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  1. BEIJING Thu Jan 23, 2014 6:03am EST Boxes containing Lenovo desktop computers are seen in an office in Kiev March 12, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Gleb Garanich (Reuters) - Lenovo Group Ltd, the world's largest PC maker, agreed to buy IBM Corp's low-end server business in a long-awaited deal valued at about $2.3 billion, the biggest-ever tech acquisition by a Chinese company. Lenovo will pay $2.07 billion in cash and the rest with stock of the Beijing-based PC maker, the company said in a statement to the Hong Kong exchange on Thursday. The deal surpasses Baidu Inc's acquisition of 91 Wireless from NetDragon Websoft Inc for $1.85 billion last year, according to Thomson Reuters data, and underscores the growing clout of the country's technology firms as they look to expand overseas. The acquisition will allow Lenovo to diversify revenue away from the shrinking PC business and remodel itself as a growing force in mobile devices and data storage servers. Analysts said Lenovo will likely find it easier than International Business Machines (IBM) to sell the x86 servers to Chinese companies as Beijing tries to localize its IT purchases in the wake of revelations about U.S. surveillance. The sale allows IBM to dump its low-margin x86 business - which sells less powerful and slower servers than the company's higher-margin offerings - and focus on the firm's decade-long shift to more profitable software and services. The unit had reported seven straight quarters of declining revenue. "What the business is worth to IBM is no longer relevant. The only thing that matters is what it's worth to Lenovo," said Alberto Moel, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein. "If Lenovo can improve the margins... that could offset any continued revenue shrinkage." Lenovo's purchase of IBM's ThinkPad PC business in 2005 for $1.75 billion became the springboard for its leap to the top of global PC maker rankings. The market is betting Lenovo will enjoy similar success with its latest acquisition, which is partly reflected in a 9.44 percent rise in its shares this year. Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs advised Lenovo, PC maker said in its statement. HIGHER VALUATIONS Talks between IBM and Lenovo fell apart last year due to differences on pricing, with media reports at the time suggesting IBM wanted as much as $6 billion for the unit. Analysts said the sale may have been accelerated by IBM's China woes and ongoing weakness in hardware sales, after the world's biggest technology services company reported a 23 percent drop in fourth-quarter revenue from China on Tuesday. Revenue from its hardware business, including servers, fell for the ninth consecutive quarter as more companies switched to the cloud from traditional infrastructure. IBM's server business was the world's second-largest, with a 22.9 percent share of the $12.3 billion market in the third quarter of 2013, according to technology research firm Gartner. Hewlett-Packard Co is the biggest player, while Lenovo does not appear in the top five. "The acquisition presents a unique opportunity for the company to gain immediate scale and credibility in this market," Lenovo said on Thursday. The x86 unit has annual revenues of roughly $4 billion, analysts estimate. (Reporting by Paul Carsten; Editing by Denny Thomas, Stephen Coates and Ryan Woo) http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/23/us-ibm-server-lenovo-idUSBREA0M01U20140123
  2. Fri Jan 31, 2014 9:08am EST (Reuters) - Twitter Inc has bought 900 patents and signed a cross-licensing agreement with IBM, making peace with Big Blue and bulking up on its intellectual property portfolio as it takes on larger rivals Google and Facebook. The agreement announced on Friday comes after International Business Machines Corp accused Twitter in November - on the eve of its high-profile initial public offering - of infringing three of its patents. At the time, it underscored how few patents the six-year-old social media company possessed in relation to more established rivals. A cross-licensing agreement will help safeguard Twitter against similar claims in the future. IBM is one of the industry's largest research spenders and stockpilers of intellectual property, a consistent leader in U.S. patent filings and the owner of some 41,000 patents. Twitter is following on the heels of Facebook, which itself faced similar claims before its own 2012 IPO. The world's largest social network has since gone on a patent-buying spree, acquiring intellectual property from tech bellwethers, including Microsoft Corp and IBM. "This acquisition of patents from IBM and licensing agreement provide us with greater intellectual property protection and give us freedom of action to innovate on behalf of all those who use our service," Ben Lee, Twitter's legal director, said in a joint statement with IBM on Friday. (Reporting by Edwin Chan; Editing by Jan Paschal) http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/31/us-ibm-twitter-idUSBREA0U0YF20140131
  3. Microsoft and the Computer History Museum have both announced today that the historic MS-DOS and Word for Windows source code are now available to the public for the very first time. These important pieces of source code (as well as history) will be preserved and made available to the community for historical and technical scholarship. "On Tuesday, we dusted off the source code for early versions of MS-DOS and Word for Windows. With the help of the Computer History Museum, we are making this code available to the public for the first time," Microsoft stated in an official blog post. The museum will have MS-DOS 1.1, MS-DOS 2.0, and Microsoft Word for Windows 1.1a. In 1980, IBM approached Microsoft to work on a project codenamed "Chess" and Microsoft eventually provided the BASIC language interpreter for IBM. Microsoft was then asked to create an operating system for IBM, and the company eventually licenses an operating system from Seattle Computer Products, which would become the foundation for MS-DOS. The Redmond giant's DOS-based version of Word was not a success against WordPerfect, the software that dominated the word processing market at the time. In 1989, Microsoft released Word for Windows, which generated over half the worldwide word processing market revenue in just four years from its launch. "We think preserving historic source code like these two programs is key to understanding how software has evolved from primitive roots to become a crucial part of our civilization," says Len Shustek, Computer History Museum Chairman. The Computer History Museum is located in Mountain View, California. Source
  4. IBM has demonstrated a new type of memory technology that the company believes could one day be a replacement for NAND flash. The company’s Theseus Project (conducted in cooperation with the University of Patras in Greece) is the first attempt to combine phase change memory, conventional NAND, and DRAM on a single controller. The result? A hybridized storage solution that outperforms PCIe-based SSDs by between 12 and 275 times. The physics of phase change Phase change memory is one of a number of alternative memory structures that’s beenproposed as a replacement for NAND. Phase change memory works by rapidly heating chalcogenide glass, shifting it between its crystalline and amorphous state. In its amorphous state (read as a binary 0), the structure has very high resistance, while in its crystalline state (binary 1) resistance is quite low. Phase change memory can quickly shift between the two states, plus research from Intel and Micron have demonstrated the feasibility of intermediate states, which allows two bits of information to be stored per cell. Phase change memory has much lower latency than NAND, much faster read/write times (in theory), and it can withstand millions of write cycles as compared to 30,000 with high-end SLC NAND and as few as 1,000 with TLC NAND. Even better, it’s well positioned compared to other theoretical memory devices. Even so, NAND flash has enormous economies of scale and billions invested in fab plants across the world. What IBM has done with Theseus is to incorporate a small amount of PCM into a hybrid structure where its ultra-low-latency characteristics can be effectively leveraged. This chart shows the various areas where IBM believes phase change memory could be useful. Note that in many cases, the PCM is being integrated either as a cache solution or as an additional tier of storage between NAND and DRAM, just as NAND is often integrated between DRAM and a conventional hard drive. Project Theseus is an aggregate controller featuring what appears to be 2.8GB of PCM (36 128Mbit cells per card, 5 cards total). IBM calls this its PSS (Prototype Storage Solution). The advantages of PCM are illustrated in the slides above. These graphs show the total latency for various types of requests. Note that the PSS solution (that’s the PCM card) completes the overwhelming majority of its requests in under 500 microseconds. The two MLC solutions top out at 14,000 and 20,000 microseconds compared to 2,000 microseconds for the PSS, while the TLC NAND is an order of magnitude slower, topping out at 120,000 microseconds. In short, these early PCMs, built on 90nm CMOS and at extremely low density (modern NAND flash is now available in 512Gbit sizes compared to 128Mbit for PCM) is a full order of magnitude faster than commercial NAND, with vastly superior write performance and data longevity. There’s just one little problem IBM makes a point of noting that its PSS solution uses 90nm memory produced by Micron. The only problem? Micron gave notice earlier this year that it was cancelling all of its PCM production and pulling out of the industry. While it left open the door to revisiting the memory tech at some point in the future, it indicated that the superior scaling of 3D NAND was a better option (despite the numerous problems identified with that technology in the short term). Where does this leave PCM? The 2013 ITRS report notes that NAND performance isn’t actually expected to increase much from present levels — in fact, it’s going to be difficult to maintain current NAND performance while improving density and holding write endurance constant. Right now, PCM is the most promising next-generation memory technology on the market — but if no one steps forward to manufacture it, it’s going to be a tough sell. Source
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