Semiconductor Marvell Could be up for Sale

The semiconductor industry is a tough area to operate in and it is a dog-eat-dog world, and now it looks like Marvell Technology Group could be the next to be swallowed by a bigger dog on the market. According to an article in the New York Post, the chip maker could be up for sale and Broadcom/Avago could be the possible buyer.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve heard of Avago’s interest in Marvell. Last July several news outlets reported that Avago was interested in the purchase, but was holding their bid until the Broadcom and Avago merger was completed.

It hasn’t gone all that good for Marvell lately despite them making some great chips that we see all the time here in the office when we review products. For example, last month they reached a settlement with Carnegie Mellon University for $750 million and they have also just been through an audit for alleged fraud. They were however cleared in the audit and there wasn’t found any evidence of wrongdoing or accounting fraud as the allegations said.

Still, the stock has been on a steady decline as the semiconductor business generally has been going down and stockholders demand that the company cuts costs. After the stock dove about 40 percent of the past year, it doesn’t come as a big surprise that the stockholders demand some action.

Whether Broadcom (AVGO) will make an official bid or not is something time will tell and I’m sure that there will be a lot of details to iron out between the two before they’ll reach an agreement, if they do at all. There is however also some doubt on whether such a merger could result in an antitrust scrutiny as some of the areas of the two overlap, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet switching chips, among others.

Mad Catz In Trouble After Shares Plummet And CEO Resigns

Mad Catz is best known for creating various peripherals including keyboards, mice, headsets and more while adopting a very distinctive style. This gives their product range a unique aesthetic, and makes anything they produce instantly recognizable. Whether many of these complicated constructions are as comfortable as more simplistic solutions is topic up for discussion. Not only that, creating any mass market product involves a great deal of research and development. Furthermore, competition within the peripherals market is fierce with Corsair, Roccat, Logitech, Mionix, Cooler Master and more all vying for people’s hard earner cash. As a result, the financial situation at the company looks very bleak and their share value has fallen by more than 25% today!

On another note, Mad Catz announced some sweeping changes to the management team. Firstly, the company’s president and CEO, Darren Richardson resigned his position with immediate effect. In a similar fashion, the chair of the board of directors and member of the board’s audit committee, Thomas Brown resigned on Friday. That’s not the end though as Mad Catz’s senior vice president of business affairs, general counsel and corporate secretary, Whitney Peterson also handed in her resignation. The timing for the CEO’s resignation is quite worrying and comes just one day before Mad Catz’s financial reports are published. The company released a statement describing these changes which reads:

“We recognize the tremendous value that Thomas, Darren, and Whitney have brought to Mad Catz during their tenure and thank them for their many contributions throughout the years,”

“Looking ahead, we are confident that we have a talented leadership team in place that will enable us to steer the company on a steady course in its operations and financial performance as we look to grow our business and reward our shareholders.”

Clearly, the company’s financial standing is in disarray and I’m expecting the results to tomorrow to be alarming. Only time will tell if Mad Catz struggles to remain in business, but the picture so far doesn’t look very promising.

Have you had a positive experience with Mad Catz hardware?

AMD Loses Two Major Industry Figures

AMD’s woeful fiscal position and declining GPU market share has caused a great deal of speculation regarding the company’s future, with commentators suggesting a buy-out is imminent. AMD recently reversed the discrete graphics card market trend which marks a promising return to form. However, it seems like all is not well at AMD and two of the company’s major figures have left this week. Fiona Faulkner, International Channel Sales and Marketing leader handed in her resignation.

Similarly, AMD’s Channel Manager, Leon Callon has allegedly left the company and the Twitter user-name, “AMD_Leon” no longer exists. This is a worrying development and suggests AMD’s management is in a complete mess. In theory, this could indicate a takeover or restructuring in difficult times. It’s impossible to know if these two individuals left of their own accord.

It’s sad to see AMD’s decline and the company really is in a delicate position. Hopefully, the upcoming Zen CPU architecture will help financially, but long-term prospects look very bleak. Previously, rumors have suggested a takeover from either Samsung or Microsoft, which could help AMD’s research and development budget.

Clearly, AMD is in a very difficult position and I hope they can recover and keep their talented staff.

Street Fighter 5 Beta Extended as Server Trouble Continues

The Street Fighter 5 beta that currently runs as a PlayStation 4 exclusive has shown us very clearly how important beta tests of games are, both the closed and open versions. One can plan and have a lot of great ideas, but it isn’t until you put it out to a real world test that you know how well you did your job. Other recent examples also include all the trouble WB has with the latest Batman game.

Capcom announced yesterday on their Twitter account that the beta would be down all day as they continue to face server issues. The beta launched on July 23rd, but users experienced trouble right from the start and they lasted throughout the weekend where Capcom repeatedly reset and took servers offline and set them back up again in an attempt to get everything running.

The beta was officially scheduled to end tomorrow, Tuesday the 28th, but that won’t happen. A new message posted on Twitter reads: “For those wondering, we will be extending the beta period to make up for the issues we’ve been experiencing.” There hasn’t been any word yet how much it will be extended, but we can assume it will continue at least to the point where they narrow down where the bug is located and then add the original 5-day time on top of that.

While this first beta is PlayStation 4 only, future beta versions are planned for the PC too. Those will commence at an unspecified time later this year.

Thank You Gamespot for providing us with this information

Latest Apple iPods Not Compatible With Apple Music – Fail!

If you were looking to get one of the newly released Apple iPod Shuffle or Nano to play locally stored music that you got through Apple Music, then you might want to hold off a while. In a twist of irony, it seems that you can’t play this music from Apples own services on their new devices, that is unless you’re going for the also newly released iPod Touch.

Apple’s reason for this move is because the Nano and Shuffle don’t have an internet connection, so Apple can’t check and whether you renewed or canceled your subscription and remove locally stored tracks. Thus, it just won’t allow you to play them at all.

The new iPods were revealed last Wednesday and they are the first iPods released since 2012. The Touch got a healthy bump in speed and the Shuffle and Nano received new available colours.

Apple has downplayed their iPods for a while now and they aren’t easily found on the homepage anymore. It’s only the touch that is left to be found in the top menu and it is sold more as an entry-level iOS device than a music player. Looks more like they’re keeping them in rotation by demand than because they want to and this latest move could very well be a way to force more people over to the more modern devices such as the iPod Touch or even better a brand new iPhone instead.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information.

Dead Island 2 Is In Trouble

Dead Island seems to be in a rough place at the moment with recent replacing series creator Techland for Spec Ops: The Line developer YAGER. It seems like an odd decision especially since the recent gameplay footage was well received, the recent announcement doesn’t mention any plans for moving forward.

As of right now it seems to be that the sequel is in a state of limbo.

“With Dead Island 2, Deep Silver has always been dedicated to delivering the sequel that Dead Island fans deserve. After careful consideration, today we announce the decision to part ways with development partner YAGER. We will continue working towards bringing our vision of Dead Island 2 to life, and we will share further information at a later stage.” No further information was given on the decision to part with YAGER and what this could mean for Dead Island 2.

The original Dead Island and its follow-up Dead Island: Riptide, were created by a polish developer Techland and that developer went on to work with Warner Bros on a similar zombie-based game called Dying Light. This is likely the cause of its recent delay in 2016.

It’s disappointing to see this game delayed and the occurring problems between Deep Silver and YAGER, hopefully this won’t have an effect on the final product.

Thank you polygon for providing us with this information

Trouble and Confusion with Intel’s X99 Chipset and SATA Ports

There has been a lot of confusion the past couple of weeks where it first was thought that Intel had pulled back the latest RSTe drivers, but in fact the were just listed wrong as they’re not working or intended to work with the X99 chipsets. There was also the false claim that the normal RST drivers wouldn’t support TRIM in RAID0 mode for SSDs, but Intel has rectified that statement and it should be fully working.

What however doesn’t work, or not as it should, are any SATA port beyond the first six. The X99 chipset supports up to ten SATA3 ports on paper and they also all work. But not for the Intel RST driver and in return this means that you can not setup a RAID over all ten ports. The last four will report as connected to a separate controller using the windows AHCI drivers instead of Intel’s RST.

There was already a similar problem with the previous X79 chipset and the integrated storage controller that lead to manufacturers completely redesigning their boards and reduce the SATA ports. Now it looks like history is repeating itself again and we might expect the same results.

Thanks to Heise for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Heise

Sony Mobile China in Turmoil

Recent times have seen Sony’s Chinese Mobile branch go through a large amount of employee lay-offs and follow a similar suit to Samsung in losing ground to Chinese-based companies.

This news doesn’t come as a large shock, we’ve reported recently of Chinese-domestic brands like Millet selling 1.62 million phones over a non-stop 72 hour period, alongside news of the whole Chinese Mobile market being in a significant decline.

The main issue that these companies are facing is said to be due to their ‘premium’ pricing, as is seen through most big business offerings (see: Apple). The public are now seemingly refusing to spend the extra few hundred dollars to buy the big-brand’s latest tech, choosing to go for the much cheaper domestic option instead. As according to Chinese-based website MyDrivers however, this is largely Sony’s fault – claiming that these external competitors only helped accelerate their decline.

Alongside issues with their tight marketing budget, Sony is said to be going about pushing their phones in the wrong way. We’ve seen reports that Sony phone counters have disappeared in many main Chinese cities, they’ve been also expressing a lack of appreciation for the social media market and providing a lesser product mobile to their competitors. Sony have been said to believe their products will ‘sell themselves’ which, given the information you’re currently reading, is not true- they’re not Apple.

MyDrivers has also claimed that the local service for Sony’s tech offerings was poorly handled. Free applications given to Western consumers are often blocked by the high-security Chinese government, making the ‘premium’ purchase price for an Xperia Z mean that much less. Alongside this, there has been reports of major internal fighting within the Chinese company branch – all of this amounting for a poor sales showing year on year.

One other major issue that was pointed out is the pricing issues that Sony experienced with their Xperia Z. Being released at 4,999 yuan ($815 US), Sony decided to cut their price majorly after just one month down to 4,299 yuan ($700 US) and a further drop to 3699 yuan ($600 US) was seen just 30 days later. The issue here is that it cheapens Sony’s image – Can you imagine how mad you would be, purchasing a product on release for $815 US, only for it to be retailing for $200 US less in just 60 days time?

Sony is not giving up the fight for the Chinese market, we will report as the story develops.

Image courtesy of Chiphell

Samsung Bug in Evo 840 SSD

During the last couple of weeks, more and more reports have started to surface about problems with the Samsung 840 and Evo 840 drives. The trouble in question is extremely low speeds when reading old data, meaning data that has been written over a month ago. Freshly written files will have the same performance as the drive has advertised.

The biggest collection of information about this bug is over at the Overclock.net forums. The thread is close to 750 replies at the time of writing, and more are coming in all the time, and the thread itself started about a month ago. As more people get aware of the problem, more reports pop up all over Reddit and other user forums as well.

The HD Tach graph below illustrates the issues with these drives. The odd part for now, is that the bug only affects LBA’s that have old data associated with them. Freshly written data has the full speed. This explains very well how such a severe bug could have been hiding for so long. The good news is, it’s most likely a firmware issue and can be fixed with an simple update.

Anandtech has reached out to Samsung via phone and it seems they are both aware of it and working on a fix. Presumably the bug has been located. There’s sadly no ETA on a possible fix yet, but it’s great to see Samsung working hard to fix this issue. But then again, it is in their own interest to do so.

I am running a 1 TB Samsung Evo 840 in my personal system, so of course I had to test this out myself. I can verify that the bug is present on my drive as well. This could very well attribute to some of the lags and slow loading times I’ve been having when working with my PC. Doing a normal disk-to-disk copy of fresh data results in about 250 MB/s, which is normal for that folder. An old data copy however swings between 300 kb/s and 2.5 MB/s with peaks up to 6 MB/s. That’s not what I’d call SSD speeds.

Update September 25: Estimated time for a firmware update is set to October 15, we’ll keep you updated.

Thank you Anandtech for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Anandtech.