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Vendor News

Intel Cancels Developer Forum!

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Intel Cancels Developer Forum!

In a sign of an industry in flux Intel cancels the long-running Intel Developer Forum (IDF) tradeshow, including this summer's IDF17, in order to make way for an "evolved" event mix.

"Intel has evolved its event portfolio and decided to retire the IDF program moving forward," a statement on the IDF17 event website reads. "Thank you for nearly 20 great years with the Intel Developer Forum! Intel has a number of resources available on intel.com, including a Resource and Design Center with documentation, software, and tools for designers, engineers, and developers."

Chipzilla had already cancelled this year's China IDF, but the San Francisco event was expected to happen, if with a "new format." After all IDF is an industry mainstay, having hosted major Intel product launches such as Skylake and Kaby Lake CPUs, Optane storage and Omni-Path networking fabric. Then again the cancellation is not that surprising, seeing how all big vendors have moved way from major events (such as CES or Macworld) to smaller announcements held throughout the year.

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Apple to Invest "Several Billion Dollars" in Toshiba?

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Apple to Invest

According to Japanese public broadcaster NHK Apple might team up with Foxconn to invest in the Toshiba semiconductor business-- specifically by a 20% stake in the company worth "at least several billion dollars."

The broadcaster adds such a plan allays Japanese government concern over the transfer of sensitive technology to investers deemed a "potential risk to national security." It also keeps Toshiba under US and Japanese control, since the Japanese company would maintain a partial stake in the unit.

Bloomberg adds to the story, saying Foxconn (aka Hon Hai) could control as much as 30% of the semiconductor unit should the bid be accepted. Foxconn reportedly already offered $27bn for the company, but its ties with China can sour the deal due to security concerns.

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Apple, Google, Amazon in Bidding War for Toshiba NAND unit?

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Apple, Google, Amazon in Bidding War for Toshiba NAND unit?

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun Daily a number of big names are in a bidding war for the Toshiba NAND memory unit, including the likes of Apple, Google and Amazon.

In total, the Japanese newspaper says, 10 companies are looking to buy the Toshiba semiconductor operation. Among them are US private equity firm Silver Lake, Broadcom (who reportedly offered Toshiba around $18 billion for the unit), Western Digital, SK Hynix, Foxconn and TSMC.

Toshiba accounts for 20% of the NAND market, but apparently plans to sell the lucrative unit to make up for the loss of US nuclear unit Westinghouse Electric, which recently filed for bankruptcy protection.

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Mad Catz Files Bankruptcy

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Mad Catz Files Bankruptcy

Gaming peripheral maker Mad Catz is out of business, announcing it has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief with plans to liquidate all assets.

All Mad Catz directors and officers have also resigned, effective as of 30 March 2017, and other subsidiaries have filed or will file for liquidation under legislation in their countries of origin.

As CEO Karen McGinnis puts it, “regrettably and notwithstanding that for a significant amount of time the company has been actively pursuing its strategic alternatives, including various near-term financing alternatives such as bank financing and equity infusions, as well as potential sales of certain assets of the company or a sale of the company in its entirety, the company has been unable to find a satisfactory solution to its cash liquidity problems.”

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Nintendo Finds Early Success With Switch

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Nintendo Finds Early Success With Switch

It might be early days for the Switch, but so far the curious hybrid of tablet and console shows success-- so much so the Wall Street Journal reports Nintendo needs to double planned production in order to meet demand.

The Japanese company was supposedly going to make 8 million Switch units in fiscal 2017 (starting in April), but higher-than-expected sales have lead to a doubling of the figure to 16 million, unnamed supply chain sources claim. The WSJ adds the widely praised Zelda game sold 1.5m units in its first week, and sales for March 2017 can total up to 2.5m.

Such reports follow tweets by New York Times journalist Nick Wingfield, who says the Switch was the fastest selling Nintendo machine in the Americas, with launch title Zelda: Breath of the Wild as best selling standalone launch title.

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Post-PC Intel Looks to Drones

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Post-PC Intel Looks to Drones

An ailing PC market drives Intel to look for other product categories in which to prosper-- such as drones, as Chipzilla now offers the Aero Ready to Fly Drone.

The Aero is a full-assembled drone complete with integrated flight controller, remote control receiver and transmitter. Since it is an Chipzilla product it uses an Intel CPU (specifically an Atom x7-Z8750) and a 3D RealSense depth camera, which come in handy when used together with GPS, altimeter and magnetometer to power an auto-pilot mode.

Other details include 4GB RAM, 32GB storage, 802.11ac wifi and a USB 3.0 port. The OS of choice is a version of Linux, meaning programmers can develop apps for the drone. Construction is in carbon fibre, and of course it also includes electronic speed controllers, motors and propellers. Strangely enough the package does not include a power pack-- instead customers need to buy a specific high-capacity lithium-polymer battery separately.

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Apple Preps Ultra Accessory Connector?

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Apple Preps Ultra Accessory Connector?

According to 9to5Mac Apple is working on a new kind of iDevice connector-- the "Ultra Accessory Connector," (UAC) reportedly a new application for an old 8-pin plug.

Apparently released in developer preview form through the Made-for-iPhone (MFi) licensing program, the UAC connector is small connector measuring 2.05mm x 4.85mm, making it slightly thinner than USB-C and nearly half as wide as USB-C and Lightning. It is essentially identical to the ultra-mini USB connectors found in proprietary cables bundled with devices such as Nikon cameras (pictured).

But what use will be the use of UAC plugs? As an intermediary, mainly. The unnamed 9to5Mac sources say UAC is not be a Lightning replacement. Instead it provides cross-compatibility between multiple connector types. Thus, users can swap between Lightning-to-UAC and USB-to-UAC cables with the same pair of headphones, with UAC allowing device firmware to juggle between connectors on the fly.

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EC Investigates CE Vendors in Antitrust Probe

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EC Investigates CE Vendors in Antitrust Probe

The European Commission (EC) launches an investigation to determine whether Asus, Denon & Marantz, Philips and Pioneer are manipulating online retail prices.

According to the press release, the companies are accused of breaking EU competition rules by stopping online retailers from setting own prices for "widely used" CE products such as notebooks, hi-fi products and household appliances. Making the situation worse is pricing software automatically adjusts retail prices to those of the leading competition, bringing a wider impact to overall online prices for CE products.

Philips says a preliminary probe has been going on since 2013, and it is "[continuing] to engage and cooperate fully with the European Commission."

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What Caused the Galaxy Note 7 Fires?

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What Caused the Galaxy Note 7 Fires?

Samsung details why the Galaxy Note 7 phablet shipped with the unfortunate tendency to catch fire-- an investigation explains the reason boils down to two distinct battery flaws, not a hardware or software issue.

According to the company the batteries had two major flaws. The first is a casing too small to actually fit the electrode assembly, leading to short circuits. Samsung suppliers realised the problem and replaced the batteries with a safer version, only in their haste they brought about welding defects that also lead to short circuits. Either way, the smartphones started overheating, and catching fire.

Samsung insists it built a stand-alone testing lab to look into all potential causes of overheating, including wired and wireless charging, the USB-C port and the iris-scanning functionality. TUV Rheinland was also hired to check if storage or transport processes affected the batteries.

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