Tag Archive for Broadcom

Can Toshiba Stay in Business?

Can Toshiba Stay in Business?Updated 06-22-2017 – As predicted below, the NYT reports that the Japanese government formed a coalition including the US venture capital firm Bain Capital to buy Toshiba’s microchip division. Estimates are the deal is worth approx. $20 Billion.

Toshiba is being driven to sell off its crown jewel, its microchip business, to stabilize the international giant. The New York Times reports that the stalwart of Japan’s postwar rise as a global industrial giant warned that its has doubts over whether it could stay in business. In a filing in Japan, Toshiba said it wrote off more than $6 billion connected to Westinghouse Electric’s troubled nuclear reactor projects in the United States, had created “substantial uncertainty” over its ability to continue as a going concern.

ToshibaThe Toshiba microchip division is the number two global provider of NAND flash memory. NAND flash memory is a type of non-volatile storage technology that does not need power to retain data. Flash memory is electronic (solid-state) non-volatile computer storage medium that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed.

Toshiba originally invented flash memory in the early 1980s from EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory). They introduced it to the market in 1984. Called flash memory, after the flash on a camera, the chips have become an essential building blocks of the modern electronics industry.

WestinghouseThe two main types of flash memory are named after the NAND and NOR logic gates. The individual flash memory cells have internal characteristics similar to those of the corresponding gates.

Where EPROMs had to be completely erased before being rewritten, NAND-type flash memory may be written and read in blocks (or pages) which are generally smaller than the entire device. NOR-type flash allows a single machine word (byte) to be written—an erased location—read independently.

NAND flash memoryThe NAND type operates primarily in memory cards, USB flash drives, some solid-state drives, and similar products for general storage and transfer of data. NAND or NOR flash memory is also often used to store configuration data in many digital products, a task previously made possible by EEPROM or battery-powered static RAM. One key disadvantage of flash memory is that it can only endure a relatively small number of write cycles in a specific block.

Toshiba manufactures its NAND Flash Memories at its Yokkaichi Operations to maintain quality.

Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) is the biggest maker of flash memory chips, followed by Toshiba, SK Hynix and U.S.-based Micron Technology (MU).

many as 12 companies have approached Toshiba with proposalsA sale of Toshiba’s chip business, while offering the business a lifeline, would take away its most successful business — and, more broadly, would represent a shift of a major technology away from Japan, depending on the buyer. The Toshiba sale is still in its early stages, and the NYT say as many as 12 companies have approached Toshiba with proposals. Reports are that Toshiba is asking bidders to value its operations at about $17.6 billion (2 trillion yen), and make at least a 50 percent investment.

One of the better-known suitors is Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn. Foxconn is the assembler of Apple (AAPL) iPhones and is world’s largest contract electronics maker. Foxconn is based in Taiwan but performs most of its manufacturing in mainland China. According to the article Foxconn could pay billions to buy the business.

offered $27 billionSources told Japanese public broadcaster NHK the first round of the Toshiba auction drew 10 offers. Toshiba has narrowed the field of bidders for its chip unit to four: U.S. chipmaker Broadcom (AVGO), a private equity firm Silver Lake Partners which reportedly offered $18 billion; SK Hynix; Western Digital (WDC); and Foxconn (2354), reports say Foxconn offered $27 billion.

Apple is considering teaming up with its supplier Foxconn to bid for Toshiba semiconductor business, Japan’s NHK reported. Apple is considering investing at least several billion dollars to take a stake of more than 20 percent as part of a plan that would have Toshiba keep a partial holding so the business remains under U.S. and Japanese control, NHK reported.

The authors point out Toshiba’s situation is a remarkable turnabout for Japan, a country that once controlled the majority of microchip markets. In the past Japanese companies have banded together to rescue flailing domestic rivals and not let them fold or be acquired by foreigners.

BankersThe article speculates that the Japanese government may cobble together a “team Japan” offer, but the response from potential participants — who would have to explain the spending to shareholders — has been tepid. “It is fundamentally unthinkable that the Industry Ministry would intervene and take some kind of action,” Hiroshige Seko, the industry minister, said at a news conference, further dampening expectations.

Mark Newman, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, argued in a report that Toshiba’s memory business remained valuable enough that selling it amounted to “selling the crown jewels to pay next month’s rent.”

Apple teaming up with its supplier Foxconn to bid for ToshibaJapanese politicians and industry leaders have voiced concerns over Chinese investors’ buying advanced chip production technology; semiconductors and memory are a major priority of China’s industrial policy. That could hinder any deal with Foxconn, said Mr. Newman, of Sanford C. Bernstein.

The worry is that Foxconn “would build huge fabs in China,” Mr. Bernstein said, referring to semiconductor fabrication plants. “The jobs would move to China from Japan, and furthermore China would go after market share at the expense of crushing industry economics, so the U.S., Taiwan, Korea, Japan all get hurt substantially by this arrangement.” Foxconn has been successful in attracting subsidies from the Chinese government to build large-scale production facilities in China.

The article speculates that Foxconn could take the Toshiba technology and manufacture it more cheaply in China. Such a move could drive down pricing for memory, a boon for Apple and low-cost Chinese smartphone makers. But it would also propel China forward in its long push to become internationally competitive in semiconductors. Mr. Newman has warned that competition in NAND chips could heat up next year, creating the possibility of oversupply and putting more pressure on Toshiba’s ability to put in effect next-generation technologies.

Ralph Bach has been in IT for a while and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow me at Facebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

Who Owns Ruckus Today?

Who Owns Ruckus Today?Ruckus Wireless was founded in 2004 and supplied Wi-Fi services and equipment to enterprises and service providers. At its peak, it had annual revenues of almost $400 million and more than 1,000 employees. Ruckus was the first firm to roll out enterprise 802.11ac Wave 2 AP. The company’s products powered high-profile public Wi-Fi installations, such as New York City’s LinkNYC.

Ruckus WirelessIn April 2016, San Jose, CA-based Brocade  purchased Ruckus Wireless in a deal worth about $1.5 billion. Brocade is most famous for data center SAN switches and a player on the NFV and SDN scene. Brocade planned to add Ruckus’s Wi-Fi products to its enterprise networking business.

At the time of the purchase, Brocade CEO Lloyd Carney said, “The acquisition will strengthen Brocade’s ability to pursue emerging market opportunities around 5G mobile services, Internet of Things (IoT), Smart Cities, OpenG technology for in-building wireless, and LTE/Wi-Fi convergence,”

BrocadeRuckus changed hands. Irvine, CA based chip maker Broadcom (AVGO), which supplies to phone vendors purchased Brocade for $5.9 billion. But the chipmaker said it plans to divest the Brocade IP networking business that consists of wireless networking, data center switching and software networking offerings.

Brocade CEO Lloyd Carney wrote on the company’s website. “In terms of our IP Networking business, due to competitive overlap with some of Broadcom’s most important customers, Broadcom will seek a buyer for the business.” The Ruckus product line competes with industry titans like Cisco and Apple.

BroadcomBroadcom CEO Hock Tan said in a press release, “… we will find a great home for Brocade’s valuable IP networking business that will best position that business for its next phase of growth.” It seems Broadcom has found a firm willing to take Ruckus off their hands.

FierceCable is reporting that cable set-top box manufacturer Arris (ARRS) is in talks with Broadcom to pay around $1 billion for Brocade’s wireless network edge business – i.e Ruckus Wireless. The article says Arris CFO David Potts told investors that the vendor might transition into serving the wireless needs of its customers. Arris client, Comcast is developing a wireless service based on its MVNO relationship with Verizon.

cable set-top box manufacturer Arris Reports are that Arris does not want  to buy other parts of the business being divested by Brocade. Brocade is reportedly looking for a buyer for the rest of their IP portfolio, which includes data centers, switching and software.

 

Ralph Bach has been in IT for fifteen years and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow me at Facebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

Ethernet Marches On

Ethernet Marches OnIt has been a while since we talked networking on the Bach Seat. So it is time to get back to my roots. Ethernet continues to dominate the world. The IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group recently ratified 4 new Ethernet related standards. The committee approved IEEE 802.3bp, IEEE 802.3bq, IEEE 802.3br, and IEEE 802.3by.

IEEEEIEEE 802.3br has implications for IoT and connected cars. This new standard addresses the needs of industrial control system manufacturers and the automotive market by specifying a pre-emption methodology for time-sensitive traffic. IEEE 802.3bp, addresses now Ethernet operates in harsh environments found in automotive and industrial applications.

The 2 more interesting new standards to networkers are IEEE 802.3bq and IEEE 802.3by. These standards help define how 25 GB and 40 GB Ethernet will work and more importantly how products from multiple vendors should interoperate in the data center. For a summary of the rationale for the new standard here is the IEEE presentation  (PDF).

Data centerIEEE 802.3bq, “Standard for Ethernet Amendment: Physical Layer and Management Parameters for 25 Gb/s and 40 Gb/s Operation, Types 25GBASE-T and 40GBASE-T“, opens the door to higher-speed 25 Gb/s and 40 Gb/s twisted pair solutions with auto-negotiation capabilities and Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) support for data center applications.

IEEE 802.3by, “Standard for Ethernet Amendment: Media Access Control Parameters, Physical Layers and Management Parameters for 25 Gb/s Operation”, introduces cost-optimized 25 Gb/s PHY specifications for single-lane server and switch interconnects for data centers.

Siemon’s Standards Informant explains that 25GBASE-T will be backwards-compatible with existing BASE T technology and both 25GBASE-T and 40GBASE-T are planned for operation over TIA category 8 cabling. The deployment opportunity for 25GBASE-T is aligned with 40GBASE-T and defined as the same 2-connector, 30 meter reach topology supporting data center edge connections (i.e., switch to server connections in row-based structured cabling or top of rack configurations).

BASE T technologyThe standard’s ratification comes shortly after the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) approved its standard specifications for Category 8 cabling, the twisted-pair type designed to support 25GBase-T and 40GBase-T.

Though 25 Gigabit Ethernet is only now becoming an official standard, Enterprise Networking Planet reports that multiple vendors already have technologies in market. Among the early adopter of 25 GbE is Broadcom (AVGO) which announced back in 2014 that its StrataXGS Tomahawk silicon would support 25 GbE. In 2015, Arista (ANET) announced its lineup of 25 GbE switches. Cisco (CSCO) is also embedding 25 GbE support in some of its switches including the Nexus 9516 switch.

That is where 25-Gb/s Ethernet comes in. It uses the same LC fiber cables and the SFP28 transceiver modules are compatible with standard SFP+ modules. This means that data-center operators can upgrade from 10 GbE to 25 GbE using the existing installed optical cabling and get a 2.5X increase in performance.

The IEEE 25GbE standard seems to have come out of nowhere, (especially considering the L O N G D R A W N O U T 8 0 2 . 1 1 n process but the technology actually came into being as the natural single-lane version of the IEEE 802.3ba 100-Gb/s Ethernet standard. The 100-Gb/s Ethernet standard uses four separate 25-Gb/s lanes running in parallel, so defining a single lane makes it a straightforward and natural subset of the 100-Gb/s standard.

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IEEE P802.3by and P802.3bq were initially targeted for server connections in mega data centers like Amazon, Facebook and Google. In the next 5 years, 25G will be the next mainstream server upgrade from 10G, even for smaller data centers. SMB data centers will be facing a connectivity crisis in the future as the pace of virtualization increases.

According to IDC, the typical virtualized server supported about 10 virtual machines (VMs) in 2014 and will support in excess of 12 VMs by 2017. In many organizations, the majority of production workloads are already virtualized and almost all new workloads are deployed on virtualized infrastructure, placing inexorable stress on server connectivity.
In order to accommodate this growth Twinax copper and short-reach MMF are included in the “by” standard, while 25GBASE-T (twisted pair) was added to the existing 40GBASE-T “bq” project making 25G possible in smaller data centers without having to re-wire the data center.

Related articles

Ralph Bach has been in IT for a while and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow me at Facebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

Wi-Fi Charges Up Ethernet

Wi-Fi Charges Up EthernetInformation Technology prognosticators Gartner (IT) predicts that 40% of enterprises will use Wi-Fi as the default connection for mobile and non-mobile devices by 2018 according to Fred Donovan at FierceMobileIT. The prediction says that typically fixed location devices like; desktops, desk phones, projectors and conference rooms will use Wi-Fi as their primary connection.

Enterprise Wi-FiGartner says Wi-Fi is facilitating BYOD. The enterprise Wi-Fi network now allows workers to choose any device and move anywhere in the workplace. Gartner argues that the introduction of security measures like 802.1X augmented with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption has lessened IT’s worry about security breaches involving the Wi-Fi infrastructure. Ken Dulaney, V.P. and distinguished analyst at Gartner said;

Ethernet cabling has been the mainstay of the business workspace connectivity since the beginning of networking. However, as smartphones, laptops, tablets and other consumer devices have multiplied, the consumer space has largely converted to a wireless-first world

Wi-FiAs the first connection to the enterprise infrastructure, Wi-Fi brings workers the ability to choose any device and move anywhere without worry. VP Dulaney continued;

As bring your own device (BYOD) has increased in many organizations, the collision of the business and consumer worlds has changed workers’ demands

Cat 5 cablesFurthermore, cabling systems or even peer-to-peer (P2P) wireless solutions using technologies that offer cable replacement have had to deal with a variety of connectors challenges, such as USB and micro-USB, as video systems move beyond Video Graphics Array (VGA). The market research firm also argues that MACD costs will decrease.

Additions, moves and changes are costly inconveniences that waste time for enterprise IT organizations. A move can sometimes involve cabling changes that can cost as much as $1,000 … With Wi-Fi printers, desktops and other devices, all that is required is a cable to the power source, leaving workers free to move themselves making reconfigurations of offices easier.

Because of the many benefits of Wi-FI, Gartner VP Dulaney predicts firms are going to change how they connect;

we expect many organizations to shift to a wireless-by-default and a wired-by-exception model.

Captain EthernetIn order to deal with the new wireless-by-default reality, changes are needed on the wired network.  at FierceCIO reports that the vendor community is working to address the Wi-Fi first world. Unfortunately, there are two industry groups pushing their own new Ethernet specifications. Mr. Mah says that new Ethernet standard are needed to work with Wave 2 of 802.11ac wireless access points (AP) with a theoretical maximum throughput of up to 3.5Gbps.

New standards are needed because existing Gigabit Ethernet is a bottleneck and current alternatives are not attractive. First, link-aggregating two Gigabit Ethernet connections for each Wi-Fi AP would need additional cabling and more expensive managed switches to support it. Using 10GbE would be an overkill. Upgrading to 10GbE is a significant investment that includes new Category 6a or Category 7 cables, more power and more cabling.

One faction, the MGBase-T Alliance, formed in June 2014 and includes; Avaya, Aruba Networks (ARUN) and Brocade (BRCD) as well as component vendors Broadcom (BRCM) and Freescale Semiconductor. The other group known as the NBase-T Alliance formed in October 2014. This faction consists of Cisco (CSCO), Intel, Xilinx (XLNX), Freescale and Aquantia, a company that’s already making 2.5G/5G components.

Ethernet cablesAt the moment, the only agreement between the two factions is that 2.5Gbps and 5Gbps speeds are needed. The IEEE 802 LAN/MAN Standards Committee has set up the P802.3bz 2.5/5GBase-T Task Force to address this issue. The 2015 Q1 CommScope Standards Advisor reports that the 802.3bz committee as decided so far that:

  • The 2.5 GBase-T option will run on Cat 5e (Class D) 4 pair UTP up to 100M, and
  • The 5 GBase-T option will run on Cat 6 (Class E) 4 pair UTP up to 100M.
  • There is no release date yet

The concern however, is that vendors could jump the gun by shipping pre-standard products ahead of standards rectification, complicating matters and slowing down the development of the pertinent standards.

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Remember 802.11n? Pre-standard products? Given that there is no guarantee that systems built with components from the two groups will work together. Don’t jump the gun – waiting for the standard to solidify before buying into new 2.5G/5G Ethernet networking hardware.

For now, Dell’Oro Group analyst Alan Weckel told FierceCIO is that enterprises will probably be able to buy 2.5G/5G equipment starting in Q2 of 2015. 

 

Ralph Bach has been in IT for fifteen years and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow me at Facebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

Activity Tracker For Dogs

Fitbark is one of a small number of startups working to maintain and even improve the health of dogs. Business Insider reports that Fitbark just raised $80,000 on Kickstarter from 697 backers — more than double the amount it was seeking to support their product and mission of fun and responsible dog parenting.

Fitbark“We looked around and realized there’s a black hole in the way we track the health and activity of our dogs throughout time,” Fitbark co-founder Davide Rossi tells Business Insider. “If you cannot measure it, you can’t improve it.”

New York based FitBark recommends daily goals for your dog based on breed, weight, size, and age. From there, a dog owner can tweak those recommendations. The article says FitBark aims to provide rich information with actionable insights for dog owners. That way, owners can quickly gauge what kind of day their dog is having, even if they’re away from him or her. They can also use that data to share with the veterinarian at their dog’s next check up.

KickstarterFitBark’s “Bark charts” let owners know if their dog is moving less than normal, which could mean the dog is sick. Owners can also gain better insight into how their dog acts around different people. The author says the data can be used to suggest that their dog is more active with one pet sitter than the other. Or maybe one boarding home makes their dog exercise more than the other.

BI reports that if FitBark notices that a dog is nowhere close to hitting his or her daily goal, the owner may get a notification suggesting to take their dog on a walk. But if the dog is with a pet sitter, the owner could call and check in.

FitbarkThe FitBark device attaches to a collar and collects data on the dog’s activity levels 24/7 and sends the information it collects to FitBark servers when the wearable device is within range of an authorized smart phone or a FitBark base station. Once this occurs, the dog’s data is analyzed and sent back to the owner’s phone. Owners can then compare his or her dog’s actual activities levels to the dog’s daily fitness goals.

Down the road, Fitbark envisions trainers or even veterinarians tapping into its API to help implement a custom exercise plan. “Trainers will complain that they prescribe or recommend a program for dogs and owners, but there’s no way to monitor compliance,” Rossi says.

Tech DogAnother application could be for lifestyle recommendations. So a developer could make an app to suggest certain types of pet foods, sync that up with Fitbark, and see if there are any noticeable changes in activity.

GigaOm points out that Fitbark pulled an earlier attempt at crowdfunding the device to rethink the business model, scrapping the monthly subscription fee and opting for a fixed price-tag of $69 via Kickstarter or $99 for general retail.

Bull MastiffBroadcom (BRCM) CEO Scott McGregor has announced its entry into the wearable tech market with the company’s low-cost, low-power Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) hardware platform for connected mobile devices. PCMag reports that Broadcom sees a lot of potential for simple, inexpensive, purpose-built products that use one or more connectivity technologies like FitBark.

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I covered a similar product called Tagg back in 2012 here. A lot of things have changed since then. Machine to Machine communications and the Internet of Things are all the rage. The Cloud was a viable business model.  Big-data analytics is allowing the NSA to spy on the world. And now all of that has come together, M2M dog tags run thru a big-data analytics stored in the public cloud so the NSA can spy on US dogs. What a country!

 

Ralph Bach has been in IT for fifteen years and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow me atFacebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.