Friday, October 5, 2007

New Nintendo Wii Model Expected to Arrive for Holidays

Despite of almost inevitable success during holiday season later this year, Nintendo still seems to have some hidden aces up in its sleeve. Apparently, the Japanese game expert has applied for a new universal product code (UPC) in the
U.S., meaning that the manufacturer had changed certain features of the product.

It currently unknown what exactly Nintendo plans to add to its highly-successful Wii game console. On the one hand, the company can enable DVD playback functionality, something which it promised to do ahead of the launch. On the other hand, the maker of Wii can bundle a new game controller type to enable end-users to play new game titles.

Given that Nintendo has no interest in promoting DVD, but is more than interested in attracting new customers and promoting new games, it is likely that the key feature of the new model will be the product bundle consisting of games and/or new game controllers and, perhaps, new colour of the console.

Retailers call the second version of Nintendo Wii game console with 045496880088 UPC as “New Pack”, though, it is unclear what does the new pack contain, reports Codenamerevolution web-site.

Nintendo Wii, the most successful new-generation game console, features IBM’s custom PowerPC architecture-based microprocessor named Broadway clocked at 729MHz and code-named Hollywood chip with built-in graphics core, DSP and I/O features from ATI that operates at 243MHz, earlier reports suggested. Nintendo Wii uses 91MB of memory in total:
23MB of “main” 1T-SRAM, 64MB of “external” 1T-SRAM and 3MB texture buffer on the GPU. Nintendo’s Wii does not feature a hard disk drive, instead, it boasts with 512MB of flash memory, but the console will also have a card reader, which will allow installing more memory.

Nintendo set the recommended retail price of ¥25 000 (about $204) in Japan, $249 in the U.S. and €249 ($342) in Europe.

Elpida Intros XDR Memory Chips at 4.80GHz

Elpida Memory, a leading manufacturer of memory products, Friday said it had begun sampling of XDR memory at 4.80GHz. The claim emphasizes advantages that the XDR memory architecture from Rambus has, however, given that currently just a few devices actually use XDR, it is unclear whether the new chips from Elpida will face any tangible demand.

“The industry’s demand for memory bandwidth in next-generation products is growing rapidly as high-definition image data becomes more popular. Working with Rambus on XDR DRAM, we can provide the most cost-effective, high-bandwidth memory solution to our customers,” said Yoshitaka Kinoshita, officer for the digital consumer division of Elpida Memory.

The new 4.80GHz memory chips sport 512Mb capacity and can provide 9.6GB/s bandwidth per device. Elpida’s new memory devices are organized in 8-banks (x16/x8/x4 programmable) and are available in a 104-ball FBGA package. The new XDR chips are manufactured using Elpida’s 70nm process technology.

Elpida and Rambus claim that the new memory chips are “ideal” for high-performance, high-volume applications such as high-definition televisions, gaming consoles, PCs, servers and workstations. However, so far the main client for XDR memory has been Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., which uses XDR in its PlayStation 3 game console.

Elpida’s 512Mb 4.80GHz XDR DRAM devices will be available for sampling in December 2007. Volume production is expected to begin in April 2008. A datasheet is available upon request.

Microsoft and Toshiba to Form Advanced Interactivity Consortium

In a bid to popularize HD DVD in particular and interactive XML-based technologies for consumer electronics in general Microsoft Corp., Toshiba and a number of studios announced late on Thursday intention to form the so-called Advanced Interactivity Consortium (AIC), an open forum aimed at the promotion of interactivity for a wide range of next-generation applications.

“Creating attractive consumer experiences with advanced interactivity is critical to bringing digital home entertainment to the next level. In order to create these ecosystems, we wanted to bring together a group of companies committed to extending these scenarios across a wide variety of platforms. The AIC will advocate for these platforms as well as help ensure interoperability of HD DVD players and services,” said Hisatsugu Nonaka, corporate executive vice president at Toshiba.

The new organization will focus attention on ways to bring advanced interactivity scenarios to other services and platforms, including digital downloads to DVD players, PCs, TVs, cell phones, portable media players and game consoles.

In addition to Microsoft and Toshiba the Advanced Interactivity Consortium will also include major Hollywood studios DreamWorks Animation SKG, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios and Warner Bros., which have given their commitment to these advanced scenarios and experience bringing new features to consumers. Each studio currently distributes or will distribute HD DVD titles with HDi-enabled features, from advanced in-movie navigation, bookmarking and picture-in-picture, to Web-enabled communities, content downloads and e-commerce stores.

“The AIC has its roots in the work we’ve done with HDi and HD DVD, but is open to all companies interested in bringing a broader set of experiences to consumers on different platforms. We look forward to contributing to this effort with HDi, our implementation of HD DVD’s interactive layer, and to collaborate with AIC members on how to extend interactive compatibilities to the consumer electronics market. The goal is to ensure a high-quality experience not only through optical discs but also through new digital download services,” said Robbie Bach, president of the entertainment and devices division at Microsoft.

The AIC founding member companies plan to formalize the organization shortly and to extend additional partner invitations.

Intel Proclaims No Core Wars for Itanium, Plans Gradual Single-Thread Performance Improvements

Even though without much hype, Intel Itanium is still here and will be in the coming years. However, the evolution of the family may just take a little bit different route than other microprocessors of our times, says Intel.

Intel Itanium was not widely presented at Intel Developer Forum last month, but this does not mean that the IA64 micro-architecture is fading away. During a dedicated Intel Itanium conference principal engineer of Itanium processor architecture at Intel said that the company continues to work on improvements for its 64-bit chips. But rather than quickly increase the number of cores, Intel aims to boost single-thread performance of each core for the Itanium.

“We have not abandoned single-core performance and we’re looking to increase that with each generation (of the Itanium processor) as we go forward, some with greater transitions than others,” said Cameron McNairy, principal engineer of Itanium Processor Architect at Intel at Gelato Itanium Conference and Expo held in Singapore, reports Cnet

Intel is now working hard to deliver the code-named Tukwila processor in 2008. The new Itanium 2 will be made using 65nm technology process and feature four physical processing engines with Intel Hyper-Threading technology. The new chip will have onboard memory controller and will support Intel Quick Path Interconnect (QPI) bus (previously known as common serial interconnect or CSI) in order to be compatible with platforms developed for Intel Xeon processors.

But despite of rather significant platform architecture change, Intel stresses its intentions to boost single-thread performance of the forthcoming Itanium 2 microprocessors as there are still certain applications that mostly rely on single-threaded execution.

“There are some workloads that you just need to have single-core performance in order to carry and to get the job done, and those are the kinds of things we are targeting. Not everything can scale and, truth be told, if you don't address the single-core performance segment, you’re going to miss out on some opportunities,” said Mr. McNairy.

Given that Itanium was developed specifically for multi-processor systems, putting more cores on a single chip may not be a crucial task for Intel as those who need multiple processing engines can obtain more processors. Therefore, increasing the efficiency of each core may lead to higher performance boosts overall.

Vertu Ascent Titanium Gets 3G, Camera, Worldwide Roaming

Vertu, a subsidiary of Nokia that makes luxurious cell phones, has announced its new Ascent Titanium collection of mobile phones that will boast not only with unique design, but with advanced features inside. For the first time Vertu phones will get a camera as well as proper Internet connectivity.

The new Vertu Ascent Ti phones are made of titanium and, like other Vertu phones, have leather insertions, sapphire crystal screen as well as precision-engineered stainless still keys. The new Ascent Ti is radically different from previous Vertu models, as it has large screen, ergonomic shape as well as joystick, but more importantly is that the new Vertu has quite a lot of features never before available on luxury cell phones.

Vertu Ascent Ti is based on a latest edition of Nokia 40 platform. Features 4GB of built-in memory, 3MP camera with flashlight, Bluetooth connectivity, certain pre-installed applications and so on. The new Ascent Ti phones will work almost everywhere in the world provided there are GSM850/900/1800/1900 or WCDMA2100 network coverage, another feature not available on previous-generation Vertu phones.

Even though the new high-end cell phone is made of metal, Nokia still advertises 5 hours GSM talk time, 3 hours WCDMA talk time and 300 hours of standby time for the device.

The manufacturer especially notices that Vertu Ascent Ti was “engineered for strength”, meaning that the phone can survive in tough situations. However, like all Vertu phones, the new one is focused around exceptional design and premium user experience with such additional services as concierge and fortress.

While currently Vertu still lists Ascent phones on its web-site, it is quite clear that eventually Ascent Ti will replace its predecessor. As a result, the new Ascent phones from Vertu is the first series of devices from the company that underwent a major redesign. Going forward, Vertu will inevitably perform facelifts for its Constellation and Signature collections, however, in case of the latter it will hardly be even nearly as radical as the redecoration of the Ascent.

Initially Vertu plans to sell three versions of the Ascent Ti with black, brown or red leather insertions for the price of about $6500.

Sony PlayStation 3 Sells Worse than Nintendo GameCube in the U.S. – NPD

CORRECTION: Correcting life-to-date sales numbers, making other minor corrections.

Plagued by initial production issues, extremely high manufacturing costs and excessive retail price, PlayStation 3 from Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. is even less successful than heavily-criticized Nintendo GameCube. At least, in the first ten months of sales Nintendo GameCube was sold in larger quantities than Sony PS3.

According to data from NPD, based on the first ten months of availability, the troubled PlayStation 3 sold 22% less than the Nintendo GameCube for the same period, reports GamePro web-site. In the first ten months of availability about 2.12 million Nintendo GameCube were bought by end-users, whereas only 1.742 million Sony PlayStation 3 gaming machines were sold in from November ’06 to September ’07.

Nintendo GameCube was released in November 2001 and sold in 21.6 million quantity worldwide, below sales of Microsoft Xbox, which reached 24 million, and five times less compared to Sony PlayStation 2.

Sony PlayStation 3 is currently available at $599 in the U.S., the price-point that is widely considered to be too high. Despite of the fact that Sony’s PS3 comes with built-in Blu-ray drive and features high-quality graphics games, the price is believed to be one of the major factors that keep gamers away from PlayStation 3. By contrast, Nintendo’s GameCube could offer neither DVD playback, nor high-quality graphics, nor unique motion-sensitive game controller, like that of Nintendo Wii.

Sony PlayStation 3 console is based on the Cell processor developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba, the RSX graphics chip by Nvidia Corp., wireless network and Bluetooth connectivity and is equipped with Blu-ray optical disk drive. There are several versions of the consoles available around the world with 60GB or 80GB hard disk drives and variable compatibility with PlayStation 1/2 games. In the U.S. PlayStation 3 80GB is sold for $599, whereas the hard-to-find 60GB model retails for $499.

Gateway Unveils High-Resolution Display with Hardware Image Upscaler

Nowadays a lot of monitors offer resolutions that exceed that of full-HD TVs, but while they can easily display high-definition movies the way they were meant to be displayed, all the other videos become truly blurry on such monitors due to low-quality upscaling that modern graphics adapters and software players can provide. But Gateway says it solved the problem in its new 30” monitor by integrating an advanced hardware video processor.

The new Gateway XHD3000 30” monitor that has native resolution of 2560x1600 features Silicon Optix Realta HQV video processor that can upscale standard-definition videos as well as high-definition videos from 1920x1080 to panel’s native resolution. Gateway hopes to considerably improve video playback quality on its display thanks to Realta HQV video processor, which can reduce noise, enhance details and perform other operations using robust algorithms developed by leading video processor developer Silicon Optix.

Even though it remains to be seen whether the high-end HQV chip can truly dramatically improve the quality of standard-definition and high-definition videos on a display that sports beyond-full-HD resolution, the fact that manufacturers paid attention to this problem is already positive in general. Besides, it also once again emphasizes the convergence between the consumer electronics (CE) and the personal computer (PC).

Gateway’s XHD3000 display features S-PVA panel and offers 1000:1 contrast ratio, 400 cd/m2 brightness, 6ms (grey-to-grey) refresh rate as well as 178° wide viewing angle both horizontally and vertically. The new monitor can be connected to a PC or other electronics using a wide-range of connectors types, including HDMI, single-link/dual-link DVI-D, D-Sub, component, s-video and composite interfaces.

“The Gateway XHD3000 takes a dramatic step forward in expanding Gateway’s award winning line of HD displays and raising the bar for display technology. Its combination of leading-edge technology and usability features makes it the most advanced and versatile display on the market, and the only display available that is truly equipped to handle any PC or CE video device,” said Gary Elsasser, senior vice president of products, Gateway.

The new Gateway XHD3000 30” extreme HD display will be available via Gateway’s Direct channels as well as technology and electronics retailers that sell Gateway products. It is priced at $1699.

Toshiba Shows Off Spurs Engine Capabilities

In order to demonstrate capabilities of its SpursEngine processor, Toshiba exhibited its Qosmio notebook with special FaceMation application installed at CEATEC exhibition in
Japan. As expected, the new chip can easily perform geometry morphing and other operations given that it features four processing engines.

The FaceMation application by Toshiba can create a 3D model of a face and then perform various transformations with it as well as with hair. When face morphing and other operations rely on software, Toshiba Qosmio notebook powered by dual-core Intel Core 2 Duo processor was loaded by 80% while only rendering at 16 frames per second speed. When the same task was carried out by Toshiba SpursEngine, rendering speed rose to 30fps, whereas CPU load was 30%, according to a news-story at PC Watch web-site.

The SpursEngine can also unload decoding and encoding of MPEG-2 and H.264 from CPU, whereas synergetic processing engines (SPEs) can detect user’s motion commands, e.g. “stop playback”.

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 10W to 20W.

Spurs Engine can be used in both consumer electronics and computer applications. For example, in the PC space it could process graphics or physics. Nevertheless, considering that four SPEs can offer tangible advantages over dual-core x86 chips, but would hardly rival contemporary graphics processors that feature 64 – 128 or even more processing engines, Toshiba’s new development will hardly find home in general-purpose PCs.

Nvidia to Revise Its Performance Mainstream Lineup, Add New Models

Nvidia Corp. plans to release a new version of its popular GeForce 8800 GTS graphics product with increased amount of computational power and also finally unveil the long-discussed GeForce 8800 GT based on the code-named G92 graphics processing unit (GPU) in late October or early November, according to market rumours and media reports.

The world’s leading supplier of graphics chips is said to activate 16 additional unified shader processors in the GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB graphics cards, which means that the newer versions of the product will come with 112 stream processors activated. By contrast, current 8800 GTS models feature 96 shader processors, whereas the 8800 GTX comes with 128 shader processors.

It is unclear whether the new version of the GeForce 8800 GTS features, like before, 24 texture units and 20 render back ends, or the numbers will increase to 28 texture units and 24 raster operation units, but what is known for sure is that the new 8800 GTS will retain 320-bit memory bus.

“Nvidia will not be doing any formal launch activities, press announcements, web-site updates, or any other marketing around this new SKU. Partners can conduct their own marketing activities around the SKU as they see fit,” an Nvidia statement for partners cited by Mobile01 web-site reads.

While the revamped Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB board is claimed compete in the high-end segment with its $399/$449 price-tag, Nvidia is projected to offer a new performance-mainstream GeForce 8800 GT product, which will be based on the code-named G92 GPU made using 65nm process technology. The novelty is rumoured to have 64 stream processors, 256-bit memory interface and come with 256MB or 512MB memory onboard.

Prices of the new products are not clear yet. What is certain is that by improving the GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB and introducing the GeForce 8800 GT the graphics chip designer is trying to offer a broader lineup of discrete graphics solutions with higher competitive potential.
Nvidia did not comment on the news-story.

Microsoft to Discontinue Xbox 360 Core, Offer Xbox 360 Arcade

In a bid to popularize the Xbox 360 among novice and casual gamers, Microsoft will cease to offer Xbox 360 “core” flavour, but will offer “arcade” version at the same price-point instead this Fall. The novelty will feature free arcade games, but it remains to be seen whether free arcades from Microsoft will distract gamers from Nintendo Wii.

The world’s largest software developer already has a portfolio of arcade games in its Xbox Live service, however, as novice gamers will hardly access it easily to experience their new Xbox 360 game consoles, Microsoft decided to bundle five free arcade games along with 256MB memory card and Xbox Live Silver subscription with a special version of the console, according to reports from various web-sites.

The new Xbox 360 arcade can be pre-ordered at online store even today, but the device will officially begin shipments on the 23rd of October. The price of the arcade version of Xbox 360 will remain on the level of “core” flavour and will be $279. Given that no hardware changes are projected to the console itself, the only difference between “arcade” and “core” is product bundle, which is more attractive in case of the new version of the Xbox 360.

Executives at Microsoft recently acknowledged that the company needs to attract casual gamers to the Xbox 360 platform to compete against Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 arcade seems to be one of the first tangible actions to fulfill the intention. Probably, at $279 the new console from Microsoft may seem as attractive as Nintendo Wii at $249, meaning that the software giant finally managed to match Wii in terms of pricing. However, another advantage that Wii has is unique motion-sensitive wireless game controller, something that Xbox 360 does not have. As a result, Microsoft will need to promote the obvious advantages of its latest gaming platform: technical excellence and realistic graphics, something that is not really important for arcade games.

Microsoft is also projected to bundle Pro and Elite versions of the Xbox 360 with Forza Motorsport 2 and Marvel Ultimate Alliance titles, indicating their target market of experienced gamers.

Microsoft Xbox 360 console is based around microprocessor developed by IBM, high-definition visual processing unit designed by ATI Technologies, I/O controller engineered by SiS and some other key components. The gaming machine provides a broad set of multimedia capabilities in addition to games. The game console also features an HD DVD drive and other peripherals that should be acquired separately.

Qimonda and Sony to Jointly Develop High-Performance Memory Technologies

Leading consumer electronics company Sony Corp. and Qimonda, a leading developer and producer of computer memory, have announced intention to form joint venture called Qreatic Design that will create innovative memory technologies for different kinds of applications. While no details are clear, the fact that Sony and Qimonda plan to establish a company that will inevitably compete against companies like Rambus brings in an intrigue.

According to the agreement, the 50:50 joint venture is intended to start with up to 30 specialists from Sony and Qimonda, bringing together their first-class engineering expertise for the mutual benefit of both companies. Qreatic Design, which will be located in Tokyo, Japan, is planned to start operations by the end of the calendar year, subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions, and to substantially expand its capacities by hiring additional designers.
Qreatic Design will develop high-performance, low power, embedded and customer specific dynamic random access memory (DRAM) for consumer and graphics applications. The companies did not elaborate whether it plans to tailor existing technologies, such as DDR, GDDR or XDR, for specific needs of the market, or the joint venture will develop brand-new memory solutions. Considering that initially the company will have only 30 engineers, it is unlikely that it will create high-end proprietary memory solutions, but will rather concentrate on leveraging existing technologies and/or speed-up their implementation in consumer electronics and graphics applications.

By joining forces, the two companies begin to share research and development costs, something that has been increasing rapidly in the recent years. Additionally, Qimonda will be able to reach Japanese customers easier with Tokyo-based Qreatic Design, whereas Sony Corp. may tap into the market of high-end memory.

“We believe that the joint venture will support our future product design and solutions development and will further pave the way for our product diversification in non-PC applications. The set up of a new design center in Tokyo in cooperation with Sony is a strategic step to accelerate the worldwide R&D capabilities in that area. As Japan is an important and dynamic market for us and shows excellent R&D talents especially in the consumer and graphic area, we are glad to consistently expand our successful activities here,” said Kin Wah Loh, president and chief executive of Qimonda.

Tsuyoshi Kashiwagi from Sony has been appointed as president and chief executive of Qreatic Design, Thomas Seifert from Qimonda will serve as chairman of the board.

AMD Plans to Slash Pricing of Dual-Core Chips Shortly

Advanced Micro Devices has notified its partners that starting from next Monday, the 8th of October, it plans to decrease the pricing of some of its dual-core AMD Athlon 64 X2 chips. The price corrections will allow the world’s second largest maker of x86 microprocessors to get better positioned for holiday season.

“As we begin a new quarter and prepare for the busiest time of the year, selected AMD dual-core desktop processors will have a reduction in suggested prices effective next Monday, October 8. This will be a great opportunity to upgrade customers to dual-core, as the AMD Athlon X2 5000+, 5200+, 5600+, 6000+ and 6400+ processors all will feature new pricing,” a statement by AMD sent to partners published by AMDZone web-site reads.

The new exact new prices for the higher-end AMD dual-core microprocessors are unclear, but given that the fastest chip from the company is currently sold for $251, it is highly likely that the price corrections will not be substantial and will be generally meant to align pricing of AMD Athlon 64 X2 processors with mainboards based on AMD chipsets so that to attract attention of system integrators to AMD’s platforms.

Potentially, price reduction should increase sales of central processing units and chipsets by Advanced Micro Devices. The campaign is aimed at the mainstream market in general, as the high-end and enthusiast markets are waiting for AMD Phenom processors due out late in 2007 and early 2008.

AMD did not comment on the news-story.

Windows Vista Continues to Increase Market Share

Microsoft Windows Vista operating system (OS) managed to substantially increase its install base in September, whereas both Windows XP and Windows 2000 saw their market share decreased. While Apple Macintosh platforms also increased their share last month, the growth for Vista was considerably higher.

In September the share of Windows Vista-based personal computers used to browse the Internet was 7.38%, up more than one percent from August, according to data collected by Net Applications, a provider of Web tools. The shares of Windows 2000 and Windows XP operating systems decreased to 3.32% and 79.32%.

If Windows Vista continues to gain momentum in the coming months, in December considerably more than 10% of personal computers will use the new OS from the world’s largest maker of software. However, further Vista’s market share increase may be restrained by Microsoft’s decision to allow customers to downgrade Vista to XP and to order the XP till mid-2008.

The share of systems based on Mac OS increased to 6.61% in September, up considerably from August’s 6.15%, which could be a result of successful sales of new Apple Macintosh computers in August and September as well as seasonality. “Other” operating systems, namely outdated Windows versions, Linux OSes and so on, which have been losing market share for many months now, are now used in 3.39% of devices that are used for Internet browsing.

It was unclear at press time how many computer systems Net Applications tracked in August, 2007.

Microsoft Introduces New Zune Digital Media Players

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday unveiled two new Zune digital media players along with updates to its Zune-related services. Starting from mid-November consumers will not only be able to get sleeker or more capacious Zune devices, but will also get new functionality for existing Zune 30GB.

Microsoft announced three new models of Zune portable digital media players: black Zune 80GB hard disk drive-based model, which has a 3.2” screen and comes with premium headphones as well as ultra-portable Zune 4GB and Zune 8GB flash-based models, both available in pink, green, black and glossy red. The new Zune players will have the same functionality as the first 30GB model, including Wi-Fi support, FM radio, music sharing and so on and will add more with forthcoming software updates. More precise technical specs were not disclosed.

The two new models of Microsoft Zune portable media players feature the new Zune Pad, an innovative touch-sensitive button for navigating on the device, as well as wireless sync, a feature that allows Zune devices to automatically sync over the device owner’s home wireless network when it is connected to an AC adaptor, in a dock or speaker dock accessory. Existing Zune 30GB owners will automatically receive new software features, the redesigned PC and device software and access to the new Zune Marketplace when everything is released to the public in mid-November.

Microsoft Zune 80GB will have manufacturer suggested retail price of $249, whereas Zune 4GB and 8GB will be available for $149 and $199, respectively, when they become available in mid-November.
In addition to improving design and functionality of its portable digital media players, Microsoft also plans to launch Zune Social service that will allow end-users to share their music tastes, knowledge and experiences with others. Members of Zune Social can send song links and messages to each other, post comments on a friend’s profile page or on their favorite artist pages.

“By tapping into customers’ passion for music with Zune Social, we’re starting to change the game. This lets us start building a new, more valuable kind of relationship with consumers that, combined with other Zune innovations, will start to drive the entire music industry forward,” said J. Allard, Microsoft corporate vice president for design and development, entertainment and devices division.

AMD Licenses Mobile Graphics Technology to Qualcomm

Advanced Micro Devices on Wednesday said it had agreed to license mobile graphics technologies, originally developed by ATI Technologies which AMD acquired a little less than a year ago, to Qualcomm. The intention pushes graphics technologies to the market, however, it reduces AMD’s abilities to sell its Imageon graphics chips for handhelds in the long-term future.

“Qualcomm’s licensing of AMD’s industry-leading OpenGL ES 2.0 IP for integration into our chipset solutions allows us to continue our leadership in providing the highest quality graphics application experience in the industry. We look forward to seeing devices that leverage this technology to deliver the full potential of what wireless has to offer,” said Steve Mollenkopf, senior vice president of product management for Qualcomm CDMA Technologies.

Under the terms of the agreement, Qualcomm incorporate AMD’s industry-standard OpenGL ES 2.0 and OpenVG 1.0 graphics core technologies in advanced Mobile Station Modem (MSM) chipsets, which are used in cost-effective mobile handsets with 3G technology.

The new generation Imageon mobile graphics architecture – which AMD licenses to various companies throughout the industry – features unified shader architecture in addition to native hardware acceleration for rendering vector graphics and flash-like applications. This architectural design delivers high-quality graphics, while consuming less power than either software rendering or rendering using a traditional 3D graphics core. According to AMD, this combination is unique for the company.

Advanced Micro Devices and Qualcomm did not disclose terms of the deal.

As a result of AMD’s mobile technology licensing spree, an untypical action of a company that sells microprocessors and other chips, ATI Imageon technologies will eventually be found in 2.5G/3G mobile phones, personal digital assistants and other portable wireless products with multimedia capabilities powered by ST Nomadic multimedia processors; portable media players, portable navigation, home electronics and automotive infotainment applications based on Freescale i.MX chips; and a variety of cell phones and other handhelds based on Qualcomm’s MSM chipsets. It remains to be seen whether there will be customers left interested to buy AMD Imageon mobile graphics chips.

Sony Readies PlayStation 3 40GB for Launch, Axes Backward Compatibility

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. will reportedly release its long-awaited cost-effective PlayStation 3 game console in late October, in time for late year sales. However, the new console will supposedly not be compatible with PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games at all, a significant drawback to experienced PlayStation gamers.

Documents from Best Buy retail network in the U.S. published by Engadget web-site reveal that starting from the 28th of October the retail chain will sell Sony PlayStation 3 40GB with Spider Man 3 movie on Blu-ray disc for as low as $399, the lowest price for a PlayStation 3 ever in the USA. The new “low-cost” model will also be on sale in Europe, however, its price in the region remains to be seen., an online store based in the UK, also lists Sony PlayStation 3 40GB model, however, it claims that the part only features 2 USB ports and “is not backward compatible with PS2 games” based “specifications supplied by manufacturer”. Besides, there are rumours that the low-cost Sony PlayStation 3 lacks Wi-Fi controller as well as memory card reader.

Given that modern PlayStation 3 60GB (PAL) and 80GB (NTSC) do not feature build-in PlayStation 2 processors for backwards compatibility, but rely on software-based approach, it is unclear why would Sony reportedly axed this feature, if PS2 games are still supported on more expensive PS3 versions. It is also uncertain whether the console will finally revitalize sales of SCEI’s latest game machine, which have been lagging behind Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox 360.

Sony PlayStation 3 console is based on the Cell processor developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba, the RSX graphics chip by Nvidia Corp., wireless network and Bluetooth connectivity and is equipped with Blu-ray optical disk drive. There are several versions of the consoles available around the world with 60GB or 80GB hard disk drives and variable compatibility with PlayStation 1/2 games. In the U.S. PlayStation 3 80GB is sold for $599, whereas the hard-to-find 60GB model retails for $499.

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. did not comment on the news-story.

Leading Graphics Card Supplier to Help Fighting Cancer

CORRECTION: Removing Tul's name from the story as JV Logic Inc., the owner of PowerColor and Zogis brands in the U.S., said Tul Corp. has no relation to the initiative.

JV Logic, the company mostly known for its PowerColor and Zogis trademarks and a leading supplier of graphics cards, said on Tuesday that it would donate portion of its sales in North America in October to the Lance Armstrong Foundation in order to help fighting cancer.

Additionally, PowerColor and Zogis will be including Livestrong Wristbands with select products for a limited time at participating online retailers.

“Cancer affects all of us regardless of age, gender or social status. With more than 10-millon Americans affected by this disease, chances are that someone you know or met is battling, has battled or will battle cancer. PowerColor wholeheartedly supports the Lance Armstrong Foundation in their efforts on finding a cure. We must continue to support those who are on the font lines of this fight until humanity is rid of this disease,” said Jeremy Chang, PowerColor president.

PowerColor is a leading supplier of graphics cards based on ATI Radeon graphics processing units. The PowerColor product lineup includes the highest-end offerings, such as ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT 1GB GDDR4 products, as well as affordable options, such as ATI Radeon HD 2400-series.

PowerColor, while being a leading popular global brand for PC graphics cards for more than a decade and has been supporting charitable funds worldwide since its inception.

Zogis is a relatively new trademark under which JV Logic supplies a broad range of Nvidia GeForce-based solutions.

Founded in 1997, The Lance Armstrong Foundation was formed by professional cyclist Lance Armstrong soon after his successful personal battle with testicular cancer. The foundation has been successful in raising cancer awareness as well as money towards cancer research and care.

AMD Quietly Launches New Single-Core AMD Athlon LE Processors

Until now Advanced Micro Devices was not planning to release any new single-core Athlon processors, however, recently the company quietly started to ship its new Athlon LE chips for entry-level systems with only one processing engines.

Several stores across the world recently started to sell AMD Athlon LE-1600 and LE-1620 central processing units with 45W thermal design power and 1MB of secondary-level cache. The new chips use the same type of marking as most AMD processors launched in the second half of 2007 with the first units released being new dual-core Athlon X2 BE-2000 and single-core Sempron LE-1000-series.

The new AMD Athlon LE processors 1000-series will offer considerably higher performance due to higher clock-speed compared to AMD Sempron LE 1000-series chips, however, the new central processing units will still be considerably less speedy than dual-core offerings. Initially the fresh family will contain two solutions:

Athlon LE-1620 (ADH1620IAA5DH): 2.4GHz frequency, 1MB L2 cache, Socket AM2, TDP=45W
Athlon LE-1600 (ADH1600IAA5DH): 2.2GHz frequency, 1MB L2 cache, Socket AM2, TDP=45W
It is likely that the new chips will be made using 90nm process technology and will be based on the familiar F3 core stepping, but this time their TDP will be reduced to 45W.

For some reason the processor listings in the distributor price-lists do mention that they will have 1MB L2 cache although all existing Athlon 64 processor models feature only 512KB L2 cache onboard. Maybe the new processors are designed from dual-core Windsor based CPUs with F3 stepping by disabling the second core and half of the L2 cache.

The official wholesale pricing for these processors hasn’t been revealed yet, but they are unlikely to be priced higher than the existing Socket AM2 Athlon 64 solutions. AMD may also launch another model in the LE-16xx family with higher clock speed. On-line stores are already accepting pre-orders for Athlon LE-1620 at about $60-$70. Athlon LE-1600 should be priced a little less than that.

Nintendo Offers Free Safety Jacket for Remote Controller to All Wii Owners

In a bid to exclude possibilities of injuries as well as damages of various equipment, Nintendo now adds special safety Wii Remote Jacket to every wireless controller of the Wii game console. Current owners of the device may also order the soft cover free of charge.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve our products and make sure everyone has a safe and fun experience. Many electronics manufacturers provide similar protective covers for products like cell phones, PDAs and MP3 players,” said George Harrison, Nintendo of America’s senior vice president of marketing and corporate communications.

Nintendo Wii game consoles utilize wireless motion-sensitive game controllers that have a wrist strap to avoid their damage in case users release them from their hands accidentally. Late last year it was discovered that the initial batch of straps that were supposed to preserve against flying “Wiimotes” sometimes break off, causing damage or even injuries of users. Nintendo replaced the straps free and now will also provide a special “jacket” that will preserve the remote controller in case the new straps also break off.

Nintendo is now including the Wii Remote Jacket for the Wii Remotes in all new hardware being shipped. Nintendo Wii owners who purchased their systems prior to this addition should request a Wii Remote Jacket by completing the information form at Nintendo’s web-site.

Nintendo Wii, the most successful new-generation game console, features IBM’s custom PowerPC architecture-based microprocessor named Broadway clocked at 729MHz and code-named Hollywood chip with built-in graphics core, DSP and I/O features from ATI that operates at 243MHz, earlier reports suggested. Nintendo Wii uses 91MB of memory in total: 23MB of “main” 1T-SRAM, 64MB of “external” 1T-SRAM and 3MB texture buffer on the GPU.

Nintendo’s Wii does not feature a hard disk drive, instead, it boasts with 512MB of flash memory, but the console will also have a card reader, which will allow installing more memory.

Nintendo set the recommended retail price of ¥25 000 (about $204) in Japan, $249 in the U.S. and €249 ($342) in Europe.