Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Nvidia Set to Support GDDR5 with Code-Named GT214 Chip

Nvidia Corp. decided not to support GDDR4 memory standard since it was heavily inspired by ATI Technologies, now graphics products group of Advanced Micro Devices, and has been utilizing GDDR3 memory for more than four years instead. But the GDDR5 is the standard that Nvidia cannot ignore and a post on a social network web-site revealed that it will support the spec with a new graphics chip.

According to a senior signal integrity hardware engineer, he is currently working on “frame buffer simulation” of GDDR5 for “various boards” for Nvidia’s code-named GT214 graphics processing unit (GPU). Besides, he indicated on his page on LinkedIn network (which was discovered by a Beyond3D forum member), he created package and board design for the GT214 graphics chip.

The information not only reveals a code-name of a future graphics chip from Nvidia, but also points to its GDDR5 support. It is highly likely that the GT214 is aimed at mainstream market, based on the fact that the engineer used to work on code-named G84 (GeForce 8600) and G96 (GeForce 9400) products.

The fact that Nvidia wants to support GDDR5 with potentially inexpensive graphics processing unit may mean that the standard will quickly become widespread and the chips will get inexpensive enough to get installed onto mainstream products, which will inevitably drive their performance considerably up.

GDDR5 on affordable graphics cards may not be an exactly good news for dynamic random access memory (DRAM) makers, who are losing money on commodity memory chips and try to offset the loses on premium components, such as GDDR or XDR. On the other hand, quick ramp of GDDR5 standard, considering the fact that the spec is going to stay for a long time, may mean that it is not hard for memory makers to adjust their capacities for GDDR5 manufacturing.

IN BRIEF: Microsoft Windows 7 Impresses Early Adopters.

Microsoft Windows 7 beta version, which will be released to software developers in early 2009, is already available on certain torrent web-sites and early adopters are sharing their experience all around the Web.

According to Windows 7 beta 1 review at ZDNet web-site, the new operating system has completely revamped desktop with new taskbar and several new features that enhance user experience. In particular, Windows 7 sports Aero Snap feature, a gestures driven method of organizing Windows; Aero Peek, a feature that allows to quickly peek at what is on the desktop. In addition, Windows 7 is much more customizable than previous-generation operating systems from Microsoft.

Unfortunately, Windows 7 has considerably less built-in applications compared to predecessors: it does not include Windows Mail, Windows Messenger, Movie Maker and so on. However, these programs can be downloaded Windows Live Essentials. The OS still has Internet Explorer Paint, Wordpad, Media Player and so on integrated.

One of the most important things about Windows 7 is its compatibility with hardware and software.

“I’ve had no noteworthy issues relating to hardware, although drivers that officially support Windows 7 are still a while off so I’ve been sticking with Microsoft drivers. I expect hardware vendors to start getting Windows 7 drivers out soon after the official release of Windows 7,” said ZDNet reviewer Adrian Kingsley-Hughes.

Intel Claims It Does Not Force to Buy Intel Atom with Core-Logic

Even though Nvidia Corp. was quoted as saying that Intel Corp. only sells its Atom processors for netbooks and nettops bundled with its own core-logic sets, which is why none of device manufacturers were interested in Nvidia’s Ion platform powered by GeForce 9400M chipset, Intel Corp. denied that it blocks Nvidia from entering the market of ultra low-cost personal computers (ULCPCs).

“We do sell Atom both bundled and as stand alone,” an Intel spokesperson told X-bit labs.

According to Intel officials, Nvidia does not need to obtain a separate license to make and sell chipsets compatible with Intel Atom processors aimed mostly at ULCPCs.

Nvidia recently introduced its GeForce 9400M is a single-chip core-logic for Intel Atom processors with DirectX 10-compatible GeForce 9-class graphics processor inside that also supports dual-channel DDR3 memory, PCI Express 2.0 x16 and x4 links, Serial ATA, USB, Gigabit Ethernet and so on. As all modern Nvidia GeForce integrated graphics processors, the novelty features hardware-accelerated high-definition video decoding and post-processing as well as supports various outputs, such as dual-link DVI-I, D-Sub, DisplayPort or HDMI.

The GeForce 9400M has dramatically better feature-set and performance compared to Intel’s own core-logic sets, but the power consumption of the GeForce 9400M (18W) is more than two times higher compared to Intel’s own platform (Intel 945GSE + ICH7-M consume 6W + 1.5W in maximum case scenario). Moreover, Nvidia’s GeForce 9400M requires expensive DDR3, whereas Intel’s platforms for Atom processors rely on affordable DDR2.

Even though performance and features are definitely advantages for mainstream users, they may not be appreciated by users of netbooks, which come with small screens and without optical disc drives. As Intel pointed out, the whole central premise of the netbook usage is basic Internet, browsing, email, social networking, not gaming or usage of demanding applications. Cost is a huge factor on the market of netbooks, hence, Nvidia’s Ion platform that requires DDR3 memory and higher-capacity batteries may not be the best option for systems like Acer Aspire One or Asustek Computer Eee PC.

IN BRIEF: High-Definition China-Only Format Not Considered as Serious Rival for Blu-Ray Disc

Despite of the fact that Chinese market is among the world’s largest, the high-definition video format called China Blue High-Definition Disc (CBHD), which is based on HD DVD technology, is not expected to spur another format war, despite of support by local video player hardware makers.

Currently CBHD is supported by Shinco, TCL and Tsinghua Tongfang, which are based in China. Nevertheless, Taiwan-based makers of optical disc drives (ODDs) and players are unwilling to support to the format, as they do not consider it to be a rival for the Blu-ray disc, which has won its battle with Toshiba’s HD DVD.

According to DigiTimes web-site, Taiwanese optical drive and players manufacturers believe that there will be little international content support for CBHD, thus, the market for CBHD will be limited.

ATI Prepares to Update Mainstream GPU Family As It Tapes Out New Chip

ATI, graphics products group of Advanced Micro Devices, may be preparing a rather substantial update for its mainstream lineup of graphics processing units (GPUs) in late Q1 2009 or early Q2 2009, according to media reports. The new code-named RV740 chip is projected to be made using 40nm process technology at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

According to an article Taiwan-based Commercial Times news-paper (excepts from the article were party translated by DigiTimes web-site), ATI has already taped out its first 40nm GPU code-named RV740, which means that AMD’s GPG has submitted documentation needed to start manufacturing to TSMC. It is now projected that the world’s largest contract maker of semiconductors will start production of the ATI RV740 chips by the end of the first quarter next year, which will allow AMD to update its lineup of graphics chips either very late in Q1 or sometime in Q2.

It is necessary to note that exact technical specifications of ATI RV740 are unknown at this time. Some observers believe that the RV740 is a version of RV730 (ATI Radeon HD 4670) with two times more - 640 – stream processors, 32 texture units and 16 render back ends, but produced using 40nm process technology. The RV740-based graphics cards are expected to feature GDDR5 memory.

Such a chip would be very powerful and, provided that the yields at 40nm node are high enough, very inexpensive to manufacture. However, previously ATI’s x40 code-names usually meant new process technology, but not improved performance. Therefore, it would be a surprise if ATI decided to improve speed and utilize new fabrication process with the RV740.

Officials for AMD’s graphics products group did not comment on the news-story.

Sony PlayStation 3 Still Loses Money for the Company

Despite of earlier reports that Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. managed to halve production cost of the PlayStation 3 video game console already in 2007, according to a recent teardown analysis, the console still costs $448 to build, thus, being money losing machine for Sony. Still, it is considerably lower cost than initially.

Back in 2006 Sony PlayStation 3 20GB and PlayStation 3 60GB video game consoles cost $805.85 and $840.35 to manufacture, respectively. At that time Sony sold its consoles for $499 and $599 and lost $306.85 and $241.25 on 20GB and 60GB versions hardware alone, respectively. This year the PS3 40GB costs $448.73 to build amid official pricing of $399 in the USA, hence, Sony loses “only” $49.73 per unit.

But the reduction of the cost came at a price: the currently available PlayStation 3 40GB is not compatible with PlayStation 2 games since Sony removed appropriate components from the console when it launched it early this year. The move was heavily criticized by PlayStation fans, but it did allow Sony to tangibly boost sales of the game machine because it helped to lower the price.

The removal of legacy as well as further optimization of the design allowed SCEI to dramatically reduce the amount of components: the original PlayStation 3 60GB featured 4048 different parts, whereas the PlayStation 3 40GB sports 2820 parts, according to iSuppli company's teardown results published by BusinessWeek web-site.

The most expensive component of Sony PlayStation 3, Nvidia’s Reality Synthesizer (RSX) chip, now costs Sony about $58, down from $129 two years ago. Another important chip inside the video game console, the Cell processor, costs $46, which is also about two times less than $89 initially. The reduction of the pricing should be associated with higher yields as well as thinner manufacturing technology. Initially the Blu-ray optical disc drive cost Sony $125, its current price remains unknown.

Teardown estimates do not usually include additional costs for elements including the controller, cables, packaging, freight as well as profit for resellers, such as Amazon.

It is ordinary for game console makers to lose money on hardware, and make up for the loss via video game-title sales. Still, the size of Sony’s loss per unit is still a pity, even for the video-game console business. It is expected that Sony may reach the break-even point with the PS3 in 2009.

SCEI did not comment on the news-story.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Liquid cooling for MacBooks?

Found this while searching for some stuff on my desktop.

Apple is considering using liquid coolant to keep the temperature down on future MacBooks and other devices.

This is not the first time apple have tried this. In 2004 their PowerMac G5s came with liquid cooling, but this was short lived as the system was prone leaks. Apple ended up replacing many units claiming full responsibility.

Apple states...

"AI puts a significant increase in the computational performance of electronic devices of the past few years has made it harder to maintain acceptable internal and external operational temperatures in those devices."

We all know laptops are a lot harder to keep cool, especially with the performance that end users require, while still wanting to stay portable.
The blueprints are impressive. But I hope that Apple have learnt from their mistakes 4 years ago. None of us will want coolant to leak all over the guts of our computer and desk.





















This is all just theory for now, but you may be hearing more about this soon.

Sony Beta Launches “Home” for PlayStation 3 Owners

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) has announced that its PlayStation Home Beta service for PlayStation 3 video game console will become available for all PS3 users around the world. Following the successful completion of the closed beta service, PlayStation Home’s open beta service will continue to evolve with new features and functionality.

“PlayStation Home is truly a promising network community service on the PlayStation platform, made possible with the powerful combination of PS3’s overwhelming computational power and PlayStation Network that covers many countries around the globe,” said Kazuo Hirai, president and group chief executive officer of SCEI.

PlayStation Home is a 3D social gaming community available on PlayStation 3 that allows users to interact, communicate and share gaming or even movie experiences. Within PlayStation Home, users can create and customize their own unique avatars and explore virtual community in real time where they can communicate freely through text or voice chat. PlayStation Home users will not only be able to enjoy variety of entertainment content such as mini-games, videos and special events along with their friends, but will also be able to create their own community by using the “Club 2” feature to create clubs with other PlayStation Home users who share the same interests. Sony's Home has no analogues on competing new-generation video-game consoles - Microsoft Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii.

PlayStation Home is available as a free download and will launch directly from the PlayStation Home icon on the PlayStation Network column of XMB (XrossMediaBar) on the PS3. Users will be able to experience basic features and services of PlayStation Home, free of charge.

Sony promises that PlayStation Home will allow open interaction among users, business partners and SCEI, and will evolve with additional features including dedicated game spaces, special events and exclusive themed items.

“We are committed to providing PS3 users with exciting gaming experiences with PlayStation Home and together with our partners and users, expand the new world of interactive entertainment as we move forward,” Mr. Hirai added.

XFX Plans to Start Selling ATI Radeon Graphics Cards

XFX, a division of Pine Technologies, will reportedly cease exclusive sales of Nvidia-branded graphics cards and will start shipping products based on ATI Radeon HD graphics processing units (GPUs). If the information is correct, then it emphasizes that market positions of ATI, graphics product group of Advanced Micro Devices, are improving.

XFX will bring to market a range of ATI Radeon HD graphics cards early in 2009, according to a news-story at Hexus.net web-site. It remains to be seen whether XFX will bring to market its well-known heavily factory-overclocked XXX-edition ATI Radeon HD graphics cards, or will only offer standard products only. It is reported that the formal announcement will be made on Tuesday, December 16, 2008.

Even though the market share of XFX is hardly high, it is a rather popular brand name among enthusiasts that can further popularize ATI Radeon brand among gamers. Moreover, if XFX brings substantially faster Radeon graphics cards to market, they will pressure a lot of pre-overclocked Nvidia GeForce adapters that are available widely.

In fact, XFX has dropped exclusive usage of Nvidia GeForce and Nvidia nForce chips on its products with the release of Intel chipset based mainboards. The company currently ships at least one Intel G31-based mainboard and it is highly likely that the range will be expanded along with the expansion of XFX’s motherboard business.

A number of Nvidia Corp.'s partners have decided to drop exlusivity to the company in the recent months after ATI unveiled its Radeon HD 4800-series GPUs. Nevertheless, in Q3 2008 Nvidia commanded 60% of the market of standalone graphics chips for desktop computers. At present Nvidia still has a number of partners who maintains exclusive sales of Nvidia GeForce graphics cards, including BFG Technologies, EVGA Corp. and Leadtek Research.

XFX and ATI/AMD did not comment on the news-story.

Super Talent Announces Highest-Speed Solid-State Drives to Date

Super Talent Technology, a leading supplier of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and flash memory products, has announced its new UltraDrive series of solid-state drives (SSDs) in 2.5” form-factor that will offer unprecedented levels of performance.

Super Talent’s new UltraDrive LE solid-state drives based on single-level cell (SLC) flash and available in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB capacities boast with sequential read speed of 230MB/s and sequential write speed of 170MB/s. The multi-level cell (MLC) flash-based Super Talent UltraDrive ME offers 32GB, 64GB, 128GB and 256GB capacities as well as 200MB/s read speed and 160MB/s write speed, similar specs are offered by OCZ’s recently launched Vertex SSDs as well as some advanced SSDs by Samsung Electronics.

“The UltraDrive LE represents a quantum leap forward in storage performance that is simply staggering. It excels in every metric that’s relevant to data centers: sequential and random read and write speeds, transaction rates and access and seek times. It also has a considerable advantage over 10 000rpm hard drives in power consumption and MTBF. This product sets a new standard in enterprise storage” said Mr. C.H. Lee, Super Talent chief operating officer.

The new solid state drives from Super Talent clearly outperform everything that was offered by the company previously. It remains to be seen, however, whether the pricing of the products will remain on the levels where consumers can afford them amid economic downturn.

UltraDrive LE and ME SSDs will available in January 2009. Prices are unknown.

Intel Releases Pre-Production Windows 7 Graphics Driver for Developers, OEMs

Intel Corp. on Wednesday said that it was making pre-production Windows 7 driver for its graphics cores available to original equipment manufacturers as well as software developers. The company appears to be among the first among suppliers of graphics adapters that releases drivers for the next-generation Microsoft Windows 7 operating system.

“Intel is making available for testing its preproduction WDDM1.1 graphics driver, enabling the full Windows 7 experience. The driver is the result of an ongoing collaboration with Microsoft to provide OEMs and developers with drivers that deliver all of the required WDDM1.1 features for Windows 7. As a result of the collaboration, OEMs and beta users can stay in step with Windows 7 prereleases for smooth product development,” a statement at Intel’s web-site reads.

Microsoft Windows 7 operating system is projected to feature very similar driver model as Windows Vista, therefore, it is unlikely to be hard to create Windows 7-compatible drivers. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that Intel is already making the driver available well ahead of the OS’ launch.

Microsoft have advised both OEMs and developers to start testing of hardware and software with Windows 7 as soon as the system is made available for partners of the world’s largest software company. Microsoft released pre-beta Windows 7 in late October.

Although the WDDM 1.1 driver from Intel hardly supports forthcoming code-named Larrabee discrete graphics processors and probably only supports modern built-in graphics cores, its release emphasizes the importance of high-quality graphics drivers for the Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker.

Nvidia’s New Dual-Chip Graphics Card to Launch in a Month, First Image Emerges

Nvidia Corp. is expected to show off or even formally launch its new graphics card featuring two graphics processing units (GPUs) in about a month time at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Meanwhile, the first image of the novelty has just emerged on the Internet.

The new graphics accelerator powered by two Nvidia GeForce GTX 200-series graphics chips will consist of two print-circuit boards each carrying GeForce GTX processors as well as 896MB of GDDR3 memory connected to GPUs using 448-bit memory bus, according to the image published by VR-Zone web-site. It is interesting to note that according to Expreview web-site, the new dual-GPU board by Nvidia will have 480 stream processing units, thus, the product will not carry two GeForce GTX 260 core 216 chips made using 55nm process technology, as previously expected.

















Nvidia is known for quite unexpected behaviour, therefore, it is completely logical that the new dual-GPU “GX2” board will feature higher performance than anticipated and will indeed have 480 stream processing units enabled in total and operating in multi-GPU SLI mode. As previously noted, while performance of two GeForce GTX 260-216 graphics boards may be higher compared to the ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2, it may not be enough to become successful on the market.

It is projected that the novelty will be launched on the first day of CES, the 8th of January, 2009. It is not completely clear whether Nvidia plans to start sales of the novelty on that day, or will just demonstrate the product and formally name it.

Nvidia did not comment on the news-story.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Intel Prepares Assault with 35W Quad-Core, Dual-Core Processors for Desktops

In addition to low-power quad-core processors for desktop computers, Intel Corp. also intends to release a broad family of chips with 35W thermal envelope designed for small form-factor, yet high-performance, desktop systems. The processors will be the same as the company’s mobile offerings in terms of specs, but will be compatible with desktop infrastructure.

As reported earlier, the first breed of 35W chips for high-performance desktops made using 45nm process technology will be released already this month, whereas additional chips will be added into family on the 28th of December, according to certain documents. The family of ultra low-power chips for desktop computers will include both dual-core and quad-core central processing units, which are projected to be compatible with already available LGA775
infrastructure.

















Last year Advanced Micro Devices released a broad lineup of desktop processors with 35W or 45W thermal envelopes, but the company has not updated that family for some time now and many chips have become outdated.

Even though the line of Intel’s 35W chips consists of microprocessors developed for mobile computers and it was not hard for Intel to change their packaging from FCBGA6/FCPGA6 to LGA775, the new products may face demand from numerous system builders and end-users, who are looking forward truly high-performance PCs in very small form-factors. Since AMD is unable to supply up-to-date offerings with 35W power consumption, Intel’s line will have no rivals on the market and the CPUs will not be very affordable.

Diversification of the product mix will also help Intel to boost its revenues and profits amid global economic downturn.

Intel did not comment on the news-story.

Intel Set to Refresh High-End Desktop Processor Lineup in Q2 2009

Intel Corp. plans to speed up its enthusiast-class and high-end desktop microprocessor lineup sometime in Q2 2009. Considering the fact that Advanced Micro Devices plans to introduce its high-end Phenom II microprocessors in early January, it is nearly evident that Intel is confident of its product family.

According to documents seen by X-bit labs, Intel plans to replace the Core i7 965 Extreme Edition processor with something more powerful in Q2 2009. At the same time, the firm will also introduce a chip that will be offer higher performance than current high-end Core i7 940 central processing unit. It is likely that in the second quarter of next year Intel will also release chips that will fit between the currently available models 920 and 940 in terms of performance and price.

Sketchy, without any specifications, details about the long-planned refresh point to the fact that Intel does not want to give its arch-rival any information about its future products and is also confident in competitive advantages of its own microprocessors against incoming AMD Opteron II central processing units.

Intel Corp. did not comment on the news-story.

Initially there are three Intel Core i7/Bloomfield processors for high-performance desktops available:

* Intel Core i7 965 Extreme Edition at 3.20GHz for $999 (in 1000-unit quantities)
* Intel Core i7 940 at 2.93GHz for $562 (in 1000-unit quantities)
* Intel Core i7 920 at 2.66GHz for $284 (in 1000-unit quantities)

All three chips have 4 cores, 1MB L2 cache (256KB per core), 8MB unified L3 cache, triple-channel DDR3 memory controller, simultaneous multi-threading technology. The new central processing units will require Intel X58-based motherboard with LGA1366 socket as well as sophisticated CPU cooler since all chips feature 130W thermal design power.

AMD’s Partners Initiate Shipments of 45nm Server Processors

Advanced Micro Devices said late last week that its highly-anticipated quad-core AMD Opteron microprocessors made using 45nm process technology code-named "Shanghai" are now available for purchase from leading server makers. The new chips are projected to deliver higher performance, lower power consumption as well as many other improvements.

“Flawless execution in bringing the 45nm quad-core AMD Opteron processor to market early results in new performance leadership on x86 servers. […] This enhanced AMD Opteron processor represents the most dramatic performance and performance-per-watt increases for AMD products since the introduction of the world’s first x86 dual-core processors by AMD nearly four years ago. Simply put, the quad-core AMD Opteron processor is the right technology at the right time,” said Randy Allen, senior vice president of computing solutions group at AMD.

According to AMD, the new quad-core Opteron chips deliver up to 35% more performance compared to predecessors thanks to higher clock-speeds as well as large 6MB level-three cache as well as up to a 35% decrease in power consumption at idle due to thinner 45nm silicon-on-insulator process technology.

The new AMD quad-core chips maintain socket and thermal compatibility with previous-generation chips in socket 1207 form-factor that also utilize dual-channel PC2-6400 (DDR2 800MHz) memory. As a result, server makers can easily install new microprocessors into existing machines as they do not need to test and validate their products once again.

Dell, IBM, HP and Sun Microsystems are ready with the new servers powered by 45nm quad-core AMD Opteron chips. In addition, many smaller local server makers will be able to create servers powered by the new central processing units.

The latest quad-core AMD Opteron processors with 75W thermal envelope and clock-speeds ranging from 2.30GHz to 2.7GHz are available immediately for both dual-processor and multi-processor servers; enhanced quad-Core AMD Opteron HE (55W) and SE (105W) processors planned to follow in Q1 2009. Pricing of quad-core AMD Opteron chips 8380, 8382 and 8384 for MP machines ranges from $1514 to $2149; models 2376, 2378, 2380, 2382 and 2384 for DP solutions ranges from $377 to $989.

Since server chips are sold at higher margins compared to desktop central processing units, it is a positive news that AMD has managed to start volume shipments of the new breed of chips. Still, the company will have to work hard in order to fight back market share from Intel, which it lost after its previous-gen AMD Opteron code-named "Barcelona" chip was released much later than anticipated and also faced delay of shipments due to a design glitch.

SuperSpeed USB Specification Now Available for Implementers

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group today announced the completion of the USB 3.0 specification, the technical map for device manufacturers to deliver SuperSpeed USB technology to the market.

“SuperSpeed USB is the next advancement in ubiquitous technology. Today’s consumers are using rich media and large digital files that need to be easily and quickly transferred from PCs to devices and vice versa. SuperSpeed USB meets the needs of everyone from the tech-savvy executive to the average home user,” said Jeff Ravencraft, USB-IF president and chairman.

SuperSpeed USB brings significant power and performance enhancements to the popular USB standard while offering backward compatibility with billions of USB-enabled PCs and peripheral devices currently in use by consumers. Delivering data transfer rates up to ten times faster than Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0), or at 4.8Gb/s, meaning that a file as large as 600MB could be transferred in just a second in the best case scenario, with optimized power efficiency, SuperSpeed USB is the next step in the continued evolution of USB technology.

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group, comprised of Hewlett-Packard, Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp., NEC Corp., ST-NXP Wireless and Texas Instruments, developed the USB 3.0 specification. The group now has transitioned the specification’s management to the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the managing body of USB specifications. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group is now accepting adopters of the USB 3.0 specification, which has been finalized at the 1.0 level.

It is anticipated that initial SuperSpeed USB discrete controllers will appear in the second half of 2009 and consumer products will appear in 2010, with adoption continuing throughout 2010. The first SuperSpeed USB devices will likely include data-storage devices such as flash drives, external hard drives, digital music players and digital cameras.

Pirates Start to “Replicate” Blu-Ray Movies

The Blu-ray disc format was designed in order to stop software pirates from creating and selling movies in high-definition resolution. But while the copyright protection technologies do affect user experience and make consumers download new firmware, they do not stop pirates from selling pirated Blu-ray movies, it appears.

Authorities in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen last month unearthed a pirated warehouse collection with 800 of Blu-ray discs, reports theWall Street Journal. In fact, the media was not exactly Blu-ray with 25GB or 50GB capacities, instead, pirates sold consumers typical DVDs packaged like Blu-ray with video in 1280x720 resolution (720p).

Average consumers may not be able to determine whether he or she watches a true BD movie in 1920x1080 (1080p) resolution with high-quality audio, or a pirated movie in 720p with compressed moderate quality audio. Still, even 720p looks much sharper compared to usual DVD resolution. Since DVD media costs much less than Blu-ray blank discs, it made a lot of sense for pirates to use lower-cost solution.

"When we created the specifications for Blu-ray, we were very serious about trying to stem the tide of pirate discs regardless of where they were in the world," said Andy Parsons, a senior vice president at Pioneer Electronics’ Home Entertainment Group and the U.S. chairman of the Blu-ray Disc Association promotions committee.

It is still possible to pull off high-definition video from Blu-ray using AnyDVD HD software from Slysoft. In fact, there are loads of web-sites that allow to download ripped Blu-ray copies. But since the media itself is pretty expensive, the popularity of such services is not high.

Even though counterfeited “Blu-ray” movies were discovered only in China, it makes sense for consumers in other parts of the world to ensure that what they buy are true Blu-ray discs, not DVDs packaged into blue boxes.

TSMC Begins Volume Manufacturing of Products Using 40nm Process Technology

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. on Monday announced volume production of the first semiconductor foundry 40nm logic manufacturing process with the successful ramp of its 40nm General Purpose (G) and Low Power (LP) versions.

TSMC’s 40nm G and the 40nm low power (LP) manufacturing processes timetables were formally announced in March this year. The 40G process targets performance-driven applications including central processing units, graphics processing units, chips for game consoles, networking applications, field programmable gate arrays (FPGA), hard disc drives and other devices. The 40LP process targets low-power applications including cellular baseband, application processors, portable consumer and wireless connectivity devices.

TSMC’s 40nmG and 40nm LP processes both passed process qualification, reaching “first wafers out” status as planned and completed product qualification in October when first customer wafers entered production. As with every TSMC process node, the 40G and 40LP processes offer a full range of mixed-signal and RF options, along with embedded memory to support a broad range of analogy/RF-intensive and memory-rich applications.

TSMC's 40G and 40LP processes offer designers up to a 2.35 times raw gate density improvement over the 65nm node. The 40G process is up to 30% faster than TSMC’s 65nm GP process at the same leakage, or up to 70% lower leakage at the same speed. In addition, it provides up to 45% lower active power than the 65GP process. The 40LP process provides up to 46% lower leakage and up to 50% lower active power than TSMC’s 65LP at the same speed. It also features the smallest SRAM cell size, 0.242um2, and macro size in production today.

Multiple customers at 40nm have adopted Reference Flow 9.0, a production-proven design infrastructure that allows designers to take full advantage of 40G and 40LP processes. TSMC’s Reference Flow includes a number of innovative power reduction techniques and tools that allow designers considering 45nm design rules to transparently target their designs to 40nm processes without explicitly dealing with a multitude of scaling factors. Reference Flow also facilitates enhanced timing, statistical design and design for manufacturing (DFM).

The 40nm process is one of the semiconductor industry’s most advanced available for production manufacturing process and is expected to play a key role in the development of next generation products in global consumer electronics, mobile, and computer end markets.

The first customers to adopt TSMC’s 40nm process technologies are graphics processors developers ATI, graphics product group at Advanced Micro Devices, and Nvidia Corp. Altera, a designer of field-programmable gate arrays.

“We view 40nm as an important process node for the cost-effective development of graphics chips and other devices, especially in 2009. This is another example of a long and successful history of AMD and TSMC ramping leading edge processes,” said Rick Bergman, senior vice-president and general manager at ATI, graphics product group at Advanced Micro Devices.

“High-performance GPUs are only continuing to grow in importance for a variety of industries. The advantages that TSMC's 40nm G process provides to designing a GPU will allow us to continue pushing the limits of what's currently possible,” said Debora Shoquist, Nvidia senior vice president of operations.

Friday, November 14, 2008

AMD Set to Disclose Netbook Strategy at Analyst Conference

Advanced Micro Devices is expected to present its strategy for netbooks at the conference with financial analysts to be held on Thursday. It is not completely clear whether the world’s second largest maker of x86 microprocessors also plans to disclose its strategy towards ultra low-cost personal computers (ULCPCs) in general or announce any particular products.

“Tomorrow we will discuss our plans to move into the ultra-portable market and deliver new platforms aimed at the key areas driving the bulk of the mobile market expansion,” an AMD spokesperson said Wednesday, reports Cnet News.com web-site.

Even though netbooks have limited performance and numerous drawbacks, they are the category that is hard to ignore: Intel Corp.’s microprocessor market share increased noticeably last quarter because of the shipments of Intel Atom chips aimed at ULCPCs, whereas Microsoft Corp. is developing a special version of Windows 7 designed specifically for netbooks.

AMD fully understands all the market trends: the world’s first netbook – OLPC’s XO laptop – is based on AMD Geode processor; back in 2007 AMD said that it was developing code-named Bobcat processor aimed at low-power mobile devices.

AMD disclosed plans to its partners about the intention to unveil its ultra value client (UVC) solutions in November. In addition, it promised to discuss rival for Intel Atom chips by the end of 2008.

Earlier this year it transpired that there are single-core processor solutions based on the K8 micro-architecture in ball grid array (BGA) form-factor that have thermal design power (TDP) of just 8W, which makes them suitable for mobile systems. Meanwhile, AMD’s UVC roadmap that it sent to partners several months ago indicated Athlon X2 3250e and 2650e processors with 22W and 15W TDP, respectively, which would be ideal for low-cost desktops, or nettops.

It remains to be seen whether AMD plans to discuss, or even announce, its Bobcat processor at the analyst conference, or whether the company intends to present tailor-made chips based on its K8 micro-architecture aimed at developing market segments at the meeting.

Economy Slowdown May Hit Blu-Ray Format Adoption

Blu-ray disc (BD) has won the battle against HD DVD and yet has to win the war against massively widespread DVD, but there is another battle for the Sony-proposed format: Blu-ray backers have to convince end-users to invest into the high-definition video standard amid economic downturn.

“The economy is the biggest challenge, because there are just so many pieces to the Blu-ray puzzle that consumers face. You need the high-definition television set, you need the player, you need the cables, you need the software.” said Lori MacPherson, general manager of domestic home-entertainment at Disney, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

Other executives from various major studios who participated in HD3 panel, which was co-sponsored by THR and Nielsen Business Media, share the opinion that the financial crisis may affect adoption rate of the new format.

“The economy is hitting everybody. But we still look forward to a great fourth quarter,” said Danny Kaye, executive vice president of research and technology strategy at Fox.

Still, according Mr. Kaye, Blu-ray proponents should not panic over the potentially slow road to the broad consumer market since “it never happens overnight”.

There are a number of problems that Blu-ray backers should solve before the technology becomes as popular as DVD. Blu-ray movies still cost considerably more compared to DVDs, particularly in Europe; moreover, not all stores carry broad collections of Blu-ray movies that would appeal to various audiences. Unfortunately, at least some executives do not want to admit that pricing is an issue.

“We are all constantly looking at [disc] pricing. What it amounts to is that we will wait until after the fourth quarter and see how it goes,” said Sony vice president of business development Rich Marty.

Finally, Blu-ray allies have to clearly explain end-users why the format is better than high-definition downloads, which do not offer as high quality as BD, but are considerably less expensive, something particularly important amid slowdown of economy. This will be a particularly hard task as movie studios are interested in selling movies, no matter how, not promoting a physical media standard at any cost.

Online Stores Begin to Sell Intel Core i7 Microprocessors

Several online stores have begun offering their clients the much-talked-about Intel Core i7 microprocessors ahead of Intel’s official deadline on the 17th of November. The situation could be easily foreseen since Intel Corp. began shipping its code-named Bloomfield processors for revenue a long time ago.

At least some stores listed at Froogle.com, PriceWatch.com and Shopping.com offer to order various Intel Core i7 processors now and promise to ship them within three days, which means that if a customer is lucky enough, he or she will get the chip already this week, ahead of the official commercial launch date. Meanwhile, some stores claim that the chips are for pre-order only and will ship or even arrive to the store on the 17th.

It is interesting to note that stores in Europe do not fall behind online shops in the U.S.: according to Geizhals.at price-search engine, there are tens of opportunities to acquire Intel Core i7 central processing unit (CPU) in Europe too.

In addition to microprocessors themselves, it is also not hard to acquire mainboard that supports chips in LGA1366 form-factor, appropriate cooling system as well as triple-channel DDR3 memory module kit designed specifically for Core i7/Bloomfield processors.

Obviously, since the new CPUs or supporting components are not officially available for sale, customers have to prepare themselves to pay higher price premium. However, die-hard enthusiasts interested in getting the newest and highest-performing products will gladly pay higher price just to get the novelties as soon as possible.

Initially there are three Intel Core i7/Bloomfield processors for high-performance desktops available:

* Intel Core i7 955 Extreme Edition at 3.20GHz for $999 (in 1000-unit quantities)
* Intel Core i7 940 at 2.93GHz for $562 (in 1000-unit quantities)
* Intel Core i7 920 at 2.66GHz for $284 (in 1000-unit quantities)

All three chips have 4 cores, 1MB L2 cache (256KB per core), 8MB unified L3 cache, triple-channel DDR3 memory controller, simultaneous multi-threading technology. The new central processing units will require Intel X58-based motherboard with LGA1366 socket as well as sophisticated CPU cooler since all chips feature 130W thermal design power.

Microsoft Releases Direct3D 11 Technical Preview for Developers

Microsoft Corp. has issued DirectX software development kit (SDK) that contains basic technical preview of Direct3D 11. Even though the preview does not expose all the features of DirectX 11, it gives a signal to software developers that Direct3D 11 is around the corner and that they can take advantage of appropriate functionality.

The new version of performance investigator (PIX) tool for Windows, which is a part of DirectX SDK, supports basic stream capture and single frame capture for Direct3D 11, however the new Direct3D 11 hardware features like tessellation, compute shader, dynamic shader linkage, and new resource formats, are not supported. In addition, advanced features like shader debugging and mesh viewing are not supported, according to Microsoft.

The key API difference from Direct3D 10 in Direct3D 11 is the addition of deferred contexts, which enables scalable execution of Direct3D commands distributed over multiple cores. A Deferred Context captures and assembles actions like state changes and draw submissions that can be executed on the actual device at a later time. By utilizing Deferred Contexts on multiple threads, an application can distribute the CPU overhead needed in the Direct3D 11 runtime and the driver to multiple cores, enabling better use of an end-user's machine configuration.

Direct3D 11 also extends and enhances Direct3D 10 with new hardware and API calls. For example, Direct3D 11 introduces the Compute Shader as a way to access this computational capability without so many constraints. It opens the door to operations on more general data-structures than just arrays, and to new classes of algorithms as well. Key features of compute shader include: communication of data between threads, and a rich set of primitives for random access and streaming I/O operations. These features enable faster and simpler implementations of techniques already in use, such as imaging and post-processing effects, and also open up new techniques that become feasible on Direct3D 11–class hardware.

Other key capability of the Direct3D 11 is additional pipeline stages to support real-time Tessellation of high order primitives. In addition, Direct3D 11 introduces a limited form of Runtime Shader Linkage that allows for near-optimal shader specialization during execution of an application.

The first DirectX 11-compatible graphics processing units are set to become available in 2009.

Panasonic and Sanyo in Talks for Merge

In another round of merges between companies on the information technology and consumer electronics markets, Panasonic Corp. and Sanyo Electric Company said they are in talks regarding acquisition of the latter by the former. Panasonic and Sanyo will start discussions, with the aim of maximizing both companies’ corporate values by pursuing synergies between both companies and further strengthening initiatives to achieve potential revenue and profit growth through this alliance.

“Gathering together the accumulated technologies and manufacturing knowledge of both companies, we believe that we will evolve to a corporate group which will be highly admired globally by enhancing the quality of life for the people worldwide and coexisting in harmony with the global environment,” a statement by the two firms reads.

Through this capital and business alliance based on the premise of making Sanyo a subsidiary of Panasonic, the companies aim to share both companies' management know-how and business resources while collaborating with each other, thereby creating a global competitive foundation which will maximize corporate values of both Panasonic and Sanyo and bring benefit for both companies' shareholders and all other stakeholders, including customers and employees.

In the Energy Business Domain, both Panasonic and Sanyo will be able to utilize their complementary technology by cooperating with each other in order for both companies to contribute to the development of the rechargeable battery market as well as its provision of global sales networks in order to expand Sanyo's solar and energy businesses.

“In the Electronics Business Domain and the Ecology Business Domain, we can both expand the range of products and mutually utilize each other's sales channels, in each of the digital, commercial, device and white goods businesses included in these domains. Moreover, we can aim to reduce the production and development cost through technical collaboration,” the statement reads.

In addition to enhancing efficiency of purchasing through joint procurements, Panasonic can share its accumulated know-how on cost reduction with Sanyo, thereby enhancing Sanyo's profitability in every business domain. Panasonic would also like to apply Sanyo's mass production techniques to Panasonic's operation. Both companies will further the best operations of both companies in other areas, without regard to the origin company of the method.

Considering the above, Panasonic and Sanyo will immediately set up a project team, to start intensive discussion on the capital and business alliance between both companies based on the premise of making Sanyo a subsidiary of Panasonic, keeping a variety of options in mind. We aim to maximize corporate values of both Panasonic and Sanyo to bring benefit for both companies' shareholders and all other stakeholders including customers and employees.

“After earnest discussion between both companies, we will disclose the subsequent progress of the discussions between both companies at around the end of December 2008. If we reach an agreement earlier, we will disclose the progress promptly after the agreement is made,” the firms promised.

Prices of Blu-Ray Players to Drop In $150 - $200 Range – Research Firm

The need for healthy holiday sales in a bear market, competitive pressure from movie download services, and media speculation about the future success of the Blu-ray disc (BD) format itself has resulted in falling Blu-ray player prices across a range of current and older models.

“Blu-ray vendors and dealers are starting to realize that for Blu-ray to become the next DVD, they need to lower player prices in order to generate interest and build volumes,” comments ABI Research principal analyst Steve Wilson.

Second tier players and older – 6-9 months – models are now widely available under $200. Amazon is offering a Samsung model bundled with four discs for that price. Holiday season prices may be in the $150-200 range. All of this runs counter to many of the industry’s original market forecasts and expectations. According to ABI.

“They are also getting more competition than they expected from download alternatives such as Xbox 360 and the Roku Netflix player, TiVo and Amazon. However downloads provide an opportunity as well as a threat: both LG and Samsung have concluded agreements with Netflix that allow some of their players to download movies and TV shows straight from Netflix. The more the Blu-ray players adopt these download capabilities, the better they will be able to differentiate themselves from standard DVD players,” said Mr. Wilson.

As a consequence for consumer electronics manufacturers, who expected to enjoy premium prices on Blu-ray equipment for some time, they now need reduce pricing on their BD players so that either increase their popularity or keep the adoption pace on the desired level. It remains to be seen whether amid economic crisis customers will actually decide to start switching to Blu-ray, as many are cutting their spending now and are unlikely to pay premium price for BD movies, which are more expensive than DVDs.

Intel Rolls Out Healthcare Device, Service

Intel Corp. on Monday announced its Intel Health Guide, a care management tool designed for health care professionals who manage patients with chronic conditions. The Health Guide represents Intel's entry into a new category of personal health systems that go beyond the simple remote patient monitoring systems available today.

The Intel Health Guide, which received 510(k) market clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in July, is a comprehensive personal health system that combines an in-home patient device – the Intel Health Guide PHS6000 – as well as an online interface – the Intel Health Care Management Suite – allowing clinicians to monitor patients in their homes and manage care remotely.

Intel is collaborating with health care industry leaders around the world to validate the clinical benefits of the Health Guide for a wide range of chronic disease conditions and health and wellness applications. The goals and objectives are to assess how the Health Guide integrates with different care management models in the home. These first studies focus on the ability to demonstrate improved health outcomes for conditions such as heart failure, diabetes, hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Customers such as Advanced Warning Systems (AWS), a provider of health care discovery products and web-based services, monitor people for acute cardiovascular symptoms that can cause sudden death. AWS will use the Intel Heath Guide to connect with a targeted class of users, including retired athletes and post-war veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with the highest incidence of cardiovascular related illnesses.

The Health Guide promotes greater patient engagement and more efficient care management by enabling communication between patients and health care professionals and providing clinicians with access to the most current, actionable data. This solution offers interactive tools for personalized care management and includes vital sign collection, patient reminders, surveys, multimedia educational content, and feedback and communications tools, such as video conferencing and alerts. Clinicians have ongoing access to data so that they can better manage each patient's conditions while patients benefit from customized care in the comfort of their own living room.

Intel is working with leading health care organizations that have an understanding of health care delivery to develop unique patient care plans as well as multimedia educational content for chronic conditions. Specifically, Intel is working with the Mayo Clinic to have licensed educational content from MayoClinic.com made available to customers using the Health Guide. In addition, Intel is working with the American Heart Association to create care plans based on the organization's treatment guidelines for a pilot project for the ongoing management of patients with heart failure. The intent is to help health care professionals monitor patients and remotely manage their care in accordance with science guidelines and also to provide patients with ready access to credible and targeted education material. Intel has also hired a team of clinical experts to provide a range of professional services to enable health care organizations to successfully integrate the personal health system into their current disease management programs and models of care.

Additionally, Intel plans to use the core technology components of the solution to build products targeted for new areas such as independent living and programs for health and wellness management and to support new devices such as mobile phones and handhelds.

American Medical Alert Corporation, a national provider of remote patient monitoring devices and 24/7 health care communication services, will be the first U.S. market channel partner for the Intel Health Guide. By adding the Intel Health Guide to its portfolio of offerings, AMAC will be further equipped to provide its customers with the best in care management technologies. The Health Guide is designed to be used by health care professionals to manage their patients at home and is not currently available for general consumer purchase.

"The Health Guide is a step forward in offering more personalized and effective management of chronic health conditions in the home," said Louis Burns, vice president and general manager of the Intel Digital Health Group. "Intel has spent years researching the needs of both caregivers and patients, and we are now moving to launch a series of products that will help extend care from the hospital to the home. Our products will help address the challenges of an aging population and rising rates of chronic disease."

Monday, October 20, 2008

AMD Intends to Produce “Some” of Its GPUs at The Foundry Company Using 32nm Process Tech

Chief executive officer of Advanced Micro Devices officially outlined plans to utilize manufacturing capacities of The Foundry Company, a joint venture between AMD and Advanced Technology Investment Company, for manufacturing of ATI’s graphics processing units (GPUs). Apparently, TFC will only be able to produce GPUs using 32nm process technology, not earlier.

“We will be ramping Fab 38 and we will be installing into Fab 38 a 32nm bulk process for the purpose of enabling the foundry business. We will also be moving some GPU product into the Foundry Company in order to help the Foundry Company get off the ground relative to that foundry type business. Clearly, as a result of having two really good suppliers on the GPU side we got an opportunity to improve our costs there and capability,” said Dirk Meyer, chief executive and officer of AMD, during a conference call with financial analysts.

AMD has already confirmed that it plans to use capacities of the Foundry Co. to manufacture GPUs by ATI, graphics products group of AMD. However, this is the first time when AMD reveals details: it intends to use 32nm process technology, which may mean that the first GPUs made at TFC will be available sometime in 2010.

AMD has reported third quarter 2008 revenue from continuing operations of $1.776 billion, including process technology license revenue of $191 million. Third quarter 2008 revenue increased 32%compared to the second quarter of 2008 and 14% compared to the third quarter of 2007.

In the third quarter of 2008, AMD reported a net loss of $67 million, or $0.11 per share. For continuing operations, third quarter 2008 income was $41 million, or $0.07 per share, including the process technology license revenue of $191 million, or $0.31 a share. Third quarter 2008 operating income was $131 million. Loss from discontinued operations was $108 million, or $0.18 a share.

Intel Takes Over NetEffect, An Ethernet and Server Computer Cluster Specialist

Intel Corp. has announced its acquisition of the assets of NetEffect, a network connectivity solutions company specializing in Ethernet products and technologies for server compute clusters.

Intel purchased NetEffect's assets for $8 million, which include the company’s Ethernet product portfolio, intellectual property and technology. NetEffect was a provider of solutions incorporating iWARP, an Ethernet alternative to InfiniBand. NetEffect's product portfolio includes 1Gb and 10Gb Ethernet (GbE) adapters for servers and blade configurations as well as 10GbE application specific integrated circuits (ASICs).

“NetEffect’s role as a data communications solution provider and the company’s technology will enhance Intel's current Ethernet efforts. The combination of Intel and NetEffect technology will allow Intel to address our customers’ most important 10GbE needs, including server virtualization, convergence of network and storage traffic, and server compute clusters,” said Tom Swinford, general manager, Intel LAN access division.

Designed for multi-core processor-based servers and optimized for virtualization, Intel's current portfolio of 10GbE server adapters includes single and dual port versions for both copper and fiber implementations. The NetEffect acquisition provides complementary High Performance Network Interface Card (NIC) products to Intel's Ethernet portfolio.

NetEffect was founded in 1998 as Banderacom, a company focused on InfiniBand adapters and 16-port IB switch, and was recapitalized in 2004 as NetEffect. Thirty employees, primarily engineers, have joined the Intel team from NetEffect and will continue to be based in Austin, Texas.

AMD Preps More Dual-Core Microprocessors for Q1 2009 – Rumours

Advanced Micro Devices reportedly readies two new dual-core microprocessors based on the K10 micro-architecture. The new chips were not in the plan several months ago, but the company apparently decided to introduce the new chips in order to stabilize pricing of its dual-core processors aimed at mainstream market.

According to a news-story at Expreview web-site, AMD intends to release Athlon X2 7550 and 7750 chips sometime in Q1 2009. The chips will operate at 2.50GHz and 2.70GHz, feature 1MB of L2 cache [512KB per core], 2MB L3 cache as well as dual-channel DDR2 memory controller. The new products will have thermal design power of 95W, hence, should be compatible with the vast majority of AM2+ mainboards.

The new dual-core AMD Athlon X2 processors are based on the code-named Kuma core, the same one that is already featured in AMD Athlon X2 6500 processor that operates at 2.30GHz.

It is unclear why AMD decided to introduce a new model number sequence for its new dual-core central processing units despite of the fact that the novelties hardly provide tangible performance benefits compared to predecessors.

AMD did not comment on the news-story.

Intel Initiates Shipments of Solid-State Drives for Enterprise Systems

As expected, Intel Corp. said this week it had begun shipments of solid-state drives (SSDs) aimed at enterprise systems. The new SSDs are based on 50nm single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash memory and are projected to feature low power consumption, high reliability and extreme performance thanks to new controller and firmware.

“Hard disk drive performance has not kept pace with Moore's Law. Intel’s high-performance SSDs unleash the full performance of the latest Intel Xeon processor-based systems while increasing reliability and lowering the total cost of ownership for a broad range of server and storage workloads,” said Kirk Skaugen, general manager of Intel server platforms group.

Intel X-25E Extreme Serial ATA SSD, aimed at server, workstation and storage systems. The product is based on 50nm single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash memory. Systems equipped with these drives will not suffer from the performance bottlenecks associated with conventional drives.

The product was designed for intense computing workloads which benefit primarily from high random read and write performance, as measured in input/output per second (IOPS). Key technical performance specifications of the 32GB Intel X-25E SATA SSD include 35 000 IOPS (4KB Random Read), 3 300 IOPS (4KB Random Write) and 75 microsecond read latency. This performance, combined with low active power of 2.4Ws, delivers up to 14 000 IOPS per watt for optimal performance/power output. The product also achieves up to 250MB/s sequential read speeds and up to 170MB/s sequential write speeds, considerably higher compared to Intel’s consumer-oriented SSDs, all in 2.5” form-factor.

Intel achieves this breakthrough performance through innovations such as 10-channel NAND architecture with native command queuing (NCQ), proprietary controller and firmware efficient in advanced wear-leveling and low write amplification. The 32GB X25-E is capable of writing up to 4PB of data over three-year period, or 3.7 TB/day, and double that for the 64GB version – delivering outstanding data reliability.

The 32GB capacity drive is in production and priced at $695 for quantities up to 1000. The 64GB version is expected to sample in the fourth quarter with production estimated for the first quarter of 2009.

“Solid-state drive technology will change the economics of enterprise data centers. SSDs, along with our systems and Solaris ZFS with hybrid storage pools, are important components of the Open Storage initiative. Sun expects to offer enterprise storage solutions that will exploit the breakthrough performance of Intel's high performance solid-state drives and deliver significant performance gains while consuming a fraction of the energy of traditional spinning disk arrays,” said John Fowler, executive vice president of systems group at Sun Microsystems.

Another Dual-Chip ATI Radeon HD Graphics Card Finally Approaches the Market

ATI Radeon HD 4850 X2 graphics card, which was formally announced back in August and is still yet unavailable, will finally reach stores in the coming weeks, according to ATI, graphics product group of Advanced Micro Devices.

The ATI Radeon HD 4850 X2 graphics cards that feature two ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics chips along with 2GB of GDDR3 memory (1GB per chip) are now “validated” by graphics cards makers, said Sasha Marinkovic, senior product marketing manager at AMD’s graphics products group at a news-conference on Thursday.

According to Mr. Marinkovic, ATI provided reference design of the Radeon HD 4850 X2 graphics cards to manufacturers and expects to see the new graphics cards on the market shortly. It is unclear why did makers of graphics boards decided to delay the model HD 4850 X2 by months when compared to mid-August release time-frame for the top-of-the-range model HD 4870 X2.

The dual-chip graphics card based on ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics chips is expected to cost between $350 and $399, according to AMD’s ATI unit. The new product will compete directly with Nvidia GeForce GTX 280 graphics board, currently the highest-performance single-chip 3D graphics accelerator for video games on the market, which retails for $449 - $499.

While ATI Radeon HD 4850 X2 may offer higher performance than that of the GeForce GTX 280, it may not be as popular as the Radeon HD 4870 X2 despite of lower price. All multi-GPU configurations depend on driver and application optimizations, which is why dual-chip graphics cards may not deliver horsepower of two chips in all game titles, meaning that performance may drop to the level of a single-chip graphics board that costs two times less. Since the Radeon HD 4870 X2 graphics card is very high-performance graphics card itself, many gamers may not get worried that in certain apps only one chip functions. Since the model HD 4850 belongs to performance-mainstream class of accelerators, the speed one of such cards delivers may be unacceptable for those, who buy the HD 4850 X2 model for $399.

Intel Vows to Ship Enough Atom Processors by Year End

Intel Corp. admitted during the most recent conference call with financial analysts that the demand for Intel Atom chips is higher than expectations and that the company could not meet it in the third quarter. The company promised to deliver enough central processing units by the end of the year. Besides, the company revealed that Atom bring higher profits compared to traditional entry-level chips.

“We did not meet demand [for Intel Atom] in Q3 for the product, even though we were up substantially from the second quarter. We are up again substantially in the fourth quarter. Our expectation is that we will meet demand by the end of the year but not the early part of the quarter,” Paul Otellini, chief executive officer at Intel told financial analysts during quarterly conference call.

Still, the head of Intel says that sales of Atom processors were on the high-levels. Moreover, since the CPUs are really cheap to manufacture, even their low prices allow Intel to get profits similar to those it earns on the traditional low-end and mainstream markets.

“The Atom family is off to a very good start, with Atom microprocessor and related chipset revenues approximately $200 million this quarter. Total microprocessor ASP was lower than Q2 but was approximately flat without Atom, reflecting strength in the core business. […] When I look at the product margin, it is a nice [and] healthy product margin and on a dollar basis it is equivalent to what we see in Celeron and on a product margin percent, it is higher. So, if you look at it kind of relative to the low-end of our mainstream stack, it’s generating nice profit characteristics,” said Mr. Otellini.

Considering the fact that despite of low price Intel Atom processors bring more profits to Intel than higher-performance Celeron chips, over time Intel may become more interested in promoting the Atom microprocessors rather than more traditional products. This may indeed change the game on the whole PC market as the competition between computer vendors will get much more aggressive on the netbook side, where margins are even thinner than those on desktop or laptop markets.

Sony Has No Plans to Reduce PlayStation 3 Pricing for Holidays

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. has no plans to respond to Microsoft’s aggressive price-cuts of the Xbox 360 video game console in the European Union and the United Stations with similar moves concerning the PlayStation 3 this holiday season, the head of SCEI said in an interview.

“The answer is ‘yes’, if you’re asking, ‘Are these the prices we’re going with this Christmas?’” said Kazuo Hirai, president and group chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment, in an interview with the Financial Times.

Microsoft recently reduced the price of its Xbox 360 Arcade game console to $199 in the U.S. in response to lowering demand and financial crisis. The company has also consistently cut the cost of the Xbox 360 consoles in other regions, including Asia, Europe and Japan this year in a bid to attract gamers to its latest video game systems.

Obviously, the least expensive Xbox 360 Arcade does not offer certain features that are available on Sony PlayStation 3 ($399) and more expensive Xbox 360 Pro 60GB ($299) game console since the latter have hard disk drives, whereas the PS3 even has Blu-ray disc optical drive that transforms game console into a high-definition video player. In fact, a number of exclusive titles and value proposition have already made Sony PlayStation 3 nearly as popular as the Xbox 360 in some regions and allowed Sony to even leave the rival behind in some others. Still, neither of the consoles is as successful as Nintendo Wii, which usually outsells both PS3 and X360 combined in the USA.

However, for the majority of gamers the X360 for $199 is likely to be an option they will be satisfied with. As a result, there are reasons for Sony to worry about: more Xbox 360 game consoles on the market means that game developers start to give the systems higher priority compared to others, which ultimately leads to higher amount of higher quality titles, which further popularizes the platform.

In common with the rest of the video game industry, Mr Hirai expects video games to be resilient in the economic downturn because consumers buy video games rather than go out.

“As long as we can generate excitement, then we will be less affected than other industries,” the head of SCEI told the FT.

Nvidia Formally Unveils New Intel-Compatible Core-Logic with Built-In Graphics Core

Nvidia Corp. has unveiled its latest core-logic set compatible with Intel Corp.’s latest central processing units that sports DirectX 10-class graphics processing unit (GPU). The novelty boasts with decent feature-set and will replace the aging predecessors.

Nvidia recently started to brand its core-logic chips with integrated graphics processing cores (IGPs) as GeForce motherboard GPUs (mGPUs), which indicates that the company does not see a lot of value of its nForce IGP brand on the entry-level market, where consumers are concerned about the price and trendy features, but not rich enthusiast-class functionality the nForce is primarily known for these days. As a result, the new single-chip core-logic from Nvidia is called GeForce 9300 mGPU, even though it more than a GPU.

Nvidia’s GeForce 9300 mGPU is compatible with Intel Core 2 processors that utilize up to 1333MHz processor system bus (PSB) and also sports dual-channel DDR3 memory controller (up to PC3-16000, 1333MHz), PCI Express 2.0 controller (PCIe x16 + 4x PCIe x1), Serial ATA controller, high-definition audio controller, PCI controller, Gigabit Ethernet support and so on. Eventually Nvidia also plans to release GeForce 9400 mGPU with a little bit higher-performing IGP thanks to boosted clock-speeds: 580MHz/1400MHz (core/shader domain) vs. 450MHz/1200MHz for the 9300.

The integrated GeForce 9300/9400 graphics core features 16 stream processing units, Nvidia PureVideo HD engine for decoding and post-processing of high-definition video as well as dual-link DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort output support. Performance of such integrated graphics cores is likely to be similar to low-end graphics cards, such as GeForce 8400 GS or 8500 GT. End-users will be able to utilize an entry-level discrete GPU in multi-GPU mode with GeForce 9300/9400 mGPUs.

Nvidia did not reveal when GeForce 9300/9400 mGPU-based mainboards are set to become available on the market and at what price-point.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

ARM Targets Mobile Internet Devices with New Platforms

Despite of lackluster welcome by the market, mobile Internet devices (MIDs) are projected to become relatively popular going forward, which is why companies like Intel Corp. are actively developing Atom microprocessors and platforms for such products. But this does not mean that traditional players on the market of mobile electronics are standing still: ARM Holdings also expects its micro-architecture to power MIDs next year.

“We have also launched our high performance, low power consumption Cortex-A8 and A9 platforms for MID (Mobile Internet Device) products. We have strong confidence in the MID market and look forward to seeing ARM-based MID products hit the market in 2009,” said Warren East, chief executive officer of ARM, in an interview with DigiTimes web-site.

In fact, Texas Instruments OMAP (Open Multimedia Application Platform) microprocessors with ARM architecture and PowerVR graphics cores already power Nokia’s N770, N800 and N810 Internet tablets, which can easily be considered as mobile Internet devices. In addition, ARM chips are used inside Apple iPhone as well as plethora of smartphones. Meanwhile, there are no commercially available MIDs based on Intel Atom at the moment.

Nevertheless, it is projected that going forward Intel Corp., Advanced Micro Devices and Via Technologies will be able to push x86 micro-architecture not only into MIDs, but also inside handsets, which is a reason to worry for ARM.

But there are reasons to worry for x86 CPU makers too. Currently ARM powers about 98% of mobile phones sold worldwide, however, with the trend towards low-power computers and consumer electronics, ARM microprocessors can compete against Intel’s x86 chips on their territory, said chief exec of ARM Holdings, an IP company, earlier this year.

According to market research firm ABI Research, the number of ultra-mobile PCs, netbooks and mobile Internet devices, are expected to exceed 200 million units in 2013, while revenues are projected to achieve $27 billion. The unit share of MIDs among shipments of those ultra-mobile Internet devices is projected to be 68%.

ATI Plans Expects DirectX 11 Chips Next Year

ATI, graphics products group of Advanced Micro Devices, said at Ceatec trade-show in Japan that its expects DirectX 11-compatible graphics processing units (GPUs) in 2009, which may be considered as intention to release a new breed of chips that support new application programming interface. In addition, the company predicts prosperity of general purpose computing on GPU (GPGPU).

AMD’s ATI unit outlined several expectations for the consumer 3D graphics industry in 2009. Among the highlights are GPU manufacturing transition to 40nm process technology and widespread usage of GDDR5 memory standard, which will drive performance of graphics chips considerably up, something, which will allow game developers to create video games with more sophisticated effects

ATI also predicts the rise of GPGPU with help of computing shaders of DirectX 11 and OpenCL. In fact, the company expects consumer applications that take advantage of GPGPU, which will emphasize importance of graphics processors among end-users. In addition, the arrival of DirectX 11 and Windows 7 will also play a role in boosting significance of GPUs.

Finally, ATI expects certain improvements in input an output technologies. According to the company’s presentation, televisions with higher than 1920x1080 resolution are set to arrive next year along with so-called digital walls. Multi-touch and other input technologies will also evolve next year, primarily thanks to availability of Microsoft Surface-based devices. 3D stereoscopic displays will also get higher popularity in 2009.

In fact, 3D stereographic technology as well as holograms are considered to be a big thing going forward.

“Holographic technology is evolving; it can convert virtually everything into visuals. I may not come to Ceatec 2018, but 3D hologram of me will be here. We at AMD would like to keep pursuing the ultimate visual experience,” said Rick Bergman, general manager of AMD graphics product group, at Ceatec, reports PC Watch web-site.

AMD Claims Forthcoming “Shanghai” Chip to Be 35% Faster than Existing

A vice president of Advanced Micro Devices said in an interview that the forthcoming quad-core AMD Opteron processor code-named Shanghai will have roughly 35% performance advantage over predecessor at the same clock-speed. If the information is correct, then AMD’s chips will have all chances to challenges products by arch-rival Intel in the higher-end segment.

Pat Patla, general manager of AMD’s server and workstation chip business, said in an interview with IDG News Service that AMD Opteron “Shanghai” would “give a 35% performance boost over Barcelona on average” and would also trim power consumption by 35%, which automatically transforms into colossal performance per watt improvements over existing quad-core AMD Opteron processors.

The advances are direct results of larger 6MB level-three cache, thinner 45nm process technology as well as micro-architectural improvements that boost instructions per clock (IPC) throughput.

Mr. Patla indicated that the first 45nm quad-core AMD Opteron chips that are scheduled to arrive in Q4 2008 will fit into mainstream 75W thermal envelope, whereas other models – which are due in Q1 2009 – will offer 55W thermal design power to fit into blade servers as well as 105W thermal envelop for high-performance machines.

It is very vital for AMD to initiate shipments of the new “Shanghai” processors on time and also to ensure that its performance and power consumption are viable when compared to Intel Xeon central processing units.

But that may not be easy for AMD: Intel Corp. recently initiated shipments of 6-core Intel Xeon processors for multi-processor servers that have all chances to become popular in high-performance mission-critical market segment. In addition, there are code-named Nehalem processors approaching the market of dual-processor servers. While it will take some time for Nehalem server chips to gain popularity on the market, AMD has to start to worry about Intel’s new microprocessors already.

Microsoft Reportedly Initiated Shipments of Xbox 360 with New Chips

Just weeks after Microsoft Corp. reduced pricing of its Xbox 360 video game systems in the European Union and the USA, a new version of the console reportedly started to arrive. It is believed that the novelty is cheaper to make, sports lower power consumption and is generally more reliable.

According a web-site that monitors DVD drives and mainboards of Xbox 360 game console – 360drives.com – there are many instances when end-users found code-named Jasper mainboards inside their video game systems. The new systems were acquired by actual customers in the UK and the USA.

The code-named Jasper design of the Xbox 360 game console uses ATI Xenos graphics and memory controller hub (GMCH) made using 65nm process at TSMC as well as IBM Xenon central processing unit (CPU) produced at IBM’s 65nm nodes. The new system design is projected to consume less electricity, use less complex cooling systems, produce less noise and be cheaper to manufacture.

The web-site contains pictures of code-named Xenon, the first incarnation of Xbox 360 motherboards with 90nm microprocessor and 90nm graphics chip; Zephyr, which is Xenon mainboard with HDMI output as well as improved cooling system; Falcon which sports 65nm CPU and 90nm GMCH; Opus, a mainboard that sports 65nm CPU and 90nm GMCH, but comes without HDMI. Even though the web-site has not published a photo of Jasper motherboard, end-users could determine that they have one since it did not resemble any of the published.

It is about time for a new Xbox 360 design to show up. Earlier this year it was reported that production of the new version of the console was slated to begin in August.

Microsoft did not comment on the news-story.

ATI, Nvidia to Pay $1.925 Million to Settle Price Fixing Legal Dispute

ATI, graphics products group of Advanced Micro Devices, and Nvidia Corp. recently announced that they agree to pay nearly $2 million in order to settle antitrust legal dispute that concerns price-fixing of graphics cards.

The agreement calls for the ATI and Nvidia to pay $1.7 million ($850 thousand per company) into a fund to be made available for payments to the certified class in exchange for a dismissal of all claims related to the legal action. Under the terms of settlement, plaintiffs who acquired graphics cards graphics cards directly from the websites of ATI or Nvidia in the United States during the period from December 4, 2002 to November 7, 2007, will receive compensations.

The agreement is subject to court approval and, if approved, would dispose of all claims raised by the certified class in the action against ATI and Nvidia.

ATI and Nvidia have also reached a settlement agreement with the remaining individual indirect purchaser plaintiffs in the action. On July 18, 2008, the District Court denied a motion seeking to certify a class of all indirect purchasers in the United States who purchased a product containing a graphics processing unit initially sold by ATI or Nvidia. On September 9, 2008, the companies reached a settlement agreement with the remaining individual indirect purchaser plaintiffs that provides for ATI and Nvidia to pay $225 thousand ($112.5 thousand per company) in exchange for a dismissal of all claims and appeals related to the action raised by the individual indirect purchaser plaintiffs.

ATI and Nvidia were accused of antitrust laws violation and price fixing on graphics processing units in late 2006.

Toshiba to Help Distribution of Content on Secure Digital Flash Cards

MOD Systems, a provider of digital media delivery systems for retailers, has announced that Toshiba Corp., NCR Corp. and others, have agreed to invest $35 million into MOD, giving the companies minority stakes in MOD Systems. The company said that investments will help it to distribute content on secure digital (SD) flash cards.

Under the initiative, consumers will download digital content to Secure Digital (SD) cards and portable devices such as mobile phones through kiosks and other self-service devices deployed, integrated and maintained by NCR at retail stores, airports, quick-service restaurants and other outlets. Toshiba will develop dedicated set-top boxes for the service, and develop and market high capacity SD cards for the system, improving the speed of downloads in the future.

The kiosks and other self-service devices will use the MOD retail enterprise system for “multichannel” digital media delivery, which enables digital content to be managed and distributed securely using portable devices and portable storage media, including SD memory cards.

MOD Systems provides retailers with a complete digital media system for consumers to load entertainment to portable devices and storage media, or burn content to an optical format (CD/DVD). The MOD retail enterprise system supports all content types and distribution scenarios including manufacturing-on-demand, delivery in optical or digital format, and hybrid online and in-store systems.

Video entertainment content will be provided by major and independent studios, which will provide approximately 4000 titles at the launch of the service. Initial content downloads will be in standard definition, and the service may also be applied to downloads of high definition content in the future.

The investment is part of a rather initiative to leverage portable digital storage technology that offers the potential to revolutionize how consumers download movies, TV shows, music and other digital content at a wide variety of locations, and then replay it on multiple devices. The initiative will combine technologies developed by the companies, and is aimed at meeting the explosive demand for easier access to high-quality digital entertainment and other content.

ATI Readies New Mainstream Graphics Card

ATI, graphics product group of Advanced Micro Devices, plans to introduce yet another ATI Radeon HD 4800-series graphics card that will be aimed at the mainstream market. The new product will allow AMD to more successfully compete against arch-rival Nvidia Corp., which is going to have problems with offering a competitor for the novelty from ATI.

The forthcoming ATI Radeon HD 4830 graphics card will feature 640 unified stream processors as well as 256-bit memory bus, according to slides that resemble an AMD presentation which were published by VR-Zone web-site. Other capabilities of the Radeon HD 4830 graphics card include support of DirectX 10.1, advanced hardware decoding of high-definition video formats and so on.

The launch for Radeon HD 4830 is set at October 21st and it is targeted primarily at Nvidia GeForce 9800 GT with a less than $150 price tag, reports the web-site.

Nvidia’s GeForce 9800 GT is a re-branded version of the year-old GeForce 8800 GT that sports 112 stream processors. It is likely that the Radeon HD 4830 graphics board will offer considerably higher performance compared to its rival, which will give AMD a chance to boost its market share.

AMD did not comment on the news-story.

Sony PlayStation 4 Likely to Feature Improved Version of Cell Processor

Sony PlayStation 3 features a significant amount of rather exotic technology, but while this enables the video game system to offer exclusive capabilities, this also means that the system is rather expensive to manufacture. According to a Japanese web-site, for the next-generation PlayStation 4 Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. plans to use more affordable components.

In order to maintain backwards compatibility and not to substantially shift the way of programming for the PlayStation 4, Sony intends to utilize substantially improved version of the Cell central processing unit (CPU), reports PC Watch web-site. The chip can potentially have as many as 24 or even 32 synergetic processing units, though, at this point actual specifications are hardly set by SCEI itself.

While Sony PlayStation 4 is years away, its developer already has a goal of making it more affordable than the predecessor in order to compete against the successor of Nintendo Wii, the most popular current-generation video game system, the web-site claims.

Considering the fact that PlayStation 3 already features technologies like Blu-ray optical drive, Cell processor, XDR memory and some other, it is very likely to expect the PS4 to sport them as well, but this time at a considerably lower price. This will also allow the next-generation video game console to take advantage of the PlayStation 3 infrastructure and heritage.

It is unknown when the PlayStation 4 hits the market, but introducing it ahead of its rival from Microsoft Corp. will give Sony an advantage. In fact, utilization of already known components, such as improved version of Cell, will help Sony to bring the next-generation game console faster to market.

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

Microsoft to Release Pre-Beta Windows 7 Version in Late October

Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest developer of software, plans to unveil more details regarding its Windows 7 operating system and even provide select software developers pre-beta versions of the forthcoming OS in late October at its Professional Developers Conference.

Microsoft recently announced that at this year’s PDC, keynote attendees will be among the first to receive the pre-beta build of Windows 7. Additionally, attendees will have the opportunity to attend 21 different sessions that drill down into the details of developing for Windows 7.

Microsoft claims that advances in Windows 7 have been made across the full range of the operating system, including the kernel, networking, hardware and devices, and user-interface.

Attendees of the conference will be able to learn more about opportunities to build on the platform’s commitment to OS fundamentals. Besides, the company indicated that the new operating system will enable software developers to enhance existing applications and create new applications that use the new technologies and APIs in Windows 7. The company plans to present Windows 7-related keynote on the 28th of October, 2008, at PDC.

According to previously reported information, the software giant plans to unveil its Windows 7 OS on the 3rd of June, 2009, which is inline with claims of Bill Gates made earlier this year, but is about half a year earlier than Microsoft publicly stated. The new operating system is expected to correct all the issues with Windows Vista, which has been heavily criticized.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Intel Launches Six-Core Microprocessors for High-End Servers.

As expected, Intel Corp. on Monday formally unveiled its central processing units with six cores aimed at high-end multiprocessor (MP) servers. The new Intel Xeon 7400-series chips – previously known under code-name Dunnington – are projected to significantly strengthen Intel’s positions on the lucrative market of servers oriented at large enterprises.

“The arrival of these processors extends Intel’s lead in the high-end server segment. This new processor series helps IT manage increasingly complex enterprise server environments, providing a great opportunity to boost the scalable performance of multi-threaded applications within a stable platform infrastructure. With new features such as additional cores, large shared caches and advanced virtualization technologies, the Xeon 7400 series delivers record-breaking performance that will lead enterprises into the next wave of virtualization deployments,” said Tom Kilroy, Intel vice president and general manager of the digital enterprise group.

Initially, Intel’s product family will include two six-core microprocessors with 16MB of L3 cache – Intel Xeon X7460 and Intel Xeon E7440 – which operate at 2.66Hz and 2.40GHz, respectively and have thermal design power of 130W and 90W. Both microprocessors utilize 1066MHz processor system bus. Besides, Intel has four six-core chips with 12MB of shared L3 cache with TDP of down to 50W. Since the new CPUs are based on the Penryn micro-architecture, they also boast additional performance improvements compared to previous-gen Xeon MP processors.

The Xeon 7400 processor series is compatible with Intel's existing Xeon 7300-series platforms and the Intel 7300 chipset with memory capacity up to 256GB. Platforms based on the new Intel Xeon 7400-series processors can scale up to 16 processor sockets to deliver servers with up to 96 processing cores inside, offering scalability, ample computing threads, extensive memory resources and reliability for enterprise data centers.

Starting today, servers based on the Intel Xeon 7400 processor series are expected to be announced by more than 50 system manufacturers around the world, including four-socket rack servers from Dell, Fujitsu, Fujitsu-Siemens, Hitachi, HP, IBM, NEC, Sun, Supermicro and Unisys; four-socket blade servers from Egenera, HP, Sun and NEC; and servers that scale up to 16-sockets from IBM, NEC and Unisys.

Given that Advanced Micro Devices will be unable to build its own 6-core processor code-named Istanbul until the second half of 2009, Intel will have a very comfortable lead on the market of high-end enterprise servers due to lack of competition. Nevertheless, an advantage that AMD still has is integrated memory controller as well as more advanced bus for its AMD Opteron processors which may translate in better performance scalability of AMD-based MP servers.

Pricing for the six-core Xeon 7400 processors in quantities of 1000 ranges from $1391 to $2729.

Apple Develops ARM Processor for Future iPhone Devices.

A senior manager of Apple said on his page on a social web-site that he and his team were designing ARM architecture processors for future Apple iPhone cell phones with rich multimedia capabilities. The claim is a rather surprising one, as it was widely believed that Apple planned to install x86 Intel Atom chips into Apple iPhone.

Wei-han Lien, the senior manager of Apple’s chip team, said in an entry at LinkedIn web-site that he managed “ARM CPU architecture team for iPhone”, reports New York Times. Naturally, no details were given, however, the fact that Apple is actually working on a custom ARM processor for iPhone is a big news itself.

Mr. Lien used to work for PA Semi, a designer of PowerPC central processing units (CPUs), that Apple acquired earlier this year. As a result, it was widely believed that Apple would develop PowerPC processors for its products that will be released in future.

The available versions of Apple iPhone cell phones that feature rich portable media player and Internet functionality are based on ARM processors by Samsung Electronics; therefore, it would be very easy for Apple to migrate to a different ARM processor, as the company will not have to re-develop software, but will be able to tailor its new chips in full accordance with its needs.

Sources familiar with Apple’s plans implied earlier this year that the company did have plans to put Intel Atom inside the iPhone, but that would cause Apple to re-create its software for the device.

Apple did not comment on the news-story.

Toshiba May Be Interested in Acquiring SanDisk – Company.

Toshiba Corp., the world’s second largest producer of flash memory, may acquire SanDisk Corp., a leading supplier of flash-based products and also one of Toshiba’s largest customers. The Japanese electronic conglomerate may be the third company, after Samsung Electronics and Seagate Technologies, who may be interested in assets of SanDisk.

“We need to take preventive steps, if (SanDisk) looks like it will be acquired,” said Shozo Saito, corporate senior vice president on the sidelines of the Industry Strategy and Technology Forum on Tuesday, reports Reuters news-agency. Mr. Saito said that although Toshiba was interested in a combination with SanDisk, there were no concrete negotiations between the two companies.

Earlier on Tuesday SanDisk rejected hostile bid of Samsung Electronics, which proposed to take over the flash products vendor for $5.85 billion.

Samsung and Toshiba are the world’s largest makers of flash memory, who command over one half of the market. Samsung commands roughly 30%, whereas Toshiba has about 20% based on figures by iSuppli market research firm. Late in 2007 the two companies agreed to license packaging and interface technologies for flash products of each other. The pact allows them to support their largest customers in terms of supply when needed to maintain dominant positions on the market.

Under terms of the agreement, Samsung licensed product specifications of its integrated OneNAND and Flex-OneNAND “fusion” memory chips to Toshiba, while Toshiba licensed product specifications of its single-package LBA-NAND and mobileLBA-NAND flash chips to Samsung.

Given that Samsung and Toshiba already work closely with each other, acquisition of SanDisk by any of them would create a truly formidable force on the market of flash-based products that could completely reshape the whole market.