Thursday, October 22, 2015



Link to TechEye

Marshmallow will need full encryption

Posted: 22 Oct 2015 01:29 AM PDT

sshot4ffc6ccb1c544Google is going to insist that devices running its OS Marshmallow operating system will to have full-disk encryption enabled.

Google’s first attempt to make default full-disk encryption mandatory for phone manufacturers was with Android 5.0 but it had to abandon that plan because of poor performance from some of the phones.

The Tame Apple Press has been marketing the fact that Apple is doing better because iOS already encrypts user data making it "unhackable."

With the release of Android 6.0, the Android Compatibility Definition Document (CDD), which sets guidelines for manufacturers, has also been updated. The document now lists full-disk encryption as a requirement instead of a recommendation.

If the Android phone is not low-memory device — with about 512MB of RAM — and supports a secure lock screen, it must also support full-disk encryption of both the application data and shared storage partitions, the document says.

If the device has an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) cryptographic operation performance above 50MB/s, the full-disk encryption feature must be enabled by default during the initial set-up.

Google said that the encryption should use 128-bit or greater AES keys. They are not aloowed to write the encryption key to the storage area later. The encryption key should never be transmitted off the device.

Of course coppers are furious because it means that they will have a hell of a job snuffling people's personal data any more.

In addition to encryption, Google also requires a verified boot for devices with AES performance over 50MB/s. This is a feature that verifies the integrity and authenticity of the software loaded at different stages during the device boot sequence and protects against boot-level attacks that could undermine the encryption.

Western Digital buys SanDisk for $19 billion

Posted: 22 Oct 2015 01:29 AM PDT

Sandisk extreme SSDsHard disk drive maker Western Digital has agreed to buy SanDisk in a $19 billion deal which will see it in a strong position to make Flash drives for the known world.

The deal is pretty complex, which makes it less attractive to shareholders who think it will make them a quick buck.

Western Digital said the value of the transaction hinges on the closing of an investment in the company by Unisplendour which is a unit of Chinese government's state-backed Tsinghua Holdings.

Unisplendour said it would buy 15 percent of Western Digital for $3.78 billion, a deal that is likely to face regulatory scrutiny amid national security concerns.

Western Digital Chief Executive Steve Milligan said in an interview that the SanDisk acquisition will ultimately dilute Unisplendor’s stake and that he was confident it would be approved by regulators.

“There’s always a risk and you’re not done until you’re done, but we were careful and consulted with US government experts,” he said.

Research firm Gartner said in October that worldwide semiconductor sales are expected to fall for the first time in three years in 2015, due partly to increasingly saturated market for smartphones.

Western Digital needs access to SanDisk’s NAND technology to better compete in the market for SSDs used in cloud computing, data centres, smartphones and laptops.

Western Digital said it had the support of SanDisk partner Toshiba which had some rights that could block a deal.

SanDisk has an intellectual property sharing joint venture with the Japanese company and uses its foundries to make chips.

Toshiba spokeswoman Midori Hara said in an email that the deal would not have a negative impact on that joint venture.


Apple brings solar power to Chinese suppliers

Posted: 22 Oct 2015 01:28 AM PDT


Solar farm in Arizona - Wikimedia CommonsFruity cargo cult Apple is planning to  build 200 megawatts of solar energy projects in China so that its local suppliers have more renewable energy.

Apple has been facing criticism that its local partners are heavy polluters and this will do a bit to sort them out.

In addition to bringing on an additional 200 MW in northern, eastern and southern China, the tech giant said it will launch an initiative to “drive its manufacturing partners to become more energy efficient and to use clean energy for their manufacturing operations”.

Apple said the 200 megawatts projects will produce the equivalent of the energy used by more by than 265,000 Chinese homes in a year.  We are not sure how much that is in terms of factory plants.  Chinese homes do not use as much energy as their Western counterparts.

Apple supplier Foxconn said it will build 400 MW of solar energy projects by 2018, starting in Henan province.

"These projects go beyond Apple's operations in China to help our suppliers adopt clean renewable energy," Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, said in a statement.

The announcement comes months after Apple said it would build its first major solar energy project in China, two 20 MW solar farms in Sichuan province, with solar developer SunPower.

The company now says its China operations are “carbon neutral” because the solar installations produce more energy than is used at its offices and retail stores throughout the country.

The move was praised by Greenpeace who said the outfit had  taken a “major step forward” in greening its supply chain.

“We hope that Samsung, Microsoft and other IT companies will follow their lead in manufacturing their cutting-edge devices with a 21st century energy supply,” said Gary Cook, IT policy analyst at Greenpeace.


Texas Instruments does rather well

Posted: 22 Oct 2015 01:26 AM PDT

771423493_oThe maker of our first digital watch (pictured), Texas Instruments is doing a lot better than the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street had predicted.

TI said that its rather shapely bottom line was thanks to higher sales of its analogue and embedded chips.

The chipmaker predicted revenues of $3.07 billion-$3.33 billion for the fourth quarter ending December. Analysts on average $3.12 billion.

It was not all great. The company said that net profit fell to $798 million from $826 million a year earlier. Revenues fell two percent to $3.43 billion due to weak overall demand.

Analysts on average had expected revenue of $3.28 billion.

Analogue chips and embedded chips, used mostly in things like sensors. They are being touted as the next big thing, because of the arrival of the Internet of Things. However since IoT has not really arrived yet, it is surprising to see TI doing so well.

It does mean that if the IoT really does take off, then TI will be taking wheelbarrows of dosh to the bank every day.

Analysis: the Western Digital SanDisk buy

Posted: 21 Oct 2015 08:04 AM PDT

WD-LogoThe semiconductor industry's rapid consolidation proceeded apace as Western Digital agreed to buy SanDisk today for $19 Billion. SanDisk had been shopping itself to potential buyers which also include Micron Technology Inc. The offer values SanDisk [SNDK} at $86.50 a share, a 15% premium on Tuesday's market close. SanDisk shares rose 5.7% to $79.50 prior to market open – the same shares were trading under $60 a share before rumors spread concerning the firms potential sale.

Western Digital shares dropped 2.5% to $73 in premarket trading having lost nearly a third of their value so far this year. Ironically, both companies reported better-than-expected results for their latest quarters this morning.

The acquisition comes just three weeks after China's Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. agreed to pay $3.78 billion for a 15% stake in Western Digital, the latest U.S. tech company scrambling for politically connected (capital source) Chinese partners.

Under the deal Western Digital said it would pay $85.10 a share in cash and 0.0176 shares in stock for each share of SanDisk if the Tsinghua investment closes first. If that deal hasn't closed or has been canceled, it will pay $67.50 in cash and 0.2387 shares.

SanDisk has missed their earnings estimates for the last three quarters and according to downgrades by market analysts appears to be suffering from poor execution on a number of fronts:

  • Loss of Apple's SSD business
  • A too optimistic Enterprise strategy – missing 2TB SATA drive solution
  • Poor integration of the Fusion I/O acquisition
  • 3D NAND migration uncertainty – late entry position
  • High margin retail business is slowing
  • SanDisk must renegotiate licensing revenue with Samsung (Aug-16, now 40% EPS)
  • Poor inventory management
  • SanDisk granted 5 U.S. patents last year

Steve Milligan Western Digital CEO will become chief executive of the combined company, located at Western Digital's base in Irvine, Calif. SanDisk's CEO Sanjay Mehrotra is expected to join the Western Digital board after the deal closes.

Western Digital expects the deal to add to earnings within 12 months of closing, and will achieve annual synergies of $500 million within 18 months.

TechEye Take

These are tough times in the memory sector. Company's like SanDisk have been facing increasing price pressures over the last six months that have limited their ability to establish a better than break-even proposition going forward. SanDisk expanded into areas that it was ill equipped to manage ending in their distressed selloff to WD.

Western Digital has been in the process of designing a proprietary non-volatile memory and recently picked up technical people from the failed Contour Semiconductor. SanDisk has lost new product design momentum relying on (from what we can tell) their partner Toshiba to perform the heavy lifting.

Toshiba is having their own set of issues with accounting problems; resignation of the CEO and several board members; and are building a new fab making one wonder why in the world would anyone invest in this mess? Evidently WD has seen a way through. Toshiba seems to be absent from this conversation…., ?

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