Friday, November 2, 2007

Nvidia Expands Chinese Research and Development Facility

Nvidia Corp., a leading designer of graphics processing units (GPUs), on Wednesday said it would expand its research and development (R&D) operations in its centre in Shanghai, China. The R&D center, which designs Nvidia’s products and is located close to manufacturing facilities, will get a significant boost from the expansion.

“Shanghai, especially Zhangjiang, has a rich pool of talent like Silicon Valley and we are proud to work on the best video technologies here now,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia co-founder and chief executive, said during the center’s opening ceremony.

The center is in the Zhangjiang High-Tech Industry Park in Pudong. It covers an area of 5000 square meters with 200 employees now, compared to 800 square meters and 40 workers when it opened in 2005. Within two years, the center is expected to expand to 10 000 square meters, Nvidia said.. It did not provide any investment figures, reports ShanghaiDaily.com web-site.

According to several reports, the aforementioned R&D center designs Nvidia’s products, such as graphics cards and mainboards. Additional workforce in the research and development center will allow Nvidia to speed up or improve development of its products.

Lenovo Drops IBM Brand Ahead of Schedule

Lenovo Group, one of the largest makers of personal computers in the world, announced that it would cease using IBM brand name two years ahead of schedule. The main reason for dropping the legendary brand-name already in 2008 is named to be a good acceptance and recognition of “Lenovo” and “Think” trademarks by customers.

“By making substantial progress on all of our critical priorities over the past few quarters, we’re now a stronger, healthier company. One important sign of this progress is our decision to completely transition our Think products from the IBM brand to the Lenovo brand two years earlier than planned. Concurrently, we’ve recently launched our own ‘Best Engineered PCs’ advertising campaign and global sponsorship of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games to promote our brand worldwide,” said William J. Amelio, Lenovo’s president and chief executive officer.

Under the terms of the agreement, Lenovo could sell IBM-branded desktops and laptops till the year 2010. But since Lenovo has been selling both IBM- and Lenovo-branded machines for some time now, it does not make a lot of sense to promote both trademarks. Moreover, overall high recognition of Think brand-name may actually increase the value of Lenovo own brand.

In fact, all the software for ThinkPad notebooks is currently supplied under Lenovo and Think trademarks, whereas IBM’s brand is nowhere to be found. Modern ThinkPad laptops also carry only Lenovo name on them.

IBM is expected to continue providing services and warranty for Lenovo Think customers.

Lenovo Drops IBM Brand Ahead of Schedule

Lenovo Group, one of the largest makers of personal computers in the world, announced that it would cease using IBM brand name two years ahead of schedule. The main reason for dropping the legendary brand-name already in 2008 is named to be a good acceptance and recognition of “Lenovo” and “Think” trademarks by customers.

“By making substantial progress on all of our critical priorities over the past few quarters, we’re now a stronger, healthier company. One important sign of this progress is our decision to completely transition our Think products from the IBM brand to the Lenovo brand two years earlier than planned. Concurrently, we’ve recently launched our own ‘Best Engineered PCs’ advertising campaign and global sponsorship of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games to promote our brand worldwide,” said William J. Amelio, Lenovo’s president and chief executive officer.

Under the terms of the agreement, Lenovo could sell IBM-branded desktops and laptops till the year 2010. But since Lenovo has been selling both IBM- and Lenovo-branded machines for some time now, it does not make a lot of sense to promote both trademarks. Moreover, overall high recognition of Think brand-name may actually increase the value of Lenovo own brand.

In fact, all the software for ThinkPad notebooks is currently supplied under Lenovo and Think trademarks, whereas IBM’s brand is nowhere to be found. Modern ThinkPad laptops also carry only Lenovo name on them.

IBM is expected to continue providing services and warranty for Lenovo Think customers.

No Hard Disk Drive for Wii – Nintendo

Despite of the fact that a hard disk drive (HDD) designed for Nintendo Wii might ease life of certain customers and boost sales of outdated video games, Nintendo currently has no plans for such an add-on item. Moreover, the company believes that it is simply not needed by customers.

Nintendo Wii has become the world’s most popular game console presently not only because of the unique motion-sensitive game controller, but also because of compatibility with “old-school” games that can be acquired via a special online store. But one of the issues with games bought from Nintendo’s store is that they need storage space, which is limited in case of Wii with the capacity of SD memory cards.

“The way that we look at it is, we really don’t want people storing every single game they buy on their drive. When you buy a game, it’s yours forever, so you can delete it, and go back and get it at any time you want. In a way, we liken it to putting music on your iPod: you listen to it for a while, and then you get tired of it, and you pull it off, and you put some new stuff on,” said Nintendo public relations manager Eric Walter in an interview with Gamasutra web-site.

Even though even 2GB Secure Digital memory cards are hardly expensive nowadays, the necessity to buy a number of them to keep games playable even when Wii is offline may not seem as a comfortable option for many consumers.

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 has a card reader, which allows 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.

Toshiba Set to Sell HD DVD Players for $99 in Select Stores

In a bid to popularize its HD DVD players among mainstream customers, Toshiba Corp. plans to sell a limited amount of its HD-A2 devices for $99 or even a little less. The move will help Toshiba not only to sell quite a number of HD DVD players, but to also attract attention of the masses to the format.

Best Buy and Wal Mart have released advertisements claiming that Toshiba HD-A2 player will be available at about $99 on Friday, the 2nd of November. Both retail chains indicate that the entry-level HD DVD player will be available “while quantities last” and are “not available in all stores”. Moreover, it is impossible to reserve the items and customers will have to visit local retail stores to get the most affordable HD DVD player for less than $100.

Earlier a number of retail networks in the USA already announced that Toshiba HD-A2 will be available for about $199, therefore, the price-point of $99 is a limited time offer, which is useful for both retailers – to get customers into the stores – and Toshiba, which will attract additional attention to its format.

Toshiba HD-A2 is an entry-level HD DVD player capable of HD DVD, DVD and CD playback as well as hardware decoding of H.264 (MPEG4 AVC), VC-1 and MPEG2 (standard DVD) streams. Additionally, the player features Sharc DSP to process audio in Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD (2 channel), DTS and DTS-HD formats. The player can output video

Qimonda Initiates Pilot Production of Next-Generation Graphics Memory

Qimonda AG, a leading supplier of advanced dynamic random access memory (DRAM), said on Thursday that it had shipped first samples of GDDR5 memory chips to its “customers”. The pilot production of GDDR5 now may be an indicator that the memory company is on-track to produce the new type of GDDR next year.

“We are pleased that we can support the GDDR5 activities of our customers with this first sample shipment, which is a major step to ensure the fast introduction of GDDR5 into the graphics market,” said Robert Feurle, vice president of business unit graphics at Qimonda.

The Munich, Germany-based memory manufacturer claims that GDDR5 is targeted to become the next predominant graphics DRAM standard and will boost memory bandwidth of graphics applications to a new dimension. The GDDR5 standard is about to get finalized in JEDEC where industry participants jointly defined this leading edge graphics standard over the last years.

GDDR5 will be available with data rates up to 20GB/s per component (5000MHz, or 5GHz, in case of a memory chip with 32-bit memory bus), which is more than double the bandwidth of the fastest GDDR3 and GDDR4 memories today and comes with a multitude of advanced power saving features.

GDDR5 is targeting a variety of applications, starting with high-performance desktop graphics cards followed by notebook graphics adapters. Later on GDDR5 may find home inside game consoles as well as inside other graphics intensive applications.

First products with GDDR5 memories are expected for 2008. Qimonda did not reveal who of the leading graphics chip designers – ATI, graphics product group of Advanced Micro Devices, Intel Corp. or Nvidia Corp. – got samples of GDDR5.