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AMD 2012-13: a new Windows 8 strategy expanded with ultra low-power APUs for the tablets and fanless clients

AMD Strategy Transformation Brings Agile Delivery of Industry-Leading IP to the Market [AMD press release, Feb 2, 2012]

At its annual Financial Analyst Day, AMD (NYSE: AMD) detailed a new “ambidextrous” strategythat builds on the company’s long history of x86 and graphics innovation while embracing other technologies and intellectual property to deliver differentiated products.

AMD is adopting an SoC-centric roadmap designed to speed time-to-market, drive sustained execution, and enable the development of more tailored customer solutions. SoC design methodology is advantageous because it is a modular approach to processor design, leveraging best practice tools and microprocessor design flows with the ability to easily re-use IP and design blocksacross a range of products.

image“AMD’s strategy capitalizes on the convergence of technologies and devices that will define the next era of the industry,” said Rory Read, president and CEO, AMD. “The trends around consumerization, the Cloud and convergence will only grow stronger in the coming years. AMD has a unique opportunity to take advantage of this key industry inflection point.  We remain focused on continuing the work we began last year to re-position AMD.  Our new strategy will help AMD embrace the shifts occurring in the industry, marrying market needs with innovative technologies and become a consistent growth engine.”

Roadmap Updates Focus on Customer Needs

Additionally, AMD today announced updates to its product roadmaps for AMD Central Processing Unit (CPU) and Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) products it plans to introduce in 2012 and 2013. The roadmap modifications address key customer priorities across form factors including ultrathin notebooks, tablets, all-in-ones, desktops and servers with a clear focus on low power, emerging markets and the Cloud.

AMD’s updated product roadmap features second generationmainstream (“Trinity”) and low-power (“Brazos 2.0”) APUs for notebooks and desktops; “Hondo,” an APU specifically designed for tablets; new CPU cores in 2012 and 2013 with “Piledriver” and its successor “Steamroller,” as well as “Jaguar,” which is the successor to AMD’s popular “Bobcat” core. In 2012, AMD plans to introduce four new AMD Opteron™ processors. For a more in-depth look at AMD’s updated product roadmap, please visit http://blogs.amd.com.

Next-generation Architecture Standardizes and Facilitates Software Development

AMD also provided further details on its Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA), which enables software developers to easily program APUs by combining scalar processing on the CPU with parallel processing on the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), all while providing high bandwidth access to memory at low power. AMD is proactively working to make HSA an open industry standard for the developer community. The company plans to hold its 2nd annual AMD Fusion Developer Summitin June, 2012.

New Company Structure Strengthens Execution

In conjunction with announcing its restructuring plan in November 2011, AMD has strengthened its leadership team with the additions of Mark Papermaster as senior vice president and chief technology officer, Rajan Naik as senior vice president and chief strategy officer, and Lisa Su as senior vice president and general manager, Global Business Units. These executives will help ensure that sustainable, dependable execution becomes a hallmark of AMD.

Supporting Resources

AMD started talking about ‘Trinity’ and ‘Hondo’ last summer. See in Acer repositioning for the post Wintel era starting with AMD Fusion APUs [June 17, 2011]

What AMD could definitely be proud of for 2011 is A “Brazos” Story: The Little Chip That Could (And Then Just Kept On Going) [AMD Fusion blog, Feb 1, 2012]:

In late 2010, AMD shipped its first-ever Accelerated Processing Units (APUs), internally codenamed “Brazos,”which combined the tremendous processing power of graphics and x86 on a single chip.

We had high expectations for the low-voltage “Brazos” APU: great computing, HD, long battery life and DirectX 11 capable graphics, all on a single chip. Yet still we were blown away by the initial industry reception. It was only a year ago we left CES with seven highly-sought after innovation and technology awardsfor the little product we ultimately named the C- and E-Series APUs, including:

After CES we should have re-nicknamed “Brazos” the “Little Chip That Could.” And all throughout 2011, “Brazos” kept on chugging. We added the “Best in Show” Award at Embedded Systems Conference and the “2011 Best Choice of Computex TAIPEI Award” to the list of accolades. In the second quarter we sold more than five million C- and E-Series APUs. What a tremendous start to a new way of processing for AMD and the industry.

But “Brazos” kept on impressing, showing up in a variety of form factorsnotebooks, netbooks, small desktops and all-in-ones– from top global OEM partners.

So it was no surprise or mistake that we ended 2011 with more than 30 million APUs shipped. It all started with little “Brazos,” which has now earned its place in history as AMD’s fastest ramping platform ever.

John Taylor, Director of Worldwide Product Marketing at AMD

CES 2012 Consumer Showcase Tour [amd, Jan 11, 2012]

Leslie Sobon of AMD talks about how APU’s help enhance your digital lifestyle in any room in of your home.
AMD Codename Decoder – November 9, 2010 [AMD Business blog]
An APU is an accelerated processing unit, a new generation of processors that combine either low-power or high-performance x86 CPU cores with the latest GPU technology (such as DirectX® 11) on a single die.
Planned for introduction: Q1 2011
Market: Multiple devices, including notebooks ultrathins, HD netbooks and small form factor desktops.
What is it? A sub-one watt capable x86 CPU core that first comes to market in the “Ontario” and “Zacate” Accelerated Processing Units (APU) for mainstream, ultrathin, value, and netbook form factors as well as small form factor desktop solutions. “Bobcat” is designed to be an extremely small, highly flexible, out-of-order execution x86 core that easily can be scaled up and combined with other IP in SoC configurations.
Planned for introduction: Q1 2011
Markets: Value Mainstream Notebooks, HD Netbooks and Small Form Factor Desktops
What is it? “Brazos” is AMD’s 2011 low-power platform, available with two APUs; “Zacate” – currently planned to be marketed as the E Series – is an 18-watt TDP APU for ultrathin, mainstream and value notebooks as well as desktops and all-in-ones. “Ontario” – currently planned to be marketed as the C Series – is a 9-watt
APU for netbooks and small form factor desktops and devices. Both “Brazos” platform APUs include a DirectX® 11-capable GPU.
Planned for introduction: Q1 2011
Market: Server and Client
What is it? A multi-threaded high-performance x86 CPU core contained in the “Zambezi” processor for client PCs and “Interlagos” and “Valencia” processors for servers. Included in the “Scorpius” enthusiast desktop PC platform and “Maranello,” “Adelaide,” and “San Marino” server platforms, “Bulldozer” is designed to be a completely new, high performance architecture that employs a new approach to multithreaded compute performance for achieving advanced efficiency and throughput. “Bulldozer” is designed to give AMD an exceptional CPU option for linking with GPUs in highly scalable, single-chip APU configurations. “Bulldozer” offers AMD another exceptional CPU option for combining with GPUs in highly scalable, single chip APU configurations, beginning in 2012 APU designs.
Planned for introduction: Client (1H 2011); Server (2H 2011)
Market: Notebooks and Desktops
What is it? Part of the “Sabine” platform, “Llano” is a 32nm APU including up to four x86 cores and a DirectX® 11-capable GPU, primarily intended for performance and mainstream notebooks and mainstream desktops. “Llano” is engineered to deliver impressive visual computing experiences, outstanding performance with low power and long battery life.
Planned for introduction: Mid-2011
Market: Primarily ultrathin notebooks and HD netbooks
What is it? A 9W APU featuring dual or single “Bobcat” x86 cores currently planned to be marketed as the C Series, and primarily intended to serve the low power and highly portable PC markets for netbooks and small form factor desktops and devices.
Planned for introduction: Q1 2011
Market: Notebook/Desktop
What is it? “Zacate” is AMD’s 18W APU designed for the mainstream notebook and desktop market. Zacate will feature low-power “Bobcat” CPU cores and support DirectX 11 technology.
Planned for introduction: Q1 2011

More information about 2011 AMD APU past on this blog:
Acer repositioning for the post Wintel era starting with AMD Fusion APUs [June 17, 2011]
Supply chain battles for much improved levels of price/performance competitiveness [Aug 16, 2011]
Acer & Asus: Compensating lower PC sales by tablet PC push [March 29 – Aug 2, 2011]
CES 2011 presence with Microsoft moving to SoC & screen level slot management that is not understood by analysts/observers at all [Jan 7, 2011]
Changing purchasing attitudes for consumer computing are leading to a new ICT paradigm [Jan 5, 2011]

AMD 2012 APU, code name “Trinity” [amd, Jan 11, 2012]

From the Technology Showcase at CES, John Taylor discusses the next-generation AMD APU, code name “Trinity”, and it’s benefits.

AMD started talking about ‘Trinity’ last summer. See in Acer repositioning for the post Wintel era starting with AMD Fusion APUs [June 17, 2011]

Advanced Micro Devices’ CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, Jan 24, 2012]

We are seeing particularly strong customer interest in our expanded low-power APUs for 2012. The low-power versions of our next-generation chip, Trinity APU, delivers mainstream performance while using half the power of our traditional notebook processor. This processor fits into an ultrathin notebook design, as thin as 17 millimeters, providing industry-leading visual performance and battery life at very attractive price points. Trinity remains on track to launch for midyear.

We achieved record quarter client revenue driven by an increase in supply of Llano APUs. And in Q4 of 2011, APUs accounted for nearly 100% of mobile microprocessors shipped and more than 60% of the total client microprocessors shipped. Microprocessor ASP increased sequentially due to an increase in mobile microprocessor ASP and an increase in server units shipped.

Question-and-Answer Session

There is no doubt that the customer acceptance of our APU architecture is quite strong. We’ve now shipped over 30 million of these APUs to date. And we’re seeing a strong uptake in terms of that architecture, what it means to the customer. They are looking for a better experience, and I think that’s a key reason why we’ve seen the momentum in our business and the ability to deliver on that. Our focus on execution around the APUs and around Llano is definitely paying off. And I think as we move forward, we should be able to continue to build on that momentum.

We’ve actually increased our Llano 32-nanometer product delivery by 80% from the third quarter, and now Llano makes up almost 60% of the mobile microprocessing revenue. … We’re going to continue to build on the strong relationships that we’ve been developing with GLOBALFOUNDRIES as we move forward.

The movement to thin and light is nothing new. Customers want mobility. And the idea of ultrathin is something that we’re very focused on. And if you think about it with our APU strategy that I mentioned, with the next-generation product, Trinity APU, we already are well ahead of the pace last year when we set a record-setting year for design wins with the Trinity product in 2012. With that product, we can deliver ultrathin in the range of 17 millimeters. And what’s really important and I think we have to all focus on is ultrathin and mobility, the ability for computing to reach customers across the planet. … And I’ll add that the improvements that we’ve made in Trinity in both our CPU and the GPU are really delivering outstanding results in performance per watt. So as well for the ultrathins being able to hit the 17-millimeter low-profile, we’re also getting a doubling of the performance per watt. So it’s an exciting application of our APU technology.

… as you think of the industry trends around consumerization, cloud and convergence, there’s no doubt, as we’ve seen these kinds of inflection points in the industry, there’s always a significant downward pressure in terms of the price points. So if you’re dragging huge asset base along with you and there comes pressure into the market around those price points, that could put pressure into their [Intel’s] — into a business model. … We think the emerging market and the entry — and the high-growth markets around entry and mainstream will be the hottest segment, and I think that’s playing to our hand. We’re going to emphasize this strategy. We want to embrace this inflection point that’s emerging. We want to accelerate it, because shift happens when there’s these inflecting points.

Of course, we see the investment of our competitor, but the fabless ecosystem is not sitting still. And if you look at the investments that are done on their — TSMC, at a GLOBALFOUNDRIES and a GLOBALFOUNDRIES and alliances level, then the numbers are very comparable. GLOBALFOUNDRIES and their partnership models invest about $9 billion this year. TSMC seeds around $6 billion, if I recall the number correctly. So this is, in terms of scale and absolute numbers, are very comparable to what Intel is putting on the table.

… I feel pretty good about where we are in terms of the transition around 32 nm. … And I want to emphasize, we’ve made real progress, but we’re not finished with that. And we need to continue to work every day with those tiger teams we’ve put in place. We’re tracking the test vehicles through the lines to make sure that we’re getting that consistent improvement, because that will reduce our consumption of wafers and give us far more flexibility in our supply chain. So while we have improved by 80% from the third quarter, we’re not all the way there yet … there’s more yield improvements possible on that 32-nanometer line. … And those same techniques and practices that the teams — the tiger teams applied on 32-nanometer, that momentum continues in the 28-nanometer. And so that poises us well going into the coming 2012.

… I think it’s fair to say from the improvements we have seen and the — and our foundry partners that we are not going to be supply-constrained in the first quarter. … I think the progress we have seen on Trinity has impressed us. And of course, all the learnings that have been done on 32-nanometer with the Llano product will be transferred to Trinity. So the start-off pace with Trinity is going to be significantly better from a yield perspective compared to where we were at Llano launch. So that makes us quite optimistic looking forward.

Here are also a couple of illustrations highlighting that 2011 APU success with the details of new APU strategy additions from Lisa Su‘s (Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Business Units) presentation for the 2012 Financial Analyst Day held on February 2, 2012 (see her full presentation in PDF):


image2011: AMD first to introduce heterogeneous computing to mainstream applications

“Llano” APU offers nearly 3X the performance in the same power envelope over conventional CPUs (2)

Fully leverages the growing ecosystem of GPU-accelerated apps

Source: AMD Performance labs
(1) Testing performed by AMD Performance Labs. Calculated compute performance or Theoretical Maximum GFLOPS score for 2013 Kaveri (4C, 8CU) 100w APU, use standard formula of (CPU Cores x freq x 8 FLOPS) + (GPU Cores x freq x 2 FLOPS). The calculated GFLOPS for the 2013 Kaveri (4C, 8CU) 100w APU was 1050. GFLOPs scores for 2011 A-Series “Llano” was 580 and the 2013 [2012] A-Series “Trinity” was 819. Scores rounded to the nearest whole number.
(2) Testing performed by AMD Performance Labs. Calculated compute performance or Theoretical Maximum GFLOPS score (use standard formula of CPU Cores x freq x 8 FLOPS) for conventional CPU alone in 2011 was 210 GFLOPs while the calculated GFLOPs for the 1st Gen APU using standard formula (CPU Cores x freq x 8 FLOPS) + (GPU Cores x freq x 2 FLOPS) was 580 or 2.8 times greater compute performance.

Related new codenames (from the AMD provided At-a-Glance Codename Decoder [Feb 2, 2012]):

“Trinity” APU (Traditional Notebooks, Ultrathin Notebooks and Desktops)

  • “Trinity” is AMD’s second generation APU and improves the power and performance of AMD’s A-Series APU lineup for mainstream and high-performance notebooks and desktops. “Trinity” will feature next-generation “Piledriver” CPU cores and new, DirectX® 11-capable, second generation AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 series graphics.
  • New for 2012, AMD will offer a BGA or pin-less format, low power “Trinity” APU specifically designed for ultrathin notebooks.
  • Planned for introduction: Mid-2012

“Piledriver” Core Micro Architecture

  • “Piledriver” is the next evolution of AMD’s revolutionary “Bulldozer” core architecture.
  • The “Trinity” line-up of APUs will be the first introduction of “Piledriver.”

“Kaveri” APU (Notebooks and Desktops)

  • “Kaveri” is AMD’s third generation APU for mainstream desktop and notebooks.
  • These APUs will include “Steamroller” cores, and new HSA-enabling features for easier programming of accelerated processing capabilities.
  • Planned for introduction: 2013

“Steamroller” Core Micro Architecture

  • “Steamroller” is the evolution of AMD’s “Piledriver” core architecture.



Additional new codename (from the AMD provided At-a-Glance Codename Decoder):

“Excavator” Core Micro Architecture

  • “Excavator” is the evolution of AMD’s “Steamroller” core architecture.



Shipped > 30m APUs to date

11 of the world’s top 12 OEMs shipping AMD APU-based platforms

“Brazos” APUs shipped more units in its first year than any previous mobile platform in AMD history

“Llano” APUs ramped to represent nearly 60% of mobile processor revenue by Q4 2011


Additional new codenames (from the AMD provided At-a-Glance Codename Decoder):

“Southern Islands” Discrete Graphics

  • Internal codename for the entire family of desktop graphics ASICs based on Graphics Core Next architecture and utilizing 28nm process technology.
  • “Southern Islands” products include “Tahiti” (AMD Radeon™ HD 7900 series), “Pitcairn,” “Cape Verde” and “New Zealand.”

“Brazos 2.0” APU (Essential Desktop and Notebook, Netbook, All-In-One and Small Desktop)

  • The “Brazos 2.0” family of APUs will follow “Brazos”, AMD’s fastest ramping platform ever.
  • In addition to increased CPU and GPU frequencies, “Brazos 2.0” will offer additional features and functionality as compared to “Brazos”.
  • Planned for introduction: H1 2012

“Hondo” APU (Tablet)

  • “Hondo” is AMD’s sub-5W APU designed for tablets. “Hondo” will feature low-power “Bobcat” CPU cores and support DirectX® 11 technology in a BGA or pin-less format.
  • Planned for introduction: H2 2012

AMD started talking about ‘Hondo’ (as well as ‘Trinity’) last summer. See in Acer repositioning for the post Wintel era starting with AMD Fusion APUs [June 17, 2011]

(3) Projections and testing developed by AMD Performance Labs. Projected score for 2012 AMD Mainstream Notebook Platform “Comal” on the “Pumori” reference design for PC Mark Vantage Productivity benchmark is projected to increase by up to 25% over actual scores from the 2011 AMD Mainstream Notebook Platform “Sabine”. Projections were based on AMD A8/A6/A4 35w APUs for both platforms.
(4) Projections and testing developed by AMD Performance Labs. Projected score for the 2012 AMD Mainstream Notebook Platform “Comal” the “Pumori” reference design for 3D Mark Vantage Performance benchmark is projected to increase by up to 50% over actual scores from the 2011 AMD Mainstream Notebook Platform “Sabine”. Projections were based on AMD A8/A6/A4 35w APUs for both platforms.
(5) Testing performed by AMD Performance Labs. Battery life calculations using the “Pumori” reference design based on average power draw based on multiple benchmarks and usage scenarios. For Windows Idle calculations indicate 732 minutes (12:12 hours) as a resting metric; 421 minutes (7:01 hours) of DVD playback on Hollywood movie, 236 minutes (3:56 hours) of Blu-ray playback on Hollywood movie, and 205 minutes (3:25 hours) using 3D Mark ‘06 as an active metric.
Projections for the 2012 AMD Mainstream Platform Codename “Comal” assume a configuration of “Pumori” reference board, Trinity A8 35W 4C – highest performance GPU, AMD A70M FCH, 2 x 2G DDR3 1600, 1366 x 768 eDP Panel / LED Backlight, HDD (SATA) – 250GB 5400rpm, 62Whr Battery Pack and Windows 7 Home Premium.




Additional new codenames (from the AMD provided At-a-Glance Codename Decoder):

“Sea Islands” Graphics Architecture

  • New GPU Architecture and HSA Features
  • Planned for introduction: 2013

“Kabini” APU (Essential Desktop and Notebook, Netbook, All-In-One and Small Desktop)

  • The “Kabini” APU is AMD’s second generation low-power APU and follow-on to “Brazos 2.0.”
  • In addition to new “Jaguar” cores, these APUs will be enhanced with new Heterogeneous Systems Architecture (HSA), enabling features for easier programming of accelerated processing capabilities.
  • Planned for introduction: 2013

“Temash” APU (Tablet and Fanless Client)

  • The “Temash” APU is AMD’s second generation tablet APU and follow-on to “Hondo.”
  • In addition to new “Jaguar” cores, these APUs will be enhanced with new Heterogeneous Systems Architecture-enabling features for easier programming of accelerated processing capabilities.
  • Planned for introduction: 2013

“Jaguar” Core Micro Architecture

  • “Jaguar” is the evolution of AMD’s “Bobcat” core architecture for low-power APUs.

MOBILE MARKET PROJECTIONS [#29]                             AMD Direction:

imageFocus on true productivity and user experience in ultra-low power devices

Leadership graphics, web applications and video processing leveraging APUs

Agile, flexible SoC designs

Ambidextrous solutions across ISAs and ecosystems

Fanless, sealed designs

These APU related strategic moves have been summarized by the same John Taylor as Strengthening our Client Roadmap [AMD Fusion blog, Feb 2, 2012]:

Roadmaps signify our plans to customers and business partners, outlining the new products and technologies that we are bringing online. In an ideal world plans would never change. But in reality, change is a certainty in the tech industry – new form factors immerge, technologies and applications shift and consumer tastes remake technology plans.

Like any technology company, AMD desires to anticipate change in the industry. So we course-correct as we work with customers to ensure that we create products that address the optimal blend of timing, features and performance, cost and form factors.

Today at our Financial Analyst Day in Sunnyvale, AMD senior staff detailed how AMD will focus its investments in R&D and marketing going forward, including roadmaps for 2012-2013. As Phil Hughes summarized, the announced roadmaps are designed to extend platform longevity, accelerate time to market and enhance performance and features. These roadmaps strengthen AMD’s ability to make the most of shifting market dynamics, all the while giving stand-out experience across device categories through our graphics and video IP. This blog provides some insight into our 2012 and 2013 roadmaps – the words in quotes are the codenames for the particular AMD processor offerings discussed today.

2012 Client Roadmap

AMD’s “Brazos 2.0” Accelerated Processor Unit (APU) family will be used for essential desktop and notebook, netbook, tablet, all-in-one and small desktop form factors. This allows us to address a fast-growing segment of the PC market where we have proven success with the original “Brazos” line-up – the C-Series, E-Series and Z-SeriesAPUs. We will add plenty of new features to the “Brazos 2.0” APU family, including increased CPU and GPU performance, longer battery life, a bevy of integrated I/O options and improvements to AMD Steady Video technology. “Brazos 2.0” is scheduled to hit the market in the first half of 2012.

As we demoed at CES, AMD’s “Trinity” APU for desktop and notebook remains on track for introduction in mid-2012, with plans to pack up to four “Piledriver” CPU cores and next-generation DirectX® 11-capable graphics technology, together delivering up to 50% more compute performance than our “Llano” offerings, including superior entertainment potential, longer battery-life and an even more incredibly brilliant HD visual experience.

New for 2012, AMD will introduce a low voltage “Trinity” APU that will be ideal for the next-generation of ultrathin notebook. This “Trinity” APU matches the experience enabled by the AMD 2011 APU in up to half the TDP. As we said, “Trinity” is on track for introduction in mid-2012.

In 2012 we will also introduce the ultra-low voltage “Hondo” APU for tablets. These low-power (power maxes out at 5W TDP) APUs will have “Bobcat” CPU cores and support DirectX 11 technology in a BGA or pin-less, thin processor package. Look for these in the second half of 2012 – more details to come later.

On the desktop platform side of things, the “Vishera” CPU will replace the “Komodo” CPU for desktop. This change enables accelerated time to market for improved performance and next-generation CPU features while maintaining the existing AM3+ motherboards. The “Vishera” CPU ushers in many exciting updates, includes 8 “Piledriver” cores, and when compared with the previous generation, provides higher frequencies, improved instruction per clock performance, advanced instruction sets (thus increasing application performance), additional DDR3 memory support and next-generation AMD Turbo Core Technology. We plan to launch “Vishera” in the second half of 2012.

2013 Client Roadmap

2013 brings major evolution to the client roadmaps as the vision presented by Rory, Mark and Lisa today begin to manifest – including moving our low power APUs to a system on a chip (SoC) design with the AMD Fusion Controller Hub integrated right into a single chip design.

In the performance APU category our third-generation APU, “Kaveri,”will employ “Steamroller” (the evolution of AMD’s “Piledriver” core architecture) x86 cores for enhanced instructions per clock and power advantages. Applications that take advantage of GPU accelerate will give users an amazing experience thanks to our Graphics Core Next and new Heterogeneous Systems Architecture (HSA) enabling features for easier programming of accelerated processing capabilities.

In the low power category, the “Kabini” SoC APU takes over for “Brazos 2.0.” This second generation low power APU integrates “Jaguar” x86 cores for augmented performance and energy efficiency. These APUs will also benefit from select HSA features and functionality.

We keep on innovating for the ultra-low power space in 2013. Our second generation, ultra-low-power “Temash” SoC APU will follow “Hondo” for tablet and other fanless form factors. This APU will also leverage the “Jaguar” low-power x86 cores and HSA features.

We at AMD strongly believe these roadmap updates help us time new product introductions with customer design phases to hit key sales cycles across a range of form factors and experiences. We are moving with the market and on the path to deliver exceptional productivity and user experience in a wide array of form factors.

John Taylor, Director of Worldwide Product Marketing at AMD

He also provided the following answers to questions regarding how AMD spells out Windows 8 tablet strategy [CNET, Feb 2, 2012]:

Q: Before, we go to Windows 8, what is your smartphone strategy, if any?
Taylor: The smartphone market is eight, nine, ten, maybe a dozen players. [They have] lower ASPs (average selling price), lower [profit] margins, different competitive dynamic. So, there is no shift on the smartphone strategy.

And Window 8?
Taylor: But you will see much more focus on tablets, the convertible or hybrid devices that fit between tablets and notebooks, very thin [designs].

What chips exactly will get you there?
Taylor: For tablets, it will decidedly be the Hondo chip. We’re acknowledging that we still have a couple of watts to shave off to really be a more ideal tablet platform (to achieve optimal power efficiency). But we think that Temash gets us much, much closer to that in 2013.

And Windows 8 convertibles?
A 17-watt [power consumption] is the lowest that we’ll offer. That’s called Trinity. It will be unmatched in that [17-watt design] space. Discrete graphics-like performance. All types of dedicated video processing capabilities, better battery life than the competition. And all of these ways that we’re driving the new generation of accelerated applications. If you think about the Web apps that are being built for Win 8, using HTML5 and the graphics enginethat drives that higher level experience.

I will add to that the following two illustrations from the AMD Product and Technology Roadmaps[AMD FAD, Feb 2, 2012]:

“Vishera” CPU (Desktop)

  • The “Vishera” desktop CPU incorporates up to eight “Piledriver” cores, advanced instruction sets and other performance enhancing additions
  • This next-generation CPU will maintain the AM3+ infrastructure.
  • Planned for introduction: H2 2012


In addition to the above described expansion of the original APU strategy for the clients there is a kind of naming change with AMD Fusion System Architecture is now Heterogeneous Systems Architecture [AMD Fusion blog, Jan 18, 2012]

Since its introduction to the public in June 2011 at the AMD Fusion11 Developer Summit, the AMD Fusion System Architecture (FSA) has received widespread support and interest from our business partners and technology industry leaders. FSA was the blueprint for AMD’s overarching design for utilizing CPU and GPU processor cores as a unified processing engine, which we are making into an open platform standard. This architecture enables many benefits, including high application performance and low power consumption.

Our software partners are already taking advantage of the power and performance advantage of APU and GPU acceleration, with more than 200 accelerated applications shipped to date. The combination of industry standards like OpenCL and C++ AMP, alongside FSA, is ushering in the era of heterogeneous computing.

Together with these software partners, we have built a heterogeneous compute ecosystem that is built on industry standards. As such, we believe it’s only fitting that the name of this evolving architecture and platform be representative of the entire, technical community that is leading the way in this very important area of technology and programing development.

FSA will now be known as Heterogeneous Systems Architecture or HSA. The HSA platform will continue to be rooted in industry standards and will include some of the best innovations that the technology community has to offer.

Manju Hegde and I will be hosting a breakout session on HSA at AMD’s Financial Analyst Day on February 2nd 2012, which will be webcast live here.  More information on the latest advances in HSA design will be released at a future date.

Also, if you haven’t already made plans to attend the AMD Fusion12 Developer Summit in June 2012 in Bellevue, Washington, I encourage you to save the date. Leaders from the technology and programming development communities will converge at the summit to discuss Heterogeneous Computing and the next-generation user experiences that are enabled by this platform.

Phil Rogers, corporate fellow at AMD.

From the Analyst Day breakout session presentation I will include the following illustrations here as the food for thoughts and further interests:





For Windows 8 related HSA, “C++ AMP” (indicated on the last illustration) is worth to expand on via Introducing C++ Accelerated Massive Parallelism (C++ AMP) [MSDN Blogs, June 15, 2011]

A few months ago, Herb Sutter told about a keynote he was to delivered today in the AMD Fusion Developer Summit (happening these days). He said by then:

“Parallelism is not just in full bloom, but increasingly in full variety. We know that getting full computational performance out of most machines—nearly all desktops and laptops, most game consoles, and the newest smartphones—already means harnessing local parallel hardware, mainly in the form of multicore CPU processing. (…) More and more, however, getting that full performance can also mean using gradually ever-more-heterogeneous processing, from local GPGPU and Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) flavors to “often-on” remote parallel computing power in the form of elastic compute clouds. (…)”

In that sense, S. Somasegar, Senior Vice President of the Developer Division made this morning the following announcement:

“I’m excited to announce that we are introducing a new technology that helps C++ developers use the GPU for parallel programming. Today at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit, we announced C++ Accelerated Massive Parallelism (C++ AMP). (…) By building on the Windows DirectX platform, our implementation of C++ AMP allows you to target hardware from all the major hardware vendors. (…)”

C++ AMP, as Soma tells in his post, is actually an open specification. Microsoft will deliver an implementation based on its Windows DirectX platform (DirectCompute, as Daniel Moth specifies in a later posta few minutes ago).

Daniel added that C++ AMP will lower the barrier to entry for heterogeneous hardware programmability, bringing performance to the mainstream. Developers will get an STL-like library as part of the existing concurrency namespace (whose Parallel Patterns Library –PPL and its Concurrency Runtime –ConcRT are also being enhanced in the next version of Visual C++ –check references at the end of this post for further details) in a way that developers won’t need to learn a different syntax, nor using a different compiler.

Update (6/16/2011): “Heterogeneous Parallelism at Microsoft, the keynote where Herb Sutter and Daniel Moth introduced this technology with code and graphic demos is available for on-demand watching.

Update (6/17/2011): Daniel Moth’s session “Blazing-fast Code Using GPUs and More, with C++ AMP” is available as well! Beside, Dana Groff tells what’s new in Visual Studio 11 for PPL and ConcRT.

Pedal to the metal, let’s go native at full speed!


  1. S. Somasegar’s announcement: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/somasegar/archive/2011/06/15/targeting-heterogeneity-with-c-amp-and-ppl.aspx
  2. Daniel Moth’s blog post: http://www.danielmoth.com/Blog/C-Accelerated-Massive-Parallelism.aspx
  3. Herb Sutter’s keynote at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/AMD-Fusion-Developer-Summit/AMD-Fusion-Developer-Summit-11/KEYNOTE
  4. Daniel Moth: Blazing-fast Code Using GPUs and More, with C++ AMP (session presented at AMD Fusion Developer Summit): http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/AMD-Fusion-Developer-Summit/AMD-Fusion-Developer-Summit-11/DanielMothAMP
  5. Announcing the PPL, Agents and ConcRT efforts for Visual Studio 11, by Dana Groff: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/nativeconcurrency/archive/2011/06/16/announcing-the-ppl-agents-and-concrt-efforts-for-v-next.aspx
  6. AMD Fusion Developer Summit Webcasts: http://developer.amd.com/afds/pages/webcast.aspx

With that in mind the upcoming 2012 AMD Fusion Developer Summit will definitely bring quite important updates as promised by the last breakout session illustration:

More on that: Adobe and Cloudera among Keynotes at AMD Fusion12 Developers Summit [AMD Fusion blog, Feb 3, 2012]

Finally, regarding the ‘ambidextrous’ strategy mentioned in the first sentence of the press release:

  1. ‘ambidextrous’ generally means ‘very skillful and versatile’ coming from ‘able to use the right and the left hand with equal skill’
  2. it is described in the press release as:
  3. adopting an SoC-centric roadmap designed to speed time-to-market, drive sustained execution, and enable the development of more tailored customer solutions. SoC design methodology is advantageous because it is a modular approach to processor design, leveraging best practice tools and microprocessor design flows with the ability to easily re-use IP and design blocks across a range of products. …

  4. and detailed in Mark Papermaster‘s (Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer) presentation for the 2012 Financial Analyst Day held on February 2, 2012 (see his full presentation in PDF) via the following illustrations:

as the Go-to-market approach together with ODM / OEM relationships

specifically highlighting the differentiation with it for the datacenter
related to MDC [Multi-DataCenter] workloads and HSA.

But also mentioning it in more generic terms as:
”Flexible around ISA [Instruction Set Architecture]” and
“Flexible around combination of AMD IP and third party IP”

Which caused probably the biggest interest and questions among participating analysts what made even The Wall Street Journal to report as AMD Will Incorporate Others’ Technology in Its Chips [Feb 3, 2011]:

Advanced Micro Devices Inc., the microprocessor maker whose fortunes have long been closely tied to the same technology as bigger rival IntelCorp., is planning a more flexible future.

The company on Thursday said it may pursue what it calls an “ambidextrous” strategy that would allow it to offer chips that include circuitry developed by other companies as well as its own. One obvious option would be low-power microprocessor technology from ARM HoldingsPLC that now dominates chip markets for cellphones and tablet computers.

AMD Chief Executive Rory Read, at a meeting with analysts here and in a subsequent interview, stopped short of saying that AMD would definitely add ARM-based technology to its chips in the future. But he noted that the company is laying the technical groundwork for modular chips that could accept blocks of circuitry developed by ARM as well as other companies.

“We have a relationship with ARM, and we will continue to build on it,” Mr. Read said in an interview. “We will continue to evolve that relationship as the market continues to evolve.”

Such possibilities are a sign of how the exploding market for mobile devices is causing many companies to alter their strategies. The x86 design used by AMD and Intel is the foundation of virtually all personal and most server computers.

But the two companies have struggled to make headway in the mobile-device market, in large part because of the lower power consumption of ARM-based designs. Meanwhile, ARM licensees—which include Qualcomm Inc., Texas Instruments Inc. and Nvidia Corp.—are adding to the pressures by edging toward the PC market, as MicrosoftCorp. finishes development of a new operating system that supports ARM and x86 chips.

AMD’s management team, in a meeting with analysts here, took pains to dispute the notion that AMD may become marginalized as ARM-powered competitors enter the PC market. Rather, they argued, AMD’s strength in graphics and microprocessors—and a strategy of customizing chips for large customers—will expand AMD’s opportunities.

Indeed, Mr. Read argued, it is Intel’s outsize influence of the tech industry that will tend to decline. “We will see the breakdown of proprietary control points,” Mr. Read said.

Though Mr. Read didn’t commit to embracing ARM’s designs, others who heard his presentation said the direction is clear. “AMD was very deliberate today about their goal to integrate more third-party intellectual property,” said Patrick Moorhead, a former AMD vice president and now principal analyst at Moor insights & Strategy. “Nothing they communicated excluded the potential for ARM.”

AMD’s remarks also underscore an industry shift—driven largely by the mobile market—away from separate chips and toward multi-function products that the industry calls SoCs, for systems on a chip, which save space and power in mobile devices and other hardware.

Intel and AMD have begun offering SoCs for laptop computers. But AMD discussed extensive plans to create more such products at a faster rate, using a flexible design scheme that can accommodate technology submitted by other companies.

Mr. Read, who previously served as a senior executive at PC maker Lenovo GroupLtd., has recruited others that also worked at IBM and have experience with other chip technologies than x86.

One is Mark Papermaster, AMD’s senior vice president and chief technology officer, who worked at Apple Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. after leaving IBM in 2008. Another is Lisa Su, a senior vice president and general manager of AMD’s global business units, who most recently worked at Freescale Semiconductor HoldingsLtd., an ARM user.

Ms. Su gave an updated road map for a series of future chips, including products that AMD expects to be used in tablets that are powered by Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows 8 operating system. But Mr. Read said AMD would likely stay away from trying to sell chips for smartphones soon, characterizing the market as too crowded with competitors.


Intel 2011: a year of records, milestones and breakthroughs

Intel’s CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, Jan 19, 2012] + Q&A

–> Intel’s industry position and prospects for years ahead [Dec 9, 2010 – March 21, 2011]
      • reinvented the transistor with our 3-D Tri-Gate technology
        –> Intel’s SoC strategy strengthened by 22nm Tri-Gate technology [May 10 – Nov 30, 2011]
      • unveiled a new generation of personal computers, the Ultrabook
      • And
        when Windows 8 launches, we’ll be ready with both PCs and tablets.

        –> Windows 8 Metro style Apps + initial dev reactions [Sept 15, 2011]
        –> Windows 8: the first 12 hours headlines and reports [Sept 14, 2011]
        –> Windows 8 gaining smartphone like “connected standby” capability [Nov 23, 2011]
        –> A too early assesment of the emerging ‘Windows 8’ dev & UX functionality [June 24 – Aug 19, 2011]
        –> Microsoft’s next step in SoC level slot management [May 27 – June 2, 2011]
        –> Microsoft on five key technology areas and Windows 8 [May 24, 2011]
        –> Acer’s decision of restructuring: a clear sign of accepting the inevitable disintegration of the old PC (Wintel) ecosystem and the need for joining one of the new ecosystems under formation [April 1 – Aug 2, 2011]
        –> CES 2011 presence with Microsoft moving to SoC & screen level slot management that is not understood by analysts/observers at all [Jan 7, 2011]
        • Our intention is to participate broadly … from day one, as you see the Android tablets coming out and Windows 8 tablets coming out.
        • And you’ll see us well-positioned in multiple price point on those. And who knows where those prices go over time, but our intention would be to use the advanced silicon integration capability we have to be able to drive the build material cost down, integration up in tablet space, which I think is going to be a sweet spot for Intel.
        • [regarding much lower Android tablet sales than most expected for 2011:] actually, they were about where I thought they would be, but I was well below what many of you had. I think the thing is, tablets are a little bit about hardware and an awful lot about software. And I think that until you get to Ice Cream Sandwich, the offering isn’t as powerful as what’s out there with Apple. And as the Ice Cream Sandwich tablets start shipping, I think you’ll start seeing a little bit better receptivity, Google just added the music store, the videos are better, everything got a little bit better bit ICS. And so I think the better test is year 2 here, in terms of is there anyone that can compete with the iPad?
          –> “A new tablet from Vizio will come with Intel’s upcoming Atom chip, code-named Medfield, and will run Google’s Android operating system” –> VIZIO’s two pronged strategy: Android based V.I.A. Plus device ecosystem + Windows based premium PC entertainment [Jan 11, 2012]
          –> Intel: accelerated Atom SoC roadmap down to 22nm in 2 years and a “new netbook experience” for tablet/mobile PC market [April 17, 2011]
        • And then the other part of that test, of course, is the Windows 8 tablets that are being queued up for production. So I don’t know that the whole tablet thing is settled down by any stretch, and I do have a lot of interest in, if you heard me at CES about these hybrid and convertible designs as they apply to clamshells, where there’s a significant blurring between what people do with tablets and what people do with PCs. So the jury is out on I think the long-term segmentation by form factor.
        • But I do think you’ll see more progress on the Android side as a result of ICS.
      • closed 2 large acquisitions: Together, McAfee and IMC added $3.6 billion in revenue and new strategic capabilities in security and connectivity that will allow us to extend our strategies across the continuum of computing.
        • McAfee:  has already announced the Deep Safe platform, around which we are building a family of products to take advantage of the combination of McAfee software and Intel silicon to deliver first-of-its-kind protection against day 0 threats.
        • Infineon Wireless Solutions: the Infineon acquisition has given us a very strong position in basic phones and feature phones. They shipped 400 million modems this year into the cell phone business.
          –> New Mobile and Communications Group (MCG) at Intel [Dec 16 – 30, 2011]
      • in the fourth quarter, we announced the acquisition of Telmap, whose location-based search and navigation expertise will allow us to add differentiated services to Intel architecture-based devices from Ultrabooks to smartphones
      • broke ground on the world’s first 14-nanometer fabs, D1X in Oregon and Fab 42 in Arizona:
        –> Be aware of ZTE et al. and white-box (Shanzhai) vendors: Wake up call now for Nokia, soon for Microsoft, Intel, RIM and even Apple! [Feb 21 – March 25, 2011]
        –> mentioning that in 3 years down to 14nm: Intel: accelerated Atom SoC roadmap down to 22nm in 2 years and a “new netbook experience” for tablet/mobile PC market [April 17, 2011]
        • Turning to 2012 … We are forecasting an increase in capital spending to $12.5 billion as we build the world’s first high-volume manufacturing factories for 14-nanometer process technology.
        • In terms of the makeup of the specific capital in ’12, it’s more heavily weighted than what we’ve historically seen to building buildings. … it’s a 2-year cycle and we’re building buildings. So we’re seeing that it’s more than 1/3 of the total capital in ’12. I think that piece starts to come down in ’13. The equipment piece actually comes down from ’11 to ’12, and that’s a little more — it’s heavily weighted towards 14-nanometer equipment that we’re putting in place.
      • 2011 revenue and earnings were the best in Intel’s history
        • surpassed $50 billion in revenue for the first time, after crossing $40 billion for the first time just last year
          • a fantastic year for our Data Center Group, with revenue up 17% on record microprocessor units, exceeding $10 billion for the first time
          • storage revenue was up 42% to a new record high
          • Embedded Communications Infrastructure business was up 18%, also to a new record high
          • record notebook microprocessor units in 2011, as the PC Client Group grew 17%, fueled by demand in the enterprise and emerging markets
            • China, now the largest PC market in the world, represents 20% of all PC demand, and grew a remarkable 15%. Even with that, China has a household penetration rate of just 35%, versus almost 90% in the U.S
          • Sandy Bridge microprocessors accounted for approximately 40% of the company’s total revenue
            –> Intel’s SoC strategy strengthened by 22nm Tri-Gate technology [May 10 – Nov 30, 2011]
          • We’ll launch Ivy Bridge, our first 22-nanometer product, in early spring. Ivy Bridge will improve on the graphics performance of Sandy Bridge by more than 70%. We have a very fast ramp of Ivy Bridge, strong demand …
          • In terms of utilizations, we’re running full out today. We’re just at the beginning edge of 22-nanometer [with the ramping 4 big 22-nanometer factories]. Every unit that we can get out there, we can sell. So we’re running the new stuff full out. … those first wafers that come off the line for 22-nanometer, these are big factories, the very first products are coming off the line now. Those tend to be pretty expensive [therefore Q1 gross margin forecast is 63% vs 64% for the full year on a high 9 — high single-digit revenue growth] and that cost comes down over the course of the year as well.
        • this was our second consecutive year of more than 20% revenue growth
      • volume shipments of our Sandy Bridge server product, code-named Romley, have begun: We’ll launch Romley for servers in the first quarter. We’re seeing right now, stronger demand for Romley than we did from the Nehalem at the same point of its life sort of 2 years ago. The product is in high-volume production now getting ready for our customers assistance launches later this quarter and into early Q2.
        • … the Data Center business we have today is not your grandmother Server business that we had for many years, right? There’s other elements in there around storage and networking equipment.
        • And the other big element of that is the sales to the large Internet data centers that are being built up around the world. … They tend to be a function of when Facebook or Google or Amazon decides to turn on a new Data Center and they buy x 100,000 units. Or there’s a new generation and they want to have a quick complete swap out.
        • And as a result, we’re seeing a change to the historical linearity that we saw in this — in the enterprise Data Center business for many years. So I think you should probably get used to a little bit more lumpiness here and look at the overall year-on-year growth, which is what we’ve been trying to discuss at the last couple of analyst meetings.
      • we also demonstrated Knights Corner, the first single-chip coprocessor capable of delivering a teraflop of computing power
        –> “Knights Corner, the first commercial Intel MIC (many integrated core) architecture product, will be manufactured using Intel’s latest 3-D Tri-Gate 22nm transistor process and will feature more than 50 cores. Furthermore, Intel promises compatibility with existing x86 programming model and tools.” –> Intel’s Knights Corner: 50+ Core 22nm Co-processor [tom’s hardware, Nov 16, 2011]
      • China is the world’s largest market for mobile phones with more than 950 million subscribers. It’s also at the forefront of the smartphone boom and will be the home of the world’s first 32-nanometer smartphone.
      • Last week at CES, Lenovo announced the K800 smartphone based on our Medfield SoC. The K800 will be available on the China Unicom network in Q2, and will showcase Intel architecture in a phone with very competitive battery life and outstanding performance.
–> New Mobile and Communications Group (MCG) at Intel [Dec 16 – 30, 2011]
–> “A new tablet from Vizio will come with Intel’s upcoming Atom chip, code-named Medfield, and will run Google’s Android operating system. … Intel’s Medfield & Atom Z2460 Arrive for Smartphones: It’s Finally Here [AnandTech, Jan 11, 2012] …” –> VIZIO’s two pronged strategy: Android based V.I.A. Plus device ecosystem + Windows based premium PC entertainment [Jan 11, 2012]
–> Intel SoC for Cloud Clients [June 27 – Aug 23, 2010]
    • [Also] announced the Medfield-based smartphone reference design that boasts a sleek form factor, 8 hours of talk time, 6 hours of 1080p video playback and 14 days of standby power, clearly demonstrating the low-power, high-performance capabilities of Intel architecture. Yet as the performance of this device that really showcases what’s possible when you combine advanced process technology and the world’s most popular computer architecture. Though Medfield is our very first smartphone SoC, independent testers appointed to benchmarks to place Medfield reference design among the very best in the markets.
    • It was this differentiated performance and exceptional roadmap and exciting new usage models that led to our multiyear, multi-device strategic relationship with Motorola Mobility. The first of these Intel architecture-based devices will go through carrier certification this summer with commercial availability shortly thereafter. And while the Lenovo and Motorola designs are exciting first steps, we’re not done making announcements in the smartphone space.
    • On phones, our strategy is a little bit different [from those of PC’s and tablet’s]. We’re coming in at the top of the smartphone market. Our value proposition initially is aimed at best performance and very competitive feature sets and very good battery life. Over — and then let me say on the other end of the market, the Infineon acquisition has given us a very strong position in basic phones and feature phones. They shipped 400 million modems this year into the cell phone business. So over time, what we’ll want to do is grow that capability up by integrating the apps processor and the comm processors onto the same chip, while we drive our initial positions in apps processors from the top down.
    • [regarding: given that all the smartphones also have Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS and … . Do you have that capability today internally? ] Yes, we’ve got the multi-comm capability in-house. A lot of that came with the acquisition from the Infineon group. And that’s got 2G, 3G, they have an LTE solution underway. We’ve had Wi-Fi forever, and we’ve had Bluetooth for many years. So all of those are being integrated into our comms capabilities. In fact, we’ve integrated those business units now into a single unit to be able to accelerate that.
    • I did not say, I want to be very clear, I did not say that our intent would be to integrate Medfield to baseband. I said over time, you’ll see us move from the low-end baseband-only business in the feature phones and value phones to having it a more integrated capability. I didn’t say when and what generation. I’m really not at liberty to discuss that. But the major thrust over the next year or 2 is going to be to have very high-performance modems as a comps processor and the best-of-class apps processors for smartphones.

VIZIO’s two pronged strategy: Android based V.I.A. Plus device ecosystem + Windows based premium PC entertainment

The VIZIO Internet Apps® Plus (“V.I.A. Plus”) ecosystem of devices was launched on June 28, 2011 with the introduction of VIZIO’s first tablet. Each VIZIO V.I.A. Plus product features a VIZIO-designed user interface that is not only intuitive but also consistent across screens, for superior ease-of-use for the casual, non-technical user. It is built on the Android™ platform. All the information about that innovative ecosystem is available in an earlier “collection post” on this blog: Innovative entertainment class [Android] tablet from VIZIO plus a unified UX for all cloud based CE devices, from TVs to smartphones [Aug 21, 2011].

We will look into the essential expansion of V.I.A. Plus announced at CES 2012 later. Here is sufficient to include just a short piece from the above mentioned collection in order to make the concept of V.I.A. Plus ecosystem absolutely clear (before we will go into the details of the brand new Windows based premium PC entertainment from VIZIO):

VIZIO Tablet [VIZIO video, Aug 1, 2011]: the value proposition video from the vendor which is extremely well demonstrating not only the VIZIO-specific V.I.A. Plus UI but the whole new user experience:

– [0:04] Listen to music – [0:19] Get social – [0:51] Read books – [1:10] View pictures and watch videos – [1:33] VIZIO’s Theater 3D. Leave behind the expensive battery powered glasses, the screen flicker, the darkened picture. – [1:46] Browse the web – [2:28] Control of your entertainment at your fingertips [i.e. the software based remote control] … [Watch at the end how easy is in the V.I.A. Plus user interface to switch over from your tablet to a Theater 3D TV set when viewing a 3D video on YouTube! See also the Theatre 3D related indormation further down in this post.]

This week Vizio has added the alternative, Windows based PC entertainment to its portfolio as well: VIZIO Bursts Into the Computing Realm with Five Innovative and Sleek PCs Set to Redefine Consumer Entertainment [VIZIO press release, Jan 9, 2011]

CES — VIZIO, America’s #1 LCD HDTV Company*, announced today an innovative line of five premium personal computers designed to turn the PC market upside down and accommodate the entertainment needs and wants demanded by consumers. Set to launch with Windows 7 in spring 2012, the elegantly designed PCs will provide an entertainment experience only VIZIO can deliver, complete with top notch 2.1 audio and video quality. The personal computing line consists of two all-in-one computers, two thin + light notebooks and one notebook. VIZIO’s line was developed to raise the bar in personal and home entertainment while also keeping powerful performance at the forefront.

Much like its entrance into the HDTV category nearly a decade ago, VIZIO believes it has identified a need in the PC world for a device that addresses a recent change in consumer behavior. Growing popularity in video streaming services has resulted in the need for personal computers that can stream content for a family movie night and put together an important business presentation the following day. The VIZIO PCs address this change by meeting both the entertainment and productivity demands.

VIZIO PCs will be a continued progression of the VIZIO Internet Apps (V.I.A.) Ecosystem, which provides a seamless, cohesive entertainment experience across multiple screens. As the V.I.A. experience spans across the brand’s HDTVs, Blu-Ray players, tablets and more, today’s announcement represents a natural extension of the experience over to the PC as well. Together with Windows, VIZIO’s PCs will deliver power, mobility and familiar ease of use, ensuring a fast, fluid and immersive user experience that distinguishes them from devices that function and those that are truly entertaining.

“PCs are often associated with productivity and the workplace, routinely lacking the excitement that would be expected with what and how consumers want to use their PCs today – as an extension of their entertainment experience,” said Matt McRae, Chief Technology Officer. “VIZIO wanted to change that. Our new line of VIZIO PCs are truly high quality and consumer focused, delivering enhanced multimedia capabilities while upholding our high standards of performance, style and design.”

Complete with high-performance hardware, the VIZIO PCs boast a clean system image optimized by Microsoft and an elegant industrial design incorporating authentic, high-quality materials that is sure to turn heads both on-the-go and in the living room. Known for HDTVs that boast stunning high-definition pictures, VIZIO engineered its new line of PCs to meet the same high-quality standards.

Always committed to pushing the envelope, VIZIO believes their groundbreaking PCs will alter the way consumers view computing. With entertainment at the heart of the VIZIO PCs, users will find that consuming content will be just as desirable as on their HDTV. With an already high demand for devices that are able to multitask between work and play, the consumer’s choices are limited. VIZIO accepted the challenge and has elegantly bridged both worlds to provide a Windows-based PC that offers a rich entertainment experience alongside tools needed for getting work done.

“We’re excited to see VIZIO enter the PC market and the positive impact they will have on the Windows ecosystem,” said Steven Guggenheimer, CVP OEM Division, Microsoft. “With their expertise in providing connected entertainment experiences and an innovative go-to-market approach, we look forward to working with VIZIO to bring premium consumer PCs to market.”

VIZIO anticipates its entry into the PC category will challenge consumers to expect more from their computers ­enabling them to play as hard as they work. Discover more at http://www.vizio.com/CES.

*Source: IHS iSuppli Corporation Research Q4 2011 Market Tracker Report of Q4 2010 – Q3 2011.

VIZIO, Inc., “Entertainment Freedom For All,” headquartered in Irvine, California, is America’s #1 LCD HDTV Company. In Q2 2007, VIZIO skyrocketed to the top by becoming the #1 shipping brand of flat panel HDTVs in North America and in Q3 2007 became the first American brand in over a decade to lead in U.S. LCD HDTV shipments. Since 2007 VIZIO LCD HDTV shipments remain in the top ranks in the U.S. and were #1 for the total year in 2009 and 2010. VIZIO is committed to bringing feature-rich consumer electronics to market at a value through practical innovation. VIZIO offers a broad range of award winning consumer electronics. VIZIO’s products are found at Costco Wholesale, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target, BJ’s Wholesale, and other retailers nationwide along with authorized online partners. VIZIO has won numerous awards including a #1 ranking in the Inc. 500 for Top Companies in Computers and Electronics, Fast Company’s 6th Most Innovative CE Company of 2009, and made the lists of Ad Age’s Hottest Brands, CNET’s Editor’s Choice, CNET Best of CES 2011 – Television, IGN Best of CES – Television, Bluetooth.org Best of CES, Good Housekeeping’s Best Big-Screens, PC World’s Best Buy, Popular Mechanics Editor’s Choice and OC Metro’s 10 Most Trustworthy Brands among many other prestigious honors. For more information, please call 888-VIZIOCE or visit on the web at www.VIZIO.com.

The V, VIZIO, VIZIO Internet Apps, Theater 3D, CinemaWide HDTV, Full Array TruLED, Edge Lit Razor LED, 240Hz SPS, 480Hz SPS, Entertainment Freedom and Entertainment Freedom for All names, logos and phrase are registered or unregistered trademarks of VIZIO, Inc. All other trademarks may be the property of their respective holders.


Brand New Line of Gorgeous Vizio Products from CES 2012! [TEKHD, Jan 10, 2012]

Veronica Belmont talks to the CTO of Vizio, Matt McRae, to get the newest and unreleased info on the latest line of products including the All-In-One, complete with the highest performance processors in the world!

CES 2012: Vizio takes on the iMac [IGNentertainment, Jan 9, 2012]

Get a first look at Vizio’s slick all-in-one computer, recorded from this year’s CES event! While it takes its visual cues from Apple’s iMac line, Vizio’s all-in-one line features not one but two HDMI inputs which will work regardless of whether or not the computer is running. This makes it an intriguing solution for gamers who have limited space to work with. Watch the video then leave us a comment telling us what you think!

Note that there is certainly an outstanding design professional behind these products: Scott McManigal, Senior Director of Global Design who has been with VIZIO since June 2009. Before he had been with OpenPeakHerbst LaZar Bell, BMW Group DesignworksUSA (10 years!), Mattel Toys and Patton Design. It is no wonder that the new PCs got immediate recognition from media with headlines like:
The New Vizio PCs and Notebooks Are Worthy of Apple [Gizmodo, Jan 9, 2012]
Vizio PCs and Laptops are the closest to Apple when it comes to style [Newlaunches.com, Jan 9, 2012]

A First Look at Vizio’s new line of ultrabooks [CNETTV, Jan 10, 2012]

Sharon Vaknin gets the lowdown on Vizio’s new line of ultrabooks.

CES 2012: Vizio Takes On the MacBook Air [IGNentertainment, Jan 9, 2012]

HDTV manufacturer Vizio is branching out with a line of ultra thin and light notebooks! The sleek line of notebooks have design cues which remind us of the shiny products from Apple, which is definitely a good thing. Details are scarce but IGN Senior Producer Ty Root and Executive Editor of IGN Gear Scott Lowe got an early peek, so take a look and leave us a comment telling us what you think!

So far there are no tablets among these premium PC entertainment offerings. VIZIO will introduce them surely when Windows 8 will be launched late summer as the earliest.

The CES 2012 expansion of the V.I.A. Plus

From the V.I.A. Plus related press release (see later): Among the V.I.A. Plus products to be included in VIZIO’s Las Vegas showcase are the 65-inch, 55-inch and 47-inch V.I.A. Plus HDTVs with Theater 3D™, the VBR430 Blu-ray Player and the VAP430 Stream Player, all of which incorporate the latest Google TV experience. VIZIO will also show two V.I.A. Plus enabled [Android] tablets—the current VTAB1008 and the new 10″ VTAB3010. [The tablets are Android based (as all of the V.I.A. Plus system). Detailed information on that: Innovative entertainment class [Android] tablet from VIZIO plus a unified UX for all cloud based CE devices, from TVs to smartphones [Aug 21, 2011].]

Vizio 10 inch tablet hands on [AndroidCentral, Jan 10, 2012]

Vizio 10-inch tablet preview [TheVerge, Jan 10, 2012]

Vizio’s New 10-inch Tablet to Have Intel Chip, Android [IDG News, Jan 10, 2012]

A new tablet from Vizio will come with Intel’s upcoming Atom chip, code-named Medfield, and will run Google’s Android operating system, a source with knowledge of the product plans said.

The M-Series tablet with a 10-inch screen was announced by Vizio at the Consumer Electronics Show, and the device will be “coming soon,” according to Vizio’s website. The tablet is being shown at the trade show in Las Vegas this week.

Vizio has not shared further details on the tablet, saying it is “powerful” and has Wi-Fi. The tablet provides “a world of entertainment right at your fingertips,” according to the company’s website.

The Vizio tablet could be the launching pad for Intel’s Medfield chip, which is not yet available in devices. The Medfield chip has been designed for smartphones and tablets, and Intel later this week is also expected to announce its first smartphone customers for the chip.

Intel’s Medfield & Atom Z2460 Arrive for Smartphones: It’s Finally Here [AnandTech, Jan 11, 2012]

It’s here. Intel’s first smartphone SoC that you’ll actually be able to buy in a device before the end of the year. The platform is called Medfield and Paul Otellini just announced its first device partners.

Medfield starts out as a bonafide mobile SoC. Whereas Moorestown was a “two-chip” solution, Medfield is just one – the Penwell SoC:

There’s only a single version of Medfield being announced today: the Intel Atom Z2460. The Z2460 features a single Atom core with a 512KB L2 cache, a PowerVR SGX 540 GPU and a dual-channel LPDDR2 memory interface. In a world where talking about four Cortex A9s and PowerVR SGX 544MP2s isn’t uncommon, Medfield starts out almost sounding a bit…tame. But then you see its performance:

SunSpider Javascript Benchmark 0.9.1 - Stock Browser

Although running what appears to be a stock Gingerbread browser, Intel’s Medfield reference platform posts SunSpider performance better than any other smartphone we’ve tested – including the Galaxy Nexus running Ice Cream Sandwich. Intel promises that Medfield’s performance will scale on ICS as well – the gap should be maintained. We’ve seen high results from reference designs in the past, but the Medfield platform is a little different as you’ll soon see – it’s a complete smartphone design that should be representative of handsets that hit the market later this year.

Medfield isn’t a one trick pony either, performance is similarly dominating under BrowserMark:


These are tablet-like scores. Here the Galaxy Nexus running ICS comes close, but once again Intel expects that on the same OS Medfield should be faster than any of the currently available SoCs.

I asked Intel where its SunSpider and BrowserMark performance advantages came from, especially considering we’ve typically only seen huge gains with new browsers and not new SoCs. Their response pointed to a bunch of factors, but one stand out issue was the A9 has a great execution core but seems to be more limited on the memory interface. Atom can support far more outstanding misses in L2 than the Cortex A9, which chokes bandwidth to the processor for anything not already in the L2 cache. This may be one of the reasons why we’ve never been able to get really high bandwidth numbers out of A9 based SoCs. It’s probably safe to assume that things will be different with the Cortex A15, but for now it’s little things like this that give Medfield a performance advantage.

GPU performance is understandably not as impressive. We couldn’t get offscreen numbers of GLBenchmark 2.1 but we did get results at the device’s native resolution (1024 x 600):

3D performance is better than the OMAP 4460 due to Medfield’s 400MHz GPU clock compared to ~300MHz in most OMAP4 devices.

Performance without power considerations is meaningless, especially in the smartphone world. Luckily for Intel, Medfield seems very competitive there as well. …

Medfield, at least in Intel’s reference platform, looks very good.

The actual values are pretty astonishing as well. Sub 20mW idle, sub 750mW during a call on 3G and although not pictured here, Intel’s internal data suggests ~1W power consumption while browsing the web compared to ~1.3W on the iPhone 4S and Galaxy S 2. I’ve done my own measurements on 4S web browsing and came up with a very similar value.

Intel Measured Smartphone Power Consumption
(Identical Display Brightness)

  Standby (3G) Talk (3G) Browsing (3G) Video Playback 720p
Apple iPhone 4S ~38mW ~800mW ~1.3W ~500mW
Intel Medfield Reference ~18mW ~700mW ~1.0W ~850mW
Samsung Galaxy S II ~19mW ~675mW ~1.2W ~650mW

The performance and power data both look great for Medfield. You would think that this data, assuming there’s nothing fundamentally wrong, would be enough to convince a handset maker to actually give Intel a shot. You’d be right.

In addition to disclosing Medfield performance data, Intel is also announcing partnerships with both Motorola and Lenovo. The former is a broad, multi-year agreement stating that Motorola plans on creating many devices based on Intel silicon – the first of which will be a smartphone due out before the end of the year. Tablets will follow at some point as well.

Lenovo on the other hand will actually be taking and tweaking Intel’s own Medfield reference platform, and releasing it in China in Q2.

All of this is exactly what Intel needed: a start.


The GPU, Process & Roadmap

What’s Different This Time Around: Google & A Sweet Reference Platform

ARM Compatibility: Binary Translation

Final Words

Medfield and the Atom Z2460 are a solid starting point. Intel finally has a chip that they can deliver to the market and partners to carry it in. Intel also built a very impressive reference platform that could lead to some very interesting disruptions in the market.

VIZIO and Google TV Join Forces to Create a State of the Art Stream Player [VIZIO press release, Jan 10, 2011]

– New stream player turns any HDTV into an enhanced smart TV with access to countless entertainment content and online services as well as powerful search and web browsing capabilities
Part of the VIZIO Internet Apps Plus ecosystem, the new VIZIO Stream Player incorporates the power of the latest Google TV in combination with premium setup experience and included Bluetooth universal remote with touchpad control
Integrated app and TV watching experiencelet users multitask seamlessly and access photos, audio and video stored on networked computers, hard drives and smart phones

VIZIO and Google today jointly announced the introduction of the VIZIO VAP430 Stream Player, an innovative stream player that turns any HDTV into an enhanced VIZIO Internet Apps Plus® (V.I.A. Plus) smart TV that incorporates the latest Google TV. The Stream Player allows consumers to access countless entertainment content and online services with web access through a fully capable Chrome browser, and to also enjoy photos, music and video stored on any computer, hard drive or smart phoneconnected to a local network and/or the cloud.*


With the VAP430 connected to an HDTV over an HDMI cable, users can quickly and seamlessly access content and services from their favorite apps and websites using the included Bluetooth premium universal remote control with integrated touchpad. In addition to movies, TV shows and music on demand, the VAP430 lets users search the web for even more entertainment options using the Flash-capable Chrome browser.

“We’re excited about what Google TV brings to our new VAP430 Stream Player,” says Matthew McRae, VIZIO’s Chief Technology Officer. “This isn’t just an ordinary streaming box that accesses a few predetermined video services. It’s a true entertainment portal that opens up everything the Web has to offer, as well as all the content consumers already have stored on computers and hard drives. And the incorporation of Google TV and our V.I.A. Plus interfacemakes it all incredibly easy to setup and a joy to use.”

Using the included premium remote with QWERTY keypad and integrated touchpad, viewers can easily search for any program or content they want from their favorite apps or the Internet. Users can also check out new apps from an ever-expanding Android Market, or access personal medialike videos, photos and music that are stored on devices connected to the same home network as the stream player. Images are displayed right on a connected TV set, and sound plays through the TV or a connected audio system.

“We’re thrilled to partner with VIZIO on the launch of their Stream Player,” said Mario Queiroz, head of Google TV. “VIZIO has established itself as a leader in the consumer electronics market. Combining Google TV with VIZIO’s innovative, easy-to-use consumer electronic products will bring more great entertainment and Android apps to the living room.”

Painless Setup, Powerful Capabilities

Part of the V.I.A. Plus ecosystem, the slick yet discreet VAP430 can easily compliment any HDTV using an HDMI cable. Installing the VAP430 and connecting it to the Internet is blazingly fast and simple to do with the built-in setup experience and 802.11n WiFi connection.

The VAP430 also has an HDMI pass-through that lets the user connect a cable or satellite box to the stream player and pass the signal over to the TV for a truly integrated TV watching experience. The smart TV interfaceoverlays the live TV signal so multitaskers can search for the next thing to watch without completely stepping away from what they’re currently watching.

Bluetooth capability also makes it simple to enjoy content from smart phones through the connected TV wirelessly. And with the USB input, connecting any USB drive directly to the VAP430 takes only seconds.

VAP430 is the first V.I.A. Plus device to launch this year, followed by the VBR430 3D Blu-ray player, which combines the features of the VAP430 with Blu-ray’s state-of-the-art high-definition video and audio playback capabilities.

Preorders for the VAP430 will begin this spring 2012. Find out more and sign up to be the first at www.vizio.com/ces

* The VIZIO Internet Apps® (V.I.A.) platform requires Internet access, equipment and subscription services that are not provided.

See also (especially because VAP430 is likely based on Marvell’s platform): Google’s revitalization of its Android-based TV effort via Marvell SoC and reference design[Jan 5, 2012]

VIZIO Expands the Next-Generation VIZIO Internet Apps Plus® (V.I.A. Plus) Ecosystem, Announcing New HDTV, Blu-ray Player, Stream Player and Tablet Products That Share a Unified User Experience Across All Screens [VIZIO press release, Jan 10, 2011]

– V.I.A. Plus provides access to a world of apps on each device with attention to details that optimize the entertainment experience on each and every screen
– V.I.A. Plus offers today’s most advanced and functional smart TV user experience, with an intuitive, app-centric interface optimized for the 10-foot viewing experience
– New V.I.A. partners to include iHeartRadio®, The Wall Street Journal® and M-GO®
VIZIO’s expanded line-up incorporating the Google TV platform include the 65-inch, 55-inch and 47-inch HDTVs with Theater 3D, the VBR430 Blu-ray player, and the VAP430 Stream Player


VIZIO, America’s #1 HDTV Company*, announces the continued expansion of its next generation of the award-winning VIZIO Internet Apps® platform: VIZIO Internet Apps Plus (V.I.A. Plus). V.I.A. Plus brings a unified user experience to a wide range of devices that include HDTVs, Tablets, Blu-ray players, Media Players and more. From the big screen to mobile devices, V.I.A. Plus bridges the worlds of entertainment, content and services with one sophisticated and intuitive interface. V.I.A. Plus accesses a world of apps on each device, with attention to details that optimize the entertainment experience on each screen.

Among the V.I.A. Plus products to be included in VIZIO’s Las Vegas showcase are the 65-inch, 55-inch and 47-inch V.I.A. Plus HDTVs with Theater 3D™, the VBR430 Blu-ray Player and the VAP430 Stream Player, all of which incorporate the latest Google TV experience. VIZIO will also show two V.I.A. Plus enabled tablets—the current VTAB1008 and the new 10″ VTAB3010.

“The way users consume content has changed drastically over recent years. Technology has enabled nearly every device with a screen to connect to some form of delivery platform, each with its own mechanism for searching, browsing and viewing content.” said Matthew McRae, Chief Technology Officer, VIZIO. “V.I.A. Plus focuses entirely on what users care about – their content. By delivering a seamless, intuitive experience that is consistent across multiple screens, V.I.A. Plus products distinguish themselves from devices that function and those that are truly entertaining.”

The V.I.A. Plus experience features an intuitive, app-centric interface on every device, making it easy for consumers to understand and navigate as they move between devices. Users can also access thousands of apps from the Android Market™ for even more entertainment options.

“We’re thrilled to partner with VIZIO on the launch of the Stream Player,” said Mario Queiroz, head of Google TV. “VIZIO has established itself as a leader in the consumer electronics market. Combining Google TV with VIZIO’s innovative, easy-to-use consumer electronic products will bring more great entertainment and Android apps to the living room.”

In addition, VIZIO is announcing new partners who are collaborating to bring their content and services to the V.I.A. Platform, including:

iHeart Radio– iHeartRadio, Clear Channel’s industry-leading digital radio service, brings users a best-in-class customizable digital listening experience, one which combines the best of both worlds to deliver everything listeners want in one free, fully-integrated service: More than 800 of the nation’s most popular live broadcast and digital-only radio stations from 150 cities, plus user-created Custom Stations which provide listeners more songs, better music intelligence, more user control and deeper social media integration.

The Wall Street Journal®– WSJ Live from The Wall Street Journal offers up to four total hours of live video programming each business day from across The Wall Street Journal Digital Network, including the Journal, Dow Jones® Newswires, Barron’s™, MarketWatch®, SmartMoney® and AllThingsD.com. Users can access seven half-hour live shows, breaking news updates, exclusive interviews, and special events coverage. The service also offers more than 2,000 videos per month from an extensive library of on-demand content.

M-GO™ video-on-demand– M-GO from Technicolor is a next-generation app that combines all of your media including movies, music, apps, live TV, and more. M-GO will come pre-loaded on VIZIO HDTVs and Blu-ray Players with VIZIO Internet Apps or VIZIO Internet Apps Plus. The app will help consumers find the content they’re looking for through its extensive content library and state-of-the-art discovery engine, while also providing a unique second screen functionality for searching additional content.

“We are extremely excited to be partnering with VIZIO to bring consumers all of their media anywhere, anytime, and anyway they want it,” said John Batter, CEO of M-GO. “As consumers continue to access digital media at home and on the go, it is even more important to provide them with a consistent experience that is easy to navigate and convenient to use. VIZIO’s technology combined with our accessibility to content does just that.”

On V.I.A. Plus enabled HDTVs, Blu-ray players and Media Players, users can multitask between apps and traditional TV content through an interface designed for the 10-foot viewing experience, created specifically for situations where users want to sit back and enjoy the ultimate in channel and web surfing. Users can also complement their entertainment experience with VIZIO tablets for seamless access to their favorite apps and content in any room in the home or on the road.

With a wide range of apps on each device, V.I.A. Plus enables consumers to choose from a new universe of entertainment options, redefining the TV experience with multi-screen access, gaming, full browsing and enhanced search capabilities, and the ability to view live events streamed over the Internet.

Navigating V.I.A. Plus is simple and intuitive, using the QWERTY keypad and integrated touchpadthat’s built into the premium Bluetooth remote control included with every V.I.A. Plus product. Users need no technical know-how to get their new devices online, thanks to the advanced wireless Internet access and simplified onscreen setup.

Smart Blu-ray

The VBR430 Blu-ray player is the most advanced on the market today. Not only does it offer the incomparable entertainment power of V.I.A. Plus with Google TV, the player comes with a touchpad universal remote with QWERTY keypad that makes it easy to control apps, content and other functions. As part of the VIZIO Internet Apps Plus ecosystem, the VBR430 also lets users access video, audio and photos stored on any DLNA-compatible computer, network-connected hard drive or cell phone connected to a home network. Built-in WiFi makes network connection easy, and Bluetooth capability provides yet another conduit for streaming media from cell phones and computers.

Smart TV Plus 3D

VIZIO’s V.I.A. Plus products will also include Theater 3D technology, for crystal clear, brighter and flicker-free 3D, viewable with lightweight, comfortable, battery-free 3D glasses. The TVs feature LED backlighting with smart dimming technology to achieve dynamic contrast ratios of 1,000,000:1 or greater.

The Ultimate Stream Player

The VAP430 Stream Player with Google TV is an innovative media player that turns any HDTV into an enhanced VIZIO Internet Apps Plus (V.I.A. Plus) smart TV. As sales of stream players are poised to pass Blu-ray players in unit volume sales (by 2013, according the CEA U.S. Unit Shipment Forecast of January 2011), the VAP430 is the perfect solution for media multitaskers who consume most of their media over the Internet. The VAP430 is the one of the most advanced Stream Players with built-in HDMI ports that lets users connect existing components like gaming consoles or set-top boxes for unified access to all media sources through the VI.A. Plus touchpad remote. It even supports 3D content and 3D streaming.

Many of the new VIZIO V.I.A. Plus products will be on display at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas during the Consumer Electronics Show, January 10 – 13, 2012. For more information, please visit www.vizio.com/ces

* Source: IHS iSuppli Corporation Research Q4 2011 Market Tracker Report of Q4 2010 – Q3 2011.

Vizio’s Google TV delayed until early fall, now edge-lit [C|net, Jan 10, 2012]
LAS VEGAS–Google TV has a way of disappointing expectations, and one strong case in point is the Vizio’s VIA Plus platform for TVs.

At CES 2011 we named the VIA Plus models as our favorite TV product of CES. They used Google TV to deliver what the company described as interoperability between the TV and Android-equipped phones and tablets. Among other features, Via Plus was also said to support the OnLive gaming service. Those extras, along with the same kind of full-array local-dimming backlightwe know and love, was enough to convince us that the so-equipped TVs were going to be pretty awesome.

Unfortunately, because of what Vizio describes as Google TV-related issues beyond its control, they never came out.

We asked about the VIA Plus sets during a pre-CES briefing with Vizio and were told they were still on the company’s product release roadmap. The new release date is “early fall.” They will have different model numbers and at least one change for the worse: that backlight is now an edge-lit affair. Vizio further specified that the new VIA Plus models would have a 240Hz refresh rate, passive 3D, and three screen sizes: 47-, 55-, and a new 65-inch option.

On the bright side, maybe having all that extra time to perfect VIA Plus will allow Vizio to do something really special with Google TV’s Honeycomb customizations. We’ll see.

Strong business backings from Taiwan that enable such bold strategy expansion for VIZIO 

Vizio sees 2012 with optimism [Nov 2, 2011]

TV brand Vizio has indicated sales of Japan-based brands such as Sony, Panasonic and Sharp have been weak. However, South Korea-based brands such as Samsung and LG have been growing becoming Vizio’s biggest competitors. Vizio estimates 2011 shipments of LCD TVs to reach over six million units.

According to William Wang, CEO and founder of Vizio, the strategy to face the South Korea-based players is to improve products, such as by providing customers with the best 3D TV. If products can be sold with cheaper retail prices, then do it.

Wang indicated Vizio’s biggest partner is still Taiwan-based Amtran Technology, which accounts for 70-80% of Vizio’s OEM orders. Foxconn is responsible for small-size products. Wang complimented Taiwan’s technology, innovation and product quality.

The recent weak demand in the TV market has been causing panel makers to suffer huge losses, Vizio stated. Except for shipments in the first quarter 2011 which were comparable to those of 2010, the rest of the quarters in 2011 have all seen declining shipments.

Wang concluded that panel makers have been suffering due to oversupply and lack of consumer confidence due to weak economic conditions in Europe and the US. However, 2011 should be the year when the industry hits rock bottom, which means firms should face 2012 with optimism.

CES: Value Outweighs Price, AmTran Says [excerpt on the VIZIO site, Jan 6, 2010]

Behind Vizio’s success is a partnership with Taipei-based AmTran Technology, a contract manufacturer that specializes in computer monitors and televisions. The company, which owns a 23% stake [i.e. majority] in Vizio, now makes annual revenue of about $2 billion, more than quadruple the $428 million it reported in 2004.

To read more about this article please click here.

[Hon Hai/Foxconn is said to be the 2nd largest shareholder ov VIZIO as well as having 10% of shares of AmTran]

[click here >> WSJ Blogs, Jan 7, 2010]

In a rare interview, its chief executive and chairman Alpha Wu spoke to The Wall Street Journal about his views on the fast-changing industry at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

The Wall Street Journal: Why have your products been so successful?

Mr. Wu: We think very simply about how we can provide the best value to customers world-wide. I have pretty good relationships with key component makers in Japan, Taiwan, China and now Korea, and I make sure we get high-quality components, so we can provide high-quality displays. We try to have attractive prices, but that can’t be the only reason for customers to buy. Value is more important than anything. We try to provide attractive prices, but that can’t be the only reason for customers to buy.

We also keep very tight production schedules. We learned from our customers that we must meet schedules. As long as we have discipline over our schedule, we can compete against anybodybecause when a rival announces a new technology, we can develop similar products quickly and take the market.

WSJ: Why do you think the traditional television makers in Japan are having such a hard time in the television market, particularly in the U.S.?

Mr. Wu: To be a pure original equipment manufacturer is a tough business. That’s why we teamed up with Vizio. The Japanese engineers work hard and demand perfect products, but they don’t know the market very much. In the U.S., people don’t want very high-end products especially in the current economic situation. Japanese consumers, however, are more willing to invest in expensive products.

Products that are made in Japan with Japanese components by Japanese suppliers are very important to them, but their factories aren’t as advanced as ours because they’re old. An older managementalso makes them less able to accept new technologies and innovation.

WSJ: 3D televisions are expected to be big news at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. How soon do you expect this technology to take off?

Mr. Wu:3D movies are absolutely coming. 3D televisions might take two or three years. One big problem that has to be overcome is glasses. No one wants to wear glasses to watch TV. Plus if you have five people in the family you need five pairs of glasses. The technology is also not mature yet.

WSJ: What is your vision for AmTran’s future?

Mr. Wu: We want to support the best brand with the best technology products. We are trying to do it in different regions, step by step. We’re trying in Taiwan, Japan and China. Maybe someday we’ll try in Europe.

One of our customers, Bang & Olufsen, has a remote control that I use at home every day to control the curtains, lighting, television and audio. That’s our dream too, but to provide it to the mass market.

WSJ: What kind of opportunity do you see in the Chinese market?

Mr. Wu: By 2011, China’s market for televisions will be bigger than the U.S. From our point of view, we have some advantages — we know China better than people in other countries. Whoever can become No. 1 in China and in the U.S. will be No. 1 in the world.

Amtran Technology Co Ltd (2489.TW) – Overview – Full Description [Reuters, excerpted on Jan 10, 2012]

AMTRAN TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD. is principally engaged in the manufacture and distribution of monitors and digital televisions. The Company provides liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors, which are applied in personal computers (PCs), workstations, automobile instruments, point of sale (POS) equipment and automatic teller machines (ATMs), among others, as well as LCD televisions. During the year ended December 31, 2010, the Company obtained approximately 94.89% of its total revenue from digital televisions. The Company distributes its products primarily in Japan, Europe and the Americas.
» Full Overview of 2489.TW

Amtran sees increased 4Q11 revenues [Jan 10, 2012]

Taiwan-based TV OEM firm Amtran reported December revenues of NT$6.44 billion (US$214 million). Fourth quarter revenues reached NT$19.66 billion, the highest quarterly revenues in 2011, accounting for 35% of 2011 total revenues.

Due to sales during the year-end holiday season in the North America market, total shipments in December reached 660,000 units while total shipments in fourth quarter reached 1.94 million units, outperforming the previous three quarters in 2011. According to Amtran, total shipments in 2011 reached 5.35 million units. Shipments of products in the range of 32-37 inch accounted for 54% of the firm’s total flat TV shipments. Amtran noted that sales of large-size products (42-, 47-, 55-, and 65-inch) LCD TVs accounted for 46% of total revenues.

Amtran expects LCD TV shipments to increase as the firm develops products such as internet TV, smart TV and 3D TV.

Amtran faces challenge to attain 2011 LCD TV goal [Aug 17, 2011]

Taiwan-based Amtran Technology’s LCD TV shipments reached nearly two million units in the first half of 2011, according to industry sources. But the maker may have difficulties achieving its shipment goal of five million units for the entire 2011 given that its major market, North America, has been weak.

Amtran, the chief manufacturer for Vizio, shipped a total 4.2 million units of LCD TVs worldwide in 2010.

Marvell® ARMADA® PXA168 based XO laptops and tablets from OLPC with $185 and target $100 list prices respectively

CES: One Laptop Per Child – The New XO v3.0 [Jan 11, 2012]

The new OLPC XO v3.0 laptop is unveiled at CES 2012. Demoing at the Marvell booth (the company that developed the processor found on board the XO) Giulia D’Amico, Director of Business Development [at One Laptop per Child], talks about some of the features found on the new device. 

Related information: Marvell’s SMILE Plug for the “Classroom 3.0” initiative [Feb 1, 2012]

One Laptop Per Child XO-3 [Yves Behar’s fuseproject news blog, Jan 9, 2012]

6 years of design development with Nicholas Negroponte and the non-profit organization he founded, One Laptop Per Child, has led to the next generation XO-3 tablet. More than 2.4 million children in 25 countries received the original XO Laptop, and these kids have been our inspiration to create the next generation of this educational tool.

One Laptop Per Child is a technology story about how to provide low-cost educational tools to millions of children. For those children, and for us, it is also a creative story about how to design specifically for young students. Every decision made by the OLPC engineering team and the design team at fuseproject has been about adapting technology to children’s needs at a cost that makes the tablet affordable for developing countries.

The first impression of the XO-3 is its extreme simplicity. The focus is on the screen, while the surrounding green rubber border provides a safe tactile grip for children’s hands. The back surface has a bumpy texture and integrates a rear-facing camera. The connectors, power switch and speakers are arranged on the bottom edge, facing the user. Our approach has been to minimize complexity, while delivering a high quality, and a heightened touch feel. There is playfulness in the way one can adapt the cover to different needs, while each design detail and material is chosen to deliver maximum value.

Fuseproject Unwraps The Third-Gen One Laptop Per Child: A $100 Tablet [Fastcompany’s Co.Design blog, Jan 10, 2012] 

With the XO-3, OLPC unveils a design that will allow it to be customized for myriad markets.

Let’s get this out of the way. The OLPC XO-3, the $100 tablet addition to the One Laptop Per Child family, newly launched at CES 2012, is much thicker than the concept tablet, which they showed in 2009. Plus, it’s missing the ring!

The original XO-3 concept, featuring a slimmer design and that lovely ring.

See the earlier information on this blog here: Marvell ARMADA with sun readable and unbreakable Pixel Qi screen, and target [mass] manufacturing cost of $75 [Nov 4, 2010 – July 20, 2011]

“They’re still the ultimate goal,” says Yves Béhar, founder of fuseproject and OLPC Chief Designer. The key component that enables the thinness of the concept tablet is flexible color e-paper, and that has been slow to come to market. When it does, the OLPC team anticipates that the robustness and low power consumption will make for an ideal very thin and lightweight tablet.

Testing and getting back reports of usage on the ground is a core part of the OLPC design process. From their previous experience, they knew localization would be key for this product. For instance, one of the benefits of a tablet form factor is that keyboards and other interfaces are entirely done in software, so it’s easy to swap them out for different languages and milieus. Easier than doing it in hardware, anyway.

There is localization in the hardware as well. This is localization not for language but for the infrastructural conditions of the places where the tablets will be used. Every XO-3 comes with a removable cover. “The cover is the multiple personality side of the tablet,” says Béhar. They can be simple passive protection, but depending on the needs of a particular locale, other capabilities can be built in.

For example, one version of the cover comes with a solar panel on the inside along with a thin battery. When you are in school, using the machine, you can leave the cover out in the sun to power the battery. When you put the cover back over the tablet, the battery connects and recharges the machine. Béhar says they are also working on a version of the cover with antenna that will enable the tablet to communicate with satellites. There are more accessories to come. “We learned a lot with the original OLPC XO,” says Béhar.

Marvell and One Laptop per Child Unveil the XO 3.0 Tablet at CES
Also: The first Marvell ARMADA powered XO 1.75 laptop will begin shipping in March to school children in Uruguay and Nicaragua [Marvell press release, Jan 8, 2012]

Marvell (Nasdaq: MRVL), a worldwide leader in integrated silicon solutions, and One Laptop per Child, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help every child in the world gain access to a modern education, demonstrated a fully functional version of the much-anticipated XO 3.0 – a low-cost, low-power, rugged tablet computer designed for classrooms around the globe – at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show.


image“We’re proud to introduce the XO 3.0 tablet, showcasing the design, durability and performance features that make it a natural successor for our current laptops, which have been distributed to more than 2.4 million children in 42 countries and in 25 languages,” said Edward McNierney, Chief Technology Officer of One Laptop per Child. “The XO 3.0 builds on many of the technology breakthroughs we made with the XO 1.75, including the use of the Marvell® ARMADA® PXA618 processor, resulting in a significant decrease in power consumption–a critical issue for students in the developing world.”

image“Marvell is committed to improving education–and the human condition–around the world through innovative technology for Smartphones, tablets and a myriad of new cloud-delivered services. Partnering with One Laptop Per Child is one way we can deliver a revolution where it matters most–to benefit children in some of the poorest places on the planet,” said Tom Hayes, Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. and a member of the OLPC advisory board. “Marvell has been with One Laptop per Child from the start and we’re doing whatever it takes to help the organization realize its mission of providing meaningful educational opportunities to the 500 million school-aged children around the world.”

Marvell and One Laptop per Child also announced today that the XO 1.75 laptop will begin shipping to customers in March 2012. Over 75,000 units of the XO 1.75 have already been ordered by OLPC projects in Uruguay and Nicaragua. The XO 1.75 uses the Marvell ARM-based ARMADA PXA618 SOC processor, which compared to the earlier XO 1.5, maintains performance while using only half the power. The XO 1.75 features a sunlight-readable screen and all the other features and design characteristics of the two previous versions of the XO laptop.

The XO 3.0 tablet will also feature the Marvell ARMADA PXA618 SOC processor and Avastar Wi-Fi SOC. Other features include:

  • Unique charging circuitry; the XO 3.0 is the only tablet that can be charged directly by solar panels [see that above as built into the internal side of the protecting cover], hand cranks and other alternative power sources
  • Standard or [a somewhat more expensive] Pixel Qi sunlight-readable display
  • Android and Linux operating system support

A First Look at the new XO 3.0 tablet from One Laptop Per Child [Jan 10, 2012]

A Look At OLPC’s XO 3.0 Tablet’s Solar And Kinetic Chargers [Forbes, Jan 8, 2012]

Due to the simplicity of the model, McNierney expects to see a lot of interest in the solar cover. Since the panel produces 4 watts of energy and the tablet uses 2 watts, one hour of solar charging should enable 2 hours of tablet run-time.

The hand crank charger is more experimental. Like the solar cover, it is separate from the core tablet but connects via a port. It also hearkens back to the first concept designs for OLPC which had built-in hand cranks on their sides. That feature was eventually dropped for structural weakness reasons.

That history may make OLPC customers leery of the new hand cranks. McNierney acknowledged that most customers may bypass the hand cranks but he insisted they are usable. (Six minutes of hand-cranking should produce an hour of run-time.) To test the feature, the organization took out the tablet batteries to see whether the devices could run just by hand crank. The test worked, said McNierney. “If something can generate DC power, we can use it,” he added.

OLPC isn’t specifying which energy source customers need to use. McNierney pointed out that different countries will have their own preferences, based on culture, climate or other factors.

This effort goes back quite a time: Marvell ARMADA with sun readable and unbreakable Pixel Qi screen, and target [mass] manufacturing cost of $75 [a collection of information on this blog, Nov 4, 2010 – July 20, 2011]

One Laptop Gets $5.6M Grant From Marvell to Develop Next Generation Tablet Computer [Xconomy, Oct 4, 2010] [see that as built into the internal side of the protecting cover]

The One Laptop per Child Foundation and Santa Clara, CA-based semiconductor maker Marvell have cemented a partnership announced last spring, with Marvell agreeing to provide OLPC with $5.6 million to fund development of its next generation tablet computer, OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte tells me. Negroponte says the deal, signed in the past week or so but not previously announced, runs through 2011.

“Their money is a grant to the OLPC Foundation to develop a tablet or tablets based on their chip,” he says. “They’re going to put the whole system on a chip.”

One Laptop per Child and Marvell Join Forces to Redefine Tablet Computing for Students Around the World [Marvell press release, May 27, 2010]
Marvell Joins ‘One Laptop Per Child’ Initiative [Marvell press release, May 8, 2006]

OLPC XO-1.75 Costs $185 and Starts Shipping in March [OLPC News, Jan 7, 2012]

With regard to the price I confirmed with OLPC Association’s CFO Bob Hacker that the XO-1.75’s list price will be $185. As with the XO-1 and XO-1.5 the exact price depends on a number of variables such as the specific hardware configuration (RAM and NAND flash for mass storage) and other details.

An interesting detail here is that it seems like Uruguay decided to go for 8GB of NAND flash for mass storage while Nicaragua opted for 4GB.

XO-1.75, XO-3, Nell? – What Will OLPC Show at CES 2012 Next Week? [OLPC News, Jan 8, 2012]

The XO-1.75 looks identical to the XO-1 and XO-1.5 from the outside yet its hardware guts are quite different as OLPC switched from an x86 architecture to an ARM platform. I had previously expressed doubts whether this move would really led to a much improved battery life. However reading an e-mail that Richard Smith (OLPC Foundation’s Director of Embedded Engineering) sent out in November it seems like my guesstimates where quite off as he mentions feeling…

“…safe in saying that regardless of what you do on the 1.75 you are going to get 3.5 hours of battery life. Period.”

Additionally he wrote:

An interesting data point is that the 1.75 is the first laptop of the XO series that has ran 100% from a solar panel for an extended period. During my solar testing I often swap in different batteries. The 1.75 can consistently survive battery removal under moderate solar conditions when connected to the OLPC 10W solar panel.

Aside of these promising power characteristics the XO-1.75 also includes a three-axis accelerometer which people like Bert Freudenberg and Saadia Husain Baloch have already used for some cool things such as this little eToys project or an “etch-a-sketch” program in Turtle Art.

XO-1.75 [wiki page on laptop.org, Dec 12, 2011]

The XO-1.75 laptop is a refresh of the XO-1 and XO-1.5 laptops. In our continued effort to maintain a low price point, OLPC is again refreshing the hardware to take advantage of the latest component technologies. This design, while separate from the XO-3 tablet effort, uses the same very low power electrical design. It continues to use the same industrial design and batteries as XO-1. The design goal is to provide an overall update of the system within the same industrial design and external appearance. Overall, the target was to greatly improve the power consumption while reducing the purchase cost.

XO-1.75 machines will ship with a new software release based on Fedora 14, including both Sugar and GNOMEsoftware.


Block Diagram


XO 1.75 C1 [wiki page on laptop.org, Dec 5, 2011]

XO-1.75 Laptop C test model 1, also known as C1.

The C1 are the last prototypes of the XO-1.75 built. Electrically, these are very similar to the B1 prototypes. A small number were made in September, 2011, for final testing.

These are the first XO-1.75 laptops marked as such. XO-1 laptops have a smooth hinge cover, and XO-1.5 laptops have three small raised dots inline on each side of the hinge cover. XO-1.75 laptops have seven small raised dots on the hinge cover, arranged in two rows.

While three version of C1 were built (SKUs 200, 201, and 202), testing out various alternate component suppliers, from a software and functionality point of view all versions should be identical. Unlike the B1 prototypes, all C1 laptops provide SDRAM for the DCON.


If you disassemble the laptop (instructions), you will see:


The XO-3 tablet debuts at CES [the official OLPC blog, Jan 7, 2012]

Our XO-3 prototype is debuting at CES this weekend, and will be shown off next week at the Marvell booth. …

If you are heading to CES, you can stop by and see it yourself! Ping Giulia to set up an appointment, or drop by the Marvell booth. Charbax of olpc.tvwill be on site as always, recording some video and interviews.

The XO-3 will sport a 1024×768 Pixel Qi screen, half-gig of RAM, and a Marvell Armada PXA618 chip. Some of the soft cover designs proposed so far include a built-in solar panel. More updates coming over the next week; for now, here is our CES press release.

The XO-3 is still planned to enter production at the end of this year.

[debuting at CES >>>] The $100 OLPC Tablet Is Really Real [Gizmodo, Jan 7, 2012]

Building on its success with laptops designed for developing countries, the One Laptop Per Child project is set to unveil a long-awaited tablet at CES next week. Here’s what you get for $100.

The OLPC has been kicking around the idea of a super-affordable tablet for over a year. Originally known as the XO-3, but now dubbed the XO 3.0, the tablet will feature an 8-inch 1024×768 screen with some models also offering a PixelQi 3qi display that mimics E-paper. A Marvell Armada PXA618 chip and 512MB of RAM reside in the tablet’s ruggedized shell and will run either Linux Sugar or Android OS.

With a bare-bones feature set, the OLPC tablet should cost about $100 per unit—up from the original estimated price of $75, but still way cheaper than virtually any other tablet on the market.

The coolest feature that the XO 3.0 can be powered by hand-cranking—to the tune of 10 minutes of run time for every minute of work. Why isn’t this available on, well, everything? I’d gladly spin a handle for a few minutes if it meant I wouldn’t have to beg for outlet time at coffee shops, carry spare chargers, and constantly dread the “low battery” notification. [Electronista]

XO 3 A1 [wiki page on laptop.org, Dec 12, 2011]

XO-3 Tablet Alpha test model, also known as A-test or A1.

The A1 was the first prototype of the XO-3built. The bring up happened in early December 2011.

The number of boards obtained was small, and distribution was limited to demonstrations, hardware testing, and UI development. Much of the software development is being done on XO-1.75 laptops, due to the similarities.

  • Bare circuit board, no case or display
  • Rev. A motherboard



Please understand that this motherboard is still in the process of slimming down, and despite being less than half the area of an XO-1.75 motherboard, will continue to get smaller in coming months. We also intend to restore an internal SD slot, allowing for storage expansion and repair of motherboards with failed eMMC devices. –wad

Marvell ARMADA 618 Application Processor
1GHz, 1080p Encode/Decode, 16MP ISP, 45 MTPS 3D, Security Enabled
[Marvell product brief, May 3, 2010]


The ARMADA™ 618 processor is Marvell®’s latest application processor targeted for next generation, high-definition (HD)-capable smartphones. Featuring a gigahertz-class CPU, integrated full HD 1080p encode and decode, an integrated ISP capable of 16MP image capture, an integrated audio processing engine for extremely low power audio playback and exceptional high quality sound and advanced 3D graphics, the ARMADA 618 consumes extremely low power, while maintaining high processing performance at attractive price points. This allows manufacturers to deliver high-performing features in lightweight form factors, with the extended battery life that consumers look for in their smartphones.

The ARMADA 618 is based on a 1GHz Marvell-designed ARM v7-compatible CPU offering best-in-class performance. An integrated 3D engine renders 45M triangles-per-second for an immersive gameplay experience, via a complete floating point pipeline and unified vertex and fragment/pixel shading, to generate contrast-rich scenes in high definition resolution and color, ensuring complete compatibility with the most hotly anticipated mobile game titles.

With respect to video, the ARMADA 618 features Marvell’s award-winning Qdeo™ technology with an integrated video accelerator that can seamlessly encode and decode h.264 High Profile 1080p video at 30fps. In addition, the ARMADA 618 incorporates a complete Image Signal Processor which can capture high resolution color pictures as well as stream 1080p video at 30fps. This enables smartphones to access the latest HD content from the web, record and playback HD videos and capture high quality images previously only seen in SLR-class cameras.

The ARMADA 618 offers support for high performance LPDDR memory, a highly flexible display controller capable of four simultaneous displays at up to 2K x 2K resolution and a highly robust security subsystem that includes a secure execution processor. The ARMADA 618 also features support for the next generation of peripheral interfaces, through support for MIPI DSI display, MIPI CSI camera, MIPI HSI and MIPI SLIMbus. Additional peripheral interfaces supported include USB 2.0 HSIC, SD/SDIO/MMC, eMMC, HDMI w/PHY and a standard set of lower bandwidth peripherals. Legacy peripherals such as Parallel LCD and Parallel Camera interfaces are also supported. The ARMADA 618 offers optimized OS support for Linux, Android™, Windows Mobile and Flash® 10, as well as industry standard APIs. Available in both a 12x12mm POP and a 12x12mm Discrete package, ARMADA 618 customers will have one of the broadest, most flexible choices of platform in the industry to create truly innovative and marketable products.


Fig 1. Marvell ARMADA 618 Application Processor


The Marvell ARMADA 618 platform offers customers a development platform for creating ARMADA 618 based smartphones. The platform incorporates the ARMADA 618 processor, the Marvell Avastar™ 88W8787 for 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 and FM tuner support as well as a Marvell 3G baseband for high speed cellular data and voice access. The platform demonstrates the full suite of Marvell technologies for smartphone applications in a compact form factor that is easy for developers to use with powerful expansion options for adding more platform capabilities.



Social Good Summit : Day 1 : Nicholas Negroponte [Sept 28, 2011]

One Laptop per Child founder Nicholas Negroponte aims to tackle universal education through technology. Already the organization has gained success in Uruguay, where every single child between the ages of five and fifteen have a laptop. But to achieve universal education, Negroponte argues that building schools and training teachers are not enough. In fact, he points out that many teachers in the developing world are illiterate themselves (shocking stat: 25% of teachers in Afghanistan are illiterate). He believes that children can learn on their own. The organization will be testing this notion out.

One Laptop Per Child Redux [Jeff Shear on Miller-McCune, Dec 23, 2011]

Declared dead just two years ago, the plan to provide every child in the developing world with a computer shows signs of life.

The New York Times called it,  “The Laptop That Will Save the World,” while the renowned Computer Graphics Laboratoryat Stanford University  referred to it as “a monumental feat of engineering and design.”

Dressed up like a toy in a Kermit-the-Frog green and white plastic shell, this durable little computer was the progeny of the nonprofit organization, One Laptop Per Child.

When the laptops went into mass production in November 2007, OLPC’s ambitious plan aimed to place a free computer into the hands of the world’s 1 billion impoverished children. Education is the exit ramp off the endless road of poverty, the organization argues, and because young people naturally take to computers, the idea is to use them as a way to bridge the so-called “digital gap” between the haves and the have-nots. The little laptop is seen as both a virtual classroom and teacher, with playful software designed for self-learning and an Internet connection to the Internet Archive, which has a dedicated OLPC gateway to its 1.6 million book library.

But in 2009, Scrooge came knocking on the organization’s door, accompanied by One Laptop’s own three ghosts: rough economic times, soaring costs, and technical glitches. Tumbling financial markets crippled donations, while its skittish supporters, chiefly philanthropies and foundations, abandoned it for greener pastures. Desperate to stay afloat, it fired half its staff, and cut pay to the 32 who remained.

These days, the company has been reorganizing, rehiring, reinventing, and aggressively making its way into the developing world. As many as 3 million of the nonprofit’s laptops are now in the hands of children and educators in 46 countries spanning 25 different languages. The company has staffed back up to 53 employees, although some are temporary software writers.

And in early 2012, a new super-low cost tablet, the XO-3, will debut, with a promised price-point of $75 for the nonprofit. Significantly, the XO-3 will be available outside OLPC. One Laptop hopes to prod the big manufacturers into using their distribution channels for their own branded versions of the tablet.

This is a big change for OLPC, an acknowledgement that they aren’t the only kid on the cheap-computer block. While iPads, Kindles, and other low-cost computers and tablets are sweeping the market, none of them are designed specifically as educational devices for primary and secondary school students. Intel’s Learning Series does make the Classmate netbook, but even discounted it goes for $505.

How does a computer designed for education differ from one used for education? “A child can do anything to this software and never break it,” explains Walter Bender, a co-founder of OLPC and a former director of the MIT Media Lab that created Sugar, the XO’s user interface. “Why? When you make mistakes you’re learning. When you don’t, you’re being incremental. Yet if penalty is high for making mistakes, you stop taking risks, you stop learning. We try to give kids a safe place to do trial and error, to go out there and do it in a way they can’t screw up.”

OLPC turnaround has reignited its bravado and swagger, stunts included.

Next week, the company plans to drop XO-3 from a helicopter — Santa has gone high tech — into the hands of some the poorest 5-to-8-year-olds in the remotest regions of the world. (Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Liberia are likely candidates ) In a recent interview appearing in New Scientist, the father of OLPC Nicholas Negroponte explained that the idea is to discover how much a child working on his own can learn from a computer with just “modest” intervention. In turn, OLPC will learn from the kids. After two years, trained researchers will return to the site to evaluate its effects.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Negroponte is recognized as one of the forefathers of the digital revolution. As chairman of MIT’s renown Media Lab, Negroponte announced the birth of the One Laptop Per Child project in January 2005 at the World Economic Forum. He carried around a prototype of a $100 laptop to meetings, and by the time he had packed his bags to fly home, he had collected letters of intent from several national leaders to buy as many as 9 million. That was very good news because the resulting economies of scale lowered costs to OLPC.

Negroponte soon sadly discovered that a letter of intent was a long way from a hard-boiled contract. Manufacturers who saw the original numbers and leapt on board to churn out laptops for $100 reversed themselves when actual orders came in for fewer than 800,000 machines, and their prices doubled.

The price hike hurt Negroponte’s grand design and also scuffed his reputation. He failed to deliver on his out-sized promises. At a well-attended technology conference in 2006, he told his audience his year-old operation — which had yet to begin mass production — would not launch without five to 10 million units in the first run. Further, he predicted that by 2008, OLPC would have 100 million to 200 million computers in place around the world.

Negroponte was both boastful and crotchety, a formula for making enemies. He was rude, too, scoffing at the idea of offering test runs to prospective countries. Speaking before a large audience, he said, “When people say we’d like to do three or four thousand [OLPC laptops] in our country to see how it works. [We say,] ‘Screw you. Go to the back of the line. …’

And it wasn’t just Negroponte’s attitude that didn’t sit well with partners. A $100 computer selling for more than $200 looked to them like a raw deal. Some donors thought that the high cost of the laptop was eating up money better spent immunizing children from measles and providing mosquito netting to fight off malaria.

Even Miller-McCune piled on with a widely quoted story by Timothy Ogden titled “Computer Error,”which suggested that the downfall OLPC might be a blessing in disguise. Ogden argued that, “If the goal is improving education for children in the developing world, there are plenty of better, and cheaper, alternatives.”

In the world of foundations and philanthropies, charities with donations under seven-figures, view organizations like OLPC as a zero-sum game. A dollar spent here is a dollar unavailable to spend there, a large part of Ogden’s thesis. Holden Karnofsky, co-executive director of GiveWell, which evaluates charities says, “If someone only has $100,000 to donate, they’re not going to buy computers. They’re going to give to a proven global health program.”

Large foundations, however, don’t see giving as a zero-sum game. “They look for programs that work,” says Rob Reich, at the Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University. “To use a phrase from a different realm, they want to maximize their return on investment.”

And that’s exactly what Negroponte was trying to do as he pulled OLPC out of its 2009 tailspin. That September, he split OLPC into two nonprofits. One was a cutting-edge research foundation based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which he chaired. The other was an association based in Miami and run by Rodrigo Arboleda Halaby, a longtime Negroponte associate and former classmate at MIT.

The business end of OLPC was left to Arboleda, whose mantra is, “OLPC is a mission and not a market.” OLPC has ever been out to make money. The association doesn’t talk about sales; it talks about “deployments.” A high-powered entrepreneur and former trustee of Save the Children, Arboleda made two significant changes to OLPC. First, he focused the association’s energies where it had its earliest and greatest successes: Eighty-percent of OLPC’s first million sales came from Latin America.

Arboleda also looked to Latin America to restaff. He hired Roberto Interiano, a former vice minister of foreign relations for El Salvador, to manage overseas operations. Dr. Antonio Battro, an Argentinian researcher in the field of “neuroeducation”became the association’s chief education officer. It was a good fit; OLPC already used his research, while Battro says, “We believe the computer gives the child access to higher levels of logical thinking.”

Arboleda’s second big move was to take OLPC off life support. “Our original financial model was devoted to donations,” he says. “You can’t go with hat in hand begging.” The association is now a contract-driven enterprise, working chiefly through governments.

And one more thing: the new tablet being introduced early next year aims square at Africa’s sweet spot. Rwanda has already deployed 110,000 OLPC laptops as part of an effort to create an industrial/service-based economyby 2020. Ten years into the program, its Ministry of Education claims nearly universal school enrollment and a dropout rate falling from 47 percent to 25 percent. Arboleda says he is thinking about dubbing 2012 the Year of Africa.

Matt Keller, OLPC’s “global advocate,” and his family will be moving to Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia, where he plans to make the Horn of Africa his base in the next nine months. “What we’re asking ourselves,” says the former legislative director of Common Cause and senior program officer for the U.N.’s World Food Program, “is whether children in non-literate communities with no access to schools can teach themselves to read by using the XO-3.”

A hundred million African children have no access to schools, let alone electric power. The back of the XO-3 tablet is a solar panel used for re-charging.

“The XO-3 is a world in a box that can be accessed by any child anywhere. My chief aim is to reach kids off the grid in remote sub-Saharan Africa,” he says of the project also being backed being backed by the artificial intelligence unit at MIT. “We want kids to be connected to other kids everywhere.

“It’s not a choice between mosquito netting, health and education,” he insists. “It’s not a zero-sum game. When kids are educated, good things happen. A generation of children who learn to think critically, analytically and rationally will change the status quo.”

Happy New Year! Reflections on OLPC in 2011 [the official OLPC blog, Dec 31, 2011]

As we prepare for 2012, here is a quick look back at the past year of OLPC. We distributed our two millionth laptop (now 2.5M), and our largest programs in Latin America (Peru) and Africa (Rwanda) grew steadily. Austria’s Julieta Rudich and Journeyman Pictures produced a fine documentary about Plan Ceibal in Uruguay (the world’s first complete olpcprogram), and Peru provided XOs and compatible robotics kits to all of their urban schools.

In East Africa, we expanded our work with African nations and donors to improve education for children across the continent. We were invited by both the African Union and the UN to open an OLPC office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Addis is a major hub for African diplomacy, and the support there for our mission has been stunning. We have become a full partner of the East African Community in Tanzania, and our recent country report on Rwandahas driven further interest in the region.

A Rwandan student workshop in Kigali

In the Middle East, we continued working with the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the UN to provide thousands of Palestinian children with XO laptops, integrating them into schools. It took ten months to work the laptops through customs in Gaza. But at a forum in Ramallah in June, teachers from Bethlehem and Gaza showed how OLPC was helping to end isolation and to excite learning for their children. Third grade girls in refugee camps are teaching others and writing computer programs. The testimony of these women to the power of persistence was extraordinary.

In Afghanistan, we founded a regional OLPC Afghanistan office, and briefed General Petraeus on the project. We believe that one laptop per child and connectivity, across the country, will transform this generation and their communities. Today we are working with the Education Ministry to support four thousand children in 10 schools, and are looking into expanding in Herat Province.

On the technical side, we focused on driving down laptop power needs by switching over to ARM chips in the XO-1.75 and upcoming XO-3 tablet. The tablet should be chargable by a solar panel that could serve as its carrying-case. We are studying new waysto help children learn to read, including where there are no schools at all.

In society, the idea that every child should have access to their own computer and to the Web – as a basic part of learning, whatever their family income – continued to spread. In addition to ongoing national programs in Argentina, Portugal, and Venezuela (for secondary students), two full-saturation laptop programs for older students are developing in India – an inexpensive tablet is being distributed to university students, and in Tamil Nadudual-boot laptops from six different manufacturers are being provided to secondary students.

Reaching the least-developed countries in the world remains our goal and our most difficult challenge. While our largest deployments are funded directly by implementing governments, rural successes may be driven by foundations, NGOs, and individual donations. OLPC Rwanda, today one of the largest educational technology projects in Africa and part of a ten-year government plan, was seeded with ten thousand laptops given by Give One, Get Onedonors.

So to our supporters: thank youfor your development, contributions, and collaboration, your feedback from the field, and your encouragement! This is all possible thanks to you.

Happy New Year to all — may 2012 bring you inspiration and discovery. We have some excellent surprises planned for the new year. And we would love to hear your reflections as well — please share stories from your own school projects in 2011.

OLPC’s XO-3 Tablet to Debut at CES [IDG News, Jan 7, 2012]

One Laptop Per Child’s XO-3 tablet is ready to ship after years in the making, and working units will be shown next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, OLPC founder and chairman Nicholas Negroponte said.

The tablet has an 8-inch screen and will be priced at less than US$100 as originally planned, Negroponte said via e-mail. Like OLPC’s XO-1 laptop, the XO-3 will be offered as an educational tool for children in developing countries. Negroponte declined to say if it will also be sold at retail.

The XO-3 was first announced in late 2009 with availability targeted for early 2012. At the time, skeptics questioned OLPC’s mission, accusing it of losing its educational focusin favor of designing hardware at unachievable price points.

The XO-3’s on-time release will help erase unpleasant memories of the XO-1 project, for which the laptop shipped late and at double the promised $100 price tag.

The XO-3 uses a Marvell chip with an ARM-based CPU running at 1GHz and will run Linux-based software such as Google’s Android or Chrome operating systems. It will be offered with optional technologies, such as a power-saving Pixel Qi screen and a solar charger for the battery.

“[The XO-3] price will be $100 or lower. But this time there are options, so we cannot guarantee the final price,” Negroponte said

The tablet provides about eight to 10 hours of battery life, though some audiences may choose a smaller battery capacity to reduce the purchase price, said Ed McNierney, chief technology officer at OLPC.

The internal batteries can be charged by “just about anything that produces DC power,” he said. The charging options include solar panels or hand cranks, and a study is under way to see if the battery can be detached and the tablet powered directly through a solar cell.

“Our ability to accept erratic, variable, noisy power inputs is extremely important to us, and something no other tablet has even attempted,” McNierney said.

The tablet is also available with a traditional LCD screen. But the optional Pixel Qi display absorbs ambient light to brighten the screen, reducing power consumption and extending battery life.

Eight inches is the right size for the display, McNierney said, because a 9.7-inch display is too big for children to handle, and 7 inches “seems too small to be usable.”

Microsoft’s Windows will not run on the device, only Linux-based OSes, Negroponte said. The nonprofit has abandoned its pursuit of Windows for tablets, even though Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 will work on ARM processors. Negroponte has said the tablet on display at CES will run Google’s Android OS.

OLPC didn’t share further specifics, but the tablet may include a camera and USB ports, according to some design details shared with IDG News Service in July, .

The XO-3 ultimately will replace the XO-1.75 laptops that are currently shipping, Negroponte said.

OLPC is not dependent on a specific manufacturer for the tabletand will work with “whomsoever wants to roll-out the tablet, for whatsoever purpose, at a very large scale,” Negroponte said, adding the objective is to see prices plummet.

As part of a two-year project to study educational development among young children in developing countries, researchers will collect data from XO-3 tablets used by three-to-eight-year-olds in India, Tanzania and Sierra Leone. Software on the tablets will record audio and video and adapt a reading platform to the needs of the children without human intervention. The project will study how children interact with the tablet and will aid in the study of tools for self-learning and critical thinking among children. One goal is to provide basic comprehension and reading, which is important in countries where teacher training is inadequate.

“In the reading experiment, where we ask can a child learn to read on his or her own, we imagine many hours of use per day, as many as six or eight. Frankly, the reading experiment may be the most important thing I have ever done….if it works,” Negroponte said.

The study will be run out of the MIT Media Lab and be conducted in partnership with Tufts University, Newcastle University, and OLPC.

OLPC XO-3 tablet delayed [networkworld, Nov 3, 2010]

OLPC XO-3 Tablet Delayed [IDG News, Nov 3, 2010]

Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of One Laptop Per Child said that the XO-3 tablet computer will debut sometime in February 2011, about 45 days later than originally planned.

Negroponte said that he wants the screen to be flexible so that it is more resistant to breaking, but that it doesn’t need to roll up.

“The issue has been really finding an unbreakable material, which may not be plastic, it may be glass or some flavor of glass,” he said during a video interview at MIT.

At first the XO-3 won’t be branded OLPC, rather made by Marvell, with the actual XO-3 to follow.

The tablet will eventually cost US$75 and during a May 2010 interview, Negroponte said hitting that mark wouldn’t be a problem.

Sitting in his sparse office in the MIT Media Lab, which he founded 25 years ago, Negroponte said that the job of the XO-3 is “pushing where normal market forces wouldn’t otherwise.”

“We’re going to push down on price, we’re going to push on non-breakable, we’re going to push particularly on power because we want to hand crank these things,” he said. “Our characteristics are ones that the market wouldn’t do normally, but that we will bring sooner or prove that can be done.”

Once the XO-3 tablet does debut, it will co-exist “for some time” along with the original laptop.

“It is unclear to us now both in the labs and imagining the future if the haptic version of the tablet keyboard is going to be sufficient to allow you to use it as a general purpose computer,” Negroponte said.

Nick Barber covers general technology news in both text and video for IDG News Service. E-mail him at Nick_Barber@idg.com and follow him on Twitter at @nickjb.

Google’s revitalization of its Android-based TV effort via Marvell SoC and reference design

Updates: Marvell and Google Transform TV [, Jan 10, 2012]

Marvell GoogleTV – ARM at CES 2012 [Jan 11, 2012]

Marvell licenses VeriSilicon DSP cores [Feb 13, 2012]

SAN FRANCISCO—Marvell Technology Group Ltd. has signed a licensing agreement for VeriSilicon Holdings Co. Ltd.’s ZSP G3 intellectual property cores, including the dual-MAC ZSP800M and ZSP880M synthesizable DSP cores, VeriSilicon said Monday (Feb. 13). Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Marvell is also using VeriSilicon’s quad-MAC ZSP800 core and suite of HD-audio software solutions in the ARMADA 1000 HD media processor SoC and the recently introduced Marvell ARMADA 1500 media processor SoC, VeriSilicon (Santa Clara, Calif.) said. These chips are designed for applications such as Blu-ray players, digital media adapters, HD-STB and HDTVs.

According to VeriSilion, the dual-MAC ZSP architecture offers a balance of high performance, power efficiency and lower cost to support the increasing feature convergence in mobile and digital entertainment products and enable prolonged battery life. The company claims its products offer ease of use and strong customer support.

“We are quite impressed with the area and power efficiency of the dual-MAC ZSP800M core, combined with the ease of programming on the ZSP architecture,” said Ivan Lee, vice president of mobile products at Marvell, in a statement. “VeriSilicon’s ZSP-based HD-audio and voice software solutions will provide us with faster time-to-market advantages necessary to meet the growing demands of the mobile platform solutions for use in tablets and smartphones.”

CES 2012: Samsung, LG plan to introduce Google TV [Jan 11, 2012]

Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics both indicated they plan to introduce Google TV products. However, LG noted that its own Netcast platform will account for 60% of all TV products. Samsung has not showcased Google TV products at CES 2012 but smart TV products that carry its own Samsung Apps are on display.

Industry sources believe the market has doubts on Google TV because the previous two generations lacked strong sales. Despite the fact that South Korea-based TV makers continue to dominate the market, the firms are unlikely to put all their eggs into one basket. It seems to be more beneficial for South Korea-based TV makers to bet on products that carry their own platforms. It is also possible for the firms to expand such platforms across their entire product lines into smartphones, and tablet PCs.

Samsung Apps has been increasing the diversity of its content with downloads reaching 20 million. Samsung Apps can also be used on Galaxy mobile and tablet devices. This is to compete with Apple’s iPad and iPhone products, which also have a unified platform.

Samsung indicated the development of Google TV is to add diversity to its product line and it plans the launch to take place in the second half of 2012.

Vizio’s Google TV delayed until early fall, now edge-lit [C|net, Jan 10, 2012]
LAS VEGAS–Google TV has a way of disappointing expectations, and one strong case in point is the Vizio’s VIA Plus platform for TVs.

At CES 2011 we named the VIA Plus models as our favorite TV product of CES. They used Google TV to deliver what the company described as interoperability between the TV and Android-equipped phones and tablets. Among other features, Via Plus was also said to support the OnLive gaming service. Those extras, along with the same kind of full-array local-dimming backlight we know and love, was enough to convince us that the so-equipped TVs were going to be pretty awesome.

Unfortunately, because of what Vizio describes as Google TV-related issues beyond its control, they never came out.

We asked about the VIA Plus sets during a pre-CES briefing with Vizio and were told they were still on the company’s product release roadmap. The new release date is “early fall.” They will have different model numbers and at least one change for the worse: that backlight is now an edge-lit affair. Vizio further specified that the new VIA Plus models would have a 240Hz refresh rate, passive 3D, and three screen sizes: 47-, 55-, and a new 65-inch option.

On the bright side, maybe having all that extra time to perfect VIA Plus will allow Vizio to do something really special with Google TV’s Honeycomb customizations. We’ll see.

End of updates

Google TV Demo [, Dec 12, 2011]

Eric Schmidt’s Le Web Keynote Video: “Android is Ahead Of The iPhone” [TechCrunch, Dec 7, 2011]

Google chairman Eric Schmidt spoke yesterday at Le Web in Paris, and now the entire interview is on YouTube.

At about 39 minutes in he makes this startling prediction: “By the summer of 2012, the majority of the televisions you see will have Google TV embedded in it. A similar strategy to what we did with Android. The price is free from Google, so you are only paying for the television.”

Marvell and Google Team up to Transform TV [, Jan 7, 2012]

Marvell and Google Team Up to Transform TV into the Command Center for the ‘Connected Lifestyle’ [Marvell press release, Jan 5, 2011]

Marvell’s new revolutionary ARMADA-based “Foresight Platform” powers new Google TV, offers best of television and multimedia experience for the new generation of Smart TVs, set-top boxes, Blue-ray players, and beyond.

Representing a major breakthrough in the convergence of TV, gaming, streaming video, popular web apps and social media, Marvell (Nasdaq: MRVL), a worldwide leader in integrated silicon solutions, today announced that the new Foresight Platform, powered by the Marvell® ARMADA™ 1500 HD Media System-on-a-Chip (SoC), has been designed into the next generation of Google TVs debuting at CES 2012. Using Marvell’s award-winning Qdeo™ video processing technology, the ARMADA-based Foresight Platform is designed to deliver superior 3D video, impressively rich audio, striking 3D graphics and TV-friendly Web content.

“Marvell and Google have teamed up to change home entertainment forever – transforming the TV into the command center for our connected lifestyle. Marvell and Google are fundamentally changing the relationship between the producers and consumers of content – from Hollywood to Madison Avenue to publishing and major news networks – creating a dynamic, two-way experience featuring real-time global news, social network, entertainment and information,” said Weili Dai, Co-founder of Marvell. “I believe this is a major breakthrough movement and it’s just the beginning of our bigger vision. The same forces that are revolutionizing today’s television experience will transform numerous vertical applications for small businesses and large enterprises, enhancing the way we all work, connect with each other and collaborate globally.”

“The Google and Marvell teams have been working closely together to bring our combined software and chipset technologies to market to grow the Google TV ecosystem of manufacturers and devices. Marvell-powered Google TV solutions will enable powerful products to be brought to market at attractive prices,” said Mario Queiroz, VP, Product Management Google TV.

For consumers, today’s digital home offers an endless choice of devices and content. For OEMs and service providers, it’s an all-out sprint to create offerings that perform noticeably better than competitors and at mass-market prices. The Connected TV Marketing Association (CTVMA) estimates 123 million connected TVs will be sold worldwide in 2014. Those consumers will expect access to the services they love – Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, Picasa and many more – in a lightning-fast, crystal-clear and resource-friendly package.

Powerful, energy-efficient, ultra-scalable and immensely affordable, the ARMADA 1500 contains Marvell’s highest-performing ARM v6/7-compatible PJ4B SMP super-scalar dual-core CPU. The chip is designed to enable PC-like processing power to support Web browsing with support for Flash™ and other key technologies – with the aid of more than 6000 Dhrystone MIPS of computing horsepower, FPU v3.0, 512KB of L2 cache and WMMX2. The Foresight Platform is energy efficient and has advanced cell-phone like power management.

The ARMADA 1500 also contains Marvell’s award-winning Qdeo video processing for state-of-the-art HD and 3D video, including scaling, noise reduction, de-interlacing, low bit-rate internet video enhancement and FRC and color/contrast enhancement. The chip offers VMeta™, a multi-format video decoder/encoder/transcoder that can decode up to two simultaneous 1080p streamsas well as a host of other video formats and containers. These features make the Foresight Platform ideal for Google TV, which requires tremendous processing power for its numerous applications at a cost effective price point.

Related Links:

More information on this blog:
Marvell ARMADA beats Qualcomm Snapdragon, NVIDIA Tegra and Samsung/Apple Hummingbird in the SoC market [again] [Sept 23, 2010 – Jan 17, 2011]

Google TV: CES 2012 Video  [, Jan 4, 2012]

But Marvell is not alone in this revitalization effort (note that MediaTek is there as well and LG is using its own chipset in the new line of Google TV powered TV sets):
From the Las Vegas Strip to your living room: Google TV partners at CES [the official Google TV blog, Jan 5, 2011]

Last October, we launched an update to Google TV: a simpler interface, a new way to discover great web and TV content, a more TV-like YouTube experience, and Android Market. Since launching the update, we’ve seen our activation rates more than double. New features and new apps are coming to the living room via Google TV almost every day. We now have more than 150 apps which developers have specifically built for TV with thousands more Android apps from the mobile world available to deepen your living room TV experience. We’ve also been working with our hardware partners to bring new Google TV-powered devices to consumers. Next week is the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Here are some of the Google TV partners to look out for at CES and throughout 2012:

  • LG – We’re thrilled to welcome global consumer electronics leader LG to the Google TV family. LG will showcase a new line of TVs powered by Google TV running on their own L9 chipset at CES.
  • Marvell – Also new to the Google TV family this year is Marvell, an innovative worldwide leader in chipsets. Marvell will be showcasing a new generation of Google TV solutions which will help bring more products across more price points to consumers.
  • MediaTek – We’re also excited to partner with MediaTek, the leading Taiwanese chipset designer. MediaTek chipsets will power yet another wave of Google TV devices.
  • Samsung – We’re excited to work closely with Samsung to bring Google-TV powered Samsung devices to market in 2012.
  • Sony – We’re happy to build on our partnership with Sony. At CES, Sony will unveil new devices for the US and plans to offer Google TV powered products in several countries around the world in 2012.
  • Vizio – Last year we announced our partnership with Vizio at CES. This year we’re excited to join Vizio as they hold private demos at CES showcasing their new line of Google TV-powered products.

As we’ve said before, Google TV is about bringing new entertainment and innovation from the Web to TV and our team along with our partners are pleased to bring more Google TV powered products to more people, across more devices in more countries in 2012.

Record of the chat with Larry Yang — Google TV Product Manager [, Dec 11, 2011]

He is responsible for the platform and the partnerships.

MediaTek Releases World’s First 120Hz SoC Solutions for High-end Smart TV [MediaTek press release, Jan 5, 2012]

Next Generation Wi-Fi Display Technology Brings the “Living Room” Revolution to a New Level

MediaTek Inc., a leading fabless semiconductor company for wireless communications and digital multimedia solutions today announced the release of the world’s first 120Hz Smart TV supported single chip solution model. In addition to providing an unparalleled 3D viewing experience, the chip is also an industry leader in support for Wi-Fi display technology, which allow Smart TVs to synchronize with Wi-Fi network hubs without the use of external modems or Internet connection, ensuring that high definition content can be easily shared on TV screens anytime or anywhere. MediaTek’s groundbreaking solution is bringing the “living room” revolution to a new level, while creating a new generation of “smart homes.”

According to the Topology Research Institute’s most recent report, as more brands continue to release Smart TVs, worldwide shipments of Smart TVs in the next two years could double. In 2011 alone, 25.18 million Smart TVs were sold worldwide, accounting for 10.4% of overall TV sales. In 2012, that number is set to double to at least 52.85 million units. A yearly growth of 100% means that by the end of 2012, Smart TVs will account for 20% of overall TV sales. The report went on to say that as “smart” becomes the new catchword in electronics, the addition of 3D and LED innovative hardware features is set to bring about more explosive growth to the already red hot Smart TV market.

MediaTek’s new Smart TV single chip solution offers a number of highly integrated advanced applications. In addition to support for numerous high definition video image processing technologies, the chip also comes with MediaTek’s patented MDDiTM deinterlace solution, greatly enhancing the clarity of moving images and allowing support for 120 Hz MEMC (Motion Estimation, Motion Compensation) and 3D visuals, thus making images even more lifelike and giving consumers a smoother and more vivid viewing experience. As the first to support the next generation Wi-Fi Alliance Standard, MediaTek’s Wi-Fi display technology allows Smart TVs to be synchronized with one or more Wi-Fi stations, thus allowing simultaneous broadcast of content between the devices. Enjoying a new smart digital home experience, consumers can now easily share high definition video content with both friends and family.

In addition, MediaTek provides support for digital TV’s worldwide common platforms, as well as the customization of solutions, enabling customers to instead focus their resources on product differentiation and various application developments, thereby shortening the time to market for products. Mr. Joe Chen, General Manager of Digital TV BU at MediaTek Inc., said, “Compared with traditional TVs, Smart TVs offer Internet access and Internet service platforms which give consumers a more superior all around visual experience. Following the introduction of Smart TV technology, the traditional TV has been transformed into a digital home entertainment center; with interactive features available, as well as having built in a variety of different applications, this new generation of Smart TVs completely redefines the traditional role of the “living room TV”, and sets a new milestone for TV technology. By offering a Smart TV single chip solution that features high-performance, high integration and customizable features, MediaTek continues to help customers worldwide achieve global brand value.

LG to Introduce Google TV at CES 2012 [LG press release, Jan 6, 2012]

Combining Android OS with LG’s 3D and Smart TV Technologies, LG’s Google TV
Provides Consumers with a New and Attractive Home Entertainment Option

SEOUL, Jan. 6, 2012 -– LG Electronics (LG) will introduce its highly anticipated Google TV at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. LG Smart TV with Google TV combines the familiarity of Google’s Android OS with the convenience and comfort of LG’s 3D and Smart TV technologies, offering consumers a new and attractive home entertainment option.

“LG has constantly strived to provide consumers with wider choices in home entertainment that bring the highest level of sophistication and convenience,” said Havis Kwon, President and CEO of LG Electronics Home Entertainment Company. “Through Google TV, LG has merged Google’s established Android operating system with LG’s proven 3D and Smart TV technologies, offering consumers a new and enthralling TV experience.”

LG’s Google TV’s most attractive feature is its ease of use, thanks to the combination of its Android-based user interface and the Magic Remote Qwerty designed by LG. LG’s Google TV’s user interface and main screen have been designed for convenient browsing and content selection. Multi-tasking is also possible, as the search, social networking and TV functions can be run simultaneously. The user interface can be accessed using the Magic Remote Qwerty which combine the user-friendly benefits of LG’s Magic Remote with a QWERTY keyboard.

Equipped with LG’s own CINEMA 3D technology, Google TV provides a home entertainment experience that is immersive, comfortable and convenient. Based on LG’s own Film Patterned Retarder (FPR) technology, CINEMA 3D glasses are battery-free, comfortable and lightweight. The glasses are also very affordable, making LG’s Google TV ideal for viewing by a large group of family and friends when used in 3D mode. And with a single click of the remote, any 2D program or movie can be viewed in 3D, thanks to the built-in 2D to 3D conversion engine.

Alongside Google TV, LG will continue to advance its own Smart TV platform based on NetCast, which will be available in more than 60 percent of LG’s flat panel TVs scheduled for introduction over the coming year. With a growing collection of content and services, LG’s Smart TV platform will continue to provide consumers with a unique user experience.

The first demonstration of LG’s Google TV will take place at the LG Electronics Press Conference on January 9.

Samsung Expands Blu-ray and Companion Box Lineup [Samsung press release, Jan 7, 2012]

New Blu-ray Player and Companion Box Enabling Google TV Unveiled at iCES 2011

LAS VEGAS, Jan 7, 2011—Today at the International Consumer Electronics Show, Samsung Electronics Co, Ltd. ., unveiled a new Blu-ray player and companion box enabling Google TV, as part of its ongoing smart TV product offerings.

As part of Samsung’s continued roll-out of smart TV products and services, Samsung’s new Blu-ray player and companion box enabling Google TV lets consumers surf the Internet on their TV screens just as they would on a computer including the ability to update social networks, track fantasy football scores, check e-mail and more.

Seamlessly integrating web content into a traditional TV watching experience, Samsung’s new Blu-ray player and companion box enabling Google TV feature an Android based platform, which will include a variety of Internet services for consumers. . In addition, a special Google TV remote control will provide users with a full QWERTY keypad and voice search supported through an internal microphone.

Sitting at the heart of Samsung’s smart TV home digital entertainment, the new Blu-ray player and companion box enabling Google TV will be on display at CES Booth #11033 throughout the show. The new devices are expected to be available at retail by 1st half, 2011.

For more information about Samsung’s technology lineup at CES 2011, and to track buzz during the show, visit www.samsungces2011.com.

Google TV: Update Video [, Oct 31, 2011]

This all is coupled with the second iteration of the Google TV software launched in October: Google TV, Take 2: Android Apps Join the Smart TV Party [Wired, Oct 28, 2011]

Google’s smart TV software platform, Google TV, is poised for its first significant overhaul since it launched in Logitech and Sony hardware a year ago. Via over-the-air updates that should begin streaming to hardware devices on October 30, Google TV users will find new TV-optimized Android Apps, an improved YouTube experience, and new features that provide easy, direct discovery of TV and movie content.

All this Googly goodness is wrapped up in a new user interface that aims to simplify a challenging information design — a design that’s left many Google TV customers with a persistent sense of yuck.

Well, all dreams of cord-cutting should be put to rest. As Rishi Chandra, director of product management, Google TV, told me, “There was a perception that we were a cord-cutting product, and that’s something that we didn’t do enough to dispel. Our point of view is that there’s new content coming, content that you just haven’t been able to access with your TV. Now we’re bringing that content, and adding the discovery experience on top of it.”

So, no, Google TV can’t be your all-in-one, zero-compromises, Internet-only video delivery system. But what it can do well — namely, deliver YouTube, Netflix and other web-based video to your HDTV — is about to get better. I recently traveled to Google’s headquarters for a hands-on demo of the new software, and what I saw is a substantial improvement over Google existing (however compromised) status quo.

Here are four key improvements you’ll see in the next version of Google TV. …

Improved User Interface

The new home screen, however, is defined by a simple menu bar at the bottom of your display (see screenshot above). It’s clean, simple, and simply more fashion-forward than its predecessor. Likewise, the new Google TV software features a revised view of your All Apps menu. The old view listed apps in a long, single-file list arrangement. The new view (see screenshot below) mimics an Android Honeycomb tablet interface. Apps are arranged in rows of four, and the arrangement is customizable.

These may not seem like big changes — unless you’re already using Google TV, and have spent the last year coping with a cluttered, “something’s sort of ‘off’ here” U.I . From what I saw in my hands-on demo, various key interface elements have been tweaked and finessed to do away with Google TV’s previously horsey (or at least user-antagonistic) design sensibility.

TV and Movie Discovery

Vastly Improved YouTube

A New Home For Android Apps

In the most significant Google TV update of all, Android Apps now have a home on your big-screen TV.

Obviously, not all the apps in Android Market would even work for TV-screen deployment. For example, those that reply on touch gestures or GPS  just wouldn’t make sense for Google TV (at least not as the platform is currently deployed). But Chandra estimates some 1,500 existing apps are already Google TV-compatible, and these will appear in the “filtered” version of Android Market that appears in the new software interface.

The real app gems, however, will be found in Google TV’s “Featured For TV” section. These apps — 30 should be available at launch — have been expressly developed for big-screen deployment, and Google TV’s unique talents.

Sure, one app I saw demoed is nothing more than a wrapper for an HD yule-log video (see Classy Fireplace in the screenshot above). But others are game apps (yes, Google TV is now a tenable platform for casual games), and the best apps will likely be the ones that deliver premium video content.

It’s quite ingenious: Google TV’s new Android initiative allows video-savvy media companies to do an end-run around licensing and distribution deals with the cable and satellite networks. Whether your media company is an indie upstart or a blue-chip heavyweight, this holds promise.

Take, for example, the Wall Street Journal. “They’re a premium brand,” says Chandra, “and they have great content, but they don’t want to build a 24-7 news cycle. They don’t want to negotiate deals to get content on the air, and they don’t want to pay to get access to users. So what do they do? They build an app.”

The possibilities: Dizzying. The proof: It remains in the pudding.

But as Mario Queiroz, Google’s vice president of product management, told me, Google considers Google TV to be a marathon project, not a sprint.

“We ask, ‘How can we make the product better?’ instead of belaboring what’s being said,” Queiroz said. “We’ve tried to take what we could use constructively, and build a better product with version 2. As a Google mantra, we always launch early and iterate.”

And iterate they will. Google will soon announce new chipset partners for brand new Google TV hardware in 2012 (Samsung and Vizio are already on board). So, no, the story of Google TV does not begin and end with a single software version, or just a small collection of set-top boxes and TVs from Sony and Logitech.

Google TV is real and its ambition levels remain high. Stay tuned for hands-on reviews of the new version software and upcoming Google TV hardware.

Google TV Goes ARM with Marvell’s ARMADA 1500 [AnandTech, Jan 5, 2011]

It wouldn’t be far off the mark to call Google TV as one of the unmitigated disasters of 2010 – 2011. Through the failure of the Logitech Revue, it was responsible for Logitech’s below-par performance last year, and also for the stepping down of its CEO. Anand covered Intel’s winding down of the Digital Home Groupand it could be said that Google TV / Intel’s concept of Smart TV not taking off as expected was one of the reasons.

However, Google doesn’t give up on its efforts without a fight. With access to the Android market and an upgrade to Honeycomb, Google TV received some life support last October. However, pricing and device power consumption were the two other prime factors which needed to get addressed. The first generation Google TV devices were all based on the Intel’s CE4100. Despite being a highly capable platform, it suffered from a number of issues such as high silicon cost (leading to higher priced Google TV units) and unreasonably high power consumption. With Intel’s shuttering of the Digital Home Group, it was inevitable that Google and its partners would end up moving to an ARM based platform. Given that ARM has remained the architecture of choice for Android smartphones, this was also a move predicted by many.

We covered Marvell’s foray into the DMA (Digital Media Adapter) market with their ARMADA 1000 platform. Today, Marvell is officially launching the next generation ARMADA 1500 (88DE3010) SoC. They also announced their team up with Google and indicated that all the Google TV boxes at the 2012 CES would be powered by Marvell silicon.

The ARMADA 1500 (88DE3100) is the follow up to the ARMADA 1000 (88DE3010) introduced a couple of years back. The 88DE3010 is the same chip which is being used in the Nixeus Fusion XS which started shipping recently. It is also the chip used in some high end (in terms of cost) 3D Blu-ray players like the Kaiboer K860i and the Asus O!Play BD players (BDS-500 and BDS-700).

More details from Anandtech:
Marvell’s ARMADA 1500: The 88DE3100
Final Words: Where is Google TV Headed?

ARMADA 1500 (88DE3100) Features

The ARMADA 1500 is a powerful, all-in-one HD media SoC, ideal for driving the connected home entertainment system through blu-ray players, set-top boxes, and DTV platforms.

Features Benefits
Hardware-accelerated, dual-stream multi-standard, video decode and audio decode Multi-format AV decode support enables adoption in a number of different platforms and allows playability of a wide range of content
Low-power SoC Low-power consumption enables fanless design
Award-winning Qdeo video processing Delivers an immersive viewing experience
Integrated Marvell dual-CPU SMP cores at 1.2 GHz
[@ 1.2GHz, the PJ4B core is delivering 2.61 DMIPS/MHz performance (see below), while Cortex A9 core 2.5 DMIPS/MHz]
Dual cores running in Symmetric Multi-Processing configuration for quick startup and loading times, as well as uncompromised performance for many networked, Java, and media applications
Full suite of integrated peripherals (such as USB, Ethernet, HDMI, SATA, and SDIO) Allows for complete connectivity in DTV, BD, STB, and DMA applications
Turnkey reference designs of connected applications Highly cost-effective products and fast time-to-market

Qdeo Technology

Video content is being accessed, streamed, and viewed through more options than ever before, and streaming services like YouTube and Netflix deliver that content at various levels of quality–from D to HD. Regardless of the content source, viewers expect an immersive, high-definition viewing experience from their home entertainment system.

Marvell’s award-winning Qdeo video processing technology delivers consistently high-quality video despite the source. At the core of Marvell’s digital entertainment processors, Qdeo uses a suite of “quiet video” technologies to produce video at up to full high-definition 1080p resolution with superb clarity and accuracy. Conventional video processing can actually produce noise and distortion that are distracting on today’s high-quality displays. With Qdeo your video—from QVGA to 4K×2K—will be rendered clearer and more natural, without the typical noise and artifacts.

Benefits of Qdeo

Noise reduction:

  • Per pixel compression artifact reduction removes artifacts inherent in digital video
  • Per pixel video noise reduction removes noise inherent in digital video

Format conversion:

  • Per pixel motion adaptive 3D de-interlacing prevents “jaggies” and eliminates feathering
  • Non linear scaling enables optimal mapping to display of choice


  • Adaptive Contrast Enhancement (ACE) and Intelligent Color Remapping (ICR) render rich and vivid images
  • Natural Depth Expansion (NDE) enhances details and sensation of depth for greater realism and super-resolution effect
  • Qdeo True Color eliminates contouring seen when viewing typical 8-bit consumer video

Learn more about Qdeo Technology

ARMADA 1500 Software & Standards

Software Standards

Marvell’s connected home platform meets the following software standards for a complete home entertainment solution.


  • ATSC
  • DVB
  • MHEG
  • CI+
  • ARIB
  • Ginga
  • Tru2Way, CableCard


  • ITU – International Telecommunication Union
  • MPEG Industry Forum
  • Blu-Ray
  • 3D @ Home


  • Sensio


  • HLS
  • DASH
  • DLNA
  • CEA-2014
  • RVU
Application Programming Interfaces

  • directFB
  • OpenGLes
  • OpenMax IL

Connected Applications

  • Adobe Flash
  • DivX
  • DLNA
  • Netflix
  • Skype
  • Hulu Plus
  • Vudu
  • Cinema Now
  • Pandora
  • YouTube
  • Picasa
  • Flickr
  • OIPF
  • YouView
  • HbbTV
  • iPlayer
  • Android ICS

Software Architecture

Marvell provides a robust connected home platform to aid customers in their product development.


Marvell 88DE3100 High-Definition Secure Media Processor System-on-Chip (SoC) [product brief, Jan 4, 2012]

Product Overview

The Marvell® ARMADA™ 1500 (88DE3100) secure media processor system-on-chip (SoC) is a high-definition (HD) advanced multi-format video and audio decoder that includes two high-performance ARMv7 compatible PJ4B processors with symmetric multi-processing (SMP), a large L2 cache, and a complete set of peripherals. It decodes 2 full HD streams along with multi-channel audio and both 2D and 3D graphics pipelines that enable rich and sophisticated User Interfaces (UI) along with high performance gaming experience. It also provides support for the Blu-ray 3D specifications. The ARMADA 1500 has a dedicated secure processor that supports various DRM schemes and 4Kbit one-time-programmable memory and implements multiple crypto accelerators. Additionally, the
ARMADA 1500 integrates a video/image post-processing subsystem that implements Marvell’s award-winning Qdeo™ processing, performing per-pixel 3D noise reduction, 3D de-interlacing, scaling, natural depth expansion, intelligent color remapping, and adaptive contrast enhancement. An integrated audio post-processor enables advanced audio
algorithms such as Dolby®, DTS, and AEC for high-quality, multi-channel, and stereo audio output.

Marvell’s ARMADA 1500 provides a high-performance and cost-efficient solution for IP/cable/satellite set-top boxes (STBs), feature-rich connected Blu-ray players, digital media adapters (DMAs), Google TV™, and DTV applications with 88DE6010 (Marvell’s DTV analog front-end companion chip).

Block Diagram

Fig 1. ARMADA 1500 (88DE3100) HD Media Processor SoC Block Diagram

Key Features and Benefits

Hardware-accelerated, dual-stream multi-standard, video decode and audio decode Multi-format AV decode support enables adoption in a number of different platforms and allows playability of a wide range of content
Low-power SoC Low-power consumption enables fanless design
Award-winning Qdeo video processing Delivers an immersive viewing experience
Integrated Marvell dual-CPU SMP cores at 1.2 GHz Dual cores running in Symmetric Multi-Processing configuration for quick startup and loading times, as well as uncompromised performance for many networked, Java, and Media applications
Full suite of integrated peripherals (such as USB, Ethernet, HDMI, SATA, and SDIO) Allows for complete connectivity in DTV, BD, STB, and DMA applications.
Turnkey reference designs of connected applications Highly cost-effective products and fast time-to-market


Marvell provides a complete go-to-market solution for IP/cable/satellite/terrestrial DTV, STB, DMA, and Blu-ray products:

  • High-performance HD media processor
  • Optical front-end, HDMI input, component input, tuner/demod, and wifi receiver companion chips
  • Comprehensive software development kit enables fast development and customization:
    – Both high-end Android-based and low-end Linux™-based solutions
    – Android™ SDK
    – Google TV
    – Both connected applications and base TV software stacks
    – DVD/VCD/CD-DA navigation
    – HDMV, BD-J stack
    – Ease of OSD customization

Fig 2. DTV System Diagram

Fig 3. STB/DMA System Diagram


Fig 4. Blu-ray Player System Diagram

THE MARVELL ADVANTAGE: Marvell chipsets come with complete reference designs which include board layout designs, software, manufacturing diagnostic tools, documentation, and other items to assist customers with product evaluation and production. Marvell’s worldwide field application engineers collaborate closely with end customers to develop and deliver new leading-edge products for quick time-to-market. Marvell utilizes world-leading semiconductor foundry and packaging services to reliably deliver high-volume and low-cost total solutions.

ABOUT MARVELL: Marvell is a leader in storage, communications, and consumer silicon solutions. Marvell’s diverse product portfolio includes switching, transceiver, communications controller, processor, wireless, power management, and storage solutions that power the entire communications infrastructure, including enterprise, metro, home, storage, and digital entertainment solutions. For more information, visit our Web site at http://www.marvell.com.

Marvell Smart TV Reference Platform [Jan 4, 2012]

Based on Google TV and Marvell ARMADA HD Media Processor

Product Overview

The Marvell® Smart TV reference platform, based on Google TV™ and Marvell’s ARMADA™ high-definition (HD) media processor system-on-chip (SoC), is available to OEMs and ODMs for designing network-connected televisions. The reference design includes Marvell’s HD media processor SoC, TV tuner, and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth connectivity chip. The HD media processor SoC is a highly integrated chip consisting of: dual high-performance (1 GHz+) ARM processors to support a PC-like web browsing experience; GPU for rendering HD graphics; secure demux engine for parsing and protecting high-value media content; multi-format HD AV decoder for decoding network AV streams; Qdeo™ processing, including automatic block/noise reduction for rendering best picture quality even for low bit-rate network content; customizable audio post-processor to support Dolby®/SRS audio post-processing routines; and peripherals such as USB, SDIO, and Ethernet. The reference hardware accepts legacy TV inputs such as RF terrestrial/cable, composite video, component video, and VGA and includes 4 HDMI v1.4 ports for capturing 3D video from BD players. One of the HDMI input port supports audio return channel to enable “one cable” connectivity with one home theater receivers. The video output from the platform can be directly connected to drive full-HD LCD panels. The platform supports multiple stereo audio inputs and outputs the processed audio to speakers or PCM/compressed audio to SPDIF/HDMI-ARC.

The package includes a DTV reference design PCB, ATSC/QAM/NTSC middleware, network applications including Google TV/Netflix®/YouTube®/Picasa®, a customizable reference user interface and documentation.

Figure 1: Marvell Smart TV Reference Design

Key Features and Benefits

  • Highest performing ARM v6/v7 compatible dual-CPU cores
  • Fast application launch, PC-like web browsing
  • Integrated with Marvell’s leading edge TV technologies:
    – Clear RF
    – Swift View
    – Qdeo
  • RF tuning performance matching legacy can tuners
  • Fast switching between various analog/digital AV inputs
  • High-resolution picture quality for HD, SD and low bit-rate content
  • Inputs: RF, CVBS, Component, VGA, HDMI, USB, LR Audio
  • Network: Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, Ethernet
  • Output: LVDS, Speaker, Headphone Out, SPDIF
  • Multiple AV Inputs for connectivity to legacy AV devices and to the network
  • Reference design with field-proven Marvell connectivity ICs
  • Lesser integration issues
  • Google TV OS with marketplace support
  • Network video-on-demand (Netflix, Amazon®)
  • Worldwide DTV middleware support
  • Customizable reference UI
  • Complete system software to jump start Smart TV design and rollout products to market faster

Block Diagram

Figure 2. Marvell Smart TV System Block Diagram

THE MARVELL ADVANTAGE: Marvell chipsets come with complete reference designs which include board layout designs, software, manufacturing diagnostic tools, documentation, and other items to assist customers with product evaluation and production. Marvell’s worldwide field application engineers collaborate closely with end customers to develop and deliver new leading-edge products for quick time-to-market. Marvell utilizes world-leading semiconductor foundry and packaging services to reliably deliver high-volume and low-cost total solutions.

ABOUT MARVELL: Marvell is a leader in storage, communications, and consumer silicon solutions. Marvell’s diverse product portfolio includes switching, transceiver, communications controller, processor, wireless, power management, and storage solutions that power the entire communications infrastructure, including enterprise, metro, home, storage, and digital entertainment solutions. For more information, visit our Web site at http://www.marvell.com.

TD-SCDMA: US$3B into the network (by the end of 2012) and 6 million phones procured (just in October)

Updates: China government not expected to issue TD-LTE operating license for the time being [Jan 16, 2012]

While China Mobile has been actively promoting TD-LTE, the China government is not expected to issue a TD-LTE operating license to China Mobile for the time being, according to industry sources.

China Mobile finished initial TD-LTE trials in seven selected cities in China around the end of 2011 and has proposed a second-round of trials, but the China government has not yet approved the plans, signaling the government’s attitude to slow down promotion of TD-LTE in China, the sources indicated.

This is because 3G mobile communication services are taking off in the China market and therefore the government does not want to issue a TD-LTE operating license out of consideration for China Telecom and China Unicom, the sources said.

– China Outstrips U.S. in Smartphone Market [Nov 23, 2011]

Deliveries of smart phones to operators and retailers in China grew 58% in the third quarter from the previous quarter to 24 million units. That surpassed 23 million units delivered to the U.S. market, down 7% from the previous quarter …

Nokia Corp. had the largest share of China’s smartphone market in the third quarter, with 29%. … Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. is chasing hard with 18% of the Chinese market …

Strategy Analytics estimates that 57% of the world’s handsets were manufactured in China in 2010. … two of Nokia’s eight production facilities are based in China and the company said China is also one of its bigger suppliers of mobile handset components. …

End of updates

China Mobile Begins New Round of TD-SCDMA Procurement [Oct 12, 2011]

China Mobile (NYSE: CHL; 0941.HK) recently began its fifth-round TD-SCDMA equipment tender. China Mobile will further expand its TD-SCDMA 3G network by deploying base stations in county-level cities and other key urban areas, with total base stations expected to reach approximately 300,000 by the end of 2012. Mobile network equipment vendors have received tender orders and will place bids this week.

China market: China Mobile to expand TD-SCDMA network, says report [Oct 14, 2011]

China Mobile will invest an estimated CNY19 billion (US$2.97 billion) to expand its TD-SCDMA network, adding 53,000 base stations around China, according to China-based media DoNews.

China Mobile has established about 210,000 TD-SCDMA base stations around China, the report indicated.

The second-round value was not disclosed only the following became known (China Mobile Releases TD-SCDMA Tender Results [Nov 17, 2011])

The second round TD-SCDMA tender, with a scale 1.53 times that of the first round, involved 23,000 wireless base stations in 28 Chinese cities.

The third-round had a value of RMB8.6 billion ($1.26 billion), see: China Mobile releases 3rd-round TD-SCDMA bidding results [May 11, 2009]

According to China Mobile to Release Results of Phase Four of TD-SCDMA Tender [TD Forum, July 1, 2011]

China Mobile is expected to procure around 102,000 base stations for the TD-SCDMA network in 101 cities, close to the total number in the previous projects.

In the previous three TD-SCDMA network construction projects, China Mobile set up 108,000 base stations in total, with a combined investment of over CNY90 billion (USD13.16 billion).

According to Winners of New TD-SCDMA Bid [June 9, 2010]:

CMC has spent about 103 billion yuan ($15 billion) on three phases of TD-SCDMA construction so far. Insiders estimate the new round will cost about 90 billion yuan ($13 billion) based on the number of BTSs that will be 2.5 times over the previous phase. Actual spending may be different because more or less BTSs may be needed as project goes along. Previously, CMC announced a phase-down in capex to reach about 80 billion yuan ($12 billon) by 2012 from 123 billion yuan ($18 billion) in 2010, a reduction of 35% in three years.

CMC’s goal is, after the fourth phase, TD-SCDMA coverage will be available in all major cities with improved signal quality and low drop ratio. However, user experience can be very different. Even in cities where the service is available people still complain about shaky connection and jagged video especially in moving vehicles or traveling toward the edge of city. CMC officials say an objective of fourth phase is to “replenish” blind spots in existing networks missed from previous phase, a weakness that has put CMC behind its rivals in quality of service.

If everything goes smoothly, construction is expected to begin in August or September.

According to Chinese vendors take 70% of [4th round] TD tender: report [July 28, 2010]:

China Mobile has built out its network in 238 cities over the last two years. It spent 129 billion yuan ($19b) on its 2G and 3G networks in 2009-10 and this year expects to invest 123 billion yuan, of which 106 billion will go to its combined 2G/3G rollout.

CMCC to Invest CNY 19bn to Construct TD-SCDMA Network [Oct 13, 2011]

BEIJING, Oct 13, 2011 (SinoCast Daily Business Beat via COMTEX) — The insider disclosed on October that CMCC (China Mobile Communications Corporation) is to invest CNY 19 billion to construct TD-SCDMA network in different counties and important villages and towns in China.

Meanwhile, the existing TD network topology in cities will be perfected. It is reported that CMCC plans to construct 53,000 new TD base stations. Through the first four phases of construction and continuous blind compensation, CMCC has constructed 210,000 base stations by the beginning of this year.

The invitation for the bidding started from the later half of September and has entered into the crucial bidding returning stage at present. According to the requirements of CMCC, manufacturers have to return the tenders today.

It is specially required by CMCC that the TD-SCDMA network to be newly constructed should be smoothly upgraded to TD-LTE network with the same frequency, namely, the TD-SCDMA network should be upgraded and evolved to the future LTE-frequency network in terms of wireless equipment, core network equipment, transmission and supporting facility at current frequency.

Source: http://www.sina.com.cn (October 13, 2011)

The current subscriber data (from the corresponding operators, till August 2011) is indeed showing that China Mobile TD-SCDMA needs a significant boost in the subscriber numbers:

China - TD-SCDMA and W-CDMA 3G subscibers -- Aug-2011

China Mobile had 627.628 million mobile subscribers as of August 31, 2011, and 40.318 million 3G subscribers, that is only 6.4% of the overall.

China Unicom meanwhile had 186.1 million mobile subscribers as of August 31, 2011, and 27.868 million 3G subscribers, that is as much as 14.97% of the overall.

China Mobile to purchase 6 million TD-SCDMA mobile phones [Oct 9, 2011]

According to a notice issued to all mobile phone manufacturers , China Mobile has launched a new round of TD-SCDMA mobile phone purchases before National Day [Oct 1], and plans to purchase six million universal TD mobile phones.

All procurement of universal TD handset

A relevant mobile phone manufacturer said this purchase is called “universal G3 mobile phone” centralized procurement project, the procurement of universal G3 mobile phone estimates about 6 million, including 3.6 million low-end TV terminals , 2.4 million mid-end TV terminals.

The mobile phone manufacturers received invitation to tender on the September 29th 16:00 to 18:00 and September 30 9:00-18:00 .

The TD phones purchases maybe related to the fourth round TD-SCDMA network Construction. The construction is currently underway and will be extended to almost all cities of the country. In this case, the demand for TD mobile phones increased.

Chipmakers are ready to support that:

First real chances for Marvell on the tablet and smartphone fronts [Aug 21 – Sept 25, 2011]
especially because: Kinoma is now the marvellous software owned by Marvell  [Feb 15, 2011]

Spreadtrum is the other big player in that:

China Mobile To Adjust Subsidies For TD-SCDMA Terminals [Oct 17, 2011]

China Mobile (0941.HK) plans to adjust the subsidies given to buyers of its TD-SCDMA terminals in order to expand the pool of its 3G users following several unsuccessful attempts to introduce Apple Inc’s iPhone, reports yicai.com.

Li Liyou, the C.E.O. of a TD-SCDMA chip maker [chairman of Spreadtrum], said the largest mobile operator in China has cut the procurement of TD-SCDMA terminals by two-thirds, and buyers of TD-SCDMA phones which are included under the operator’s list of TD-SCDMA phones will now be able to enjoy fee rebates.

According to Li, 2012 will be the year in which GSM mobile phones are replaced by TD-SCDMA phones as the difference in production cost per phone is reduced to less than $2, and TD-SCDMA smartphones currently cost about $60 to make, and can be sold to customers at 700 yuan each.

Procurement by China Mobile currently accounts for less than 30 percent of total TD-SCDMA terminal sales volume, said Gao Guiming, vice president of Changhong Communication and Digital Information.

Spreadtrum Meets Milestone for China Mobile TD-SCDMA Grant [Sept 30, 2011]

Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD; “Spreadtrum” or the “Company”), a leading fabless semiconductor provider in China with advanced technology in both 2G and 3G wireless communications standards, today announced that in 3Q 2011 it has met the last major milestone of a TD-SCDMA research and development grant awarded by China Mobile to the Company in 2009.  This marks successful completion of the project and will enable the Company to recognize more than US$8 million in research and development grants as an offset to operating expenses in the third quarter of 2011, including subsidies recognized from both the China Mobile and other government projects. Spreadtrum’s TD-SCDMA customers include more than 30 global and domestic tier-1 manufacturers and design houses who have introduced more than 72 feature phone and smartphone models in 2011 using Spreadtrum’s baseband solutions.

Spreadtrum now commands more than 50% market share of TD-SCDMA shipment volumes.  Dr. Leo Li, Spreadtrum’s president and CEO commented, “We are the clear leader in the feature phone and fixed wireless segments of the TD-SCDMA market, which account for the majority of industry shipments so far this year. Our 40nm-based single-chips with TD-SCDMA/EDGE/GPRS/GSM, multi-media and power management features have enabled customers building handsets on our platform to achieve breakthrough standby and talk times, at a retail price point that is attractive to 3G handset buyers.  We further expect to expand our footprint in the smartphone segment following the launch of our low-cost single-chip smartphone product.”

Dr. Li added, “In addition to today’s news and in response to recent shareholder inquiries, we would like to provide additional clarification on our corporate structure.  Our primary operations in China are conducted through a wholly foreign owned enterprise (WFOE), distinct from the variable interest entity (VIE) structures that are common in the China Internet sector and that have been the subject of recent press speculation with regards to possible PRC or US government review.  There is no active investigation that we are aware of by either the China government or the US Department of Justice of our corporate structure or accounting practices, which adhere to conservative interpretation of US GAAP.”

Spreadtrum Counts on Taiwan’s Chipmakers to Win 3G Battle In China [Oct 3, 2011]

Spreadtrum Communications Inc. of mainland China has contracted Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. (ASE) to make its baseband chips designed on 40nm process rule amid white-hot competition among the mainland’s 3G chip vendors.

Spreadtrum has commanded a 56% share of the mainland market for the wireless chips specifically designed for mobile phones that are built on the TD-SCDMA (time-division synchronous code division multiple access) 3G format, which is spearheaded by China Mobile Co., Ltd.

The chip vendor recently completed a 40nm chip design, which it claimed consumes only two thirds of the electrical power that a 65nm chip does and brings down the cost of TD-SCDMA phone close to that of the 2.7G EDGE handset.

Spreadtrum has designated TSMC to make the chips and ASE to package the chips for it in conjunction with China Mobile’s plan to promote TD-SCDMA handsets during the 2012 Chinese New Year holidays, which will begin on Jan. 23.

The vendor will begin pilot production of its chips for the 4G TD-LTE (time division long term evolution) phones at the end of this year also at TSMC and ASE.

Industry executives expect Spreadtrum to retain the championship in the mainland’s market for the TD-based chips given that it has shied away competition against Taiwan’s MedaTek Inc. for a slice on WCDMA (wideband code division multiple access) market, where competition is keener among chip vendors than on TD-SCDMA market. In addition to MediaTek, competitors in the mainland’s WCDMA market include MStar Semiconductor Inc., Qualcomm Inc. and ST-Ericsson Inc.

The mainland now has around 100 million subscribers to 3G telecommunications service, which is mostly provided by China Telecom on CDMA2000 network, China Unicom on WCDMA network and China Mobile on TD-SCDMA network.

Qualcomm is very close to getting the HTML5 web apps performance and feature set to rival that of native OS apps

OnQ: Delivering Better Web Experiences for Snapdragon S3 Mobile Processors [Sy Choudhury, Director of Product Management, Web Technologies, Oct 10, 2011]

Sy Choudhury, Director of Product Management for Qualcomm, demonstrates how our web optimizations can enhance the overall web browsing and web apps experience on Android for Snapdragon S3 mobile processor-based devices.

Heavy Lifting on the Mobile Web – Put It Where It Belongs [Sy Choudhury, Director of Product Management, Web Technologies, July 7, 2011]

I encourage you to take a close look at the Snapdragon™ mobile processor– its architecture, documentation and tools – as you consider developing mobile Web apps for Android. The image above maps the Snapdragon processor to the heavy lifting you face in delivering a good mobile Web experience to your customers.

Let’s go through them individually:

Transport– DNS lookup, page loads, page reloads, image downloads…the browser never lets the modem have any peace. But the browser – not to mention the user –is more forgiving on the desktop than on a mobile device. The Web transport functions need to work intelligently on mobile devices or the user experience will drown in latency and needless reloads from the network.

Layout – Images are almost 2/3 of the payload of the average Web page. Do you want graphics-rich sites like photo galleries and social networks hogging the CPU to decode images? The browser needs to take one look at them and offload them to dedicated hardware for decoding.

Scripting– JavaScript is a big part of the Web that is only going to get bigger on the mobile Web. Device APIs associated with HTML5, for example, give Web-based applications access to mobile-specific hardware components like compass, sensors, GPS, camera, audio and more. Last year’s JavaScript engine won’t suffice to handle these efficiently.

Rendering – Whether you need to compose pages in a frame or stream mobile video smoothly, there are better places to do it than the CPU. The work of drawing page objects on separate layers and merging them efficiently belongs on a graphics processing unit (GPU), and the coming onslaught of mobile videofavors chipsets with a dedicated multimedia engine.

In short, your mobile Web apps are going to rely on the browser and the JavaScript engine to perform a lot of heavy lifting. Dumping all that work on the CPU is not a good, long-term development strategy, which is why the Snapdragon processor is designed to carve it up and hand it off to function-specific engines.

That’s one big advantage to pulling all of this functionality into a single chip. Another advantage is that it makes things easier for everybody. We produce the components more efficiently, manufacturers sacrifice less real estate inside the device, and you keep your eye on just one set of rules for writing to hardware.

Also, as part of Qualcomm’s Web Technologiesinitiative, we’ve been developing and implementing optimizations for all of this functionality. Qualcomm has made them available as updates to Adobe® Flash® Player and Qualcomm Innovation Center, Inc., our wholly owned subsidiary that focuses on mobile open source contributions, has made them available to the community. You can take advantage of them by developing for the Snapdragon processor, because we also include them as part of the software bundle we ship.

Want to know more? We’ve written a series of papers on what it’s going to take – in the browser, in the JavaScript engine, in the mobile processor – to make users as productive on the mobile Web as they’re accustomed to being on the desktop. Have a look at the papers and …

Vellamo Mobile Web Browser Comparison for Android [Sy Choudhury, Director of Product Management, Web Technologies, July 14, 2011]

The Vellamo web browser comparison benchmark evaluates browser performance on Android devices. The tool provides comparative analysis of browser performance and stability, including networking, JavaScript, rendering, and user experience. Incorporating industry standards and custom benchmarks, Vellamo is sure to impress mobile users!

Web Technologies [Initiative] [QDevNet, Aug 24, 2011]

Give your end users mobile web applications that are designed to run like native applications.

Get ready for a few realities about developing for the mobile Web:

  • Your users want the kind of rich multimedia content and far-reaching applications that rely on the browser and JavaScript.
  • Rich content and complex Web applications also rely on hardware resources deep inside the mobile device.
  • You need to give your Web users desktop-quality performance on mobile devices before your competitors do.

To make this easier for you, the Web Technologies initiative from Qualcomm Incorporated and Qualcomm Innovation Center, Inc.(QuIC) enables a series of software features and hardware-tuned performance optimizations that give the Web application environment deep reach into the mobile device. The end result–a level of performance from your Web app that users typically expect from native applications and even desktop applications.

We’ve optimized the WebKit browser, the V8 JavaScript engine and Adobe® Flash® Player 10 for best-in-class support of the Web on smart mobile devices:faster page downloads and reloads

  • better interactivity with Web apps and pages
  • snappier, smoother response to user commands
  • the highest quality and resolution multimedia streams
  • lower overall power consumption
  • Web application functionality and performance on par with native mobile apps

Developer Resources

Web Technologies Tools and Resources
Using our runtime software packages, you can begin developing mobile Web apps that perform more like native apps.


Uplinq 2011 Super Session: Is HTML5 the Future of Smartphone Apps?: A Conversation About Web Technologies
Is HTML5 the future of mobile apps? Can web apps ever perform on par with native apps? What do the advances in browser-based experiences bode for mobile operating systems? How can hardware matter in such an abstracted environment? Join Ben Wood, director of research for leading industry analyst firm CCS Insight, as he engages Rob Chandhok, who leads Qualcomm’s software strategy efforts, on these and other questions central to the intersection of web technologies and mobile.

Uplinq 2011 Session: Session: Developing Rich Web Apps for Smartphones
Most mobile app developers today choose the native app route for performance and feature reasons. However with most apps, taking advantage of a connection to the internet, using the language of web, HTML, JavaScript and XML for future applications makes more sense than ever before. This session will provide an overview of the work to enhance the performance of the browser to enable web apps to equal the snappiness of their native counterparts. We will then cover new device-side functionality that web page and web app developers can expect to access in the near future to build everything from standalone graphically rich web apps through to connected and dynamic use cases.

Snapdragon HD 720p Video Performance [Sy Choudhury, April 29, 2011]

Sy Choudhury, Director of Product Management for Qualcomm, demonstrates Snapdragon’s the in-page web video capability, HD video at 720p in HTML5 and Flash, and full HD video at 1080p for mobile devices

DASH – Toward a Better Mobile Video User Experience [Sy Choudhury, Director of Product Management, Web Technologies, Aug 16, 2011]

Do you like jittery, staccato playback and long buffer times when you watch video on your phone or tablet? Neither do I. Neither does Qualcomm.

Let’s face it, though: the mobile video genie is out of the bottle, and it’s not going back in. Video streaming continues to dominate mobile bandwidth consumption, accounting for 39 percent of data usage in the first half of 2011, according to the H1 2011 Allot MobileTrends Report. Elsewhere, Frost & Sullivan notes that CTIA has called for an additional 800 MHz of bandwidth to cope with the onslaught of mobile video; the U.S. government is trying to provide 500 MHz of that request.

There’s no simple solution that will ensure a good mobile video experience. We’ve identified areas that are ripe for improvement and are working diligently to address them. DASH – Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP – is an important one. We see DASH as the industry’s best approach to streaming mobile video, while preserving the kind of video experience consumers expect.

What is DASH?

DASH is an open standard that addresses what we think are many of the biggest problems in delivering streaming video:

1. File size– In the old days, Web video was easy. You downloaded a 2- or 4- or 10 MB file to your device and then played it. That wasn’t really streaming, and it wasn’t scalable – imagine streaming high-definition movies that way. So DASH is a standard for chopping video streams into smaller segments.

2. Changing network conditions– To keep a stream of video flowing smoothly, servers need to send these smaller segments when the device can accommodate them. With DASH, the video lives on the server in several different bit-rates – for example, 250 kbit/s low quality, 500 kbit/s medium quality and 1000 kbit/s high quality. And here is the key; the device determines and then commands the server to send the best quality given the current network conditions (see diagram).

3. Proprietary formats– Most Web video is encoded in common codec formats like H.264 but stored in various streaming formats, depending on the media player on the device. Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix and many of the other names you associate with video delivery have their own streaming format and their own approach to streaming. DASH defines openly published profiles and the device’s native player can therefore easily support these various streaming profiles.

4. Digital rights management (DRM)– For premium video like movies and sporting events, content owners want their rights protected. DASH is focused only on the core streaming technology and hence works seamlessly with various DRM solutions.

If you want to know more of the technical details, Thomas Stockhammer, on our team has published a paper on the design principles and standards we’re putting into DASH.

What’s Qualcomm doing?

Qualcomm and Qualcomm Innovation Center, Inc. (QuIC) have participated as the work-item lead and helped promote DASH with 3GPP, and were the main authors of the DASH specification in MPEG. In collaboration with companies such as Ericsson, Apple, Netflix and Microsoft, Qualcomm has worked on the standard. Although MPEG-DASH content has yet to be published, we’re working with content owners to help bring this open standard to market.

As a result, we’re building a lot of expertise and we’ve chosen to make it widely available. As a matter of fact, to encourage adoption of the DASH standard, Qualcomm will not seek royalties or license fees for use of its DASH Essential Patents as defined in our DASH Licensing Commitment.

You’re going to see similar announcements from other technology companies who realize that it’s time for an open standard for adaptive, Internet streaming video – one which is also easy to implement and bring to market.

Keep an eye on DASH as the standard evolves, and let me know in the comments what your company is doing about the user experience in mobile video.

Snapdragon Processor Enables Flash Player on Windows 8 – A Qualcomm, Microsoft & Adobe [Rick Lau, Sept 15, 2011]

Through its collaboration with Microsoft, Qualcomm is proud to show the Windows 8 Developer Preview running on the latest dual-core Snapdragon processor. Shown running on the desktop, Internet Explorer in the Windows 8 Developer Preview features support for the latest web standards as well as the Adobe Flash Player, giving consumers a rich browser experience and developers support for whatever tools that best suit their needs. Flash is an important part of the web browsing experience – and Qualcomm supports the Flash Player today on our dual core Snapdragon processor running Windows 8.

The Next App OS is the Web Browser [Liat Ben-Zur on QDevNet, Oct 7, 2011]

By optimizing the browser to really take advantage of dedicated hardware blocks in our Snapdragon mobile processors, we’re seeing comparable levels of video performance across both web apps and native apps – 30 frames per second. Not only can we play 1080p video files, we can playback 1080p video in Flash and HTML5. In fact, in HTML5 we’re able to get multiple video streams running live on a page at the same time.

We’re also closing the gap on advanced graphics with the help of HTML5 Canvas for 2D graphics and WebGL for the 3D equivalent. We’re seeing sample 3D WebGL content benchmarked at 25fps in a Web App, vs. 50fps in a native, OpenGL-ES equivalent app on the same device. Though the native app offers twice as many fps, anything over 25fps is not very noticeable to the human eye. Though we see this gap steadily closing over time.

While HTML5 is truly catching up in terms of performance, it still lags behind native apps when it comes to accessing hardware features. Whether it’s full Bluetooth access, advanced camera features, accelerometers or gyros, native apps still have the edge. This is why we are now focusing on this area, so expect to see a lot more device features exposed via Javascript bindings in the future. Qualcomm Innovation Center, Inc. (QuIC) is also working with open standards organizations, such as W3C and Khronos, as well as collaborating with others to ensure an open web.

I think we will see web apps first in tablets followed by Smart TVs. Once more and more TVs have full HTML5 browsers in them, it’s going to break open a whole new set of exciting user experiences. For example, you will no longer be tied to a limited set of Samsung TV Apps, LG TV Apps or Roku Apps. The whole Web will be at your beck and call via your TV Remote. That’s quite a game changer — one that Google TV has attempted to bring us.

If web apps become mainstream on tablets and TVs, they will have to become mainstream on allmobile devices. Speaking of which, we cannot discount the growth of the hybrid apps that are currently available on smartphones, which leverage a lot of HTML5. These are already mainstream.

Web apps are destined to take off for another simple reason: there are a lot more web developers (familiar with HTML5) out there than native app developers. And there are even fewer developers building tablet apps and TV apps. So the momentum is behind web apps — it’s just a matter of time.

The technology in our Snapdragon chips is always evolving, and we are constantly adding more intelligence and features into the chipset via hardware and software. The more features we add, the more we want to expose to web apps.

For example, we’re pushing the envelope in terms of what the camera can do with things like facial recognition, multi-shot with zero shutter lag, smile detection, blink detection, gaze analyzer, etc. So now, it’s no longer just about exposing a camera API to web apps, its about exposing all these advanced post processing features to web apps, too. Similarly we’re doing some very cool things around proximity-based peer to peer (P2P). Imagine the possibilities when your web app can reach out, discover and connect with other web apps nearby you.

Also, as I touched on earlier, we’re working to bring our Snapdragon processors to TVs, too. We suspect that more people will want to buy connected TVs that have all these cool HTML5 web app capabilities, as opposed to spending thousands of dollars and being locked into just Samsung, LG or Roku TV apps.

… with the Snapdragon chip, your browser doesn’t have to be just another piece of software. It can be optimized to take full advantage of all of Snapdragon’s subsystems. Here are a few examples of how a web browser’s performance can be turbocharged when tuned for the Snapdragon chip:

(Optimizations for the Snapdragon integrated modem and intelligent connectivity engine.)

  • Designed to achieve up to 50% faster page and web app downloads1

(Leveraging smarter caching.)

  • Improved multi-core utilization

(Optimizing JavaScript for Snapdragon’s CPU microarchitecture.)

  • 7x faster JavaScript performance in 18 months2

(Leveraging Snapdragon’s GPU and multimedia hardware engines.)

  • HTLM5 video performing at full native rate
  • Faster and smoother scrolling, zooming and panning
  • GPU accelerated HTML5 <canvas>, <video>, WebGL and CSS3D animations

1 Source: Tests performed by Qualcomm Innovation Center, Inc. Tested with 30 sites on Wi-Fi and consistent environment on Android 2.3 using HTC Sensation and production OEM device with Dual-CPU A9.

2 Source: Tests performed by Qualcomm Innovation Center, Inc. Tested using Android 2.1 through 2.3 on HTC Nexus One).