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Deals, launches and products

Buried in a Christmas announcement at Sony was a snippet that it was going to buy back the Cell Broadband Engine manufacturing plant from Toshiba cont


Published: 20 January, 2011


Buried in a Christmas announcement at Sony was a snippet that it was going to buy back the Cell Broadband Engine manufacturing plant from Toshiba control. Initially both Toshiba and Sony built their own plants to make the Cell, the parallel processing chip that drives both the PlayStation 3 and various Toshiba TV sets, but Sony wished to get out of the business and took its Nagasaki Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation off its balance sheet by shifting partial ownership to Toshiba. It has said now that it will be buying it back and that the paperwork should be done by March and the transfer of the facilities themselves a year later in March 2012. The plant also makes the RSX graphics engine and some SoCs for both companies.

Progress in ATSC M/H, the US mobile broadcast TV standard in the US, is measured in inches not miles right now, but each piece of news takes us closer to genuine demand for broadcast TV on mobile devices. Thomson Broadcast had already installed a digital exciter, program encoder, multiplexer, and ESG server for WGCL-TV, the local CBS affiliate in Atlanta, but has now upgraded the software to make it fully standards compliant. Another US broadcaster can be viewed on ATSC M/H devices, ready for the world and in particular cellular operators, begin offering them in bulk.

US cable supplier Arris has unearthed what might be a goldmine, finding the trick to bond 16 cable channels together and delivering some 800 Mbps using its Cable Modem Termination System along with an SK Broadband 16x4 modem from SK Broadband of Korea. The performance was only certified in laboratory conditions but if it proves to be repeatable and stable, it will add another strong to the bow of cable companies who want to compete at the lower end of fiber to the premises and Passive Optical Networks (PON) systems.

Opera put out an announcement this week that it had been chosen as the browser of choice for Sony LCD TVs and Blu-ray players. It put out a similar release in 2007, so as far as we can remember, so it is already the browser of choice in the Bravia TV range. This version of Opera enables the delivery of web applications, widgets, full web browsing and emerging standards such as HTML5, HbbTV and OIPF.

Already there is some research, from In-Stat, telling us what people are using Tablets for, and surprise, surprise it is email, personal information management and multimedia consumption. The reports says that although Tablets have been around for over ten years, the Apple iPad has woken everyone up to what they can do. The most interesting thing is that what it doesn’t do is compete with the Amazon Kindle as an ebook reader, which we think you will find was more or less what we said at launch. People use their tablet on average 9 hours a week and just 40% of non-tablet owners say they will buy an iPad. In-Stat puts shipments at 58 million units by 2014, whereas our own report (email for details) put that number as high as 93 million. Given that Apple has just shipped 7.3 million devices in one quarter, and four quarters at that rate is 30 million this year, we think the In-Stat numbers are WAY underdone.

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