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UK advances in this year’s Global Information Technology Report

April 5th, 2012 No comments

THE UNITED KINGDOM has advanced in the world ranking of business Information and Communications Technology (ICT) usage, according to the Global Information Technology Report 2012 from the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Measured in terms of a Network Readiness Index (NRI), which reflects the achievements of countries in exploiting the opportunities offered by ICT, Blighty managed to climb five places to rank in 10th place compared to last year’s report.

The report said, “The UK delivers a consistent, yet perfectible, performance in the NRI,” said the report. “The country obtains its best marks in the usage and impact sub-dexes. ICT is pervasive among the population at large and in the government.”

The UK also ranked 10th in how its regulatory environment encourages growth of the IT sector. However, it ranked poorly in business innovation environments at a disappointing 20th place.

The data established that Nordic countries together with Singapore “are the most successful in the world in leveraging ICT” and have “fully integrated ICT in their competitiveness strategies to boost innovation”.

Sweden clung onto the pole position, retaining the top spot as it had in 2011, with Singapore placed second and Finland third. Denmark managed to surpass Switzerland this year, taking fourth place, with the Swiss dropping one position to fifth.

WEF economist, Beñat Bilbao-Orsorio said at a press conference, “The top five countries display very conducive environments for innovation, and have done their homework on IT infrastructure. This has positive impacts on society and government.”

In terms of mobile broadband, the report established that there are over six million users worldwide generating a tremendous .3t in annual revenue. It also found that by 2016 more than 80 per cent of broadband connections will be mobile, with growth in emerging countries rising from 61 per cent in 2011 to 84 per cent in 2016.

Covering 142 countries, the report is one of the most comprehensive international assessments of how nations compare in their use of information technology. µ

 

AMD Q4’11 & FY 2011 Earnings Report: 1.69B Revenue For Q4, 6.57B Revenue For 2011

January 25th, 2012 No comments

Late yesterday AMD released their earnings report for Q4 2011 and the entirety of 2011. 2011 was an important year for AMD as they finally shipped their first APUs (integrated CPU/GPU), the TSMC-produced ultra-mobile Brazos APU earlier in the year, and the GlobalFoundries produced Llano desktop/mobile APU in the summer.  At the same time it was the second year that AMD has operated as a fabless company, and the first in which a new process node (32nm) was delivered by the now-independent GlobalFoundries. However it was also a year of turmoil, with long-time AMD staffer turned-CEO Dirk Meyer resigning at the start of the year, followed up by outsider Rory Read taking the helm of AMD in August.

For 2011, AMD brought in .57 billion in revenue, with a net income of 1 million, versus .49B in revenue and 1M in 2010; or in other words AMD was flat on the year. Meanwhile for the all-important Q4 and the holiday sales that go with it, AMD earned .69B, but took a net loss of 7M. This compares to .65B of revenue and a net income of 5M for Q4 2010, making Q4 effectively as flat as the year itself in revenue, but far less profitable.

AMD 2011 Financial Results

 

Q4'2011

Q4'2010

FY2011

FY2010

Revenue

.69B

.65B

.57B

.49B

Net Income

-7M

5M

1M

1M

So what drove AMD’s earnings? Starting with a focus on Q4, the single biggest factor here is that AMD has once again taken a substantial charge related to GloFo. Even though GloFo operates independently, AMD continues to own 8.8% of the company, which means the status of GloFo is reflected in AMD’s earnings in some cases. To that end, AMD took a 9M “impairment of investment” charge reflecting the loss of value of GloFo, making it the primary reason the company slipped into the red for the quarter. As this is a charge for recognizing the loss of value of an asset, AMD has not actually lost 9M, but it was booked as such. Meanwhile AMD also took a restructuring charge in Q4 related to their workforce reduction, which cost the company a further M. Altogether the company took 5M in one-time losses for Q4; their net income excluding those loses would have been 8M.

In terms of product shipments, Q4 marked the launch of AMD’s Bulldozer architecture. AMD technically began shipping Bulldozer products for revenue in Q3, but Q4 was the first complete quarter. For that reason server and chipset revenue grew by double-digits over Q3, while desktop Bulldozer sales went unmentioned in AMD’s report. Meanwhile compared to Q4 of 2010 AMD’s CPU & chipset revenue was up slightly, with the bulk of the difference due to higher mobile CPU (Brazos and Llano) and chipset sales. Unfortunately for AMD this didn’t do anything to help their ASP for the quarter, and a result it’s flat versus 2010.

In discussing Q4 2010, AMD mentioned that they have been impacted by the hard drive shortage that started late last year. As virtually all CPUs are sold with new systems, AMD can only ship as many CPUs as their partners have hard drives to equip those systems with, creating a hard drive bottleneck in PC product. As a result not only does AMD face a limit in sales, but because the remaining hard drives are more expensive, PC manufacturers are cutting corners to make up the difference. NVIDIA and Intel have also been impacted by this, and as we’ll see it’s not the CPU division that’s taking the largest hit from the shortage.

Meanwhile for the entire year AMD ended up shipping 30M APUs. Most of AMD’s APU sales for the year were Brazos (a specific breakdown was not provided), reflecting the fact that Brazos has been a significant hit for the company, getting them into nettops and other cheap small form factor designs. The company-wide gross margin was 46%, which was up a point from 2010.

GPUs

On the GPU side however things were less rosy. As we’ve noted before APU sales eat into GPU sales, not only because APUs displace the need for low-end GPUs in some cases, but because APU revenue is booked alongside CPU revenue instead of GPU revenue.

AMD 2011 Graphics Division Financial Results

 

Q4'2011

Q4'2010

FY2011

FY2010

Revenue

2M

4M

.56B

.66B

Operating Income

M

M

M

9M

For Q4 2011 AMD’s graphics division had 382M in revenue and M in operating income, versus 4M revenue and M operating income the year before. On a yearly basis AMD booked .56B in revenue and M in operating income, compared to .66B and 9M respectively for 2010.

For AMD’s graphics division there were a few different driving factors for the quarter and for the year. From a product standpoint AMD launched the Radeon HD 6000 series early into the quarter last year, while the first true 7000 series part (Tahiti) did not launch until 2012 and only started shipping for revenue very late into 2011. Still, it was enough to have a significant impact on AMD’s GPU ASP, increasing it over 2010’s ASP even with the limited number of new products.

Meanwhile the biggest loser here was the desktop GPU segment, thanks both to a general decrease in desktop sales and the hard drive shortage. Compared to CPU sales desktop GPU sales in particular are being significantly impacted by the hard drive shortage as fewer desktop PCs are being sold and manufacturers cut back on or remove the discrete GPU entirely to offset higher hard drive prices. As a result AMD’s graphics revenue is down 10% year-over-year, with both dGPU sales to partners and direct board sales (FirePro) sliding versus 2010.

What’s Next

While AMD has officially closed the book on 2011, AMD expects to continue to be dogged by some 2011 issues for some time to come. The hard drive shortage in particular is going to extend through at least the first part of 2012 (no one seems to be quite sure when it will end), which is going to continue to hammer sales. At the same time AMD will be launching several new products in the next half year, including two new GCN GPUs (Pitcairn and Cape Verde), and of course their first Bulldozer APU, Trinity.

The bigger question though is what AMD’s long-term plans starting in 2012 will be. It’s widely expected that Rory Reed will announce a major new strategy for the company at AMD’s Financial Analyst Day 2012 next week, which would have a significant impact on the future of some product lines. As to what that might be, AMD’s own earnings report reiterated something the company said during last year’s workforce reduction: "the Company plans to reinvest a significant portion of the anticipated savings to fund initiatives designed to accelerate AMD's strategies for lower power, emerging markets, and the cloud". We’ll be at AMD’s Financial Analyst Day next week to find out just what AMD’s new strategy might be, so stay tuned.

Samsung will report record profits as smartphones surge

January 8th, 2012 No comments

KOREAN ELECTRONICS GIANT Samsung will report record profit for the fourth quarter driven by the success of its Galaxy range of smartphones.

The company said today in a statement that its estimated profit for the quarter ended 30 December will be 5.2tn Won (.5bn), up 73 per cent from the previous year. Meanwhile preliminary fourth quarter sales rose 12 per cent to 47tn Won.

Samsung said the surge was down to its handset division as well as a .4bn sale of its hard disk drive business to Seagate that it closed last month. The firm is expected to have sold a record 35 million smartphones in quarter four, up from 30 million devices in the previous quarter.

The company expects its full year results to reflect operating profit of 16.2tn Won and sales of 164.7tn Won.

Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone range has been key to the electronics maker’s strong performance. Just a year ago, experts feared that the South Korean manufacturer did not have a strong enough smartphone range to overtake Nokia and pose a threat to Apple.

Samsung will announce its full financial results later this month. µ

Google reveals its huge energy use in carbon report

September 16th, 2011 No comments

INTERNET SEARCH GIANT Google has revealed its energy footprint for the first time, and we doubt that it could buy its sandals off the shelf.

It would not take a genius to speculate that the firm uses a lot of energy, but it’s very huge indeed. Headline grabbing trivia include the fact that it could power Salt Lake City, Utah.

According to the New York Times, Google’s datacentres draw a continuous 260 million Watts or, if you prefer, around a quarter of the output of the average nuclear power plant.

This is fine though, as while Google uses a large amount of electricity, it stops its users from using other fuel, like petrol.

According to the company you should remember how much money is saved when, for example, someone does not drive to a library to look for information, but instead searches for it online. The same could be said for online shopping, perhaps.

“The numbers] look big in the small context,” said Urs Hoelzle, Google’s SVP for technical infrastructure in an interview with the New York Times.

The amount of power that individuals use is also small when looked at in perspective, according to the report, and consumption is reckoned to be around 180 Watt-hours a month, equal to running a light bulb for three hours.

Other numbers are described in fun terms, and Google reckons that running Gmail for a year, per user, is the equivalent to drinking a bottle of wine, sticking a note in it and tossing it into the sea, while performing 100 searches is the same as running a 60W lightbulb for 28 minutes.

Google also makes an effort to improve the way its buildings use energy and has cut down on car numbers by offering its workers shuttle services to use between their homes and offices. It added that it also offsets its carbon through “very high quality” outlets, such as livestock farms.

In a blog post Hoelzle said that Google is very close to completely offsetting is carbon emissions thanks to these and other novel methods.

“We started the process of getting to zero by making sure our operations use as little energy as possible. For the last decade, energy use has been an obsession. We’ve designed and built some of the most efficient servers and data centers in the world-using half the electricity of a typical data center. Our newest facility in Hamina, Finland, opening this weekend, uses a unique seawater cooling system that requires very little electricity,” he explained.

“Whenever possible, we use renewable energy. We have a large solar panel installation at our Mountain View campus, and we’ve purchased the output of two wind farms to power our data centers. For the greenhouse gas emissions we can’t eliminate, we purchase high-quality carbon offsets.” µ