January News


64-bit ARM Silicon

We are particularly interested in how the 64-bit ARM field will unfold. The chances of a standard emerging does not look good compared to the earlier PC standard efforts, which catapulted the x86 past all the RISC vendors. After Apple removed the RCS programs on a recent “server upgrade”, we had to download the source from the GNU.org website. The configure failed, and after further examination, we discovered that the compiler usage terms had not been “agreed” yet for this update. After that, the miriad of configure and install commands completed and we were back to using the simpler version control. It goes to show how dangerous it can be to rely on software that might not be available in the future, particularly something as important a revision control that can depend on files within a directory that can be zipped up for customers without sending your complete repository. Also, files that do not get changed should not have a version bump as for subversion that works on complete projects. Both the GNU and Apple experiences are concerning — GNU for having such onerous configuration scripts and the lack of a uniform installation for binaries, and Apple for removing what seemed to be working. Java also has to be periodically downloaded for running certain hosting applications, so Apple and Oracle have something going on there. What are the chances of one of the 64-bit ARM vendors being able to come up with something that can compete with the two main commercial operating system vendors (Microsoft and Apple)?

Shortly after writing the above paragraph, we saw that ARM has attempted to create a server spec. See ARM Raises Server Spec, (EE Times, 29 Jan 2014). For the original article on ARM's website, see ARM Ecosystem Collaborates to Deliver Initial Server Platform Standard, also 29 January. It is a bit thin on specifications, with the usual hype from each partner as per standard press release. There are so many 32-bit ARM variations and some not so useful standards efforts (in our opinion on the CMSIS and the rather late RTOS as described in ARM Extends CMSIS with RTOS API and System View Description), so hopefully the 64-bit space is less crowded and divergent.

AMD release 64-bit ARM server details

AMD released details of their 64-bit 8 core ARM server chip due to sample in March, with an evaluation board available fairly soon. See AMD unveils its first ARM CPU, the 64-bit 8-core Opteron A1100, dated 29 Jan.

Broadcom takes out ARMv8 license

See ARM and Broadcom Extend Relationship With ARMv7 and ARMv8 Architecture Licenses, dated 8th Jan, 2013. That is almost a year ago, so expect to see silicon within 2014.

Broadcom acquired SiByte and NetLogic some time ago — both used to making multi-core 64-bit MIPS based processors. Their ARM entry does not appear to be aimed at the low-end, but at the server market. See the Oct 15, 2013, press release Broadcom Announces Server-Class ARMv8-A Multi-Core Processor Architecture.

Remember SandCraft — the 64-bit MIPS multi-core designers? They were acquired by Raza Microelectronics, who were inturn acquired by NetLogic Microsystems some years later. Hopefully, the smart designers have more luck with the ARM 64-bit adventures than the nose dive that happened to MIPS.

ST adopts 64-bit ARM

In what promises to be a volume market, ST announced a transition to 64-bits for the digital home in Groundbreaking Architecture from STMicroelectronics Leads Industry Transition to 64-bit Computing for the Digital Home, 6 January.


Tales from the Woods


The usual suspects

The bankers and inside traders continue to make the news. This month it was JP Morgan's turn for a $1,7 billion fine related to the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme (Another Record JPMorgan Fine, This Time Over Madoff, Jan 7).

Lenovo acquires Motorola Mobility handset unit from Google

In the Econonic Times, Lenovo paid $2,91 billion for Motorola Mobility which includes more than 2000 “patent assets”. See the original article. Not so long ago, Google paid $12,5 billion, but since being acquired in May 2012, Motorola Mobility lost more than $1,5 billion. Google received 24,500 patents (17,000 patents and 7,500 pending applications). This is sure to make the smart phone business interesting, particularly after Samsung refused to supply Lenovo with the latest Exynos processors for their smart phones.

Motor Industry

Chrysler's remaining 41% share will go to Fiat for $4,35 billion. Fiat expertise in developing small cars helped Chrysler according to Fiat agrees to buy up rest of Chrysler, 2 Jan, on the BBC Business site.

Fiat owned the majority of Chrysler since 2009. In May, 1998, Daimler purchased Chrysler for $36 billion (Daimler-Benz announces purchase of Chrysler Corp, May 7, 1998). By 2003, the Chrysler group cut 26,000 jobs and was still loosing money. In 2006, Chrysler posted a $1,5 billion loss, and Daimler sold 80,1% to a private equity firm for $7,4 billion (Apparently the deal actually cost Daimler $650 million to get rid of Chrysler). By late 2008, Chrysler took a $4 billion federal bailout and filed for bankruptcy protection in April 2009. It did not end well for Daimler who lost more than $30 billion, so where is the small Chrysler vehicle?

If petrol prices rise from $1,47 to $1,64 in one day as on 31st December in Adelaide, then large cars as produced by Holden will fade off the radar a lot sooner than the demise of the GM plant in 2017.

Would electric vehicles help in Australia? Distances are possibly too great and South Australian electricity prices are amongst the highest in the world. There is huge solar potential with summer temperatures in the mid forties (Celsius).


Tour Down Under

Tour Down Under first lap at Tatachilla

The Pure Blonde Stage 5 of the Tour Down Under from McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill was on 25th January. Caffrey Street parallel to Valley View Drive (our place) was part of the race. This was on the corner of Tatachilla Road and Caffrey Street.

Tour Down Under second lap at Tatachilla

Another lap past the same corner.


Skoda support vehicles and spare bicycles

The Skoda support vehicles and spare bicycles.