Thursday, January 31, 2013

US IPTV growth decelerates in Q4

USA: The growth of the US Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) market continued to decelerate in the fourth quarter of 2012, due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy and the slowing expansion of Verizon's FiOS service.

The two major US IPTV players, Verizon and AT&T, reported a combined gain of 326,000 video subscribers in the fourth quarter, down 19 percent from the 402,000 acquired during the same period in 2011, according to the IHS Screen Digest US Television Intelligence Service.

This marked the second consecutive year of slowing subscriber growth in the fourth quarter, with the total for the last three months of 2011 down 7 percent from 430,000 in 2010. For the entire year of 2012, net subscriber adds for the two US IPTV services amounted to 1.3 million, down 14 percent from 1.5 million in 2011.

Through 2017, both major U.S. IPTV players will continue to see their subscriber gains moderate as the market becomes more mature. By 2017, IHS Screen Digest expects that IPTV in the United States will account for 13.4 million pay-TV households, or 10.8 percent of all pay-TV subscribers.

“Verizon's FiOS accounted for the majority of the slowdown, as the fiber-to-the-home (FTTH)  service added only 134,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2012, down from the 194,000 gained during same period in 2011,” said Erik Brannon, senior analyst for television research at IHS.

“The disruption caused by hurricane Sandy may have slowed FiOS’s progress. However, the major reason for the deceleration is that FiOS is largely finished expanding its footprint into new geographic areas of the United States. FiOS’s penetration is significantly higher than that of U-verse, causing long-term growth to slow for Verizon's IPTV service.”

FiOS slowing—but still growing
FiOS in 2012 increased its video subscriber base by 553,000 to reach 4.7 million, up 13.3 percent from 4.2 million in 2011. This represents a 21 percent reduction from the 701,000 increase in 2011.

FiOS’s video penetration now stands at 33.3 percent, compared to 31.5 percent at the end of 2011. Still, the largest US IPTV provider grew its video subscriber base by 13.3 percent this past year.

Expanding U-verse
AT&T continues to maintain its growth in its U-verse video services, as 192,000 subscribers joined in the fourth quarter of 2012, only 8,000 less than during the same period in 2011.

U-verse video subscribers grew 19.6 percent for the year and now stand at 4.53 million, closing in on FiOS’s total video subscribers. With a much broader rollout of U-verse, the fiber-to-the-node service passes 72 percent more eligible video homes than FiOS. Given a significantly larger reach and low video penetration of just 18.7 percent, AT&T is also able to maintain steady growth in gains for its IPTV services.

All told, U-verse added 745,000 subscribers in 2012, down just 7.3 percent from 2011's net gain of 804,000 subscribers.

IPTV for everybody
IPTV growth continues in the United States, although at a reduced pace. Plenty of room for expansion remains as FiOS focuses on penetration levels and U-verse stresses marketing to its lightly penetrated footprint.

Peripheral Vision launches ISOLIGHT light metering system

USA: Peripheral Vision, Inc., experts in digital camera design and development, has introduced ISOLIGHT light metering system. Designed to bring standardization to lighting conditions for test images, ISOLIGHT improves the quality and constancy of camera test images.

ISOLIGHT targets digital imaging system designers and testers who require uniform lighting and accurate measurement recordings for product development, or to verify compliance with image quality specifications.

"Anyone who designs, evaluates or tests digital cameras has struggled with the current methods available to setup and capture test images," said Michael Okincha, president of Peripheral Vision.

"ISOLIGHT eliminates the physical constraints of holding test charts and light meters to record the test conditions, measuring everything you need to know about an image. It can be used to test any type of digital imaging system, from digital still cameras to mobile phone cameras, to HD video and videoconferencing systems. ISOLIGHT greatly simplifies the testing process, accelerating time to market for a device."

It is important that test charts be evenly illuminated when capturing images; uneven illumination introduces error in measurements. Today¹s standard approach of using a hand-held light meter presents several problems, including shadows, distortion and difficulty in adjusting lights or positioning the meter.

ISOLIGHT eliminates these issues by allowing a single person to continuously measure and monitor the absolute illumination level and uniformity without an assistant, ensuring that testing is accurate and well documented. The system can also be connected to a PC over USB or a wireless network for remote data acquisition and control, facilitating integration into automated testing and production environments.

Sanovi announces RAH InfoTech as national distributor

INDIA: Sanovi Technologies, a leader in disaster recovery management  (DRM) software, has announced RAH InfoTech as its national distributor for India and SAARC. With this alliance, RAH InfoTech will now be authorized to distribute the entire range of DRM solutions.

Sanovi Technologies is an independent software vendor founded in 2002, offering a suite of software products and solutions in the IT Disaster Recovery Management (DRM) space. Sanovi has its corporate headquarters in Bangalore, with sales and service offices across India, Dubai, and South Korea.

Sanovi's flagship DRM product enables organizations to ensure that their IT applications recover predictably in a disaster scenario to meet the required recovery goals. Today, more than 85 large enterprises, including several Fortune 500 clients, are already using Sanovi products to manage their DR programs.

Sanovi solutions are available directly and also through several partners including HP, IBM, HCL, TCS, GBM and Wipro Technologies.

Seagate and Virident to deliver solutions for enterprise flash storage market

USA: Seagate Technology plc and Virident Systems Inc., the performance leader in flash-based storage-class memory (SCM) solutions, announced a strategic agreement to jointly deliver solutions for the growing enterprise flash storage market.

Under the agreement, Seagate will immediately offer a complete line of flash-based PCIe solutions to its OEM and distribution partners. In addition, Seagate and Virident intend to leverage their mutual strengths to create next-generation hardware and software solutions for the solid-state storage market. In conjunction with the agreement, Seagate has made a strategic equity investment in Virident, and will appoint one member to the Virident Board of Directors.

“Seagate is thrilled to team with Virident, a technology leader in one of the fastest growing markets in enterprise and cloud computing,” said Gary Gentry, senior VP and GM, Solid State Drives at Seagate.
“Together, we are working to develop the next-generation hardware and software solutions in the PCIe space. Our solid-state strategy is founded on both in-house development and through strategic partnerships with innovative companies to deliver the broadest portfolio in the industry. We believe that this strategic agreement immediately strengthens our leading position in the enterprise storage market by adding a broad line of Seagate flash-based PCIe solutions powered by Virident to our portfolio. We look forward to a long, productive partnership with Virident.”

“We are extremely pleased to have Seagate as a strategic partner and investor,” said Mike Gustafson, CEO of Virident. “This partnership validates Virident’s vision of pervasive flash in the performance tier and accelerates our shared vision by bringing next-generation SCM solutions to the enterprise and web datacenters worldwide. The agreement also expands Virident’s routes to market today by making our best-in-class PCIe flash products available to Seagate’s world-class channels.”

NI intros digitizer and updates to LabVIEW jitter analysis toolkit.

USA: National Instruments announced the NI PXIe-5162 digitizer and updates to the LabVIEW jitter analysis toolkit. The digitizer, with 10 bits of vertical resolution and a 5 GS/s sample rate, provides high-speed measurements at four times the vertical resolution of a traditional 8-bit oscilloscope.

With 1.5 GHz of bandwidth and four channels in a single slot, the NI PXIe-5162 is suited for high-channel-count digitizer systems in manufacturing test, research and device characterization. Engineers can use the digitizer with LabVIEW and the LabVIEW jitter analysis toolkit, which provides a library of functions optimized for performing the high-throughput jitter, eye diagram and phase noise measurements demanded by automated validation and production test environments.

“The combination of high-speed, high-channel and high-resolution measurements offered by the NI PXIe-5162 digitizer makes it possible for traditional oscilloscope customers to think beyond traditional box instruments for automated test,” said Steve Warntjes, NI director of modular instruments research and development.

“Using our high-speed digitizers with the LabVIEW jitter analysis toolkit helps engineers accelerate their measurement systems using the processing power of modern PCs instead of the legacy embedded processors on box oscilloscopes.”

NI PXIe-5162 features
* 10 bits of vertical resolution for greater insight into the signal.
* Four channels in a single 3U PXI Express slot, expanding to 68 channels in a single PXI chassis.
* 5 GS/s maximum sample rate on one channel or 1.25 GS/s on four channels simultaneously.

LabVIEW jitter analysis toolkit features
* Built-in functions for clock recovery, eye diagram, jitter, level and timing measurements.
* Example programs for eye diagram and mask testing, and random and deterministic jitter (RJ/DJ) separation using both dual-Dirac and spectrum-based separation methods.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Microsoft launches Office 365 for consumers

USA: Microsoft Corp. announced the availability of Office 365 for consumers, a reinvention of the company’s flagship Office product line. Families can now subscribe to Office 365 Home Premium, which includes the latest and most complete set of Office applications; works across five PCs/Macs plus five mobile devices; and comes with extra SkyDrive storage.

“This isn’t just another version of Office. This is Office reinvented as a consumer cloud service,” said Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft Corp. “Together with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, Office 365 gives you the freedom to do things when and how you want.”

Microsoft also announced it will now deliver many new features and services to the cloud first, transforming the company’s traditional three-year release cycle.  Now, new features and services stream to subscribers as soon as they’re ready, eliminating the hassles of upgrading and keeping subscribers always up-to-date.

JouleX announces v 4.0 of enterprise energy management platform

USA: JouleX has introduced version 4.0 of the JouleX Energy Manager (JEM) platform, a true enterprise-class energy management solution that substantially reduces the total cost of ownership of network and data center infrastructure for enterprises and managed service providers. With version 4.0 of the JEM platform, global enterprises can realize significant immediate and long-term cost savings with a quicker time to benefit.

“JEM 4.0 provides a tremendous new opportunity for our customers to globally scale their energy management capabilities across their global enterprises and for our partners to deliver new managed energy services from the cloud to their customers,” says Tom Noonan, president and CEO of JouleX.

“Importantly, it sets the stage for a much larger vision we have for the future of energy management, and one that operates on a powerful and massive economic scale. From here, we can see a future where JEM is the enabling technology for ‘energy exchanges’ that manage capacity and loads across the energy supply chain to a collection of exchanges managing the internet of things. It’s truly an exciting time to be in this market.”

JEM is the first software-defined, network-based, energy management system that dynamically measures the energy consumption and utilization of all network-connected devices and systems to provide visibility into power usage across the enterprise and autonomous control policies to help organizations identify and automatically reduce energy waste. The new JEM platform has been designed to provide a wide variety of capabilities to give global organizations more choice and control in energy management.

Smaller TV channels could make cost-effective transition to OTT-only delivery in five to 10 years

USA: For many individual channels that have small- or medium-sized audiences, a switch to over-the-top (OTT) streaming as their sole means of video delivery could become an option over the long term.

However, it’s currently not cost effective for television channels with large numbers of viewers to move to OTT-only video delivery, according to an IHS Screen Digest Insight report.

An analysis of the U.K. television market reveals that about two-thirds of the country’s major channels potentially could afford to switch to a unicast OTT-only delivery model five to 10 years in the future. Of the 192 channels rated by the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB), only 58 have such large audiences that moving to a pure-OTT approach would be cost ineffective for the foreseeable future.

Even so, the remaining 134 are candidates that could eschew traditional pay-TV platforms and move to OTT delivery in standard definition (SD).

Channels for which the cost of unicast OTT streaming would be 1.5 times or less than the cost of satellite broadcast are all candidates to make the transition. These 134 SD channels carry a weekly content delivery network (CDN) cost of 10,000 euros per week or less, as presented in the figure below.

“For large consumption channels—i.e., channels with large audiences—the economics of OTT streaming remain highly unfavorable, with the cost in some cases hundreds of times greater than broadcast on satellite,” said Guy Bisson, research director for television at IHS.

“However, for channels with a low to medium viewing share, scaling for OTT may not be such an issue. It’s true that high-definition (HD) makes OTT unaffordable for any channel regardless of its audience size, and that any discussion of moving away from traditional satellite, cable and terrestrial and to OTT is academic at the current time. Nonetheless, as television business models change and subscribers’ viewing habits evolve, there could be a gradual move among smaller SD channels to begin to investigate OTT unicast and multicast as a substitute for traditional broadcast during the next decade.”

Perils of OTT
OTT provides many advantages compared to traditional broadcast. It provides consumers with greater choice and flexibility in programming, platforms and location.

However, OTT is not free. As OTT scales to larger audiences and to HD content, it is not cost effective and represents an onerous incremental cost.

At present, OTT streaming costs are incurred in addition to broadcast costs, just as channels are usually simulcast in both SD and HD for a period after the launch of the HD channel. With the exception of very specialized niche channels, no channel owner with an established model built on carriage and advertising would today take the decision to end satellite or terrestrial carriage in favor of OTT only. Any OTT consumption by viewers, therefore, currently piles on cost rather than substituting costs in the broadcast space.

In addition, current on-demand consumption patterns suggest that a shift to unicast OTT delivery from broadcast today would also impact viewing market share, further reducing the value of the channel and its business model.

Extra-terrestrial value
It may appear that given the high cost of terrestrial broadcast, unicast OTT streaming would be more cost effective. In fact, the opposite is true.

The uplift given to viewing by transmission on the terrestrial network means that to deliver the actual programming consumed on a weekly basis via OTT would be more expensive for most channels.

OTT overreach?
The reality is that any channel’s transition to OTT-only transmission is unlikely until a fundamental shift in television business models occurs. The fact that unicast could be cheaper for the vast majority of UK channels means nothing, if a shift to OTT streaming as a substitute for broadcast means losing audience share, brand power and reach. And today, it undoubtedly would.

Before a channel can even consider a shift to unicast streaming as a primary or majority form of delivery, two major changes will need to occur.

First, there will need to be a consumer-facing OTT platform with significant reach, which acts as the primary means of television delivery in the majority of homes that it touches. Second, there must be a larger shift in consumer behavior away from linear scheduled television.

Without these two changes, the costs of unicast delivery will remain an additional expense with traditional broadcast.

Planting the seed
The seeds of both these changes have been planted in the United Kingdom.

On the platform side, Youview, Sky’s Now TV and British Telecom’s evolving Vision service all have the potential to realize the first fundamental shift.

The second shift—consumer behavior—cannot occur without the first taking place. Because of this, the consumer shift is likely to take longer.

Thus, the move to OTT will not be a near-term change but a gradual evolution instead, and the transition will not come as a big bang. Signs of the transition will appear when the smaller channels begin to investigate unicast and multicast as a substitute for broadcast. Over what time scale this will occur is difficult to predict, but it is certain to be longer than five years.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

HGST launches industry's highest capacity 10K RPM hard drive

USA:  HGST (formerly Hitachi Global Storage Technologies and now a Western Digital company) has announced the industry's highest-capacity 10,000 RPM, enterprise-class hard drive – the Ultrastar C10K1200.

Providing a capacity extension to HGST's proven Ultrastar C10K900 product line, the new 2.5-inch Ultrastar C10K1200 features a SAS 6Gb/s interface for reliable data throughput, a 64MB cache buffer for optimized read/write response time, and a fast 10K rotational speed for reliable high-performance computing.

All this, combined with the drive's low power, high capacity and high performance attributes, results in higher density servers, blades and network storage arrays that helps reduce space requirements, lowers cooling costs and improves total cost of ownership (TCO).

Increasing storage needs, shrinking floor space and budgets, and reducing power and cooling are just a few challenges that datacenter managers face today, making it challenging to scale and sustain business growth.

Whether building datacenters for public clouds, private clouds or traditional datacenters, adopting the right tiered storage strategy delivers greater efficiencies in terms of reliability, performance, capacity and power, and can make a vast difference in the ability to lower TCO.

As the only 1.2TB 10,000 RPM enterprise-class SAS hard drive in the industry, and one with a 2.0 million hours mean time between failure¹ (MTBF) specification, the Ultrastar C10K1200 is the ultimate solution for 24x7 enterprise applications such as data mining/analysis, business processing and timely delivery of data-intensive content-on-demand such as multiple channels of streaming video.

For space and/or power constrained cloud or enterprise datacenter environments, the 1.2TB Ultrastar C10K1200 drive delivers 33 percent more capacity in the same 2.5-inch form factor, giving IT managers the ability to now store 28.8 TBs in a 2U, 24-bay rackmount server. The Ultrastar C10K1200 drive also helps datacenters achieve lower AC power and HVAC requirements. With HGST Advanced Power Management technology, with multi-state idle modes, the Ultrastar C10K1200 uses less than 5W during idle mode, freeing up precious headroom for growing datacenter needs.

TPK’s high-profile expansion drives growth or contraction in touch NB development

TAIWAN: TPK, the major manufacturer in the touch module industry, has led the way in Nov’ 12 to declare the capacity expansion plan in the Taichung G4.5 plant of its subsidiary Cando, followed by the cooperative alliance with Sintek on the front-end OGS capacity published at the end of December.

In addition, it announced yesterday to build the new G5.5 plant. Several substantial investments and cooperation planned during a short three-month period demonstrate actively the Taiwanese maker’s determination to expand capacity. According to WitsView, the research division of TrendForce, TPK’s high-profile expansion not only suggests the optimistic expectation on the outlook of OGS touch module, but its capacity changes also drive tightly the following developments of touch NBs.      

WitsView indicates that TPK has always been the representative maker among its peers of glass type touch modules, in addition to its touted back-end processes and bonding ability, it holds a certain proportion of product resources on G/G touch module.

On the other hand, TPK invests relatively limitedly on OGS, quite a hit topic recently, and mostly relies on Cando for the advanced technology requirement of the front-end touch sensor. TPK’s announcement to get involved in G5.5 indicates the emerging changes in product portfolios and reveals its decision to bet on OGS.    

According to WitsView’s survey, most supply of OGS touch module in NBs are controlled by TPK, taking Q4’12 for example, the touch NBs accounted for 4-5 percent of the global NB shipment, and TPK held 80 percent of the touch module in that segmentation.

The oligopoly supply chain underlines TPK’s far-leading product competitiveness to its rivals, but the limited capacity cannot meet NB brands’ entire OGS touch module demands, causing short supply.  

WitsView’s research director Eric Chiou says that TPK’s G5.5 investment intents not only to reach the goal of diversifying supply risk but to find a lower cost solution. Many NB brands have switched suppliers to film type touch module makers or the panel makers who are capable of total solution that provides both panels and touch modules, and those are all threats that takes TPK’s share in the touch NB market.

By lifting capacity, TPK can not only meet exiting clients’ demands but gain ample resources to promote business to new clients, maintaining an over 50 percent share in the NB touch module market. Besides, once the mainstream OGS supply is sufficient, it can ease the speed that the remaining touch module technologies, such as G/F/F, penetrate into the NB market.    

The touch NBs have difficulties to stimulate consumers’ purchase with rapid price cuts due to poor integration of Windows8 touch operation, tight OGS supply, and elevated OGS touch module price. As a result, WitsView holds a conservative attitude toward touch NB penetration rate in 2013 at only 7-8 percent.

However, Chiou believes that, TPK’s active expansion in capacity relieves effectively the tight supply issue, once the short supply eases along with the price drop in touch module, the two key problems mentioned above, the OGS short supply and the elevated prices, can be solved at once. In sum, TPK’s capacity movements and pricing strategy are both crucial keys to if the touch NB penetration rate in the second half of the year remains flat or accelerates.

DigiVive partners with IndiaCast for 20 channels

INDIA: nexGTv, India’s premier mobile TV service and IndiaCast, a joint venture between TV18 and Viacom18 that distributes TV channels across various platforms, announced their partnership for live streaming of twenty popular and regional channels.

These channels are for over 7.5 million current and new end subscribers of nexGTv service. These channels include - Colors, MTV, CNBC-TV18, IBN7, CNBC Awaaz, IBN Lokmat, CNN IBN, History TV18, ETV Gujarati, ETV Marathi, ETV Bangla, ETV Kannada, ETV Oriya, ETV UP, ETV MP, ETV Rajasthan, ETV Urdu, ETV Bihar, ETV and ETV2.  This partnership further enhances nexGTv regional channels bouquet. On demand of nexGTv users, History channel has been added to the existing bouquet.

At present, nexGTv users have access to over 100 channels with plethora of features like – replay TV, EPG guide, on screen controls, option of deleting and listing the channels as per their choice and much more. nexGTv has maintained its top position on various app stores in the entertainment category. On an average there are 30,000 downloads every day of DigiVive’s nexGTv mobile TV service. nexGTv witnessed huge traction during cricketing action and the average new user toll is increasing day-by-day.

nexGTv is one-of-its-kind service and various features like replay TV, adaptive streaming, best-in-class user interface and 24x7 customer care support call center makes it very unique from other prevailing mobile TV services in India. It offers channel ranging from national to regional in the category of entertainment, movies, news, and much more. It offers best of content with top channels such as Sony bouquet, Star bouquet et al. One of its unique features is adaptive streaming which enables seamless live streaming even on 2G network.

Home networking jumps to Gigabit speeds as MoCA households exceed 25 million in 2014

USA: The first significant shipments of the HomePlug AV2 and MoCA 2.0 standards will be seen in 2013, offering higher speeds as well as more robustness under different line conditions. Not all devices shipped using the new standards will support the full set of features, so many will not offer gigabit speeds.

ABI Research expects North American MoCA households to exceed 25 million by 2014 with similar numbers in Western Europe for Homeplug. While no new wires home networking solutions have gained significant traction from pay-TV operators, the pathway to stronger consumer mindshare will come through hybrid networking solutions, consumer education, and the retail market – which is increasingly becoming the focus of many companies operating in the market.

Senior analyst Michael Inouye comments: “Entropic leads the market share in unit shipments within the Home Networking market, with a portfolio currently extending from MoCA only solutions to SoCs for client devices based on its acquisition of Trident’s STB business and into Hybrid networking based on partnerships.

"Entropic is working to bring MoCA a stronger retail presence with solutions like its multi-band MoCA adapter, simplifying the shopping experience. Integrated STB solutions will also help expand the footprints of these technologies with companies like Broadcom, Entropic, STMicro, and MStar leading the way.”

TV & Video practice director, Sam Rosen, added: “The ultimate goal to simplify home networking is to see a wider range of products, like connected CE devices, integrate these wired networking technologies. While cost and adoption remain barriers, technology is improving both in terms of HomePlug’s integration with power supplies and multi-band MoCA solutions. Without stronger consumer demand there is little incentive for CE manufacturers to integrate wired networking rather than rely on external adapters.”

Monday, January 28, 2013

Use your tablet in Hindi, courtesy, WishTel

INDIA: Keeping in mind the current growth trend of tablet devices in upcoming days, WishTel has introduced a new range of its very popular BSNL IRA ICON tablets that are loaded with Hindi OS interface.

This tablet allows all Android users not only to type in Hindi but read and access all functions and icons in Hindi. This tablet PCs delivers optimized experience in typing and surfing in Hindi language using Hindi keyboard. In addition to voice (using  BSNL sim and VoIP) and video (using video conferencing and mobile TV applications), BSNL is also offering two months of free data usage upto 2GB.

Users can access and send emails in Hindi, Network on Facebook in Hindi, Watch Hindi Movies and TV channels, Read Hindi  News and books and sign for education cources in Hindi.

India is the world's fastest growing tablet market with more than 500 million active users. Of the population of India, only 11 per cent speak English, mostly for professional reasons. Lack of Indian keyboards has been one of the major problems Indian languages on an English dominated web.

While a large portion of the first 100 million Internet users in India are English speakers, the next 200 million users are expected to be more comfortable with Indian languages. Hindi is the fourth most commonly spoken language in the world. Considering all this facts, WishTel and BSNL has launched this tablet with Hindi Interface.

Designed and manufactured in India, Wishtel’s IRA ICON ,the 7inch Tablet PC, IRA ICON is a 1024X768 pixel full angle TFT LCD capacitive multi-touch screen that runs on Android 4.0 with Hindi OS, 1.2 GHz processor and a non-standard 1GB of RAM.

The IRA ICON supports calling features Wi-Fi and bluetooth connectivity and also comes with built-in stereo speakers and a microphone. The device comes with a full complement of ports, including USB, SD Card, audio and HD video to simplify the use of industry standard peripheral solutions..

It has a 0.3 MP front web camera and 2.0MP rear-facing documentation camera to support image capture, video conferencing and collaboration. The tablet comes engineered with a 4000 mAh battery, which can support browsing time of approximately four hours. The tablet PC has an internal storage of 8GB (expandable to 32GB - MicroSD (TF)).

IRA Icon is available through a national network of value-added resellers and distributors of BSNL and WishTel.

New IP for NI vector signal transceiver extends out-of-the-box capabilities for T&M apps

USA: National Instruments has announced 10 pieces of new application IP that enable engineers and scientists to use NI LabVIEW system design software to build their own custom RF instruments.
This IP integrates with PXI FPGA targets such as the NI PXIe-5644R vector signal transceiver (VST) and extends their default capabilities by adding new features or enhancing performance in specific applications.

Each piece of IP is available in a stand-alone package so that users can add it to one of the default VST personalities and mix and match the relevant components for their applications. The IP is also prebuilt into examples to provide immediate access to its functionality.

This eliminates the need for the user to compile the code and subsequently reduces development time. In addition to VST IP from National Instruments, NI Alliance Partners and third-party developers are creating IP and developing software add-ons for the VST.

“We use the VST to give our DOCSIS Channel Emulator multiple ‘personalities.’ This means we can test both mainstream features and unique corner cases,” said Andy Brown, principal technology engineer at NI Platinum Alliance Partner Averna. “With the power, flexibility and compact size of the VST, we can deliver easy-to-use tools that help our customers test and troubleshoot their products faster.”

Elbit Systems awarded Israel ministry of Defense order

ISRAEL: Elbit Systems Ltd has received an approximately $35 million contract from the Israel Ministry of Defense for the development of advanced features for Unmanned Aircraft Systems to be supplied within three years. One of the mission requirements is the quick re-configuration of the UAS' payloads.

The contract is in addition to contracts, awarded by the IMOD, for the supply of Hermes 900 UAS and maintenance services that were announced by the company in 2012.

Elad Aharonson, GM of Elbit Systems' UAS Division, said: "The IMOD's decision to award this development contract reflects the trust and recognition of our technological capabilities and further strengthens our long-term strategic cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces in the UAS field. The Hermes 900 is a world-leading UAS, and we are proud of the IMOD's decision to procure further systems and advanced capabilities."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Global HDMI and DisplayPort-enabled equipment market facing challenge

IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Global HDMI and DisplayPort-enabled Equipment Market 2012-2016" report to its offering.

TechNavio's analysts forecast the Global HDMI Enabled Equipment market to grow at a CAGR of 19.7 percent over the period 2012-2016 and the DisplayPort Enabled Equipment market to grow at a CAGR of 31.6 percent over the period 2012-2016. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is the growing demand in plasma/LCD TVs.

The Global HDMI and DisplayPort Enabled Equipment markets have also been witnessing the integration of HDMI and displayPort features in a single IC. However, the high cost of production could pose a challenge to the growth of these markets.

Key vendors dominating this market space are NXP Semiconductors, Silicon Image Inc., STMicroelectronics N.V, and Transwitch Corp.

An analyst from TechNavio's Hardware team said: ''The Global High-definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) and DisplayPort-enabled Equipment market is witnessing the trend of the integration of HDMI and DisplayPort features. Vendors have designed and developed HDPlay transceivers which combine both HDMI and DisplayPort functionality in a single IC. This has reduced the size and space that the HDMI and DisplayPort will require. This integration has connectivity such that HDPlay can be connected to a wide range of multimedia devices.''

According to the report, the increasing demand for HDMI in plasma/LCD TVs is one of the major growth drivers for the Global HDMI and DisplayPort-enabled Equipment markets. However, the advancement in technology and the increase in user preference for high-definition products have caused the adoption rate to grow much more rapidly. HDMI connectors have various benefits such as they can transmit high-quality digital audio and video signals and they are easily compatible with high-definition video products. Thus, these are some of the benefits which have increased the adoption rate of HDMI in plasma/LCD TVs.

Further, the report reveals that the global HDMI and DisplayPort-enabled equipment markets are facing a challenge with respect to the high cost of production.

JouleX gears up for Cisco Live London 2013

USA: JouleX, a leading innovator in enterprise energy management systems for data centers, distributed office environments, and facilities, announced its schedule of planned activities for Cisco Live London 2013, January 28 to February 1, 2013, at the ICC London ExCel.

In response to the tremendous success of the JouleX for EnergyWise solution, part of the Cisco EnergyWise Fast-Start program, JouleX will be showcasing this technology as part of the entire JouleX Energy Manager platform. JouleX will be featured throughout the Cisco Live World of Solutions, where the JouleX Energy Manager (JEM) platform will once again provide real-time monitoring of the entire Cisco Live network. JouleX will also be showcased as a featured partner with other participating vendors at the event.

“Managing energy waste and costs is becoming an increasing priority to companies and with that our customer base continues to grow substantially with an increasing number of highly regarded global brands signing on each month,” said Josef Brunner, JouleX co-founder and chief architect. “Cisco Live London provides us with an exceptional international environment to share results other companies are experiencing with our JouleX for EnergyWise solution. Giving attendees the ability to see our technology at work and interact with the latest innovative features and functions first hand is a powerful benefit.”

Last year, the JouleX Energy Manager platform was used to monitor and report on the energy use of the entire Cisco network at Cisco Live London 2012, an activity that garnered significant interest.  Attendees were able to see the real-time energy usage of the entire network on large screens located in the Cisco Network Operations Center; the Cisco EnergyWise booth, and in the company’s stand.

JouleX will again monitor this year’s Cisco Live network, giving attendees a glimpse into how energy is actually used in their own IT operations.

VESA finalizes requirements for Display Stream Compression Standard

USA: The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) has announced the completion of requirements for the Display Stream Compression Standard, which is anticipated to be published in late 2013. The association first initiated efforts for a common industry-wide standard in September 2012 and since formed alliances with other standards bodies for contributions.

VESA’s objective for the Display Stream Compression Standard is to enable increased display resolutions over existing interfaces, while further optimizing power and hardware for portable systems. To ensure a broad scope of the more encompassing DSC standard, VESA established a liaison with Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG), through its parent committee under the joint organization of the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29, and with the MIPI Alliance. The shared goal is to have a common standard that can be used by the various organizations for interface standards.

VESA’s Display Stream Compression task group completed the definition of requirements in late 2012 and announced a call for proposals in January 2013. The standard is expected to be published for use by the end of 2013. In contrast with other image or video compression standards, the proposed Display Stream Compression Standard targets a relatively low compression ratio and emphasizes visually-lossless performance, high data throughput, low latency, low complexity, and includes special considerations geared for future display architectures.

“Display manufacturers gain from display stream compression in many ways,” said Dale Stolitzka, VESA Display Compression Standard Task Group chairman and member of Samsung Display’s San Jose R&D Lab . “Display technology continues to improve resolution and color depth in small and large panel sizes. However, we are approaching the limit of how much data we can transfer over the existing display interfaces without increasing power, complexity and number of wires, which is the wrong direction for a mobile device that runs on battery power. The Display Stream Compression Standard will allow us to continue to enhance display resolution without compromising display quality and at the same time make devices smaller and lighter, with longer battery life.”

In current practice, virtually all digital display interfaces send uncompressed pixel data from the system graphics or video source to the display. As display resolutions continue to increase, the data rate across the video electrical interface has also increased. Higher display refresh rates and color depths push rates up even further. For example, a 4K display at 60 frames per second with a 30 bit color depth requires a data rate of about 17.3 gigabits per second, which is the current limit of the DisplayPort specification. Higher interface data rates demand more power, can increase the interface wire count, and require more shielding to prevent interference with the device’s wireless services. These attributes increase system hardware complexity and weight and are undesirable for today’s sleek product designs.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Akamai releases Q3 2012 ‘state of the Internet’ report

USA: Akamai Technologies Inc., the leading cloud platform for helping enterprises provide secure, high-performing user experiences on any device, anywhere, released its Third Quarter, 2012 State of the Internet report.

Based on data gathered from the Akamai Intelligent Platform, the report provides insight into key global statistics including connection speeds, attack traffic, and network connectivity and availability, among many others.

In addition, the Third Quarter, 2012 State of the Internet report includes an analysis of the Operation Ababil DDoS attacks against the banking industry in the United States and an examination of mobile browser usage by network connection type collected via Akamai IO. Further, the report provides a review of third quarter Internet disruptions in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria based on Akamai traffic patterns observed within those countries.

Highlights from Akamai’s third quarter, 2012 report:

Global Internet penetration
More than 680 million IPv4 addresses from 243 countries/regions connected to the Akamai Intelligent Platform during the third quarter of 2012. The figure represents an 11 percent increase year over year. Since a single IP address can represent multiple individuals in some cases – such as when users access the Web through a firewall or proxy server – Akamai estimates the total number of unique Web users connecting to its platform during the quarter to be well over one billion.

For the second quarter in a row, Brazil experienced the greatest year-over-year growth (39 percent) within the group of top 10 countries with the most unique IPv4 addresses connecting to the Akamai Intelligent Platform. In the same top 10 group, China (5.7 percent) showed the largest quarter-over-quarter increase.

Analysis of the full set of countries that connected to the Akamai Intelligent Platform in the third quarter showed that nearly 60 percent saw a quarterly increase and almost 12 percent saw increases of 10 percent or more.

Attack traffic and top ports attacked
Akamai maintains a distributed set of agents deployed across the Internet that monitors attack traffic. Based on data collected by these agents, Akamai is able to identify the top countries from which attack traffic originates, as well as the top ports targeted by these attacks.

Akamai observed attack traffic from 180 unique countries/regions during the third quarter of 2012, down from 188 in the second quarter. China maintained its position as the single largest volume source of observed traffic at 33 percent. The United States, at number two, experienced a slight increase in originated attack traffic with 13 percent. Russia replaced Turkey in the number three spot by generating 4.7 percent.

During the quarter, the top 10 countries/regions were responsible for generating 72 percent of the observed attack traffic. Within the top 10, slightly more than 50 percent of attack traffic was generated by three countries: China, the United States and Russia.

Receiving 30 percent of observed attack traffic, Port 445 (Microsoft-DS) remained the most targeted port. Port 23 (Telnet) was a distant second at only 7.6 percent.

Operation Ababil
Akamai was involved in protecting some of the organizations targeted by a series of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks known as “Operation Ababil” that occurred in September 2012. As a result, Akamai observed attacks with the following characteristics:

• Up to 65 gigabits per second (Gbps) of total attack traffic that varied in target and technique.
• A significant portion (nearly 23 Gbps) of the attack traffic was aimed at the Domain Name System (DNS) servers that are used for Akamai’s Enhanced DNS services.
• Attack traffic to Akamai’s DNS infrastructure included both UDP and TCP traffic which attempted to overload the servers, and the network in front of them, with spurious requests.
• The majority of the attack traffic requested legitimate Web pages from Akamai customer sites over HTTP and HTTPS in an attempt to overload the Web servers.
• Some attack traffic consisted of ‘junk’ packets that were automatically dropped by Akamai servers.
• Some attack traffic consisted of HTTP request floods to dynamic portions of sites such as branch/ATM locators and search pages.

Global average and peak connection speeds
The global average connection speed decreased by approximately seven percent between the second and third quarters of 2012 to 2.8 Mbps. South Korea continued to have the highest average connection speed at 14.7 Mbps. Japan (10.7 Mbps) and Hong Kong (8.9 Mbps) rounded out the top three countries for average connection speed in the quarter.

Despite the slight quarter-over-quarter decline, global average connection speed enjoyed healthy 11 percent growth year over year.

Similar to the average connection speed metric, the global average peak connection speed also saw a minor quarter-over-quarter decline, dropping 1.4 percent to 15.9 Mbps. In the third quarter of 2012, Hong Kong boasted the highest peak connection speed at just more than 54 Mbps.

Looking at year-over-year changes, significant improvement was once again seen in the global average peak connection speed, growing 36 percent.

Akamai observed global broadband (>4 Mbps) and high broadband (>10 Mbps) adoption showing solid gains in the quarter. The global high broadband adoption rate grew by 8.8 percent quarter over quarter, reaching 11 percent, while the global broadband adoption rate increased 4.8 percent, growing to 41 percent.

Mobile connectivity
In the third quarter of 2012, average connection speeds on surveyed mobile network providers ranged from a high of 7.8 Mbps to a low of 324 kbps. Seven providers showed average connection speeds in the “broadband” (>4 Mbps) range.  An additional 68 mobile providers had average connection speeds greater than 1 Mbps. Average peak connection speeds for the quarter ranged from 39.2 Mbps down to 2.8 Mbps. Based on data collected by Ericsson, the volume of mobile data traffic doubled from the third quarter of 2011 to the third quarter of 2012, and grew 16 percent between the second and third quarter of 2012.

Analysis of Akamai IO data collected in the third quarter indicates that for users of mobile devices on cellular networks connecting to the Akamai Intelligent Platform, the largest percentage of requests (37.6 percent) came from devices using the Android Webkit. Devices using Apple’s Mobile Safari were a close second (35.7 percent). However, for users of mobile devices across all network types, Apple’s Mobile Safari accounted for 60.1 percent of requests, with the Android Webkit responsible for 23.1 percent.

Microsoft Research India announces Research Connector

INDIA: Microsoft Research India announced the community research portal- - at its flagship research symposium, TechVista.

Research Connector, as the name implies, will provide a platform where students can connect with the leading Computer Science (CS) faculty and researchers from across India. ACM India, the India arm of ACM, the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, will be a key partner in Research Connector.

While initiated by Microsoft Research India, the long term goal of Research Connector is to become a ‘hub’ driven by the research community where students from diverse academic backgrounds and CS/ engineering fields can learn about Computer Science research, gain access to faculty from leading institutions, and importantly, work on real world problems to hone their skills. Research Connector will play an important part in enabling students to bridge the gap between aspiring to make a career in research and gaining the experience to actually doing it.

“Research has always been critical to the advancement of technology in any field, and even more so in an area as dynamic as Computer Science. We hope will play a role in helping India produce high quality researchers who will define the technologies of the future,” said Tony Hey, VP, Microsoft Research Connections, Microsoft Research.

“We have to translate the high interest in Computer Science at the undergraduate level to high interest in the top-end research. The bachelors students should be exposed to the thrills of research so they can decide if that is the career they want to follow. Today’s students have to aspire for higher quality jobs than the first one they can get. Research training will be essential to adapt to the new things that are certain to come in the way of today’s youngsters. This site can provide the necessary exposure to a large number of students; enriching the research pipeline in the country will be a natural consequence,” said Prof. P J Narayanan, president ACM India and Dean (R&D), IIIT, Hyderabad.

A key component of Research Connector will be the live projects that students can work on. These projects will typically be provided by faculty of participating institutions, and also evaluated by them. Additionally, the portal will also feature forums for research discussions amongst researchers, scientists, faculty and students, as well as updates on the state-of-the-art in computer science, pointers to important research papers, and other resources students can leverage to embark on a career in research.

“India’s raw talent and potential in engineering and Computer Science has never been in question, but the number of PhD graduates in CS is very small compared to the number students graduating with bachelors and masters degrees in these fields. Research Connector seeks to address this gap by providing access to the faculty, resources and experience that can spark the awareness and intent to take up higher education,” said P. Anandan, distinguished scientist and MD, Microsoft Research India.

2012 top 10 LCD monitor brands showed first decline in annual shipment

TAIWAN: According to global shipment survey by WitsView, the research division of TrendForce, the global top 10 LCD monitor brand vendors’ 2012 shipments amounted to 128.7 million units, dropping 8 percent YoY. Most brand vendors showed poor shipment performance in H1’12, but the overall shipment ratio in the first and second halves of the year is nearly 50:50, indicating the demand didn’t surge on the traditional peak season in the second half.

In view of individual monthly performance, top 10 brands’ shipment reached 9.55 million units in Dec’12 with a MoM shipment decline expanding to 14.5 percent from the 10.7 percent drop in the same period of the previous year. SI makers’ total shipment amounted to 11.66 million units, slightly growing 0.3 percent MoM, and was comparable with the shipment in the same period of the previous year.

WistView’s research assistant manager Anita Wang indicates that, the LCD monitor brand vendors’ shipments declined 14.5 percent in December, due to the three main factors:

1. Most brand vendors had boosted shipments in October and November, and the timing for traditional Q4 procurement has passed in December;

2. No following demand would support with the coming of slow season; and

3. Brands saw inventory control as priority. LCD monitor SI makers’ shipments were supported by certain brand clients’ last year-end shipment sprint, leading to most SI makers’ shipment growth in December, however, the overall shipment grew 0.3 percent slightly as the shipment from some Korean maker’s in-house assembly plant dropped significantly.
The overall LCD monitor brand vendors’ shipment for entire 2012 was 154.4 million units, declining 7.3 percent YoY, dropped for consecutive two years, among which, top 10 brands showed first decline in recent years. WitsView projects that the 2013 monitor shipment will be 148 million units with a possibility to revise down, dropping 3-6 percent YoY. It indicates 2013 is a year full of difficulties and challenges, with macro economy staying stagnant, consumer spending squeezed and changes of users’ habits on IT products, the overall demand for LCD monitor continues to weaken.

To maintain the output value, brands will continue to expand proportion of large-sized products and launch new size products to gain more profits.

Guavus acquires Neuralitic Systems

USA: Guavus, a leading provider of big data analytics solutions, has acquired Neuralitic Systems, the mobile data monetization and marketing analytics experts serving the telecom industry. Montreal-based Neuralitic provides deep-dive analysis into mobile data, enabling Communication Service Providers (CSPs) to generate new revenue streams by improving decision-making aimed at subscriber acquisition, conversion and retention.

The combination of Neuralitic's applications for mobile marketing with Guavus network and customer care applications enables global CSPs to attain timely and actionable insights that optimize business operations, support data monetization, generate new revenue streams and enhance the customer experience.

"CSPs need analytics and marketing solutions that allow them to define subscriber profiles based on behaviors and react to those behaviors in real-time or near real-time," said Maribel Lopez, founder, Lopez Research LLC.

Guavus's decisioning applications provide insights across network, device, content and subscriber analytics, enabling carriers to realize cost savings by optimizing network capacity, increasing revenues through the introduction of new services and delivering a better subscriber experience.

Neuralitic's application for mobile marketing adds key insights into subscribers' mobile data consumption for marketing decision makers. Used together, these decisioning applications democratize timely decision-making across engineering, customer care, and marketing business functions.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

SSD market revenue set to more than double this year on renewed ultrabook hopes

USA: A new generation of lower-cost and more appealing ultrabooks are expected to help cause global shipments of solid-state drives (SSDs) to more than double in 2013, according to an IHS iSuppli Storage Space market brief.

Worldwide SSD shipments are set to rise to 83 million units this year, up from 39 million in 2012. Shipments are set to continue to rise 239 million units in 2016, amounting to about 40 percent of the size of the hard disk drive (HDD) market.

SSDs can serve as an alternative to hard disk drives in personal computers, storing data by using NAND flash memory semiconductors rather than by employing traditional rotating media.

The SSD data presented in this release covers traditional solid state drives in both the consumer and enterprise segments, as well as cache SSDs that along with an HDD component make up a composite storage solution—such as that found in Intel Corp’s ultrabooks. Not included is revenue for hybrid HDDs, in which the NAND component lies inside the hard drive.

“The fate of the SSD business is closely tied to the market for Ultrabooks and other ultrathin PCs that use cache drives,” said Ryan Chien, analyst for memory and storage at IHS. “While SSD shipments rose by 124 percent last year, growth actually fell short of expectations because ultrabook sales faltered due to poor marketing, high prices and a lack of appealing features. However, if sales of the new generation of ultrabooks take off this year as expected, the SSD market is set for robust growth.”

Solid market drivers for solid state drives
The newest wave of ultrabooks loaded with Windows 8 has started to generate enthusiasm, with the superthin computers likely to pick up more steam this year. Upcoming ultrabooks based on Intel Corp.’s Haswell microprocessor architecture also have the potential to catch on with consumers. These factors should boost SSD prospects this year.

Another factor driving growth is that average selling prices for NAND flash memory have come down, in the process establishing new price expectations. The lower prices are attracting deal-seeking consumer enthusiasts, as well as an increasing number of PC manufacturers that are now more willing to install the once-costly drives into computers.

Furthermore, in the enterprise sector, SSD use is growing thanks to product introductions from major vendors and startups alike.

As NAND rides out variable cost and scale curves in ever-more efficient manufacturing processes, such things as solid-state PCs, servers and storage arrays become more achievable and attainable. Recent developments around nonvolatile memories like STT-RAM and resistive RAM also hint at sustained performance improvements for SSDs beyond the drives’ current use of NAND flash memory.

Cloud computing will redefine role of Middle East CIO

DUBAI: The role of the chief information officer (CIO) will change fundamentally in the next few years according to research commissioned by Brocade.

The research asked 100 CIOs from across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) about their roles, and revealed that the uptake of the cloud, and the democratization of IT away from the IT departments’ control, is driving an evolution of their role towards consultancy and mediation. However, only by ensuring the right infrastructure is in place, will CIOs be free to adopt more strategic responsibilities, evolve into an operational position and ensure their long-term survival.

Almost half of CIOs questioned expect the evolution towards cloud adoption and the increase in business units owning their own IT procurement processes to mean that they will spend far less time worrying about the nuts and bolts of IT infrastructure. However, three quarters are concerned that Service Level Agreements (SLAs) will not meet minimum requirements, and over half worry they will be unable to predict data volumes and bandwidth requirements and therefore be unable to manage the network effectively.

Both issues could lead to significant levels of downtime and slow application response levels, impacting productivity and risking both regulatory non-compliance and loss of business, while increasing IT costs.

Only 20 percent of those surveyed saw the role of CIO – as typically defined today – eventually becoming obsolete, and not within the next 10 years. Rather, the respondents believe the role will evolve to cover a broader business range with a third stating they see themselves continuing along a path towards becoming more involved in strategic discussions.

CIOs believe that these concerns around the operational impact of outsourcing IT services will lead to the merging of the CIO and the Chief Operations Officer (COO) roles, as the corporate network becomes increasingly business-critical in nature.

Big data vendor market perception remains positive in 2012

AUSTRALIA: Sentiment surrounding Big Data vendors remained positive last year, despite sceptics’ suggestions that the subject had been ‘over-hyped’, according to Ovum. The Big Data buzz word even managed to transcend from the enterprise IT world to become a hot topic for business publications and journals in 2012, with MongoDB claiming considerable mindshare among web developers who traditionally relied on MySQL.

In a new research note, Ovum analyses data gathered by DataSift, which ranked Twitter mentions and sentiment of vendors (and open source organizations) associated with the Big Data market in 2012.  The global analysts were surprised to find that while Hadoop garners much of the spotlight as a Big Data platform, the vendor 10gen, which develops MongoDB, came in second in mentions to Apache, which hosts the Hadoop project.

“Given the level of build-up and suggested hype, it surprised us that sentiment expressed about Big Data vendors still remained so positive in 2012,” said Tony Baer, principal analyst for Ovum. “What’s also interesting is the degree to which Big Data became a business, not just a technology story in 2012,” noted Baer, stating that some business portals, such as Forbes and Harvard Business Review, edged out popular IT news portals, in terms of coverage of this traditionally “techy” subject.

While positive mentions of Big Data vendors outnumbered negative mentions by 3:1, negative sentiment spiked in November with headlines over HP’s troubled acquisition of Autonomy. Not surprisingly, given that vendors accelerated the pace of product announcements during 2012, 60 percent of Twitter activity occurred in the second half of the year.

The Twitter data provided a good glimpse into vendor brand recognition with Big Data. 10gen, which developers the popular MongoDB document-oriented NoSQL database, scored high in mentions, trailing only the Apache Foundation. Others such as IBM and Teradata were also well represented in the Twitter stream, trailing only behind Apache and 10gen in positive mentions. Splunk, which is associated with machine data and, like 10gen, is also popular among developers, also scored high, showing that there is growing awareness about harnessing “the Internet of things” to generate business insights.

“While Twitter streams are not a scientific focus group for detecting brand awareness, they provide a valuable window on market thinking,” said Baer. “The data showed that while some players, such as IBM and Teradata, successfully scored high recognition in Twitter mentions, other enterprise players need to better focus their message to get Big Data recognition.”

JouleX achieves major milestones and record revenue growth for 2012

USA: JouleX, a leading innovator in enterprise energy management systems for data centers, distributed office environments, and facilities, has achieved significant major milestones in 2012, including its eleventh consecutive quarter of revenue growth, a  compounded annual growth rate of nearly 300 percent since launching the company in 2010.

Driving this growth, JouleX added more than 100 new customers utilizing its JouleX Energy Manager (JEM) technology this year, bringing its total customer base to more than 250 and total installations to more than 450 globally.

“The demand for energy, and the increased operational and environmental costs associated with increased consumption is driving companies to act to eliminate energy waste; they simply cannot afford to sit idly by any longer,” said Tom Noonan, JouleX president and CEO.

“Our customers around the world are taking the lead in the ‘Sustainability’ Revolution, similar to the prominent roles they played in both the Quality Revolution and the Computer Revolution previously. The unprecedented growth that JouleX has experienced indicates the importance of enterprise energy management solutions as the lynchpins in this transformation. JouleX will continue to innovate to help provide the visibility and analysis required to help them control energy across their web scale enterprises ?from buildings and industrial controls to Data Centers and their distributed IT infrastructure.”

JouleX Energy Manager is the first network-based, agentless energy management system that dynamically measures the energy consumption and utilization of all network-connected devices and systems to provide visibility into power usage across the enterprise and autonomous control policies to help organizations identify and automatically reduce energy waste. Today, JouleX customers are using to technology to reduce energy costs by up to 60 percent.

Global 3D display market 2011-2015

USA: announced that a new market research report is available in its catalog: Global 3D Display Market 2011-2015.

TechNavio's analysts forecast the global 3D display market to grow at a CAGR of 21 percent over the period 2011-2015. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is the increasing broadcast of 3D content. The global 3D display market has also been witnessing the increasing adoption of 3D display in the advertising sector. However, the lack of interoperability could pose a challenge to the growth of this market.

TechNavio's report, the global 3D display market 2011-2015, has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report covers the Americas, and the APAC and EMEA regions; it also covers the global 3D display market landscape and its growth prospects in the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market.

The key vendors dominating this market space are Panasonic Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Sony Corp., and Toshiba Corp. The other vendors mentioned in the report are AU Optronics Corp., Chimei Innolux Corp., HannStar Display, LG Display Co. Ltd., Microtip Technology Inc., Universal Display Corp., and Viewsonic Corp.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

WHIPTAIL increases revenue 300 percent YoY

USA: WHIPTAIL, the data storage-industry innovator powering faster and more energy-efficient computing for today’s global businesses via flash storage, announced significant corporate growth in 2012.

WHIPTAIL’s 300 percent revenue growth is attributed to adding 130 new customers in 2012 and its strong presence in the government, healthcare, and education as well as the company’s continued expansion into new markets such as chemical manufacturing, medical research and news publishing.

“We believe that 2012 was the year that WHIPTAIL and Flash hit the tipping point,” said WHIPTAIL CEO Dan Crain. “The $31 million series C round highlighted by being SanDisk Ventures’ first strategic investment shows that confidence in our vision is strong. Combine that with our rapidly growing customer base and revenue and it’s obvious that Flash is not just the future of enterprise storage, it’s the now.”

Additional 2012 company highlights include:
Products: Introduced ACCELA and INVICTA, the second generation WHIPTAIL all-Flash storage arrays.  Announced INVICTA INFINITY, the industry’s highest capacity, highest performing and most flexible enterprise class modular solid state storage array on the market, capable of exceeding 4 million IOPS and 40GB/second throughput in real world use. Unveiled RACERUNNER 4.1.1, which adds the ability for a user to replicate their data to a non-WHIPTAIL target array for, increased flexibility, security and availability.

Application workload growth: Customers across 24 industries are operating faster on WHIPTAIL arrays. Customers moved databases, virtualized applications, search indexing, and virtual desktops to name a few onto WHIPTAIL. Leveraging INVICTA’s modular scale-out ability, customers consolidated multiple applications onto a single array resulting in tremendous energy savings.  WHIPTAIL arrays support more than 120,000 VDI end users across the globe.

Company expansion: Headcount has increased more than 500 percent in the past 12 months and as a result the company has expanded its headquarters in New Jersey and opened a new office in San Jose.

Capacity: WHIPTAIL hit 3.7 petabytes and almost 60 million IOPS of all-Flash storage shipped worldwide. WHIPTAIL arrays have displaced more than 300,000 high-performance 300GB hard disk drives totaling 87 petabytes while saving WHIPTAIL users more than $10 million annually in combined energy and climate control costs.

Partnerships: WHIPTAIL partnered with Cisco, Citrix, SanDisk, Micron and VMware in 2012. Each partnership is focused on delivering dramatically optimized ROI and enhanced user experiences for customers.

“Predictions for the demise of traditional rotational storage arrays and hard disk drives (HDD) are becoming more frequent as flash vendors continue to improve quality, capacity, and longevity,” said Gary MacFadden, founder of Parity Research.

“Buyers looking to exploit solid state disk and accelerate application efficiency and dramatically improve user experience without breaking the bank should consider vendors such as WHIPTAIL. They have a proven solution to meet the needs of price-conscious customers who also desire a major performance boost.”

Indian portable generator market to reach $605.2 million by 2016

IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Portable Generator Market in India 2012-2016" report to its offering.

One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is the increasing energy deficit in India. The Portable Generator market in India has also been witnessing the development of next-generation generators. However, the increasing threat from low-cost vendors could pose a challenge to the growth of this market.

The key vendors dominating this market space are Honda Siel Power Products Ltd, Birla Power Solutions Ltd, Bajaj Electricals Ltd, and Champ Energy Venture Pvt Ltd.

The other vendors mentioned in the report are Greaves Cotton Ltd, Pai Kane Group, Himalayan Power Machine Co., and Skyline Power Solutions.

An analyst from TechNavio's Engineering team said: ''The vendors in the portable generator market in India are developing next-generation generators to enhance their market presence. For instance, they are developing portable solar generators that use solar photovoltaic devices. Thus, the use of renewable energy helps in environmental sustainability as it avoids the emission of carbon and other greenhouse gases and pollutants into the environment. Vendors are developing such environmentally sustainable portable generators to enhance their market potential in the portable generator market in India.''

According to the report, the increasing concern on the energy deficit is one of the major drivers in the portable generator market in India. The increasing the gap between energy demand and supply has led to power shortages in the country. Complementing this is the increasing population and rapid urbanization. The energy deficit in the India figures is expected to grow every year. Therefore, the increasing power shortage in India leads to an increase in the demand for portable power generators among various end-users in India.

Further, the report reveals that the demand for portable generators from residential users and SMEs is slowing down due to the increasing cost of fuel.

MSM announces Sony LIV online entertainment

INDIA: Multi Screen Media (MSM), the front runner of innovation in entertainment, announced a path breaking product for ‘Digital Entertainment’ – Sony LIV.

This latest offering by MSM is designed to be the ultimate online entertainment destination for today’s India.

Sony LIV is MSM’s new Video-on-Demand service, which will provide viewers a world-class viewing experience of their favorite shows from the Sony stable – SONY, SAB and MAX. Viewers can watch ACP Pradyuman solve the most interesting cases on CID, revisit the most hilarious episodes of Comedy Circus and watch the 1st ever episode of Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah; all of this online, on their personal mobile handsets and tablets on the go, Jab Aap Chahein!.

Apart from enabling viewers to view current shows, Sony LIV also gives viewers a chance to go back in time and watch past episodes of their favorite shows from SONY’s programming archives on LIV Classics. In addition to episodes of all-time favorites like Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin, Kkusum, Heena, Boogie Woogie, Movers & Shakers, Office Office; LIV will also showcase a large archive going back seventeen years of movies and special events like Stardust and Filmfare Awards.

To enhance the viewing experience LIV has three exceptionally appealing features; Mood Wheel, My Q and LIV Guru. With Mood wheel, viewers can search for videos based on mood/genre and time preferences. Ranging from a pool of human emotions to choose from, be it Romance, Scary or Funny, the Mood wheel feature is sure to delight the users.

The My Q feature enables the registered users to create their own playlists of their favorite videos, and enables them to watch it across devices, with a single logon experience. The LIV Guru feature is Sony's Loyalty Program for loyal fans and rewards engagement. This feature builds on a loyalty points system on audience interactions on LIV, these points will eventually enable the viewers to win goodies, gift hampers and show set-visits.

The Sony LIV application is available globally for free, online on, for download on major app stores – iTunes and Google Play (Android). This will facilitate the viewers to get their daily dose of entertainment on the go on their smart phones, tablets or desktops/laptops.

JTAG intros ‘PMBusProg’ for in-system programming of power management devices

THE NETHERLANDS: JTAG Technologies, world-wide provider of board test and device programming tools based chiefly on IEEE Std 1149.x, has broadened its portfolio by offering a unique Power Management Bus (PMBus) IC programming solution that supports devices from leading vendors Linear Technologies and TI.

PMBusProg supplements JTAG’s existing range of SCIP (Serial Controlled IC Programmers) that are already widely used within the manufacturing processes of CEMs, and ODMs .

Peter van den Eijnden, MD of JTAG Technologies, explains some of the background of PMBusProg: “While the individual IC vendors generally offer their own solution for programming parts ‘in-system’ these are seldom robust enough for the factory environment nor are they  ‘integratable’ into existing board test systems. By developing PMBusProg we were responding to customer’s demands who were looking for a fast convenient solution that could run on existing hardware and be integrated into existing test platforms. “

Interested parties might like to note that PMBusProg runs on all DataBlaster controllers from JTAG Technologies and can be used to access PMBus pins via local JTAG (boundary-scan) compliant devices or directly from an external DIOS (Digital IO Scan) module

SCIP programming solutions were originally devised to program the embedded memories of microprocessors and microcontrollers that featured a JTAG or similar port such as BDM. The range has now been expanded however to cover numerous other protocols such as those used by Microchip PIC, Freescale HCS08 and now PMBus.

Where necessary the SCIP family employs Scan Configurable Interface Logic (SCIL) hardware interface modules. These are ‘swappable’ interfaces that can convert a JTAG hardware controller into a protocol-specific device programmer or tester.

It is this modular combination of SCIL hardware and SCIP software routines that  makes  it easy for manufacturers of PCBs featuring multi-vendor, multi-protocol processors to configure a universal in-system programming platform for production.

Peter van den Eijnden sees SCIP not as  a single product but an array of support options that users can select to satisfy their device programming requirements. Use of SCIP functions allows customer to get more from their JTAG tools investment and increase the board coverage.

French expertise in evidence at BES EXPO 2013

INDIA: The French Trade Commission - UBIFRANCE is organizing a French Pavilion at the BES Expo 2013, the International Conference and Exhibition on Terrestrial and Satellite Broadcasting, from 29th-31st January 2013 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.

The French Pavilion aims to bring together leading companies from the French broadcast industry to present their high-tech broadcast solutions and forge business opportunities in the Indian market.

The French Pavilion at the trade show brings together four renowned companies from the French broadcast industry namely HTTV, NETIA, ONLY LIFESTYLE and WORLDCAST SYSTEM. Their main objective is to promote their technological innovations and latest broadcasting practices in the field of radio and TV and to share their expertise with broadcast engineering professionals in India.

The Indian media sector has been amongst the fastest growing sectors in the country over the last two decades. India is currently on the threshold of an entertainment revolution spawned by economic liberalization and the subsequent advent of broadcast industry.

The French Pavilion offers a comprehensive platform for these companies to showcase their innovative, state-of-the-art technology and share their expertise and professional know-how in the growing media and broadcast industry.

Here is a brief profile of all the participants of the French Pavilion:

HTTV: Httv is one of the leading international technology and solution providers for interactive digital TV. Httv supplies software solution/middleware for connected TV and set-top-boxes: httvLite for low end broadcast set-top-boxes and httvLINK for connected HbbTV/Hybrid/OTT set-top-boxes. httvLINK is fully compliant with HbbTV standard for connected devices. Httv is based in Europe and is expanding in South East Asia.

Httv will be presenting its new httvLINK middleware product for connected set-top-boxes (broadcast and broadband) offering a large range of TV features (HbbTV standard, EPG, catch-up, applications stores, etc…).  This solution is designed for connected devices with limited hardware capacity and is targeting emerging market. Since its recent acquisition of SindiTV in Singapore, HTTV is strengthening its position in south-East Asia with a special focus on India.

NETIA: NETIA, a GlobeCast company, is a leading provider of software solutions that enable efficient management and broadcast of content. With more than 10,000 users and 200 installations in more than 40 countries, NETIA solutions allow content producers and owners to manage content from ingest to delivery, targeting multiplatform outlets including the Internet, VOD, IPTV services, and mobile devices. NETIA provides content management solutions to major radio and television brands and to multimedia groups around the world.

Clients include All India Radio in India, SBS and ABC in Australia, RAI in Italy, France Telecom/Orange, MediaCorp in Singapore, RTL in France, Radio Globo in Brazil, RTM in Malaysia, Radio France, the Associated Press, France Télévisions, TV Center Russia, and L'Équipe 24/24. NETIA has its headquarters in France, with offices in the United States, Paris, Rome, and Singapore, in addition to a global network of professional distribution partners.

NETIA will be showcasing the latest version of its powerful Radio-Assist range of digital audio automation software. Radio-Assist 8.1 will offer the same robust array of tools for streamlined end-to-end multimedia production, broadcast, and publication workflows, along with two significant new features: an integrated music-scheduling application and video editing capability.

NETIA will also be showing the latest version of its Content Management System (CMS) that allows users to manage all processes within the global production environment - from editing through post and distribution - through simple, easy-to-manage workflows and task automation, accessed through one unique and easy-to-use interface.

ONLY LIFESTYLE: Only Lifestyle is a content distribution company specializing in lifestyle programs since 2005. They offer more than 4,000 hours of programs in as many as 50 different formats like documentaries, magazines, on-set games with or without host. In addition to offering all types of genres and formats, the catalogue offers a variety of services to allow to choose, organise and reformat according to its customers’ needs.

Only Lifestyle offers guided selection and simplified delivery systems. The database has an index of programs with brief program descriptions and technical details. The advanced search option helps the user to make and save specific searches, create his personal cart, negotiate, buy and avail delivery online. The product catalogue and latest updates on lifestyle industry are also available.

WORLDCAST SYSTEMS: WorldCast Systems will be presenting their latest innovations in broadcast practices with their three brands: APT, Ecreso and Audemat.

From the APT stable, WorldCast will be presenting the Horizon NextGen stereo IP audio codec and the new 1U Oslo, a compact multi-channel AoIP platform.  Both these units support APT’s multi award-winning SureStream technology, which enables broadcast quality audio over public internet links, and creates significant operational savings for broadcasters.

Ecreso’s new range of fully digital FM transmitters continues to increase with the addition of the FM Transmitter 3,000W and FM Transmitter 5,000W. Combining the audio fidelity and reliability of a direct-to-channel digital modulator with a highly efficient 6th generation Mosfet and several innovative features, makes the Ecreso FM range a truly powerful and robust transmitter system. The Ecreso FM range now also offers the innovative Advanced Metering Interface (AMI), a real-time dashboard that provides an at-a-glance overview of the transmitter performance, and the new proactive maintenance service, Expert Maintenance Reporting (EMR).

The Goldeneagle DVB-T2 is the latest product from Audemat, developer of the industry-leading Goldeneagle platforms for TV & Radio technologies. The Goldeneagle DVB-T2 is capable of monitoring up to 20 channels per receiver through RF and can be deployed either at a transmitter site or throughout the coverage area. Features such as audio/video streaming and automatic channel detection provide a truly, comprehensive and professional solution.

Like all Goldeneagle products, users have the option to introduce remote facility management on the signal monitoring platform using ScriptEasy software, SNMP and a variety of I/O inputs.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Worldwide consumer spending on movies sees accelerated growth in 2012

USA: Worldwide consumer spending on movies increased by $1.3 billion in 2012 following tepid growth a year earlier, according to an IHS Screen Digest Cross Platform Movie Market Monitor.

Total worldwide consumer spending on motion pictures in 2012 reached $62.4 billion, up from $61.1 billion in 2011 and $60.1 billion in 2010. Last year’s rate of increase amounted to 2.1 percent, demonstrably better than the 0.9 percent growth experienced in 2011. Most important, growth for consumer spending on movies worldwide is recovering after declines across 2008 and 2009, with spending forecast to continue to rise by 2 to 3 percent every year from 2013 to 2016.

“Consumers were tracked on their movie spending and consumption across 37 countries in five different global regions via four delivery platforms,” said Tania Loeffler, analyst for video at IHS Screen Digest. “These platforms include theaters; the purchase and rental of physical disks on DVD and Blu-ray; pay-TV video-on-demand (VOD); and digital retail buys and rentals.”

Growth in 2012 was generated by the Asia-Pacific region, which commanded a 25 percent share of worldwide movie spending, the third-largest after North America and Western Europe, as shown in the attached figure. With new cinema construction in markets such as China driving increased movie transactions, coupled with the popularity of higher-priced premium content, the amount of money that Asia-Pacific consumers spend on going to the cinema is rising rapidly. That amount last year equated to $10 billion, up 12 percent from 2011.

Asia-Pacific is poised to overtake Western Europe as the second-largest region for consumer spending on movies by 2016. An important consideration is that a significantly higher proportion of locally produced movie content is consumed in Asia-Pacific, especially in countries such as India and China. Western Europe currently owns a 26 percent share.

North Americans remained by far the biggest spenders on movies at about $80 per capita per year, and accounting for 41 percent of worldwide movie spending in 2012. As in Western Europe, spending on physical media encompassing DVDs and Blu-ray Discs alike are pulling down the North America total for movie spending, even as consumers in the region increase their spending on movies consumed on digital platforms and in cinemas.

Consumer spending on movies increased significantly in other regions—by 17 percent in Central and Eastern Europe, and by 7 percent in Latin America. Ultimately, however, these markets still remain very small, with only an 8 percent combined share of worldwide spending in 2012.

Theatrical is key driver of consumer spending growth worldwide
Worldwide consumer spending on theatrical grew 7 percent from 2011 to reach $33.4 billion in 2012. Across all five territories, consumers overwhelmingly demonstrated that the cinema experience remains the most desirable way to consume movies, with theatrical accounting for 53 percent of all movie transactions.

In contrast to theatrical, consumption and consumer spending on movies—either purchased or rented on physical discs—declined again, from $24.4 billion in 2011 to $23.7 billion in 2012, down -3 percent. The worldwide decline is forecast to continue for both DVD and Blu-ray purchases and rentals, with rentals projected to overtake physical purchase as the second-largest generator of worldwide consumer spending on movies.

“Unlike theatrical, physical media is subject to competition on price, inherent to retail in all environments,” Loeffler said. Average pricing for physical purchase transactions has continuously fallen, declining by a further 2 percent between 2011 and 2012. This trend, along with the increased dominance of lower-value rental transactions, will result in physical media struggling to maintain its share of worldwide movie spending. Physical media is forecast to lose a 10 percent share of total worldwide consumer spending, from 39 percent in 2012 to 29 percent by 2016. Even so, physical will still account for a combined 31 percent of total worldwide movie transactions by 2016.

The preference for physical rental among consumers is translating into the digital space. This is true even in regions like Western Europe, where physical purchases traditionally dominated physical video transactions. On the whole, TV-based Video-on-Demand (VOD) and digital rentals from over-the-top services such as Apple’s iTunes vastly outpaced the number of digital movies purchased in 2012. Pay-TV VOD transactions rose 16 percent in 2012 to reach 685 million in number, while digital rentals grew 61 percent to reach 174 million. In comparison, digital purchase transactions climbed to just 52 million.

Total consumer spending on buying and renting movies on digital platforms continued to see strong growth, climbing to $4.9 billion in 2012. However, total digital movie spending accounts for just 7 percent share of worldwide movie expenditures.

Software-centric ecosystems

USA: The transition under way in mobile devices offers insight into an important trend for test and measurement: the power of a software-centric ecosystem. Early-model mobile telephones were built to make calls first and later send text messages, but the capabilities were almost completely defined by the vendor.

Once the software on these devices was opened up to the user, capability ranging from music players to cameras to email quickly followed. But the effectiveness of the transition was more than just an open software experience. Apple, and later Google, built robust ecosystems around their products and created a community of developers for “apps” that accelerated usefulness.

The inherent openness and community concept for mobile phones arguably could have been fostered by mobile phone providers themselves, but in this case it was Apple and Google that worked on software environments first and deployed hardware second. By exposing an appropriate level of customization to users or third-party developers, they succeeded in changing the way consumers view their mobile phones.

This same concept is making an impact on the test and measurement industry. Communities of developers and integrators, building on standard software platforms, are using commercial off-the-shelf technology to extend the functionality of complex hardware into applications previously impossible.

The level of productivity and collaboration delivered by software-centric ecosystems will have a profound effect on test system design over the next three to five years.

In the past, your test system was only as valuable as the investment of time and money that you made in it. Going forward, your system will benefit from the entire community of third-party suppliers, integrators, consultants, and derived standards supporting the software ecosystem at its core. This is a crucial element in meeting the demands of next-generation device test, said Jessy Cavazos, Industry director, Test & Measurement, Frost & Sullivan.

Ecosystems redefined
In his book The Death of Competition: Leadership and Strategy in the Age of Business Ecosystems, James F. Moore defines a business ecosystem in the following way: “An economic community supported by a foundation of interacting organizations and individuals—the organisms of the business world.

The economic community produces goods and services of value to customers, who are themselves members of the ecosystem. The member organisms also include suppliers, lead producers, competitors, and other stakeholders. Over time, they coevolve their capabilities and roles, and tend to align themselves with the directions set by one or more central companies.”

For test and measurement, cross-industry collaboration is nothing new. Active industry groups such as the IVI Foundation, PXI Systems Alliance, and LXI Consortium have been bringing industry players together for decades but often with key gaps as outlined in Moore’s description. With active participation in these groups now including software-specific, hardware-specific, and joint hardware/ software vendors, the focus on enabling interoperability for proprietary architectures and ease of use for open architectures is fostering business ecosystems.

The most successful examples of current ecosystems in this industry, though, are rooted in software. NI LabVIEW is an example of application software made more  valuable through its ecosystem. Significant numbers of engineers have been trained on LabVIEW and developed add-ons suitable for private application needs as well as others through commercial vehicles like the LabVIEW Tools Network.

System integrators in the NI Alliance Partner Network as well as LabVIEW Consultants work to deploy this ecosystem. With every additional supplier, producer, competitor, or other stakeholder, the value of the software to each user grows.

As software platforms develop ecosystems that grow with each additional customer, supplier,  add-on provider, and so on, they become more valuable to each user.  Software-centric ecosystems will make a large impact on the value that engineers derive from software-based test platforms.

Ecosystems in open and proprietary software/hardware architectures
An extremely useful ecosystem standardizes the way we communicate with instruments—Interchangeable Virtual Instrument (IVI) drivers. By developing a common means of communicating to similar instruments across multiple vendors at the application programming interface level, the learning curve was reduced for users and the development cycle reduced for vendors.

This opened the door for third parties to create drivers, aggregation websites to house them (like IDNet on, and abstraction layers to be created on top of them. With well-architected hardware abstraction layers, technology insertion for systems designed to last decades became not only possible but routine. The ecosystem fostered by standardization was crucial in achieving this, and it continues to grow with the recent ratification of native Microsoft .NET implementations for IVI in the past few years.

When programming FPGAs in applications like inline signal processing or device under test (DUT) control, hardware and software from a single vendor is practically required to achieve the abstraction necessary to meet the skill level of most test engineers. When these solutions are delivered in the context of a software-centric business ecosystem, the platform can retain as much user flexibility as a disparate or interchangeable hardware/software approach.

For example, the FPGA programming capability of the LabVIEW reconfigurable I/O (RIO) architecture can incorporate third-party VHDL or Xilinx CORE Generator IP inside the LabVIEW system design toolchain. The LabVIEW Tools Network helps users exchange sample projects and compiled code to support different application spaces among users and vendors in automated test. This ecosystem opens the doors of FPGA programming to nontraditional automated test spaces and offers the IP necessary to be successful.

Without a software-centric ecosystem, many viable open platforms have struggled. The xTCA platforms have seen adoption in telecommunication infrastructure and interest from the high-energy physics community, but they have failed to develop a strong ecosystem in automated test.

The multiple form factor, communication bus, and software options presented by the platform have delayed or complicated adoption by leading vendors. While efforts to rein in those options and improve them for automated test are under way in the A XIe Consortium, success or failure will be dictated by the use of a software-centric ecosystem.

Future of ecosystems in automated test
Over the next three to five years, automated test systems will become more software-centric and ecosystems will have more impact on the value users derive from these platforms. The previous examples of instrument communication and abstracted FPGA programming are just the beginning for automated test ecosystems.

As software vendors take greater advantage of their ecosystems and leverage commercialization models for third-party IP, the scenario unfolding for mobile devices will have a transformative effect on the test and measurement industry.

-- National Instruments, USA.

Test software quality

USA: Automated test software has increased rapidly over the last decade due to the need for highly customizable, flexible, and capable measurement systems. Software-centric test solutions are the only viable approach for delivering complex technologies under aggressive timelines, limited resources, and constant product churn.

The trend toward increased product complexity and capability has made a direct impact on test software and the importance of test system reliability, performance, and accuracy. Test software has prompted increased focus on ensuring quality and reliability of test software through life-cycle management and development practices formerly reserved for embedded systems.

Some organizations are voluntarily applying these development practices to improve test software and build more feature-rich and defect-free test solutions, but a growing number of industries will be required to use similar practices to comply with regulatory standards.

Products developed for regulated industries such as automotive, aerospace, and medical must comply with rigorous development standards and certifications. Revisions to these standards place increased scrutiny on quality and accuracy of test tools—creating an increased burden of proof to demonstrate testers have been qualified for use. Though businesses outside these industries will not feel an immediate impact from these trends, they can benefit from detecting defects earlier in the life cycle and drive down product development cost.

For example, ISO 26262, an automotive standard for safety critical electrical and electronic systems, was  developed in response to growing reliance on embedded control systems. It strives to standardize development and test processes across vendors to decrease defect risk, find defects earlier, and ensure safety as a critical consideration. ISO 26262 is one of several standards that recognize the importance of software-based test solutions and enumerates specific requirements for test tool qualification.

These requirements include creation of a risk mitigation plan that assesses the impact and criticality of test tools, and documentation of the steps and processes used to address high-risk areas. The overall goal is to ensure that a testing tool can be used with confidence to accurately validate embedded software without introducing defects.

ISO 26262 is derived from IEC 61508, making it one of a family of standards that spans industries including nuclear, rail, and medical. While these standards vary based on industry, they are derived from the same philosophies regarding identification and mitigation of risk through validation processes.

As an industry familiar with the need for reliability and safety, avionics has long been a bellwether for other industries. As with automotive, increased complexity of embedded avionics control systems has given rise to new standards including DO-254 and revision C of DO-178. These standards illustrate increased focus on test systems because they enumerate requirements for test tool qualification.

In particular, DO-178C has a new section titled “Software Tools Qualification Considerations” that examines tool development life cycle and documentation artifacts. The rigor of the process and the granularity of the documentation are based on the tool qualification level, which is defined by the criticality of test tools.

As the complexity of the systems we deliver increases, so does our test  equipment; thus, a tight focus on ensuring quality and safety across all phases of development is paramount to both Lockheed  Martin and our customers. As a result, many of the latest regulatory standards for the defense and aerospace industry place a greater emphasis on employing rigorous and strict software development practices to ensure reliable and accurate test results, said Sean Donner, senior software engineer, Lockheed Martin.

While terminology and implementation of these standards are different, they prescribe recommended practices to document test requirements and prove requirements have been satisfied through iterative testing, reviews, and requirements traceability. Example guidelines and processes include:
* Test requirements.
* Coding standards and stylistic guidelines.
* Software documentation and traceability.
* Software unit tests.
* Build and deploy processes.

These processes and the relationship between them is depicted using the V-model, which illustrates going from high-level requirements to a deployed solution and the corresponding test and review phases required to verify those requirements have been satisfied. The V-model is used to visualize the development process for a system, of which component testing is a part, but a similar series of steps should be followed to comply with these standards and/or ensure quality and reliability of the test solution.

Recommended best practices for developing test software follow software engineering guidelines, which include steps to enforce regular code reviews and testing cycles. Configuration management best practices are paramount for the sake of identifying and tracking changes to source code and other artifacts throughout development.

Software specifications are used to define expected system behavior under conditions in the original risk assessment, and these are used to define unit tests integrated into continuous testing cycles for regression testing. Structured environments may go so far as to mandate that multiple unique individuals review and approve any new code incorporated into a project.

One of the primary goals of structured development approaches is to manage and mitigate the risk of introducing change. It’s important to anticipate and manage the risk(s) associated with introducing changes to a system. Continuous integration addresses this by encouraging integration and testing of code, which requires automated testing tools including static and dynamic analysis of code. The goal is to find software defects as early as possible and minimize the cost of fixing them.

There is a correlation between increased system complexity and the need for greater focus on test software quality. These standards set a high bar for process and quality, but software engineering best practices benefiting businesses ensures that test systems meet increasingly demanding feature and performance requirements.

- National Instruments.