Microprocessor Trends: Greater Performance in Smaller Packages

Written by: Jaideep Malhotra, Senior Vice President of Avnet Global Computing Components. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

In the age of convergence between PCs and tablets, mobility and low power have become important metrics in judging a processor’s value.

With the growing trends of green computing, BYOD and teleworking, form factors are shrinking, while expectations of battery life are increasing. Today’s processors need to deliver robust performance across desktop-bound and mobile platforms with an ever-decreasing power envelope.

At the same time, workloads between PCs and mobile devices are increasingly similar, with compute, gaming, imaging and video tasks demanded from both mobile and desktop machines.

Adobe’s Digital Index shows a 300 percent increase in video views from mobile devices in 2012, while PCs saw a 40 percent increase that cemented their lead as media consumption platforms. Additionally, in the enterprise, big data analytics is placing new demands on the processor, and platforms like Hadoop can benefit greatly from GPU acceleration.

As a result, the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) are becoming increasingly intertwined. As I discussed in a recent interview, microprocessors are trending toward Accelerated Processing Units (APUs)—processors that combine CPU and GPU. 2014 will see the introduction of APUs with Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA), an improved processor design that brings out the capabilities of different programmable compute elements, including the CPU and GPU, and makes them work together seamlessly to improve overall performance.

Impact on Asia

In Asia, these trends will affect a number of markets, catalyzing mobility adoption and lowering adoption costs for new technology.

Singapore has been described as an indicator of mobile trends and enjoys high cloud adoption. The growing role of tablets in collaborative design projects, document editing and project workspaces is driving demand for better performance from mobile processors. According to a Forrester report, tablets are expected to triple in sales by 2017 and reach majority status in Singapore and South Korea.

There are a number of growing markets in Asia as well. APUs are lowering the cost of ownership of a PC by negating the need for a discrete graphics card for computer-assisted design, digital content creation or multi-monitor setups. With smaller form factors, they are also addressing space constraints in workspaces. Therefore, despite the mature market, there is still untapped demand for PCs.

Industry Applications

There has also been a shift toward GPU-based computing in the enterprise. Project Sumatra aims to enable Java developers to tap into the parallel processing power of the GPU to improve the performance of Java applications. IBM, for instance, has demonstrated that GPU-accelerated Java can boost the speed of data searching by 48 times—an application highly relevant to the growing big data industry.

There is also OpenCL, an open standard for writing programs that utilize CPUs, GPUs and other processors. OpenCL is supported by projects like clMath, a set of OpenCL libraries designed to harness APUs and GPUs. Industries that demand high amounts of parallel computing power, like advanced imaging, cryptography and bioinformatics, can take advantage of OpenCL to gain greater performance from their hardware.

Migration Challenges

IT migration, whether from old platforms to new APU-powered desktops or mobile devices, or to new infrastructure where none existed, or simply accounting for BYOD, requires strategic oversight. Security and configuration are necessary to ensure smooth integration with existing infrastructure while insulating the organization from security threats. IT governance and processing services also have a role in facilitating the transfer of sensitive data, especially to mobile devices over wireless connections. Finally, lifecycle management processes should be in place to minimize the risk of downtime due to devices requiring maintenance or replacement.

Preparing for the Future

We at Avnet expect to see demand for microprocessors from multiple segments as the Asian market grows. BYOD, teleworking and green IT are set to grow in 2014. Businesses will continue to be on the lookout for better performance and price-to-performance ratio, while major chipmakers are pushing the boundaries of size and power consumption as mobile computing gains ubiquity.

As companies are increasingly pressed to adopt new technologies, management needs to adopt a systematic, calculated approach toward integrating them into existing infrastructure. To ensure a consistent IT experience across geographically dispersed business units, companies should work with solutions distributors, which possess the expertise and global scale to develop and deliver high-value solutions that combine leading services, software and hardware.

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This post was written by melinda on January 14, 2014

A Conversation with VP of Finance at Avnet Technology Solutions

V. Radhakrishnan was appointed Vice President of Finance at Avnet Technology Solutions, Asia Pacific towards the end of 2012. After months into his new role, we finally had a chance to catch up with the courteous and eloquent Finance VP in the cozy, softly-lit Avnet meeting room.

Having met each other a few months before in his new office for a short introduction, Radha is warm and chatty this time. He talked excitedly about the new role at Avnet TS Asia and some achievements he wished to see happen in the future for both the Finance team and Avnet TS as a whole. Leading a team of over 130 finance and accounting employees, Radha is responsible for providing leadership advice, and financial and fiduciary consultation on Avnet TS’s major business initiatives. Radha envisions building a world-class finance organization with competent employees equipped with the right skill set, standardizing processes, adopting technologies in transaction processing, and delivering high-quality finance support in a cost-effective manner.

Previously, Radha held various managerial positions in Finance including MNCs like Sun Micro and Dimension Data. Radha expressed that he had a very smooth transition and adapted to the business life in Avnet quickly thanks to the company’s upright corporate philosophies like respect for individual, high standards in terms of code of business conduct, advocacy of ethical behavior, compliance to laws and regulations, and friendly working environment, which are very similar to those of his previous companies.

Commenting on the macroeconomic landscape, Radha said companies are operating under uncertain economies where things change rapidly. As America is showing signs of recovery, Europe continues to struggle with sluggish economy. Having spent around two decades with IT companies, Radha shared his perspectives on how companies can effectively respond to current economic challenges and market trends. He said it’s very crucial for companies to stay nimble, always expect the unexpected and be prepared to manage uncertainties. Avnet has a yearly budget that’s split and measure on a quarterly basis. The business team and finance team work closely to deliver these figures and achieve objectives in terms of revenue or the operating profit margin for the company. In the long term, from a finance point of view, Avnet wants to build a world-class finance organization that adopts technologies, shared services and standardization, and is able to provide financial advantage to the business.

Radha shared with us that the Value-Based Management Principle continues to guide the company, with a focus on consolidation and profitable growth this year. Avnet TS Asia has made a number of acquisitions in the past years and the current plan is to leverage on the benefits of the acquisitions, be it marketing positioning, cost synergies, future strategic fit or other similar aspects. Radha expressed his aspirations to continue working on achieving efficiency and effectiveness and focusing on Solution Distribution to answer future business problems.

Recently Avnet announced its Q3-FY13 earning results and Avnet TS Asia posted positive growth despite the challenging economic times. Radha attributed the result to good geographic coverage, various acquisitions the company has made across the region as well as the strong network of resellers in Asia Pacific, providing capabilities for the company to enter new markets. Talking about the future for Avnet Technology Solutions in Asia, Radha showed confidence in the region: “Asia will continue to grow faster than global average.” As Avnet is well-positioned in the market and has good relationships with regional partners, he is looking forward to more growth in the region and the regional operations contributing more to the global revenue. For the finance team, Radha is committed to focus on continued improvement, adoption of new technologies, providing competitive shared services to business in order to aid the success of Avnet Technology Solution in Asia Pacific.

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This post was written by melinda on August 13, 2013

Bringing about simplicity, optimization and innovation in a complex IT environment

In keeping with its commitment to the channel and end user customers in Asia Pacific, premier IT solutions distributor Avnet Technology Solutions recently hosted a seminar series for Asia Pacific end user customers to help them address their enterprise IT issues.

The increasing complexity in IT environment, according to analysts, is probably the greatest challenge faced by enterprise IT today.  Avnet invited legendary IT guru and former IBM Chief Scientist Frank Soltis to speak during the seminar to offer some perspectives on how to bring about simplicity, optimize time and resources, as well as speed up innovation in their organisations.  Dr. Soltis led the road show which included four key cities in Australia, namely, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, and ASEAN cities, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.

In a blog conversation with Dr. Soltis, he talked about his involvement with IBM and his pioneering efforts to design a new processor that was later used in all of IBM products.

“I have a very long history working with IBM. I started years ago working on business systems, specifically designing systems for SMB (small and medium businesses). Some of the problems we were facing at that time are very similar to what we see in a lot of businesses today. In other words, the cost of it was extremely expensive. If you were a SMB in the early days, you could not afford to hire a lot of staff, if you have computer systems that needed a lot of people, and you simply could not afford It.” he shares. He later adds that opportunities in assembling a single integrated system were not readily available and there was a need for a system that could manage and correct problems itself.

One of the key topics he focused on during the roadshow was how to use technology to make life easy for businesses and for people using it. He pointed out that the biggest issue he sees in most businesses today is the complexity in the amount of data businesses have to deal with.  Speaking with customers in the Asia Pacific region, he says the area of complexity is such that people are having difficulty investing in new projects, spending most of their budget on maintaining and updating systems to keep current. “Part of PureSystems™ and what IBM is trying to do with these particular products is to simplify them and to manage all from a single pane of glass so that  they don’t need different people to manage each one of your operating systems.” he explains.

Another key issue that he pointed out was the security of data and information within business systems. He observes that most businesses are going towards the use of private cloud infrastructures rather than using a public domain cloud. Forming their own clouds was a method to ensure security in their systems.

Noticing trends in the area of business analytics, Dr. Soltis mentions that a lot of companies today anticipate the need for such a technology and it is getting increasingly popular. As for the different approach of adopting PureSystems™ for different regions, it is largely dependent on the emphasis of each country whether there is a priority in engaging in analytics and the economy of the country. A booming economy strives for new technologies as opposed to a stagnant economy where technological operations usually remain status quo. Law, banking and medical industries dealing heavily with analytics tend to be early adopters of PureSystems™.

Dr. Soltis pointed out that PureSystems™ addresses challenges in catering to all countries in Asia, a highly fragmented region, each with different stages of advancement in their technology; he firmly believes that the goal for PureSystems™is simplicity. “Whether you are the most technically sophisticated organization or one of the simplest ones, most people want simplicity because it really does reduce the cost of managing. If I can reduce the complexity, I can help anyone anywhere.”

His advice remains clear when it comes to key takeaways for end-users concerned with integrated systems and its implementation.  He emphasizes that integration is not something that should be done at the last minute; it all has to work together and function the same way. He strongly believes that IBM is a trusted expert in integrated systems as they have been in the business for over 35 years and is confident in its delivery as compared to other companies out there.

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Phil Gallagher Talks About Avnet Technology Solutions’ Business Outlook in 2013

Global President of Avnet Technology Solutions, Phil Gallagher visited Singapore recently and we managed to catch up with him for an insightful interview on the current IT industry and Avnet Technology Solutions’ presence globally.

Insights on the current IT industry

The global IT industry has developed exponentially over the past two years. Emergence of big data analytics, converged infrastructure and cloud, were all big opportunities meant to be leveraged on, not only as a tool but also a strategic driver. Avnet feels that there are many opportunities in the market as companies are constantly investing in IT, looking for various opportunities to leverage on and driving further efficiencies and productivity. Phil said, “There has never been a better time for opportunity in the world of IT and the transformation going on now is just terrific.” For Avnet, there is also a glorious opportunity to further grow the business and form partnerships as the company is the only value-add distributor who has presence in each region of the world that is able to leverage on these opportunities that the current IT transformation is undergoing.

State of business for Avnet Technology Solutions

Phil Gallagher is proud that, in the year of 2012, Avnet did well by accomplishing the goals set out in all regions. In 2013, despite the mixed signals from the global economy outlook forecast at the beginning of the year, he continues to hold a cautiously optimistic view of Avnet’s growth. Using converged infrastructure as an example, Phil said: “There is nothing that Avnet cannot provide from a service standpoint for suppliers and partners. There is huge growth opportunity for us.”

Moving forward, the big theme that Avnet Technology Solutions will be working towards is to raise the bar for value-add distribution. Said Phil, “When our partners succeed, when our VAR (Value-Added Resellers) succeed, then we will succeed.” Since last year Avnet Technology Solutions has been making various acquisitions in the areas of services, software solutions and after-market services support, in a bid to further lend support to their partners in the areas of analytics, cloud-enablement, web portals and upgrading software and services. Through these acquisitions, Avnet hopes to create a suite to enable partners in terms of sales and business development and eventually help them become more successful. Regardless of upstream to their suppliers or downstream to their partners, Avnet Technology Solutions aims to provide services to customers on both directional lines and succeed by leveraging on their success. Phil therefore sees tremendous opportunities in the market and feels that Avnet Technology Solutions is in the right spot to provide enabling technologies and bring them to the marketplace for their partners.

Asia Pacific – A Growth Engine

Phil Gallagher feels that the impact of Avnet Technology Solutions in Asia Pacific is full of excitement for the company globally. The region has become a growth engine driving tremendous profits for Avnet Technology Solutions. Four years into his leadership Phil has seen APAC business grow from merely accounting for 3% of the overall revenue globally in his first year to contributing 15%-17% to the overall revenue just from the Asia Pacific region in his fourth year. To this, Phil exclaims is “phenomenal growth”!

Coming from a strategic standpoint, suppliers are increasingly looking upon Avnet Technology Solutions to help them grow in emerging markets such as Asia Pacific, where Avnet has proven itself to be the only global value-add distributor. At the same time, Avnet is also seeing their partners in the West starting to scale more towards other regions such as Asia Pacific. Typically partners are looking for having the same system or same configuration in different marketplaces and Avnet can come into the picture to help their partners expand business and further add value to their end-customers by physically being here in Asia Pacific.

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This post was written by melinda on May 17, 2013

Max Chan Is on Board to Drive Operational Excellence

Max Chan, Vice President, Global Information Solutions, Avnet Technology Solutions, Asia Pacific

Avnet Technology Solutions’ newly appointed Global Information Solutions (GIS) leader for Asia, Max Chan, recently visited Singapore and we had the opportunity to sit and have a chat with him.

Sixty days into his new role, Max talked about how the time breezed through for him looking after the distributor’s GIS application and infrastructure team’s current needs and devising a plan towards achieving operational excellence.

From Integration to Operational Excellence

In the past years, the focus of GIS team in Asia has been on integration after Avnet’s successful acquisitions  in the region , namely Azure in Singapore and Malaysia, OnTrack Solutions in India, Vanda in Hong Kong/Macau, PT Datamation in Indonesia and Hong Quang (Sunshine) in Vietnam.  From integration, Max shared that GIS’ priority has now shifted into driving operational excellence which is centred on creating efficiencies and effectiveness of various operational aspects of the business.

“Operational Excellence is one of the strategic pillars of Avnet’s success. At GIS, we are aligned with all parts of the business and operational excellence is what we are working towards,” said Max.

Customers First

Having Avnet’s internal stakeholders, or, the employees, as GIS’s primary customers, Max steers the GIS team into addressing issues that affect Avnet’s relationships with our external customers.

Max said: “We look inwards first and determine how we can offer solutions that will allow employees to become more engaged with the global channel — our esteemed suppliers and business partners.”

He continued: “Outwards, we look at the efficiencies and effectiveness we can bring to improve the experience of our external customers.  Having looked at that, we identified Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Customer Satisfaction as one of our top priorities we want to improve.”

Utilizing Customer Relationship Management to Achieve Operational Excellence

One of the many tools to drive operational excellence, Max said affirmatively, is the improvement and perfection of a good Customer Relationship Management system across regions at Avnet Technology Solutions.

Max said: “CRM is an indispensable part of a company’s business management and is established and used as a model for monitoring and analyzing the interactions between an organization and its existing and future customers. An organization can benefit greatly from a well-established CRM system, from improved communications to personnel and process management of the relationships.”

From the organization standpoint, implementing a CRM system helps centralize and analyze various customer relationships and generates data that will be later used across different departments in Avnet. Therefore, this practice of collecting and analyzing data significantly facilitates the work of different departments providing various services to the clients as they have the necessary information at hand. Through looking closely at the qualified data, Avnet is able to foresee new customer needs and proactively offer advice and solutions to their clients. Here then commences a virtuous cycle whereby customers are aware that their feedbacks and data are being recorded and taken care of, improvement would be made and better services could be provided. In this regard, customer satisfaction will be improved and in turn, Avnet gets to better retain customers.

In addition, an improved CRM system will also cultivate an interactive and sharing culture within Avnet whereby personnel across different teams and even geographical regions input and exchange their customer data with one another. In this regard, if a US-based customer expands into Asia, or from Malaysia to Singapore, the new team could save time and cost researching or understanding the client’s business needs, as they would have all the information at hand. Should similar situation arise, new teams could also duplicate best practices done in other markets.

Max is excited about taking the lead on this new initiative to improve the CRM capabilities at Avnet Technology Solutions, Asia Pacific, as he’s witnessed the tremendous benefits an organization can get from streamlining customer data and feedbacks, and aims to help accelerate the materialization of the upgraded CRM system at Avnet Technology Solutions Asia Pacific.

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