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Portables Hardware

Foxconn and Hon Hai Both Planning ARM Smartbooks 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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Foxconn and Hon Hai Both Planning ARM Smartbooks

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  • Redundant much? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @02:01PM (#29368805)
    Why does this submission treat Foxconn and Hon Hai as if they are distinct entities? Foxconn is the trade name [wikipedia.org] of Hon Hai. They are the same company so to say they are "both" planning something doesn't make any sense.
  • Foxconn == Hon Hai (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spock_NPA ( 12762 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @02:01PM (#29368833)

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

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxconn [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by imess ( 805488 )

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

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

    • 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."

  • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Desler ( 1608317 )
      The original iPhone and 3G use the ARM 1176JZ(F)-S. The 3GS uses ARM Cortex-A8.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Stevecrox ( 962208 )
      Actually I've seen several WinCE 'netbooks' in the wild already. Like this one [maplin.co.uk]. Of course we could look at existing Arm Linux laptops like this one [maplin.co.uk].

      Slashdot as timely as ever.
  • by Melkman ( 82959 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @02:21PM (#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.
    • 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. Ev
      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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
            • 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 hardw

    • they'll try to tell you how much better Windows 7 will be then Linux.
    • by jhol13 ( 1087781 )

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

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

  • by javaman235 ( 461502 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @02:52PM (#29369587) Homepage

    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.

    • 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.

  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @03:03PM (#29369761)

    http://www.alwaysinnovating.com/home/index.htm [alwaysinnovating.com]

    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.

    • by mi ( 197448 )


      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?

  • Internal Consistency (Score:3, Informative)

    by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @03:07PM (#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.)

  • Smartbook? Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @03:28PM (#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?

    • 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 [smartusa.com]?

      Buzzword or not, it's still annoying.

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

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      Simple too many people think laptop means Intel+Windows.

      • 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.

  • 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.

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

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

    Alternatively, there are these devices: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skytone_Alpha-400 [wikipedia.org]. 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: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Kagetsuki ( 1620613 )
      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 expe
  • by Kagetsuki ( 1620613 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @10:15PM (#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]: http://www.sharp.co.jp/netwalker/ [sharp.co.jp]
  • 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!

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire