Saturday, September 22, 2007

Microsoft Tips New HD DVD Drive for Xbox 360, Retracts the Tip

An executive from Microsoft Corp. told at a conference in
London, UK, that the company would release a new version of HD DVD drive for Microsoft Xbox 360 game console in 2008. Several hours later the company retracted its comments in regards the novelty, claiming no update was planned. But, considering Microsoft’s irresolute stance on new video formats, can it be smoke without fire?

Mark Bennett, Microsoft’s EMEA business development director for HD DVD, said at the press conference that the world’s most influential developer of software readies a “new” HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 in 2008 and also has “more plans” to “incorporate HD DVD into the PC platform in the future”, reports Personal Computer World web-site.

While Mr. Bennett did not elaborate about the new HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 and the nature of further incorporation of HD DVD into the PC platform, Microsoft retracted the comments in an interview with PCW hours after the publication emerged.

Current HD DVD drive for Microsoft Xbox 360 game console supports both dual-layer HD DVDs as well as HDi interactive capabilities. A new drive could support triple-layer HD DVD media or also gain support for Blu-ray discs, which are also popular among high-definition video adopters.

Microsoft also announced it would sell high-definition download movie rentals over its Xbox Live service before Christmas in the UK – one of the first such services to hit Europe. Pricing was not announced, but the software giant demonstrated a 1280x720 (720p) movie measuring 4GB costing 480 credits, which equates to about £4 ($8, €5.7).

Friday, September 21, 2007

Intel to Launch New Extreme Desktop Chipset in October

Intel Corp. revealed at the Intel Developer Forum that it would commercially launch its Intel X38 core-logic for high-performance desktop computers on the 10th of October, a little later than it was generally anticipated. The new core-logic set will bring-in high-speed DDR3 memory, PCI Express 2.0 as well as overclocking utility from Intel itself.

“Intel has developed a new chipset of platform technology called X38. […] It will launch October 10th. We are shipping production parts to our customers today in anticipation of that launch,” said Pat Gelsinger, chief technology officer at Intel Corp.

Intel X38 chipset will bring the technological “creams” of 2007. It will support dual-channel PC3-10600 (DDR3 1333MHz) with Intel Fast Memory access, PCI Express 2.0 bus with multi-GPU technology capability and some other performance improvements, such as flexible overclocking capabilities and extreme memory profiles (XMP) technology.

“Intel X38 has unlocked bus ratios, so they can crank [the speed] up. It has easy memory overclocking capability. We have doubled the bandwidth of the PCI Express Bus to graphics on the chipset. And we’re incorporating […] a new software tuning utility that allows you to tune directly to the BIOS to get the optimal system performance, so that you can win game benchmarks,” Mr. Gelsinger said.

It is interesting to note that the world’s largest maker of chips also reportedly plans to release Intel X48 core-logic by the end of the year. The new chipset will bring support for 1600MHz processor system bus (PSB) as well as PC3-12800 (DDR3 1600MHz) in addition to features already available on Intel X38.

Toshiba to Display Low-Cost Derivative of Cell Processor

While the Cell processor jointly developed by IBM, Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp. has not yet found home in advanced consumer electronics apart from PlayStation 3, its derivatives have all the chances to become more widespread. Toshiba said on Thursday it would demonstrate SpursEngine chip that features Cell’s synergistic processing elements (SPEs) and video encoding/decoding units at a show in
Japan.

SpursEngine is a co-processor that integrates four of Cell high-performance RISC core SPEs, half the number of the full configuration, hardware dedicated to decoding and encoding of MPEG-2 and H.264 video, XDR memory interface as well as PCI Express interface. By combining the high level, real time processing software of the SPEs with the hardware video codecs, the SpursEngine realizes an optimized balance of processing flexibility and low power consumption. The prototype of SpursEngine operates at a clock frequency of 1.5GHz and consumes power at 10Wto 20W.

Toshiba’s SpursEngine co-processor works in cooperation with a host central processing unit and may be used in consumer electronics that requires video processing along with computing capabilities. Besides, SpursEngine can be used on personal computers for transformations, physics and other computing.

The prototype of SpursEngine will be unveiled at CEATEC JAPAN 2007 in early October.

Notebook PCs integrating SpursEngine will be used in the world’s first public demonstration of the processor’s capabilities in 3D image processing and manipulation: real-time transformations of hair styles and makeup that instantaneously recognize and process changes in position, angle, and facial expression, and render them as computer graphics. Toshiba also plans to demonstrate concept notebook PCs integrating the SpursEngine.

Toshiba will bring SpursEngine to market after CEATEC, for application in various digital consumer products, and for use by customers and Toshiba itself, as soon as it completes specifications for commercial production.

Hybrid Hard Drives – A Disappointment for Consumers, Say Hard Drive Makers

Even though the so-called hybrid hard disk drives (HHDs) have received quite a lot of hype, they could not deliver tangible performance improvements that consumers expected. As a consequence the demand towards is currently fairly low and some makers even do not think they need to add such products into lineup.

Hybrid hard disk drives feature additional flash cache of different capacity that can store certain continuously used data. Manufacturers promised that the hybrid hard drives would cut down power consumption, increase battery life, and, most importantly, speed-up boot-up time.

However, the actual performance increases of HHDs is not crucial and customers are reluctant to pay extra for them, executives of hard disk drive makers reveald at Diskcon 2007 conference, reports Cnet News.com web-site.

“The initial versions haven’t delivered the performance consumers expected,” said Dr. Richard New, director of research for Hitachi Global Storage Technologies.

The problem might be correctable if drive makers put in more flash. Right now, hybrid drives have 256MB of memory, but if 4GB or so are installed, the flash could hold a lot more storage, which in turn would reduce power consumption and help boot-up time. However, that would raise prices, which may distract customers from the HHDs.

According to Fujitsu Computing Products of America claims that hybrid hard drives with small cache ensure boot-up time drop from 28 seconds with a standard drive to 21 seconds with a hybrid. However, the company believes that consumers are not going to pay for such a small advantage.

Intel to Popularize Mobile Internet Devices

Nowadays the Internet is becoming a more and more important part of daily life, however, the usage of Web is limited by form-factors and ergonomics of mobile devices. On the one hand, notebooks cannot be used everywhere, on the other hand, handsets with Internet capability are not really comfortable for browsing. As a result, there is a strong demand for mobile Internet devices (MIDs), which is Intel planning to respond next year.

“Mobile users are demanding to take the full Internet experience anytime, anywhere – in essence these users want the full Internet to be delivered to them wirelessly and in their pocket. In the first half of 2008, Intel will take a major step to deliver what these users are looking for with our first platform designed from the ground up for MIDs and UMPCs – codenamed Menlow, which will deliver 10x lower power compared to the first UMPCs in the market,” said Anand Chandrasekher, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the ultra mobility group.

The Menlow platform is based on Silverthorne microprocessor, which uses Intel Core 2 micro-architecture, and next-generation chipset, codenamed Poulsbo. Also featured on the Menlow-based designs are optional standardized communications capabilities such as Wi-Fi, 3G and WiMAX to enable more of an always-connected experience. Currently companies like Asustek Computer, BenQ, Compal, Electrobit, HTC, Inventec and Quanta are developing their MIDs and UMPCs, whereas Intel is developing even more advanced platform for small Internet devices.

“After Menlow our next-generation platform, code-named Moorestown, will increase battery life an order of magnitude by reducing idle power by 10x compared to Menlow,” Mr. Chandrasekher proclaimed.

Chandrasekher provided a sneak peek at Moorestown that consists of a system on chip (SOC) design combining the CPU, graphics, video and memory controller onto a single chip. A Moorestown-based MID will have idle power that will be 10x lower than the 2008 Menlow design, enabling longer battery life in smaller form factors.

But while MIDs do look interesting, their destiny is uncertain. Sony released its Mylo gadget with Internet and multimedia player functionality in 2006, but the device never became popular. Nowadays mobile phones get QWERTY keyboards and large screens making additional Internet-only devices as redundant as personal digital assistants became when smartphones gained in functionality.

Sony on Track to Ship 11 Million PlayStation 3 Game Consoles by Late March

Despite of fairly slow start and relatively low demand in the U.S. and
Europe, Sony’s PlayStation 3 game console is on track to double its shipments this fiscal year, which ends in March ’08 for Sony Corp., the head of the company’s game unit said in an interview, meaning that the firm will ship 11 million in its fiscal 2007.

“We are planning various steps to support our software and hardware businesses… I think we can do pretty good in terms of the target,” said Kazuo Hirai, the head of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., in an interview with Reuters news-agency when asked about an aim to double the 5.5 million PlayStation 3 game consoles shipped the previous year.

Sony shipped 5.5 million units of its latest game machine between November 2006 and late March 2007, however, according to some estimates, only 4.32 million Sony PlayStation 3 consoles were acquired by end-users, meaning that the vast majority of the PS3s are still sitting in stock. The main factor that keeps gamers away from the PlayStation 3 now is its price, which is about than twice higher compared to Nintendo Wii or the entry-level Microsoft Xbox 360. But while it is crucial for Sony to slash the PS3 retail price, the company does not want to take any actions just now.

“I think about PS3 pricing every single day. It is that important a factor… But I am not planning any immediate pricing action now,” Mr. Hirai said.

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.’s pricing policy had been watched by the industry experts in the last few weeks as the company had been widely expected to announce PS3 price cuts at the Tokyo Game Show 2007, which started on Thursday. It is unclear whether sell-through figures will be anywhere close to sell-in figures if Sony succeeds in shipping 11 million of its PlayStation 3 game consoles this fiscal year, but the price remain on the same levels.

Instead of making price cut announcements, Sony indicated that it is very important for its game console to have exclusive high-quality game titles and to achieve this SCEI may even acquire certain software makers. Nevertheless, the firm has no plans to take over game developers just in order to get them.

“We wouldn’t buy a company just because we can. Talks of an acquisition would emerge only when a company already has tight relations with us, its corporate culture is compatible with ours, its employees are working closely with us, and it can churn out strong software titles,” said Mr. Hirai.

Intel Touts Application Targeted Accelerators, Vague on SSE5

In spite of the fact that Advanced Micro Devices unveiled its streaming SIMD instructions 5 (SSE5) recently, the technology may not be as forward looking as previously thought. Intel Corp. believes that a superset of SSE4 will satisfy all the current requirements, whereas Application Targeted Accelerators (ATAs) available in the future chips will boost performance dramatically, perhaps, without SSE5.

The introduction of SSE4 instructions along with 45nm code-named Penryn family of processors seems to be the last major update to SSE technology from Intel. The code-named Nehalem chips will feature SSE4.2, which will add several new instructions to make accelerated string and text processing more efficient. That seems to be the final set of SSE from Intel and already in the code-named Westmere processors Intel will implement its first application targeted accelerator, which will speed up AES encryption/decryption.

Application targeted accelerators extend the capabilities of Intel architecture by adding performance-optimized, low-latency, lower power fixed-function accelerators on the processor die to benefit specific applications. Such accelerators are the start of a natural evolution of adding advantageous implementations of fixed-function capabilities to the processor, Intel said.

Just as the evolution of silicon technology from 65 nm to 45 nm to 32 nm will enable more transistors for additional cores and cache, so too will it also enable these fixed-function on-die implementations. The benefit will be greater performance – and superior energy efficiency – in processing specific applications.

Software makers will also have to use new instructions to take advantage of Intel’s ATAs, therefore, from software perspective ATAs hardly differ from SSE. At the same time, application specific accelerators is a natural evolution of multi-core processors: both Advanced Micro Devices and Intel Corp. said in the past that homogeneous cores of multi-core central processing units will evolve into arrays heterogeneous cores, some of which may be tailored to process certain types of data.

Intel did not say whether it plans to support SSE5 or not, however, the company may never implement the AMD-proposed set of streaming SIMD instructions in order not to confuse software makers who will have to choose whether to use SSE5 or ATAs.

XFX Unveils World’s Fastest Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS Graphics Card

XFX, a leading provider of advanced graphics cards and a division of Pine Technologies, has unveiled what seems to be the world’s highest performance graphics card based on Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS graphics processing unit (GPU) with 320MB of memory. The product is called a “Ferrari” and is branded under “Fatal1ty” trademark.

“For the gamer who demands the finest in speed and performance, XFX debuts the Ferrari of its graphics card lineup: The 8800 GTS Fatal1ty graphics card,” a statement by XFX reads.

XFX 8800 GTS 320MB Fatal1ty graphics card features Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS graphics chip clocked at 650MHz (1500MHz frequency for unified shader processors’ array), up 30% compared to Nvidia recommended clock-speed, as well as 320MB of GDDR3 memory operating at 2.0GHz, up 25% from reference frequency of 1.60GHz. Despite of considerable frequency shift, the new graphics boards still feature reference design and have been manufactured under supervision of Nvidia. Pine’s XFX picks up graphics boards capable of operating at higher clock-speeds and flashes appropriate BIOS versions to enable out-of-the-box overclocking.

The new XFX 8800 GTS Fatal1ty offer up to 15% better performance than the standard GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB, according to the graphics cards supplier. Like all the GeForce 8800 GTS-based graphics cards, XFX 8800 GTS 320MB Fatal1ty features HDCP, dual-link DVI and other video and output-related capabilities.

“XFX anticipates high demand for this card and urges enthusiasts to get theirs now, because, like this card’s speed, they’re going to go fast,” the company claims.

Pricing of the new board remains unknown.

Nokia Unleashes First Unlicensed Mobile Access Cell Phone

Nokia, the world’s largest maker of mobile phones, on Thursday unveiled the world’s first phone that can provide voice calls both over conventional GSM networks as well as via wireless local area networks (WLANs). While the Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology deserves applauds, its wide adoption is under question as it does not has obvious benefits to end-users.

The new Nokia 6301 cell phone can boast with stainless steel frame, 2” 320x240 pixels screen, 30MB of internal memory, built-in MP3 player, FM radio, microSD card slot, support for GSM 900, 1800 and 1900 networks and other peculiarities of a business-oriented cell phone. The Nokia 6301 weighs 93 grams and measures less than 13.1mm thin. The Nokia 6301 comes with an attractive desk stand, the Nokia Desk Stand DT-23, to hold the phone and keep its battery charged while connected to WLAN. The main feature of the device is support for the so-called Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology.

UMA technology makes it possible for users to seamlessly roam and handover between wireless local area networks (Wi-Fi) and wide area networks (such as GSM) using the same dual-mode device. Instead of constantly communicating with a base station, UMA allows the phone to also make calls through WLAN internet networks, provided that those networks are capable of establishing secure IP connection through a gateway to a server called a general access network controller (GANC) on the carrier’s network.

Nokia claims that with UMA technology ensures excellent indoor coverage both at office and home as WLAN/UMA provides excellent coverage and sound quality even in areas where mobile phone reception has previously been poor. Besides, UMA benefits operators as well, allowing them to deliver voice and data services to subscribers over WLAN, substantially increasing mobile service availability while decreasing the costs related to network deployment.

Orange will be one of the first operators to offer the Nokia 6301, as part of its Unik/Unique portfolio.

“The Nokia 6301 is a stylish new addition to our Unik range of converged fixed and mobile phones. Orange’s Unik offer brings together the convenience of a single phone and tariff at home and on the move and the widest range of UMA handsets. The Nokia 6301, with its sleek candy bar design and attractive stainless steel exterior adds to the appeal of Unik for Orange customers,” said Yves Maitre, senior vice president of devices, Orange.

The Nokia 6301 is expected to begin shipping to select markets in Europe during the fourth quarter of 2007 with an estimated retail price of €230 before subsidies or taxes.

AMD Claims Intel’s Nehalem Mimics AMD Technologies

After Intel Corp. at Intel Developer Forum unveiled details in regards its new platform featuring code-named Nehalem processors, Advanced Micro Devices has issued comments claiming that Intel actually copied approaches of its smaller rival to create more advanced personal computers.

“What’s amazing is that many of the ‘groundbreaking, innovative new technologies’ are close facsimiles of technologies AMD pioneered, is already shipping, and in some cases, has been shipping for years,” a press statement of AMD reads.

The world’s second largest maker of x86 central processing units (CPUs) says that AMD-developed HyperTransport was mimicked by Intel’s QuickPath bus, whereas built-in memory controller was the right thing to go already back in 2003.

“Products that are more than a year away, like Nehalem (compare to native quad-core AMD Opteron), and QuickPath (compare to AMD Direct Connect Architecture and HyperTransport) are simply Intel’s admission that AMD was right all along about an integrated memory controller being the key to a superior processor architecture,” AMD said.

Even though built-in memory controller and HyperTransport bus are two indisputable advantages of AMD’s Opteron, Athlon 64, Phenom and Sempron processors, Advanced Micro Devices did not touch upon their performance compared to current Intel Xeon or Intel Core 2 processors. The company also did not make any statements regarding relative performance of Nehalem and Bulldozer, however, it said that considering the fact that select Nehalem chips will include graphics cores, the acquisition of ATI Technologies and announcement of code-named Fusion project was the way to go.

“Later, Intel talked about its efforts to integrate graphics processors and CPUs with its Larrabee project, which should be seen as nothing more than proof positive that AMD had it right with its acquisition of ATI Technologies and continuing development of AMD Fusion processors, due in 2009. AMD is focused on delivering the ultimate visual experience to customers, and while Intel may talk about the visual experience, the mainstream PC platforms with Intel CPUs and chipsets leave something to be desired in that department,” the statement claims.

Intel Demos Dual-Socket Desktop Platform for Enthusiasts

Intel Corp. has demonstrated its ultra high-performance gaming platform code-named Skulltrail during the ongoing Intel Developer Forum trade-show. The company seems to be serious about offering an alternative to AMD’s dual-socket enthusiast platform FASN8 and will commercially release the product late this year.

Intel’s Skulltrail platform for gamers based on code-named Seaburg chipset resembles Stoakley platform for high-end dual-processor workstations, but in addition to features like support for two quad-core Intel Xeon microprocessor with up to 1600MHz processor system bus, up to 128GB of FB-DIMM memory, Intel virtualization technology and other capabilities, the Skulltrail offers four PCI Express x16 slots for graphics cards, something that high-end gamers may require.

The new platform for no compromise gamers will let end-users without limits of budget to obtain eight processing engines as well as four graphics processing units for ultimate performance. Still, Intel will have to ensure that ATI, graphics product group of Advanced Micro Devices, and Nvidia Corp. enable driver support for 4-way CrossFire or SLI multi-GPU configurations.

Even though it remains to be seen whether Intel allows overclocking of its Intel Xeon processors, Noctua, a well-known maker of high-performance liquid-cooling systems, announced on Wednesday that its popular liquid solutions now feature mounting mechanisms for Intel Xeon processors.

“Maximum cooling performance at minimum noise levels and excellent reliability can be particularly important in the world of high-end workstations and special server applications. We’ve received lots of requests regarding Xeon compatibility and we’re pleased that we’re now able to provide Xeon mounting-kits as well as a Xeon-Edition of the NH-U12F and NH-U9F upon request. Finally, Xeon-based systems can benefit from the performance and quality of our coolers too,” said Roland Mossig, Noctua chief executive.

The new Intel Xeon mounting-kit is compatible with socket 771 and socket 604 and makes it possible to use Noctua’s coolers on Intel Xeon 5000 and Xeon 7000 series processors.

Unfortunately, Intel still has not announced the exact launch and availability dates of the Skulltrail-based computers. It is very likely that the new systems will be available in mid-November at the earliest, still ahead of AMD’s FASN8 with two AMD Phenom FX quad-core chips, which is set to emerge in early 2008.

Sony Denies Agreement to Sell Chip Production Fab to Toshiba

Even though it seems to be quite clear that Sony Corp. wants to withdraw from chip production and development, the company still took time to release a statement claiming that it had not reached any agreements with Toshiba in regards selling off its chip manufacturing facilities.

“Sony has been saying for months it’s exploring ways to streamline its chip business. But nothing concrete has been decided,” Sony spokesman Tomio Takizawa told in a brief interview with Associated Press.

Last week Nikkei Japanese news-paper reported that Sony planned to sell production facilities for microprocessors and other chips to Toshiba for about ¥100 billion ($869.7 million) and an agreement is likely to be reached within a few months. At the same time, Sony and Toshiba will establish a joint venture that will use these lines to manufacture system chips. Currently Sony Kyushu Semiconductor Corp. can produce a variety of chips using 65nm, 90nm, 180nm, 250nm and 350nm process technologies.

Toshiba Corp. spokesman Keisuke Omori also said that nothing has been decided on such a deal.
Earlier this year Sony withdrew from chip development collaboration with Nec and Toshiba. In fact, it was just a matter of time until Sony fully withdraws from chip making operations, which require high utilization rate to stay profitable. Given that Sony’s high-end PlayStation 3 game console is not the best seller, at least now, and the company’s digital media player business is struggling as well, the firm may not need its own manufacturing capacities for cutting-edge or even mainstream chips.

Toshiba, a leading maker of flash memory chips, will be able to boost its product portfolio with new chip offerings if it acquires Sony’s semiconductor business. Sony, on the other hand, will be able to concentrate on making competitive consumer electronics products that will not need to rely on the company’s in-house developed and produced chips.

Intel’s Centrino ’08 to Finally Include Mobile WiMAX Module

Two or three years later than initially projected, notebooks based on Intel Centrino mobile platform will finally get WiMAX connectivity in 2008, when Intel introduces its new platform code-named Montevina. Unfortunately, Intel still has not made WiMAX mandatory for the new Centrino-branded notebooks, however, given that the option is now considerably more affordable, more notebook makers may install it.

“Intel is the undisputed market leader today with notebook PCs by providing consumers with what they want in performance, battery life and a fully loaded internet experience. Mobile users have an insatiable appetite for and want even more mobility, connectivity and a full Internet on their smaller devices. Intel will satisfy those needs by delivering our latest 45nm processors and WiMAX to notebooks,” said David Perlmutter, Intel senior vice president and general manager, Mobility Group.

Intel’s Montevina platform-based laptops will feature code-named Echo Peak Wi-Fi/WiMAX controller combo or code-named Shirley Peak Wi-Fi controller. The former will allow to connect not only to wireless local area networks (WLANs), but also to wide-area networks (WANs), a valuable feature in countries and cities with WiMAX coverage.

In fact, Intel already ships special chips for mobile WiMAX, but the current solution is not a truly affordable one and not a lot of notebook makers have adopted it. Even though Echo Peak will also not be a compulsory component for Intel Centrino mobile platform, it will be much easier for notebook suppliers to utilize it and it is highly likely that makers of mobile computers will sell machines with WiMAX support in the countries where the WAN technology is available.
A number of notebook makers, including Acer, Asustek, Lenovo, Panasonic and Toshiba today expressed intent to embed WiMAX into Montevina-based laptops in 2008. These PCs will be among the first to access the Xohm service that will be deployed in many major U.S. cities by Sprint and Clearwire next year.

Mr. Perlmutter continued by discussing how Intel continues to provide advanced mobile processors based on innovative high-k metal gate (Hi-k) silicon technology that deliver energy efficiency for great battery life needed by users on-the-go. He showed what users could expect in terms of more performance and battery life features when the next-generation Centrino Duo platform is refreshed with Intel’s 45nm mobile processor, code-named Penryn. Perlmutter also demonstrated the graphics improvement for the refreshed Centrino Duo based notebooks by unlocking advanced graphic technologies for an enhanced visual experience, especially with DirectX 10-based applications.

T-Mobile to Exclusively Sell Apple iPhone in Germany for €399

Apple and T-Mobile on Wednesday announced that T-Mobile will be exclusive carrier for Apple’s iPhone cell phone in

Germany. The device will go on sale in November and will cost considerably more compared to its price in the United States, just like other electronics.

“We are convinced that we can get our customers excited about experiencing the mobile internet with the iPhone. I am proud that Apple and T-Mobile have become partners. The best mobile device currently on the market will soon be operating on the best network in the country,” said Hamid Akhavan, chief executive of T-Mobile International.

By the end of 2007, T-Mobile will be the only network operator in Germany to offer EDGE throughout its entire GSM network. EDGE accelerates the mobile data transfer rate to over 220Kb/s (kilobits per second), which will allow owners of Apple iPhone to use data-intensive services faster than in networks that only support GPRS, but still at the speeds considerably lower compared to today’s broadband Internet connections as iPhone does not support 3G. Apple and T-Mobile have not announced whether iPhone customers will be able to use one of 20 thousand T-Mobile Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide or one of 8600 T-Mobile Wi-Fit hotspots in Germany for free.

Apple iPhone is scheduled to go on sale on November 9 and will be sold in Germany through Telekom Shops of Deutsche Telekom and the T-Mobile web shop. iPhone requires a new 2-year T-Mobile tariff and will be available in an 8GB model for €399 ($556) including VAT. Exact tariff plans were not announced. Apple iPhone activation will require an Internet connection, an iTunes Store account or a major credit card.

Apple iPhone combines digital media player, phone, Web browser and personal digital assistant’s features. The device is equipped with 3.5” touch-screen instead of keypad, includes support for quad-band GSM, EDGE, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 EDR wireless technologies. The iPhone also features a 2 megapixel (2MP) camera along with a photo management application.

Intel Details Graphics Processor Market Approach

During his keynote at Intel Developer Forum (IDF), the chief executive of the world’s largest maker of chips, Paul Otellini, outlined the company’s plans regarding improving performance of graphics processors. Intel confirmed that code-named Larrabee chip can process graphics as well, though, did not elaborate on the details.

Intel’s Integrated Graphics Cores Set to Improve

Intel left the market of discrete graphics processors back in the late nineties after the Intel 740 graphics adapter did not become a success. After that the company concentrated on creating very basic graphics cores to integrate into core-logic sets. Even though “integrated” should not necessarily mean “obsolete”, given that Intel used outdated process technologies for its chipsets, it had to reduce the transistor count aggressively, which negatively impacted performance of those graphics adapters. At the end, Intel found itself with integrated graphics cores that were hardly competitive against discrete graphics adapters. However, this is going to change.

Starting next year Intel will transit its chipsets to newer manufacturing technologies faster. As a result, it believes, the built-in graphics cores will feature more transistors, meaning better feature-set and performance.

“We’re changing that pace starting next year. We’ll bring 65 nanometers out early next year into the graphics, and take the graphics up by a factor of a little more than two here. In the second part of that generation, in 2009, you’ll see us move integrated graphics to 45nm. And at this point in time it becomes incorporated into the microprocessor, so it becomes part of the CPU, matching the technologies for graphics and microprocessors in the same silicon generation. That gets us more than a 6x boost from where we were last year,” said Paul Otellini, chief executive of Intel.

In 2010 the world’s No. 1 chipmaker will introduce its code-named Westmere central processing unit (CPU) with integrated graphics core, which will be made using 32nm process technology, that will be ten times faster compared to “today’s” integrated graphics cores.
“This is good, but it’s not good enough,” proclaimed Mr. Otellini.

Larrabee Moves Intel Into Discrete Graphics

In 2010 Intel will release its code-named Larrabee processor, which is projected to deliver teraflops performance and also be able to process graphics.
“What we are focusing on is another new product called Larrabee. […] It’s a highly parallel, many-core product comprised of an array of Intel architecture cores. We are well into development of this product today, and it’s our intention to be able to demonstrate that product in 2008,” explained the head of Intel.

Intel claims that Larrabee will be able to perform the current x86 code, but given its multi-core nature, will also be able to address other needs while retaining current programming model.
“We think this brings the benefits of Intel architecture in a many-core array to the high-performance, visual-computing segments of the marketplace. We’ll deliver teraflops of performance with this chip. And one of the things that we think is a unique advantage is that it will scale easily for software developers. It not only has the code compatibility of everything you’re familiar with in IA space, but will have a shared cache to be able to make that an easy programming model for you in the developing community,” according to Paul Otellini.
Intel believes that Larrabee will be used in supercomputing, in financial services, and physics and health applications.

“But it’s also got one more thing that it’s going to be very good at, and that’s graphics. And one of the beauties here is that it is not dependent on a new software paradigm. Again, the same existing programming models that you all know today will be applicable to this device as it moves us into discrete graphics,” said chief executive officer of Intel Corp.

Besides an array of computing cores, modern graphics processing units also feature texture units (TU), render back ends (RBEs) and other units. Intel did not unveil whether the Larrabee will have those units integrated, which means that the company may be planning to either enter the market of discrete graphics cards either with a multi-chip solution that features TUs, RBEs and other necessary units in a separate chip (or chips), or will require a special approach to program.

The computing power of Larrabee will be “teraflops” in 2010, meaning that it will be at four times the power compared to today’s ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT and Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX.