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Foxconn and Hon Hai Both Planning ARM Smartbooks

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the file-formats-are-what-matter dept.

Portables 59

wonkavader writes "Tuesday was a good day for smartbook news. News articles from Sept. 8 tell us that both Foxconn and Hon Hai are developing ARM-based smartbooks. PC World reports that Foxconn's devices 'use a few different Linux operating systems, including one similar to the Intel-backed Moblin OS and one developed by Foxconn. The company is currently looking into Google's Android mobile OS for possible use as well.' Reuters reports that Hon Hai is also developing them. Hon Hai makes the iPhone and the Wii."

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Breaking news! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29368761)

Rob Malda's penis is tinier than a 1 year old toddler's!

Redundant much? (5, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | more than 5 years ago | (#29368805)

Why does this submission treat Foxconn and Hon Hai as if they are distinct entities? Foxconn is the trade name [] of Hon Hai. They are the same company so to say they are "both" planning something doesn't make any sense.

Re:Redundant much? (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 5 years ago | (#29369193)


Missed that.

Re:Redundant much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29385545)

Technically, Hon Hai started using the trade name of Foxconn, the Hon Hai set up another company named Foxconn Technology. So it is 2 different compnay using the same name.

Foxconn == Hon Hai (5, Informative)

Spock_NPA (12762) | more than 5 years ago | (#29368833)

Foxconn is actually just a trade name of Hon Hai, they're the same company. []

Re:Foxconn == Hon Hai (3, Informative)

imess (805488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29370367)

Why point to Wikipedia when the fact is on Foxconn's own page [] ?

Hon Hai Precision Industry Company Ltd. [is] the anchor company of Foxconn

Re:Foxconn == Hon Hai (1)

yurtinus (1590157) | more than 5 years ago | (#29370733)

Never question Wikipedia!

With respect to linking to Foxconn directly (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 5 years ago | (#29382157)

They'll only gloss over their reputation for business practices that have been long-abandoned by other countries.

That is, the slave labor that happens there; the reaction being to threaten the person who exposed it, not the company (Foxconn) who did it. Naturally, some free-trader w/ mod points is going to bomb this back to oblivion.

Employment practices

In June 2006, allegations of Foxconn operating abusive employment practices came to light as reported by Mail that were later denied by Foxconn. Apple launched an investigation into such claims. The result was that the claims of mistreatment of employees were judged by the Apple inspection team to be largely unfounded, but the inspection team also discovered that at peak production times some of the employees were working more hours than Apple's acceptable "Code of Conduct" limit of 60 hours, and 25% of the time workers did not get at least one day off each week. These same workers complained there was not enough overtime in off peak periods. The auditing team also found that workers had been punished by being made to stand to attention for long periods, and that all junior employees are subjected to military-style drill.

Foxconn admitted it makes workers do an extra 80 hours overtime per month while the local labor law only permits 36 hours Foxconn sued Wang You and Weng Bao of China Business News, the journalists responsible for revealing these practices, for $3.77 million and filed a successful court ruling to have the journalists' assets frozen. Some disagree with the demands and the court ruling. Reporters Without Borders sent a letter to Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs to implore Foxconn to drop the case. Later Foxconn reduced the demand to a symbolic 1 yuan (12 U.S. cents), withdrew the request to freeze the journalists' personal assets, and initiated legal proceedings to sue their employer.

  Employee death over internal investigation

On July 16, 2009, employee Sun Danyong allegedly committed suicide in Shenzhen, China by jumping off the 12th floor of his apartment building. Initial reports from China indicates that Sun was under a lot of pressure because of investigations by Foxconn's Environmental, Safety and Loss Prevention Division regarding a missing prototype for a fourth generation iPhone. He was tasked with shipping 16 iPhone prototype units. However, one of the units went missing during the process.

Upon filing his report on July 13, Chinese state-run Southern Metropolis Daily reported that his residence was searched by Foxconn employees, and that he was beaten and interrogated by his superiors. Sina Online News and ND Daily Newspaper both reported Foxconn's security division may have used illegal approaches including illegal search of personal residence without warrant, unlawful confinement and possible physical force during the investigation. The controversial incident placed questions regarding Apple's secrecy over upcoming releases of its products, where misplacing prototypes serves as a serious breach of protocol.

Foxconn has released an official statement apologizing to the family on this incident. The statement also indicated that the manager in question has been suspended and an official police investigation has begun. Regarding the incident, an Apple spokesman told reporters that the company was "saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee."


Ugh (1, Flamebait)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#29368965)

What is this new shitty term?

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess it's a small laptop, or possibly a tablet/e-reader, with a built in phone.

Re:Ugh (4, Informative)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#29369329)

Smartbook? What is this new shitty term?

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess it's a small laptop, or possibly a tablet/e-reader, with a built in phone.

It sounds like it might just be a small laptop (err, "netbook") with an ARM cpu instead of x86:

The smartbooks his company is developing will have screens between 7 and 10 inches, the same size as standard netbook screens.

He said Foxconn's first smartbook will likely be available next year, but added that if Intel puts out a microprocessor that can compete with Arm's chip on price, his company may use that instead and make netbooks.

Re:Ugh (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#29371581)

Smartbook is probably just their brand name - not some new term they're trying to bring it to replace Netbook.

It's like Thinkpad or Presario.

Re:Ugh (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#29369983)

It's a compensatory tool for dumbasses, for cases where conventional treatment failed.

No "Windows Alternative" there right? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#29369043)

Sure there is Wince, but is Microsoft really interested in trying to get people to load that?

Linux is the only thing that will really run on those as near as I can tell so it's going to be interesting to watch this development. After all, these things are going to be irresistibly cheap! And with game emulators likely to be provided in some fashion, I expect it to become a lot more of what iPod touch is only better... and by the way, what processor does the iPhone and iPod touch use?

Re:No "Windows Alternative" there right? (2, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | more than 5 years ago | (#29369243)

The original iPhone and 3G use the ARM 1176JZ(F)-S. The 3GS uses ARM Cortex-A8.

Re:No "Windows Alternative" there right? (2, Informative)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 5 years ago | (#29371403)

Actually I've seen several WinCE 'netbooks' in the wild already. Like this one [] . Of course we could look at existing Arm Linux laptops like this one [] .

Slashdot as timely as ever.

Will ARM finally break through ? (4, Interesting)

Melkman (82959) | more than 5 years ago | (#29369065)

Although ARM processors are very popular in mobile devices like phones and embedded devices, I haven't seen them much in general purpose devices after the Acorn machines (Archimedes etc.) If these smartbooks take off it could be a nice push for desktop Linux, as the only systems from Microsoft running on Arm are windows mobile and Win/CE, which both lack desktop applications.

Re:Will ARM finally break through ? (1)

WarlockD (623872) | more than 5 years ago | (#29369961)

If they do multi core, single chip. Might take over the low end market.

A combined 1.5ghz, duel core ARM11 or 12 with a PowerVR SGX? Thing could play HD movies as well as other things. The question I have is how upgradable will it be. It be cheaper to just solder a gig of DDR to the thing and maybe 16 gigs of flash. All one board with the keyboard on the same using traces. God, they COULD make it cheap enough. The problem is the same ASUS has now. You don't see the cheap "$299" laptops anymore. Everything has higher end features and now practically requires windows. If they make these $199 it could set up another net book revolution.

Re:Will ARM finally break through ? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#29370839)

The word you are looking for is dual, meaning two, not duel, meaning a fight between two people over honour. I'm not a homophone - some of my best friends sound the same...

The ARM11 supports, I believe, two cores. The Cortex A9, which is at the heart of nVidia's Tegra, TI's OMAP4, and a few others, scales up to four cores and gets slightly more instructions per clock than the Cortex A8 found in most current high-end ARM systems. 1.5GHz sounds a bit high though.

Re:Will ARM finally break through ? (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#29371625)

High end Cortex A8's hit 1.0ghz. Cortex A9 is being designed to run faster. 1.5ghz sounds a bit fast at launch, for a quad-core chip, but I don't doubt it's possible.

Re:Will ARM finally break through ? (1)

WarlockD (623872) | more than 5 years ago | (#29375777)

Sorry I didn't mean so much "multi core" as in all in one chip. The Coretex chip is perfect for something like this, but to really get the cost down they should get a video chip ip and put it in a single chip. If they can do that maybe they can even make it a 4 layer board.

I kind of wish they have some kind of video/cpu chip now. Most 3D and even 2D calculations is all just concentrated vector math. I am sure you could even just use a A8 and use the extra die for a just a 4 stage pipeline programmable 3d processor. Pitty research costs so much:P

Re:Will ARM finally break through ? (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#29383229)

Huh? ARM processors are always built into SoCs - System on a Chip.

An example is the TI OMAP3530. The chip uses slightly under a watt when going full throttle, with CPU, GPU, and DSP.

It features a Cortex A8 @ 600 or 720mhz (rivals a Pentium 3 at the same speed), which can be overclocked to between 800-900mhz.

It has an SGX 530 GPU (Basically a DX10 GPU with GF6200LE speeds - but it has immature closed-source drivers that only support OGL ES 2.0 and 1.1. No DirectX at all, despite the capabilities of the hardware.

It has a C64x DSP, which is a highly parallel and limited processor with massive throughput. Apparently it can decode 1080p H.264 - TI has licensed evaluation codecs proving this - but there are no free or open source DSP codecs available at the moment.

It has an ISP(Image Signal Processor) providing free S-Video out and upscaling.

And like I said, all with under a watt of power consumption. You can stick as much RAM as you want on it, in 128MiB blocks soldered directly to it. Most OMAP3530 devices opt for 256MiB because of the cost.

Perfect use scenarios are phones [] , consoles [] , and hacker toys [] . But with P3 performance, some will also make it into low end cheap Netbooks, paving the way for A9's.

But at Best Buy (1)

future assassin (639396) | more than 5 years ago | (#29370315)

they'll try to tell you how much better Windows 7 will be then Linux.

Re:Will ARM finally break through ? (1)

jhol13 (1087781) | more than 5 years ago | (#29370773)

"Few different Linux" ... no, this will not break through.

Is there a flash plugin? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#29371115)

Re:Is there a flash plugin? (1)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 5 years ago | (#29373347)

Thank you for posting this. No, really, thank you for posting the strip again for the 230th time. I think this time I laughed harder than I did the last time someone posted it, which was, what, the 229th? Man, so funny. So clever and original.

Also, Adobe would probably just snicker for a few seconds if anyone asked them to port Flash to anything other than x86 or x86_64.

Re:Is there a flash plugin? (1)

Bryan K. Feir (11060) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385651)

Also, Adobe would probably just snicker for a few seconds if anyone asked them to port Flash to anything other than x86 or x86_64.

Sorry, already done.

Adobe Flash now widely available to Android device vendors []

There's been a version of Flash available for ARM on Android since June.

That sort of thing was the whole reason for Flash Lite.

No Microsoft (1)

ChienAndalu (1293930) | more than 5 years ago | (#29369093)

This is interesting since Windows for ARM doesn't seem to go anywhere

Microsoft.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29369563)

Another nail into Microsoft's coffin.

Ignore this... (1)

QuestionsNotAnswers (723120) | more than 5 years ago | (#29372067)

Sorry - replying to undo my moderation mistake.

It will be cheap, but will it be common sense? (4, Insightful)

javaman235 (461502) | more than 5 years ago | (#29369587)

I love my little low power cheap FoxConn r10-s4 barebones ($130, newegg) but the critical issue with netbooks is largely ignored: how easily do they break? IF somebody makes one with an aluminum case and the right padding inside so you can beat it up and spill things on it, I'm sold. Otherwise they've missed the whole point of cheap portable computers: You take them into places ad situations you wouldn't take others.

Re:It will be cheap, but will it be common sense? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#29372561)

Small makes things tougher all by itself - small is less flexible and small fits in the middle of a bag instead of having corners sticking out all over the place.

I don't know about "spilling" by my Eee PC feels almost unbreakable compared to my normal laptop and takes a lot less knocks when you're carrying it around.

And if you want an arm-based netbook now (4, Informative)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#29369761) []

Needless to say, it's linux based. I only wish it had higher res than 1024x600... but that is par for the course in current netbooks (though some have ~1300x768 now). On the plus side, it's also a tablet as you can remove the entire bottom half in seconds.

Re:And if you want an arm-based netbook now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29370551)

According to the site you provided the battery life (around 10 hours) is very interesting. On the other hand, it's price (400 dollars?!) is a bit too much to be a reasonable purchase. I mean, nowadays you get a brand new x86 acer aspire one for 100$ less than that.

Re:And if you want an arm-based netbook now (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#29371641)

If you want more features, you pay for more features.

That aspire one isn't a tablet. Tablet PCs cost more.

Re:And if you want an arm-based netbook now (1)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#29371915)

Well, it costs $400 (for the variant with a keyboard), it is not shipping as of today, and the warning tells you, all software will remain in "beta" with updates "throughout summer"... Summer is over, but they haven't gotten around to updating their web-site, which hardly inspires confidence...

Why exactly are you posting a link to this vaporware, which is not even producing fresh vapor any more?

Re:And if you want an arm-based netbook now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29373107)

It's not vaporware. It began shipping a couple of months ago. The demand was greater than expected and they are trying to fill backorders right now. It's reportedly a pretty cool device and the software is beta but it's beta as in bug squashing, not as in quality (perhaps that too though, right now anyway).

Internal Consistency (3, Informative)

Microlith (54737) | more than 5 years ago | (#29369825)

Considering that Android is not at all intended for netbooks, and Moblin was Intel's distro aimed at Atom chips. Between Moblin and Maemo, they would be better off choosing one of them for all their devices and at least being internally consistent, instead of rolling yet another custom mobile Linux distro and wedging Android in places where Google never truly intended for it to be (which is what ChromeOS is for.)

windows on ARM exists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29369923)

Microsoft maintains a windows port to ARM, just like Apple did to x86 in the past. They'd be idiots not to.

If ARM smartbooks ever take off, you can bet they'll do the same thing they did to Linux on netbooks: crush it like a bug. People want their Windows, not some thing they aren't familiar with, and MS is willing to use other parts of their business to sell at a loss into another area to maintain market dominance.

Anyway ARM internet tablets have existed for some years (N770, N800, N810) but haven't taken off.

Consumer Windows on ARM? How about WinCE? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#29370353)

Well, ARM is the usual platform for Windows CE/Mobile/Pocket PC/whatever they call it this week. They had Windows CE notebooks at one point, they could ship them again, and maybe even give the Windows Powered smartphones a boost.

Re:Consumer Windows on ARM? How about WinCE? (3, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#29371957)

But windows CE has all the problems that Linux has but more.
Lack of hardware support. Know of any printers with Windows CE support that you can get at Best Buy?
Lack of software support. It is all aimed at the mobile market.
Linux will actually have more software and hardware support out of the box than WinCE.

Re:Consumer Windows on ARM? How about WinCE? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#29372345)

But... Windows CE will have more hardware and software support than Windows NT on the ARM.

Ubuntu (1)

physburn (1095481) | more than 5 years ago | (#29376075)

Ubuntu has been ported to ARM, i'd rather use that. For the average non geek, a netbook aimed pretty GUI is probably needed if Linux netbooks are ever to take off. And thats despite the price of the Windows CE license.


NetBooks [] Feed @ Feed Distiller []

Re:windows on ARM exists (2, Insightful)

richardellisjr (584919) | more than 5 years ago | (#29370745)

They can release windows for arm but one big problem will remain, none of the apps users want will run under arm. Linux however doesn't have this issue, there are already huge package repositories for arm, and what isn't there can easily be compiled and added. I'm not an apple guy so I have no clue how they got around the problem.

Re:windows on ARM exists (1)

Melkman (82959) | more than 5 years ago | (#29371911)

Heh, I must admit I ordered a SmartQ5 recently. Cheap enough for me to be a semi impulse buy. Small enough to fit in a pocket. And I'm interested in the state of Linux distributions on arm platforms. Sofar I've planned to try the default Ubuntu, MER (meamo clone) and Android.

A dedicated tablet is still something different than a mini laptop though. I also use a flybook which can convert to tablet mode, but I seldom use it that way. Prolly has to do with my preference for a CLI.

(I ordered it at Dealextreme [] . Be prepared to wait a few weeks for it though. The availability information is a very freely interpreted indication)

Smartbook? Really? (3, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#29370193)

Why the hell must every variant on any technology get a new name these days. We had laptop. Then they got smaller and the same thing was called a notebook. Then the same thing got a little smaller and it's called a netbook. They get a non-mainstream cpu though and now they're a smartbook instead?

Re:Smartbook? Really? (1)

Neil Hodges (960909) | more than 5 years ago | (#29370427)

Related question: Why do all small and compact electronics have to have the word "smart" in it? Are they trying to associate it with smart [] ?

Buzzword or not, it's still annoying.

Re:Smartbook? Really? (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#29371657)

It could be a brand name, like Thinkpad or Presario. Unless other companies adopt it, it probably is.

Re:Smartbook? Really? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#29371969)

Simple too many people think laptop means Intel+Windows.

Re:Smartbook? Really? (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 5 years ago | (#29372277)

From the first article:

Smartbooks are similar to netbooks except that they don't use Intel's popular Atom microprocessor nor other x86 processors.

This makes perfect sense. ARM is a smarter architecture than x86, and almost any OS is smarter than Windows.

Re:Smartbook? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29372165)

oh and don't forget UMPCs and MIDs

In related news... (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#29370655)

Microsoft are working on a self-throwing chair to save Steve Ballmer the trouble. Prototypes are promising, but have a tendency to crash through windows.

stupid ARMs... (1)

0110011001110101 (881374) | more than 5 years ago | (#29370763)

great, now my laptop is going to be tied to the APR and then balloon up in 15 years... f*ck what did I do to deserve this!?!?!

Anything in the stores already ? (1)

demiurg (108464) | more than 5 years ago | (#29371505)

I'd like to buy one. Any idea if there is anything similar in the stores already ?

Re:Anything in the stores already ? (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 5 years ago | (#29372335)

A Lemote netbook using a MIPS-like processor and completely open firmware is available in Europe [] and probably ships to other countries too.

ARM Netbooks already exist (2, Interesting)

mikevdg (579538) | more than 5 years ago | (#29372483)

If you want an ARM netbook, get yourself a Touchbook [] . Its based on the BeagleBoard [] , runs Linux, and has a 10-hour battery life.

Alternatively, there are these devices: [] . These are MIPS-based (still a nice ISA), can run Linux and are the cheapest netbooks you can get. The best bet for getting one is to try an online auction site such as eBay and try searching for "MIPS", or the names that these cheapo devices go under.

Re:ARM Netbooks already exist (2, Interesting)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | more than 5 years ago | (#29374511)

I hate to tell you this, but the OMAP is a terrible architecture and the BeagleBoard just doesn't perform well due to how the OMAP works. Access to peripheral memory is atrocious, SVideo just doesn't work, the DVI signals don't conform to proper international standards, the graphics chip claims OpenGL ES 2.0 but the only way to get it to work is to screw around with some proprietary closed source blob and when you do use you all the sudden get flaky video performance, random crashes, and at least in my experience nothing more than 16 bit color. Personally I've been able to write GLES applications on my 930P (which uses a UniPhier and runs an embedded real time Linux) that well outperformed anything I could get going on the OMAP/BeagleBoard. But to be fair, if you want to see just how crummy the OMAP is spec it against the i.MX515, which is a direct competitor. See if you can find a single point where the OMAP comes close to outperforming the i.MX515, and if you can consider if that is a point actually matters in real world performance. Mind you I don't even like FreeScale, but I've seen in numbers and in first hand how terribly TI designed the OMAP and there's no way I'd ever choose it.

What about the new "Zaurus" from sharp (3, Informative)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | more than 5 years ago | (#29374401)

The PC-Z1 is ARM based, uses one of the best system architectures around (waaay better than say OMAP), runs Ubuntu Netbook Remix in full, and will be available by the end of the month here in Japan. I don't believe I've seen a post about it on Slashdot, but a post about Hon Hai? I've never even heard of them.

PC-Z1 [NetWalker]: []

This is good news (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#29374629)

It is high time we applied the second amendment to every sentient being in the U.S., not just the people. If laptops are now going to be "smartbooks," then they deserve all the rights we give the people, including the right to bear ARMs. I support Foxconn and Hon Rai and any other NRA member who wants to help ARM smartbooks across America!

um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29375313)

technically they cannot use smartbook, some company in Germany registered that name and has filed complaints and got attention of EU.

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