlier! And the Meego effort was significantly delayed and did not have the promise of a broad enough portfolio soon enough. We had to make a forceful decision to give Nokia the chance to compete again.
Re: You have [been] bashed very harshly with your efforts to take Nokia to Microsoft, have been awarded as Trojan in online discussions and comments. Do you take any effect of all this on your work/decision?
As a result of the work that we have done, we have transformed Nokia into a stronger company with NSN, HERE and Advanced Technologies. At the same time, our Devices and Services business has a new opportunity within a stronger Microsoft. As for the Trojan horse thing, i have only ever worked on behalf of and for the benefit of Nokia shareholders while at Nokia. Additionally, all fundamental business and strategy decisions were made with the support and approval of the Nokia board of directors, of which I was a member.
Re: Don’t you think the decision of jumping the burning platform was significantly delayed by Nokia? Do you think MSFT will be in the state of competing Android any time soon?
It’s hard to comment on what came before, but I do know that the “burning platform” galvanized the mindset of thousands of employees with the recognition that we faced a critical situation. We brought urgency into the organization and within 6 months we produced our first two Windows Phone devices. This was faster than we had ever gone before and marked the beginning of our cultural change.
Now, we’re one Microsoft: open letter from Stephen Elop [Conversations : now part of Microsoft, April 25, 2014]
Today we are announcing that the acquisition of substantially all of the Nokia Devices and Services business by Microsoft has reached completion, following approval by Nokia shareholders and regulatory authorities.
Six months ago, we announced our plans to bring the best of Microsoft and Nokia Devices and Services business together. Today is an exciting day as we join the Microsoft family, and take the first, yet important, step in our long-term journey.
At our core, we are passionate about building technology that will change the world. From the early vision of Microsoft of placing a PC in every home and on every desk, to Nokia connecting billions of people through mobile devices, we have empowered generations. But we could not have achieved any of this without our fans around the world.
Your support has created strong momentum for Nokia Lumia smartphones and they continue to grow in popularity around the world. Last year alone, the awards, accolades and fan-generated rave reviews offered proof of the growing number of champions for our phones and tablets.
And we are committed to continuing our support for feature phones, the Asha family, and the Nokia X family of devices, announced at the Mobile World Congress in February.
Whether you want to read more, capture more, watch more, listen more or get more done, Nokia mobile devices have been and are your go-to choice.
As Microsoft and Nokia Devices and Services come together as an expanded family, we will unify our passion, dedication and commitment to bringing you the best of what our joint technologies have to offer.
Together, we can connect and empower people with one experience for everything in their life in a world where it is mobile first and cloud first.
From today onwards, the possibilities are endless. As now, we’re one!
From #2: Conversations LIVE: Ask me anything with Stephen Elop [Conversations : now part of Microsoft, April 28, 2014]
Microsoft Mobile Oy is a legal construct that was created to facilitate the merger. It is not a brand that will be seen by consumers. The Nokia brand is available to Microsoft to use for its mobile phones products for a period of time, but Nokia as a brand will not be used for long going forward for smartphones. Work is underway to select the go forward smartphone brand.
Re: Will Microsoft keep up the innovation and pace that Nokia has set with the line of Lumia devices?
I think we can go even further than that. By combining with MSFT, we will each be able to innovate together in ways that we could not as separate companies. Lots of good things ahead.
Re: Why did you not make the 1020 with a better photo processing like in the original 808 dedicated image processor?
Great question because it highlights the benefits of the acquisition of Nokia. The 1020 is consistently rated as one of the best camera phones. But, we could have gone further if the engineering teams between MSFT and Nokia were not in separate companies. As we come together, innovation will be able to move faster.
Re: As the Executive VP of MS Devices how do you see the future of the integration and cloud utilization between Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox devices going. What would you like to see happen?
I think that people are looking for and deserve a consistent and continuous experience across their different devices and platforms. A good example of this today is Onedrive, where i have consistent access to my stuff across all of my devices. Same thing with Skype.
Re: How about Nokia X future after acquisition?
Microsoft acquired the mobile phones business, inclusive of Nokia X, to help connect the next billion people to Microsoft’s services. Nokia X uses the MSFT cloud, not Google’s. This is a great opportunity to connect new customers to Skype, outlook.com and Onedrive for the first time. We’ve already seen tens of thousands of new subscribers on MSFT services.
Re: When will we get the first Microsoft branded Smartphone?
Now that we are One company, the marketing and product folks will lay in the plans for the shift to a consistent brand. While we are not ready to share precise details, i can assure you that it will not be the “Nokia Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone on the AT&T LTE Network” … too many words! That somehow doesn’t roll off the tongue…
Re: What is going to happen to Nokia Mixradio, Nokia TV, Nokia Camera apps and other Nokia apps in Lumia phones. Are they gonna disappear. Which one, Nokia or Microsoft, is going to continue developing and updating them?
We have been building a lot of app’s that have been specific to Lumia, but now those people and efforts will transfer to MSFT. We believe that these types of capabilities are critical to differentiation, so you will see these themes continue.
Re: Do you think that Nokia with Android is a good idea?
When we made the decision to focus on Windows Phone back in 2011, we were very concerned that a decision to pursue Android would put us on a collision course with Samsung, who already had established a head of steam around Android. That was the right decision, as we have seen virtually all other OEMs from those days pushed to the side. Today, we are using AOSP to attack a specific market opportunity, but we are being thoughtful to do it in a way that accrues benefit to Microsoft and to Lumia.
Re: How are other smartphone manufacturers encouraged to produce or keep producing Windows Phone devices? I can imagine they fear that a lot of Windows Phone APIs will be available for Microsoft Devices only.
Really good question. It is GOOD for Microsoft to encourage other OEMs to also build WP devices, and there have been some announcements in this direction recently. Our intent is for the Microsoft Devices Group to “make the market” so that others can participate, so we will be doing things to facilitate other OEMs as much as possible.
Re: One of Nokia’s strengths is its truly global presence, moreso in emerging markets. I believe it responds faster than Microsoft in this regard. Can we expect better localization in these markets in terms of services?
Both Nokia and Microsoft are global companies, but it turns out that our strengths are complementary. We have great strength in emerging markets while Microsoft has more strength in developed markets. I think this will work well together.
Re: What is the future of innovation/new technologies worked at Nokia R&D dep. as solar charging (wyps) or radio waves charging on Lumia? Will be a move of these project (and others) to Microsoft R&D to allow future innovation just like Nokia did through the years?
When I first started at Nokia, i characterized the “landscape of unpolished gems” when looking at all the great R&D within Nokia. Now, combined with Microsoft, that landscape is even broader, which is very exciting for all of us. So, stay tuned to lots of innovation ahead.
Re: As a blogger and long-time time Nokia fan, Nokia Connects (WOMWorld) have been helpful, appreciative to us in many ways particularly in providing review products and services of Nokia. Unlike Nokia Connects, Microsoft Social team is aloof and uncaring. I would to like know the future of Nokia Connects and Nokia Conversations because both are important to us especially to the fans, evangelists.
Today we are part of Microsoft, and Conversations is with us (actually, sitting right next to me!). And this will continue. I strongly believe in an open and transparent dialogue, and am proud that the team made Nokia Conversations one of the most influential company and technology blogs in the world.
Everything just became a lot #MoreColorful [Conversations : now part of Microsoft, April 28, 2014]
What does color mean to you? Does it spark emotion? Does it invoke taste? Does it change your mood? Do you express yourself through color?
Color runs through our devices; it’s part of our DNA. From the bright and bold Nokia X family to the metallic-fused Lumia 930, our colors draw attention and make heads turn. It’s what sets us apart from our competitors and what many of you love about our design ethos.
We’re not like everybody else. Are you?
Not Like Everybody Else [Nokia YouTube channel, April 28, 2014]Today, everything just became a lot more colorful. You can read more about Nokia Devices and Services coming together with Microsoft here. Soundtrack: The Kinks, ‘Not Like Everybody Else’.
Our journey begins [Conversations : now part of Microsoft, April 25, 2014]
Today is a big, new and exciting day for us. We are announcing that the acquisition of substantially all of the Nokia Devices and Services business by Microsoft has reached completion, following approval by Nokia shareholders and regulatory authorities.
For our readers here on Conversations and our fans across the world, today is a beginning of something new. But we’re happy to report that many of those things that matter to you most will stay the same.
As Microsoft, we will continue to produce, sell and support the phones and devices you have come to love, including our award-winning Lumia and Asha ranges, feature phones and the Nokia X family of devices.
The hardware engineering and design talent that produced world-leading devices under Nokia ownership will continue to set the mark for new mobile experiences and innovation.
And the software innovation continues too. The unique imaging, music and location experiences that are such a valuable part of our devices will continue to be developed, supported and enhanced. Software updates and the continued growth of our app and device ecosystems are now more important than ever.
Importantly for existing customers, we will bring you right along with us. Your device warranty is completely unaffected by this change and the same world-class customer service and support teams will continue to look after your devices. You can still get all the help and support through the usual channels: online support, contact centers and local Nokia Care points.
And we’ll continue to take good care of your personal data – our commitment to your privacy remains paramount.
Your friends at Conversations will still be here, too, along with the social channels you follow. The Conversations blog and discussions forums, together with country-specific Facebook pages and Twitter accounts will continue to offer news and information about our devices and services, run by the same people and teams now at Microsoft.
Nokia’s global Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube accounts, as well as Nokia Finland’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, will have news and updates both from Nokia as a company and about Nokia-branded devices and services from Microsoft.
So today, most things will remain the same.
But today is also an exciting day for us, and a historic day for the industry. And none of this would be possible if it weren’t for you – our readers and fans across the world. We have experienced many things together and we hope you join us on this exciting journey too!
Microsoft BUILD 2014 Day 2: “rebranding” to Microsoft Azure and moving toward a comprehensive set of fully-integrated backend services
- “Rebranding” into Microsoft Azure from the previous Windows Azure
- Microsoft Azure Momentum on the Market
- The new Azure Management Portal (preview)
- New Azure features: IaaS, web, mobile and data announcements
Microsoft Announces New Features for Cloud Computing Service [CCTV America YouTube channel, April 3, 2014]
Day two of the Microsoft Build developer conference in San Francisco wrapped up with the company announcing 44 new services. Most of those are based on Microsoft Azure – it’s cloud computing platform that manages applications across data centers. CCTV’s Mark Niu reports from San Francisco.
Watch the first 10 minutes of this presentation for a brief summary of the latest state of Microsoft Azure: #ChefConf 2014: Mark Russinovich, “Microsoft Azure Group” [Chef YouTube channel, April 16, 2014]
Then here is a fast talk and Q&A on Azure with Scott Guthrie after his keynote preseantation at BUILD 2014:
Cloud Cover Live – Ask the Gu! [jlongo62 YouTube channel, published on April 21, 2014]
The original: Cloud Cover Live – Ask the Gu! [Channel 9, April 3, 2014]
- “Rebranding” into Microsoft Azure from the previous Windows Azure
- Microsoft Azure Momentum on the Market
- The new Azure Management Portal (preview)
- New Azure features: IaaS, web, mobile and data announcements
[2:45:47] long video record of the Microsoft Build Conference 2014 Day 2 Keynote [MSFT Technology News YouTube channel, recorded on April 3, published on April 7, 2014]
1. “Rebranding” into Microsoft Azure from the previous Windows Azure
Yes, you’ve noticed right: the Windows prefix has gone, and the full name is now only Microsoft Azure! The change happened on April 3 as evidenced by change of the cover photo on the Facebook site, now also called Microsoft Azure:
And it happened without any announcement or explanation as even the last, April 1 Microsoft video carried the Windows prefix: Tuesdays with Corey //build Edition
as well as the last, March 14 video ad: Get Your Big Bad Wolf On (Extended)
2. Microsoft Azure Momentum on the Market
The day began with Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise group, touting Microsoft progress with Azure for the last 18 months when:
… we talked about our new strategy with Azure and our new approach, a strategy that enables me to use both infrastructure as a service and platform as a service capabilities together, a strategy that enables developers to use the best of the Windows ecosystem and the best of the Linux ecosystem together, and one that delivers unparalleled developer productivity and enables you to build great applications and services that work with every device …
- Last year … shipped more than 300 significant new features and releases
- … we’ve also been hard at work expanding the footprint of Azure around the world. The green circles you see on the slide here represent Azure regions, which are clusters of datacenters close together, and where you can go ahead and run your application code. Just last week, we opened two new regions, one in Shanghai and one in Beijing. Today, we’re the only global, major cloud provider that operates in mainland China. And by the end of the year, we’ll have more than 16 public regions available around the world, enabling you to run your applications closer to your customers than ever before.
- More than 57 percent of the Fortune 500 companies are now deployed on Azure.
- Customers run more than 250,000 public-facing websites on Azure, and we now host more than 1 million SQL databases on Azure.
- More than 20 trillion objects are now stored in the Azure storage system. We have more than 300 million users, many of them — most of them, actually, enterprise users, registered with Azure Active Directory, and we process now more than 13 billion authentications per week.
- We have now more than 1 million developers registered with our Visual Studio Online service, which is a new service we launched just last November.
Let’s go beyond the big numbers, though, and look at some of the great experiences that have recently launched and are using the full power of Azure and the cloud.
“Titanfall” was one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the year, and had a very successful launch a few weeks ago. “Titanfall” delivers an unparalleled multiplayer gaming experience, powered using Azure.
Let’s see a video of it in action, and hear what the developers who built it have to say.
[Titanfall and the Power of the Cloud [xbox YouTube channel, April 3, 2014]]
One of the key bets the developers of “Titanfall” made was for all game sessions on the cloud. In fact, you can’t play the game without the cloud, and that bet really paid off.
As you heard in the video, it enables much, much richer gaming experiences. Much richer AI experiences. And the ability to tune and adapt the game as more users use it.
To give you a taste of the scale, “Titanfall” had more than 100,000 virtual machines deployed and running on Azure on launch day. Which is sort of an unparalleled size in terms of a game launch experience, and the reviews of the game have been absolutely phenomenal.
Another amazing experience that recently launched and was powered using Azure was the Sochi Olympics delivered by NBC Sports.
NBC used Azure to stream all of the games both live and on demand to both Web and mobile devices. This was the first large-scale live event that was delivered entirely in the cloud with all of the streaming and encoding happening using Azure.
Traditionally, with live encoding, you typically run in an on-premises environment because it’s so latency dependent. With the Sochi Olympics, Azure enabled NBC to not only live encode in the cloud, but also do it across multiple Azure regions to deliver high-availability redundancy.
More than 100 million people watched the online experience, and more than 2.1 million viewers alone watched it concurrently during the U.S. versus Canada men’s hockey match, a new world record for online HD streaming.
RICK CORDELLA [Senior Vice President and General Manager of NBC Sports Digital]: The company bets about $1 billion on the Olympics each time it goes off. And we have 17 days to recoup that investment. Needless to say, there is no safety net when it comes to putting this content out there for America to enjoy. We need to make sure that content is out there, that it’s quality, that our advertisers and advertisements are being delivered to it. There really is no going back if something goes wrong.
The decision for that was taken more than a year ago: Windows Azure Teams Up With NBC Sports Group [Microsoft Azure YouTube channel, April 9, 2013]
3. The new Azure Management Portal (preview)
But in fact a new way of providing a comprehensive set of fully-integrated backend services had significantly bigger impact on the audience of developers. According to Microsoft announces new cloud experience and tools to deliver the cloud without complexity [The Official Microsoft Blog, April 3, 2014]
The following post is from Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise Group, Microsoft.
On Thursday at Build in San Francisco, we took an important step by unveiling a first-of-its kind cloud environment within Microsoft Azure that provides a fully integrated cloud experience – bringing together cross-platform technologies, services and tools that enable developers and businesses to innovate with enterprise-grade scalability at startup speed. Announced today, our new Microsoft Azure Preview [Management]Portal is an important step forward in delivering our promise of the cloud without complexity.
When cloud computing was born, it was hailed as the solution that developers and business had been waiting for – the promise of a quick and easy way to get more from your business-critical apps without the hassle and cost of infrastructure. But as the industry transitions toward mobile-first, cloud-first business models and scenarios, the promise of “quick and easy” is now at stake. There’s no question that developing for a world that is both mobile-first and cloud-first is complicated. Developers are managing thousands of virtual machines, cobbling together management and automation solutions, and working in unfamiliar environments just to make their apps work in the cloud – driving down productivity as a result.
Many cloud vendors tout the ease and cost savings of the cloud, but they leave customers without the tools or capabilities to navigate the complex realities of cloud computing. That’s why today we are continuing down a path of rapid innovation. In addition to our groundbreaking new Microsoft Azure Preview [Management] Portal, we announced several enhancements our customers need to fully tap into the power of the cloud. These include:
- Dozens of enhancements to our Azure services across Web, mobile, data and our infrastructure services
- Further commitment to building the most open and flexible cloud with Azure support for automation software from Puppet Labs and Chef.
- We’ve removed the throttle off our Application Insights preview, making it easier for all developers to build, manage and iterate on their apps in the cloud with seamless integration into the IDE
<For details see the separate section 4. New Azure features: IaaS, web, mobile and data announcements>
Here is a brief presentation by a Brazilian specialist: Microsoft Azure [Management] Portal First Touch [Bruno Vieira YouTube channel, April 3, 2014]
From Microsoft evolves the cloud experience for customers [press release, April 3, 2014]
… Thursday at Build 2014, Microsoft Corp. announced a first-of-its-kind cloud experience that brings together cross-platform technologies, services and tools, enabling developers and businesses to innovate at startup speed via a new Microsoft Azure Preview [Management] Portal.
In addition, the company announced several new milestones in Visual Studio Online and .NET that give developers access to the most complete platform and tools for building in the cloud. Thursday’s announcements are part of Microsoft’s broader vision to erase the boundaries of cloud development and operational management for customers.
“Developing for a mobile-first, cloud-first world is complicated, and Microsoft is working to simplify this world without sacrificing speed, choice, cost or quality,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president at Microsoft. “Imagine a world where infrastructure and platform services blend together in one seamless experience, so developers and IT professionals no longer have to work in disparate environments in the cloud. Microsoft has been rapidly innovating to solve this problem, and we have taken a big step toward that vision today.”
One simplified cloud experience
The new Microsoft Azure Preview [Management] Portal provides a fully integrated experience that will enable customers to develop and manage an application in one place, using the platform and tools of their choice. The new portal combines all the components of a cloud application into a single development and management experience. New components include the following:
Simplified Resource Management. Rather than managing standalone resources such as Microsoft Azure Web Sites, Visual Studio Projects or databases, customers can now create, manage and analyze their entire application as a single resource group in a unified, customized experience, greatly reducing complexity while enabling scale. Today, the new Azure Manager is also being released through the latest Azure SDK for customers to automate their deployment and management from any client or device.
Integrated billing. A new integrated billing experience enables developers and IT pros to take control of their costs and optimize their resources for maximum business advantage.
Gallery. A rich gallery of application and services from Microsoft and the open source community, this integrated marketplace of free and paid services enables customers to leverage the ecosystem to be more agile and productive.
Visual Studio Online. Microsoft announced key enhancements through the Microsoft Azure Preview [Management] Portal, available Thursday. This includes Team Projects supporting greater agility for application lifecycle management and the lightweight editor code-named “Monaco” for modifying and committing Web project code changes without leaving Azure. Also included is Application Insights, an analytics solution that collects telemetry data such as availability, performance and usage information to track an application’s health. Visual Studio integration enables developers to surface this data from new applications with a single click.
Building an open cloud ecosystem
Showcasing Microsoft’s commitment to choice and flexibility, the company announced new open source partnerships with Chef and Puppet Labs to run configuration management technologies in Azure Virtual Machines. Using these community-driven technologies, customers will now be able to more easily deploy and configure in the cloud. In addition, today Microsoft announced the release of Java Applications to Microsoft Azure Web Sites, giving Microsoft even broader support for Web applications.
Bill Staples then came on stage to show off the new Azure [management] portal design and features. Bill walked through a number of the new innovations in the portal, such as improved UX, app insights, “blade” views [the “blade” term is used for the dropdown that allows a drilldown], etc. A screen shot of the new portal is shown below.
Bill also walked through the comprehensive analytics (such as compute and billing) that are now available on the portal. He also walked through “Application Insights,” which is a great way to instrument your code in both the portal and in your code with easy-to-use, pre-defined code snippets. He completed his demo walkthrough by showing the Azure [management] portal as a “NOC” [Network Operations Center] view on a big-screen TV.
BILL STAPLES at [1:43:39]: Now, to conclude the operations part of this demo, I wanted to show you an experience for how the new Azure Portal works on a different device. You’ve seen it on the desktop, but it works equally well on a tablet device, that is really touch friendly. Check it out on your Surface or your iPad, it works great on both devices.
But we’re thinking as well if you’ve got a big-screen TV or a projector lying around your team room, you might want to think about putting the Microsoft Azure portal as your own personal NOC.
In this case, I’ve asked the Office developer team if we could have access to their live site log. So they made me promise, do not hit the stop button or the delete button, which I promised to do.
[1:44:24] This is actually the Office developer log site. And you can see it’s got almost 10 million hits already today running on Azure Websites. So very high traffic.
They’ve customized it to show off the browser usage on their website. Imagine we’re in a team Scrum with the Office developer guys and we check out, you know, how is the website doing? We’ve got some interesting trends here.
In fact, there was a spike of sessions it looks like going on about a week ago. And page views, that’s kind of a small part. It would be nice to know which page it was that spiked a week ago. Let’s go ahead and customize that.
This screen is kind of special because it has touch screen. So I can go ahead and let’s make that automatically expand there. Now we see a bigger view. Wow, that was a really big spike last week. What page was that? We can click into it. We get the full navigation experience, same on the desktop, as well as, oh, look at that. There’s a really popular blog post that happened about a week ago. What was that? Something about announcing Office on the iPad you love. Makes sense, huh? So we can see the Azure Portal in action here as the Office developer team might imagine it. [1:45:44]
The last thing I want to show is the Azure Gallery.
We populated the gallery with all of the first-party Microsoft Azure services, as well as the [services from] great partners that we’ve worked with so far in creating this gallery.
And what you’re seeing right here is just the beginning. We’ve got the core set of DevOps experiences built out, as well as websites, SQL, and MySQL support. But over the coming months, we’ll be integrating all of the developer and IT services in Microsoft as well as the partner services into this experience.
Let me just conclude by reminding us what we’ve seen. We’ve seen a first-of-its-kind experience from Microsoft that fuses our world-class developer services together with Azure to provide an amazing dev-ops experience where you can enjoy the entire lifecycle from development, deployment, operations, gathering analytics, and iterating right here in one experience.
We’ve seen an application-centric experience that brings together all the dev platform and infrastructure services you know and love into one common shell. And we’ve seen a new application model that you can describe declaratively. And through the command line or programmatically, build out services in the cloud with tremendous ease. [1:47:12]
More information on the new Azure [Management] Portal:
- From Visual Studio Online Integration in the Azure [management] portal [by Brian Harry (MSFT) on MSDN Blogs, April 3, 2014]
Today, at Build, we unveiled a new Azure [Management] Portal experience we are building. I want to give you some insights into the work that VS Online team is doing to help with it. I’m not on the Azure team and am no expert on how they’d like to describe to the world, so please take any comments I make here about the new Azure portal as my perspective on it and not necessarily an official one.
Bill Staples first presented to me almost a year ago an idea of creating a new portal experience for Azure designed to be an optimal experience for DevOps. It would provide everything a DevOps team needs to do modern cloud based development. Capabilities to provision dev and test resources, development and collaboration capabilities, build, release and deployment capabilities, application telemetry and management capabilities and more. Pretty quickly it became clear to me that if we could do it, it would be awesome. An incredibly productive and easy way for devs to do soup to nuts app development.
What we demoed today (and made available via http://portal.azure.com”) is the first incarnation of that. My team (the VS Online Team) has worked very hard over the past many months with the Azure team to build the beginnings of the experience we hope to bring to you. It’s very early and it’s nowhere near done but it’s definitely something we’d love to start getting some feedback on.
For now, it’s limited to Azure websites, SQL databases and a subset of the VS Online capabilities. If you are a VS Online/TFS user, think of this as a companion to Visual Studio, Visual Studio Online and all of the tools you are used to. When you create a team project in the Azure portal, it’s a VS Online Team Project like any other and is accessible from the Azure portal, the VS Online web UI, Visual Studio, Eclipse and all the other ways your Visual Studio Online assets are available. For now, though, there are a few limitations – which we are working hard to address. We are in the middle of adding Azure Active Directory support to Visual Studio Online and, for a variety of reasons, chose to limit the new portal to only work with VS Online accounts linked to Azure Active Directory.
The best way to ensure this is just to create a new Team Project and a new VS Online account from within the new Azure portal. You will need to be logged in to the Azure portal with an identity known to your Azure Active Directory tenant and to add new users, rather than add them directly in Visual Studio Online, you will add them through Azure Active directory. One of the ramifications of this, for now, is that you can’t use an existing VS Online account in the new portal – you must create a new one. Clearly that’s a big limitation and one we are working hard to remove. We will enable you to link existing VS Online accounts to Active Directory we just don’t have it yet – stay tuned.
I’ll do a very simple tour. You can also watch Brian Keller’s Channel9 video.
- Enabling DevOps with Azure and Visual Studio Online [jlongo62 YouTube channel, published on April 21, 2014]
- Building your Dream DevOps Dashboard with the new Azure Preview Portal [by Brian Keller [MSFT] on MSDN Blogs, April 10, 2014]
- Azure [Management] Portal Preview and Visual Studio Online: Adding a user [by Buck Hodges (MSFT) on MSDN Blogs, April 3, 2014]
4. New Azure features: IaaS, web, mobile and data announcements
According to Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise group:
[IaaS] First up, let’s look at some of the improvements we’re making with our infrastructure features and some of the great things we’re enabling with virtual machines.
Azure enables you to run both Windows and Linux virtual machines in the cloud. You can run them as stand-alone servers, or join them together to a virtual network, including one that you can optionally bridge to an on-premises networking environment.
This week, we’re making it even easier for developers to create and manage virtual machines in Visual Studio without having to leave the VS IDE: You can now create, destroy, manage and debug any number of VMs in the cloud. (Applause.)
Prior to today, it was possible to create reusable VM image templates, but you had to write scripts and manually attach things like storage drives to them. Today, we’re releasing support that makes it super-easy to capture images that can contain any number of storage drives. Once you have this image, you can then very easily take it and create any number of VM instances from it, really fast, and really easy. (Applause.)
Starting today, you can also now easily configure VM images using popular frameworks like Puppet, Chef, and our own PowerShell and VSD tools. These tools enable you to avoid having to create and manage lots of separate VM images. Instead, you can define common settings and functionality using modules that can cut across every type of VM you use.
You can also create modules that define role-specific behavior, and all these modules can be checked into source control and they can also then be deployed to a Puppet Master or Chef server.
And one of the things we’re doing this week is making it incredibly easy within Azure to basically spin up a server farm and be able to automatically deploy, provision and manage all of these machines using these popular tools.
We’re also excited to announce the general availability of our auto-scale service, as well as a bunch of great virtual networking capabilities including point-to-site VPN support going GA, new dynamic routing, subnet migration, as well as static internal IP address. And we think the combination of this really gives you a very flexible environment, as you saw, a very open environment, and lets you run pretty much any Windows or Linux workload in the cloud.
So we think infrastructure as a service is super-flexible, and it really kind of enables you to manage your environments however you want.
We also, though, provide prebuilt services and runtime environments that you can use to assemble your applications as well, and we call these platform as a service [PaaS] capabilities.
One of the benefits of these prebuilt services is that they enable you to focus on your application and not have to worry about the infrastructure underneath it.
We handle patching, load balancing, high availability and auto scale for you. And this enables you to work faster and do more.
What I want to do is just spend a little bit of time talking through some of these platform as a service capabilities, so we’re going to start talking about our Web functionality here today.
[Web] One of the most popular PaaS services that we now have on Windows Azure is something we call the Azure Website Service. This enables you to very easily deploy Web applications written in a variety of different languages and host them in the cloud. We support .NET, NOJS, PHP, Python, and we’re excited this week to also announce that we’re adding Java language support as well.
This enables you as a developer to basically push any type of application into Azure into our runtime environment, and basically host it to any number of users in the cloud.
Couple of the great features we have with Azure include auto-scale capability. What this means is you can start off running your application, for example, in a single VM. As more load increases to it, we can then automatically scale up multiple VMs for you without you having to write any script or take any action yourself. And if you get a lot of load, we can scale up even more.
You can basically configure how many VMs you maximally want to use, as well as what the burn-down rate is. And as your traffic — and this is great because it enables you to not only handle large traffic spikes and make sure that your apps are always responsive, but the nice thing about auto scale is that when the traffic drops off, or maybe during the night when it’s a little bit less, we can automatically scale down the number of machines that you need, which means that you end up saving money and not having to pay as much.
One of the really cool features that we’ve recently introduced with websites is something we call our staging support. This solves kind of a pretty common problem with any Web app today, which is there’s always someone hitting it. And how do you stage the deployments of new code that you roll out so that you don’t ever have a site in an intermediate state and that you can actually deploy with confidence at any point in the day?
And what staging support enables inside of Azure is for you to create a new staging version of your Web app with a private URL that you can access and use to test. And this allows you to basically deploy your application to the staging environment, get it ready, test it out before you finally send users to it, and then basically you can push one button or send a single command called swap where we’ll basically rotate the incoming traffic from the old production site to the new staged version.
What’s nice is we still keep your old version around. So if you discover once you go live you still have a bug that you missed, you can always swap back to the previous state. Again, this allows you to deploy with a lot of confidence and make sure that your users are always seeing a consistent experience when they hit your app.
Another cool feature that we’ve recently introduced is a feature we call Web Jobs. And this enables you to run background tasks that are non-HTTP responsive that you can actually run in the background. So if it takes a while to run it, this is a great way you can offload that work so that you’re not stalling your actual request response thread pool.
Basically, you know, common scenario we see for a lot of people is if they want to process something in the background, when someone submits something, for example, to the website, they can go ahead and simply drop an item into a queue or into the storage account, respond back down to the user, and then with one of these Web jobs, you can very easily run background code that can pull that queue message and actually process it in an offline way.
And what’s nice about Web jobs is you can run them now in the same virtual machines that host your websites. What that means is you don’t have to spin up your own separate set of virtual machines, and again, enables you to save money and provides a really nice management experience for it.
The last cool feature that we’ve recently introduced is something we call traffic manager support. With Traffic Manager, you can take advantage of the fact that Azure runs around the world, and you can spin up multiple instances of your website in multiple different regions around the world with Azure.
What you can then do is use Traffic Manager so you can have a single DNS entry that you then map to the different instances around the world. And what Traffic Manager does is gives you a really nice way that you can actually automatically, for example, route all your North America users to one of the North American versions of your app, while people in Europe will go routed to the European version of your app. That gives you better performance, response and latency.
Traffic Manager is also smart enough so that if you ever have an issue with one of the instances of your app, it can automatically remove it from those rotations and send users to one of the other active apps within the system. So this gives you also a nice way you can fail over in the event of an outage.
And the great thing about Traffic Manager, now, is you can use it not just for virtual machines and cloud services, but we’ve also now enabled it to work fully with websites.
[From BUILD Day 2: Keynote Summary [by Steve Fox [MSFT] on MSDN Blogs, April 3, 2014]]
Scott then invited Mads Kristensen on stage to walk through a few of the features that Scott discussed at a higher level. Specifically, he walked through the new ASP.NET templates emphasizing the creation of the DB layer and then showing PowerShell integration to manage your web site. He then showed Angular integration with Azure Web sites, emphasizing easy and dynamic ways to update your site showing deep browser and Visual Studio integration (Browser Link), showing updates that are made in the browser show up in the code in Visual Studio. Very cool!!
He also showed how you can manage staging and production sites by using the “swap” functionality built into the Azure Web sites service. He also showed Web Jobs to show how you can also run background jobs and Traffic Manager functionality to ensure your customers have the best performing web site in their regions.
So as Mads showed, there are a lot of great features that we’re kind of unveiling this week. A lot of great announcements that go with it.
These include the general availability release of auto-scale support for websites, as well as the general availability release of our new Traffic Manager support for websites as well. As you saw there, we also have Web Job support, and one of the things that we didn’t get to demo which is also very cool is backup support so that automatically we can have both your content as well as your databases backed up when you run them in our Websites environment as well.
Lots of great improvements also coming in terms of from an offer perspective. One thing a lot of people have asked us for with Websites is the ability not only to use SSL, but to use SSL without having to pay for it. So one of the cool things that we’re adding with Websites and it goes live today is we’re including one IP address-based SSL certificate and five SNI-based SSL certificates at no additional cost to every Website instance. (Applause.)
Throughout the event here, you’re also going to hear a bunch of great sessions on some of the improvements we’re making to ASP.NET. In terms of from a Web framework perspective, we’ve got general availability release of ASP.NET MVC 5.1, Web API 2.1, Identity 2.0, as well as Web Pages 3.1 So a lot of great, new features to take advantage of.
As you saw Mads demo, a lot of great features inside Visual Studio including the ability every time you create an ASP.NET project now to automatically create an Azure Website as part of that flow. Remember, every Azure customer gets 10 free Azure Websites that you can use forever. So even if you’re not an MSDN customer, you can take advantage of that feature in order to set up a Web environment literally every time you create a new project. So pretty exciting stuff.
So that was one example of some of the PaaS capabilities that we have inside Azure.
[Mobile] I’m going to move now into the mobile space and talk about some of the great improvements that we’re making there as well.
One of the great things about Azure is the fact that it makes it really easy for you to build back ends for your mobile applications and devices. And one of the cool things you can do now is you can develop those back ends with both .NET as well as NOJS, and you can use Visual Studio or any other text editor on any other operating system to actually deploy those applications into Azure.
And once they’re deployed, we make it really easy for you to go ahead and connect them to any type of device out there in the world.
Now, some of the great things you can do with this is take advantage of some of the features that we have, which provide very flexible data handling. So we have built-in support for Azure storage, as well as our SQL database, which is our PaaS database offering for relational databases, as well as take advantage of things like MongoDB and other popular NoSQL solutions.
We support the ability not only to reply to messages that come to us, but also to push messages to devices as well. One of the cool features that Mobile Services can take advantage of — and it’s also available as a stand-alone feature — is something we call notification hubs. And this basically allows you to send a single message to a notification hub and then broadcast it to, in some cases, devices that might be registered to it.
We also support with Mobile Services a variety of flexible authentication options. So when we first launched mobile services, we added support for things like Facebook login, Google ID, Twitter ID, as well as Microsoft Accounts.
One of the things we’re excited to demo here today is Active Directory support as well. So this enables you to build new applications that you can target, for example, your employees or partners, to enable them to sign in using the same enterprise credentials that they use in an on-premises Active Directory environment.
What’s great is we’re using standard OAuth tokens as part of that. So once you authenticate, you can take that token, you can use it to also provide authorization access to your own custom back-end logic or data stores that you host inside Azure.
We’re also making it really easy so that you can also take that same token and you can use it to access Office 365 APIs and be able to integrate that user’s data as well as functionality inside your application as well.
The beauty about all of this is it works with any device. So whether it’s a Windows device or an iOS device or an Android device, you can go ahead and take advantage of this capability.
[From BUILD Day 2: Keynote Summary [by Steve Fox [MSFT] on MSDN Blogs, April 3, 2014]]
Yavor Georgiev then came on stage to walk through a Mobile Services demo. He showed off a new Mobile Services Visual Studio template, test pages with API docs, local and remote debugging capabilities, and a LOB app that enables Facilities departments to manage service requests—this showed off a lot of the core ASP.NET/MVC features along with a quick publish service to your Mobile Services service in Azure. Through this app, he showed how to use Active Directory to build the app—which prompts you to log into the app with your corp/AD credentials to use the app. He then showed how the app integrates with SharePoint/O365 such that the request leverages the SharePoint REST APIs to publish a doc to a Facilities doc repository. He also showed how you can re-use the core code through Xamarin to repurpose the code for iOS.
The app is shown here native in Visual Studio.
This app view is the cross-platform build using Xamarin.
Kudos to Yavor! This was an awesome demo that showcases how far Mobile Services has come in a short period of time—love the extensibility and the cross-platform capabilities. Very nice!
One of the things that kind of Yavor showed there is just sort of how easy it is now to build enterprise-grade mobile applications using Azure and Visual Studio.
And one of the key kind of lynchpins in terms of from a technology standpoint that really makes this possible is our Azure Active Directory Service. This basically provides an Active Directory in the cloud that you can use to authenticate any device. What makes it powerful is the fact that you can synchronize it with your existing on-premises Active Directory. And we support both synch options, including back to Windows Server 2003 instances, so it doesn’t even require a relatively new Windows Server, it works with anything you’ve got.
We also support a federate option as well if you want to use ADFS. Once you set that environment up, then all your users are available to be authenticated in the cloud and what’s great is we ship SDKs that work with all different types of devices, and enables you to integrate authentication into those applications. And so you don’t everyone have to have your back end hosted on Azure, you can take advantage of this capability to enable single sign-on with any enterprise credential.
And what’s great is once you get that token, that same token can then be used to program against Office 365 APIs as well as the other services across Microsoft. So this provides a really great opportunity not only for building enterprise line-of-business apps, but also for ISVs that want to be able to build SaaS solutions as well as mobile device apps that integrate and target enterprise customers as well.
[From BUILD Day 2: Keynote Summary [by Steve Fox [MSFT] on MSDN Blogs, April 3, 2014]]
Scott then invited Grant Peterson from DocuSign on stage to discuss how they are using Azure, who demoed AD integration with DocuSign’s iOS app. Nice!
This is really huge for those of you building apps that are cross-platform but have big investments in AD and also provides you as developers a way to reach enterprise audiences.
So I think one of the things that’s pretty cool about that scenario is both the opportunity it offers every developer that wants to reach an enterprise audience. The great thing is all of those 300 million users that are in Azure Active Directory today and the millions of enterprises that have already federated with it are now available for you to build both mobile and Web applications against and be able to offer to them an enterprise-grade solution to all of your ISV-based applications.
That really kind of changes one of the biggest concerns that people end up having with enterprise apps with SaaS into a real asset where you can make it super-easy for them to go ahead and integrate and be able to do it from any device.
And one of the things you might have noticed there in the code that Grant showed was that it was actually all done on the client using Objective-C, and that’s because we have a new Azure Active Directory iOS SDK as well as an Android SDK in addition to our Windows SDK. And so you can use and integrate with Azure Active Directory from any device, any language, any tool.
Here’s a quick summary of some of the great mobile announcements that we’re making today. Yavor showed we now have .NET backend support, single sign-on with Active Directory.
One of the features we didn’t get a chance to show, but you can learn more about in the breakout talk is offline data sync. So we also now have built into Mobile Services the ability to sync and handle disconnected states with data. And then, obviously, the Visual Studio and remote debugging capabilities as well.
We’ve got not only the Azure SDKs for Azure Active Directory, but we also now have Office 365 API integration. We’re also really excited to announce the general availability or our Azure AD Premium release. This provides enterprises management capabilities that they can actually also use and integrate with your applications, and enables IT to also feel like they can trust the applications and the SaaS solutions that their users are using.
And then we have a bunch of great improvements with notification hubs including Kindle support as well as Visual Studio integration.
So a lot of great features. You can learn about all of them in the breakout talks this week.
So we’ve talked about Web, we’ve talked about mobile when we talk about PaaS.
[Data] I want to switch gears now and talk a little bit about data, which is pretty fundamental and integral to building any type of application.
And with Azure, we support a variety of rich ways to handle data ranging from unstructured, semistructured, to relational. One of the most popular services you heard me talk about at the beginning of the talk is our SQL database story. We’ve got over a million SQL databases now hosted on Azure. And it’s a really easy way for you to spin up a database, and better yet, it’s a way that we then manage for you. So we do handle things like high availability and patching.
You don’t have to worry about that. Instead, you can focus on your application and really be productive.
We’ve got a whole bunch of great SQL improvements that we’re excited to announce this week. I’m going to walk through a couple of them real quickly.
One of them is we’re increasing the database size that we support with SQL databases. Previously, we only supported up to 150 gigs. We’re excited to announce that we’re increasing that to support 500 gigabytes going forward. And we’re also delivering a new 99.95 percent SLA as part of that. So this now enables you to run even bigger applications and be able to do it with high confidence in the cloud. (Applause.)
Another cool feature we’re adding is something we call Self-Service Restore. I don’t know if you ever worked on a database application where you’ve written code like this, hit go, and then suddenly had a very bad feeling because you realized you omitted the where clause and you just deleted your entire table. (Laughter.)
And sometimes you can go and hopefully you have backups. This is usually the point when you discover when you don’t have backups.
And one of the things that we built in as part of the Self-Service Restore feature is automatic backups for you. And we actually let you literally roll back the clock, and you can choose what time of the day you want to roll it back to. We save up to I think 31 days of backups. And you can basically rehydrate a new database based on whatever time of the day you wanted to actually restore from. And then, hopefully, your life ends up being a lot better than it started out.
This is just a built-in feature. You don’t have to turn it on. It’s just sort of built in, something you can take advantage of. (Applause.)
Another great feature that we’re building in is something we call active geo-replication. What this lets you do now is you can actually go ahead and run SQL databases in multiple Azure regions around the world. And you can set it up to automatically replicate your databases for you.
And this is basically an asynchronous replication. You can basically have your primary in rewrite mode, and then you can actually have your secondary and you can have multiple secondaries in read-only mode. So you can still actually be accessing the data in read-only mode elsewhere.
In the event that you have a catastrophic issue in, say, one region, say a natural disaster hits, you can go ahead and you can initiate the failover automatically to one of your secondary regions. This basically allows you to continue moving on without having to worry about data loss and gives you kind of a really nice, high-availability solution that you can take advantage of.
One of the things that’s nice about Azure’s regions is we try to make sure we have multiple regions in each geography. So, for example, we have two regions that are at least 500 miles away in Europe, and in North America, and similarly with Australia, Japan and China. And what that means is that you know if you do need to fail over, your data is never leaving the geo-political area that it’s based in. And if you’re hosted in Europe, you don’t have to worry about your data ever leaving Europe, similarly for the other geo-political entities that are out there.
So this gives you a way now with high confidence that you can store your data and know that you can fail over at any point in time.
In addition to some of these improvements with SQL databases, we also have a host of great improvements coming with HDInsight, which is our big data analytics engine. This runs standard Hadoop instance and runs it as a managed service, so we do all the patching and management for you.
We’re excited to announce the GA of Hadoop 2.2 support. We also have now .NET 4.5 installed and APIs available so you can now write your MapReduce jobs using .NET 4.5.
We’re also adding audit and operation history support, a bunch of great improvements with Hive, and we’re now Yarn-enabling the cluster so you can actually run more software on it as well.
And we’re also excited to announce a bunch of improvements in the storage space, including the general availability of our read-access geo-redundant storage option.
So we’ve kind of done a whole bunch of kind of deep dives into a whole bunch of the Azure features.
- Announcing release of Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 RC and Azure SDK 2.3 [Windows Azure Blog, April 4, 2014]
- Deep dive: Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 RC and Azure SDK 2.3 [Windows Azure Blog, April 9, 2014]
- Azure Updates: Web Sites, VMs, Mobile Services, Notification Hubs, Storage, VNets, Scheduler, AutoScale and More [ScottGu’s Blog, April 14, 2014] [Data]
It has been a really busy last 10 days for the Azure team. This blog post quickly recaps a few of the significant enhancements we’ve made. These include:
- [Web] Web Sites: SSL included, Traffic Manager, Java Support, Basic Tier
- [IaaS] Virtual Machines: Support for Chef and Puppet extensions, Basic Pricing tier for Compute Instances
- [IaaS] Virtual Network: General Availability of DynamicRouting VPN Gateways and Point-to-Site VPN
- [Mobile] Mobile Services: Preview of Visual Studio support for .NET, Azure Active Directory integration and Offline support;
- [Mobile] Notification Hubs: Support for Kindle Fire devices and Visual Studio Server Explorer integration
- [IaaS] [Web] Autoscale: General Availability release
- [Data] Storage: General Availability release of Read Access Geo Redundant Storage
- [Mobile] Active Directory Premium: General Availability release
- Scheduler service: General Availability release
- Automation: Preview release of new Azure Automation service
All of these improvements are now available to use immediately (note that some features are still in preview). Below are more details about them:
- [Web] Azure Web Sites New Basic Pricing Tier [Windows Azure Blog, April 21, 2014]
… With the April updates to Microsoft Azure, Azure Web Sites offers a new pricing tier called Basic. The Basic pricing tier is designated for production sites, supporting smaller sites, as well as development and testing scenarios. … Which pricing tier is right for me? … The new pricing tier is a great benefit to many customers, offering some high-end features at a reasonable cost. We hope this new offering will enable a better deployment for all of you.
- [Web] Java on Azure Web Sites [Windows Azure Blog, April 4, 2014]
Microsoft is launching support for Java-based web sites on Azure Web Sites. This capability is intended to satisfy many common Java scenarios combined with the manageability and easy scaling options from Azure Web Sites.
The addition of Java is available immediately on all tiers for no additional cost. It offers new possibilities to host your pre-existing Java web applications. New Java web site development on Azure is easy using the Java Azure SDK which provides integration with Azure services.
- [Web] Introducing Web Hosting Plans for Azure Web Sites [Windows Azure Blog, April 4, 2014]
With the latest release of Azure Web Sites and the new Azure Portal Preview we are introducing a new concept: Web Hosting Plans. A Web Hosting Plan (WHP) allows you to group and scale sites independently within a subscription.
- Microsoft Azure Load Balancing Services [Windows Azure Blog, April 8, 2014]
Microsoft Azure offers load balancing services for [IaaS] virtual machines (IaaS) and [Web] cloud services (PaaS) hosted in the Microsoft Azure cloud. Load balancing allows your application to scale and provides resiliency to application failures among other benefits.
The load balancing services can be accessed by specifying input endpoints on your services either via the Microsoft Azure Portal or via the service model of your application. Once a hosted service with one or more input endpoints is deployed in Microsoft Azure, it automatically configures the load balancing services offered by Microsoft Azure platform. To get the benefit of resiliency / redundancy of your services, you need to have at least two virtual machines serving the same endpoint.
- [Web] What’s New for ASP.NET and Web in Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 and Beyond [jlongo62 YouTube channel, published on April 22, 2014]
- [Mobile] Push Notifications Using Notification Hub and .NET Backend [Azure Mobile Services Team Blog, April 8, 2014]
When creating a Azure Mobile Service, a Notification Hub is automatically created as well enabling large scale push notifications to devices across any mobile platform (Android, iOS, Windows Store apps, and Windows Phone). For a background on Notification Hubs, see this overview as well as these tutorials and guides, and Scott Guthrie’s blog Broadcast push notifications to millions of mobile devices using Windows Azure Notification Hubs.
Let’s look at how devices register for notification and how to send notifications to registered devices using the .NET backend.
- [Mobile] How to create Universal applications with Azure Mobile Services that leverage push notifications and database insertion and data retrieval [by Bruno Terkalay on MSDN Blogs, April 13, 2014]
- Azure SQL Database introduces new service tiers [Windows Azure Blog, April 24, 2014]
New tiers improve customer experience and provide more business continuity options
To better serve your needs for more flexibility, Microsoft Azure SQL Database is adding new service tiers, Basic and Standard, to work alongside its Premium tier, which is currently in preview. Together these service tiers will help you more easily support the needs of database workloads and application patterns built on Microsoft Azure. … Previews for all three tiers are available today.
The Basic, Standard, and Premium tiers are designed to deliver more predictable performance for light-weight to heavy-weight transactional application demands. Additionally, the new tiers offer a spectrum of business continuity features, a [Data] stronger uptime SLA at 99.95%, and larger database sizes up to 500 GB for less cost. The new tiers will also help remove costly workarounds and offer an improved billing experience for you.
- SQL Database updates coming soon to the Premium preview [Windows Azure Blog, April 4, 2014]
… [Data] Active Geo-Replication: …
… [Data] Self-service Restore: …
Stay tuned to the Azure blog for more details on SQL Database later this month!
Also, if you haven’t tried Azure SQL Database yet, it’s a great time to start and try the Premium tier! Learn more today!
- What’s new in the cluster versions provided by HDInsight? [Azure article, April 3, 2014]
Azure HDInsight now supports [Data] Hadoop 2.2 with HDInsight cluster version 3.0 and takes full advantage of these platform to provide a range of significant benefits to customers. These include, most notably:
- Microsoft Avro Library: …
[Data] YARN: A new, general-purpose, distributed, application management framework that has replaced the classic Apache Hadoop MapReduce framework for processing data in Hadoop clusters. It effectively serves as the Hadoop operating system, and takes Hadoop from a single-use data platform for batch processing to a multi-use platform that enables batch, interactive, online and stream processing. This new management framework improves scalability and cluster utilization according to criteria such as capacity guarantees, fairness, and service-level agreements.
High Availability: …
[Data] Hive performance: Order of magnitude improvements to Hive query response times (up to 40x) and to data compression (up to 80%) using the Optimized Row Columnar (ORC) format.
Pig, Sqoop, Qozie, Ambari: …
Microsoft is transitioning to a world with more usage and more software driven value add (rather than the old device driven world) in mobility and the cloud, the latter also helping to grow the server business well above its peers
Quartely Highlights (from Earnings Call Slides):
Cloud momentum helps drive Q3 results
- Outstanding momentum and results in our cloud services; total Commercial Cloud revenue more than doubled again this quarter
- Office 365 Home currently has 4.4 million subscribers, adding nearly one million new users this quarter
- Windows remained the platform of choice for business users, with double-digit increases in both Windows OEM Pro and Windows Volume Licensing revenue
- With focus on spend prioritization, we grew our operating expenses only 2%, contributing to solid earnings growth
Microsoft CEO offer bright future [‘Saxo TV – TradingFloor.com’ YouTube channel, April 25, 2014]
Willing to change, that was the message new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was pushing as the firm released third quarter earnings.
Microsoft beat Wall Street analysts’ expectations, driving the company’s stock price up 3 percent on Thursday after earnings were released. Growth came from the company’s surface tablet sales and commercial business sector, according to Norman Young, Senior Equity Analyst at Morningstar. Results were also aided by a less severe decline in the PC industry.
Young believes the company has already demonstrated continued growth for the fourth quarter and remains optimistic about the company’s new direction.
Nadella is shifting the traditionally PC focused company towards more mobile and cloud based technology. On the quarterly call with Wall Street he said, “What you can expect of Microsoft is courage in the face of reality; we will approach our future with a challenger mindset; we will be bold in our innovation.” Analysts are excited about the company’s future trajectory as he continues to push Microsoft’s business into the mobile and cloud computing world.
The company’s stock has increased 8 percent since Nadella assumed the role of CEO in February.
From Earnings Release FY14 Q3 [April 24, 2014]
“This quarter’s results demonstrate the strength of our business, as well as the opportunities we see in a mobile-first, cloud-first world. We are making good progress in our consumer services like Bing and Office 365 Home, and our commercial customers continue to embrace our cloud solutions. Both position us well for long-term growth,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer at Microsoft. “We are focused on executing rapidly and delivering bold, innovative products that people love to use.”
Devices and Consumer revenue grew 12% to $8.30 billion.
- Windows OEM revenue grew 4%, driven by strong 19% growth in Windows OEM Pro revenue.
- Office 365 Home now has 4.4 million subscribers, adding nearly 1 million subscribers in just three months.
- Microsoft sold in 2.0 million Xbox console units, including 1.2 million Xbox One consoles.
- Surface revenue grew over 50% to approximately $500 million.
- Bing U.S. search share grew to 18.6% and search advertising revenue grew 38%.
Commercial revenue grew 7% to $12.23 billion.
- Office 365 revenue grew over 100%, and commercial seats nearly doubled, demonstrating strong enterprise momentum for Microsoft’s cloud productivity solutions.
- Azure revenue grew over 150%, and the company has announced more than 40 new features that make the Azure platform more attractive to cloud application developers.
- Windows volume licensing revenue grew 11%, as business customers continue to make Windows their platform of choice.
- Lync, SharePoint, and Exchange, our productivity server offerings, collectively grew double-digits.
From Microsoft’s CEO Discusses F3Q 2014 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, April 25, 2014]
From the prepared comments: “This quarter we continued our rapid cadence of innovation and announced a range of new services and features in three key areas – data, cloud, and mobility. SQL Server 2014 helps improve overall performance, and with Power BI, provides an end-to-end solution from data to analytics. Microsoft Azure preview portal provides a fully integrated cloud experience. The Enterprise Mobility Suite provides IT with a comprehensive cloud solution to support bring-your-own-device scenarios. These offerings help businesses convert big data into ambient intelligence, developers more efficiently build and run cloud solutions, and IT manage enterprise mobility with ease.”
Satya Nadella – Chief Executive Officer:
As I have told our employees, our industry does not respect tradition, it only respects innovation. This applies to us and everyone else. When I think about our industry over the next 5, 10 years, I see a world where computing is more ubiquitous and all experiences are powered by ambient intelligence. Silicon, hardware systems and software will co-evolve together and give birth to a variety of new form factors. Nearly everything we do will become more digitized, our interactions with other people, with machines and between machines. The ability to reason over and draw insights from everything that’s been digitized will improve the fidelity of our daily experiences and interactions. This is the mobile-first and cloud-first world. It’s a rich canvas for innovation and a great growth opportunity for Microsoft across all our customer segments.
To thrive we will continue to zero in on the things customers really value and Microsoft can uniquely deliver. We want to build products that people love to use. And as a result, you will see us increasingly focus on usage as the leading indicator of long-term success.
- advancing Office, Windows and our data platform
- continue to invest in our cloud capabilities including Office 365 and Azure in the fast growing SaaS and cloud platform markets
- ensuring that our cloud services are available across all device platforms that people use
- delivering a cloud for everyone on every device
- have bold plans to move Windows forward:
– investing and innovating in every dimension from form-factor to software experiences to price
– Windows platform is unique in how it brings together consistent end user experiences across small to large screens, broadest platform opportunity for developers and control and assurance for IT
– enhance our device capabilities with the addition of Nokia’s talented people and their depth in mobile technologies
- our vision is about being going boldly into this mobile-first, cloud-first world
So this mobile-first cloud-first thing is a pretty deep thing for us. When we say mobile-first, in fact what we mean by that is mobility first. We think about users and their experiences spanning a variety of devices. So it’s not about any one form factor that may have some share position today, but as we look to the future, what are the set of experiences across devices, some ours and some not ours that we can power through experiences that we can create uniquely. …
… When you think about mobility first, that means you need to have really deep understanding of all the mobile scenarios for everything from how communications happen, how meetings occur. And those require us to build new capability. We will do some of this organically, some of it inorganically.
A good example of this is what we have done with Nokia. So we will – obviously we are looking forward to that team joining us building on the capability and then execution, even in the last three weeks or so we have announced a bunch of things where we talked about this one cloud for everyone and every device. We talked about how our data platform is going to enable this data culture, which is in fact fundamentally changing how Microsoft itself works.
We always talked about what it means to think about Windows, especially with the launch of this universal Windows application model. How different it is now to think about Windows as one family, which was not true before, but now we have a very different way to think about it.
[Re: Microsoft transition to more of a subscription business]
The way I look at it … we are well on our way to making that transition, in terms of moving from pure licenses to long-term contracts and as well as subscription business model. So when you talked about Platform-as-a-Service if you look at our commercial cloud it’s made up of the platform itself which is Azure. We also have a SaaS business in Office 365.
Now, one of the things that we want to make sure we look at is each of the constituent parts because the margin profile on each one of these things is going to different. The infrastructure elements right now in particular is going to have different economics versus some of the per-user applications in a SaaS mode have. It’s the blending of all of that that matters and the growth of that matters to us the most in this time where I think there is just a couple of us really playing in this market. I mean this is gold rush time in some sense of being able to capitalize on the opportunity.
And when it comes to that we have some of the best, the broadest SaaS solution and the broadest platform solution and that combination of those assets doesn’t come often. So what we are very focused on is how do we make sure we get our customer aggressively into this, having them use our service, be successful with it. And then there will be a blended set of margins across even just our cloud. And what matters to me in the long run is the magnitude of profit we generate given a lot of categories are going to be merged as this transition happens. And we have to be able to actively participate in it and drive profit growth.
From the prepared comments: “Office Commercial revenue was up 6%, driven by Office 365 as customers transitioned to our cloud productivity services. Office 365 revenue grew over 100%, and seats nearly doubled as well. Our productivity server offerings continue to perform well, with Lync, SharePoint, and Exchange, collectively growing double-digits.”
… to me the Office 365 growth is in fact driving our enterprise infrastructure growth which is driving Azure growth and that cycle to me is most exciting. So that’s one of the reasons why I want to have to keep indexing on the usage of all of this and the growth numbers you see is a reflection of that.
[Background from him in the call:]Office 365 I am really, really excited about what’s happening there, which is to me this is the core engine that’s driving a lot of our cloud adoption and you see it in the numbers and Amy will talk more about the numbers. But one of the fundamental things its also doing is it’s actually a SaaS application and it’s also an architecture for enterprises. And one of the most salient things we announced when we talked about the cloud for everyone and every device and we talked about Office 365 having now iPad apps, we also launched something called the enterprise mobility suite which is perhaps one of the most strategic things during that day that we announced which was that we now have a consistent and deep platform for identity management which by the way gets bootstrapped every time Office 365 users sign up, device management and data protection, which is really what every enterprise customer needs in a mobile-first world, in a world where you have SaaS application adoption and you have BYOD or bring your own devices happening.
[Re #1: about the new world in terms of more usage and more software driven rather than device driven, and the reengagement with the developer community in that world]
Developers are very, very important to us. If you’re in the platform business which we’re on both on the device side as well as on the cloud side, developers and their ability to create new value props and new applications on them is sort of likes itself. I would say couple of things.
… on the cloud side, in fact one of the most strategic APIs is the Office API. If you think about building an application for iOS, if you want single sign-on for any enterprise application, it’s the Azure AD single sign-on. That’s one of the things that we showed at Build, which is how to take advantage of list data in Sharepoint, contact information in Exchange, Azure active directory information for log-on. And those are the APIs that are very, very powerful APIs and unique to us. And they expand the opportunity for developers to reach into the enterprises. And then of course Azure is a full platform, which is very attractive to developers. So that gives you a flavor for how important developers are and what your opportunities are.
From the prepared comments: “Devices and Consumer Other revenue grew 18% to $1.95 billion, driven by search advertising and our Office 365 Home service. Search revenue grew 38%, offset by display [advertising] revenue which declined 24% this quarter. Gross margin grew 26% to $541 million. The combined revenue from Office 365 Home and Office Consumer, reported in the Devices & Consumer Licensing segment, grew 28%. … Office Consumer revenue increased 15% due to higher attach and strong sales in Japan, where we saw customers accelerate some purchases ahead of a national sales tax increase. Excluding that estimated impact, Office still outpaced the underlying consumer PC market.”
[Re: how you could potentially make what has been traditionally a unit model with Windows OEM revenue into something potentially more recurring in nature?]
… the thing I would add is this transition from one time let’s say licenses or device purchases to what is a recurring stream. You see that in a variety of different ways. You have back end subscriptions, in our case, there will be Office 365, there is advertising, there is the app store itself. So these are all things that attach to a device. And so we are definitely going to look to make sure that the value prop that we put together is going to be holistic in its nature and the monetization itself will be holistic and it will increase with the usage of the device across these services. And so that’s the approach we will take.
From the prepared comments: “Zero dollar licensing for sub 9-inch devices helps grow share and creates new opportunities to deliver our services, with minimal short term revenue impact”
[Re: the recent decision to offer Windows for free for sub 9-inch devices and its impact of Microsoft share in that arena, about Windows pricing in general, the kind of play in different market segmentations, and how Windows pricing is evolving]
Overall, the way I want us to look at Windows going forward is what does it mean to have the broadest device family and ecosystem? Because at the end of the day it’s about the users and developer opportunity we create for the entirety of the family. That’s going to define the health of the ecosystem. So, to me, it matters that we approach the various segments that we now participate with Windows, because that’s what has happened. Fundamentally, we participated in the PC market. Now we are in a market that’s much bigger than the PC market. We continue to have healthy share, healthy pricing and in fact growth as we mentioned in the enterprise adoption of Windows.
And that’s we plan to in fact add more value, more management, more security, especially as things are changing in those segments. Given BYOD and software security issues, we want to be able to reinforce that core value, but then when it comes to new opportunities from wearables to internet of things, we want to be able to participate on all of this with our Windows offering, with our tools around it. And we want to be able to price by category. And that’s effectively what we did. We looked at what it makes – made sense for us to do on tablets and phones below 9 inches and we felt that the price there needed to be changed. We have monetization vehicles on the back end for those. And that’s how we are going to approach each one of these opportunities, because in a world of ubiquitous computing, we want Windows to be ubiquitous. That doesn’t mean its one price, one business model for all of that. And it’s actually a market expansion opportunity and that’s the way we are going to go execute on it.
From the prepared comments: “Our universal app development platform is a big step towards enabling developers to engage users across PCs, tablets, and phones with a common set of APIs”
[Re #2: about the new world in terms of more usage and more software driven rather than device driven, and the reengagement with the developer community in that world]
Developers are very, very important to us. If you’re in the platform business which we’re on both on the device side as well as on the cloud side, developers and their ability to create new value props and new applications on them is sort of likes itself. I would say couple of things.
One is the announcements we made at Build on the device side is really our breakthrough worked for us which is we’re the only device platform today that has this notion of building universal apps with fantastic tooling around them. So that means you can target multiple of our devices and have common code across all of them. And this notion of having a Windows universal application help developers leverage them core asset, which is their core asset across this expanded opportunity is huge. There was this one user experience change that Terry Myerson talked about at Build, which expands the ability for anyone who puts up application in Windows Store to be now discovered across even the billion plus PC installed base. And so that’s I think a fantastic opportunity to developers and we are doing everything to make that opportunity clear and recruit developers to do more with Windows. And in that context, we will also support cross platforms. So this has been one of the things that we have done is the relationship with Unity. We have tooling that allows you to have this core library that’s portable. You can bring your code asset. In fact, we are the only client platform that has the abstractions available for the different languages and so on.
From the prepared comments: “Server product revenue grew 10%, driven by demand for our data platform, infrastructure and management offerings, and Azure.”
- “SQL Server revenue grew more than 15%, and continued to outpace the data platform market; we continue to gain share in mission critical workloads”
- “Windows Server Premium and System Center revenue showed continued strength from increased virtualization share and demand for hybrid infrastructure”
[Re: about the factors that have enabled Microsoft to continue growing server business well above its peers, and whether that kind of 10% ish growth is sustainable over fiscal 2015]
It’s a pretty exciting change that’s happening, obviously it’s that part of the business is performing very well for a while now, but quite frankly it’s fundamentally changing. One of the questions I often get asked is hey how did Windows server and the hypervisor underneath it becomes so good so soon. You’ve been at it for a long time but there seems to have something fundamentally changed I mean we’ve grown a lot of share recently, the product is more capable than it ever was, the rate of change is different and for one reason alone which is we use it to run Azure. So the fact that we use our servers to run our cloud makes our servers more competitive for other people to build their own cloud.
So it’s the same trend that’s accelerating us on both sides. The other thing that’s happening is when we sell our server products they for most part are just not isolated anymore. They come with automatic cloud tiering. SQL server is a great example. We just launched a new version of SQL which is by far the best release of SQL in terms of its features like it’s exploitation of in-memory. It’s the first product in the database world that has in-memory for all the three workloads of databases, OLTP, data warehousing and BI. But more importantly it automatically gives you high availability which means a lot to every CIO and every enterprise deployment by actually tiering to the cloud.
From the prepared comments: “Commercial Other revenue grew 31%, to $1.90 billion, driven by Commercial Cloud revenue which exceeded our guidance as customers transitioned to our cloud solutions faster than expected; Gross margin increased 80% as we realized margin expansion through engineering efficiencies and continued scale benefits; Enterprise services revenue grew 8%”
So those kinds of feature innovation which is pretty boundary less for us is breakthrough work. It’s not something that somebody who has been a traditional competitor of ours can do if you’re not even a first class producer of a public cloud service. So I think that we’re in a very unique place. Our ability to deliver this hybrid value proposition and be in a position, where we not only run a cloud service at scale, but we also provide the infrastructure underneath it as the server products to others. That’s what’s driving the growth. The shape of that growth and so on will change over time, but I feel very, very bullish about our ability to continue this innovation.
64-bit ARM (ARMv8-A) outlook: full smartphone penetration by 2018, volume start in servers next year, plus strong presence in enterprise networking
Previous ‘Experiencing the Cloud’ posts on the subject:
Software defined server without Microsoft: HP Moonshot [April 10 – Dec 6, 2013]
With 28nm non-exclusive in 2013 TSMC tested first tape-out of an ARM Cortex™-A57 processor on 16nm FinFET process technology [April 3, 2013 – April 18, 2013]
Intel targeting ARM based microservers: the Calxeda case [Dec 14, 2012]
From: ARM Holdings plc, Q1 2014 Roadshow Slides [April 22, 2014]
Licensing Drives Market Share
ARM gains share by winning designs at leading semiconductor companies:
- With choice of suppliers, OEMs are innovating with new types of products
- ARM technology can be used for applications processing, connectivity and storage
- Standard software is available today and enables all form factors to connect to the internet and display all the web pages, play videos, network with friends …
Mobile computers include handheld computers, tablets, and laptops
Assumptions in Smartphones
– 100% penetration of Cortex-A processors
– 100% penetration of big.LITTLE in mid-range and premium
– 30% to 50% penetration of Mali graphics
The first quarter of 2014 saw particularly strong uptake of ARM’s most advanced ARMv8 processor technology with five licenses signed by four semiconductor companies. These customers are planning to develop chips for automotive infotainment systems, carrier networks and high performance computing. During the quarter we saw announcements from Marvell, Mediatek and Qualcomm on how they are developing multicore ARMv8 based processors for use in mid-range and premium smartphones and tablets. There were also announcements from Broadcom and Freescale, they plan to deploy ARMv8 based chips into data centers and enterprise networking equipment. ARMv8 is now the computing platform of choice for future chip designs not just in mobile computing but increasingly in consumer electronics, the data center and networking infrastructure.
We have had very strong licensing as you’ve seen in the numbers here and we have seen a number of exciting products announcements from some of our licensees. At Mobile World Congress recently we saw three key announcements from Qualcomm, from Marvell, from Mediatek talking about ARMv8 based chips for mid-range and high-end smartphones and tablets. Now those devices will take time to conclude, they will take time to get into products, take time to ship. But I think we’re in good track in generally in terms of the deployment of those version 8 of the architecture.
I think it’s worth pointing out that the v8 licensing cycle is in its relatively early stages. We have done sort of 30 licenses plus [out of the total 43 at the moment] compared with well over a 100 in v7.
ARM Progress in Servers:
I don’t have the exact numbers on the top of my head but certainly there were more architecture licenses earlier in the lifetime of v8 than there were in v7, that was driven more about the addressing different markets. So most of the early architecture licensees for v8 in fact all the architecture licensees for v8 have been looking at markets that hasn’t traditionally served with our own base products and when it gets to market very early as some of the early guys took an architecture license, companies like Cavium, companies like Applied Micro, who really wanted to target the enterprise space, the data center, high end networking which wasn’t where ARM had traditionally played and that was a vehicle to enable them to get into that market using ARM technology. So that’s been a great vehicle for us because it has allowed us to broaden the penetration of the ARM architecture into new markets and we see that as part of our strategy for long term growth.
In terms of SBSA [ARM Server Base System Architecture covering operating systems from Linux to Microsoft] the main purpose of that work was to accelerate the deployment of SoCs into the data center. The great beauty of our model is that every customer of ours can design a chip that’s different from any other customer and when it comes to enterprise software though there is great benefit in having some of the system architecture that is actually not differentiating, standardized, so it’s easier for software developers to write code that’s going to run on these chips. So SBSA was all about standardizing the right points of the chip to accelerate software development and hence accelerate deployment of real systems. So it’s less so about SoC development as it was about software development. We have seen the uptake of SBSA in the SoC architecture by a number of our licensees. Those chips are coming to market now and with a more clearly defined target architecture for software developers the work to we should see more on deployments in ARM based service sooner. But that’s what that’s all about.
Re: Can you give us an update on the server market? Where are you in terms of the ecosystem? And roughly by when do you think we can see commercial shipments of ARM-based servers? Is that something we can see before the end of this year, or is that likely to be more a 2015 phenomenon?
So let me just briefly talk about servers, I think progress there is good. We’re starting to see silicon devices, we’re seeing a lot of effort go into software development for ARM based servers. I mean recently as an example we just saw Oracle introduce Java SE, which brings Java to many ARM-based devices and that’s very important technology for servers but again SBSA as a vehicle for accelerating software development, it is also very important and I think we will start to see commercial deployments later this year. I have been saying that sometime I still think that’s on track to happen and we will start to see volume start to take off I think probably next year but I do expect to see commercial deployment this year.
Re: … enterprise networking … since that’s quite a wide market, which goes from low-end stuff, like network interface cards, all the way up to base stations, routers, et cetera., the growth that you’re seeing, where is it coming from? …
ARM in Enterprise Networking:
On enterprise networking you mentioned there is a whole wide range of end markets that could be targeted and where are we seeing success. It really is across the range, I mean we have been in routers for a long time, more kind of commercial grade. We’re starting to see use of ARM is switches, in base stations, big base stations, small base stations. It really is across the board and in that enterprise space that is something that’s very positive for our blended average royalty rate and we’re seeing effects of that. I mean a lot of the bigger chips that I was saying are using multiple-cores. There are large numbers of Cortex-A15 is being used for example in some of the bigger chips today and that obviously has a positive impact on the royalty rate per chip on average but again given the volumes this is one of those things where every little helps and makes a small change.
ARM for the Datacenter – Ian Drew [Open Compute Project YouTube channel, Jan 31, 2014]
ARMv8-A Licensee Fact Sheet [April 23, 2014]
- Over 25 companies have licensed ARMv8-A technology
- Over 40 licenses signed for ARMv8-A technology
- Qualcomm, NVIDIA, Mediatek and Marvell have announced ARMv8-A chips for mobile devices
- LG, Rockchip and Samsung have stated their intentions to release ARMv8-A chips for mobile
- The first 64-bit mobile devices were based on ARM and shipped in 2013
- ARMv8-A 64-bit kernel and tools are available today
ARMv8-A Public Licensees
- Altera Altera’s FPGA with an embedded Cortex-A53 processor will be manufactured on Intel 14nm process.
- AMD AMD’s Opteron A1100 server chips comes in two variants: 4x or 8x Cortex-A57 processors.
- AMCC AMCC’s X-Gene server chip will feature in HP Moonshot systems this year.
- Broadcom Broadcom will release a 3Ghz 16nm ARMv8-A chip optimized for Network Function Virtualisation.
- Cavium Project Thunder SOCs will target the cloud and datacenter markets.
- Huawei Lead partner on Cortex-A57
- LG Lead partner on Cortex-A50 family and next-generation Mali GPUs. For LG devices.
- Marvell Armada PXA 1928 contains a quad-core Cortex-A53 with integrated LTE modem. Sampling Mar 2014.
- Mediatek MT6732 contains quad-core Cortex-A53 and Mali-T760.
- Nvidia The 64-bit Tegra K1 contains a dual-core ARMv8-A processor. Mobile and automotive.
- Rockchip Licensed Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53 processors. Mobile internet and smart home markets.
- Samsung Samsung has said its first 64-bit chip for mobile devices will be based on an ARM-designed processor.
- STMicro The Sti8K range of SOCs for the Digital Home is based on Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57 technology.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, 610 and 810 chips contain Cortex-A50 processors; the 810 uses big and little cores.
Accelerating ARMv8-A Powered Server Adoption Through Collaborative Platform Standardization (SBSA) [Jeff Underhill in Smart and Connected Blog of ARM, Jan 29, 2014]
And why did I say that? I said it because as a partnership, we’re disrupting the data center market which is now in a period of unprecedented innovation. It may not be obvious but the ARM partnership has been disrupting the data center for years, as the architecture at the heart of the majority of mobile devices and many smart connected devices we’ve been indirectly impacting how hyper scale data centers are architected to address these new classes of cloud and web based workloads.
When the data center is fundamental to operating your business, as opposed to just providing supporting functions, cost savings become extremely important as they directly impact your bottom line. That’s why companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, Amazon and many more are laser-focused on reducing their Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). However, early adoption of new innovation must be balanced with deployment and management costs since the ‘T’ in TCO represents ‘Total.’ Standards are fundamental to ensure ease of deployment and cross-platform portability in the data center, and that’s why we’re excited to announce a new foundational specification that we’ve been collaborating on for a while – the Server Base System Architecture (SBSA) specification.
For those of you wanting to jump right in and read the specification you can download it here.
Competition is good; Choice fosters competition
A few years ago several ARM partners set about revisiting server design to better meet these new classes of workloads in a way that would provide the next step function efficiency improvements and, ultimately, TCO. The ARM partnership showed the world what was possible when you challenge convention and empower engineers with innovative, enterprise-grade technology building blocks whose DNA is strongly rooted in the power-efficient mobile world. Collectively we’ve already changed the industry as incumbent players have taken note and adjusted their roadmaps in favor of system-on-chip (SoC) designs.
While we’ve seen initial server success with 32-bit ARMv7 architecture-based solutions from Marvell & Texas Instruments, the arrival of 64-bit ARMv8-A architecture-based solutions marks a significant increase in the number and diversity of solutions. In addition to Applied Micro, AMD, Broadcom and Cavium have all made 64-bit announcements. Choice gives data center operators the opportunity to select best-of-breed solutions that enable them to meet their TCO goals. As a result, there is clear and growing demand for more workload-optimized solutions by a server market that was largely devoid of choice for the past 20+ years. However, as mentioned earlier data center operators are responsible for managing complex environments, and they must balance new technology adoption with any potential complexities (that a heterogeneous environment may bring).
Standards accelerate time-to-market and ease deployment
Imagine for a moment that you have a data center with thousands of existing servers. You may have a single OS running throughout your data center or you may have multiple OS’s, but either way you will likely have a single variant of each OS that deploys across all servers in your data center. Having to adopt a new and unique OS in order to roll out new and innovative hardware is not acceptable. It would quickly become unwieldy to manage and cause significant maintenance overhead (especially managing updates and patch sets to fix major bugs or security issues).
With multiple ARMv8-A architecture-based server solutions coming to market this year, it’s important to ensure that OS, firmware and software developers can rapidly develop and deploy on ARM-based servers, especially since there will be more choice and a broader diversity of solutions. The ARM partnership worked together to help ensure this would be the case when ARMv8-A architecture-based servers became a reality, and this is why the release of the ARM Server Base System Architecture (SBSA) specification is such an important milestone. The SBSA specification has been in development for some time (as evidenced by compliant silicon already existing), and represents close collaboration across the ARM partnership from software companies, OEMs and silicon partners, including: AMD, Applied Micro, Broadcom, Canonical, Cavium, Citrix, Dell, HP, Linaro, Microsoft, Red Hat, SUSE and Texas Instruments.
A large part of the ARM value proposition stems from a licensing model that empowers partners with technology building blocks on which they can innovate and develop compelling solutions. This means standardization efforts must strike a balance to avoid diluting or eliminating innovation. As owners and stewards of the ARM architecture, we are pleased to collaborate with other industry leaders to drive standards that help strike that balance and enable OS, firmware and software developers to rapidly develop and deploy on ARM-based servers.
The SBSA is a foundational specification that will evolve over time; encompassing additional capabilities such as live migration of virtual machines between different ARMv8-A architecture-based systems. It is a hardware specification that firmware, OS and virtualization companies will use to target a logical progression of platforms to accelerate development and ensure cross-platform portability.
SBSA standardizes low-level CPU and SoC attributes such as timers, interrupt controllers, watch dog timers, performance counters and also specifies minimum hardware requirements that firmware and OS vendors expect to be present. It stipulates adherence to industry standards for boot devices so that they can be managed in a consistent manner, and requires all hardware be describable or discoverable, to eliminate the need for explicit platform knowledge baked into the OS kernel. In order to provide a logical platform progression over time, the specification defines levels of standardization. This provides a common language for the ecosystem to describe SoC and software capabilities, and ensure they intersect. In the example below, each level introduces additional requirements and is a superset of the previous level (unless explicitly documented). Silicon vendors are permitted to support capabilities beyond a given level as long as software created for that level is able to run unmodified. OS vendors are able to develop support for multiple levels in a single OS offering, thereby accelerating time-to-market and reducing maintenance by ensuring they can run across all ARMv8-A architecture-based server platforms:
The ARM partnership has consistently demonstrated its ability to collaborate and address common challenges that benefit the ecosystem at large. Linaro, a not-for-profit engineering organization founded 3.5 years ago, is another great example of this. More specifically, the Linaro Enterprise Group (LEG) is focused exclusively on the development, test and up streaming of server-specific open source software. Linaro, through close collaboration with the open source community, is helping to implement some of the key software components in support of the SBSA specification. Linaro is also identifying potential areas for additional standardization that will benefit the open source community and improve software development and long-term maintainability. It’s a symbiotic relationship that will help ensure good software support exists in the Linux upstream:
ARM is excited to reach this important milestone, especially with the support of a vibrant and growing ecosystem, and we also realize there is still much work ahead to achieve the goals we’ve set for ourselves. This year represents an important inflection point for the ARM partnership as ARMv8-A architecture-based server solutions emerge and significantly extend our reach across a broader set of data center workloads representing a much broader market opportunity. The SBSA is the first of multiple specifications we expect to publicly release … so watch this space!
In the meantime, “you are now free to move around the ARM-based server ecosystem!”
ARM Ecosystem Collaborates to Deliver Initial Server Platform Standard [press release, Jan 29, 2014]
Accelerates data center software development for ARM-based servers
Cambridge, UK – 29 January 2014 – ARM® today announced the collaborative development and immediate availability of a platform standard for ARMv8-A based (64-bit) servers, known as the ARM ‘Server Base System Architecture’ (SBSA) specification. This effort included input and support from software companies such as Canonical, Citrix, Linaro, Microsoft, Red Hat and SUSE, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) including Dell and HP along with a broad set of silicon partners. This specification provides a framework for the deployment of innovative ARM architecture-based solutions in data center applications, and it will help accelerate software development and enable portability between ARM-based platforms. This specification is focused on aligning the ARM partnership around key system elements; empowering the ecosystem to build differentiated, value-added solutions that accelerate innovation and choice in the marketplace.
Data centers demand standards-based software and hardware offerings to ensure ease of deployment and manageability. Releasing the SBSA specification marks the beginning of a broader standardization activity that will simplify the development and deployment process for the entire developer ecosystem – from silicon to software, and all the way through to end-users. This initiative will accelerate the software ecosystem for ARM-based servers by providing operating system vendors (OSVs) and independent software vendors (ISVs) the ability to deliver technology that addresses the entirety of the ARM server community, featuring a rich, broad set of devices and platforms in a common way.
“As ARM’s data center ecosystem continues its rapid growth, this milestone enables partners to focus on their innovation while building on standards that help simplify their development and accelerate their time-to-market,” said Mike Muller, chief technology officer, ARM. “As owners and stewards of the ARM architecture, we are pleased to collaborate with other industry leaders to drive standards that enable OS, firmware and software developers to rapidly develop and deploy on ARM-based servers.”
“We are extremely pleased to see ARM take these steps, which we believe are very much in line with the principles of the Open Compute Project,” said Frank Frankovsky, president and chairman, Open Compute Project Foundation. “These standardization efforts will help speed adoption of ARM in the datacenter by providing consumers and software developers with the consistency and predictability they require, and by helping increase the pace of innovation in ARM technologies by eliminating gratuitous differentiation in areas like device enumeration and boot process.” Mobility and the Internet of Things (IoT) are driving the rapid adoption of cloud-based services, and data center operators have to adapt to the shifting characteristics of these new workloads. In order to efficiently meet these demands, the industry is seeking a richer choice of targeted solutions where software portability and standardization are key deployment considerations.
ARM Partner Quotes
“Adopting industry standards and defining base platforms are essential for creating a healthy ARM-based 64-bit server ecosystem,” said Dr. Leendert van Doorn, corporate fellow and corporate vice president, AMD. “AMD is excited to have worked with ARM on the Server Base System Architecture requirements, and the public release of this specification will accelerate the adoption of ARM-based 64-bit servers.”
“With X-Gene as the first product in the industry to be SBSA compliant, AppliedMicro is in full support of the ARM server standardization efforts,” said Dr. Paramesh Gopi, president and chief executive officer, AppliedMicro. “Bringing together OS vendors, server OEMs and silicon providers to work cohesively is providing a fully inter-operable standard platform at the same time fostering innovation resulting in compelling server solutions.”
“Broadcom strongly believes in the value of standardization and ensuring software interoperability for the long-term success of the 64-bit ARM architecture,” said Ron Jankov, senior vice president and general manager, Processors and Wireless Infrastructure, Broadcom. “With the ARM 64-bit architecture, Broadcom is uniquely positioned to provide leadership in the 64-bit ARM ecosystem with server-class CPUs, best-in-class hardware acceleration, and data-center networking expertise.”
“ARM-based servers have the potential to transform the datacenter ecosystem back into a dynamic, innovative market,” said Christian Reis, vice president, Hyperscale Computing, Canonical. “We see the SBSA effort removing barriers to adoption by providing a framework for system implementation that any technology supplier can easily understand and follow. Canonical fully supports this effort and is committed to SBSA compliance for our Ubuntu Server product family.”
“Cavium’s Project Thunder will provide a family of multicore ARMv8 64-bit server-class processors for the cloud and data centers,” said Gopal Hegde, vice president and general manager, Data Center Processor Group, Cavium. “Working closely with ARM and the ecosystem, the Thunder product offering will provide a comprehensive workload optimized portfolio solution that will be interoperable across multiple management and orchestration standards. We applaud ARM’s leadership in spearheading the Server Platform Standard that will accelerate the adoption of the ARM architecture in the data center and cloud environment.”
Cavium talks about and shows their latest enterprise, data center, wired and wireless networking OCTEON and OCTEON Fusion SoCs based on ARMv8 64bit and MIPS, making customized optimized core designs for each in use for cloud servers and base stations among other. CAVIUM claims that their ARMv8 64bit enterprise/server design, due to be released later this year, provides more performance at lower power consumption than Intel´s x86.
“Citrix is the cloud company that enables mobile workstyles. Citrix is committed to open standards and has been recently engaged in the Server Base System Architecture discussion. We see the publication of the document as a positive move for the industry,” said Ahmed Sallam, vice president and chief technology officer, Hardware, Security, Emerging Solutions and IP, Citrix Systems. “The SBSA will foster the ARM-based server ecosystem and will act as a foundation for the coming years. Citrix will remain engaged in SBSA discussions and we will continue to provide our input based on what benefits our industry, partners and customers.”
“Open and standards-based technologies have been a cornerstone of Dell’s philosophy for 30 years,” said Brian Payne, executive director of server solutions for Dell. “As multiple ARMv8 server system-on-chips become available, it’s important that we can effectively deliver new innovations and freedom of choice to our customers. A well-defined, standards-based platform is instrumental in providing OS portability and a familiar user experience to our customers seeking to deploy these new classes of server offerings. We are pleased with the progress the ARM ecosystem has made towards achieving this significant goal.”
“HP has supported ARM’s standardization effort since its inception, recognizing the benefits of an extensible platform with value-added features,” said Dong Wei, HP fellow. “With the new SBSA specification, we are able to establish a simplified baseline for deploying ARM-based solutions and look forward to future HP products based on the ARM architecture.”
“The ARM architecture and business model is unique in enabling rapid innovation from multiple ARM licensees. Many companies are now building innovative and differentiated solutions for the next generation low-power data center,” said David Rusling, chief technical officer, Linaro. “ARM’s SBSA is a critical component of enabling technology to standardize the common part of these solutions, and we look forward to working with ARM and ARM’s licensees on utilizing this technology to accelerate the deployment of a broad range of ARMv8-based server products.”
“Today’s announcement of ARM Server Base System Architecture (SBSA) underscores the importance of having standards for the successful adoption and deployment of modern computer architectures, such as ARMv8,” said Jon Masters, Chief ARM Architect, Red Hat. “Red Hat’s support for standards via our participation in the Linaro Enterprise Group, our unique insight as the world’s leading supplier of Open Source server technologies and the collaborative ecosystem effort led by ARM, has enabled us to contribute to the creation of a unified common platform capable of supporting the ARM Architecture at Hyperscale”.
“SUSE has worked on and supported development around ARM processors for several years, and we anticipate ARM processor adoption in cloud, big data and high-performance computing applications,” said Ralf Flaxa, vice president of engineering, SUSE. “SUSE welcomes the SBSA standardization efforts and is proud to contribute to the server platform standard’s development. As the market emerges, this standard will become a key factor determining success in the enterprise ecosystem, and we look forward to working with platforms that implement it.”
“As an early innovator of unique server-grade KeyStone SoCs that combine digital signal processors, ARM Cortex processors, packet processing, security acceleration and Ethernet switching, TI applauds the ARM ecosystem for its collaboration on delivering the SBSA specification, ” said Bill Mills, chief technologist for open source, Texas Instruments. “Standardizations, such as SBSA, enable software simplification without impacting the innovation our heterogeneous compute elements bring to high-performance compute customers.”
To download a copy of the Server Base System Architecture specification, go to: http://infocenter.arm.com/help/index.jsp?topic=/com.arm.doc.den0029/index.html.
At the January Facebook OpenCompute Project event in San Jose, ARM announced the public release of the system base architecture specification (SBSA). Jeff Underhill [see earlier] has gone into some detail in his blog about the details included in this document. As one of the renegades that started the ARM server program several years ago, I felt it appropriate to share some thoughts as to why Jeff and I initiated this work and how it fits into the server program that ARM and its partners are feverously working on.
About a year ago, I moved out of the server marketing program to lead a number of other vertical market initiatives. I have continued to monitor (some may say I have “separation anxiety issues”) the excellent progress being made by those that have taken over the reins, including Lakshmi Mandyam who now leads this initiative.
In any market initiative, the success of ARM technology is achieved by finding the right balance between standardization and innovation. Standardization enables a software ecosystem to coalesce. To quote my business friend Frank Frankovsky, the pioneer and visonary behing the OpenCompute Project at Facebook, we need to avoid “gratuitous differentiation”; namely differences between devices that offer limited differentiation at the platform level yet cause challenge for the software ecosystem. Innovation enables silicon partners to integrate functionality that will provide specific benefits for the particular application or a set of applications. This approach encourages multiple companies to enter a particular application, giving end users and platform builders a choice of solutions from which to select. Competition is good. The pace of innovation continues at an incredible pace.
From the outset, the goal of server initiative was to bring the level of innovation seen in the mobile world to a market devoid of disruption and change for so long. This sounds easy. However achieving this balance is challenging, especially as ARM’s model is to agree on these specifications with a consensus driven culture across the partnership as opposed to mandating and imposing a particular direction. It is important for our partners to feel there are areas of system functionality that they can implement while remaining compliant with the SBSA. A reader of this specification will soon realize that the document does not prescribe the functionality of an ARM based server down at the connector or form factor level. To this end, Jeff Underhill started this standardization work when I was leading the server initiative. It is fantastic to see it coming into the public domain today.
As the press release indicates, a number of companies have come together to work on this specification. Beyond the companies that have made public announcements about their activities in the ARM server domain, little should be implied about commitments by the companies list here to build ARM products for this domain. Merely that through partnership, there is a “recipe” for ensuring a 64-bit server operating system will boot in a standard way irrespective of the ARMv8-based SoC that a platform is based on.
As I mentioned above, ARM believes that it is important to have many silicon partners pursuing a specific application domain. It fuels innovation and enables companies further down the value chain to select the device that best meets their requirements. The emergence of cloud computing has changed the mix of compute, memory and IO in the workloads. I expect this to change even more with the plethora of connected sensors that will start to communicate with hosted services. As Mike Muller, ARM’s CTO states, “Big Data starts with Little Data”. When it comes to infrastructure equipment, one size does not fit all. As many press and market analysts observed, Calxeda ceased operations last month. Calxeda was a strong pioneer in this domain and it is disappointing to seem them close their doors. That said, as evidenced at OCP with the product announcement by AMD of their Opteron™ A1100 Series based on the Cortex-A57 processor and the demonstrations of the X-Gene product in platforms by Applied Micro, there are several others rising up to carry the torch. I expect other semiconductor companies that have publically declared their intent to pursue this domain such as Broadcom & Cavium to share progress updates in the coming months and quarters.
It is perfectly fair (and indeed natural) for some industry analysts, end customers and system builders to remain skeptical. It is down to the ARM Ecosystem to demonstrate the benefits promised for server applications to shift the opinions of the doubters. Icebergs have about 90% of their mass under the surface. Just like the SBSA announcement did today, additional elements of the program will start to rise above the surface and become visible in the public domain in the coming months and years that will also help crystalize the direction of the program. I remain incredibly confident of the value proposition and the vector on which ARM and its partners are headed.
OCP Summit V 2014 kicks off the year of ARM servers [Lakshmi Mandyamon Smart and Connected Blog of ARM, Feb 15, 2014]
The last week in January was a great week for the ARM server ecosystem and we had a great week at the Open Compute Project (OCP) Summit. My OCP summit week started with an interview with my friends at ‘theCUBE’ lakshmi mandyan – YouTube. We talked about how much OCP summit had grown with attendance almost doubling from 2013 to 2014. The other conversation we had was about how OCP summit was creating a voice for “hobbyists” or the “maker movement”. Well at ARM we have been feeding the maker movement across the spectrum right from our Cortex M0 based MBED to Arduino to Rasberry Pi and now with some of the OCP platforms that were announced at the show from partners like AMD and Applied Micro the momentum continues.
The morning of OCP summit featured a “group hug” in the guise of AMD, Applied Micro and Intel all going one after the other with keynotes. Andrew Feldman of AMD delivered a great presentation on how the world has changed and the implications that change has for the data center Disruptive Technologies for the Datacenter – Andrew Feldman – YouTube he also announced that the Opteron A1100 chip, featuring 8 Cortex-A57 processors and a plethora of other integration, will be sampling in March and that they made an OCP contribution based on this processor.
Paramesh Gopi CEO of Applied Micro also shared his vision on where the X-GENE product line is evolving [with next gen X-Gene and X-Weave] to with FinFet, 16+ cores [on a die], RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE [240G I/O]) continuing to drive higher integration that will drive down TCO Paramesh Gopi, Applied Micro – YouTubeOCP Summit V – January 28, 2014 – San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, California Paramesh Gopi, Applied Micro
On day2 our CMO Ian Drew delivered a great key note titled “ARM in the Data Center” ARM for the Datacenter – Ian Drew – YouTube [was included earlier into this post] where he announced the collaborative creation and public release of the Server Base System Architecture (SBSA). My colleagues Jeff Underhill and Ian Ferguson have already blogged about that announcement in detail the links to their blogs can be found here and here respectively.
There were several articles published about the SBSA launch. A couple of my favorite quotes were:
- “We can only applaud these efforts: it will eliminate a lot of useless time investments, lower costs and help make ARM partners a real option in servers. With the expected launch of many ARM Cortex-A57 based server SoCs this year, it looks like 2014 can be a breakthrough year for ARM servers.” – Johan De Gelas, AnandTech
- “The more powerful, 64-bit designs are a threat to Intel Corp., which controls more than 95 percent of the market for chips in servers that use personal-computer processors. ARM, whose designs are found in chips that run Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad, is betting that the regulated designs will be cheaper to use and create a wider market for the chips.” – Amy Thomson, Bloomberg News
During the fireside chat following Ian’s keynote, Marc Andreessen was bullish on ARM in the Data Center http://youtu.be/O-gENvy0F-w . He shared how he believed that the cost burden that data centers were under was demanding a broader supply chain including players in the current smartphone supply chain. He talked about the grand unification of the data center and smart phone supply chain and how ARM based chips would be the first case study.
The momentum has continued beyond OCP summit. Dell was one of the first OEM partners for ARM when they announced their Dell Copper platform. They are continuing to invest in ARM programs, a great example being the recently announced proof of concept with Applied Micro for Hyperscale development Dell offers 64-bit ARM microserver proof-of-concept for hyperscale on the heels of Open Compute Summit momentum – Dell4… .
Last week I was doing a number of press and analyst briefings in Europe with our partner AMD on their announcement and people are clearly excited about the history AMD brings to the ARM party in terms of being a credible vendor of server technologies. It has also been fun watching them share their story about why ARM will win in the long run!
2014 is the year of ARM servers!
The (said to be) contra MediaTek play of Tsinghua Unigroup with attempted merger of Spreadtrum and RDA
锐迪科并购陷僵局：清华系基金与上海资本恩怨凸显 (RDA’s acquisition deadlock: Tsinghua University unit and Shanghai Capital Fund scores highlights) [April 15, 2014]
… In September of last year, Shanghai Pudong [上海浦东] branch cast M&A of RDA, then Unigroup stepped that up by paying higher prices. But because of “fait accompli”, procedurally irregular for National Development and Reform Commission, it was halted [by the commission]. …
According to the official website of Unigroup announced the news, Spreadtrum is expected to be over one billion U.S. dollars in 2013 sales revenue. But this order of magnitude, in the chip market waves of mobile terminals are likely to stir even afford. The first quarter of 2014, MediaTek revenues had reached $ 1.3 billion, more than a full year is expected to reach $ 4.5 billion, while the leader Qualcomm first-quarter revenue has exceeded $ 6.5 billion, the annual $ 20 billion is expected to be up above.
Leaving the above, rather raw translation by Google and Bing (with a little edit of mine besides the merger of two), it is better to give quotes from:
- Battle Over Spreadtrum/RDA Merger [EE Times, March 21, 2014]
… over the last few months, the proposed deal has triggered raw emotions and turmoil among RDA employees who object to it. Chairman and CEO Vincent Tai, who reportedly resisted the Tsinghua Unigroup’s acquisition plan, was fired by the RDA board late last year.
One senior executive at RDA told EE Times Thursday, “We want Vincent back.” Clearly, he isn’t alone with that sentiment.
Several sources in the industry — both inside and outside RDA — point out that the huge cultural differences between RDA and Spreadtrum will make it tough to run the merged company effectively. And they say that Tsinghua Unigroup, whose purpose in acquiring the two companies is to make money by quickly making the consolidated entity go public in China, should know better.
Compared to the more agile and free-spirited RDA, Spreadtrum is a much bigger corporation where engineers are known to be highly regimented, working in a modern “feeding” machine-like environment. RDA is China’s RF IC leader, while Spreadtrum has grown big by leading China’s home-grown TD-SCDMA baseband market.
Also brewing behind the scenes is an on-going feud between Shanghai and Beijing, according to several local sources. Shanghai, a much richer city than Beijing, pays a heavy tax levy to China’s central government.
It was originally the Shanghai Pudong Science and Technology Investment Co. that proposed, last September, to buy RDA. The deal, however, fizzled when Tsinghua Unigroup barged in and proposed to buy RDA at a higher price.
It was a huge blow to the Shanghai-based investment firm. It had to watch the Beijing-based company come into its own backyard to sweep up the two most successful fabless companies in Shanghai.
Several industry sources in Shanghai pointed out that Tsinghua Unigroup acquired RDA without a permit from China’s central government. More specifically, Tsinghua Unigroup, at this point, still lacks pre-clearance for the merger from the National Development and Reform Commission of China.
The RDA senior executive told EE Times, “Without pre-clearance from the government, this deal is not done.” He acknowledged that uncertainty about the future is doing damage to customers and to the morale of employees.
Merger Pits Mysterious Tsinghua Unigroup vs. MediaTek [EE Times, Nov 14, 2013]
Through Tsinghua Unigroup’s initiative to acquire the leading TD-SCDMA baseband chip vendor Spreadtrum Communications (announced in July) and now China’s RF IC leader RDA Microelectronics (disclosed earlier this week), hopes are running high in China that its domestic electronics industry might finally get a consolidated entity powerful enough to compete with Taiwan’s MediaTek, if not quite an equivalent to Qualcomm in the United States.
While many Chinese industry sources see the recent development positively, opinions differ about what comes next. Some Chinese executives view Tsinghua Unigroup’s move as “a pure financial play,” while others put more stock in a behind-the-scenes ploy by the Chinese government to strengthen China’s electronics industry. Others even go further, predicting a doomsday scenario for other Chinese fabless companies such as Allwinner and Rockchip.
Here are the basics. Tsinghua Unigroup is 51 percent owned by Tsinghua Holdings, a 100 percent state-owned limited liability corporation funded by Tsinghua University in China. Forty-nine percent of Tsinghua Unigroup is owned by private entity — Jiankun Investment Group Co., Ltd. — controlled by Zhao Weiguo.
Weiguo serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Tsinghua Unigroup.
According to one Chinese electronics industry executive, Weiguo is “playing the whole game by leveraging Tsinghua resources and getting enough bank loans for supporting this deal.” He called Weiguo “a real businessman and understands China economics/complicated politics and capital market very well.” In short, Weiguo is “somebody who can smell blood from thousands miles away.” He is set to make money investing in the high-tech sector, rather than the real-estate business, which isn’t looking good right now in China.
… Chinese industry source said, “The notable thing about Tsinghua Unigroup is that it has a market cap of $820 million, less than what they proposed to RDA.” He suspects that the real buyer of RDA is “not Unigroup, but a $2-$3 billion fund which is related to Unigroup.” He then added, “That’s the beauty of China’s state-owned public companies: there is nothing transparent.”
Those who see Tsinghua Unigroup’s acquisitions as “a pure financial play” pose a three-step scenario. First, the consolidation of China’s two leading fabless chip companies (Spreadtrum and RDA are currently both public companies traded in Nasdaq) will help them both survive before the two companies get clobbered by MediaTek. Second, by going private again under the umbrella of Tsinghua Unigroup, the two companies will gain more leeway in business development — in addition to access to the IP portfolio of Tsinghua Unigroup and Tsinghua University. Third, the new Spreadtrum, consolidated with RDA under Tsinghua Unigroup, will “go public in the near term,” the sources said. Tsinghua Unigroup won’t waste time making a big financial gain by doing so, they added.
Where everyone agrees is about the complementary roles RDA and Spreadtrum can play under the new structure.
One Chinese semiconductor industry observer explained, “Spreadtrum is weak in everything except TD-SCDMA, while RDA is strong in RF. Both are weak in application processors.” Further, he added, “Spreadtrum’s IC R&D is weak, but strong in software. Meanwhile, RDA is very strong in IC R&D, but has no real software development.” As a result, combining these two “means doomsday for Allwinner and Rockchip,” he noted, because Spreadtrum and RDA could ramp up tablet application processor efforts.
The Chinese industry’s expectation is that the final entity (new Spreadtrum-RDA) will focus more on new wireless technology R&D, while they will spend less time competing in a declining low-end market. As for the market in feature phones for GSM, the serious competition comes down to just MediaTek and Spreadtrum, they explained.
Asked about the latest shopping spree by Tsinghua Unigroup, Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts (Tempe, Arizona), noted that he knows almost nothing about Tsinghua Unigroup. But he added, “Actually, if you wanted to create a China-based company that could (with a lot of work and a lot of money) someday rival Qualcomm, Spreadtrum and RDA are the two companies that I would pick.”
Facts lying behind such news:
- Tsinghua Unigroup [紫光集团] Completes Acquisition of Spreadtrum for US$31.00 per ADS [Spreadtrum Communications press release, Dec 23, 2013]
- Spreadtrum is to be acquired by a Chinese high-tech investment enterprise owned by the state and also belonging to the leading Tsinghua University with microelectronics research interests [‘Experiencing the Cloud’ Blog, June 26, 2013]
- Upcoming FireFox OS powered $25 smartphones with Spreadtrum SC6821 EDGE SoC having 128MB on chip RAM used via zRAM swap by the OS [‘Experiencing the Cloud’ Blog, March 3, 2014]
- RDA [與銳迪科] Microelectronics Enters Into Definitive Merger Agreement to be Acquired by Tsinghua Unigroup for US$18.50 Per ADS [press release, Nov 11, 2013]
- RDA Microelectronics Responds to Purported Third Party Offer [press release, Nov 11, 2013] from which it is worth to quote here:
2. During the course of today’s board meeting approving the entry of the merger agreement with Tsinghua, some of our directors and officers received an unusual and erroneously dated non-binding proposal. Such proposal was sent from a private QQ email account alleging to be from a PRC-incorporated 3rd party (the “PRC Party”). This PRC Party has never previously contacted our company before or during the evaluation process, nor has it engaged in a semiconductor business to our knowledge. Such proposal, strangely dated as of September 27, 2013 initially, stated a higher-than-US$18.50/ADS cash offer subject to unspecified combination of equity and debt financing. The proposal was signed but not sealed by the PRC Party, which suggests a deficiency in the formality of due execution by a PRC incorporated entity.
3. Our Board immediately instructed our advisors to reach out to the PRC Party, with the objective of seeking further information and verifying the intent and credibility of such party. The proposal from the PRC Party also refers to a highly confident letter that the PRC Party claimed it has obtained from several leading financial institutions. Our legal advisor promptly spoke with the sender of such proposal, who claimed he did not know anything about the proposal other than being instructed to send the proposal via his personal QQ email account. The sender also referred our legal advisor to the PRC Party’s in-house counsel. Our legal advisor then spoke with such in-house counsel, who was not able to provide contact information of any of their project team members, including the signatory of the proposal letter. Given that we were not able to obtain any credible information about the financial capability of the PRC Party, we have also conducted a public search which indicated that the PRC Party was incorporated in 2011 with a registered capital of RMB60 million (less than US$10 million).
4. Our Board has determined that based on the currently available information, we have no basis to believe that the unusual proposal from the PRC Party is credible.
- RDA [與銳迪科] Microelectronics Announces Receipt of Non-Binding Acquisition Proposal [press release, Sept 27, 2013]
… an unsolicited, preliminary non-binding proposal letter dated September 27, 2013 from Shanghai Pudong [上海浦东] Science and Technology Investment Co., Ltd. (“PDSTI” [浦东科]), a wholly state-owned limited liability company directly under Pudong New Area government of Shanghai, pursuant to which PDSTI proposes to acquire all of the outstanding ordinary shares of the Company (the “Shares) and American Depositary Shares of the Company (the “ADSs,” each ADS representing six Shares), in each case other than those Shares or ADSs owned by PDSTI and its affiliates, for US$2.5833 in cash per Share or US$15.50 per ADS. … The Company’s Board of Directors is reviewing and evaluating PDSTI’s proposal. …
- RDA Microelectronics Responds to Certain Media Reports on the Pending Merger With Tsinghua Unigroup [press release, Dec 4, 2013]
RDA Microelectronics (Nasdaq:RDA) (“we” or the “Company“), a fabless semiconductor company that designs, develops and markets wireless systems-on-chip and radio-frequency (RF) semiconductors for cellular, connectivity and broadcast applications, today provided the following comments regarding certain recent media reports:
It has come to our attention that there are certain media reports containing inaccurate information on our announced merger transaction (the “Merger“) with Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. (“Tsinghua Unigroup“) which may be misleading to investors. We are providing the following clarifications in view of potential misinformation, and to re-assure the investors that our board of directors (the “Board“) has been acting, and will continue to act, in the best interests of our shareholders as a whole:
Before we entered into a definitive merger agreement (the “Merger Agreement“) with Tsinghua Unigroup on November 11, 2013, the Board conducted a robust, comprehensive and structured evaluation process of strategic alternatives. The Board considered a wide range of relevant factors, analysis and data points available, with a focus on the commercial terms and closing certainty of various available alternative. After such process, the Board determined that Tsinghua Unigroup’s proposal was clearly the most favorable and certain offer among all the proposals that we had received and therefore selected Tsinghua Unigroup as the preferred buyer over other bidders, including Shanghai Pudong Science and Technology Investment Co., Ltd. (“PDSTI“), on November 8, 2013. The Board further approved unanimously the entry into the Merger Agreement with Tsinghua Unigroup on November 11, 2013.
During the evaluation process, the Board informed all interested buyers that the Board would select the preferred buyer based on the commercial terms and the closing certainty of the received proposals. Until the Board approved the signing of the Merger Agreement with Tsinghua Unigroup, we had not entered into any definitive agreement with, or promised any signing schedule to, any person (including PDSTI) regarding a sale of the Company.
We have been maintaining close discussions with Tsinghua Unigroup regarding the regulatory approvals required to complete the Merger, and have provided Tsinghua Unigroup with assistance and information in such regard in compliance with the Merger Agreement. We and Tsinghua Unigroup will continue to cooperate with each other in obtaining the relevant approvals that are required for the consummation of the Merger. We also understand from Tsinghua Unigroup that it is on track to obtain the preclearance of the Merger from the National Development and Reform Commission of China.
About RDA Microelectronics
RDA Microelectronics is a fabless semiconductor company that designs, develops and markets wireless system-on-chip and radio-frequency semiconductors for cellular, connectivity and broadcast applications. The Company’s product portfolio currently includes baseband, radio-frequency front-end modules, power amplifiers, transceivers, Bluetooth system-on-chip, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and FM combo chips, FM radio receivers, set-top box tuners, analog mobile television receivers, CMMB mobile television receivers, walkie-talkie transceivers and LNB satellite down converters. For additional information, please see the Company’s website at http://www.rdamicro.com.
- RDA Microelectronics’ Board Elects Shun Lam Steven Tang as the New Chairman and Appoints Shuran Wei as the New CEO and Liang Zhang as President [press release, Dec 17, 2013]
… Mr. Tang succeeds Mr. Vincent Tai, who will remain as a non-executive director until the next shareholders meeting. … Mr. Tang said, “On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Vincent Tai for his contribution to RDA during his term as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. …” …
Mr. Wei is a co-founder of the Company and has been the Company’s Chief Technology Officer since its inception in 2004 and a director since 2005. Mr. Wei has almost two decades of experience in CMOS radio-frequency integrated circuit design. Prior to co-founding RDA Microelectronics, he was a vice president of Analogix Semiconductor Inc. in the United States from 2002 to 2004. From 1998 to 2002, he was an integrated circuit design manager at Marvell Semiconductor Inc. in the United States, and from 1994 to 1998, he was an integrated circuit design engineer at LSI Corporation (formerly known as LSI Logic). Mr. Wei received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from Peking University in China and a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota in the United States.
- Tsinghua Unigroup and RDA Microelectronics Jointly Announce Amendment of Merger Agreement Due to Relaxation of Certain PRC Regulatory Approval Requirements [press release, Dec 20, 2013]
- RDA Microelectronics Announces the Receipt of Shareholder Approval for Acquisition by Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. [press release, Dec 27, 2013]
… Completion of the Merger remains subject to the satisfaction or waiver of other customary closing conditions set forth in the Merger Agreement, including the receipt of the required regulatory approvals.
- RDA Microelectronics Launches WCDMA Baseband for Low-Cost Smartphones [press release, March 27, 2014]
… The RDA8860 integrates an RF transceiver, WCDMA modem, EDGE modem, application processor, power management unit, analog baseband, and 32kHz oscillator onto a single 40 nanometer die, significantly reducing the customer bill of materials. Built around a 1GHz ARM ® Cortex™-A5 processor with a 256KB L2 cache, the chip uses 400MHz 32-bit LPDDR2 memory, which supplies 3.2GB bandwidth to create a powerful platform for low-cost mobile devices. It supports WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS connections through various peripheral interfaces and leverages a dedicated CPU, accelerator and memory for the WCDMA/EDGE modem sub-system to further improve performance of the application processor. The chip’s video processor supports 720p H.264 video playback at 30 frames per second combined with Vivante Corporation’s integrated 3D GPU for high-end graphic interface and gaming capabilities. The RDA8860 is designed for smartphone devices running on Android 4.0 operating system and above.
“We are pleased to launch our first WCDMA baseband solution, a fully integrated SoC that greatly increases our addressable market as well as our handset silicon value,” commented Shuran Wei, CEO of RDA Microelectronics. “Low-cost WCDMA smartphones are one of the largest growth drivers in emerging markets today as subscribers in markets such as China continue to transition from feature phones to more advanced devices. The 8860 uses similar production tools as our market-leading feature phone platform, enabling handset manufacturers to easily and quickly migrate to our WCDMA smartphone platform. By offering a fully integrated SoC solution with lowered bill of materials, RDA has once again positioned itself as a price performance leader in a robust growth market.”
RDA Microelectronics Announces Sampling of WiFi Combo Chip With GPS for Mobile Applications [press release, April 10, 2014]
… The RDA5992 single chip solution integrates an 802.11b/g/n MAC, PHY, 2.4Ghz radio, power amplifier and antenna switch with a GPS receiver featuring advanced RF design, a baseband signal processing engine and MIPS compatible XCPU processor to achieve superior positioning performance. The integrated WLAN, Bluetooth and FM capabilities can work simultaneously or independently at low power consumption levels to preserve battery life in mobile devices.
“By adding GPS functionality to our popular WiFi combo chip, RDA offers customers all of the necessary connectivity components on a single CMOS chip for handheld devices,” said Shuran Wei, CEO of RDA Microelectronics. “GPS positioning and location-based services are becoming increasingly prevalent across all mobile applications. The 5992 is the smallest chip of its kind and further demonstrates the strength of RDA’s integration capabilities. Manufacturers can quickly and easily integrate the chip into their designs to achieve rapid time to market at a reduced cost.”
MediaTek Quick to Market with Palladium [Cadence Design Systems YouTube channel, April 11, 2014]
MediaTek Gets a Jump Developing High-Quality Smart Devices [Cadence, April 10, 2014]
Taiwan-based fabless semiconductor company MediaTek is a leader in developing advanced systems on chip (SoCs) for wireless communications, HDTV, DVD, and Blu-ray, including ARM® -based systems such as the octa-core smartphone platform with LTE. The company’s corporate vice president, Andrew Chang, recently sat down with Cadence to talk about the development challenges of building advanced systems and how the company is using the Cadence® Palladium® XP II platform to help create today’s smart devices.
Cadence Expands ARMv7/v8-based system-to-silicon verification solutions [ARM SoC Implementation Blog, April 12, 2014]
Recently, Cadence Design Systems expanded its ARM-based design system verification solution in order to drive shorter time-to-market for mobile, networking and server applications. This expanded solution features several enhancements and speeds system design and early software development for ARM Cortex®-A processor series based systems including:
- New adaptable interconnect performance characterization test suite in the Cadence® Interconnect Workbench, along with AMBA Designer integration, that delivers a significant speed-up of performance analysis and verification of CoreLink CCI-400 system IP and NIC-400 design tool based systems.
- Expanded and pre-verified support of hardware-accurate OS embedded software verification using Palladium XP II platform with ARMv8 64-bit Cortex processor family Fast Models, which are now available through Cadence.
- Verification IP supporting AMBA 5 Coherent Hub Interface (CHI) protocol is the same protocol as implemented in the ARM CoreLink CCN-508 system IP and silicon proven CoreLink CCN-504 Cache Coherent Networks as used in enterprise level applications. The new Verification IP runs on all industry simulators, plus Accelerated Verification IP for Palladium XP II platforms.
Spreadtrum Adopts Cadence Palladium XP II Platform for Mobile SoC and Hardware-Software Verification [Cadence press release, April 14, 2014]
Cadence Design Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CDNS), a leader in global electronic design innovation, today announced that Spreadtrum selected the Cadence® Palladium® XP II verification computing platform for system-on-chip (SoC) verification and system-level validation. Spreadtrum’s use of the Palladium XP II platform provides the opportunity to shorten time-to-market and improve verification productivity of its mobile chipset platforms for smartphones, feature phones and consumer electronic products.
“In the competitive mobile handset market, low power and time to market are critical,” said Robin Lu, VP of ASIC at Spreadtrum. “Spreadtrum was already using Cadence verification technologies including the Incisive platform. With the addition of the capabilities of the Palladium XP II platform, we now have an efficient tool to verify our low-power design, improve our overall verification productivity and shrink our development cycles.”
The Palladium XP II platform is part of Cadence’s System Development Suite, which significantly speeds up hardware and software verification. The Palladium XP II platform builds on the award-winning Palladium XP emulation technology by boosting verification performance by up to 50 percent and extending its industry-leading capacity to 2.3 billion gates. With reduced power and increased gate density, customers can now run larger payloads in a smaller footprint, reducing overall cost of ownership. For more information on the Palladium XP II platform, visit www.cadence.com/news/pxpII.
Cadence enables global electronic design innovation and plays an essential role in the creation of today’s integrated circuits and electronics. Customers use Cadence software, hardware, IP and services to design and verify advanced semiconductors, consumer electronics, networking and telecommunications equipment, and computer systems. The company is headquartered in San Jose, Calif., with sales offices, design centers and research facilities around the world to serve the global electronics industry. More information about the company, its products and services is available here.
Cadence’s Palladium XP — Creating a virtual platform for Automotive IP [Cadence Design Systems YouTube channel, March 17, 2014]
Cadence Launches Palladium XP II Verification Platform and Enhanced System Development [Cadence feature story article, Sept 10, 2013]
Shorten Time to Market By Up to Four Months
Cadence has unveiled its Palladium® XP II Verification Computing Platform, which delivers a 2X increase in verification productivity and up to four months faster time to market. The platform is a part of the enhanced Cadence® System Development Suite, which features expanded core system and system-on-chip (SoC) verification use models and new use models for hardware/software verification.
Patent-pending hybrid technology combines the Cadence Virtual System Platform with the Palladium XP series to deliver up to 60X speed-up for embedded OS verification and 10X performance increase in hardware/software verification.
According to Kent Goodin, executive vice president of engineering at Zenverge, “The Palladium XP II platform truly allows our software teams to develop production-worthy code prior to the IC’s mask release and arrival of the prototype. This has allowed Zenverge to engage with customers at least six months earlier than would be possible without the co-development aspects of the Palladium XP II emulation solution.”
The Palladium XP II platform supports design configurations with capacity of up to 2.3 billion gates, up to 512 concurrent users, and up to 50 percent performance improvement for SoC verification. What’s more, the platform extends the support of the Cadence Accelerated Verification Intellectual Property (AVIP) portfolio to include PCIe, SRIOV, Ethernet, AHB, APB, HDMI, DSI, CSI, I2C, SimCard, and Keypad. Coupled with the existing AVIP portfolio, the Palladium XP series further extends its support for applications such as mobile Internet devices, computing, networking, processors, and audio/video.
By facilitating the high-speed transfer of interface traffic through a design under test in the Palladium XP II platform, AVIP allows you and your team to gain a substantial boost in verification performance of designs at any integration level: IP, subsystem, SoC, and system.
Understanding the increasing need for early, fast, and accurate hardware/software verification, Cadence has expanded the capabilities of our System Development Suite centered around the Palladium XP platform. Benefit from:
- Patent-pending hybrid technology that combines the Cadence Virtual System Platform with the Palladium XP series to deliver up to 60X speed-up for embedded OS verification and 10X performance speed-up for hardware/software verification
- The embedded testbench for advanced virtualization of system environments, which lets you verify peripheral software drivers before tapeout, so you can achieve faster post-silicon bring-up
Intel’s desperate attempt to establish a sizeable foothold on the tablet market until its 14nm manufacturing leadership could provide a profitable position for the company in 2016
The stock market is over-optimistic about that: Intel tablets could cure [stock] market conditions [Saxo TV – TradingFloor.com YouTube channel, April 16, 2014]
I am—nevertheless—highly sceptical about that as Allwinner to continue the No. 1 position on Android tablet application processor market with the new UltraOcta A80 SoC optimized for premium devices, without the premium cost, also made universal accross other devices (TV box, notebook, smart TV, All-in-one and digital signage), and operating systems (ChromeOS, Smart TV, Windows, Ubuntu and Firefox OS) [‘USD 99 Allwinner’ blog, April 16, 2014]. My skepticism is also based on The lost U.S. grip on the mobile computing market, including not only the device business, but software development and patterns of use in general [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, April 14, 2014].
You can judge all that for yourself as the background and my analysis behind Intel’s tablet strategy could be found in the following sections of this post below:
- Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group (MCG), which the Tablet Group is just a part of, is the largest loss maker segment with losses even growing to $3.15B in 2013 from $1.78B in 2012, and continuing at least into 20145
- Intel is desperate to cheat when comparing its current tablet performance based on Clover Trail+ against much lower priced and lesser frequency ARM Cortex-A9 tablets from brand vendors.
- Intel’s Krzanich is betting on sacrificing “contra revenue” dollars for Q2-Q4 2014 tablet market with Bay Trail-based tablets, while hoping to level the playing field with its TSMC produced SoFIA SoCs for the 2015 tablet market.
To understand the technical and business development aspects behind that strategy read my previous posts as well:
– Intel CTE initiative: Bay Trail-Entry V0 (Z3735E and Z3735D) SoCs are shipping next week in $129 Onda (昂达) V819i Android tablets—Bay Trail-Entry V2.1 (Z3735G and Z3735F) SoCs might ship in $60+ Windows 8.1 tablets from Emdoor Digital (亿道) in the 3d quarter [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, April 11, 2014]
– IDF14 Shenzhen: Intel is levelling the Wintel playing field with Android-ARM by introducing new competitive Windows tablet price points from $99 – $129 [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, April 4, 2014]
– The long awaited Windows 8.1 breakthrough opportunity with the new Intel “Bay Trail-T”, “Bay Trail-M” and “Bay Trail-D” SoCs? [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Sept 14, 2013]
1. Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group (MCG), which the Tablet Group is just a part of, is the largest loss maker segment with losses even growing to $3.15B in 2013 from $1.78B in 2012, and continuing at least into 2014
Source: Download Quarters Q1 2014 [Intel Corporation – Investor Relations, April 16, 2014]
MCG is one of the new operating segments representing the following organisational responsibility, which is aligned with Intel’s new critical objectives (this particular segment was previously buried in the Other Intel Architecture Group):
- Mobile and Communications Group (MCG): MCG includes the Phone Group, the Tablet Group and Multi-Comm, all previously part of the Other IA operating segments.
- Mobile and Communications Group: Delivering platforms designed for the tablet and smartphone market segments; as well as mobile communications components such as baseband processors, radio frequency transceivers, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth*, global navigation satellite systems and power management chips.
Note that the previous structure of operating segments (since the end of 2012) was as seen on the right. As far as the organizational size is concerned, according to Infineon Completes Sale of Mobile Phone Business to Intel – New Company Intel Mobile Communications starts operations [Infineon press release, Jan 31, 2011]:
Following the sale, approximately 3,500 employees in total will move globally from Infineon to the new company Intel Mobile Communications GmbH (IMC). IMC will be headquartered in Neubiberg near Munich, Germany.
Then according to Intel® Mobile Communications Profile [Intel, Jan 6, 2012]:
Intel Mobile Communications GmbH is a subsidiary of Intel Corporation headquartered in Santa Clara, USA. The company develops and markets innovative semiconductor products and solutions for mobile communications – most notably in the rapid-growth market segments of smart phones, tablets and ultra-low-cost mobile phones.
The company has approximately 4,000 employees all over the world, about 1,700 of whom work in Germany where the headcount at the company headquarters in Neubiberg near Munich is approximately 1,200. Other German sites are Ulm, Regensburg, Duisburg, Dresden, Braunschweig and Nuremberg. Intel Mobile Communications is represented in altogether 17 countries around the world and has a strong presence in the Asian growth markets.
Considering that the Mobile and Communications Group (MCG) of today was put together from Intel Mobile Communications, the Tablet Group and the Phone Group, the overall number of employees in MCG is quite probably more than 6000 people.
Note that as of May 2013 MediaTek had 6,880 employees and ARM Holdings’ workforce at the same time was 2,261. As of March 2014 Allwinner Technology had 550+ employees (450 of which were engineers). In July 2013 Rockchip had more than 500 employees, 80% were engineers. In September 2013 Spreadtrum had 1,506 employees.
The 4000 strong Multi-Comm business is mostly engaged in standalone baseband processor market which had the following sales structure in 2013 according to Forward Concepts [March 24, 2014]:
Intel, the 2nd leading supplier of 3G thin modems in 2013 – will likely become the 2nd leading supplier of 3G/4G thin modems in 2014. Their focus will be on winning 3G/4G modem orders for notebooks and tablets. They will be challenged by Marvell’s 3G/4G PXA802 TD- LTE modem, which also supports TD-HSPA+ and is already shipping to ZTE.
Intel was—however—warning in its Nov 21, 2013 Investor Meeting presentation that:
In fact Strategy Analytics was painting a rather dark picture in Qualcomm’s Dominance Continues with 64 percent revenue share says Strategy Analytics [Feb 21, 2014]:
Qualcomm, MediaTek, Intel, Spreadtrum, and Broadcom captured the top-five revenue share spots in the cellular baseband processor market [which the standalone is just a part of] in 2013. Qualcomm dominated with 64 percent revenue share, followed by MediaTek with 12 percent revenue share and Intel with 8 percent revenue share.
Sravan Kundojjala, Senior Analyst, explains “Qualcomm domination in the cellular baseband market continued in 2013, thanks to its early investments in multi-mode LTE technology. The LTE baseband landscape is expected to be a crowded one in 2014 with several vendors including Broadcom, Ericsson, Intel, Marvell, MediaTek, NVIDIA, Spreadtrum and others are all set to bring commercial multi-mode LTE chip products to the market and this could help drive LTE down into mid-to-low tier devices.”
According to Stuart Robinson, Director of the Strategy Analytics Handset Component Technologies service, “Strategy Analytics calculates that revenue from baseband-integrated applications processors represented over 60 percent of total baseband revenue in 2013, up from 48 percent in 2012. Most baseband vendors have now transitioned their portfolios to include integrated products in order to boost their revenue share.”
According to Christopher Taylor, Director of the Strategy Analytics RF and Wireless Componentservice, “MediaTek overtook Intel to capture the number two spot in the 3G UMTS baseband market in 2013, by Strategy Analytics estimates. MediaTek capitalized on its smartphone chip momentum and improved its baseband-mix. MediaTek’s recent LTE chip announcements could potentially improve its baseband revenue share in future.”
Such a doomsday scenario was even more present in Qualcomm, MediaTek in Two-Horse Race, Says CLSA; Game Over for BRCM, Etc. [Tech Trader Daily at Barrons.com, Apr 11, 2014]
… and predicting many of the challengers will fold up without making a dent in Qualcomm’s position.
We believe that the baseband battle is largely over and expect more consolidation in the next 1 – 2 years. Nvidia is already shifting its investments, and we see a strong possibility that Broadcom exits in the next 6 – 9 months. Intel’s new management may have a bit more time, but we do not see enough opportunity to justify its $2bn+ investments. Marvell is least likely to exit in our view, but we expect it to remain a niche player. Overall, we expect the Qualcomm / MediaTek duopoly to get even stronger in the coming years and see positive implications for the overall industry profitability.
The baseband market has seen meaningful consolidation over the years. In 2006, there were 15 vendors in the market including larger analog IC vendors such as Texas Instruments, Freescale, and Analog Devices. The market has contracted to about 9 vendors by 2008 and currently has 7 vendors, after the recent consolidation at ST-Ericsson and Renesas.
Even if second tier vendors make significant progress in LTE, we simply do not see enough opportunity for all these vendors to achieve profitability any time soon.
MediaTek has a higher share in shipments of Chinese smartphones:
Chinese telcos, in particular China Mobile, are aggressively expanding their 4G networks, and China Mobile is targeting 100m LTE devices for 2014. While China Mobile’s target does appear aggressive, Qualcomm appears to be dominating the early shipments. We expect MediaTek-based LTE phones to start shipping in the next few months and expect a majority of MediaTek’s 3G customers to stick with the company as the China market transitions to 4G. Chinese smartphone OEMs lack the R&D capability of their international peers, and as a result, rely on turnkey solutions from MediaTek and Qualcomm. While MediaTek appears a bit late with LTE, we expect the company to maintain a strong share of the China LTE market longer term given its relationships with domestic handset manufacturers.
2. Intel is desperate to cheat when comparing its current tablet performance based on Clover Trail+ against much lower priced and lesser frequency ARM Cortex-A9 tablets from brand vendors.
For an Intel Clover Trail+ (pre-Bay Trail-T) tablet: A Four-Tablet Comparison: Intel vs. Competition [IREPRockLegend YouTube channel, April 16, 2014]
But Intel is cheating here, especially by being at least 2 times more expensive than the others (all the below prices are “best retail ones”), even discounting the 3G call capability:
- $300 (but has 3G call capability as well): Asus Fonepad 7 (Intel Atom Processor Z2560 (2 Clover Trail+ cores/4 threads, 1MB Cache, 1.60 GHz) since Q2’13)
(++Review Asus Fonepad 7 ME372CG Tablet [Notebookcheck.net, Nov 13, 2013)
- $119: Amazon Kindle Fire [7”] HD* (TI OMAP 4460 Processor (2 Cortex-A9 cores, 1.20 GHz))
[* Intel is cheating even more here as the 2nd generation figured in the above test has been replaced half a year ago by a 3d generation 7” Kindle Fire HD tablet which contains the TI OMAP 4470 with 2 Cortex-A9 cores, 1.5 GHz.]
- $160: Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7” (ARM Cortex A9 Processor (2 Cortex-A9 cores, 1.2 GHz) )
- $139: Lenovo IdeaTab A1000 (ARM v7 Cortex A9 Processor (MediaTek 8317, Dual Core 1.2 GHz) )
The same cheating is in another new Intel video: A Three-Tablet Comparison: Intel vs. Competition [IREPRockLegend YouTube channel, April 16, 2014] where the $140 Dell Venue 7 16GB, having the same Z2560 CloverTrail+ processors goes against the same 2nd generation Amazon Kindle Fire [7”] HD and the also same Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7”:
And finally the cheating in the 3d new video is even more inexcusable: Tablets with Intel Inside® vs. the Competition: Samsung as here the $305 Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1” tablet with the same 1.6 Ghz Z2560 (and list price of is compared with the $200 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1” having just a 1 GHz Cortex-A9 dual core processor:
3. Intel’s Krzanich is betting on sacrificing “contra revenue” dollars for Q2-Q4 2014 tablet market with Bay-Trail-based tablets, while hoping to level the playing field with TSMC produced SoFIA SoCs for the 2015 tablet market
What is contra revenue? [Accounting Tools, March 5, 2013]
Contra revenue is a deduction from the gross revenue reported by a business, which results in net revenue.
Contra revenue transactions are recorded in one or more contra revenue accounts, which usually have a debit balance (as opposed to the credit balance in the typical revenue account). There are three commonly used contra revenue accounts, which are:
- Sales returns. Contains either an allowance for returned goods, or the actual amount of revenue deduction attributable to returned goods.
- Sales allowances. Contains either an allowance for reductions in the price of a product that has minor defects, or the actual amount of the allowance attributable to specific sales.
- Sales discounts. Contains the amount of sales discounts given to customers, which is usually a discount given in exchange for early payments by customers.
In fact what Intel calls in accounting terms “contra revenue” it actually represents the subsidies paid to tablet manufacturers in order bring the Bill of Materials cost of Intel tablets into line with ARM based tablets. Intel was forced into these subsidies otherwise tablet manufacturers weren’t going to offer Intel based tablets.
Intel aggressively promoting tablet CPUs in China [DIGITIMES, April 14, 2014]
Intel has resorted to an aggressive pricing strategy to promote sales of its tablet-use processors, particularly in China, a move which apparently will take on Qualcomm and MediaTek, while ramping up its market share, according to industry sources.
Prices of Intel’s mainstream quad-core tablet CPUs have dropped to below US$5, which are almost on par with those offered by China-based chipset suppliers such as Rockchip Electronics and Allwinner Technology and even below those available from Nvidia, Qualcomm and MediaTek, said the sources.
Consequently, the number of Intel-based tablets is likely to expand in a great proportion as more and more China-based brand and white-box tablet vendors are expected to use Intel’s tablet CPUs to develop new products, the sources revealed.
Intel’s new policy also focuses on deepening its relationship with the supply chain in China, highlighting by its recent announcement of establishing an Intel Smart Device Innovation Center in Shenzhen and a US$100 million Intel Capital China Smart Device Innovation Fund, commented the sources.
To encourage China-based tablet makers to use Intel’s CPUs, the chipset vendor is offering assistance in terms of design, technology and marketing, the sources indicated.
Intel’s offerings will be particularly attractive to white-box tablet makers as they can optimize low-priced chipsets and advanced technologies to roll out competitive models for the entry-level segment, added the sources.
Intel aims to ship 40 million tablet CPUs in 2014, including entry-level Bay Trail family and SoFIA 3G platform products, the sources noted.
Intel Beats on Bottom Line, Misses Revenue Expectations for Q1 Results [TheStreet YouTube channel, April 15, 2014]
From Intel Reports First-Quarter Revenue of $12.8 Billion Operating Income of $2.5 Billion, up 1 Percent Year-over-Year [news release, April 15, 2014]
Mobile and Communications Group revenue of $156 million, down 52 percent sequentially and down 61 percent year-over-year.
From Intel’s CEO Discusses Q1 2014 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, April 15, 2014] ragarding the tablet strategy which is carried out by the Mobile and Communications Group:
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: … We set an aggressive goal of shipping 40 million tablet SOCs this year. And I’m happy to say we’ve tallied more than 90 designs on Android and Windows and shipped 5 million units in the first quarter, placing us squarely on track to that goal.
We demonstrated SoFIA, our first integrated apps processor and baseband, after adding it to the roadmap late last year. We’re on track to ship the 3G solution to OEMs in Q4 2014, with the LTE version following in the first half of 2015.
We also shipped our first Quark SoCs for the Internet of Things and announced an upgrade of Edison to the Silvermont Atom architecture. Edison is on track to ship this summer.
And in the Technology and Manufacturing Group, who’ve worked to advance Moore’s Law as foundational to our long-term success, we began production on our 14-nanometer process technology and remain on track to launch Broadwell in the second half of the year.
And the foundry team extended our collaboration with Altera to the development of multi-dye devices that take advantage of our world-class package and assembly capabilities and Altera’s leading-edge programmable logic.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: … The Mobile and Communications Group is down 61% from a year ago. The underlying dynamics are consistent with what we shared at the investor meeting last November.
We’re seeing a decline in our feature phone and 2G/3G multi-[com] [ph] business, as we’re in the midst of a transition to integrated LTE solutions. In addition, the ramp in tablet volume is being offset by an increase in contra revenue dollars.
We’re winning designs and ramping our tablet volume rapidly and we have design wins in LTE that will result in a second half revenue ramp.
Let me even back up and give you — again restate the strategy of what we’re doing here. … what we’re doing is we’re taking Bay Trail, which is a product really designed for the PC market, and we made the decision to take it broadly across different segments of the tablet market this year.
It brings along with it, at least over the course of 2014, a higher bill of materials. And that’s independent from the SOC cost. It’s the power management subsystem, it’s the motherboard that it goes on, it’s the memory solution, those kinds of things. And so, we’re providing some contra revenue to offset that bill of material delta over the course of 2014.
Now, as we said, we’re doing value engineering with our customers and our partners. And so we’re bringing down that bill of material over the course of 2014 independent of any changes to our SOC. …
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: … We have a series of improvements. They have already started to kick-in in some cases around our power management systems, the number of layers in our motherboards, the memory system integration. All of those things we’ve worked on and actually have started to see the advantages already in our costs.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: So, I think on a like dollars per unit, it comes down pretty dramatically over the course of 2014. And it should be relatively small, if at all, as we get into 2015. And it’s, again, the enablement we’re doing around the bill of materials.
And then we also have new products coming into the marketplace, like SoFIA, that’s targeted at the low end, and then in 2015 you’ll see Broxton, which is an SOC more for the mid-range to high-range of the market coming into our product portfolio.
So, the combination of all of that gives us a better cost structure with our own products and a better cost structure overall with the bill of materials as we enter 2015 and then work through 2015.
We’ll have significant unit growth in tablets. But remember that contra revenue isn’t just a gross margin impact; it’s actually a subtraction from revenue. And so that will mute the revenue growth for the segment because you have that negative as we get into the back half and ship more tablets. …
C.J. Muse – ISI Group: In terms of integrated LTE, you’ve talked about when we’ll first see that. But curious when you expect to bring that in house at Intel.
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: We’ll bring that in on our 14-nanometer process either late 2015 or early 2016. We’re still battling back and forth on how fast we can bring it in and at what impacts that has. 14-nanometer is the technology there.
Blaine Curtis – Barclays Capital: … Maybe actually follows up on CJ’s prior question. The MPG business that you’re now breaking out, it’s pretty clear it’s losing $3 billion, $3.5 billion. How do you think about this business?
Obviously you’re trying to ramp the product set you are a bit behind. You’re entering from the low end and that pricing seems quite tough. You’re facing some subsidies that you have to do on the tablet side.
Are there some milestones that you look at to get this business back profitable? Or maybe would you consider this strategic enough that you would consider continuing to run this as a loss?
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: So, you asked several questions in there, so let me start to pars it apart. Absolutely this is a strategic business, so let’s just start with that. We think this is critical and we said this in our prepared statements. It’s critical from 2 in 1 devices down through the Internet of Things.
You look across the connectivity requirements there; more and more of the devices are requiring integrated connectivity, whether it be LTE, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and all of these connectivities are becoming more and more required.
We don’t go into these businesses thinking that we’re going to lose money. We believe we have a roadmap to get to profitability in that business. The milestones that I look at — and so I’ll give you those for yourself to look at, we have the 7160, the current LTE version out there. We’re the second in LTE. We have the 7260 launch this quarter. I think that’s a critical there.
Again, we’re closing the gap with our competition. We’re bringing out leading edge Cat 6 capability with carrier aggregation. That’s a critical milestone. That puts — that closes the gap and puts us firmly in the LTE capability.
The next one is SoFIA. If you look at the SoFIAs at the end of this year with 3G integration and then a big first half of next year with LTE integration. Remember those products weren’t even on our roadmap six or seven months ago. So, that shows that we’re acting quickly integrating and bringing those products to production.
Then after that is, as Stacy said earlier, Broxton, which is our internal 14-nanometer product. That’s targeted towards the mid to high level. And as we bring that into the second half of 2015 and into 2016, there will be various levels of integration on that.
So, when I look across this, those are the milestones I look at, because those are what drive that along with just the basic cost reduction capabilities we talked about for this year as we get out of this contra revenue into 2015. Those products then place us firmly in leadership capability from the low end to the high end with integration. And those are the milestones to me that will lead to profitability long-term.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: And I’ll just add to that, I think you left it off because it was so obvious, but the 40 million tablets is one of the things I see Brian just laser focused on. And as we’ve talked about before, it gets us into the 15% to 20% range of the total tablet market.
It gives us a big enough footprint that we start to see people developing on our architectures. It becomes a self-sustaining ecosystem as we’re bringing these other products to the marketplace. So, don’t lose sight of that one, Blaine.
Stacy Rasgon – Sanford C. Bernstein & Co: I wanted to dig a little bit into the mobile and wireless group. So, you’ve talked a bit about having I guess developing leadership products, leadership position in order to drive profitability. We’re looking at this right now, though. So, we had the business fall more than 50% sequentially.
You have your 7160 which is shipping but apparently it’s not really driving much volume. We have the 7260 which is forthcoming, but we really haven’t heard much about design wins. And you launched at Mobile World Congress without really saying very much there.
We have SoFIA coming, which absolutely is integrated, but it’s being made at TSMC for the next few years which means you lose any potential benefits from your own process technology. And you would seem to be well behind what the market leaders are shipping in terms of 4G.
Just what should we be looking for and over what timeframe should we be looking for, for the ramp? I guess what I’m asking is, how can we get confidence that we’re going to actually see the revenue ramp that is built into the short-term expectations for this year and then going forward, to make sure that you can actually get a profitable business, which obviously would be driving quite a bit of upside to where the models are today?
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: Remember, the 7160, we gave you a series of products that it’s shipping in. And on the 7260, which will qualify this quarter, we gave you a list of OEM partners that have committed to that platform. So, we’re fairly confident that the ramp in the second half of this year will continue on that product. And it is a leadership product.
SoFIA, you’re right, is built at TSMC. We went for speed and integration. And it was simply quicker to get to market with a competitive product from both a price and performance. We actually believe that the IA core will give us better performance than the competition. And the competition is at that same node at TSMC. And it’s 3G at the end of this year and LTE in the first half of next year.
We then told you that in the second half of next year — and again, we’re debating whether it’s the second half or the first quarter of 2016, but we’ll move all of that internal on to 14-nanometers. And it’s really based on other products that we have moving in at that time and just overall resources all right.
We had a lot going on — the ramp of Broadwell, the ramp of Skylake in the second half of next year, plus bringing these products inside. But I’m very confident that when you do that, plus you add in Broxton, which is targeted towards the mid to high range and again is integrated with leading-edge LTE.
And don’t forget we have a roadmap of LTE products beyond the 7260 that continue the level of carrier aggregation and product leadership. We’re fairly confident that we can continue to grow this business and turn it profitable over that time.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: And let me just comment on the question about the long-term profitability. It sounds basic, but it really stems from our manufacturing leadership. If we’re two years ahead of the rest of the industry, and extending it gives us the ability that, as we target our products into the right space from a power standpoint, we will have power advantage or performance advantage and a cost advantage.
That really is our strategy playing out. You’re seeing the first products hitting that theme over the course of this year and into early next year. Bay Trail is a really good product. For the high end of the market, you’ll see products coming into the market that are more targeted at the mid-range and lower end of the market next year. But that’s how the strategy plays out.
I’d say for 2015, I would expect to see reduction in the loss. Not profitability, but a reduction in the loss will feel pretty good when we get there and then we’ll keep driving towards the long-term profitability goal.
Stacy Rasgon – Sanford C. Bernstein & Co: I’d like to drill in a bit more. I’m actually into the tablet efforts now. So, we’re obviously subsidizing. And I get the idea of reducing BOM cost in order to make up for the deficiencies with the idea being that you can drive improved product set down the road.
But at the same time, if you look at the tablet market, where it is today, you’re obviously not going to be going after Apple any time soon. Maybe there’s a little bit of volume at Samsung. But I mean if you take those guys out, 75% of what’s left is systems that are $250 and below, where your competitors are shipping quad-core chips for much less than $10.
I’m curious to know what kind of economics and pricing you see from that market long-term. And are the — I guess the total revenue pool and profit pool that’s available, even if you were to succeed at your goals, why does that make it a worthwhile effort to actually go after? Or is this simply, as you said, strategic? Is this an attempt to limit further penetration of tablets into the core market?
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: You’ve asked a question that has multiple questions built into it. But let’s start with what we told you was we’ve got multiple OEM partners building tablets and phones on our products. And we gave you Asus and Dell and Lenovo and Samsung on those products.
If you look at the tablet business overall, it’s broken up into a series of segments. And you’re right; there is a large percentage of them that are $250 and below. Products like SoFIA are specifically designed for that segment.
And our dual-core SoFIA already performs quite well against quad-core systems. As we move into next year, we’ll bring quad-core SoFIA-based products out, as well. And so we believe that we can stay very cost competitive and have a performance leadership.
Remember, Intel has two assets. We have our silicon technology, but we also have our architecture. And one of the things an OEM gets when they build with Intel technology is that they can go into any OS and they can build a single platform and move that on to Chrome, on to Android, on to Windows. And that’s a very unique capability that we provide to OEMs for flexibility.
So, we believe with a product like SoFIA, as we bring that into the market next year, we can absolutely compete in those spaces and make money. You’re probably not going to make as much revenue dollars and as much margin dollars as the PC business, but we think this is still critical. And it’s critical for a variety of reasons. Part of it is simply the scale. You want to have those units. You want to have a presence in all areas of computing.
And the second one is developer attention. You want developers creating new products, doing innovation on your architecture. This is a space that’s got innovation. We are going to bring some of that innovation to this market. You’re going to see some tablets as you go into the end of this year.
We showed them at CES, some of the highlights where you have 3D cameras, you have perceptual computing capabilities for gaming. All of those kinds of things can change the tablet market, along with the PC market.
So, we believe that we can bring a lot of the innovation that we do in the PC down into the tablet space. And again, that keeps the developers developing and interested in our platform. I think for all of those reasons, we want to be in this space and we will be in this space from now on.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: That was very complete, but we don’t fear the low end of the market. You look at how we played out in PCs. You can drive a lot of unit growth by participating in PCs now that are $199 to $250. We can have the cost structure because of our manufacturing lead to participate nicely there. And you see that as markets mature, they also segment.
And so we have look, you look at our PC business, we have great demand and profitability in core I7s and it spans down to Bay Trail at the Atom segment of the market. So, it’s a misconception to think that we only want to play at the high end. Our manufacturing leadership can give us the cost structure to play profitably at the low end, as well.
Mark Lipacis – Jefferies: Brian, when you talk about the 40 million unit bogey on tablets this year, could you go through the taxonomy of that a little bit? To what extent do you think this is Windows versus Android? And what’s the class of product you think will represent the mode or the mean? Like where do you think your sweet spot is going to be this year on tablets?
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: Our mix of OSs reflects pretty much what you see in the marketplace. So, I think, depending on how you look at it, it’s probably something on the order of 90% Android, 80% Android, 10% to 20% Windows.
Our percentages look very much like the marketplace. So, if Windows continues to grow and gain traction I think our percentage would just align directly to that. So, you can — don’t separate what we ship from what’s basically in the marketplace. We’re leadership capability on all of the OSs now.
As far as what is the price point, again, it reflects fairly close to what the marketplace is. You see us in systems below $100 now. The majority of the systems are say $125 to $250, somewhere in there. And then you see us in some of the upper end systems, $250 to $400. And so — but the majority is in that — I’d call it, $125 to probably $250 range.
Mark Lipacis – Jefferies: And then as a follow-up, did you discuss, do you expect to have the Android tablets ramping in volume this quarter? Are we going to be — should we expect to see the Bay Trail Android products at Computex this year? When do we really see the material ramp in the Android products?
Brian M. Krzanich – CEO: Sure, absolutely. You can go out to the store today and buy an Android — in fact, I’d love you to go buy one of the 40 million we’ll sell. But, yes, you can buy Android. It continues to ramp through this quarter. At Computex, we’ll show a series of Android and Windows-based tablets. And they just continue to ramp through this year. But they’re on shelves today. I saw them in the store this weekend.
Stacy J. Smith – EVP and CFO: The majority of the 5 million units, for example, are Android. Just as Brian said, it more or less follows the distribution between Windows and Android.