Posts Tagged ‘applications’

Intel to customize chips for big data applications

August 16th, 2013

Intel, increasingly customising server chips for customers, is now tuning chips for workloads in big data.

Software is becoming an important building block in chip design, and customization will help applications gather, manage and analyse data a lot quicker, said Ron Kasabian, general manager of big data solutions at Intel.

Through hardware and software improvements, the company is trying to figure out how its chips can perform better in areas like predictive analytics, cloud data collection and specific task processing. The company has already released its own distribution of Hadoop, a scalable computing environment that deals with large data sets, and now chip improvements are on tap.

Kasabian said Intel is starting with the software. “It takes a while to get silicon to market,” he said. “We understand where we can optimize for silicon, and there are certain things to [improve] for performance and optimization.”

The company is taking lessons from software implementations and then looking to enhance the silicon to fill any software gap, Kasabian said, adding that the chip-design process takes about two years.

Server makers have been customizing servers specifically to carry out big data workloads, and improvements at the chip and instruction-set level could speed up task execution.

The plan includes developing accelerators or cores for big-data type workloads. For example, Intel is working with Chinese company Bocom to implement the Smart City project, which tries to solve counterfeit license plate problems in China by recognizing plates, car makes and models. The project involves sending images through server gateways, and Intel is looking to fill software gaps by enhancing the silicon. One improvement could be implementing accelerators to decode video, Kasabian said.

Intel has a big software organization, and the appointment of Renee James — formerly head of the software unit — earlier this year as the company’s president was a sign of the chip maker’s intent to dig deeper into software. The company does not want to become a packaged software distributor, but wants to enable software to work better on Intel architecture hardware. For a long time, Intel has backed open-source software and has hundreds of coders contributing to the development of Linux.

Different industries have different implementations of big data, Kasabian said. For example, a big data problem in genomics could differ from one in telecommunications.

Intel is also entering the space of the Internet of things, an emerging field in which networked devices with embedded processors and sensors are used as data-gathering instruments. The company has assets such as McAfee’s software and hardware platform and Wind River’s real-time operating system for its embedded chips to quickly process and securely collect data.

Outside of the silicon, Intel is focusing on providing the right software tools for data centres. Hadoop was the starting point, and now Intel is looking closely at analytics, Kasabian said.

Attaching Intel’s name to Hadoop will “kind of ease the mind of folks in enterprises,” Kasabian said, adding that implementation of the platform in data centres will be easier.

A lot of research is also taking place at Intel labs on stream processing and graph analytics as the company designs chips and tweaks software.

“We’re looking at all the big industry categories,” Kasabian said.


Software system brings safety to small applications

July 16th, 2013

It says that the SafeLogic-X system brings the advantages of integrated safety technology to small, cost-sensitive applications. The system offers functions ranging from I/O and drive technologies, to integrated diagnostics, safe line integration and safe motion.

The safety functions are distributed across safe I/O modules, standard controllers and HMI applications. The system can be implemented on any B&R Automation PC, Panel PC, Power Panel or modular control system, and, if needed, it can be scaled up and transferred to a dedicated SafeLogic controller.

While the safety functions are distributed across existing hardware components on a network, the safety application runs on a safe input module. All parameter and configuration management is handled on the standard controller, while safe user interface functions are handled by a visualisation device. SafeLogic-X uses the bus-independent openSafety communication protocol, which complies with SIL 3 and can run on any version of industrial Ethernet.

B&R says that the new system offers the advantages of an integrated bus-based PLC at a price that can compete with conventional safety systems based on separate relays. It also offers consistent machine design and diagnostics for increased machine availability.

“Using software alone, we’ve managed to eliminate the need for a dedicated safety controller,” says Franz Kaufleitner, B&R’s product manager for integrated safety technology.

“We’ve succeeded in creating a solution whose scalability allows it to fill a serious gap in the market,” he adds. “Machine and systems manufacturers can now eliminate inconsistencies between the safety solutions used in their various products and enjoy the benefits of integrated safety technology across all applications, regardless of size.”

He points out that in many small-scale applications “where the purchase price alone is often the decisive factor, there is simply no room in the budget for a separate safety controller.”

SafeLogic-X is programmed using the SafeDesigner editor in B&R’s Automation Studio software suite. When a system outgrows SafeLogic-X, it can be switched easily to a dedicated SafeLogic controller. Because safe input and output modules can be added to the safety controller, existing programming code can be reused without making any changes. Switching over does not require any recertification.

SafeLogic-X allows safety equipment to be configured on a visualisation terminal, in a similar way to a hardware-based system. Commissioning and service technicians can implement changes easily, without needing to use external safety programming devices.


IBM enters HR web applications market with Kenexa buy

August 28th, 2012

IBM Corp will buy Kenexa Corp for about $1.3 billion to enter the human resources software market in a move that would likely increase competition with Oracle Corp and SAP AG who recently bought into the sector.

The deal underpins the importance that slow-growing technology giants place on faster-growing, web-based software makers, whose products are less vulnerable to the economic downturn as there are no upfront costs for program licenses, dedicated hardware or installation.

Germany’s SAP bought Kenexa’s competitor SuccessFactors for $3.4 billion in cash last December, while Oracle bought rival Taleo Corp for about $1.9 billion in February.

The two companies made other cloud purchases, including RightNow Technologies and Ariba Inc

“IBM is widely regarded as a social enterprise thought leader, though monetization has been largely concentrated around services,” Credit Agricole Securities analyst Ed Maguire said in a note.

“With 80 percent of revenue from subscriptions and a substantial consulting component, Kenexa advances IBM’s strategy toward higher-value software as a service and domain expertise.”

Kenexa shares jumped nearly 42 percent, equaling the premium offered, to a life high of $45.92 on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday. Shares of peer Cornerstone OnDemand Inc were up 7 percent at $26.82 in afternoon trading.

The acquisition suggests that IBM is ready to find a foothold in the fiercely competitive market for delivering business applications via the web.

It brings the company face-to face against close partner SAP and rivals Oracle and Inc, the largest maker of web-based software in a crowded market.

“This is a big step,” said Nucleus Research analyst Rebecca Wettemann. The move makes it clear that IBM is serious about taking on Oracle, SAP and in the business applications market, the analyst said.

“This brings the arms race up a notch.” As well as the big firms, there are plenty of private producers of HR software, such as Silicon Valley Workday, founded by ex-PeopleSoft executives, which filed for an initial public offering recently.

IBM is expanding in the fast-growing field of delivering business applications through the Web as its new CEO Ginni Rometty looks to make her imprint on the 100-year-old company that is widely considered one of the world’s most conservative computer technology firms.

“IBM has previously suggested the return on software acquisitions is the best it has seen in recent years. We expect continued acquisition activity this year,” ISI Group analyst Brian Marshall said in a note.

IBM has focused its highly profitable software division on email, databases, operating systems and “middleware” – programs that make up the plumbing of computer networks. It has shied away from selling applications such as human resources software.

“Following Oracle’s move into hardware and SAP’s move into the database market, both of which position these leading apps companies more in IBM’s traditional markets, IBM has perhaps fewer reservations about participating in the apps and software-as-a-service market,” Nomura analysts said.

“The Kenexa acquisition will complement IBM’s social business and HR business services leadership,” IBM said, adding that it expects the transaction to close in the fourth quarter.

Kenexa has more than 8,900 customers across financial services, pharmaceuticals, retail and consumer industries, it said.

Lazard served as financial adviser for Kenexa on the deal, while Pepper Hamilton LLP was its legal adviser.


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