Collaborative foundation aims to boost MIPS adoption

A collaborative, nonprofit foundation has been started by a group of technology companies to boost the adoption of the MIPS processor architecture.

Imagination Technologies, Broadcom, Cavium, Ikanos, Ineda Systems, Ingenic Semiconductor, Lantiq, Nevales Networks, PMC and Qualcomm have founded “prpl,” an open-source, community-driven foundation,

Imagination Technologies said Thursday. The company also separately announced that it will collaborate with Oracle to enhance Java for embedded and Internet of Things applications, and to optimize Java for the MIPS CPU architecture.

MIPS implementations are mostly used in embedded systems such as routers and video game consoles, for instance, which could make them particularly useful for the burgeoning Internet of Things market.

Imagination has been pushing to expand the use of MIPS chips since it bought the financially struggling MIPS Technologies in 2012. Currently, more than 3 billion MIPS units have shipped, according to the company.

Each member company will provide its particular expertise to the foundation’s engineering groups. For instance, Qualcomm will focus on networking and build a community around OpenWrt, an OS based on the Linux kernel that is often used to route network traffic.

“Instead of every company doing the work individually, they all come together in prpl. They do the work and every company benefits from that work,” Imagination spokesman Alexandru Voica said.

Prpl will offer open-source OS distributions for MIPS, including Android, CentOS, Debian, Fedora and Ubuntu, essentially creating a repository for developers and others.

Working together in this way makes sense, said Richard Fichera, vice president and principal analyst of infrastructure and operations at Forrester Research. “As far as I can see, it is an intelligent strategy and program to boost MIPS, which has been under immense pressure from ARM for mobile device market share,” he said.

Another focus of the foundation will be on enabling next-generation “data-center-to-device” portable software and virtualized architectures, Imagination said.

That strategy, however, is less to Fichera’s liking. “MIPS lost its chance at the core data-center server market,” he said, adding that he seriously doubts that anyone will invest in either silicon or systems to have another run at it.

“Any significant investment in a non-x86 server will be centered on ARM or possibly OpenPOWER rather than MIPS. However, MIPS is a perfectly good embedded compute resource, and is appearing in network-edge devices as programmable cores for both embedded network functions and as a user-programmable device,” he added.

As for Imagination’s collaboration with Oracle, the companies will work to bring broad Java support to 32-bit and 64-bit MIPS architectures for use in a broad range of applications including routers, other networking equipment, mobile devices and the Internet of Things, they said.

 

originally published at : news.techworld.com

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Employers want Java skills more than anything else

Java development was the most sought-after software-building skill by employers searching Dice.com in the first quarter of 2014, the company said on Wednesday.

Employers searched Dice thousands of times to look for software developers, engineers, architects and leads, Dice President Shravan Goli said in a statement. “The number one request by a large margin: Java/J2EE,” Goli said. “For a programming language that started to be commercialized about 20 years ago, its stranglehold on modern development is unshakable.”

Following Java/J2EE as the most in-demand software development skills were .Net, C++, C#, senior development skills, SQL, HTML, C, Web and Linux. “Experience is clearly of value, with many hiring mangers seeking senior developers,” Goli said. But new graduates should not fret, as hiring managers searching for “computer science” ranked number 33 on Dice’s site — a trend that should equate to demand for those with recent diplomas, he said. Dice’s survey covered from January 1 to April 15.

For technologies specifically geared to Web development, JavaScript came in at 12th on Dice’s list, followed by ASP.Net (17th), HTML5 (19th), PHP (20th), and CSS (32nd). (A recent report by WalletHub found Web application developer to be the best entry-level job.) Mobile platform skills were mostly ranked below Web skills in Dice’s assessment, with Android ranking 31st and iOS coming in 35th place.

Looking into what the future holds, Dice anticipates increased demand for developers and designers with skills pertaining to wearable electronics, the Internet of Things, and drones and robots.

The job market in general is rosy for software developers, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting a 2.8 percent unemployment rate for this sector in the first quarter, Dice said. This compares to 5 percent in the same quarter five years ago and 5.5 percent four years ago. Overall, Dice posted 80,784 available technology jobs on May 1, including 48,202 full-time positions.

originally published at InfoWorld.com

 

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Telstra plans 4G Skinet network for planes

Telstra has unveiled a nationwide plan to provide 4G mobile broadband on domestic flights.

Dedicated transmitters on the ground will use upward-facing antennas to send signals to shark-fin shaped antennae on the underside of aircraft, even as aircraft travel at close to 1000km/h.

On a number of test flights between Sydney and Melbourne, involving four ground stations, the telco was able to maintain 4G throughput of up to 15 megabits-per-second (Mbps), with an average throughput of 10 Mbps.

“These test flights are encouraging,” said Mike Wright, Telstra’s executive director of networks, in a blog post on Monday.

He said the network, called Skinet, might one day deliver high-speed broadband connectivity to consumers.

It could also be used for remote monitoring and control applications, he added.

Wi-Fi is available on some commercial flights via satellite technology, but coverage can be patchy.

Further tests will be conducted this year as the company explores whether a nationwide 4G network for planes is economically viable.

Wright said Telstra is working with authorities to investigate getting access to extra space on the radiofrequency spectrum.

 

Source : zdnet.com

Apple returning to peripherals business

According to reports, Apple is reported to be in negotiations to purchase Beats Electronics, a maker of high-end headphones and a streaming music service. It’s a potential buyout in the billions and its all makes me wonder if Apple is reverting to its old, old ways when it comes to peripherals. And that may not be so much of a bad thing.

There’s been a lot of speculation about why Apple would pay a few billion for a maker of high-end headphones. It’s difficult for some to see the return on the investment. However, I can see one. But first a history lesson.

Apple returning to peripherals business?

Many reorganizations ago, Apple developed and manufactured a long list of digital peripherals selling digital cameras, scanners, printers, input devices, and storage. It was a big business for the company, from several divisions. And many of these peripherals weren’t commodity, me-too products. There was plenty of R&D and investment in the products and the technology.

For example, I once owned a Apple QuickTake, one of the first digital cameras for consumers, the first of which shipped in 1994. Mine had a maximum resolution of 640 by 480 pixels and could hold up to 16 high-quality (count ’em) images. It connected to my Mac with a serial connection. It’s difficult to imagine nowadays when the iPhone that’s carried on one’s pocket sports an 8-Mpixel resolution.

Check Out: History lesson: Apple vs. Microsoft reorganizations

However, When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he determined that these divisions, while profitable, were a distraction to the primary business of the company, the making of Macintosh computers and its software.

I wrote a story about this in the August 4, 1997 issue of MacWEEK, which followed the summer Macworld Expo in Boston.

Apple’s Imaging division reportedly will play a dimished role in the company by the end of the year. Sources said Apple will pull the plug on further developments of most products, including its low-cost StyleWriter inket printer line, digital cameras and scanners.

The change was a strategic decision made after a review last week by Apple advices Steve Jobs, according to sources. Apple will “stop shipping boxes other people can do,” one source said. …

According to sources, one project that may be kept is a high-performance FireWire-based printer that can use the Display Postscript technology built into the forthcoming Rhapsody OS.

As you might recall, it took years for Apple to refine Rhapsody into the shipping Mac OS X and the FireWire printer described never shipped. It was essentially a more-advanced version of the printer that shipped with the NeXT box.

Tech Pro Research

Jobs’ point was on the mark. He didn’t want to pour money into products that were becoming increasingly commoditzed, particularly printers, scanners and digital cameras. However, Apple still sells peripherals that support its in-house and adopted technologies, and enable the company’s integrated-solution approach. For example, this would include its Thunderbolt monitors and its gesture-savvy Mac input devices.

There’s plenty of speculation about what Apple wants with Beats. I will add to that speculation: Apple may be eyeing the currently nascent, but developing market for high-resolution audio (HRA). The performance demands of this high-bit-rate, high-sampling-rate music is considerable.Neil Young recently announced the Pono system, comprising the PonoPlayer and PonoMusic Store. It targets this HRA segment.

However, there are other paths to HRA than Pono or Sony. For example, I recently purchased Light Harmonic Labs GEEK, a small hardware amplifier and DAC (digital-to-analog converter) that connects to a computer through USB and permits the playing of HRA files in full fidelity and 3D Sound. There are plug-ins that support the playing of these files in iTunes. Still, that’s not the integrated approach that Apple puts out.

Apple could provide an integrated hardware, software and service solution for this high-resolution content. Apple has the engineering know-how for the hardware and software sides, as well as its own base of iTunes customers who might be interested in stepping up for these solutions. The Beats customer base will certainly be interested in this content and give the Apple solutions (Apple/Beats, that is) an readymade evangelizing and knowledgable segment.