DRAM shortage from Hynix fire to hit PCs hardest

September 28th, 2013 | Edited by | hardware


Repairs to the fabrication plant could take three to six months
The fire damage suffered by SK Hynix’s Wuxi, China DRAM fabrication (FAB) plant last week, along with the resulting power outage and clean room contamination, is expected to lead to a number of problems in the short term for DRAM supply, a new report finds.
Most acutely, the fire that blazed for almost two hours appears to have damaged equipment used for making PC DRAM, which has sent memory prices skyrocketing more than 27 percent over the past week.
DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce, said the fire accident experienced by SK Hynix’s Wuxi Plant on Sept. 4 originated from its Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) machinery in the FAB’s clean room. Previously, Hynix had attributed the fire to equipment installation.
“Other than the severely burned equipment, the fire, heavy smoke and power shortages are known to have also contributed to the direct contamination of the clean room and the notably damaged wafer production lines,” DRAMeXchange wrote in its research report.
The fire may have damaged as many as 60,000 memory wafers, DRAMeXchange said.
Saving the fabrication plant from even greater damage, the report noted, was the fact that SK Hynix’s Wuxi Plant is based on a special “Gemini” architecture, one which enables the clean room and other important facilities to operate independently.
“Under such a design, even when a major accident hits an area, a plant would still be able to maintain at least 50 percent of its total production capacity,” the report stated. Other areas of the factory were affected by smoke damage, DRAMeXchange said.
“Sources with close knowledge of semiconductor equipment,” have indicated the recovery could take from three to as long as six months to complete, the report stated.


To facilitate the entire process, SK Hynix has sent up to hundreds of professionals and engineers to visit the accident site and to assess the situation more carefully, DRAMeXchange reported. “Once the damages to the Wuxi Plant have been clarified, the DRAM industry is projected to be in for a series of major challenges,” DRAMeXchange noted.
Some PC equipment manufacturers are seeking help from first tier module makers and Taiwanese DRAM manufacturers to ensure their future supply can be secured, the report said. A tightening of the DRAM inventory could happen as soon as Q4 of this year.
A longer lasting price surge in the DRAM market, additionally, could also become inevitable. “TrendForce believes Samsung and Micron will be the biggest beneficiaries of the current situation with SK Hynix, and that the growth and decline of the three major DRAM manufacturers will be considerably affected in the periods to come,” the report said.
With regards to bringing the undamaged portion of the plant back to full production, “it is taking some time for a thorough safety check by the Chinese fire & safety authorities and for the inspections of damaged equipment,” SK Hynix said in a statement. “However, we plan to complete inspections and full restoration of the air ventilation system and facilities in order to resume production in October.”
“Further, we will make every effort to ramp up operations in stages in order to fully recover normalized production level in November,” Hynix added.
Meanwhile, to minimize disruptions its DRAM supply, Hynix said it will increase its DRAM production in its Korean headquarters.

Source: www.infoworld.com

Microsoft and Apple: Dueling disappointments

September 26th, 2013 | Edited by | software


Apple’s new iPhones and Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 operating system vie for top billing this week — but not in a good way
Apple and Microsoft, the two undisputed giants of the tech industry, have been dishing out dollops of disappointment to users. Reaction this week to the new iPhones ranged from “underwhelmed” to “bored,” while Windows 8.1 was likened to a “big, ugly black cloud.” Any minute now, I expect the folks in Cupertino and Redmond to begin channeling Rodney Dangerfield and kvetch: “I get no respect.”
Pundits strove to outdo themselves when describing their ennui with Apple’s announcements. CNN Money jeered at the “iPhlop” and InfoWorld’s own Robert X. Cringely described reaction to Apple’s special event (“only this time somebody forgot to pack the ‘special'”) as “the sound of 10 million bloggers all yawning at once.”
Cooler heads, such as InfoWorld’s Galen Gruman, pointed out that disappointment with the new iPhone is really a commentary on smartphone innovation in general. The challenge facing smartphone makers, Gruman writes, is that “there’s not a lot any company can do with the smartphone hardware any more. They’ve become like PCs — basically the same each time, with the usual faster hardware and some minor improvements (like the fingerprint scanner in the iPhone 5s) every year — nothing to stop the presses about…. The changes are getting incremental or superficial.”

Pundits are angry at Apple, Gruman says, for not reinventing the smartphone. And while he concedes that “the iPhone 5c is just the iPhone 5 in a colorful new case” and “the iPhone 5s is a souped-up iPhone 5,” there is real innovation that many industry watchers have overlooked or undervalued — namely Apple’s move to a 64-bit processor. The A7 chip “sets the stage for Apple devices to replace PCs in the next few years.” While short-term gains from 64-bit computing will be minimal, as most apps today are 32 bit, “ultimately, the bulk of the smartphone market is expected to move to 64-bit chips, and Apple’s move positions it for the future.”
Another underappreciated innovation is Apple’s introduction of the M7 motion coprocessor, which according to Gruman really marks Apple’s entry into the wearables market. The M7 “says clearly that Apple believes in movement-tracking as a core capability … Apple is clearly building a strategy for pervasive wearables … and the M7 is first visible ripple at Apple.”
Apple may have let down fanboys who hoped for news of iTV, iWatch, or some other glimmer of the Steve Jobs glory days, but contrast that to the world of ongoing hurt in the Windows community. Although Microsoft managed to temporarily assuage the wrath of developers and IT pros by backtracking and deciding to grant them access to the latest Windows 8.1 build — a move IDC analyst Al Gillen called a “no-brainer” because that community is “one of Microsoft’s points of entry to corporate IT” — it burned through that good will at record pace by botching yet another Windows Update. As InfoWorld’s Woody Leonhard writes, “It must be Wretched Wednesday — the day after Black Tuesday.”


It took Microsoft more than 14 hours after there were verified reports of problems on Microsoft’s own TechNet and Answers forums before it fessed up and pulled one of the problematic patches. And users “didn’t get an official explanation until 24 hours or more after the bad patch hit.”
Microsoft’s got a real problem with deafness to users’ complaints these days, particularly when it comes to reaction to Windows 8.1. Leonhard pulls no punches in his Windows 8.1 review: “New version, same mess.” The latest build, he says, “changes a bit of eye candy and dangles several worthwhile improvements — but hardly solves the underlying problem. Touch-loving tablet users are still saddled with a touch-hostile Windows Desktop, while point-and-clickers who live and breathe the Windows Desktop still can’t make Metro go away.”
After hammering Microsoft (yet again!) for the “lamentable changes related to Smart Search, Libraries, and SkyDrive,” Leonhard does find something for developers to cheer: “Lest you think Windows 8.1 is all glitz and gloom, there’s a silver lining on that big, ugly black cloud. Over on the developer side, Microsoft has finally — finally! — relaxed many of its stupid rules for Metro app development. As a result, we may actually see some usable Metro apps appearing in the next few months.”
But the bottom line on Windows 8.1, according to Leonhard, is that “if you’re using Windows 8, plan on upgrading to Windows 8.1 — but give it a month or two for all the creepy-crawlies to shake out…. If you’re using Windows XP or Windows 7 (still my favorite OS), there’s nothing to see here. Move along.”
And that’s where Apple’s and Microsoft’s tales of disappointment really diverge. For all the panning the new iPhones took in the media, you can safely predict Apple will sell a ton of them. But uptake of Windows 8 is not so readily assured. The question is: Will Microsoft under new leadership continue to turn a deaf ear to users or bounce back from the Windows 8 debacle? As Leonhard says, “Nobody knows what the next version of Windows will look like or when it will appear, but it’s a sure bet it’s going to be quite different from Windows 8.1 — at least, one can hope.”
Hope is one commodity never in short supply among Apple users, who are already putting this week’s lackluster event behind them and looking ahead to the Next Big Thing. CNet and others eagerly speculate that “if the rumors are true, an October surprise may be in the offing from Apple … and the instant it introduces a new platform, the excitement will be back.”
Or as Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Source: www.infoworld.com

Outlook.com Finally Adds IMAP Support

September 24th, 2013 | Edited by | software


Microsoft has added IMAP support to its revamped Outlook.com platform, allowing users to access email on a remote mail server and sync the look of their inboxes across multiple platforms.
The Outlook team announced the news while participating in a AMA (Ask Me Anything) Q&A session on the popular message board site Reddit.
“It wouldn’t be an AMA session without an IMAP question,” the Outlook.com team wrote. “I’m excited to announce that starting right now we DO support IMAP, and we wanted you folks to be the first to know.
Outlook.com already supports Exchange ActiveSync (EAS), which is available on most smartphones and tablets, but the addition of IMAP will bring the experience to even more platforms. For example, Mac computers do not support EAS.

“While we believe that EAS is the most robust protocol for connecting to your email, with syncing in near real time, and superior battery and network efficiency, there are still some devices and apps that haven’t made the upgrade to EAS,” the company said in an official blog post. “As an older protocol, IMAP is widely supported on feature phones and other email clients such as those on a Mac. We heard your feedback loud and clear that this was important.”
The company also announced via Reddit that it is now supporting OAuth, so third-party apps and services can integrate with the platform. Some of the partners include TripIt, Sift, Slice, motley*bunch, Unroll.me, OtherInbox and Context.IO.
For example, TripIt will detect emails with travel confirmations and automatically import them into a TripIt itinerary. Meanwhile, Unroll.me lets users cut down on inbox clutter by allowing you to unsubscribe from email subscriptions or you can opt for a daily newsletter that combines the content.

Source: www.mashable.com

Dropbox takes a peek at files

September 24th, 2013 | Edited by | software


The behavior was noticed after a file-tracking service was used to watch several files uploaded to Dropbox
Dropbox takes a peek at some kinds of uploaded files. That’s normal, the Web storage service says.
The disclosure comes after a test of the service found that several “.doc” files were opened after being uploaded to Dropbox.
Dropbox’s behavior was detected using HoneyDocs, a new Web-based service that creates a log showing when and where a document was opened, according to a blog post at WNC InfoSec.
The experiment involved uploading to Dropbox “.zip” HoneyDocs folders with embedded “.doc” files. HoneyDocs lets users set up a “sting,” or a notification that is sent by SMS or email when a file has been viewed. Where the file has been viewed from is plotted on a map.
The callback, or as HoneyDocs calls it a “buzz,” is an HTTP Get request with a unique identifiers assigned to a sting. The data on when and where the file has been opened is sent over SSL port 443, according to HoneyDocs.
WNC InfoSec wrote the first buzz came back within 10 minutes after a file was uploaded with the IP address of an Amazon EC2 instance in Seattle. Dropbox uses Amazon’s cloud infrastructure.
Of the submitted files, only “.doc” files had been opened, WNC Infosec wrote. HoneyDocs also pulled information on the type of application which accessed the document, which in this case was the open-source productivity suite LibreOffice.


“So now I’m curious,” WNC InfoSec wrote. “Are the files being accessed for de-duplication purposes or possibly malware scanning? If so, then why are the other file types not being opened?”
Despite the strange behavior, the explanation is straightforward. What WNC InfoSec picked up on using HoneyDocs is automated backend processing that Dropbox does on certain kinds of files.
Dropbox allows users to see previews of some kinds of documents, included “.doc” ones, but it must build a preview of those documents, according to a Dropbox spokeswoman. To do that, the document must be opened.
According to Dropbox’s website, users can open Word, PowerPoint, PDF and text files from directly within their browser, which saves them from needing certain software programs installed on their computer.
Still, the behavior may make some people nervous. Security experts generally recommend that for stronger privacy, users should encrypt documents before transmitting those files to Web-based storage providers.
Dropbox forbids all but a small number of employees from accessing user data. Its technical support staff may in some cases have access to file metadata, or the data identifying a file rather than its content.
“We have strict policy and technical access controls that prohibit employee access except in these rare circumstances,” according to its policy.

Source: www.infoworld.com

Smartweb conference

September 22nd, 2013 | Edited by | software


A conference for east-european web designers and developers, bringing you an exquisite lineup of speakers.
SmartWeb is a conference organized for web designers & developers, interaction specialists, UX designers, and web entrepreneurs. During the eight session program, attendees will discover the latest trends in modern web and mobile development, and meet your peers and great people from web industry.
SmartWeb presentations will be covering the need-to-know topics of the moment, such as Responsive Web Design, HTML5 & CSS3, writing CSS the right way, JavaScript, working with a distributed team, and generally include best practices, tips and tricks and much more.



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