Friday, November 30, 2012

Point Grey's Zebra2 models combine MJPEG image compression over Ethernet and video stream over HDSDI

CANADA: Point Grey, a world-leading designer and manufacturer of innovative, high-performance digital cameras, announced the addition of two new models to its new multi-interfaced Zebra2 camera line.

The Zebra2 fulfills a growing demand in traffic, surveillance and process monitoring installations that require real-time viewing in addition to image storage or post processing such as ALPR/ANPR and incidence analysis. To accomplish this task, the Zebra2 sends uncompressed video over HD-SDI as well as MJPEG compressed or uncompressed images over Gigabit Ethernet. The new 2.8 MP, 1080p30, model offers excellent light sensitivity while the 5 MP variant offers excellent value for lower frame rate applications.

The Zebra2 offers a unique and innovative image processing pipeline. Designed to capture high quality, color rich images in a variety of dynamically lit indoor and outdoor environments, Point Grey's new image processing technology maximizes image quality through advanced noise reduction, tone mapping, and color interpolation techniques. The new models introduce P-iris lens control which enables discrete control over the lens aperture. The new image pipeline combined with Sony CCD imagers and remote lens control allows the Zebra2 to capture crisp images of fast moving objects.

Like all Point Grey cameras, the Zebra2 is supported by Point Grey's FlyCapture SDK. Third party software compatibility is provided through standard protocols including: Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP), GigE Vision, and ONVIF.

"Currently our customers use two separate cameras; one to view low-latency live feed and one for image processing," explains Michael Gibbons, director of Sales and Marketing. "With the Zebra2, these two needs are fulfilled with a single, high quality camera at an unbeatable price point," adds Mr. Gibbons.

The Zebra2 ZBR2-PGEHD-28S4C-CS (color) model utilizes the Sony ICX687 EXview HAD II, 1/1.8" CCD producing 1928 x 1448 at 26 FPS and is list priced at $1495. The ZBR2-PGEHD-51S5C-CS (color) model utilizes the Sony ICX655, 2/3" CCD producing 2448 x 2048 at 10 FPS and is list priced at $2,395. Both models are available to order now from Point Grey, its network of distributors, and (for North American customers).

TRENDnet joins HomePNA Alliance

USA: The HomePNA Alliance announced that TRENDnet a best-in-class wired and wireless networking hardware brand, has joined the organization. This brings to 46 the number of manufacturers and service providers in the alliance.

“We are pleased that TRENDnet, an award winning global supplier of networking solutions for small to mid-sized business and home users, has joined the alliance,” said Eran Gureshnik, HomePNA president. “Their membership demonstrates the value of the HomePNA Alliance to both equipment suppliers and service providers.”

“Our customers are demanding a cost effective solution for distributing entertainment and triple play data over existing coax cables and therefore are specifying HomePNA certified products,” said Sonny Su, TRENDnet technology director. “HomePNA membership gives us access to the alliance’s technical support and certification resources that enable us to deliver those products.”

HomePNA members benefit from a support structure that helps to decrease the learning curve and can help service providers minimize their costs when deploying HomePNA products. Over 30 million HomePNA-certified products have been shipped to telco, satellite, and cable service providers worldwide supplying critical components of their IPTV services deployments.

HomePNA is an ITU Standard (G.9954) and is included in the DLNA Interoperability Guidelines.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

WHIPTAIL announces highest capacity, highest performing flash storage array

USA: WHIPTAIL, the data storage-industry innovator bringing high performance flash storage arrays to the datacenter, announced a major expansion to its flagship INVICTA Modular Storage Array, with the first of its kind Hyperscale scale up/scale out INFINITY architecture. Available in the first quarter of 2013, INFINITY scales the six-node 72TB INVICTA array up to 30 nodes and up to 360TB of all flash storage.

This option will make INVICTA INFINITY the highest capacity, highest performing and most flexible enterprise class modular solid state storage array on the market. WHIPTAIL is closely aligning itself with key business drivers defined by its global customer base. Vendor flexibility – including the ability to bring a petabyte of flash storage to the data center – will be a defining differentiator in the battle for the data center according to Joseph Unsworth, research vice president at Gartner.

“Data center high-performance storage needs are constantly evolving, especially among the most progressive data center customers,” said Unsworth.  “Companies that can deliver flexible solutions that scale easily and with minimal disruption will be best positioned to address these dynamic requirements.”

“One clear theme that we’ve heard from our customers is, ‘we want more,’” said WHIPTAIL CEO Dan Crain. “What they are discovering is once they start moving their data and applications to WHIPTAIL, their productivity increases so much that they want to bring all of their business critical apps to flash. It’s like eating potato chips, you can’t stop with just one.”

With the INFINITY option, enterprise customers can scale performance and capacity as needed. In initial testing, a 180TB, 15-node INVICTA INFINITY produced performance numbers of 2.1 million IOPS and 21.8GB/second throughput.

Apple business helps South Korean suppliers overcome weakness in small display market

USA: Benefitting from their sales of liquid crystal displays (LCD) to smartphone and tablet original equipment manufacturers (OEM)—most notably Apple Inc.—South Korean panel suppliers in September defied a decline in the overall small and medium-sized (SMD) display market with a robust 9 percent expansion in shipments compared to August.

SMD panel shipments from South Korean suppliers Samsung Display Co. and LG Display amounted to 48 million units in September, up from 44 million units a month earlier, according to an IHS iSuppli SMD PriceTrak Report. In contrast, the combined panel shipments from a rival contingent comprising six Taiwanese suppliers declined by 3 percent during the same time, down to 166.8 million units from 172.3 million units.

The resulting total from both groups, at 214.8 million units, was a marginal 0.7 percent decline in market shipments compared to the August level of 216.3 million units, as shown in the figure below.

“Samsung continued to supply LCD panels for the iPad in September, although its monthly shipment volume to Apple declined compared to the first half of 2012,” said Vinita Jakhanwal, director for small and medium displays at IHS. “LG Display is expected to take the leadership position in terms of supplying displays for the iPad product line. Along with sales to other top smartphone and tablet OEMs, the Apple business helped the two Korean companies improve their SMD display shipments.”

Apple’s new tablet line—and its likely effect
The new fourth-generation iPad from Apple, announced by the company in late October, features the same 9.7-inch Retina display employed initially in the third-generation iPad. The display resolution for the iPad now stands at 264 pixels per inch (ppi) with 2,048 by 1,536 pixels--double that of the iPad 2 at 132 ppi.

Concurrently Apple has released the iPad mini, featuring a smaller 7.9-inch display than its full-sized counterpart. The iPad mini display features the same in-plane switching (IPS) technology used with the bigger iPads—allowing for wider viewing angles.

The iPad mini has a resolution of 163 ppi at 1,024 by 768 pixels—and does not use a Retina display. The iPad mini is 23 percent thinner and 53 percent lighter than the third-generation iPad; its pixel density also is 25 percent less than the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablets, and 33 percent less than the Barnes & Noble Nook HD.

Apple’s entrance into the 7.x-inch tablet segment will further diversify that market and likely spur increased demand among consumers for that size category.

Growing demand for the panels could spur more suppliers to initiate strategies for production at newer, larger-generation fabs.

If Apple were to further decrease orders to Samsung, it could potentially open up opportunities for other tablet display suppliers, like AU Optronics and Chimei Innolux in Taiwan, and Sharp and others in Japan. However, ramping up of yields for large-volume production, technical requirements and pricing issues remain a concern for some of the other suppliers.

Tablet panel pricing up, but handset panel pricing down
New tablet products helped to boost pricing in September for tablet PC panels overall to $49.65, up 3 percent from $48.35 in August.

Within the tablet PC panel segment, however, pricing rose or fell depending on the particular size segment involved. Pricing on average fell 0.6 percent month-over-month to $58.43 for 9.x-inch tablet panels. Pricing also declined for the 7.x-inch segment, down 1.2 percent to $46.27. The contraction in both the 9.x- and 7.x-inch segments was countered by a19.8 percent surge in the 8.x-inch tablet PC segment to reach $53.19, following the introduction of the 8.9-inch, 1,920 by 1,200 pixel display, of the Kindle Fire HD.

The rise in overall tablet panel pricing did not apply to mobile handset displays. Panel pricing there fell 0.7 percent in September to $11.71, down from $11.79 a month earlier.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

PNI Sensor intros complete 9-axis, motion tracking development module

USA: PNI Sensor has introduced SpacePoint Scout, a development module that offers gaming application developers 9-axis motion tracking technology in one reasonably priced, integrated module.

SpacePoint Scout includes a suite of sensors (a 3-axis gyroscope, a 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis geomagnetic sensor), highly proven sensor fusion algorithms and an I2C interface for quick implementation.
SpacePoint Scout comes with the same RM3000 geomagnetic sensor as the one used in the new Nintendo Wii U GamePad announced today.

The RM3000 geomagnetic sensor uses PNI Sensor's proprietary magneto-inductive technology that offers over 15 times better resolution and 16 times less noise than commonly used Hall effect magnetic sensors. The RM3000, in conjunction with the SpacePoint Scout's sensor fusion algorithms, enables highly accurate pointing and motion tracking even in the presence of magnetic anomalies.

"Developers looking to explore new applications in the fields of location-based services, gaming, and augmented reality, will be excited by this simple-to-use module that both delivers new levels of accuracy and requires no confusing consumer calibrations. Our expertise in geomagnetic technology enables us to provide highly precise sensors and sensor fusion algorithms to customers who need to accurately capture complex motion with minimal latency, gyro drift or magnetic interference," said Becky Oh, PNI Sensor, president and CEO.

Applied Materials announces new head of EES and Display Business Groups

USA: Applied Materials Inc. announced plans to combine two business units - Energy and Environmental Solutions (EES) and Display - under one leader.  Effective November 29, Ali Salehpour will join Applied as group VP and GM of the EES and Display groups.

"Trends in mobility and clean energy provide an outstanding platform for Applied Materials to extend our leadership in precision materials engineering, to grow the company and to create value for our stockholders," said Mike Splinter, chairman and CEO of Applied Materials.

"We are optimizing our worldwide organization to more effectively and efficiently address the dynamic markets in which we operate. By bringing together these two business units, we believe we can better support our customers' roadmaps and advance our technology for large-area applications."

Salehpour brings more than 25 years of industry experience, most recently as a senior vice president at KLA-Tencor.  "Ali has earned a track record of delivering customer satisfaction, growing market share and building high-performance teams," said Gary Dickerson, president of Applied Materials. "Ali's strategic and operational skills will enable him to provide strong leadership and drive growth and profitability across this new organization."

Mark Pinto, executive VP and GM of EES, and Tom Edman, group VP and GM of Display, have each announced their intention to leave Applied Materials after assisting in a smooth leadership transition. "Mark and Tom have made many valuable contributions to Applied Materials and have been great colleagues. We thank them for their leadership and wish them the best," added Splinter.

Quad-core microprocessor notebook shipments set to nearly quadruple in 2016

USA: Notebook PCs during the next four years increasingly will adopt muscular quad-core microprocessors, with all types of models bulking up their computing power amid the rising competitive challenge posed by media tablets and smartphones.

Shipments of notebook PCs configured with quad-core microprocessors will nearly quadruple from 2012 to 2016, according to an IHS iSuppli Compute Platforms Topical Report.

Quad-core-equipped notebook shipments will reach 179 million units by 2016, making up 59 percent of all notebooks that year. That compares to 48 million units this year, representing 22 percent of all notebooks shipped in 2012.

“The increase in notebooks’ computational capabilities through the use of quad-core microprocessors will play a critical role in PC makers’ efforts to remain competitive amid the onslaught of media tablets and smartphones,” said Peter Lin, senior analyst for compute platforms, IHS.

“While notebooks have greater computing power than either tablets or smartphones, they have lost considerable clout as consumers flock to the flashier gadgets, especially products like the iPad from Apple. Notebook sales have suffered as a result, alarming companies throughout the PC supply chain.”

Quad cores for the masses
Much of the growth in notebook quad-core microprocessors will be driven by increasing penetration among value and mainstream notebooks—defined as those priced less than $700 and $1,200, respectively. These models are more underpenetrated in terms of quad-core adoption than the high-end notebooks, which are more powerful machines typically priced above $1,200.

Notebooks pump up their quads
Featuring increased multitasking capability due to the division of tasks among its processors, quad-core microprocessors are much faster than dual-core counterparts, which currently prevail on the market. An appetite for increasingly detailed and high-definition media, along with the need to process data quickly, will help the faster uptake of quad-core microprocessors starting in 2014, IHS believes.

And when a machine with quad-core microprocessors runs so-called multithreading software capable of utilizing all four cores at the same time, the results can be phenomenally faster speeds than in machines with dual-core equivalents. The effects are especially obvious in 3-D-intensive gaming.

Quad cores find value in value notebooks
Among value notebooks, quad-core processor penetration will grow from 13 percent in 2012 to 68 percent in 2016. By then, value notebooks with older dual-core processors will amount to just 8 percent.

The remaining 24 percent in 2016 will be split between models with either six-core or eight-core processors.

No value notebooks with six- or eight-core capability will be available before 2015, demonstrating how rare these are on the market. Even for the more powerful mainstream and performance models, six or eight-core processors will start appearing only in the next two years at very small percentages, before gaining greater traction in 2015 and 2016.

For mainstream notebooks, quad-core processor penetration will climb from 28 percent in 2012 to 49 percent in 2016. The penetration rate by 2016 for mainstream models is less than in the peak year of 2015—but only because six-core units move up in 2016. By then, there no longer will be any mainstream models with dual-core processors; all units will have processors that are quad-core or higher.

The same pattern applies for performance notebooks, with quad-core penetration already at a high 41 percent in 2012. Penetration peaks in 2014 at 71 percent, after which performance models with six-core and eight-core units also make their appearance on the market, driving down quad-core market share.

Other capabilities to show up in notebooks of the future
As more notebook PCs become empowered with quad-core processing ability, a small portion of them will also be featuring built-in Blu-ray optical drives. Shipments of notebook PCs with Blu-ray disks will amount to 49 million units by 2016, equivalent to 16 percent of all shipped notebooks by then. Those numbers compare to 14 million units by the end of this year, or 6 percent of the total notebook market.

The rise in Blu-ray-equipped notebooks will be due to two factors—the continued reduction in the costs of optical disk drives on the one hand; and the growing acceptance of high-definition movie formats on the other. The Blu-ray penetration rate among notebooks will climb even though consumers now favor video downloads to ever-bigger hard drives, as well as streaming direct from video sources. If not for those factors, Blu-ray adoption in notebooks would be even higher.

All notebooks of the future will also be running 64-bit operating systems. Fully 100 percent of PCs—notebooks and desktops alike—will have the capability by 2016, equivalent to some 434 million units. This compares to 68 percent by the end of 2012, or 233 million units.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Black Friday arrives in September for large-sized LCD panel suppliers

USA: Two months before stores had their best sales event of the year on Black Friday, global display suppliers got their chance to cash in on the bonanza, as shipments of large-sized LCD panels rose in September due to retailers preparing for the big day.

Worldwide shipments of panels larger than 9.x inches in the diagonal dimension climbed to 68.9 million units in September, up 3.4 percent from 66.6 million in August, according to an IHS iSuppli LCD Health Watch Report. The September growth came on top of a 7.4 percent expansion in August following two months of decline in June and July.

“US retailers anticipated strong TV sales for Black Friday and Christmas propelled by aggressive pricing, which helped to fuel two straight months of shipment growth for liquid crystal display (LCD) TV panels during August and September,” said Sweta Dash, senior director for display research and strategy at IHS.

“Strong growth in the LCD TV panel segment made up for the declining monitor and notebook sectors, which suffered from weak consumer demand impacted by the slow economy and competition from tablets.”

Televisions get smart
A major market driver for the television market is the interactive Smart TV featuring built-in Internet connectivity, which is proving popular in the United States. Illustrative of the strength of the TV panel segment, shipments of LCD panels to the sector rose 5.5 percent in September, compared to a contraction of 2.3 percent for notebook panels and a smaller 0.3 percent dip for monitor panels.

The strength of the TV panel segment was especially evident in September. TV vendors built up their inventory in anticipation of Black Friday sales after Thanksgiving, traditionally the biggest time of the year for television purchases among American consumers looking for deeply discounted sets.

In particular, panels sized 60-inches and larger had enjoyed a 92 percent surge in shipments during August after declining in July, with growth momentum continuing in September. Very aggressive pricing and strong competition is expected during the holidays for this size segment.

A bright Black Friday?
Overall, TV merchants and brands alike had hoped to see big sales during the holidays close out a difficult year, characterized by a sluggish US economy and persistent high unemployment. While TV panel shipments grew because of rising demand, the opposite was true of the large-sized LCD panel market for notebooks and monitors, both of which struggled in September.

In the notebook panel segment, shipments are down because of continuing weak demand. Notebooks have been suffering from competition posed by tablets like the iPad, and the new thin notebooks known as Ultrabooks have underperformed in light of price points deemed too high. Moreover, the verdict is still out on whether the newly launched Windows 8 operating system will make enough of an impact to propel notebooks toward growth for the remainder of the year.

Some brands pushed pricing for lower-end Ultrabooks down to the $500 or $600 range during Black Friday, in an effort to make notebooks more competitive with tablets.

In the monitor panel segment, shipments have also been lackluster. Monitor sales have declined because of cutbacks in government and educational spending in the United States and Europe, accompanied by softer demand in the consumer sector—again because of inroads made by tablets.

The two biggest suppliers of large-sized LCD panels in September were LG Display of South Korea, with a market share of 28.7 percent, flat from August; and Samsung Electronics, also of South Korea, with 20.0 percent, up 1.1 percent.

In third place was Chimei Innolux of Taiwan with 18.7 percent share; followed in fourth place by AU Optronics, also of Taiwan, with 15.9 percent; and in fifth place by BOE Display Technology of China, with 4.9 percent.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

InfinityQS and Keops to bring manufacturing intelligence to global customers

USA: InfinityQS International Inc., the global authority on Manufacturing Intelligence and enterprise quality, announced a strategic partnership with Keops Technologies, Inc., a leading industry IT expert focused on integration and deployment of manufacturing operation management systems (MOM) that increase efficiency and improve quality.

With offices in Montreal, Madrid and Paris, and recent expansion in Dubai, Keops has formalized its partnership with InfinityQS to complement its existing manufacturing solutions with ProFicient, InfinityQS’ enterprise quality hub powered by statistical process control (SPC).

Jean Moukhtar, Keops’ director of partnership programs, said: “As supply chain quality becomes a growing focus, more of today’s manufacturers are expressing the need for real-time quality information supported by SPC capabilities. By partnering with InfinityQS, Keops can offer a comprehensive suite of plant floor software to our customers, complete with an enterprise quality data hub that can increase manufacturing operational efficiencies.”

As a trusted InfinityQS partner, Keops serves as a full-service solution provider, reselling, integrating and providing ongoing support for ProFicient for global manufacturing organizations. By relying on Keops, InfinityQS has an additional means for bringing its enterprise quality hub to more international customers and expanding its business.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Compliance and risk regulations to drive technology spending in 2013

AUSTRALIA: A combination of a depressed world economy and tougher regulation will make the financial markets rally to IT in order to underpin more risk-averse business strategies, according to a new report from Ovum.

Regulatory compliance in particular will place further IT investment requirements on market participants, with risk analytics (covering market, credit, operational, and a new dimension, liquidity risk) becoming key. In particular, companies will harness emerging ‘in-memory’ technology capabilities to handle the kinds of volumes of data at the speeds required for intraday risk management and reporting.

The buy side will focus on client servicing as investor returns wane in 2013, making reports on how portfolios are performing more transparent, frequent, and readily accessible, with a big push into enabling access from mobile devices, for instance.

In an effort to drive cost out of its business, the sell side is predicted to increase the automation and optimise post-trade operations, with cloud services becoming a serious option for a number of functions.

“With 2013 comes a lot of challenges for the financial markets, with both the buy and sell sides of the industry turning to greater use of technology as the solution,” commented Rik Turner, senior analyst, Financial Services Technology, Ovum.

“The buy side is looking to lower its dependence on brokers with heavy investment into front-end services as it looks to retain a much less faithful client base, whilst the sell side looks to underscore its complex multi-asset strategies with greater product accounting.”

Friday, November 23, 2012

BenQ leads gamers on a journey to e-Sports victory

TAIWAN: The world’s leading gamers participating in the Intel Extreme Masters Season 7 which kicks off in Singapore have paid tribute to BenQ’s ultimate weapon, the XL2420T Gaming Monitor – nominating it the monitor of choice for professional gamers worldwide.

The Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) tournament attracts world-class contenders each vying for the chance to add the ultimate title to their belt, and thanks to BenQ’s continued sponsorship of this premiere event, each will have the advantage of using the world’s most sophisticated monitor which BenQ designed with input from world renowned e-Sports players.

BenQ are dedicating significant R&D to providing gamers with a superior experience. Fast becoming the brand synonymous with gaming victory, BenQ monitors are designed to enhance performance. The response from both professional gamers and FPS/RTS game enthusiasts to the XL2420T is that the monitor is now the preferred model used at many of the world’s e-Sports tournaments, including the Intel Extreme Masters event for 2012/2013.

BenQ’s focus on the hard core gaming market in recent years has allowed them to bring to market XL series monitors, satisfying the needs of e-Sports gamers, and an additional range of gaming monitors - the RL series, which offer a more affordable choice appealing to Real Time Strategy gamers.

BenQ is actively involved in world-wide gaming events – both the XL and RL series are the official monitors for many world-class gaming tournaments including Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) worldwide, Major League Gaming (MLG) in the States, and Asia e-Sports Cup at Tokyo Game Show in Japan.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Touch, write and go with slim new VAIO Duo 11

INDIA: Sony India unveiled the next generation of Hybrid Ultrabook PC- VAIOTM Duo 11; the PC from Sony that also turns into a smart, intuitive touchscreen tablet.

With its premium Surf Slider design, the powerful VAIO Duo 11 PC switches smoothly between Tablet to PC modes to give the best computing experience - wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.  

Pick up VAIO Duo 11 in one hand and use in tablet mode to browse the web or enjoy music and videos while you’re travelling. In the office, slide out the keyboard and maximise your productivity with a fully-featured PC powered by latest-generation Intel Core processor.

VAIO Duo 11 puts touch and handwriting right at the heart of your Windows 8 computing experience. Write and interact with media and applications on the responsive, touch capable, super-bright Full HD OptiContrast Panel.

It gives the satisfying, expressive feel of handwriting directly on the touchscreen, with the touch of your finger. Make notes, sketch diagrams or ring key points on your presentation with supple responses and imperceptible latency. Smart text recognition even lets you quickly convert handwritten notes to text for easy archiving and searches.

Sharing photos and videos is a pleasure on the super-bright 29.4cm (11.6”) Full HD OptiContrast Panel. Friends and family will enjoy detail-packed, high contrast pictures with a wide viewing angle – even if you’re outdoors in bright daylight.

Don’t let your PC slow things down when you’re in a hurry. Quick Boot gets you up and running in seconds. When you need a break, VAIO powers down into a deep energy-saving Sleep mode, keeping your documents safe. With RapidWake + Eco, everything’s ready for instant wake-up, just as you left off.

Despite its slim size, VAIO Duo 11 is ready for business with a full complement of ports and interfaces including Bluetooth Smart Ready, USB 3.0, USB Sleep Charge to charge your USB charging devices like mobiles or music players on the go; even when the PC power is off,  HDMI, Ethernet and VGA video ports. You don’t need extra dongles or adapters to hook up a projector or secondary screen: everything’s on board. An optional sheet-type battery extends battery life.

VAIO Duo 11 gives you life like sound experience, even at noisy places with its unique headphone which comes with Digital noise cancelling feature. Now be in Train, Flight or at office, you can enjoy clear music.

VAIO Duo 11 also provides rich networked entertainment experiences.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Argon Blaster delivers industry’s first flow simulator and traffic generator

UK: Argon Design, a leading developer of high-performance software applications for many core communications processors, launched the Argon Blaster, the industry’s first flow simulation solution for generating realistic, Internet scale traffic loads and applications to test networking and security equipment.  

Blaster delivers a line-rate, timing-accurate, flow-simulation application on an affordable PCIe acceleration card for use in standard x86 platforms. This enables OEMs to cost-effectively distribute a high-performance simulation and traffic generation solution throughout the engineering organization. This new approach significantly reduces development time and cost, while simultaneously increasing product quality.

Blaster is also designed for enterprise and carrier network operators for performance testing of flow-based cyber security and network analytics applications. Blaster enables network managers to verify that these systems are designed and deployed in a manner to match expected network loads.

"High-performance test traffic generation is critical to the continued development of the Vineyard NAVL DPI engine," said Josh Zieske, VP of technical operations at Vineyard Networks.  "To have any value, high performance network application testing solutions must be able to model real-world traffic scenarios accurately.  Blaster has the capabilities we need to provide this accurate network simulation so we can confidently test our products under intense network stress."

Blaster is a simple-to-use application for custom flow and packet generation that runs on standard Linux server platforms accelerated by Netronome's flow processors.  Combining a Netronome Flow Engine PCIe acceleration card with an intelligent software application from Argon Design, Blaster is capable of saturating a 10 Gbps link with application traffic with accurate, consistent, per-flow rate control for up to a million unique flows.

“Flow processing has become pervasive in cyber security, network analytics and software-defined networking designs,” said Steve Barlow, CTO at Argon Design. “As a result, new, cost effective testing and simulation tools are required to stress these products in ways not previously available.”

“Argon Design is a recognized leader in software development for engineering organizations,” said Jarrod Siket, senior VP of marketing and general manager at Netronome. “Their expertise in the complex requirements facing developers of sophisticated communications equipment makes them uniquely qualified to bring this much needed application to market.”

Blaster pricing starts at $9,999, including 12-month warranty and customer support.

Wipro joins Car Connectivity Consortium

INDIA: Wipro Technologies has joined the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), to develop smartphone-based connected-car solutions. The Car Connectivity Consortium is a body dedicated to developing cross-industry collaboration global standards and solutions for smartphone and in-vehicle connectivity.

Members of the CCC include the world leaders in auto manufacturing, mobile communications and consumer electronics. MirrorLinkÔ, a technology standard created by the consortium, ensures seamless communication between compliant smartphones and in-car systems like steering wheels, dashboard buttons and screens.

“The CCC is very pleased to have Wipro as a member,” said Mika Rytkonen, chairman and president of the CCC.  “Like all of our members, Wipro has demonstrated vision and foresight by supporting MirrorLinkTM. Wipro is a world leader in product engineering solutions and we look forward to the company’s contributions to the connected car industry.”

“We support Wipro in its spirit of collaboration to offer drivers and passengers a truly integrated connected driving experience in the future,” said Shoji Suzuki from Clarion Co. Ltd, Japan, a leading manufacturer of in-car infotainment systems, also a core member of CCC. “Wipro’s deep experience in automotive infotainment and mobile technologies will help the consortium build industry standard solutions for the growing market.”

“Membership in the Car Connectivity Consortium is the logical next step in our endeavor to create the best driving experience for consumers. We’ve been working on similar technology for more than two years and have built solutions for interfacing with Terminal Mode and Non-Terminal Mode mobile devices. Our membership in CCC will further enable us to provide MirrorLinkTM certified well tested and up to date solutions quickly to our customers.” said John Slosar, GM, Automotive Electronics, Wipro Technologies. “We envision a world where built-in and brought-in devices in a car work in perfect harmony with each other. We are excited about the prospect of collaborating with the connected car ecosystem to realize this goal.”

ILS successfully launches EchoStar XVI satellite

KAZAKHSTAN: International Launch Services (ILS), a leading launch services provider for the global commercial satellite industry, successfully delivered the EchoStar XVI satellite into orbit on an ILS Proton for EchoStar Corp. EchoStar is a leading global service provider of satellite operations and video delivery solutions headquartered in Englewood, Colorado.

The ILS Proton launched from Pad 39 within the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 00:31 local time today (November 20, 14:31 EST; 18:31 GMT). The ILS Proton vehicle which consists of three stages, used a standard ascent profile to place the orbital unit (Breeze M upper stage and the EchoStar XVI satellite) into a sub-orbital trajectory.

From this point in the mission, the Breeze M utilized a standard five-burn mission to perform the planned mission maneuvers to advance the orbital unit first to a circular parking orbit, then to an intermediate orbit. After a 9 hour and 12 minute mission, the Breeze M successfully released the EchoStar XVI satellite into geostationary transfer orbit.

The satellite was manufactured by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) utilizing their space-proven 1300 platform, weighing over 6.6 metric tons. EchoStar XVI is a powerful direct broadcast satellite (DBS) that is fully leased to DISH Network for use in its Direct-to-Home (DTH) services in the United States. When launched, the satellite will be positioned at 61.5 degrees West longitude. EchoStar XVI is the 24th SS/L satellite launched on an ILS Proton.

This was the 382nd launch for Proton since the inaugural flight in July 1965, and the 76th ILS Proton launch executed. The Proton Breeze M launch vehicle was developed and built by Khrunichev Research and Production Space Center of Moscow, one of the pillars of the Russian Space industry and majority shareholder in ILS.

“With the successful launch of EchoStar XVI, ILS Proton has launched five of the satellites in the EchoStar fleet. We are very proud to have served EchoStar in their expansion over the past ten years,” said ILS president, Phil Slack.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Large-size and high-res TVs become new highlights in LED backlight market in 2013

TAIWAN: According to LEDinside, a research division of global market research company TrendForce, affected by global economic downturn and a decline of orders visibility, LED price for TV backlight application price has fallens by 5-7 percent in Q4’12.

The price of 7030/7020 LED package for major edge-lit LED TV application packages 7030/7020 decreaseds by around 7 percent in Q4, and the price of 3528 LED package for drop rate of direct-lit LED TV droppedpackage 3528 byis approximately 5 percent in this quarter.

Although the prices keep downtrend due to weak market demand, as the continuous growth of TV size, the average size will raise from 38.6” this year to 40.1”. The growth of TV size may drive the increase of average LED package usage, and add lots of imaginary space to the LED TV backlight market next year.

In 2013, TV size is in an uptrend; the proportions of 50”, 55”and 60” TV will gradually increase and drive the LED backlight market demand. At present, the major design pattern of large-size TV design still focuses onis edge type-lit  TV model, and the  the quantity of LED backlight usage volume forin 50-60” LCD TV is about 130-150. In the future, TV sizes above 70” will target high-end customers.

In addition, 4K2K high resolution (3,840*2,160) makes up the resolution shortage of large-size TV, and LCD panel manufacturers in Japan, Taiwan and mainland also bring out 4K2K TV panel in succession. According to LEDinside, the improvement of TV panel resolution will raise LED backlight module brightness, which means the quantity of LED backlight usage volume will increase by 30-50 percent in TV of the same size.

The price of CCFL backlitght LCD TV has almost reached production cost, which makes the price drop space quite limited. As the improvement of direct type-lit LED backlight LCD TV specifications and technologies in 2013, the usage volume for quantity of low cost direct type-lit LED TV usage will be further reduced by 30%. It is expected that in 2013, the price gap between low cost direct-lit LED TV and CCFL backlit TV can have the same price level with CCFL backlight LCD TVwill go to zero.

The major suppliers of direct-lit white HB LED packagee are Samsung, LGIT (LG Innotek), Unity, and AOT. In light of HBwhite LED usage in the most popular 32” TV, direct-lit LED TV uses 21 LEDs, and slim direct-lit LED TV uses about 40-44 LEDs; the number of LEDs used in 46” direct-lit LED TV is around 72, and goes to 80 in the slim type; there are about 100 LEDs in 50” direct-lit LED TV, and 130 LEDs in 55” slim direct-lit LED TV.

LEDinside points out that the sales performance of overall LCD TVs is not positive, and CCFL LCD TV is exiting the market more rapidly. However, with the driven power from Korean, Chinese and Japanese brands, the overall LED TV penetration rate in 2012 is estimated to be 73 percent approximately, and reach 90 percent in 2013. Penetration rate of direct-lit LED TV in overall LED TVs will rise from 11 percent in 2012 to 25 percent in 2013.

Monday, November 19, 2012

BenQ expands India offerings India with LED TV L7000 series

INDIA: BenQ celebrated the official expansion of its LED TV L7000 Series, its essential line for home play entertainment which leads the category with unparalleled audiovisual experience.

The BenQ L7000 Series redefines your visual enjoyment with its IPS Panel and Ultra Slim Bezel to match your living room. An ultra-high dynamic contrast ratio of 1M:1 turns everything before you into a splendor with flawlessly rendered details touched by naturally deeper blacks and in depth color details..

For home users, the TV comes with a design and technology that adds charm to your audiovisual indulgence. BenQ L32 7000 LED TV has an IPS Panel with 1366 x 768 resolution, 8W RMS X 2 Speakers, 16.7 million color depth, HDMI high-speed multimedia interface, 24P real cinema and with Senseye - BenQ's exclusive life like digital image enhancement technology.

Rajeev Singh, country head and GM, BenQ India, said: “We are increasingly focusing on Home entertainment segment in India and to add to consumer’s festive delight, we are introducing our latest offering in LED TV segment today.

"The new LED TV L7000 series comes in two sizes 32” and 37”, add to the delight of consumers who want style with substance. Our focus remains on consumers who are looking for a upgrading their television set with best in class technology. We are already the leaders in the projector segment in India and with the introduction of LED TV range we aim to be a complete home entertainment solution provider for consumers at all level.”

BenQ L32 7000 faithfully brings out every hue from the brightest whites to the deepest blacks with every detail flawlessly layered and contrasted even in the most complex scenes. The models are aesthetically pleasing in design as they are visually satisfying in performance – bringing harmony and balance to contemporary décor with perfectly layered visual elements complementing their boldly sculptured countenance and a front bezel textured to sooth eyes.

Coorporate data centre will remain IT power-house for many organizations in 2013

AUSTRALIA: The sustainable data centre market will see accelerated growth in 2013 as it becomes more focused on cost-savings, and provides more efficient internal IT delivery methods such as virtualization, software-defined networks (SDNs) and the use of converged infrastructure solutions (so-called cloud-in-a-box), says the global analyst firm, Ovum.

In a new report, the independent technology analyst firm states that organizations are looking at getting the best value from their investments, and in 2013 they will therefore be more driven by the desire to reduce costs and improve sustainability.

Roy Illsley, Ovum principal analyst and author of the report, says, “Due to the rise of the data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) market, now referred to as IT financial management, closely linked to the cost and availability of energy, the role of chief sustainability office (CSO) will become more commonplace in organizations.”

Although a small market, DCIM will become more widely used in 2013, as its initial drives will be based on costs linked to energy and change.

Illsley adds, “As organizations look more into cost-saving, energy represents a huge percentage of the cost base.”

Development and operations (DevOps) will also be part of sustainable IT in 2013. As a broad topic, the movement needs organizations to adopt strong governance capabilities that mandate the adoption of agile processes for business benefit to ensure that best practices are followed across the development lifecycle.

Other trends to watch in 2013 will be the complete virtualization of all layers in the data centre from the database, to the storage, out to the user, which will also drive the need for greater automation technologies and the associated orchestration layer. For enterprises, the trend will focus more on sustainable IT and in particular DCIM and DevOPs.

The bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) movement will become more of a reality between 2013/2014, and the mobile policies for corporate use and the growth of smartphones will be combined to provide a path for increased adoption by employees.

For vendors, 2013 looks set to see wider adoption of automation technologies because CIOs will have to deliver the same or more services at reduced cost.

The hype surrounding cloud computing can lead some organizations to predict the end of the internal data centre, but Ovum considers that it is too early to make such bold statements. For many organizations, the question of workload classification remains a difficult issue, and the default position is to keep it on-premise. But even if the workloads are fully understood in terms of risk, cost, and value, the ability to move them is the Achilles heel of current technologies.

“This scenario is highly unlikely to change unless workloads between cloud technologies become truly portable in 2013 or security and privacy concerns evaporate,” concludes Illsey.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Trelleborg inaugurates new facility in Bangalore

INDIA: Leading developer and manufacturer of industrial antivibration systems and specialty molded components, Trelleborg, officially opened its new, state-of-the-art facility in Bengaluru, India.

The specialized production of industrial antivibration systems and molded components will allow the organization to continue to develop its platform for local presence in the region and growth in India’s growing rail, off highway, energy, telecommunications and other industries.

The investment is part of Trelleborg’s continued long-term strategy to invest in markets with favorable growth potential. Using proven leading-edge development and manufacturing processes, the site, that covers a total of 2,800 square meters/ 30,000 square feet, will include full end-to-end processing capabilities including metal preparation, injection molding and post molding preparation as well as test laboratory facilities for material and product testing.

The facility is part of the Trelleborg Engineered Systems business area and it will initially employ around 40 people, with the number to be increased in the near future.

“With the high level of growth expected from the Indian market, this facility will place Trelleborg in the strongest position to provide world class engineering and service capabilities and support growth for our major customers in this important region,” says president for Trelleborg Industrial Solutions, Mikael Fryklund.

“The facility in Bengaluru brings a significant increase in the local support capabilities for our customer base in the country, allowing easier access to our manufacturing expertise and vastly decreasing our reaction times to local product and service needs,” says facility manager, Trelleborg Industrial Solutions, India, Ranadip Basu.

The inauguration was attended by guests from all over the world, including representative from industry leaders from the Indian rail, marine and energy industry, off-highway, telecommunication and industrial markets along with local dignitaries as well as management and personnel from Trelleborg.

Global market for USB 3.0 devices to grow more than 500 percent through 2016

USA: Since its introduction in 1996, USB has displaced a host of wired connectivity standards including FireWire, PS/2 and serial ports that were once used to connect everything from mice to printers to external hard drives.

Although initial adoption of USB 3.0 was fairly weak, device shipments and the installed base will grow significantly by 2016. Currently, USB 1.1 devices are still shipping low-end applications such as mice. Shipments of USB 2.0 devices will peak in 2012. As some 2.0 devices continue to grow, others, including notebooks will fall to virtually zero by the end of the forecast period.

This report provides an in-depth look at the global market for USB devices, covering shipments segmented by USB standard across 54 different device markets between 2010 and 2016. The report provides analysis on market trends, highlights key industry news, furnishes insights into USB laptop webcam controllers, and examines the adoption of new standards like USB 3.0 and the USB Power Delivery specification.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

NI India showcases graphical system design successes at NIDays 2012

INDIA: National Instruments (NATI) hosted ‘NIDays 2012’, attended by more than 700 engineers, researchers and scientists. The summit highlighted the impact of NI technology on solving engineering challenges in India.

NIDays 2012 witnessed participation from NI customers and alliance partners from across a range of industries like healthcare, semiconductor, aerospace, automotive, life sciences, robotics and telecommunication. Industry leaders from companies like Tata Consultancy Services (Engineering services - Consumer Electronics), Nutron Systems (Pharmaceutical Machines) and Cypress Semiconductors (Semiconductor), shared their experiences of using Graphical system Design by demonstrating  the business benefits including cost reduction, dramatic improvement in time to market and productivity gains.

A community forum was launched during the event. This forum intends to bring together LabVIEW developers from all over India to share best practices, discuss technical challenges, share sample codes and also explore career opportunities.

Winners of the annual Graphical System Design Achievement Awards 2012 were announced at the summit. These awards aim to highlight efforts by engineers, scientists and researchers across India for their innovative test, measurement and embedded monitoring and control applications.

The ‘Application of the Year’ was awarded to the Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur, Rajasthan for developing IP for next generation digital radio standard-based transmitter to enable digital quality AM reception for rural India.

LXI scalable and modular high performance matrix from Pickering

UK: Pickering Interfaces is expanding its range of LXI switching solutions with the introduction of the 65-110 LXI Wideband Modular Matrix.

The 65-110 is a new modular platform providing a solution for connecting up to 16 of 104 X connections simultaneously to16 measuring devices on the Y axis with a usable BW of 500MHz. A version supporting 8 Y connections is also available for use in systems requiring fewer measuring devices.

The 65-110 is fully scalable – users can add X connections in blocks of 8 from 8 to 104 connections by simply adding or removing plugin boards to the chassis. Plugin modules can be added by users in the field; the chassis detects the presence of the plugin modules and configures the matrix as a single matrix. The modular construction is made invisible to the user to simplify programming and the Java based soft front panel presents the user with a simple integrated interface reflecting the build of the matrix via the web interface.

The matrix has been designed for high BW and low crosstalk, achieving a usable BW of up to 500MHz and crosstalk to better than 60dB at 30MHz and typically better than 45dB at 500MHz even on adjacent paths.

The high performance of the matrix ensures that the 65-110 is particularly well suited to fast data acquisition systems where a limited number of measuring devices need to capture data from many potential test points, the matrix allows these signals to be connected with minimal loss and low risk of interference from other paths.

All connections are carried on SMB coaxial connectors to preserve the signal BW and ensure cabling can be adequately screened. The 65-110 includes a self-test capability that allows it to check all connection paths with the signal connections in place but not injecting current.

This feature allows the matrix to be tested without having to first disconnect up to 120 RF connections. The self-test facility can be initiated through the 65-110 web pages; it requires no application program running on an external controller.

David Owen of Pickering Interfaces commented: “The 65-110 has been designed to fulfil a requirement at a big physics laboratory for a matrix in a data acquisition system. We have incorporated a number of unique design approaches into the 65-110 in order to achieve the performance required. The 65-110 has been developed as an LXI platform to ensure we had the ability to design the modular sections on a footprint that was (in this case) significantly better than that which could be achieved in PXI and could include a controlled internal analog module interconnect to ensure analog signal integrity. The LXI control interface is better suited to this type of application than alternative test and measurement control methods.”

The 65-110 is fully compliant with the LXI Version 1.4 standard.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Large-sized panel shipment in Oct. climbed 1.5 percent MoM

TAIWAN: According to the large-sized panel shipment survey for October 2012 issued by WitsView, the panel research division of TrendForce, the large-sized panel shipment in October grew by 1.5 percent MoM to 71.05 million units.

Benefiting from the energy-saving subsidy policy in China and the emerging year-end demands in the US and Europe, the LCD TV panel shipment continuously reached the new high.

The LCD TV market showed boosted performance. In addition to the support from Chinese brands’ export orders in Q4, the large-sized TV promotional campaign at the year-end in the US and Europe was estimated to stir consumption, lifting TV panel shipment by 1.4 percent MoM in October to 21.53 million units, which was the historical shipment new high.

The monitor panel shipment grew 1.6 percent MoM to 15.45 million units. For the regular NB panels, the above 12.1” regular NB panels declined by 17.6 percent MoM to 14.25 million units due to main clients’ financial settling and inventory adjustments after a procurement surge in Q3.

For the tablets, as the panel production yield increasingly improved and the dramatically surging iPad mini panel shipment exceeded 2.2 million units in one single month, the tablet panel shipment increased 24.2 percent MoM to 17.69 million units. The Netbook panel shipment amounted to 2.17 million units, growing 4 percent MoM.

As the Black Friday promotional period in North America impends, retailers work with various brands and launch the price cut campaign, and especially the low-priced large-sized products attract most attention.

For example, Vizio works with Sharp and Hon Hai and announces the special price of $989 for the 60”TV, which is also shockingly priced at $688, lower than the previously leaked $799 by $111, during the limited period of Black Friday. The low price promotion focusing on large-sized TV would indirectly bolsters the above 50” TV panel demands.

WitsView research manager Jeffy Chen indicates that, the global shipment proportion of above 50” TV panels surged to above 10 percent in October from 5.3 percent, 7 percent, and 9.4 percent, respectively, in Q1 to Q3, respectively. It clearly showed brand makers’ low price strategy has lifted the market acceptance of large-sized products.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Wii U launch: Expected sell-out not true indicator of long-term success

USA: Nintendo’s latest games console, the Wii U, makes its global sales debut in the U.S. on November 18 and is forecast to outperform the sales of the hugely popular Wii in its opening months on the market. Pent-up demand from Nintendo evangelists, many of which were introduced to the console market through the success of the Wii, is predicted to drive this explosive start.

By the end of December 2012, consumers worldwide are expected to have snapped up 3.5 million Wii U consoles, compared to the 3.1 million Wii consoles that were bought over a similar sales period at the end of 2006, according to IHS Screen Digest.

Based on expectations of shipped Wii U units and overall consumer activity, IHS believes this will lead to supply shortages over the holiday shopping season, leaving some shoppers empty-handed and having to wait until the new year to satisfy their need for the next-generation Nintendo product.

"As a result of the tight inventory control Nintendo employs to manage its supply chain and strong consumer demand in these opening weeks of launch, we believe it's highly likely that retailers will experience some Wii U shortages in the run-up to Christmas. Stock will be replenished in ongoing fashion, but some unlucky shoppers may well miss out," said Piers Harding-Rolls, senior principal analyst, head of games at IHS.

With the landscape of games distribution and consumption altered significantly since the launch of the original Wii, IHS believes that translating this launch sales momentum into Wii-type success will be significantly harder to achieve. As shown in the attached figure, IHS forecasts that Wii U sales over the first four years of its life are expected to reach around 70 percent of the Wii's sales volume in the corresponding time frame.

In 2006, the Wii brought to market gesture-based controls that no console had used before. Its device innovation, coupled with new and interesting social and lifestyle software, ensured the platform became a word-of-mouth and mainstream success. Nintendo's strength of innovation and first-party content have driven consumers to buy a formidable 92 million Wii consoles worldwide since its launch.

There is no doubt the Wii U underlines Nintendo's credentials as an innovator, introducing the first dedicated and fully integrated second-screen game experience to the market. Yet the fragmented landscape for games consumption and the proliferation of always-on, connected devices, means that product innovation alone is not enough to stay relevant to today's mainstream consumer.

 “This time around, Wii U's pure innovation, coupled with a limited volume of high-quality Nintendo software, will not be enough to drive the ongoing sales momentum we witnessed with the Wii console, especially at a higher price point,” said Harding-Rolls. “Long-term success depends on ongoing consumer engagement delivered through the constant release of high-quality content from both first and third parties, a competitive non-games entertainment proposition and a sound digital and online strategy to go along with such innovation. Nintendo is still some way short of delivering a comprehensive engagement-led value proposition at the launch of the Wii U."

Nintendo's recent strategic announcements show a company that has identified its weaknesses and is willing to adapt in order to remain competitive. The Wii U games lineup for the launch window features more third-party developers than Nintendo has had for its consoles in the past. The company has also partnered with 3-D game engine provider Unity to encourage new games developers to come on board, and it has additional titles in the pipeline to keep content fresh as the new year progresses. Nintendo is also focusing needed attention on its digital and online strategy with its own upgraded store and community platform.

"How the company executes on these new initiatives will have a substantial impact on the Wii U's ability to maintain its market relevance past the launch phase when competing with the burgeoning choice of connected devices that serve games content to consumers," added Harding-Rolls.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Emerging opportunities for low-cost sensors

USA: NanoMarkets announced the release of its report titled "Markets for Low-Cost Sensors 2012."

In this new report, NanoMarkets analyzes the opportunities for low-cost sensors in key applications over the next eight years. The report estimates that the total market for such sensors will grow from its current value of over $8.9 billion today to $13.2 billion by 2019, which corresponds to about 42 billion low-cost sensors shipped.

* Diagnostic test strips, and blood glucose test strips in particular, will dominate the overall market.  The market value of blood glucose test strips will grow at a rate of about 3 percent per year, from $7.6 billion in 2012 to nearly $9.3 billion by 2019.

* One of the fastest growing markets for low costs sensors will be in smart packaging applications, particularly in those that are enabled with sensors to monitor temperature, humidity, and various chemicals or gases in foods and personal care consumer goods. NanoMarkets expects this area to grow from its relatively modest value of about $150 million today to over $1.1 billion by the end of the forecast period in 2019.

* At the same time, applications in interactive media, advertising, and disposable electronics are also emerging as a market for low-cost sensors.  The market value of low-cost sensors in these applications will grow from about $30 million today to over $160 million by 2019.

* Low-cost sensors also have a role to play in some building automation systems, which monitor and control the heating, cooling, ventilation, and even lighting of (mostly commercial) buildings using a wirelessly connected network of sensors.

Such systems seek to improve efficiency through smart-metering of demand but also may be used to improve aesthetics, comfort, security, and safety. Because of the large number of sensors per system, even small penetration rate for low-cost sensors translate into large revenues. The market value of low-cost sensors in building automation systems is expected to grow from about $245 million in 2012 to just $1 billion by the end of the forecast period in 2019.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mainstream and value PCs rule over high-end performance models

USA: Consumers continue to favor lower-end desktop PCs and notebook computers over high-performance models for this year and beyond, with the top-end systems accounting for only 6 percent of the market in 2012, according to an IHS iSuppli Compute Platforms Topical Report.

The latest analysis on global desktop and notebook PC penetration shows that in terms of shipments and overall market penetration, lower-end computers classified in either the “mainstream” category or the “value” segment triumphed over higher-end PCs designated in the elite “performance” sector.

This year, for instance, the mainstream desktop PC category tied with the value PC category in the share of the global desktop PC market, with each segment projected to claim an evenly matched 46.9 percent by year-end. In comparison, performance PCs will be left far behind in third place, with a meager 6.2 percent. Meanwhile in the notebook computer space, the value notebook segment will take 46.8 percent, compared to 44.0 for mainstream laptops and 9.2 percent for performance models.

The market calculus doesn’t change in the years ahead, with performance PCs continuing to hold down a minority position compared to either the mainstream or value segments.

“For the desktop as well as the notebook PC market, the continuing domination of lower-end computers is due to the rising performance overall of PCs and their greater affordability to the purchasing public,” said Peter Lin, senior analyst for compute platforms at IHS.

“While the highest and most potent specifications are still reserved for expensive PCs belonging to the performance sector, computers now in the mainstream or value segments are powerful in their own right, and cannot be deemed as throwaway models. Instead, these more affordable systems feature current-generation technologies that prove adequate for most uses, or boast increased microprocessor power that raises the performance bar even for seemingly rudimentary machines.”

Performance, mainstream and value PCs defined
A PC is categorized as a performance model through its use of the latest available PC technology.

Price is a secondary concern given that the pursuit of ultimate performance is the primary consideration, and performance parameters are reflected in the machine’s processor, memory, hard disk and graphics capabilities. Premium prices in the range of $1,000 and up are usual in this category, and towers and minitowers are the most common form factors. Processors used here include Intel’s Core i7 or AMD’s FX and A10 chips.

In comparison, the mainstream PC reflects the most common specs and functionalities available on the market. These models use the latest-generation technology, but not the fastest speeds, and are matched with competitive pricing. Such a combination, in fact, meets the requirements of a vast majority of both the consumer and corporate markets, accounting for the tremendous appeal of mainstream PCs.

The machines come in minitower, desktop or small-form factors, and are typically priced from $500 to $1,000. Processors used here include Intel’s Core i5 or AMD’s A6 and A8 chips.

Value PCs, on the other hand, do not use leading-edge hardware components, especially as price is the principal issue for this category. In light, however, of the increasing performance of microprocessors, value PCs are proving more than adequate for many consumer and corporate markets, which are happy to use the machines for web browsing, email and simple productivity tasks.

Desktop and small-form factors are common in this category, with prices topping out at $500. Processors used here include Intel’s Celeron and Core i3, as well as AMD’s A4 and E2 chips.

Greater processing power will be norm moving forward
As processors become more powerful, more computers will also ship with increased computing capability. Quad-core processors, for example, will be found in 179 million notebook PCs by 2016—equivalent to 59 percent of all notebook computers available on the global market by then. And among desktop PCs, fully 100 percent of the machines will be running 64-bit operating systems by 2016, making the slower and older 32-bit operating system obsolete by that time.

The positive projections for mainstream and value PCs do not hide the fact that the overall PC market continues to be bogged down by slow growth. Ultrabooks and other ultrathin computers have yet to make a dent on the market, and PCs as a whole have been sidelined by enormously popular devices such as tablets, like Apple’s iPad, and also by smartphones with near-PC-like functionalities.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Panasonic launches Toughbook CF-C2

INDIA: Panasonic Toughbook launched the Toughbook CF-C2, one of the most durable and flexible business convertible PC’s designed for healthcare professionals, aviation technicians and automotive engineers. The device is the first Toughbook to be designed to take advantage of the new Windows 8 Pro operating system, whether in clamshell or tablet mode.

The Toughbook CF-C2 is designed for mobile workers who need to multi-task and have multiple ways of data input using a performance PC. The new CF-C2 is more rugged with a smaller, more compact form and a new enhanced triple-hinge system for even more stable operation.

The capacitive 5-finger multi-touch display can be used both in tablet and clamshell mode as the screen remains rigid to the touch due to its rugged enhanced triple hinge. Setting it apart from its competitors and making it optimal for outdoor viewing, the 12.5” HD screen comes standard with IPS technology allowing extra wide viewing angles, strengthened glass, high contrast ratio and 500 cd/m2 high brightness paired with a Panasonic anti-reflection layer ideal.

“The new Toughbook CF-C2 is one of the most durable and flexible business convertible PC’s in the market,” said Gunjan Sachdev, GM, National Business Head, Panasonic Toughbook. “With its desktop-like performance, high class connectivity, long battery and advanced mobility technologies, such as enhanced triple hinges, bridge battery and ergonomic hand-free strap, this device is the perfect work companion for healthcare professionals, aviation technicians and automotive engineers.”

The semi rugged CF-C2 has been designed to easily deal with the knocks and scrapes of a busy mobile workers day, the device can withstand drops of up to 76cm (6angles), comes with a water resistant keyboard and touchpad and strengthened glass on the LCD.

As well as the tablet and notebook operational modes, the CF-C2 comes with an ergonomic and removable, triangular hands-free strap making the device easy to hold and operate with one-hand in any position – portrait, landscape or anywhere in-between.

The Toughbook CF-C2 will be available in India by Jan 2013.

Printed electronics to enable $6.2 billion in product sales by 2017

USA: A major revival of printed electronics (PE) is underway and industry analyst firm NanoMarkets has issued a report titled, "Printed Electronics Version 3.0:  A Market Forecast," identifying the key opportunities that PE now presents.

According to this report, revenues from PE-enabled products will reach $6.2 billion by 2017.

Printed electronics originally meant thick-film electronics (PE V1.0). But nearly a decade ago, the idea emerged that the printing more complex circuitry would lead to PE becoming a massive new industry.  The goals of this earlier phase of PE (PE V2.0) proved too ambitious; it failed to connect to genuine user needs.

NanoMarkets says that the latest phase of PE (PE V3.0) will be characterized by cooperation between all levels of the PE value chain; including end users.  It will focus on smart packaging, smartcards, interactive printed media, disposable electronics, mobile and TV displays, lighting and solar panels. PE will never become the huge industry once hoped for. Instead PE V3.0 will be an important enabler for several applications and a profitable niche business in its own right.

The report quantifies these opportunities in terms of revenues generated by PE V3.0 at three levels of the value chain.  In addition, to an eight-year forecast of PE-enabled products, the report also contains projections of PE components and specialist inks. The components covered are thin-film transistors, memories, batteries, sensors, displays and lighting.

The organizations discussed include: Agilent, Bank of America, Bemis, DuPont Teijin, eBay, E Ink, Enfucell, Esquire Magazine, Fujifilm Dimatix, GE, Gemalto, HelioVolt, Holst Centre, ISET, Jenn Feng, Kovio, MasterCard, Merck, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Nanosolar, Oxford Photovoltaics, PARC, Pioneer, PolyIC, PragmaticIC, Pragmatic Printing, Plastic Logic, Printed Electronics Limited, Qolpac, Samsung, Seiko Epson, SolarPrint, Sumitomo, Thin Film Electronics, Tokyo Electron, and UDC.

Two of the most significant PE components in terms of revenue will be displays and batteries. Together, they are expected to produce more than $1.8 billion in revenues in 2017. Smartcards, powered by printed batteries and equipped with printed displays are already providing enhanced security for eBay and MasterCard accounts. Most of the frontplanes for e-reader displays are fabricated using a printing like process. NanoMarkets sees the printed displays market taking a great leap forward as some of the many attempts to solution process OLEDs become successful.

PE-enabled smart packaging will also see a surge, reaching more than $0.6 billion by 2017.  NanoMarkets believes the most profitable and fastest way for the PE industry to get into the smart packaging space will be by providing enhanced brand image and brand security capabilities. Pharmaceutical packaging is a longer-term opportunity driven by aging populations in the West and in Japan.

Functional ink makers will also benefit from PE V3.0, with sales of such inks reaching well over a $1 billion by 2017. However, NanoMarkets says, despite interesting innovations such as printed silicon and printing PE on paper, the revenues will initially be generated using materials that can now be considered as technologically mature. After so many disappointments, the PE community will be more cautious this time.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Broken links in forged tooling supply chain could cost industries millions

USA: Forged metal parts play an essential role in a wide range of products, spanning markets including automotive, medical devices, and aerospace and defense. However, the loss of dies used for creating forged parts is a problem that can cost billions of dollars to the defense industry alone, as systems age and the supply chain disintegrates.

With a forging die costing an average of as much as $18,000 to create, and a single aircraft platform containing upwards of 3,100 unique forged items, global defense equipment manufacturers could spend as much as $3 million per platform recreating tooling. All told, the U.S. defense forces have $3.6 billion in 200,000 forging dies, according to data from the IHS Haystack Gold parts and logistics management solution.

“When a new product or system is created, all participants in the supply chain come together to design, procure, and ultimately manufacture goods with forged components, “ said Greg Jaknunas, senior product manager, supply chain, for IHS.

“However, as time passes, and the product lifecycle for these goods matures or production entirely ceases, the information flow between the downstream manufacturers and their upstream forge shops disintegrates. Because of that, when a replacement forged part or tooling is needed but cannot be found, it can cost thousands of dollars to produce a substitute.”

Defense industrial base especially vulnerable
The problem of lost dies is particularly acute for the aerospace and defense industry, which must grapple with maintaining the supply of short-lifespan components to support complex military equipment, such as weapons systems that can be in service for several decades. This creates obsolescence issues for replacement parts dependent on a multi-tier supply base, in which critical links are susceptible to supplier failures or diminishing manufacturing sources.

Such issues could be exacerbated if future defense cuts or a looming US fiscal cliff exerts any additional insurmountable duress on such supplier links, separating an otherwise healthy forging industry and its downstream customers. “Supply chain links compromised due to a shrinking defense supply base, or pressures like an economic downturn, can cost millions,” Jaknunas noted.

“However, with an estimated 200,000 records included in the National Forging Tooling Database (NFTD), defense suppliers stand to save billions by tracking and locating lost dies.”

Real facts about forged metal parts
Forged parts are metal components that have been pressed, pounded or squeezed under great pressure into high-strength parts. The process is usually performed by heating the metal to a desired temperature before it is worked. Forged parts are strong and reliable, and therefore are employed in critical applications.

Use of forged metal parts is widespread. For example, a single car may contain 250 forgings, and 40 percent of all truck axle assemblies are made up of forged components, according to the Forging Industry Association (FIA). Earlier in the year, the association noted how forged items are key components to a wide range of market sectors, including automotive, aerospace and defense, as well as the power generation, wind energy, oil and gas exploration, mining and medical markets.

In the aerospace industry, structural, engine and landing gear parts of commercial and military aircraft are forged. In terms of defense, a single tank can contain more than 550 separate forgings. The 120mm gun tube on the M1A2 battle tank is forged. The U. S. Navy’s Aegis Class guided missile destroyers are steered by two forged rudder stocks approximately 20 feet in length and weighing 35,000 pounds each.

Do or die
The cost to replace lost forging dies can be substantial. Furthermore, it can take several weeks or months of production lead time just to locate and, if necessary, reverse-engineer the tooling. Delays can result in substantial costs due to equipment downtime while waiting for parts, and downed equipment can adversely affect mission readiness.

Finding a die in a haystack
To help companies locate lost dies, IHS has captured data into the National Forging Tooling Database (NFTD), which is integrated into its IHS Haystack Gold parts and logistics management solution. The NFTD is a critical obsolescence management tool designed specifically to help organizations quickly and easily search, identify, locate and procure forged metal items, including finding the location of forging dies.
Thousands of tooling identification numbers in the NFTD are linked directly with Haystack Gold’s extensive parts and logistics data, including manufacturer’s part numbers and U.S. Government National Stock Numbers (NSNs).

Organizations that benefit from the NFTD offering in Haystack Gold include:
* US Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) supply centers
* US DOD and DOD suppliers
* Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)
* Tier 1, 2 and 3 suppliers
* Machine shops
* Forge shops.

TMC and Precitech increase yield two-fold

USA: TMC and Precitech, Inc., both units of AMETEK Ultra Precision Technologies, have teamed up to provide one of Precitech’s customers, a major consumer electronics manufacturer, with a vibration control solution that has more than doubled that customer’s yield of ultra-precision optical components.

The manufacturer, with its extremely high quality criteria, had been concerned with the yields from mold inserts used to create small, high-volume precision optics that had been machined using a Precitech Nanoform 250 Ultra precision diamond turning machine.

After investigating its customer’s operation, Precitech suspected that ambient floor vibration in the factory was contributing to the low yield, even though the building’s floor design included vibration-isolated floor sections beneath the diamond turning machines. To solve the problem, Precitech turned to TMC, the world leader in precision floor vibration control.

“Low frequency, low amplitude building floor vibration increasingly has become a limiting factor in the performance of extremely high-resolution, micro-manufacturing tools.  Among these tools are ultra-precise diamond turning machines,” notes Steve Ryan, VP, Sales & Marketing for TMC.

The Nanoform 250 already has an embedded TMC MaxDamp pneumatic vibration isolation system and finite element analysis optimized dual sub frame construction that are adequate for most applications where ambient floor vibration may be a factor. MaxDamp is a low frequency, highly damped, isolator designed to isolate horizontal and vertical building floor vibration starting at 2-3 Hz.

After an extensive site survey of the manufacturer’s floor and the tool itself, a TMC vibration expert confirmed that extremely low frequency building floor vibration – from forklifts, HVAC units, other machinery, even walking past the equipment – exceeded the tool specification and was, in fact, limiting the quality of the molds.

To improve performance, TMC engineers recommended the STACIS active piezoelectric vibration cancellation system to support the entire Nanoform 250, including the embedded MaxDamp air isolators. STACIS cancels vibration down to extremely low frequencies. Those often are related to difficult-to-measure transient or random vibration, such as foot traffic or nearby machinery.

Designed specifically as a second stage of vibration isolation, STACIS starts to isolate at 0.5 Hz and delivers a much higher level of performance than air isolators, particularly in less than optimal environments. Also, because the piezo technology is a “hard-mount,” STACIS can be “stacked” (placed beneath a tool with an internal vibration isolation system).

The combined performance of the MaxDamp isolators supported by a STACIS platform system results in performance that is the sum of the two vibration isolation transfer functions. That is the vibration isolation of the two systems is additive.

When the Nanoform 250 was reinstalled on the STACIS platform system, the results were immediate and dramatic. Yield more than doubled.

Most OEMs plan to reduce number of contract manufacturers

USA: More than half of all electronic original equipment manufacturers (OEM) worldwide plan to reduce the number of contract manufacturers they work with during the next year, according to the IHS iSuppli Outsourced Manufacturing Terms, Conditions and Best Practices Survey.

A total of 51 percent of OEMs, citing increased pressure to maintain profitability and streamline operations, said they would cut the overall number of outsourced manufacturing services providers with which they currently do business.

“The IHS survey reveals that most OEMs want to trim their outsourced manufacturing supply base in order to bring down cost, with the consolidation of suppliers serving as the next biggest reason,” said Thomas J. Dinges, CFA, senior principal analyst for EMS & ODM research at IHS. ”While the impact of this trend is still to be determined, such a move by OEMs potentially could result in a reduction in the number of electronics manufacturing services (EMS), original design manufacturers (ODM) and joint design manufacturers (JDM) competing in the outsourced manufacturing business during the next 12 months.”

On average, each OEM now works with eight outsourced manufacturing partners spanning EMS- , ODM- and/or JDM-type engagements, according to the survey.

Surveying the outsourcers
These findings were just some of the results that can be found in the IHS iSuppli Outsourced Manufacturing Terms, Conditions and Best Practices Survey.

During a six-week period starting in late July, IHS sent the survey, covering more than 150 topics, to more than 1,000 clients in the electronics supply chain through all major global technology regions.

Respondents represented a wide swath of the electronics business, spanning industries including communications, computing, consumer electronics, automotive/transportation and industrial.

The survey covered a wide array of topics related to outsourced manufacturing, ranging from major issues like expectations for contract manufacturing activity, to detailed subjects like payment terms, inventory terms and sourcing discretion.

Outsourcing cost and labor issues
In another major finding from the survey, most OEMs said they believe that outsourced manufacturers can help reduce costs—but the vast majority of respondents said they have no visibility into the cost structure of their EMS, ODM and JDM partners.

Overall, the two most commonly cited changes that OEMs say they want to make with their outsourced manufacturing services providers during the next six months are lead-time reduction and price negotiation.

Meanwhile in China, another issue seems to be requiring attention. Despite all the labor issues that have aired related to the country, almost half of OEMs there still don't require third-party audits of their outsourced manufacturing providers in order to ensure compliance with local labor laws.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Low-end iPad mini carries $188 BoM

USA: The base model of Apple’s new iPad mini with Wi-Fi only and 16 gigabytes of NAND flash memory, carries a bill of materials (BOM) of $188, according to a preliminary estimate from the IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Service. When the $10 manufacturing expense is added in, the total cost to manufacture the iPad mini rises to $198.

Based on the ratio of cost to retail price, IHS has concluded that the iPad mini is slightly more profitable on a percentage basis than the comparably equipped version of the New iPad when it was released in March 2012.

“With the iPad mini, Apple is sticking to the premium-brand strategy it has always used for its media tablet and smartphone products,” said Andrew Rassweiler, senior principal analyst, teardown services, for IHS. “Apple’s strategy entails offering differentiated hardware that justifies higher price tags than comparable products. This differs markedly from Amazon’s 7-inch Kindle Fire HD and Google’s Nexus 7 tablets, both of which are essentially low-margin or no-margin giveaways at a $199 retail price. Apple makes healthy margins on its hardware, while Amazon and Google employ different strategies with their 7-inch tablets.”

Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD and Google’s Nexus 7 have set new consumer pricing expectations for 7.x-inch media tablets, starting at the $199 point. These low-priced tablets pose a competitive challenge to Apple’s media tablet dominance.

“Amazon and Google want to put tablets in consumers’ hands—even if it means doing so at a minimal hardware profit— with the intent of making their money on the content users buy, and/or the advertising and paid content they will be exposed to by buying the devices,” Rassweiler observed.

With the iPad mini, Apple continues to garner even greater profits from sales of the higher-end tablet models that have greater amounts of flash memory. Because Apple provides consumers no option to expand the iPad mini’s storage capacity with any sort of removable memory card, the only way users can upgrade the amount of flash available on the product is to buy the higher-end 32GByte and 64GByte models.

These higher-end models—with or without 4G wireless capabilities—are priced at $100 intervals, at $429 and $529. However, the incremental cost of the additional NAND flash memory to Apple is only $9.60 for the additional 16GBytes of memory and $19.20 for an additional 32GBytes of memory. This means that compared to the 16GByte model, the 32GByte version of the iPad mini generates about $90 in additional profit for Apple for every unit sold. For the 64GByte model, Apple’s profit is about $171 higher than the 16GByte version.

The individual iPad mini dissected by IHS included only a Wi-Fi connection, with no 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless hardware included. Based on the preliminary teardown analysis, the addition of the 4G LTE module hardware would cost approximately $34.00. This cost excludes essential intellectual property (IP) licensing fees, such as those for CDMA/WCDMA/LTE wireless technology.

The defining feature of the iPad mini is its 7.9-inch display, larger than comparable 7.x-inch tablets, whose displays are nearly 1-inch smaller, at just 7.0-inches. The iPad mini employs GF2 multi-touch touchscreen technology, which allows the touchscreen module to be thinner than competing tablets. However, the new GF2 technology also makes manufacturing more challenging during initial production by reducing manufacturing yields.

This drives up pricing for the touchscreen module. The initial cost of the display and touchscreen module is preliminarily estimated at $80.00, representing a hefty 43 percent of the total BOM for the low-end iPad mini.

The main display suppliers for the iPad Mini are likely to be LG Display of South Korea and AU Optronics (AUO) of Taiwan. LG Display has been supplying panels for the entire iPad line since the launch of the first iPad, and is likely to be the main supplier for the iPad mini displays. The IHS iSuppli Teardown analysis service identified Samsung as the supplier of the display in the individual New iPad that was dissected in March. It is important to note that Apple has multiple sources for many key components, such as the display.

With the high price of the display module, Apple needed to reduce expenses in other sections of the iPad mini. The most notable example of cost cutting is in the processor: an A5 chip manufactured with a 32-nanometer process technology. The A5 used in the mini is a part that has been used in two other Apple products, including the latest Apple TV model—with that version using only one of the cores in the A5 32nm—as well as the latest version of iPad 2. Because of this, the A5 processor costs just  $13.00, accounting for only 4 percent of the total BOM. This compares to $16.50 for the Texas Instruments Inc. OMAP processor used in Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD.

“The use of the A5 is a great example of Apple leveraging a common component in as many devices as possible in order to increase purchasing volumes and keep costs to a minimum,” Rassweiler said.

Despite the well-publicized legal battles between Samsung and Apple, Samsung remains the manufacturer of the processor, the same as in the iPad 2 and New iPad. The A5 is based on Apple’s own design, and Samsung simply serves as the part’s foundry manufacturer, rather than as its supplier.

Other notable suppliers in the iPad mini include:

* SK Hynix and Elpida, which respectively supply the NAND flash and DRAM, which are collectively estimated to cost $15.50.
* Dynapack, the maker of the $13.50 battery.
* STMicroelectronics, which sells the gyroscope used in the user interface and sensor combo module.

Amazon loses less money with Kindle Fire HD

USA: The low-end Kindle Fire HD—with a 7-inch display, 16 gigabytes of NAND flash and Wi-Fi wireless only—carries a bill of materials (BOM) cost of $165. When the $9 manufacturing cost is added in, the cost to produce this model of the Kindle Fire HD increases to $174.

At $174, the Kindle Fire HD costs slightly less to make than its sales price of $199, strictly from a hardware and manufacturing perspective and not including other costs. This is an improvement from original Kindle Fire, which was priced the same at $199, but was initially estimated to carry $201.70 in BOM and manufacturing costs based on estimates made in November, 2011, meaning that Amazon took a loss on every media tablet sale.

“Amazon’s strategy with the Kindle Fire HD 7-inch tablet is not really to make money on the hardware itself,” said Andrew Rassweiler, senior principal analyst, teardown services, for IHS. “Rather, the idea is to create a product at a compelling price point and then get a lot of consumer traction in order to put Amazon content and the Amazon online store into consumers’ hands. However, for its second-generation Kindle Fire, Amazon has reduced the cost to make the tablet, cutting the cost of the hardware subsidy that the company must put out to pursue its strategy.”

Amazon managed to reduce the BOM cost of the HD, despite improving the specifications compared to the original Kindle Fire. However, most of the improvements are incremental, allowing Amazon to reduce costs or minimize increases in individual subsystems.

The biggest area of cost reduction was in the display, accounting for a $23 decrease in the BOM compared to the first Kindle Fire. Like the original Kindle Fire, the HD sports a 7-inch display. However, the new model increases the resolution to 1,280 x 800 pixels, up from 1,024 x 600.

The display and touchscreen subsystem costs a total of only $64 accounting for 39 percent of the Kindle Fire HD’s total BOM. In contrast, the original Kindle Fire’s display and touchscreen carried a cost $87 and accounted for 47 percent of the product's BOM, based on pricing from November 2011.

The memory configurations in the Fire HD also doubled compared to the original Kindle Fire. The amount of NAND flash memory in the base-model HD has increased to 16GBytes, up from 8GBytes in the previous version. DRAM content rose to 1GByte of LPDDR2+ memory, up from 512 megabytes.

The total memory cost in the Kindle Fire HD amounts to $23, or 14 percent of the BOM. Thus, despite a doubling in memory content, the combined memory cost for the HD is only $1 higher than in the original version of the Fire. This is because of normal pricing reductions that occur in the semiconductor market.

There’s also an upgrade of the core Texas Instruments processor from the OMAP4430 to the OMAP4460, which raises the frequency to 1.5GHz, up from 1GHz. This incurred an increase of less than $2 in BOM cost compared to the first Kindle Fire.

The battery was unchanged from the original model. However, because of normal electronics industry learning-curve dynamics, the cost of the battery declined to $15, down from $16.50.

The HD also added a camera module, which was absent from the original model. However, with a low resolution of just 1 megapixel, the camera costs a negligible $2.50. This compares to $11 for the 5-megapixel camera, plus a secondary 1-megapixel 720p front-facing camera, in the iPad mini.

“Overall these are all progressive incremental changes, with nothing revolutionary added,” Rassweiler said. “However, these features allow Amazon to offer a better feature set for less cost than the last version of the Kindle Fire, while maintaining the ‘magical’ $199 entry point at retail.”

Amazon is offering other versions of the Kindle Fire HD beyond the base model dissected by the IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Service. The company also is selling two versions with 8.9-inch displays—one with Wi-Fi, and another with a 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless connection. Both the 7-inch and 8.9-inch models offer 16GByte and 32GByte memory options.

“Amazon has taken an interesting twist on the ‘memory upgrade for dollars’ approach that Apple pioneered with the iPad line,” Rassweiler said. “There is a $70 price difference between the 16GByte and 32GByte 8.9-inch models. However, there’s only a $50 gap for the same difference on the 7-inch model. That means Amazon makes a better incremental profit margin for the 8.9-inch 32GByte model.

“The Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch with LTE comes in 32GByte and 64GByte options. There is a $100 retail price difference between the models. These price variations are interesting because the cost of NAND flash is approaching $0.50 per GByte in the market for commodity NAND flash, making these optional upgrades highly profitable for Amazon.”

Major design winners in the Kindle Fire HD include LG Display, which supplied the display/touchscreen subsystem in the individual tablet torn down by IHS. However, IHS believes that Panasonic is also a source for the subsystem. Despite the cost reduction, the display remains the most expensive section of the Kindle Fire HD.

Samsung contributed the NAND flash, while SK Hynix was the source of the DRAM. As mentioned previously, Texas Instruments supplied the processor, and the company also provided the HDMI component IC.

Microsoft Surface RT more profitable than iPad

USA: The Surface RT model with the minimum 32 gigabytes of NAND flash memory and an optional black Touch Cover carries a bill of materials (BOM) of $271, as per a preliminary estimate from the IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Service. When the $13.00 manufacturing expense is added in, the total cost to manufacture the Surface rises to $284.

Please note that these teardown assessments are preliminary in nature, account only for hardware and manufacturing costs and do not include additional expenses such as software, licensing, royalties or other expenditures. In terms of its size, feature set and pricing threshold, the Surface RT is clearly designed to compete with the full-sized iPad.

“The Surface represents a key element in Microsoft’s strategy to transform itself from a software maker into a devices and services provider,” said Andrew Rassweiler, senior principal analyst, teardown services, for IHS. “Key to this strategy is offering hardware products that generate high profits on their own, similar to what Apple has achieved with its iPad line. From a hardware perspective Microsoft has succeeded with the Surface, offering an impressive tablet that is more profitable, on a percentage basis, than even the lucrative iPad based on current retail pricing.”

At an estimated total BOM and manufacturing cost of $284 and a retail price of $599, the Surface RT generates hardware and manufacturing profits that are, in percentage terms, higher than the low-end iPad. Even at a price of $499 without the Touch Cover, Microsoft will generate a profit margin that is greater than the low-end iPad, in percentage terms and on a per-unit basis.

One key differentiating hardware feature of the Surface hardware is the optional Touch Cover, which is essentially a cover that also acts like a full-function keyboard, but uses only capacitive touch sensing to operate. The keyboard works very well and even has a touchpad at the bottom, making the device feel and operate very much like a notebook PC when the Surface sits on its kickstand and the Touch Cover is laid flat.

“The Touch Cover represents a best-of-both-worlds approach for the Surface, giving it the most attractive features of both notebook PCs and media tablets,” Rassweiler said. “This feature differentiates the Surface from the iPad. The end result for Microsoft is a very compelling product that is impressive. It’s also clearly more Microsoft friendly—so enterprises and major users of Microsoft Office likely will gravitate to this very competent product as a possible substitute to conventional notebook PCs when used for travel.”

The Touch Cover serves as an example of a feature that can encourage users to upgrade to a higher-end model that generates more profits for a company—similar to premium-priced tablets that feature larger quantities of memory. With options like the Touch Cover or extra flash, a manufacturer can offer a low-end model at a base price that meets a psychological threshold—$499 in this case—with the hope that consumers will impulsively opt for extra features or memory upgrades that generate major profits.

IHS estimates preliminarily that the Touch Cover costs Microsoft $16 to $18 per unit. The Touch Cover accessory integrates a printed circuit board (PCB) assembly with numerous chips, including a Freescale microcontroller and an Atmel touchscreen controller.

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. is the biggest design winner in the Surface, based on our teardown sample. Various divisions of Samsung supply components or complete subsystems for many of the most expensive portions of the individual tablet dissected by the IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Service: the display, the NAND flash and the battery pack. However, most of these parts are available from multiple sources, and other suppliers are likely utilized in other individual Surface tablets.

Another major winner is Nvidia Corp., which supplies the Surface’s processor. The Surface RT is based on an Nvidia quad-core Tegra 3 processor, which uses the ARM architecture. The Tegra 3 costs an estimated $21.50, accounting for 8 percent of the Surface RT’s BOM.

Also scoring some major wins in the Surface RT is Atmel, which supplies multiple touch controllers in the Surface itself as well as in the Touch Cover.