Tuesday, 24 March 2015

More bad news for the PC industry

The global sales of PCs are set to fall even further this year if reports from researcher IDC are accurate. They have forecast that the worldwide shipments will drop by 4.9% and will lose 6.9% in money from $201 billion. By 2019 the market is expected to fall to $175 billion. The future's not looking too bright.

There are numerous reasons why the PC market is declining so much. Tablets and smartphones have been pushing into the market for a while now. Microsoft have also stated that many smaller businesses are slow or reluctant to upgrade old PCs. There is a case of if 'it's not broke, why fix it?' mentality. Replacing an entire office with brand new PCs can certainly add up and many SMEs will have other needs for such a large amount of money.

Intel have also blamed their recent low Q1 forecasts partly on low PC sales, particularly low demand for business PCs. They also blame low inventory levels across the PC supply chain as well as tough currency translations and challenging economic conditions, particularly in Europe.

Both Intel and Microsoft have big launches out later in the year with Windows 10 and a new processor respectively and it is hoped that these will drive interest in PCs to avoid the downturn that has been predicted.

Unfortunately the industry will need more than a couple of flashy product launches to really begin picking up. Companies will need to investigate ways of getting people to upgrade and to get excited about PCs again. With the functionality of a PC in our pockets, but with added freedom and flexibility, it is easy to see why people are choosing the ease of smartphones and tablets over PCs. The challenge will be in getting us happy to be chained to a desk again - and that is a very difficult challenge indeed.

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Source:

Friday, 20 March 2015

Conflict Minerals – Proposed EU Regulations

The subject of conflict minerals has been long discussed in Europe and we are now moving forward to some proposed regulations coming into force by the end of the year. Here is a quick recap of what has happened previously and where we are at now:

A report published in September 2013 by a coalition of 59 civil society organisations called for the European Commission to pass a law "to prevent European businesses fuelling conflict and human rights abuses through their purchases of natural resources, such as tin, gold and diamonds."


The EU undertook a public consultation in March & June 2013 which led to further in depth consultations and an impact assessment of regulation on conflict minerals.

February 2014 saw the European Parliament voting in favour of a report to create an EU regulation “requiring companies using and trading minerals...should...create a legally binding obligation for all upstream...and downstream companies...to undertake supply chain due diligence to identify and mitigate the risk of conflict financing and human rights abuse.” The report was welcomed and numerous civil society groups urged the European Commission to follow the recommendations.

The European Commission announced a proposal in March 2014 regarding setting up an EU system of self-certification for importers of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold. The legislation would regulate the importation of conflict minerals into the EU and would set up a voluntary self-certification process for importers of conflict minerals.

The proposal was initially debated in February 2015 with broad support for the regulations as a whole. Some suggestions were made including:
  • Companies should be incentivised to comply with the self-certification system.
  • A list of responsible importers should be drawn up and maintained by member states and the European Commission
  • SMEs should be protected in the process and offered assistance so they can comply with the new system
Amendments will be formally proposed and debated yesterday on March 19th with a draft report to be voted on in April.
 
Of course, Cyclops will let you know of any further developments, including the outcome of the debate on the 19th as soon as possible! Be the first to know by subscribing to our blog, following us on Twitter or connecting on Facebook.

Source:



Thursday, 19 March 2015

BBC trying to get kids excited about computer programming.

Building on the Acorn legacy of the 1980s, the BBC is giving away thousands of microcomputers in an effort to get kids into coding, programming and engineering.

Prototype of the Micro Bit  (image from BBC Tech)

The Micro Bit is a stripped down computer consisting of a PCB with LEDs and a micro USB connector. Similar to the hugely popular Raspberry Pi, the device will allow children to develop coding skills and teach them the basics of computer programming.

The computers are to be given to every child starting secondary school this September as part of the Make It Digital initiative supported by the BBC, as well as Microsoft, Google and Code Club. Aiming to address the shortfall in the UK of digital professionals, Make It Digital wants to get kids excited about programming and it is hoped giving them access to their own fully programmable and customisable computer will so just that.

The Micro Bit will be compatible with 3 coding languages, Touch Develop, Python and C++, it is small enough to fit in the palm of a hand and even includes a safety pin on the back to make it wearable! It will also have a Bluetooth link so it can be linked with other devices such as the Raspberry Pi or Arduino.

Keen to avoid any controversies as were associated with the launch of the Acorn in the 80s, the BBC is working with The Raspberry Pi Foundation to create learning resources and allow the devices to work collaboratively together. It is hoped that the simple Micro Bit will act as an entry level to more complex devices and software. As digital technology continues to grow and grow, the more kids that can get excited about programming is definitely a good thing. 

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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Samsung acquire new companies

Samsung have been buying companies like they are properties on a Monopoly board! First they took over Simpress a print company in Brazil, this was followed by the battery side of the company, Samsung SDI, purchasing Magna International. Taking over Magna's battery pack division based in Austria, they took over all staff, buildings and current contracts too. As part of the launch of the Galaxy S6, LoopPay was purchased, a start up offering mobile payment. Now the latest acquisition is Yesco Electronics, a company based in Utah. Yesco are manufacturer's of LEDs, including digital billboards and message signs.

Galaxy S6
All of these companies are very much unrelated but it easy to see for what purpose Samsung has bought them all for. Samsung have so many different sides to their business, offering everything from Smartphones, TVs and washing machines to semiconductors and even an engineering and construction arm. With fingers in so many pies, it makes sense that Samsung would want to take control of companies they have previously outsourced to. All of these acquisitions have taken place for an 'undisclosed amount' but they will have cost Samsung a pretty penny overall.

We will be keeping our eyes peeled for any more announcements from Samsung, whether it be more acquisitions or new product launches. You can keep up to date with everything by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Semiconductor industry is looking good. Or is it?

The semiconductor sales for January look quite promising on the surface with worldwide sales of $28.5 billion. While this is an increase of 8.7% from January 2014, the growth is led mostly by US and Asian sales. The European sales total $2.944 billion  - and that's a drop of 3.2% compared to this time last year.

The figures come from the Semiconductor Industry Association and their CEO John Neuffer was very pleased with the results: "After a record-setting 2014, the global semiconductor industry is off to a promising start to 2015, posting its highest-ever January sales led by impressive growth in the Americas market,"

So America is doing well but what about the rest of us here in Europe? Sales are still staying strong, despite the drop in January. Hopefully the industry as a whole will continue to flourish, allowing the European market to come out the other end in a better position.

Source:
Electronics Weekly
January semiconductor sales were $28.5 billion, 8.7% higher than January 2014 and 2% less than December, reports SIA.
Compared to January 2014, American sales increased by 16.4%, Asia Pacific sales increased 10.7%, European sales fell by 0.2%, and Japan sales fell by 8%.
“After a record-setting 2014, the global semiconductor industry is off to a promising start to 2015, posting its highest-ever January sales led by impressive growth in the Americas market,” says SIA CEO John Neuffer.
“Global sales have increased on a year-to-year basis for 21 consecutive months and remain strong across most regions and product categories.”
- See more at: http://www.electronicsweekly.com/news/business/strong-start-year-semiconductor-sales-2015-03/#sthash.H20iBwHb.dpuf
January semiconductor sales were $28.5 billion, 8.7% higher than January 2014 and 2% less than December, reports SIA.
Compared to January 2014, American sales increased by 16.4%, Asia Pacific sales increased 10.7%, European sales fell by 0.2%, and Japan sales fell by 8%.
“After a record-setting 2014, the global semiconductor industry is off to a promising start to 2015, posting its highest-ever January sales led by impressive growth in the Americas market,” says SIA CEO John Neuffer.
“Global sales have increased on a year-to-year basis for 21 consecutive months and remain strong across most regions and product categories.”
- See more at: http://www.electronicsweekly.com/news/business/strong-start-year-semiconductor-sales-2015-03/#sthash.H20iBwHb.dpuf
January semiconductor sales were $28.5 billion, 8.7% higher than January 2014 and 2% less than December, reports SIA.
Compared to January 2014, American sales increased by 16.4%, Asia Pacific sales increased 10.7%, European sales fell by 0.2%, and Japan sales fell by 8%.
“After a record-setting 2014, the global semiconductor industry is off to a promising start to 2015, posting its highest-ever January sales led by impressive growth in the Americas market,” says SIA CEO John Neuffer.
“Global sales have increased on a year-to-year basis for 21 consecutive months and remain strong across most regions and product categories.”
- See more at: http://www.electronicsweekly.com/news/business/strong-start-year-semiconductor-sales-2015-03/#sthash.H20iBwHb.dpuf

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

New chip launch from Freescale

Freescale have announced they are launching a new chip designed to be used in self-driving cars. The S32V Vision Processor is a Quadcore ARM based processor and is capable of pulling in data from a number of sensors and process it quickly.  It is perfect for automotive grade standards as it has a large amount of redundancy in its circuitry and has safeguards against wireless interference.

The first steps this chip will take is to improve 'driver assist' technology such as front and rear camera, pedestrian alerts and safety breaking. "Once these technologies are perfected, the way will be paved for fully autonomous self driving cars", Ray Cornyn, vice president of automotive engineering for microcontrollers at Freescale, said."Autonomous driving cars are going to have a major social impact, we will move from assisting drivers to actively taking control. We are not there now. But it’s not so far away."

Freescale are currently working on taking data from a front camera and adding pedestrian detection. Understandably this is a huge responsibility and needs to be absolutely perfect before being added to vehicles. Freescale hope the capabilities of the new S32V processor will allow these extra driver assist features to be developed quicker.

The recent merger between Freescale and NXP will further allow the two companies to work on automotive products with self driving cars the ultimate aim. Rather than being something from science fiction fantasy, with advancements like this processor from Freescale and other technology from the likes of Nvidia, NXP and Google, self driving cars will be with us sooner than we think!

Source:
Venture Beat

Monday, 2 March 2015

Merger Announced between NXP & Freescale

NXP has merged with Freescale to create a super company worth a staggering $40 billion!! The two companies will work together to provide near field communication items and portable devices.

“Today’s announcement is a transformative step in our objective to become the industry leader in high performance mixed signal solutions. The combination of NXP and Freescale creates an industry powerhouse focused on the high growth opportunities in the Smarter World.” said Richard Clemmer, NXP Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Clemmer will continue to be the President and Chief Executive Officer of the merged company.

“We believe this merger, which combines two highly successful and complementary companies, will create significant value for Freescale’s and NXP’s shareholders, customers and employees. Both companies have built leadership positions and have a sharp focus on delivering superior value to customers.” said Gregg Lowe, Freescale Semiconductor President and Chief Executive Officer.

The industry focus on connectivity and The Internet of Things is a huge driver for both companies. The combined products and innovations of these two will lead to very exciting developments in the semiconductor industry!

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