Saturday, December 17, 2011

Exclusive: Made in Texas: Apple's A5 iPhone chip @reuters

Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:35pm EST
Original article can be found on Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO - Apple Inc is famous for relying on low-cost Asian manufacturers to both source and assemble its popular gadgets, but the consumer device giant recently started receiving a critical component in its iPad and iPhones from closer to home - Texas.

The A5 processor - the brain in the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 - is now made in a sprawling 1.6 million square feet factory in Austin owned by Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics, according to people familiar with the operation.

One of the few major components to be sourced from within the United States, the A5 processor is built by Samsung in a newly constructed $3.6 billion non-memory chip production line that reached full production in early December.

Nearly all of the output of the non-memory chip production from the factory - which is the size of about nine football fields - is dedicated to producing Apple chips, one of the people said. Samsung also produces NAND flash memory chips in Austin.

The South Korean giant began supplying the A5 processors to Apple this year from the Austin plant, the people said.

Apple declined to comment, saying it does not detail supplier relationships. A Samsung spokeswoman declined to comment on its customers and the specification of the chips made in its Austin plant.

But she said the company expanded the Austin factory to include a production line to make logic chips. The A5 is one such chip.

The powerful A5 processor, which uses technology licensed from Britain's ARM Holdings, is designed by Apple in California.

The A5 chip debuted in Apple's iPad 2 in March and now also powers the new iPhone 4S. The 120 square millimeter chip is twice as fast as its predecessor, the A4, which is also made by Samsung, according to reports from teardown firms that have taken Apple's devices apart.


Apart from Austin, Samsung has only one other non-memory logic chip factory, in South Korea.

Apple relies on its main contract manufacturer for gadgets, Foxconn, to assemble them, mainly in its factories in China and Taiwan.

The roaring success of both the iPad and iPhone has helped the city of Austin, where Freescale Semiconductor is based and other chip companies, like ARM, Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, also have operations.

Semiconductor companies are attracted to Austin because of a steady supply of educated employees from the University of Texas' engineering school.

Samsung has added about 1,100 jobs to support the new non-memory chip production in the factory, which produces 40,000 silicon wafers every month, a Samsung spokeswoman said.

The rest of Samsung's total 2,400 employees in Austin work in its NAND flash memory factory by the logic chip factory, she added.

The Korean company, which began the U.S. plant in 1996 to make its NAND flash memory chips, continues to produce them there in addition to the A5.

Samsung's factory is the largest foreign investment in Texas with a total investment of about $9 billion, according to Austin Chamber of Commerce.

Austin is also home to an Apple customer call center that deals with customer complaints in North America, Apple's biggest market. The Cupertino company employs thousands in that facility, who deal with calls ranging from complaints to support.

While Apple is one of Samsung's largest customers, both are arch-rivals in the smartphone and tablet marketplace. The two companies are also locked in an acrimonious patent infringement battle that spans multiple countries and products.

(Additional reporting by Noel Randewich in San Francisco and Miyoung Kim in Seoul; Editing by Gary Hill)

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Did you know Habitat for Humanity has indoor volunteer opportunities?

If you are like me the only volunteer opportunities you may know of being available are construction jobs. Although I don't mind helping from time to time doing sweaty and hardworking jobs I've always thought if I could volunteer indoors and not wear myself out so much I could do more, more often. And we all can!
If you have children 14 and up you can even bring them along to help.

Here are the different opportunities available to you as a volunteer:
Get more info here!

  •  Group Construction
  • Individual Construction
  • Special Projects/Committees
  • ReStore
  • Administrative
  • Youth
  • AmeriCorps

 Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity • 2800 N. Hampton Road • Dallas, TX 75212 • Phone: 214-678-2300 • Fax: 214-678-2380

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Parts of Texas may run out of water in DAYS!

For those of you who do not live in Texas you may not know how bad the water conditions are here but after googling many things I am finding we are not the only ones that have a state wide drought.. Luckily I am in an area that is only considered abnormally to moderately dry and conditions are not severe, but if you check out the maps and links below you will see that we are surrounded by extremely dry areas and obviously are blessed to be "abnormal" for the time being.
The US Drought Monitor shows that over 80% of the state of Texas is exceptionally dry as over November 29th, 2011. Today and yesterday we had quite a bit of rain but I am unsure how it has helped us. During this time of year, a "slope" in the land just before my kids school is normally a huge river by now and I hear all the kids upset because they can't cut through to get to school. Now everyone is walking through the grass with maybe some muddy shoes at the end but they can actually walk through.
All the creeks in our area are at least 2-3 feet lower then I remember seeing them last year. These conditions are only considered abnormal to moderately dry, imagine the conditions of a severe drought which is only a few miles away.

Many cities have done their research in hopes to get a grant but find no solutions because the conditions of the grants must be a permanent water fix. Unfortunately with all areas of Texas being low, pumping water from the city lakes, ponds, creeks are only temporary not to mention we have no Texas cities we can pump from because we are all desperate. For about two months my city had a NO WATERING ban and finally we have reached a plan where we were able to water on certain days based on our address.

Of course drought conditions cause us fire dangers. In July I was headed to work on a busy freeway in an area known for high traffic when out of no where, right next to me a fire breaks out in the median of the freeway. On my way back home over half a mile of grass was burned.

Although this is not a good condition of living for many reasons it is also known as a blessing for uncovering answers such as finding a woman named Brenda Oliver who went missing in July of 2008. The Texas Drought Uncovers Mystery of Missing Woman . She was found buckled into her car which was driven into a private lake. 

As Drought continues, Depleted Texas Lakes Expose Ghost Towns, Graves
Johnny C. Parks died two days before his first birthday more than a century ago. His grave slipped from sight along with the rest of the tiny town of Bluffton when Lake Buchanan was filled 55 years later. Now, the cracked marble tombstone engraved with the date Oct. 15, 1882, which is normally covered by 20 to 30 feet of water, has been eerily exposed as a yearlong drought shrinks one of Texas' largest lakes
Texas finished its driest 12 months ever with an average of 8.5 inches of rain through September, nearly 13 inches below normal.

Texas Reservoir prior to the drought

In the midst of the drought where many graves were found.

Drought reveals space shuttle Columbia debris in East Texas lake
Nacogdoches Police Department
The power reactant storage and distribution system, one of 18 tanks distributing power to the shuttle, had probably been submerged in Lake Nacogdoches since Columbia blew up Feb. 1, 2003.

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