Enterprise

OPPO will share VOOC technology with other companies

Named the Flash Initiative

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The ongoing charging wars is one of the (sometime, literally) hottest races to follow in the technology industry. Particularly, Chinese tech companies are rushing to build the fastest wired and wireless charging solutions for consumers. Because a war is a war, most brands are keeping their solutions for themselves without sharing. However, confirmed through a new initiative, OPPO is sharing its VOOC technology with other companies.

Today, OPPO has launched the Flash Initiative, which licenses the proprietary technology to other brands for third-party chargers. Currently, the initiative is available for Anker, FAW-Volkswagen, and NXP Semiconductors. Naturally, the most exciting among the three is Anker. The company is already known for making third-party, consumer-friendly chargers. Meanwhile, FAW-Volkswagen can potentially bring the super-fast charging solution to vehicles.

Besides the three companies, OPPO has not revealed whether other companies will eventually join the initiative. At the moment, the Chinese company is still keeping its precious charging technology close to its heart.

As of now, the VOOC technology can go up to 125W of wired charging speeds. According to past tests, the technology can reportedly fill up an empty smartphone in just a few minutes. Recently, OPPO also unveiled a 65W wireless charging solution to the public during MWC C.

Once accessible to other companies, charging might not be an issue for the everyday consumer anymore.

SEE ALSO: OPPO launches 125W flash charge, new VOOC, flash charge lineup

Enterprise

Jeff Bezos says Amazon should treat its workers in a better way

His final letter to shareholders before stepping down as CEO

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Amazon

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos used his final letter to Amazon shareholders to focus on employee well-being and its significant carbon footprint. The transition is closely watched by everyone as the legendary co-founder hands over the reigns to Andy Jassy.

The e-commerce giant has always been customer-centric, which was the prime reason it was able to garner trust and support. Now, Bezos thinks it time to put the company’s workforce on priority.

Jassy, the former head of Amazon Web Services, is taking over the top job so that Bezos can step back from day-to-day responsibilities. It’ll now be his responsibility to ensure Amazon continues its growth trajectory and sustains the pandemic-induced boom.

It’s currently hounded by regulators, labor unions, and activists around the world. There are multiple allegations — unfair treatment of warehouse workers, stifling competition, discouraging unionization, and shortchanged partners. It’s a long list, and the pressure keeps mounting as the company’s stock increases in value.

Bezos also talked about creating wealth for shareholders, the fact that climate change is real, the recent warehouse union vote in Bessemer, Alabama, US. Among his proposals are new staffing rotations to reduce physical stress at warehouses. He said that 40 percent of Amazon’s work-related injuries are musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), such as strains and sprains from repetitive motions. These injuries tend to occur in the first six months of an employee’s tenure.

The founder also touted the company’s decision to increase Amazon’s minimum wage to US$ 15 per hour, a rate that labor groups have been advocating for the longest of time.

When it comes to workers who can’t consistently meet the company’s expectations, he says Amazon provides coaching to them, with 82 percent of it being “positive.” He also added that less than 2.6 percent of the staff was fired for not meeting the job expectations.

Amazon is also trying to cut down its carbon emissions and has pledged to have 100,000 electric delivery vans by 2030. Bezos has personally committed US$ 10 billion in grants for climate-oriented companies and organizations.

Read Also: Everything you need to know about the congressional big tech hearing

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Enterprise

Why is Amazon starting a $250 million venture fund in India?

Aims to bring 1 million offline stores online by 2025

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Amazon has announced a US$ 250 million venture fund called Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund that’ll invest in small and medium-sized businesses. The goal is to boost India’s export by using technology and the marketplace’s reach.

Amazon Smbhav will be focusing on the digitization of small businesses, agri-tech innovations to raise farmer productivity, and health tech for quality universal healthcare. The fund was announced at Amazon India’s annual Smbhav Summit.

It intends to tap offline sellers and professionals via the fund and on onboarding a million shops by 2025. Another initiative is “Spotlight NorthEast,” which will bring 50,000 artisans, weavers, and small businesses online from India’s North-Eastern states. The region is known for its local produce like honey, tea, and spices.

The announcement came at a fireside chat at the summit between Andy Jassy, incoming CEO of Amazon and Amit Agarwal, Global Senior VP and Country Head, Amazon India. They also revealed the first bet Amazon was making through the new fund — invoice discounting platform M1xchange, in which it has led a $10 million investment.

Amazon said it created close to 300,000 jobs since January 2020 and one million in total. It also boasted of having almost 70,000 sellers, exporting Indian goods to other markets totaling US$ 3 billion in sales.

The timing of Amazon India’s announcement is key because the e-commerce companies have been barred from delivering in the state of Maharashtra amid a Coronavirus-led curfew. While the restrictions are regional, businesses are unable to get necessary and basic supplies. In a work-from-home world, getting an emergency mice/keyboard or mattress should be easy via digitization, but there are antitrust concerns.

Due to a lockdown, offline sellers cannot operate and thus, don’t want online businesses to eat their share. The Narendra Modi-led government has historically sided with the offline traders since they constitute a majority of India’s market. The offline market is still the king, and the gap between the two is very substantial.

If online players operate exclusively for too long, they’ll start gobbling up market share gradually, killing the smaller businesses. While the aim is to maintain a level-playing field, the current rules aren’t helping anybody at the end of the day. The region also fails to collect indirect taxes over the possible transactions, leading to a cash crunch while the pandemic rages.

The FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) rules for the retail market were changed in 2019, meaning Amazon India could no longer directly sell its products. It had to act like a marketplace to maintain healthy competition since 100 percent FDI is allowed in e-commerce as a tech platform, but not as a retailer.

Thanks to the fund, Amazon can show its commitment to India and its initiatives to encourage online trade. India’s new farm laws also make it easier for private companies to invest in agriculture or partner with farmers for contracts.

Amazon had announced an investment of US$1 billion in January 2020 and its purpose was also the same — digitizing India’s small and medium businesses. Founder Jeff Bezos had said back then, “We are doing this now because it is working. And when something works you should double down on it.”

For now, the concerns of a monopoly are diminished because Amazon is going up against India’s homegrown Flipkart, which Walmart now backs. Reliance is also eyeing this segment and has already kicked off a hyperlocal service called JioMart. Lastly, many other retailers like Dmart, Tata CliQ + Bigbasket, and Grofers are available.

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Nvidia will now let you rent a DGX Station A100 mini supercomputer

It’s not meant for gaming though

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Today, many services are based on a subscription model, whether it’s music streaming or ordering monthly coffee brew packs. Even the gaming industry is gradually moving to a subscription-based business. So, what’s left? How about subscribing to a plan that gives you access to a supercomputer?

Nvidia is trying to pull off a trend in the supercomputer world — selling them via a subscription model. The equipment is costly and requires a lot of upfront investment, discouraging smaller companies or individual developers.

Its DGX Station A100 is a new cloud-native supercomputer that delivers 2.5 Petaflops of AI training power & 5 PetaOPS of INT8 inferencing horsepower. It’s also unique to support MIG (Multi-Instance GPU) protocol, allowing multiple processes to execute faster. The computing resources can be shared with up to 28 scientists at once.

Each A100 system has dual AMD EPYC 7742 CPUs with 64-cores each, supports up to 2TB of memory, and has eight A100 GPUs.

A DGX SuperPod, on the other hand, consists of multiple DGX Station computers. They are AI supercomputers featuring 20 or more Nvidia DGX A100 systems and Nvidia InfiniBand HDR networking. Nvidia intends to open the world of AI to more enterprise customers for artificial intelligence, drug research, autonomous vehicles, and more.

The bare-metal server features 80 GB A100 Tensor Core GPUs, delivering 25 percent faster inference performance and two times faster data analytics performance. This rig clearly isn’t meant for gaming and is specifically designed for research, complex calculations, and content creation.

It’s the first time Nvidia is trying a subscription model, and it genuinely makes a lot of sense. GX Stations start at US$ 149,000, while the DGX SuperPod starts at US$ 7 million and scales to US$ 60 million. This makes it a herculean task for a small team to source the gear. A subscription starts at US$ 9,000 a month, and even though it may sound a lot for a “processor,” it isn’t.

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