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Industry News

Microsoft and Facebook Plan Atlantic-Spanning Cable

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Microsoft and Facebook Plan Atlantic-Spanning Cable

Microsoft and Facebook team up to handle customer demand for high-speed connectivity to respective online services by building "Marea"-- a subsea cable spanning the Atlantic described as the highest-capacity yet.

Telxius, the Telefónica telecommunications infrastructe company, is the operator of 6600km submarine cable. It will also be the first to connect to the cable as it trails from a N. Virginia data hub to Bilbao, Spain before spreading to network hubs across EMEA. The route the cable takes is south of other transatlantic cables, allowing for more resilient connections.

The two companies add Marea will be interoperable with a variety of networking equipment through the use of a new "open" design promising lower costs and easier equipment upgrades.

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IBM Makes Headway in Phase Change Memory

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IBM Makes Headway in Phase Change Memory

IBM steps closer towards achieving the dream of combined datacentre memory and storage as it figures out a means of storing 3 bits in a single Phase Change Memory (PCM) cell, 50% more than the two-bit version last seen in 2011.

PCM combines memory and storage through chalcogenide, a glass-like metal alloy able to change between 2 stable states-- amorphous (without a clearly defined structure) and crystalline (with structure)-- through the application of heat. The technology is actually similar to re-writable Blu-ray Discs, with each state showing either low or high electrical conductivity. The result is able to store data when switched off (unlike DRAM), and is able to respond to data requests in less than 1 microsecond.

However exploiting such properties for universal memory is difficult, and requires sophisticated technologies with names cuh as "drift-immune cell-state metrics" and "drift-tolerant coding and detection schemes." Which is why IBM's managing to store 3 bits per cell within a 64K is a breakthrough, even more so when the device can handle 1 million endurance cycles.

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Gartner: Server Virtualisation Reaching its Peak

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Gartner: Server Virtualisation Reaching its Peak

Gartner forecasts the global x86 server virtualisation market will reach $5.6 billion in 2016-- a 5.7% increase, even if the analyst points out new software licenses are down for the first time since the market became mainstream.

Maintenance revenue is now chief growth driver, an indication of a rapidly maturing software market segment. Further pointing out such maturity are "many" organisations with a server virtualisation penetration rate exceeding 75%.

VMware still dominates the market, with Microsoft following as a mainstream contender in enterprise use. The market also sees a number of niche players, such as Citrix, Oracle and Red Hat, in addition to an "explosion" of vendors in the domestic China market.

Server virtualisation remains the most common infrastructure platform for x86 OS workloads in on-premises data centres, but Gartner points out new computing styles and approaches-- including OS container-based virtualisation and cloud computing-- will be "increasingly significant" for the market.

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Judge Decides: Staples-Office Depot Merger No More

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Judge Decides: Staples-Office Depot Merger No More

The $6.3 billion Staples-Office Depot acquisition is no more-- a federal judge agrees with objections raised by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and brings the merger to an end, saying it would create an unrivaled giant.

"There is a reasonable probability that the proposed merger will substantially impair competition in the sale and distribution of consumable office supplies to large business-to-business customers,” US district judge Emmet Sullivan writes in a 3-page order.

In turn, Office Depot states “while we are respectful of the Court’s decision to grant the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction to prevent our merger with Staples, we are disappointed by this outcome and strongly believe that a merger would have benefited all of our customers in the long term."

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EC Bets Big on Quantum Computing

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EC Bets Big on Quantum Computing

The European Commission announces a €1 billion investment in the development of quantum technologies-- with applications ranging from secure networks to ultra-precise gravity sensors and clocks.

Set to kick off in 2018, the quantum research research is similar in scale to a pair of ongoing European flagship programs, the Graphene Flagship and the Human Brain Project. It will receive funding from both the EC and other European and national funders, and has the the aim to "place Europe at the forefront of the second quantum revolution, bringing transformative advances to science, industry and society."

One of the inspiration behind the project is a 2015 "Quantum Manifesto" urging for a large-scale initiative in the field. Quantum computing promises to bring about huge gains in performance, but actually realising the dream remains a challenge.

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