Google has started taking pre-orders for its first foldable phone, with shipping of the gadget in June.

The Pixel Fold will sell for US$1,799, which is comparable to its main competitor, the Samsung Galaxy Fold 4.

Google is late to the foldable market — though not as late as Apple, which doesn’t have a foldable yet — but it’s taking advantage of its timing by targeting some of the Galaxy Fold’s perceived shortcomings.

For example, Google’s folding phone is slim and has a wide body for easy handling. The wider body also allows for a better aspect ratio for viewing its front and interior OLED displays.

“The Pixel stands out by having a wide aspect ratio. It’s ideal for content consumption,” said Brad Akuse, a mobile industry analyst at Circana, a global market research firm.

“The Samsung Fold has a more square screen, so you get black bars when you view content on it,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“When closed, the Pixel matches the dimensions of a regular phone with the advantage of a fold,” said Bob O’Donnell, founder and principal analyst at technology market research and consulting firm Technalysis Research.

“Samsung is a bit longer and thinner,” he told TechNewsWorld.

First Gen Blues?

At the heart of the Pixel Fold is the Google Tensor G2 processor, which Akyuz claims isn’t as powerful as the chip used by its competition. “The Galaxy Fold runs on the top-of-the-line silicon on the market,” he added. “The Pixel Fold uses its own chipset, which is not on par with the ones used by Samsung.”

In the past, he said, Pixel phones have had issues with their silicon. “We don’t know if that’s going to happen with the Pixel Fold, but I would say there’s a lot of peace of mind with the Galaxy Fold,” he said.

He also mentioned that the Pixel Fold is a first generation device. “Samsung Fold is in its fourth iteration,” he explained. “Samsung has gone through a lot of headaches that Google may have to go through.”

“We don’t know what kind of problems Pixel Fold customers might be facing and how Google might be able to address them,” he added. “With the Galaxy Fold, we have a pretty good idea of ​​Samsung’s game plan.”

Still, the Pixel Fold outdoes its competition in a few other areas. It has a bigger battery, for example, and three cameras – a 48-megapixel main sensor, a 10.8MP ultrawide camera, and a 10.8MP telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom and 20x digital zoom. It can also take pictures remotely with a palm gesture.

Foldable phones appeal to business travelers

Still, that $1,800 price tag limits the audience for this Google offering and its foldable brethren.

“At the moment, we only see early adopters buying folding phones,” said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a technology advisory firm in San Jose, California.

“They are still seen as a novelty, although they are starting to turn the corner,” he told TechNewsWorld. “As prices come down and more are offered, these folding phones could become a huge market in the future.”

Foldables also appeal to businessmen on the go. “I’ve found that when I travel, I can use my foldable and not carry my laptop,” said Nabeela Popal, a research director on the IDC Worldwide Tracker team.

“I found I could be productive. It made a difference,” she told TechNewsWorld.

“Foldables aren’t for everyone,” O’Donnell acknowledged, “but for some people, they’re a slam dunk because you get the equivalent of a smartphone and tablet in one device. It’s a lot of fun.”

“I love mine,” she continued. “I can look at documents on the phone and actually read them.”

Accuses said Samsung’s Fold line benefited from discontinuing the Galaxy Note series in 2022. “The Z Fold was able to attract many Galaxy Note customers,” he said, “who are known to buy these devices for business use, for productivity purposes.”

“The larger real estate on the display side allows for a richer user experience, especially for applications designed for this form factor,” he added.

Bright Spot in the Black Market

Aside from price, durability appears to be a barrier for some consumers entering the foldable fold. “You still have many consumers who are not completely convinced about the durability of foldables,” Akuse said.

He recalled a recent Circana survey conducted at a trade show, which found that of those consumers not interested in purchasing a foldable smartphone, 30% said durability was a driver for not considering a foldable smartphone.

“Two years ago, that figure was 40%,” he observed. “Samsung has done a really good job of improving the form factor, making it more durable, but also giving consumers peace of mind when it comes to servicing the device.”

While foldables are a niche product, they are a bright spot in the smartphone market. “The smartphone industry is going through a steady quarter-on-quarter decline,” Popple said. “In 2022, we see a 12% decline in the market and 15% in 2021. However, within this, we have seen the foldable segment growing at a brisk pace, albeit from a smaller base.

“Three years ago, a lot of people questioned whether foldables were going to become a real trend or fad, something that’s cool but will end up like 3D TVs,” he continued. “From what we’ve seen in new products over the past year and pickup – 100% growth in 2022 – foldables have been a silver lining.”

Pople acknowledges that the technology has a long way to go, but believes that the form factor is here to stay.

“Consumers love it,” she said, “and when software catches up to this new hardware, we’ll see it become more popular.”

Without Apple in the market, he noted that IDC expects 3.5% of the smartphone market — 50 million units — to be foldable by 2027. “If Apple enters the segment anytime in the next five years,” he said, “that number will definitely skyrocket.

Infineon Technologies last week introduced the automotive industry’s first LPDDR flash memory to support the development of new E/E (electrical and electronic) systems for semi-autonomous vehicles. Secure, reliable and real-time code execution, which is essential for automotive zone and domain control, is provided by the Infineon SEMPER X1 LPDDR flash solution.

Infineon Semper X1 LPDDR Flash

According to Infineon, the device enables 20 times faster random read transactions for real-time applications and up to eight times better performance than traditional NOR flash memory. It is no exaggeration to describe this type of performance improvement as remarkable.

Typical NOR flash memory is often called non-volatile storage, meaning that storage devices with that type of flash memory retain data without a battery or other powered voltage supply. This capability has made it possible for software-dependent cars to offer state-of-the-art features with improved safety and architectural flexibility.

Next-Gen Cars Are Computers on Wheels

As I’ve noted in previous columns, modern cars have evolved over the past 20 years into computers on wheels. The next generation of cars depend on state-of-the-art multicore computers built using modern manufacturing techniques.

Because autonomous driving scenarios require intelligence and real-time connectivity to meet the safety and dependability requirement, high-density integrated non-volatile memories are no longer a financially viable option. However, these sophisticated automotive real-time computers require more exceptional performance than current memory solutions offer.

Infineon built the SEMPER X1 with a proven LPDDR4 interface running at 3.2 GB/s and a multi-bank architecture to meet the performance and density needs of domain and zone controllers.

Infineon LPDDR Flash - for Automotive: Diagram

Traditional Safety-Critical Functions in Next-Gen Cars (Source: Infineon Technologies)

The resulting value proposition is quite compelling. Infineon duets flash memory with a LPDDR (Low Power Double Data Rate) interface to allow for more dramatic performance and scalability than xSPI NOR flash to meet the new requirements of automotive zone design. Infineon’s choice to use this interface is smart, given that the interface has been on the market for years and has a low-risk implementation reputation.

From a vehicle perspective, the transition to software-defined vehicle architecture has caused a memory challenge for next-generation auto designs. Traditional xSPI NOR flash memory is insufficient for a number of reasons, cost being the primary one. SEMPER XI leverages the LPDDR interface method from the DRAM industry to meet new computing requirements in the automobile industry.

Key Automotive Demands: Increasing Performance, Density Demands

The next generation of semi-autonomous automobiles require increasingly more flash memory and faster performance. For some time now cars have been moving towards zonal design without compromising real-time processing. These demands for higher performance cannot be met by what typical NOR flash storage provides today.

The growing number of domain and zone controllers appearing in next-generation semi-autonomous vehicles must process massive amounts of data in near real time while consolidating multiple safety-critical functions.

These zone controllers have intensive real-time computing requirements. While these controllers send information to the main ECU (Electronic Control Unit), these zonal controllers must also manage steering, engine, and other critical safety functions.

Automotive zone controllers are constantly being pushed to provide greater performance levels to meet these real-time processing requirements. A controller with integrated embedded memory on board cannot handle this increased level of complex processing.

Needs quick access to external flash

The processing requirements of next-generation automobile designs have driven a shift from real-time processors with a few CPU cores and onboard flash. At a high level, one could reasonably say that the development of semiconductor technology has led to a mismatch between CPUs and memory.

Given the cost pressures in the smart car and EV markets, adding onboard flash is not economically viable using today’s advanced semiconductor process nodes employed by those processor solutions.

The reality is that fast, real-time multicore processors that operate from external flash memory are necessary to meet the requirements of the next generation of automotive designs.

Automotive-qualified embedded flash technologies have difficulties with high cost (large die area) and lack of scalability on advanced manufacturing nodes. In addition, the industry required additional flash memory to accommodate the expanding code size and complexity.

xSPI is not scalable and runs out of gas

All of these factors influenced Infineon’s role in developing LPDDR flash memory.

Sandeep Krishnagowda, VP of Infineon Marketing and Applications, explained that the company has taken the initiative to help define the LPDDR memory range as the right solution to address the growing need for real-time compute capability for code execution by multicore processors. Used high-profile OEM feedback for. , This approach makes sense because fast random access is at the heart of LPDDR flash.

Undoubtedly, this method speeds up the execution rates. According to Infineon, when compared to a typical octal (x8) xSPI NOR flash chip, using LPDDR flash results in an astonishing 20x increase in performance. Conversely, toggling from real-time computations inside the CPU to those in external memory requires this performance improvement.

With its LPDDR interface, the SEMPER X1 flash can deliver throughput rates of up to 3.2 Gb/s. Its multi-bank design allows for over-the-air firmware changes without downtime, which is important in autonomous driving scenarios. The device also includes advanced error correction and other security measures, and is ISO 26262 ASIL-B compliant.

Other factors come into play in driving the replacement of XSPI with LPDDR flash.

First, xSPI, as a legacy interface, is not only very sluggish but does not scale well enough to meet future needs. This important factor is also propelling the demand for LPDDR Flash. In addition, the xSPI devices on the market today use a Low Voltage Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (LVCMOS) approach that cannot exceed 200 MHz, requiring high-bandwidth solutions.

Given that context, traditional octal xSPI flash devices are unsuitable for code execution because they cannot accommodate today’s gigahertz multicore processors.

closing thoughts

Infineon’s SEMPER X1 is an essential step in that direction as it features more complex engine control and real-time decision making supported by a memory architecture that can evolve independently of the CPU.

This new non-volatile memory category will be fascinating to watch as the ecosystem grows. My recent podcast with Krishnagowda provided some interesting insight into the disruptive implications of this new announcement.

Infineon has been a bit coy about market categories beyond the auto space that LPDDR flash memory could appeal to.

Linus Wong, director of product management for Infineon’s SEMPER X1, acknowledges that storage, security and medical applications could see tremendous interest in this new storage capability. “When we look at these secondary markets, it really comes down to the enhanced value proposition [usage models] that can take advantage of latency improvements measured in thousandths of a second,” he said.

Finally, it is not unimportant that Infineon has taken an industry leadership role in releasing this new memory solution. Company pride, a long-standing reputation for design-in excellence, and a history of solid execution that is critical to high ASP next-gen autos are all tailwinds that favorably support market acceptance of LPDDR flash memory.

According to Infineon, the SEMPER X1 is now undergoing sampling, with a commercial release slated for sometime in 2024.

Canonical is emphasizing the security and usability suitability of Internet of Things (IoT) and edge devices management with its June 15 release of Ubuntu Core 22, a fully containerized Ubuntu 22.04 LTS variant optimized for IoT and edge devices Is.

In line with Canonical’s technology offering, this release brings Ubuntu’s operating system and services to the full range of embedded and IoT devices. The new release includes a fully extensible kernel to ensure timely responses. Canonical partners with silicon and hardware manufacturers to enable advanced real-time features on Ubuntu certified hardware.

“At Canonical, we aim to provide secure, reliable open-source access everywhere – from the development environment to the cloud, to the edge and across devices,” said Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical CEO. “With this release and Ubuntu’s real-time kernel, we are ready to extend the benefits of Ubuntu Core throughout the embedded world.”

One important thing about Ubuntu Core is that it is effectively Ubuntu. It is fully containerized. All applications, kernels and operating systems are strictly limited snaps.

This means it is ultra-reliable and perfect for unattended devices. It has removed all unnecessary libraries and drivers, said David Beamonte Arbushes, product manager for IoT and embedded products at Canonical.

“It uses the same kernel and libraries as Ubuntu and its flavors, and it’s something that developers love, because they can share the same development experience for every Ubuntu version,” he told LinuxInsider.

He said it has some out-of-the-box security features such as secure boot and full disk encryption to prevent firmware replacement, as well as firmware and data manipulation.

certified hardware key

Ubuntu’s certified hardware program is a key distinguishing factor in the industry’s response to Core OS. It defines a range of trusted IoT and edge devices to work with Ubuntu.

The program typically includes a commitment to continuous testing of certified hardware in Canonical’s laboratories with every security update throughout the device’s lifecycle.

Advantech, which provides embedded, industrial, IoT and automation solutions, strengthened its participation in the Ubuntu Certified Hardware program, said Eric Cao, director of Advantech Wise-Edge+.

“Canonical ensures that certified hardware undergoes an extensive testing process and provides a stable, secure and optimized Ubuntu core to reduce market and development costs for our customers,” he said.

Another usage example, Brad Kehler, COO of KMC Controls, is the security benefits that Core OS brings to the company’s range of IoT devices, which are purpose-built for mission-critical industrial environments.

“Safety is of paramount importance to our customers. We chose Ubuntu Core for its built-in advanced security features and robust over-the-air update framework. Ubuntu Core comes with a 10-year security update commitment that allows us to keep devices safe in the field for their longer life. With a proven application enablement framework, our development team can focus on building applications that solve business problems,” he said.

solving major challenges

IoT manufacturers face complex challenges to deploy devices on time and within budget. As the device fleet expands, so too does ensuring security and remote management are taxing. Ubuntu Core 22 helps manufacturers meet these challenges with an ultra-secure, resilient and low-touch OS, backed by a growing ecosystem of silicon and original design maker partners.

The first major challenge is to enable the OS for their hardware, be it custom or generic, the well-known Arbus. It’s hard work, and many organizations lack the skills to perform kernel porting tasks.

“Sometimes they have in-house expertise, but development can take a lot longer. This can affect both time and budget,” he explained.

IoT devices should be mostly unattended. They are usually deployed in places with limited or difficult access, he offered. It is therefore essential that they be extremely reliable. It is costly to send a technician to the field to recover a bricked or unstarted device, so reliability, low touch, and remote manageability are key factors in reducing OpEx.

He added that this also adds to the challenge of managing the software of the devices. A mission-critical and bullet-proof update mechanism is critical.

“Manufacturers have to decide early in their development whether they are going to use their own infrastructure or third parties to manage the software for the devices,” Arbus said.

Beyond Standard Ubuntu

The containerized feature of Core 22 extends beyond the containerized features in non-core Ubuntu OSes. In Ubuntu Desktop or Server, the kernel and operating system are .deb packages. Applications can run as .deb or snap.

“In Ubuntu Core, all applications are strictly limited snap,” Arbusue continued. “This means that there is no way to access them from applications other than using some well-defined and secure interfaces.”

Not only applications are snaps. So are the kernel and operating system. He said that it is really useful to manage the whole system software.

“Although classic Ubuntu OSes can use Snaps, it is not mandatory to use them strictly limited, so applications can have access to the full system, and the system can have access to applications.”

Strict imprisonment is mandatory in Ubuntu Core. Additionally, both the kernel and the operating system are strictly limited snaps. In addition, the classic Ubuntu versions are not optimized for size and do not include some of the features of Ubuntu Core, such as secure boot, full disk encryption, and recovery mode.

Other Essential Core 22 Features:

  • Real-time compute support via a real-time beta kernel provides high performance, ultra-low latency and workload predictability for time-sensitive industrial, telco, automotive and robotics use cases.
  • There is a dedicated IoT App Store in the dedicated App Store for each device running Ubuntu Core. It provides complete control over apps and can create, publish and distribute software on a single platform. The IoT App Store provides enterprises with a sophisticated software management solution, enabling a range of new on-premises features.
  • Transactional control for mission-critical over-the-air (OTA) updates of kernel, OS, and applications. These updates will always complete successfully or automatically revert to the previous working version so that a device cannot be “britched” by an incomplete update. Snap also provides delta updates to reduce network traffic, and digital signatures to ensure software integrity and provenance.

More information about Ubuntu Core 22 can be found at ubuntu.com/core.

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