Intel Unveils New Server Chips In Battle For Data Center Business

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Intel announced on Tuesday a new line of microprocessor chips for corporate servers and cloud data centers, with a larger claimed boost in performance than expected as the firm sets up  a battle with Advanced Micro Devices and others in the lucrative business of supplying the chips that powers cloud computing.

Intel officially launched its much-anticipated Xeon Scalable server CPU line, formerly code-named Purley. The chips are based on Intel’s Skylake CPU architecture, which first appeared on the PC market in 2015, and are meant to replace two CPU lines, respectively code-named Brickland and Grantley, based on the older Broadwell architecture.

Intel’s Xeon Scalable Processor

The new Xeon Scalable Processor chips provide far better support for next-generation computing applications such as artificial intelligence and driverless cars, said Naveen Rao, vice president of Intel’s artificial intelligence products group, in an interview.

Under restriction on all sides of its lucrative server chip business, Intel said its new Xeon Scalable processors are 1.65 times as fast on average as its prior generation at common tasks run by servers. The huge jump included tweaks to software specially designed to accelerate tasks with Intel’s chips and will have to be confirmed by outside experts.

“This represents the best of our 20-year history of data center innovation,” said  Lisa Spelman, vice president of Intel’s data center group ahead of Tuesday’s presentation, noting that the prior chip generation just came out in March last year.

“That’s huge. That’s a lot to continue to deliver on the performance beat rate to our customers.”

The chips are aimed at companies including Alphabet’s Google, Microsoft Corp, Amazon.com Inc and others that operate data centers with thousands of computers, both to power their own services and to provide computing horsepower for customers who don’t want to own and maintain their own computer systems.

However, Intel will face tough competition from historic rival AMD, which recently launched its own next-generation data center processor. The big Internet companies are also doing more of their own hardware design and experimenting with chips based on technology from ARM Holdings and others, somewhat as a way of pushing Intel to keep prices in line.

Intel Stock Performance

Shares of Intel were up 0.80% to $33.92 in its last session. It opened at $33.64, with a session high of $33.93 and a session low of $33.43. The stock currently has a market capitalization of $158.64 billion, a price earnings ratio of 14.73, and a dividend yield of 3.21%.

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Microsoft 365 Bundles Windows 10 And Office For Business

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Microsoft announced on Monday Microsoft 365, their new product which is a new way for businesses to purchase Office and Windows together, combining its best software products into one.

While the software giant has sold Office 365 and Windows 10 to businesses in many different ways, Microsoft 365 Enterprise combines Office 365 Enterprise, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility and Security features into a single subscription.

The business technology giant debuted its Microsoft 365 software package on Monday that includes the Windows 10 operating system, Office 365 workplace software, and security software for mobile devices.

The new software bundle is intended to make it easier for companies to buy Microsoft’s flagship enterprise software products in one subscription as opposed to paying for them individually.

Microsoft will sell two versions of Microsoft 365, with one version, Microsoft 365 Business, tailored for small-to-medium-sized companies and the other, Microsoft 365 Enterprise, for larger organizations.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise will be available for purchase on August 1st, with pricing dependent on the specific plan and “other factors.” Microsoft 365 Business will be available in public preview on August 2nd, with a full release set for later this fall. Microsoft 365 Business will cost $20 per user, per month.

The move to sell its various enterprise software into easier-to-buy packages underscores Microsoft seeks to streamline its products under CEO Satya Nadella as he has been pushing Microsoft to sell more software through subscriptions while also concentrating on its Azure cloud computing business.

Microsoft To Launch Azure Stack

Microsoft Corp  revealed on Monday a new service that allows customers to use its cloud technology on their own servers, which is part of the company’s efforts to refocus its product line to compete more effectively with rivals Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google.

Julia White, corporate vice president of Azure, said that the new service, called Azure Stack, is aimed at businesses that want to use Azure but have specific needs for a localized version of the software.

“Azure Stack is an extension of Azure,” White said. “It’s not a replacement for your legacy private cloud.”

Azure Stack allows businesses to host their own hybrid cloud. Dell, HP, and Lenovo are all creating integrated systems to run Azure Stack and host apps and services on hardware that’s located alongside a business’ current infrastructure. The first systems will start shipping in September.

“One of the key differentiations we have with Azure versus our two biggest competitors in the cloud platform space is our ability to support true hybrid solutions,” Judson Althoff, Microsoft’s executive vice president of worldwide commercial business.

Microsoft Stock Performance

Microsoft shares were up 0.75% to $69.98 in its last session. The firm opened at $69.46 with a session high of $70.25 and a session low of $69.20. The stock has a market capitalization of $547.29 billion, a P/E ratio of 30.86, and a dividend yield of 2.23%.

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Cosco Offers $6.3 Billion To Buy Orient Overseas

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COSCO Shipping Holdings Co Ltd has offered to buy Orient Overseas International Ltd (OOIL) for HK$49.23 billion ($6.30 billion), in a deal that will set the mainland China group to become the world’s third largest container liner.

The offer comes as China’s government is outspoken over its desire to increase its profile in global shipping, which merges with its Belt and Road initiative aimed at increasing its influence over supply chains from Asia to Europe.

State-owned Cosco will pay shareholders of Orient Overseas HK$78.67 a share in cash. The Tung family, which founded Orient Overseas Container Line in 1969, has accepted the offer, which still needs regulatory approvals and consent from Cosco’s investors.

As the deal goes through, COSCO Shipping will become the world’s third-largest container shipping line after Denmark’s Maersk Line and Switzerland’s Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). Container lines from Denmark to Japan have pursued acquisitions as too many ships and companies chasing the same trade has led to a collapse in freight rates and burgeoning losses, reasons that pushed Hanjin Shipping Co. of Korea to file a bankruptcy last year.

“COSCO Shipping Holdings believes this acquisition will enable both COSCO Shipping Lines and OOIL to realize synergies, enhance profitability and achieve sustainable growth in the long term,” the Chinese group said in the statement.

The enlarged company will operate more than 400 vessels with capacity exceeding 2.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units, including order book. Cosco currently has a market share of 8.4 percent, while Orient Overseas has 3.2 percent. Their combined 11.6 percent share would make the merged entity the third-biggest container-shipping company, overtaking CMA CGM with 11.2 percent, according to the shipping data provider.

“This looks like a happy ending for both parties,” said Han Ning, China director for Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd. “Cosco can benefit from OOCL’s strong presence on routes from the Far East to Australia and to the U.S. The company’s operational efficiency has long been admired by outsiders as well.”

Cosco stock rose as much as 6% to its highest in almost two years HK$ 4.29 on Monday after the offer was made, while OOIL shares rose over 20% on Monday as well.

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Twitter Wins In Lawsuit Against U.S. Government

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A U.S. judge from Northern California ruled on Thursday that Twitter could move forward with a lawsuit that seeks to free technology companies to speak more openly about surveillance requests they receive from the U.S. government.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the Northern California, US district ruled in favor of Twitter’s motion against a Department of Justice request for summary judgement and to put an end to the three-year-old lawsuit.

The U.S. government had failed to show the kind of “clear and present danger” that could possibly justify restraints Twitter’s constitutional right to talk about surveillance requests, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California, said in a written order. Now, the social network’s lawsuit over their constitutionality now moves ahead.

“The government’s restrictions on Twitter’s speech are content-based prior restraints subject to the highest level of scrutiny under the First Amendment,” Rogers wrote.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Twitter says the inability to write the precise number of government requests violates its First Amendment rights, which has certain rights including freedom of speech. On the other hand, the DOJ and the FBI argue that allowing companies to reveal them would harm national security.

However, Rogers wrote Thursday that “the Government has not met its high burden to overcome the strong presumption of unconstitutionality on the record before the Court.

Also, Rogers wrote in the court order that “the Government has not presented evidence, beyond a generalized explanation, to demonstrate that disclosure of the information in the Draft Transparency Report would present such a grave and serious threat of damage to national security as to meet the applicable strict scrutiny standard.”

Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey retweeted a company statement: “Twitter is continuing its fight for more transparency under the First Amendment.”

Lawsuit on tech companies

Twitter filed the lawsuit in 2014 after revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about the extent of U.S. spying.

The lawsuit is aimed at ending legal limits on details that tech companies can provide about U.S. national security requests. Currently, companies can reveal the number of requests they have received, but only within a range, such as 0-499 in a six-month period.

Twitter Stock Perfomance

Twitter’s shares was up 0.59% to $17.92 on Thursday session after the firm won the lawsuit. The shares opened at $17.65, with a session high of $18.58 and a session low of $17.63. The stock has a market capitalization of $13.17 billion.

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Intel Settles Trademark Clash With McAfee

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Intel Corp. has settle a lawsuit against John McAfee, the creator of eponymous antivirus computer software, over his right to use his name on other projects after the chipmaker bought his former company.

U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken sacked McAfee’s September 2016 lawsuit and Intel’s countersuit in Manhattan on Wednesday, five days after a settlement agreement was signed.

Under the settlement, McAfee agreed not to use his name, trademark his name or the phrase “John McAfee Privacy Phone,” or use “John McAfee Global Technologies” in connection with cybersecurity- and security-related products and services.

He retained the right in other contexts to use his name in advertising, promotions and presentations, including with regard to his role at McAfee Associates, which he sold to Intel for $7.7 billion in 2010.

Neither McAfee nor Intel admitted wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement, which was cordial, according to court papers.

Intel acquired McAfee in 2010 and renamed its security products Intel Security in 2014. The firm also owns a trademark for the term ‘McAfee Security’, which was registered at the US Patent and Trademark Office in June 2004.

McAfee’s lawyers apparently declined to comment after not immediately responding to requests for comments. A spokesman for Intel said the Santa Clara, California-based company was satisfied to settle.

Intel spun off its cybersecurity division, now called McAfee LLC, in April, after agreeing to sell a 51% stake to private investment firm TPG Capital.

Trademark Dispute

The case arose in September 2016 when McAfee brought a trademark non-infringement against Intel. McAfee said he sued after Intel warned him that using his name, including by renaming his digital gaming and cybersecurity company MGT Capital Investments Inc. as “John McAfee Global Technologies Inc,” would infringe its trademarks.

Intel countered by accusing McAfee of trademark infringement and unfair competition, and sought unspecified damages.

John McAfee joined technology firm MGT in May 2016 as chairman and CEO. Plans were announced that the company was looking to change the firm’s name to John McAfee Global Technologies.

Intel argued that McAfee and MGT had weakened its trademarks, infringed its common law trademarks and had violated competition law through unauthorized use of its trademarks without the company’s permission.

Intel added that the use of the term ‘McAfee’ in a business name and trademark in connection with anti-spyware solutions “will infringe on and dilute Intel’s famous McAfee trademark”.

Shares of Intel rose 2.63% to $34.34 in its last session. It opened at $33.52, with a session high of $34.43 and a session low of $33.49. The stock currently has a market capitalization of $165.96 billion, a price earnings ratio of 14.91, and a dividend yield of 3.17%.

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Gold Down Amid Geopolitical Concerns; Ahead of Fed Minutes

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Gold prices are currently down on Wednesday, moving down beyond its lowest level in almost two months amid heightened geopolitical risk after North Korea said it had successfully test fired an intercontinental ballistic missile and ahead of the Wednesday release of Fed minutes from the June meeting which is expected to provide greater understanding into the chances for another hike this year.

Gold futures were at $1,217.86, by 10:04 AM GMT, down 1.62 cents, or around 0.1%. Trade volumes were thin on Tuesday, as U.S. markets remained closed for the Independence Day holiday.

The yellow metal dropped on Monday around 2% to touch its lowest since May 11 at $1,218.00 as a stronger dollar and gains in U.S. equities weighed. Then, gold prices bounced back after a sharp fall on Tuesday amid heightened geopolitical risk after North Korea said it had successfully test fired an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Meanwhile, looking ahead, the Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its most recent policy meeting at 2:00PM ET (1800GMT), as investors look for more clues on how committed the central bank is to hiking rates again this year. They are also looking for any detail on plans to reverse the Fed’s massive balance sheet.

North Korea Missile Test

South Korea’s military and Japan’s government confirmed that North Korea had fired an “unidentified ballistic missile” which landed in the Sea of Japan. Tokyo strongly protested what it called a clear violation of UN resolutions. Analysts said the missile  could put all of the U.S. state of Alaska in range for the first time.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the long-range missile launch indicated a “new escalation of the threat” of President Kim Jong-un’s regime and called for global action.

The timing of the launch is important, come just days before leaders from the Group of 20 nations are due to discuss steps to restrain North Korea’s weapons programs.

Other Comex Futures Also Down

Silver futures ticked down further 0.2 cents, or 1.1%, to $15.87 a troy ounce, after falling to $16.02 in overnight trade, a level not seen since early January.

Among other precious metals, platinum futures were down 0.14% to $904.85, while palladium rose 0.8% to $849.17 an ounce.

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Microsoft To Reportedly Lay Off Thousands of Staff

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Microsoft Corp. reorganized its sales and marketing operations in a bid to woo more customers in areas like artificial intelligence and the cloud by providing sales staff with greater technical and industry-specific expertise.

The changes will mean thousands of job cuts in areas such as field sales, said a person familiar with the restructuring who asked not to be named because the workforce reductions aren’t public. The company had 121,567 employees as of March 31.

Although none have been formally announced, most people believe the reorganization will probably include layoffs, which some don’t believe it will be very deep.

“Microsoft is implementing changes to better serve our customers and partners,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

Microsoft says it will now focus on two distinct areas: big enterprise customers, and then small to medium-sized businesses. Employees will be aligned around six industries — manufacturing, financial services, retail, health, education and government. They’ll focus on selling software in four categories: Modern workplace, business applications, apps and infrastructure and data and AI.

It’s not exactly clear what changes are in the pipeline, but an email from Judson Althoff, Microsoft’s executive vice president of worldwide commercial business, says sales reorganization is designed to “align the right resources for the right customer at the right time.” The magnitude of the potential layoffs is unclear, but the Wall Street says they will likely occur in offices all around the globe.

Last year, Microsoft announced that it would cut 2,850 jobs, including at least 900 from its sales group, having two months earlier said it would let go of 1,850 staff related to its smartphone business. The company said in January that it planned to cut 700 jobs, part of the previously announced restructuring.In July 2015, it also made 7,800 job cuts and wrote down $7.6 billion of its Nokia acquisition.

Microsoft is in a pitched battle with companies like Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc., for customers who want to move workplace applications and data to the cloud, as well as take advantage of advances in artificial intelligence. The company, which has not dramatically overhauled its salesforce in years, wants to tailor those teams better for selling cloud software rather than desktop and server solutions.

Ultimately, these changes most likely will see the company ramp up its efforts to sell subscription-based cloud services, a fast-growing business for Microsoft with a $15.2 billion run rate. While its traditional buy-once software business is still huge, sales have been declining as the cloud business erodes its growth.

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