Saturday, October 5, 2013

Samsung Electronics on course for record profit of $9.3 billion

SEOUL: Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is on track to post its second consecutive year of record earnings as a rebound in its semiconductor business shields the South Korean tech giant from a slower smartphone market.
The world's biggest memory chipmaker is likely to see its semiconductor earnings charge to a three-year high - a much-needed shot in the arm - just as sales of its flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone begin to flag, analysts say.

The global chip market has rallied since late 2012 due to a supply crunch caused by years of cautious investment to support prices, and conversion of factory capacity to produce more profitable chips used in smartphones and tablets.
The market further tightened following a fire in early September at a China plant owned by SK Hynix, the world's No.2 chipmaker. The drop in supply helped divert customers to Samsung, whose heavy investment in cutting-edge chip-making technologies has made it head and shoulders above smaller rivals like Micron Technology Inc.
"As of now, there is no real competitor for Samsung in the (memory) chip business," said Lee Seung-woo, a tech analyst at IBK Investment & Securities. "This dearth of players is expected to allow Samsung to post considerable operating profits throughout this year and next year, even if demand flags."
Samsung is estimated to post an operating profit of 38.5 trillion won ($35.85 billion) this year, up a third from 2012, according to a survey of 45 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The company said on Friday operating profit is likely to reach a record 10.1 trillion won in the third quarter.
Contract dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chip prices jumped 9 per cent in the second half of September from the first half of that month while spot prices soared 37 per cent.
UBS estimates supply of DRAM chips by SK Hynix would shrink by 14 per cent in the fourth quarter, plunging the overall DRAM market into a supply deficit of some 7 per cent. The South Korean firm aims to fully restore operations in November.
Shares in Samsung rose 0.6 per cent on Friday, after advancing as much as 3.1 per cent on Wednesday prior to the earnings guidance announcement. Financial markets in South Korea were closed on Thursday due to a public holiday.
Samsung estimated third-quarter operating profit rose 25 per cent from a year earlier, the slowest since the third quarter of 2011 when profit shrank 11 per cent.
Samsung's mobile devices business has helped the company report a record profit every quarter since last year, except the first three months of 2013.
The division, which generates two-thirds of the company's total earnings, is stalling as sales of the Galaxy S4 slow and the high-end market rapidly saturates, analysts say.

"The concern that high-end smartphones could see slower growth is a valid one. But Samsung has both the speed and fast-follower tendencies of Zara and a portfolio spanning high- and low-end products as well as components such as a brand like Swatch," Lee at IBK said.
  Barclays estimates S4 smartphone sales will have dropped to 16 million sets in July-September from around 20 million in the two months following its late April debut. Sales may slip further to 13 million sets in the fourth quarter, according to Barclays.
Samsung is widely expected to have sold 86-88 million smartphones in the third quarter, up from 76 million in the second quarter, as the company increased shipments of cheaper models to emerging markets.
Profits at its mobile division are seen at 6.4 trillion won, better than the second quarter's 6.3 trillion won but down from a record 6.5 trillion won in the first three months.
Underscoring the slowing pace of growth in the industry, Taiwan's HTC Corp posted its first ever quarterly loss on Friday, hit by fierce competition and supply chain constraints.
Samsung is now hoping new products such as the Galaxy Gear smartwatch and a curved smartphone, which it plans to introduce this month, to help sustain growth momentum.
Hot on the heels of Samsung, LG Electronics Inc is planning to introduce a curved smartphone in November, the Wall Street Journal reported. LG previously said it would introduce such a model by the year-end.
As Samsung battles slowing growth at the top end of the market, Kevin Packingham, the chief product officer of its US mobile business, abruptly left the company. That was the second major management change in the United States this year where Samsung fiercely competes with Apple Inc.
Samsung said on Thursday that Packingham left the company for personal reasons. The departure followed the appointment of Gregory Lee, a former head of Samsung's Southeast Asia business, as the chief of Samsung's US unit in July.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Google encrypts data amid backlash against NSA spying

Google is racing to encrypt the torrents of information that flow among its data centers around the world in a bid to thwart snooping by the NSA and the intelligence agencies of foreign governments, company officials said Friday.
The move by Google is among the most concrete signs yet that recent revelations about the National Security Agency’s sweeping surveillance efforts have provoked significant backlash within an American technology industry that U.S. government officials long courted as a potential partner in spying programs.

More on this story

NSA has led effort to crack Internet encryption technology

NSA has led effort to crack Internet encryption technology
Agency has worked with its British counterpart to break codes that protect data sent across Web.

If NSA breaks encryption, is Tor secure?

Executives from the Tor Project say its DoD funding is more like a research grant than anything else.

High-profile conservatives back ACLU's NSA lawsuit

High-profile conservatives back ACLU's NSA lawsuit
The civil liberties group is gaining steam in its challenge to government surveillance.

Google’s encryption initiative, initially approved last year, was accelerated in June as the tech giant struggled to guard its reputation as a reliable steward of user information amid controversy about the NSA’s PRISM program, first reported in The Washington Post and the Guardian that month. PRISM obtains data from American technology companies, including Google, under various legal authorities.
Encrypting information flowing among data centers will not make it impossible for intelligence agencies to snoop on individual users of Google services, nor will it have any effect on legal requirements that the company comply with court orders or valid national security requests for data. But company officials and independent security experts said that increasingly widespread use of encryption technology makes mass surveillance more difficult — whether conducted by governments or other sophisticated hackers.
“It’s an arms race,” said Eric Grosse, vice president for security engineering at Google, based in Mountain View, Calif. “We see these government agencies as among the most skilled players in this game.”
Experts say that, aside from the U.S. government, sophisticated government hacking efforts emanate from China, Russia, Britain and Israel.
The NSA seeks to defeat encryption through a variety of means, including by obtaining encryption “keys” to decode communications, by using super-computers to break codes, and by influencing encryption standards to make them more vulnerable to outside attack, according to reports Thursday by the New York Times, the Guardian and ProPublica, based on documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
But those reports made clear that encryption — essentially converting data into what appears to be gibberish when intercepted by outsiders — complicates government surveillance efforts, requiring that resources be devoted to decoding or otherwise defeating the systems. Among the most common tactics, experts say, is to hack into individual computers or other devices used by people targeted for surveillance, making what amounts to an end run around coded communications.
Security experts say the time and energy required to defeat encryption forces surveillance efforts to be targeted more narrowly on the highest-priority targets — such as terrorism suspects — and limits the ability of governments to simply cast a net into the huge rivers of data flowing across the Internet.
“If the NSA wants to get into your system, they are going to get in . . . . Most of the people in my community are realistic about that,” said Christopher Soghoian, a computer security expert at the American Civil Liberties Union. “This is all about making dragnet surveillance impossible.”

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nvidia puts graphics accelerator in the Cloud

Nvidia has introduced the concept of remote graphics acceleration in Windows, Linux or Mac-based clients.

Called the Nvidia Grid Visual Computing Appliance (VCA) runs complex video applications such as those from Adobe Systems and Dassault Systèmes on a server and sends the graphics output over the network to be displayed on a client computer. 

“Design firms, film studios and other businesses can now give their creative teams access to graphics-intensive applications," said said Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and chief executive officer, NVIDIA.

The system is based on 16 NVIDIA GPUs and NVIDIA GRID VGX software it will support up to 16 concurrent users.

“It enhances the design experience for SolidWorks users from any PC or Mac,” said Bertrand Sicot, CEO, SolidWorks, Dassault Systèmes.

“With centralised access to fast GPUs, designers can more quickly and easily deliver high-quality 3D models,” said Sicot

Available in the US in May, NVIDIA GRID VCA is offered in 8 GPU or 16 GPU configurations, with pricing starting at $24,900, plus an annual software license of $2,400.