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Thunderbolt Goes Royalty-Free as Intel Repositions It to Boost Adoption

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For the past few years, Thunderbolt has been more of a curiosity than a standard-bearer for device connectivity. While the standard was meant to usher in a new era of high-speed peripherals and device interconnects, this was limited to a few high-end products and mostly marketed towards Mac users. Several years ago, Intel combined Thunderbolt support with the USB-C standard, creating the potential for systems that were compatible with the latest and greatest USB standard with reversible plug support, while simultaneously supporting the increased bandwidth of Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbit/s). Now, Intel is going one step further : It’s making the Thunderbolt 3 standard royalty-free in a bid to attract attention for the standard and improve uptake from manufacturers. There are two other key components to this development. First, Intel is going to bake Thunderbolt 3 support into its future CPUs, likely as part of the on-die I/O capabilities. Here, the technology could be key to extending capabi…

New Chrome browser offers sysadmins new tools for mass deployment

Google is working with various businesses in giving them a reason to stop using Microsoft's Internet Explorer by offering system admins a new set of tools for mass deployment of its own new and improved Chrome browser. That Chrome is a safer product than IE is no secret in the internet community. The new Chrome enterprise bundle offers an MSI installer and various ADMX templates that allows system administrators to apply various policies determined in Microsoft's Group Policy Object Editor. The concept is to offer sysadmins the necessary tools to create various cuts of Chrome that meet their employers' policies, then send the appropriate versions to its users. It's a rather simple idea. Google has even baked a “Legacy Browser Support Extension” that can run Microsoft's Silverlight and ActiveX technology, for those who can't free themselves from those ancient plug-ins but do want to reduce their reliance on IE. Google has also announced that it now offers paid …

IBM and SAP work together on artificial intelligence technology

Last week, IBM and SAP delivered news that the two IT firms are placing their respective Watson and Leonardo artificial intelligences (AI) at cognitive procurement solutions that redefine the source-to-settle process. However, the announcement glossed over the fact that Big Blue already has a cloud procurement solution and is putting it aside. Well, sort of anyway. IBM's solution is called Emptoris (from a company of the same name) and was reported to have come with a $600 million price tag when IBM acquired it six years ago. To be sure, IBM acquired Emptoris to advance the Smarter Commerce play it ran a few years ago, in pursuit of what it described as a $20 billion market opportunity in software. Big Blue may not have been able to cash in on that opportunity however, since we learned yesterday that Emptoris is being discontinued and that users will be encouraged to move to SAP's Ariba system. A spokesperson said: “IBM continues to evolve its solutions portfolio based on the…

What's the ultimate limit of speed with optical fibre?

Here's a good question that some people may be wondering: what's the ultimate limit of speed today when optical fibre is concerned? As with many other topics in the IT industry, the answer depends on who you ask the question. Fiber optics is a technology that was developed in the early 1990s, and looks like it will soon be improving submarine fibre speeds around the globe. This comes from Dr Laurent Schmalen, department head at Nokia/Bell Labs's fibre division. Schmalen spoke about “constellation shaping” and the future of fibre research in the rapidly-changing communications industry. He asserted that two questions are on Bell Labs' mind at the moment-- 1) what's the ultimate limit of fibre, and 2) what are the near-term speeds can we achieve over the long run? In the short term however, Dr Schmalen asserted that the 'constellation shaping' technology it recently tested in conjunction with various social sites looks somewhat promising. Dr Schmalen said th…

Intel says Xeon SPs to run SAP workloads 1.59 times faster than Xeon E7

This morning Intel asserted that its new soon-to-be-released Xeon SPs (scalable processors) will run in-memory SAP HANA workloads about 1.59 times faster than a Xeon E7 v4 system. The chip giant has already demonstrated Optane DIMMs to a room full of industry observers last week. Intel added that its new Xeon SP family of CPUs will be available in the middle of this year. Those processors are of the Skylake variety. To be sure, there are 4 Xeon SP brand variants but in reverse order of performance-- Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. They offer a new core, an improved cache, on-die interconnects, memory controller and optimized features, plus a new storage and networking feature. The company says they are suited for the demands of big-data, and in-memory workloads in the enterprise segment. At the Sapphire NOW event, Intel asserted that SAP had certified HANA to support up to 6 times greater system memory (for OLAP Processing) on the new Intel platform for 4- or 8-socket configuratio…

IBM and Nutanix to announce new partnership today

IBM and Nutanix are expected to announce today a new alliance that will see Nutanix design hyperconverged systems out of IBM Power servers, its first non-Intel-powered servers. The news didn't surprise much since some industry observers had hinted to that effect last month. However, specific details of what will be delivered and when have not yet been revealed, but er understand that Nutanix will bring its hyperconverged stack to Big Blue's Power systems complete with its own software-defined storage solution to make private clouds out of IBM-powered servers. Nutanix may also make it possible to consider x86 and Power as a single pool of resources. Time will tell if that's the case. And this new alliance was probably struck for a few reasons. Big Blue already knows that its Power systems don't have a stellar future-- well not the one that some might expect, anyway. Utility-grade x86 and the operating systems it can run on have mostly caught up to the resilience and sc…

Fujitsu introduces new hyper-converged infrastructure appliance solution

Fujitsu has introduced new hyper-converged infrastructure appliance solution. Dubbed PRIMEFLEX for Storage Spaces Direct, it uses Microsoft virtualized infrastructure software, including Storage Spaces and comes in pre-configured systems based on Fujitsu's PRIMERGY x86 servers. The Storage Spaces Direct technology comes from MS' Windows Server 2016. Fujitsu says these systems provide highly available software-defined storage at a fraction of the cost of traditional SAN or NAS arrays. The new system comes in either all-flash or hybrid flash/disk configurations. It starts with two servers and rapidly scales to 16, with 384 drives, supporting up to 800 virtual servers or desktops with sub-millisecond response times. There are quality of service (QoS) controls for the storage, with per-VM IOPS limits, and erasure coding for in-system data protection. Fujitsu suggests that those systems are suited to small and medium-sized businesses, and enterprise remote and branch offices. You …