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Preview: CIO - CIO Tech Informer

CIO - CIO Tech Informer





Published: Thu, 06 Apr 2006 19:49:38 EST

Last Build Date: Thu, 06 Apr 2006 19:49:38 EST

Copyright: (c) Copyright 2006 CXO Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
 



Taiwan, China Lead Huge Chip-Making Growth

Thu, 06 Apr 2006 07:37:00 EST

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Contract chip manufacturers in Taiwan and China are leading growth in the foundry industry and will continue to do so through almost the end of this decade, industry researcher In-Stat said Wednesday.

Investments in leading-edge chip plants have given Taiwan the largest concentration of 12-inch (300-millimeter) chip factories anywhere in the world, said In-Stat, a unit of Reed Business Information.

The researcher credits strong spending for growth in Asia, where chip plant and production line purchases among contract chip makers rose more than 150 percent in 2004, before declining 23 percent last year. The gush of new spending arose from pent-up demand created by a global technology industry downturn in 2001 and 2002, according to the industry researcher.

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Qualcomm Sampling 65-Nanometer 3G Chips From TSMC

Thu, 06 Apr 2006 07:49:16 EST

(CIO)

Qualcomm has received the first samples of its MSM6800 third-generation (3G) mobile chipsets made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) using a 65-nanometer production process, according to the chip maker.

The delivery of these first chips comes two months ahead of schedule, TSMC said.

Moving the production of the MSM6800 to a 65-nanometer process offers several benefits for consumers. Using a more advanced process technology can shrink the chip’s die size, or the area of silicon that is required, which means lower per-unit production costs. It also means the chip will consume less power, which helps stretch handset battery life.

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Turbolinux Purchases Japanese PHP Co.

Thu, 06 Apr 2006 07:55:32 EST

(CIO)

Turbolinux will acquire Japanese PHP tools vendor Zend Japan, the company announced Wednesday.

Turbolinux bought a 90 percent stake in Zend from Open Source Japan, Zend’s parent company, with a view to increasing distribution of its PHP development tools. Zend will remain the exclusive distributor for its Zend products, along with sales and support for Turbolinux.

Negotiations for the deal were completed March 30 but not announced until April 5.

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Apple Offers Updates for Intel Mac Firmware

Thu, 06 Apr 2006 12:10:11 EST

(CIO)

Apple has released a number of firmware updates for Intel Macs.

These are required if you want to exploit Apple’s new Boot Camp software that allows users to transform their Intel Macs into dual boot Mac/Windows machines.

Updates are available for iMac, Mac mini and MacBook Pro computers.

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Finnish Telco Launches Nordic’s First HSDPA Network

Thu, 06 Apr 2006 10:33:56 EST

(CIO)

Finnish telecom Elisa is the latest European company to roll out commercial high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) technology on its third-generation (3G) network, although handsets aren’t expected until later this year.

HSDPA offers download speeds similar to fixed broadband networks. It’s the first commercial HSDPA service for Nordic countries, said Anssi Okkonen, Elisa’s vice president of products and services.

The company’s entire 3G network—covering about 40 percent of Finland and its major populated cities—is HSDPA-capable, also a first for operators, he said. Elisa completed the upgrade to its base stations using software from Nokia.

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Red Hat Doffs Fedora Foundation

Thu, 06 Apr 2006 07:59:19 EST

(CIO)

Red Hat will close the Fedora Foundation as it restructures its end-user-focused Fedora Project, the company announced Tuesday in an e-mail.

In a message sent to Red Hat’s Fedora mailing list, Fedora Project Leader Max Spevack said the Foundation was not helping the company to achieve its goals for the total project.

The Fedora Project is designed as a vehicle for Red Hat to engage the open-source development community and provide for continuing development of free-use open-source products.

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HP Promises Global Wireless for Notebook PCs

Wed, 05 Apr 2006 07:29:10 EST

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Hewlett-Packard (HP) plans to release business notebook PCs later this year with integrated global broadband wireless connectivity, the company said Tuesday.

HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., will team with Cingular Wireless of Atlanta, Ga., to add integrated UMTS/HSDPA technology to certain notebooks. The move will simplify wireless networking for overseas travelers and help HP to compete better against products such as Dell’s Latitude notebook.

UMTS is the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, a network standard that uses wideband code division multiple access (WCDMA) technology to boost capacity and data speed compared to second-generation (2G) mobile networks. HSDPA is high-speed downlink packet access, a mobile broadband standard capable of reaching downlink speeds of 14.4 megabits per second.

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NEC, EMC to Join Forces for Storage Products

Wed, 05 Apr 2006 07:44:40 EST

(CIO)

NEC and EMC will work together to jointly develop storage products and enterprise content management systems, they announced Wednesday.

The companies plan to develop storage gear based on the recently announced Storage Bridge Bay technology, of which EMC is a primary backer. Storage Bridge Bay aims to drive standardization in external disk subsystems, to bring equipment traditionally aimed at enterprise customers to smaller businesses.

The first hardware products to come out of the alliance should appear next year, said Toshio Kawamura, senior executive vice president of NEC. Those products will be manufactured by NEC and sold by both companies through existing sales channels, including EMC’s link with Dell.

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Korean Fair Trade Commission Questions Qualcomm

Wed, 05 Apr 2006 08:01:07 EST

(CIO)

Wireless chip maker Qualcomm disclosed Wednesday that the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) is looking into its business dealings with three South Korean handset makers.

KFTC officials visited the offices of Qualcomm’s South Korean subsidiary on Tuesday, along with those of phone makers Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and Pantech Curitel, Qualcomm said.

The inquiry isn’t an official investigation, according to Qualcomm, although the KFTC didn’t explain the reason for its visit. Qualcomm said it may be related to "communications" received by the KFTC from a small Korean company about Qualcomm’s distribution of mobile video software used with its mobile phone chipsets.

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Socialtext Optimizes Wiki for Mobile Users

Wed, 05 Apr 2006 08:05:51 EST

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Socialtext Wednesday is due to take the wraps off Miki, a wiki platform optimized for mobile devices, the company said.

By extending wiki use to mobile phones and other wireless devices, Socialtext hopes to further the adoption and usability of wikis.

The startup specializes in providing software and support for enterprises looking to set up their own internal wikis and weblogs. More and more companies are turning to wikis as a way for their staff to work collaboratively while also cutting back on their e-mail communication and time spent in meetings, according to Ross Mayfield, Socialtext cofounder and chief executive officer.

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Toshiba, Sandisk to Build New Memory Plant

Wed, 05 Apr 2006 07:50:21 EST

(CIO)

Toshiba and Sandisk have agreed to build a new memory chip plant in Japan to keep pace with surging demand for NAND flash memory, they said Wednesday.

NAND flash is used in a growing number of portable digital media devices including still cameras, music players and cell phones. It is also being used to make flash memory cards.

Construction of the chip plant, called Fab 4, will begin in August, with initial production scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2007, the companies said. The plant will be able to process 300-millimeter diameter semiconductor wafers.

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Apple Puts Windows XP on Macs

Wed, 05 Apr 2006 09:36:26 EST

(CIO)

Apple Computer has released beta software that lets Mac users run Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system on Intel-based Macintosh computers, it announced Wednesday.

Called Boot Camp, the software creates a hard drive partition for Windows XP and lets users choose between the two operating systems at start-up time. It’s available now as a free trial beta that works only for a limited time, and will be included as a feature of the next major Mac OS release, Leopard, Apple said.

The move comes a few months after Apple introduced its first computers based on Intel’s x86-type processors. The company has expressed little enthusiasm in the past for running Windows on its Macs—and even now doesn’t sound entirely happy about it.

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Vendors Aim for Mobile Ease of Use at CTIA

Wed, 05 Apr 2006 12:01:37 EST

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Cell phones won’t instantly become simple to use and mobile data services easy to find after the CTIA Wireless trade show in Las Vegas this week, but vendors will demonstrate technologies that are coming this year to solve those problems.

For at least two companies at the show, the answer is voice. Both VoiceSignal Technologies and Nuance Communications will introduce and show off speech recognition systems for SMS (short message service) dictation, search, and other functions, promoting them as easier alternatives to numeric keypads and tiny browsers.

The idea behind these systems is that they can recognize normal speech and not be restricted to a narrow vocabulary. Users can talk at their regular rate and their words will be converted into text, which they can then correct on the phone if necessary, the vendors said.

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Sun Launches ATCA Blade Server for Telecom at CTIA

Wed, 05 Apr 2006 01:26:01 EST

(CIO)

Sun Microsystems launched a new family of blade servers Wednesday, offering telecommunications customers a choice of processors between Sun’s own UltraSparc or Opteron from Advanced Micro Devices.

Sun announced these Netra Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (ATCA)-standard blade servers at the CTIA trade show in Los Angeles, Calif. AdvancedTCA is a series of specifications set by the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group, targeted to communications industry requirements for high-speed interconnect technologies, next-generation processors and improved manageability.

Telecommunications is the largest vertical market by revenue for Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., so the company is staking a lot on this product. The target customers are telecommunications equipment manufacturers and network equipment providers, such as Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, Lucent Technologies and Alcatel. In turn, those companies assemble mobile network infrastructures to sell to carrier companies, said Raju Penumatcha, Sun’s vice president for Netra systems and networking.

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Dell CTO: Virtualization Can Free Linux

Wed, 05 Apr 2006 01:20:39 EST

(CIO)

Virtualization and Linux together can play a strong role in both the enterprise and on the client side, said Kevin Kettler, chief technology officer of Dell, in his keynote Wednesday at the Linuxworld Expo and Conference in Boston.

"Linux is bound by traditional operating system-to-platforms ties, and virtualization can set it free. Virtualization opens up opportunities for unique software applications and environments to reside on a single platform," Kettler said.

While the concept of virtualization is not new, it is attracting renewed interest because of technological advances such as the emergence of multicore processors, forthcoming multiple-resource I/O capabilities, and virtualization technologies built into next-generation processors from Advanced Micro Devices and Intel, Kettler said.

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SugarCRM Offers Full Open-Source User Support

Wed, 05 Apr 2006 11:57:06 EST

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SugarCRM Wednesday introduced Sugar Network, a bundle of software, online training and support for users of the open-source version of its CRM software. The company also officially unveiled the next release, version 4.2, of its commercial and open-source Sugar CRM products.

Sugar Network represents the first time the company is providing full support to its open-source users, according to John Roberts, chief executive officer of SugarCRM. Previously, the firm’s open-source support was incident-based, he said in a recent phone interview. The company made the announcement at the LinuxWorld conference in Boston this week.

Sugar Network includes plug-ins for Microsoft’s Outlook and Word, the messaging and word-processing applications in the desktop Office suite. SugarCRM is selling Sugar Network as an annual subscription for US$99 per user. Subscribers will also be able to access training modules in Sugar University, SugarCRM’s planned online training environment, which is due to appear in the summer.

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Patch Recommended for McAfee Filtering Software

Tue, 04 Apr 2006 07:09:45 EST

(CIO)

A vulnerability in McAfee’s e-mail filtering software could allow unwanted code to run on a computer, but a patch should fix the problem, according to a security advisory published Tuesday.

The bug lies in McAfee’s WebShield SMTP 4.5 MR1a release for Windows, vendor Secunia posted on its website.

Secunia rated the problem as "highly critical," writing on its website that the bug was found by Symantec.

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Anonymizer Preps to Battle China’s Net Censors

Tue, 04 Apr 2006 07:19:33 EST

(CIO)

Chinese Internet censors take more than a week to identify and block access to sites that allow Internet users to circumvent their controls, according to a top executive at Anonymizer.

"We’ve been surprised how long it takes the Chinese to block these sites," said Lance Cottrell, Anonymizer’s president and chief scientist. "It generally takes them in excess of one week."

That’s good news for Anonymizer, which recently introduced its Operation: Anti-Censorship software that allows Chinese Internet users to access blocked sites. For now, the free software is available only in English, but a Chinese version is expected to be ready in about one month, Cottrell said. "We didn’t want to delay the launch," he said.

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IBM, Rapport Debut Energy-Efficient Processor

Tue, 04 Apr 2006 08:03:50 EST

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IBM and a small Silicon Valley start-up have developed a new, energy-efficient microprocessor aimed at users who want streaming live, high-definition video on mobile devices, the companies said Monday.

The chips can be used for a variety of computing-intensive jobs, including mobile phone gaming and video, image processing and suitcase supercomputing, the companies said. Their main advantages are in data throughput and saving battery life. The companies claim the Kilocore 1025 will allow users to view high-definition video on a mobile device at five to 10 times the speed of existing processors.

The companies did not indicate whether the chips had been made available to third parties for testing.

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Samsung Bumps Blu-Ray Disc Player Launch

Tue, 04 Apr 2006 07:38:25 EST

(CIO)

Samsung Electronics will delay the U.S. launch of its Blu-ray Disc player by one month, the company said Monday.

The delay has been called to allow completion of compatibility testing with Blu-ray Disc test media that is due to be available in April, Samsung said in a statement. Once compatibility is confirmed, the player will be ready for mass production, it said.

The new launch date has been set for June 25, and Samsung confirmed the player price at US$999.

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Global Chip Sales Up During Typical Month

Tue, 04 Apr 2006 08:08:33 EST

(CIO)

Global chip sales rose 6.8 percent in February compared to the same time a year ago, led by stronger than expected mobile phone shipments and normal PC demand, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) said Monday.

The year-on-year increase shows a healthy technology market, and indicates chip growth forecasts for this year could be nearly on target.

Worldwide chip sales rose to US$19.22 billion in February, SIA said, which is a historically weak month for semiconductors due to a slowdown in consumer electronics purchases and fewer days. Last year, chip sales reached $17.98 billion.

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Intel Pitches 65-Nanometer Flash Chip for Mobile Phone Memory

Tue, 04 Apr 2006 01:46:33 EST

(CIO)

Mobile phones built in 2007 could store twice as many photos as they do now with a super-dense NOR flash memory chip from Intel.

Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., will achieve the gain by producing the chip on a tiny, 65-nanometer scale. Compared to standard 90-nanometer flash geometry, this allows designers to store 1 gigabit of data on a single layer, instead of stacking two chips.

When it ships samples of this "Capulet" chip to OEMs in the fourth quarter, Intel claims it will be at least six months ahead of rivals Spansion and Samsung Semiconductor.

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Portland Project Ties Together Gnome, KDE at LinuxWorld

Tue, 04 Apr 2006 02:02:29 EST

(CIO)

A community open-source effort known as the Portland Project gave the first look Tuesday at software tying together the two major Linux desktop environments, KDE and Gnome. The move should help speed the adoption of the open-source operating system on the desktop since developers won’t have to choose between the two different interfaces and tools when writing applications.

The Portland Project gave its technology preview of the first set of common interfaces for Gnome and KDE at the LinuxWorld conference in Boston in conjunction with the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) and freedesktop.org.

OSDL is a worldwide consortium focused on accelerating the adoption of Linux, while freedesktop.org is an open-source project devoted to interoperability and shared technology for X Window System desktops.

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Flextronics to Invest in Indian Fab Project

Tue, 04 Apr 2006 01:57:22 EST

(CIO)

Contract manufacturer Flextronics will invest in a large semiconductor manufacturing facility being set up in India by SemIndia, giving a significant boost to the fledgling project, Flextronics announced Tuesday.

Flextronics of Singapore will also use chips produced by SemIndia to make products such as mobile phones at a factory that the company is setting up in Chennai in south India, the company said. Flextronics’ new factory is scheduled to start operations by the end of July.

SemIndia, which is a consortium of investors, announced plans in November to set up a wafer fabrication and assembly and test operation in India with process technology from Advanced Micro Devices of Sunnyvale, Calif.

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Security Concerns, Costs Delay Corporate Mobile Deployments

Tue, 04 Apr 2006 01:36:51 EST

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About 60 percent of businesses are shying away from deploying mobile devices primarily due to security concerns, a new survey says.

Expense and complexity also hampered moves toward mobile computing, according to the survey, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by security vendor Symantec. Executives at 240 organizations worldwide were interviewed.

One in five organizations said they have sustained financial losses due to attacks on mobile data platforms. Businesses also said they rated threats from viruses as the same or greater on mobile devices than on a fixed network.

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Symantec Unveils Remote Data Backup Software

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 07:27:04 EST

(CIO)

Symantec is releasing a data backup product Monday that the company claims avoids risks associated with tape backup systems.

The software, called the NetBackup PureDisk Remote Office Edition 6.0, is aimed at enterprise-level customers, particularly those in remote offices, said Wim De Wispelaere, senior product manager. PureDisk is derived from Symantec’s acquisition of DataCenter Technologies, based in Belgium, in April 2005.

Symantec estimates that 35 percent of corporations’ data is located in remote offices, and the volume of data is growing at a rate of 50 percent annually, De Wispelaere said.

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Virtualization Takes LinuxWorld Spotlight

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 08:19:38 EST

(CIO)

Two virtualization software startups will vie for the spotlight at the LinuxWorld conference in Boston next week with competing offerings based on the open-source Xen hypervisor.

Startup XenSource, which also manages the development of the open-source hypervisor, will launch a commercial virtualization platform, XenEnterprise, based on the latest version of the hypervisor.

Red Hat and Novell are both integrating the open-source Xen hypervisor technology into the next versions of their Linux operating systems, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and Novell Suse Linux Enterprise Server 10, shipping this year.

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EMC Extends Archiving Software

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 10:05:06 EST

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EMC Monday rolled out software for archiving e-mail messages and reporting data from enterprise applications.

The two offerings are EMC Documentum Archive Services for E-mail, which collects and archives incoming and outgoing e-mail messages, and EMC Documentum Archive Services for Reports, which captures reports from ERP systems, invoices, Web services and other content.

EMC already offered an e-mail archiving tool, called E-mailXtender, but the company says that product is geared for users who want to archive only e-mail, while the new tool is designed for those who need to archive e-mail plus other content types.

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IBM, Novell Team to Fuel SMB Linux Adoption

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 11:37:23 EST

(CIO)

IBM and Novell have teamed up to drive Linux adoption among small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with new packaged bundles of Novell’s Linux distribution and IBM’s software and servers.

The first bundle, called the Integrated Stack for Linux, combines Novell’s Suse Linux Enterprise Server with IBM’s WebSphere Application Server Community Edition—a free J2EE application server built on the Apache Geronimo open-source application server project—and IBM’s DB2 Express-C database server, a free, scaled-down version of its DB2 Universal Database Express Edition. The offering is initially available for SMBs through distributor Avnet’s reseller channel. Avnet will preinstall the software on IBM’s xSeries Intel based-servers for resellers.

To help ease Linux deployments in Microsoft Windows environments, Avnet will also preload startup Centeris’ Likewise application for Active Directory integration and management. The Likewise application makes Linux servers appear as Windows servers in a Windows environment, allowing system administrators to manage both through a Windows console.

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Zend Ports PHP Tools to IBM Series i Servers

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 08:35:32 EST

(CIO)

Zend Technologies is porting its PHP development tools to IBM’s Series i servers for small and medium-sized business customers, bringing the popular scripting language to a new platform, Zend announced on Monday.

Zend will port its PHP tools to the i5/OS, the flagship operating system for IBM’s Series i servers, which include a package of hardware, operating system software and middleware aimed at smaller businesses.

The move reflects the growing popularity of PHP, a relatively easy-to-use programming language widely used for building websites and other Web applications, said Bola Rotibi, senior analyst for software development technologies with U.K. analyst company Ovum.

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Sun Boosts StorageTek Biz Analytics Software

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 02:21:34 EST

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Sun Microsystems has upgraded its business analytics software for storage with new reporting enhancements, it said Monday.

Sun’s StorageTek Business Analytics software is based on technology gained last year from the company’s US$4.1 billion acquisition of Storage Technology. StorageTek had previously acquired the software, formerly called Storability Global Storage Manager, from its purchase of Storability Software in 2004. Sun is still in the process of rebranding all of its storage products under the StorageTek moniker as well as integrating both the staff and technologies it gained through the acquisition.

Version 5.0 of StorageTek Business Analytics adds new NAS reporting capabilities to notify administrators when quotas are reaching capacity, as well as new reporting functionality to identify and repair orphan storage. The latest version also adds support for the Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Sun Solaris 10 operating systems, QLogic switches, and IBM and ADIC tape libraries.

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NIST Tests RFID for Tracking First Responders

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 03:16:31 EST

(CIO)

A team of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is testing whether radio frequency identification (RFID) tags could be used to track first responders inside buildings or other structures during emergency situations, NIST Tech Beat reports.

Typical RFID readers register tagged items whenever they pass by, and information pertaining to the items and their locations is collected. The NIST researchers are studying whether low-cost RFID tags scattered around the insides of buildings can determine the specific locations of first responders and send that information to a handheld device made up of an RFID reader and navigation system, among other components, according to NIST Tech Beat.

Since traditional GPS technology doesn’t adequately work inside most buildings, NIST is working to determine if sensors like accelerometers and gyroscopes could provide navigational guidance to first responders, NIST Tech Beat reports. Also, the majority of navigation systems slowly lose their accuracy over time, so the new navigation system would make the appropriate geographic corrections whenever an RFID reader registered a tag, correlating the device with its true locations, NIST Tech Beat reports.

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Elpida, Powerchip Seek No. 1 Spot in DRAM

Fri, 31 Mar 2006 07:13:22 EST

(CIO)

It was an unlikely spot to make such a bold statement. Standing in front of a mound of dirt in the middle of a barren field surrounded by rice paddies, Elpida Memory’s chief executive officer vowed on Friday to unseat Samsung Electronics from the top of the global DRAM industry.

Elpida and Powerchip Semiconductor, the largest memory chip makers in Japan and Taiwan, respectively, will work together to take the top spot in the global DRAM market, Elpida CEO Yukio Sakamoto said.

"Elpida and Powerchip will be number one in market share in two or three years," he said, adding that the companies together aim to control one-third of global DRAM output by that time. Elpida has been working with Powerchip for the past few years, trading technology for a portion of the Taiwanese company’s output.

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Toshiba Launches 1st HD-DVD Player in Japan

Fri, 31 Mar 2006 07:32:02 EST

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Toshiba began selling the world’s first HD-DVD player on Friday in Japan, moving the format battle between the world’s largest consumer electronics makers from the floors of trade shows to retail stores.

HD-DVD is backed by Toshiba, the DVD Forum and companies including Microsoft and Intel, and is vying for supremacy with Blu-ray Disc, which is backed by Sony, Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic), Samsung Electronics and others, in the race to replace DVD for high-definition content.

Toshiba’s first player, the HD-XA1, is one of two models first shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. It’s scheduled to go on sale in the United States in April along with another player, but the Japan launch Friday marks the first time a dedicated player for either format has reached the market.

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Intel Kicks Off Low-Cost PC Effort In Mexico

Fri, 31 Mar 2006 07:38:00 EST

(CIO)

Intel has partnered with a Mexican telecoms company to sell an affordable PC designed for first-time computer users in developing countries. It’s the latest effort by technology vendors to develop products for emerging markets.

Intel said the PC would be a small, energy-efficient system with "full-featured" PC technologies. It will be cheaper than typical PCs, with the price adjusted for local conditions and family incomes, Intel said, without providing a specific price.

It will use a low-power Intel processor running either the Linux operating system or Microsoft’s XP Starter Edition, a stripped-down version of the Microsoft OS for poorer countries.

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Spy Software Co. Says Product Isn’t a Trojan

Fri, 31 Mar 2006 09:33:47 EST

(CIO)

The company selling a mobile-phone spy application that has been labeled malware by F-Secure says the software isn’t malicious or illegal.

F-Secure software recently began blocking a commercial application called FlexiSpy that bills itself as the world’s first spy software built for mobile phones.

When FlexiSpy software is loaded onto a Symbian mobile phone, it sends all text messages that are sent and received, as well as call details, to FlexiSpy servers. Users can log on to the servers via the Internet to read the messages and view the call records. The problem, says F-Secure, is that the phone owner may not know the program has been installed and can’t uninstall it.

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Infineon Spins Off DRAM Ops, Plans IPO

Fri, 31 Mar 2006 07:59:37 EST

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German semiconductor maker Infineon Technologies will spin off its memory-chip business two months earlier than planned, with a public offering to be "the preferred next step," the company said Friday at a news conference in Munich, which was webcast.

The new company, to be called Qimonda AG, will start operations on May 1, 2006. The designated chief executive officer (CEO) is Infineon board member Kin Wah Loh.

Rumors had been circulating for some time that Infineon intended to spin off its volatile DRAM (dynamic RAM) operations to focus on more lucrative areas such as chips used in mobile phones, automotive electronics and security systems.

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Via Backs Trusted Platform Module

Fri, 31 Mar 2006 07:42:40 EST

(CIO)

In a move to help users better secure the data on their computers, Taiwanese chip vendor Via Technologies said Thursday it will add Trusted Platform Module (TPM) support to its line of chipset products.

TPMs are microcontrollers used to safely store and authenticate passwords, digital certificates and encryption keys. Generally attached to the motherboard of a computer, these chips, which are based on a specification developed by The Trusted Computing Group, are designed to protect user information from malicious software or physical theft.

Via will add TPM support to its line of chipsets for processors from Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), as well as those that support its own processor offerings. The company has validated its latest chipsets with TPMs produced by STMicroelectronics NV and BIOS (Basic Input Output Software) offerings from Insyde Software and American Megatrends, it said.

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NTT DoCoMo to Launch Satellite Radio Cell Phone

Thu, 30 Mar 2006 06:50:31 EST

(CIO)

NTT DoCoMo will launch in early April a cell phone with a built-in satellite radio receiver, it said Wednesday.

The Music Porter X handset from Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric is compatible with a multichannel radio service that’s been available in Japan since late 2004 but which has attracted a relatively small number of subscribers. The service operator, Mobile Broadcasting (MBCO), believes the new phone handset could mark a turning point in its fortunes and switch on a larger number of people to its service.

The phone will be launched on April 8 and is the latest in a line of phones from NTT DoCoMo that attempts to more faithfully integrate mobile music player functions into a handset. Users will be able to load MP3 and ATRAC format files into the phone’s 1GB memory and tune in to FM radio, in addition to accessing the satellite radio service. A 15-channel package of programming will be offered to users independent of cell phone service for 980 yen (US$8.30) per month, NTT DoCoMo said.

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Acer Aims for $12.3B Sales in ’06

Thu, 30 Mar 2006 07:21:00 EST

(CIO)

Acer, the world’s fourth-largest PC vendor, believes it can keep up the breakneck growth it’s seen in the past few years, forecasting NT (New Taiwan) $400 billion (US$12.27 billion) in sales this year.

Acer released the sales forecast late Wednesday, when it issued its full-year 2005 financial results. The Taiwanese company’s sales last year rose 41 percent year-on-year to NT$318.1 billion, while its net profit rose 21 percent to NT$8.48 billion. It was a record year for Acer in terms of sales.

The company wants to move up in global PC rankings and trump China’s largest PC seller, Lenovo Group. Last year, Acer’s PC shipments rose 58.1 percent over 2004, while Lenovo’s grew only 16.4 percent, according to market researcher Gartner. The Chinese PC maker holds third place with a 6.9 percent share of the global market, compared to Acer’s 4.6 percent.

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IBM Eyes Mainframe Security

Thu, 30 Mar 2006 10:02:18 EST

(CIO)

With the financial sector already one of the strongest adopters of mainframe technology, IBM is looking to capitalize further on its presence in this market by introducing the System Z9 integrated information processor (zIIP).

With the zIIP, IBM is looking to support mainframe concepts like business resiliency, workload management, hubs for data and service-oriented architecture (SOA).

The zIIP is a specialty engine that will run eligible database workloads and is designed to help free up general computing capacity. The zIIP better enables data to be centralized on the mainframe. With the zIIP capability, the System z9 mainframe helps minimize the need to maintain duplicate copies of the data and provides better security between the applications and the data.

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German Researchers Claim First Transparent OLED Pixels

Thu, 30 Mar 2006 08:07:06 EST

(CIO)

If you’ve seen the movie "Minority Report" and marveled at the transparent computer screens used by Tom Cruise, you’ll appreciate what German researchers have concocted in their labs: entirely transparent organic light emitting diode (OLED) pixels.

The researchers, located at the Technical University of Braunschweig, are claiming the development to be a world’s first.

Their approach is to use transparent thin-film transistors (TFTs) made of a 100-nanometer-thick layer of zinc-tin-oxide, which transmits more than 90 percent of visible light. Such transistors are more often made of silicon, which is used for liquid crystal displays but is highly absorptive in the visible part of the spectrum.

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Gateway Launches Thin Notebooks for Biz Users

Thu, 30 Mar 2006 01:44:11 EST

(CIO)

Gateway launched two lightweight notebooks Thursday, including its first ultraportable computer since 2002. The latest products are the M255-E lightweight performance notebook and the E-100M ultraportable notebook.

Gateway engineers redesigned the existing M250 notebook to create the M255-E with an eye on the business user, said Ray Sawall, a product manager with Gateway, based in Irvine, Calif.

They ended up with a 5.2-pound notebook with a 14-inch wide screen, Intel Centrino Mobile architecture with Core Duo processor, and modular bays that allow users to swap their choice of a DVD drive, extra hard disk drive, extra battery or a lightweight placeholder. Gateway also offers battery options, so users can pick a six-, eight- or 12-cell battery, getting up to nine hours of use.

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Mobile Users to Get More Control of Personal Data

Wed, 29 Mar 2006 06:49:49 EST

(CIO)

Mobile subscribers will be able to easily control what applications can access their location and other personal information with software that’s now commercially available from Redknee, the mobile infrastructure software vendor said Tuesday.

With the proliferation of services on mobile phones, including ones that use information about a cell phone’s location or a subscriber’s "presence" on instant messaging or other systems, more personal data is going into the back end of the mobile network, said Jeff Popoff, vice president of marketing at Redknee. The company, which already sells carriers software for personalizing mobile data services and simplifying phone-based transactions, now wants to help operators ease concerns about the privacy of that data.

The Mississauga, Ontario, vendor’s Unified Profile Server (UPS) lets a mobile operator centralize control over access to subscriber data that may exist in many different places on its network, Popoff said. With one setup session, the subscriber can set down rules for which applications or vendors can see specific types of information related to user identity. Those could include current location, credit card number, shipping address, phone number, buddy lists and presence, Popoff said.

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McAfee Plans to Acquire Security Cos.

Wed, 29 Mar 2006 07:13:25 EST

(CIO)

Security software vendor McAfee plans to acquire security companies that have technology that can be quickly integrated with the company’s products, an executive of the Santa Clara, Calif., company said Wednesday.

McAfee is scouting worldwide for companies that can offer interesting technologies in areas such as wireless security and safer Internet surfing for users, George Samenuk, McAfee’s chief executive officer and chairman, told reporters in Bangalore, India.

The acquisitions will be wholly in cash, and the deal sizes could range from US$20 million to $500 million for an acquisition, said Samenuk, who added that the company had more than $1.2 billion in cash and was debt-free.

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Intel Boosts Chip Performance With Tool Bundles

Wed, 29 Mar 2006 08:46:20 EST

(CIO)

In an effort to help PC manufacturers get the best performance out of its new Conroe processor, Intel will bundle the chip with several other hardware-based technologies.

Intel, based in Santa Clara, Calif., plans to deliver this Professional Business Platform, code-named "Averill," by mid-2006 to major manufacturers of business desktops, like Dell and Hewlett-Packard. The bundle will include the Conroe chip, Broadwater chipset, Intel Virtualization Technology and Intel Active Management Technology.

Together, those components will allow users to get much better results than Conroe alone would produce in a generic business desktop. Specifically, business users will be able to employ Conroe’s new security and management features while maintaining its energy-efficient performance, said Intel spokeswoman Christine Dotts.

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Flash, DRAM Prices Falling

Wed, 29 Mar 2006 08:39:54 EST

(CIO)

It’s about that time of year again when users who need IT products with heavy memory chip content should stand by for bargains. Prices of the NAND flash memory chips used to store data in gadgets ranging from digital cameras to MP3 players, as well as DRAM (dynamic RAM), which store data temporarily and play a large role in the speed of a PC, are falling.

The main reason for the decline in prices is the time of year. The slowest time for IT product sales is normally between April and June, with some hangover as the summer drags on and people go on vacation. By mid-May or June, it will be a great time to pick up extra DRAM modules to help perk up a PC, or even look into digital music players. Often, when memory prices decline, companies that make MP3 players add more memory to new models and slash prices on older ones.

DRAM prices on the global spot market have dropped in the past two weeks to recent lows of around US$4.58 per chip for the most widely used 512-megabit version of DDR2 (double data rate 2), compared to $5.45 a month ago, according to information from researcher DRAMeXchange Technology. It’s been more dramatic for NAND flash, where prices for the most widely used 2-gigabit chips slid 33 percent in the first half of March.

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Intel Launches PC for Rural India

Wed, 29 Mar 2006 12:24:16 EST

(CIO)

Intel on Wednesday launched a low-power, rugged PC platform that has been developed to work in rural India’s extreme conditions.

The new platform, called the Community PC platform, includes a Celeron Mobile processor, management software and a specially designed motherboard, said Joydeep Bose, managing director of the emerging markets platform group at Intel India, in an interview Wednesday.

PC vendors in India, including HCL Infosystems of Noida and Wipro of Bangalore, will be making products around the Community PC platform, according to Bose. The pricing of the products would be decided by the PC vendors, he added.

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OSDL to Fund Open Source Software Developers

Wed, 29 Mar 2006 03:05:22 EST

(CIO)

The Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) Wednesday provided a new opportunity for developers working with open-source technologies to receive funding for their projects.

OSDL has established the OSDL Fellowship Fund to provide financial support to open-source developers, according to the group. OSDL is a global consortium aimed at promoting the adoption of Linux and open-source software.

In a press statement, Stuart Cohen, chief executive officer of OSDL, said a Technology Advisory Board recently formed within the group was instrumental in setting up the new fund, recognizing the need to fill gaps in open-source development. He said the neutrality of OSDL makes it a good funding candidate for the open-source community.

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Dell Rolls Out New Business Notebooks

Wed, 29 Mar 2006 09:44:47 EST

(CIO)

Dell Wednesday rolled out new notebook computers that are based on Intel’s Core Duo processors and add new wireless connectivity and security features.

On the wireless side, the new notebooks—the Dell Latitude D620 and D820—add optional built-in connectivity to wireless broadband technology. Businesses can choose among cellular carriers such as Cingular Wireless and Verizon Wireless in the United States and Vodafone Group in Europe.

Although connectivity to 3G (third-generation) high-speed networks is still limited or not available in many cities, the laptops support Verizon’s EVDO (Evolution Data Only) and Cingular’s HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) data transmission standards. Cellular modems cost about $200, plus the cost of service plans.

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Samsung Elbows Into Chip Foundry Business

Tue, 28 Mar 2006 07:30:24 EST

(CIO)

Samsung Electronics plans to double the capacity at its chip foundry subsidiary by the end of this year and become a potent new rival in the made-to-order chip business, a senior Samsung executive said Tuesday.

The subsidiary, Samsung Semiconductor, is targeting customers requiring the most advanced production methods available, aided by a technology alliance with IBM and Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing that will take it to a cutting-edge, 45-nanometer manufacturing process.

"Our focus is on 90-nanometer and below, including 65-nanometer. Now we have [130-nanometer] and below in production," said Ana Hunter, Samsung’s new vice president of technology at the U.S. subsidiary.

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JBoss Unveils Messaging, Web Server Projects

Tue, 28 Mar 2006 12:04:12 EST

(CIO)

JBoss released a new messaging system on Tuesday that it hopes will extend the reach of its open-source enterprise middleware platform into the high end of the market. It also announced a new open-source Web server, which will be released to the public in June.

The JBoss Messaging 1.0 component is now available as a stand-alone product, and will become the foundation for JBoss ESB 1.0, the company’s Enterprise Service Bus project, due out later in 2006. JBoss will also make JBoss Messaging the default Java Message Service (JMS) technology in JBoss Application Server 5.0, also due later this year. Applications designed for JBossMQ, the JMS system built into the existing version of JBoss Application Server, will run unchanged on JBoss Messaging 1.0, the company said.

JBoss Messaging implements the JMS 1.1 and 1.02b specifications through its JMS Facade module, and includes support for "facades" that can handle other messaging protocols, JBoss said.

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Bluetooth SIG Sides With Wi-Media Alliance

Tue, 28 Mar 2006 02:51:59 EST

(CIO)

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has picked sides in the battle between two competing UWB (Ultra Wideband) short-range, high-speed wireless technologies, choosing the Wi-Media Alliance’s MB-OFDM (multiband orthogonal frequency division multiplexing).

The SIG has decided to base a future high-speed version of Bluetooth on MB-OFDM instead of the rival direct-sequence UWB version from the UWB Forum, said Michael Foley, executive director of the SIG in a news conference Tuesday. The Wi-Media Alliance is backed by Intel, while the UWB Forum is led by Motorola spin-off Freescale Semiconductor.

"After speaking with our members, we have heard overwhelmingly that Wi-Media was the version of the technology they wanted to see enabled within the Bluetooth spec," Foley said. "There was not one thing in particular; it was a collection of features, or advantages, that made us choose."

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IBM to Invest $1B in Software Development

Tue, 28 Mar 2006 03:16:15 EST

(CIO)

IBM will be investing US$1 billion over the next three years to expand its information management software development efforts. To support the initiative, the company will be dedicating 15,000 skilled practitioners globally and hopes to grow this base by 65 percent over the same period.

Big Blue is further aligning its software and consulting arms to address an emerging business opportunity estimated to reach $69 billion by 2009 (18 percent CAGR), driven by a convergence of emerging challenges facing businesses today—including globalization, mergers and acquisitions, and regulatory compliance. These factors, IBM said, have ignited client demand for new insight and technology to enable them to innovate and grow their business.

“Next to people, information is a company’s greatest asset, but its value can’t be realized if it’s not effectively managed and delivered to the right people, business applications and processes," said Steve Mills, senior vice president, IBM Software Group. "While there’s no shortage of individual piece-part products out there to help manage, search, secure and store information, companies drowning in data need a holistic approach if they have any hope of using their information for real business advantage. By combining our software and consulting expertise, IBM is helping clients unlock the real value of their business information."

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Fujitsu Plans 200GB Laptop Drive for Q3

Mon, 27 Mar 2006 07:20:50 EST

(CIO)

Fujitsu expects to begin shipping a 200GB hard-disk drive suitable for use in laptop computers in the third quarter of this year, the company said Monday.

Based on that schedule, the drive could be available in computers for end-users within the year. That’s earlier than Fujitsu predicted last year when it said such drives wouldn’t be available until 2007.

The current highest capacity 2.5-inch drive from Fujitsu can accommodate up to 160GB of data, so the new drive will represent an increase in storage capacity of 25 percent. Like the 160GB drive, the new model will have a Serial ATA interface and is primarily aimed at entertainment and multimedia laptops, which often need a large storage area for video files.

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Taiwan Warns Chip Maker UMC on Compliance

Mon, 27 Mar 2006 07:28:34 EST

(CIO)

United Microelectronics needs to show it is complying with a Taiwan government fine and with requests to remedy its relationship with a Chinese chip maker, a high-ranking official said Monday.

Although the government is "in no hurry" to levy another fine on the world’s second-largest contract chip maker, UMC needs to show some improvement, said Tsai Ing-wen, the vice premier of Taiwan, during a meeting with journalists in Taipei.

The Taiwan government fined UMC NT$5 million (US$153,000) in February for allegedly aiding in the establishment of Chinese chip maker He Jian Technology (Suzhou) without first gaining approval from Taipei, as required by regulations.

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Siemens Winds Down Chip Manufacturing Investments

Mon, 27 Mar 2006 10:04:25 EST

(CIO)

As German electronics giant Siemens refocuses its business, it is selling its remaining stake in components-maker Epcos, following the sale of its share in Infineon Technologies last week.

Siemens unloaded its 12.5 percent stake in Epcos on Monday by selling the 8.1 million shares it owns, said Siemens spokesman Wolfram Trost.

Trost estimated the value of the shares at around €90 million (US$108 million).

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IBM Shrinks Circuit With Nanotube

Fri, 24 Mar 2006 08:26:46 EST

(CIO)

Researchers at IBM have taken a large step toward creating nano-scale processors. They have built an electronic integrated circuit by combining conventional silicon technology with a carbon nanotube molecule.

The resulting hybrid circuit is still slower than a conventional component, but it is an important proof of concept, said Joerg Appenzeller, research staff member at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

IBM released the news Thursday in a paper published in the journal Science.

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Palm Rides Treo Sales to Strong Quarter

Fri, 24 Mar 2006 02:52:34 EST

(CIO)

Shares of Palm were trading up slightly at midday Friday, boosted by a strong third-quarter financial report and an optimistic forecast for the fourth quarter.

Thanks to strong sales of its Treo smart phone, Palm beat analyst expectations for quarterly profits. The Sunnyvale, Calif., company on Thursday reported revenue of US$388.5 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2006, up 36 percent from the same period a year ago. That compares to analyst estimates of $374.65 million for the quarter, which ended March 3.

Palm predicted revenue between $400 million and $405 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006, which will end June 2. That would beat current analyst estimates of $394.91 million for that period. Shares of Palm (Nasdaq ticker: PALM) were trading up $0.18 at $20.32.

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Dell Snaps Up Alienware

Thu, 23 Mar 2006 06:46:10 EST

(CIO)

Dell has agreed to purchase high-performance PC vendor Alienware, the two companies announced Wednesday.

The acquisition will "compliment Dell’s own line of high-performance computers," while giving the Alienware products the benefits of Dell’s "supply chain and operational efficiencies," the companies said in a statement.

The purchase, which was rumored for weeks, is expected to clear regulatory requirements in 30 to 60 days. Ultimately, the acquisition will shorten the time it takes for customers to get their hands on Alienware’s sleek gaming workstations and laptops.

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Nanya: No Plan to Invest in Infineon DRAM

Thu, 23 Mar 2006 07:00:02 EST

(CIO)

Nanya Technology has no plans to take a stake in the memory chip company Infineon Technologies will spin off this year, an executive said Thursday.

Nanya, which is based in Taiwan and shares a joint venture chip operation with Infineon, also has no plans to merge with or be bought out by the German company, said Pai Pei-lin, vice president of global marketing and sales at Nanya Technology, in an interview.

Infineon announced its intention to leave the boom-bust DRAM industry last year, in a plan aimed at creating a new company and taking it public through an initial public offering, most likely on an Asian stock market. The German chip giant plans to focus instead on logic chips used in autos, industrial electronics, communications and other products.

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Polysilicon Shortage to Hurt Solar Cells, Not Chips

Thu, 23 Mar 2006 09:14:46 EST

(CIO)

An acute shortage of the main raw material necessary to build chips won’t hurt chip makers, but solar cell producers will feel a pinch from the lack of polysilicon, a Merrill Lynch analyst said Thursday.

It’s good news for the IT industry because everything high-tech requires chips for calculating, memory and other tasks. And even higher prices for polysilicon globally probably won’t be passed on to users because it still makes up just a small percentage of the overall cost of a chip.

The polysilicon shortage has been caused by rocketing demand for solar cells, which collect sunlight and convert it into electricity, in the face of soaring global oil prices. But investment in new polysilicon plants has remained slow, leading to the current shortage, said Simon Tsuo, chief executive officer of the solar panel division at Taiwan’s Motech Industries.

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Corning Develops ’Green’ Glass for LCDs

Wed, 22 Mar 2006 07:29:31 EST

(CIO)

Glass maker Corning has developed a more environmentally friendly glass substrate for use in LCD (liquid crystal display) production that is free of all heavy metals, including arsenic, the company said Tuesday.

The new material, dubbed Eagle XG, is a bid by the company to keep ahead of ever more stringent environmental regulations, and will also help in recycling LCD displays made using the glass, Corning said in a statement. For users, it doesn’t mean a great change in terms of health concerns because current LCD displays are safe to use. The most potentially harmful by-products from LCD displays are added to glass during the manufacturing process to prevent the formation of bubbles on the glass part of the screen, which would cause a producer to throw away the entire screen.

Many new materials are being developed in high-tech industries to cope with stricter environmental rules in Europe, the RoHS Regulations (Restriction of the use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations), which come into effect July 1 of this year. RoHS regulations ban from EU markets any new electronic or electrical equipment that contains more than certain set levels of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium and other materials.

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Qualcomm, China Firm Start Mobile Software Co.

Wed, 22 Mar 2006 07:35:04 EST

(CIO)

Qualcomm has partnered with TechFaith Wireless Communication Technology to jointly invest US$35 million in a new wireless application software company in China, the companies announced Wednesday.

The new company, TechFaith Software China (TechSoft), will initially develop applications and services for 3G CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) handsets. TechSoft will operate independently and have offices in Beijing and Hangzhou, China, Qualcomm said.

TechFaith Wireless itself is a company that Qualcomm previously invested in as part of its broader strategy to invest in Chinese companies developing CDMA-based products, Qualcomm said.

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Intel to Unwire Emerging Indian Tech Hub

Wed, 22 Mar 2006 07:58:10 EST

(CIO)

The city of Pune in western India, which has fast-emerged as a technology hub for multinational technology corporations, may soon be blanketed by wireless coverage under a plan announced Wednesday by Intel.

Intel has been selected by Pune’s municipal corporation to set up an "unwired Pune" by next year, the company said. Using a combination of Wi-Fi and WiMax technologies, the municipal corporation plans to cover 400 square kilometers of the city with wireless connectivity.

After completing the project, Pune will look into using the wireless networks for e-governence projects, such as online education.

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Oracle Adds ’New Leg’ to Biz With BI

Wed, 22 Mar 2006 09:56:27 EST

(CIO)

Oracle is making a major push into business intelligence (BI) software with three bundles of existing products, the vendor announced Wednesday. The company anticipates ramping up its BI software presence in the same way that it built up its middleware business, according to Oracle President Charles Phillips.

"We’re adding a new leg to our business," Phillips said during a New York event, which was also webcast. The bundles include analytics software Oracle acquired through its approximately US$6 billion purchase of Siebel Systems, completed earlier this year.

Available Wednesday, the three software bundles are branded Oracle Business Intelligence Suite and include the company’s database, its Fusion middleware and analytics software, according to Phillips.

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Linux Kernel Updated with Oracle, Cell Support

Wed, 22 Mar 2006 02:16:30 EST

(CIO)

Support for Oracle database clustering and IBM’s Cell processor are among the new enhancements in the latest version of the Linux kernel.

Linux kernel developer Linus Torvalds announced the release of version 2.6.16 Monday in the kernel mailing list.

The update includes a clustering file system from Oracle that is aimed to ease the management of Oracle RAC (Real Application Cluster) installations.

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Sage Bids for Norwegian Software Co.

Wed, 22 Mar 2006 11:59:03 EST

(CIO)

British software company Sage Group offered Wednesday to buy Visma, a business-management software vendor based in Oslo, for 334 million pounds (US$585 million).

The offer, which has been recommended by Visma’s board of directors, is subject to due diligence. The offer represents a 19 percent premium over Visma’s average share price over the past 20 days, according to a news release.

Visma offers business productivity services such as debt collection and employment services, among others. The company, which caters to Scandinavian small and medium-size businesses, fits into Sage’s strategy of expanding into new markets, said Paul Walker, Sage’s chief executive officer, in a statement.

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GPS Chip Vendor SiRF Aims at Mobile TV

Wed, 22 Mar 2006 09:49:17 EST

(CIO)

Chip vendor SiRF Technology Holdings will introduce a mobile TV product next year that will let mobile phones and other mobile devices receive TV programming, according to a company executive.

The mobile TV market appears likely to take off over the next two years, and there are no major players in the market, said Kanwar Chadha, founder and vice president for marketing of SiRF, which is based in San Jose, Calif.

Makers of mobile phones, PCs, consumer electronics, and automobile navigation systems that currently use SiRF’s GPS (global positioning system) chips want to include mobile TV as a new function, Chadha said. The technology is complex enough for SiRF to offer a differentiated product, he added.

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Samsung Offers Flash-Based Disk

Tue, 21 Mar 2006 07:09:13 EST

(CIO)

Users may soon see flash-based disks in laptops and other mobile computers after Samsung Electronics announced that it’s already offering a 32GB drive to customers, the beginning of an industry change that could have sweeping consequences in the technology industry.

The South Korean technology company showed off its 32GB solid-state disk (SSD), a flash memory-based replacement for hard-disk drives, at the CeBIT IT trade show in Hanover, Germany, earlier this month. On Tuesday, the company said it’s already offering the drive to customers.

The company expects the market for SSD drives to reach US$4.5 billion by 2010 thanks to the growth of mobile computing, according to Chang-Gyu Hwang, president and chief executive officer of Samsung’s semiconductor division, who was speaking at Samsung’s third annual Mobile Solutions Forum in Taipei.

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1st Firefox 2.0 Alpha Release is Imminent

Tue, 21 Mar 2006 07:39:32 EST

(CIO)

Developers at the Mozilla Foundation are readying the first alpha version of the Firefox 2 open-source browser, and could release it as early as Tuesday. The release includes a new "Places" feature intended to make it easier to find and return to recently visited webpages.

The development team decided to freeze the code for what will become Firefox 2.0a1 as of last Thursday, with a view to releasing the code this Friday, according to the minutes of a Firefox 2 status meeting held March 14 at the foundation’s headquarters. However, another notice posted to the webpage of the Mozilla Developer Center advised that the Thursday code freeze could lead to a release as early as Tuesday.

The foundation’s "tinderbox" server, which automatically recompiles and packages the latest Firefox code as it is updated, listed a package labeled firefox-2.0a1 as available for download last week, prompting some Mozilla watchers to claim the alpha version had already been released.

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Sun Releases Open Source Processor Designs

Tue, 21 Mar 2006 02:01:35 EST

(CIO)

Sun Microsystems has taken another step to leverage open-source design so that developers can create more servers based on its Sparc chip architecture. As expected, the company on Tuesday released the source code for its UltraSparc T1 processor.

The strategy is part of Sun’s OpenSparc Initiative, a move to create the world’s first multicore, multithreaded ecosystem, the company says.

Sun advanced that effort in February when it released its Hypervisor API (application programming interface) specifications. That move allowed companies to port Linux, BSD and other operating systems to UltraSparc T1 and gave developers the information they needed to create related hardware and software tools.

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Extensity Aims to Be $1B Co. Within 3 Years

Tue, 21 Mar 2006 11:56:44 EST

(CIO)

Newly formed financial applications software vendor Extensity hopes to become a US$1 billion business within 36 months, according to the company’s Chief Executive Officer and President Ken Walters.

Funded by private equity firm Golden Gate Capital, Extensity effectively opened its doors Monday. The new company is now home to financial and performance management applications that were previously part of Geac Computer.

Starting out, Extensity’s annual revenue is around $325 million, Walters said in a phone interview Monday. The next major milestone will be reaching $500 million, which he hopes to achieve over the next 12 to 18 months, with the eventual goal of reaching $1 billion in annual revenue by 2009.

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OpenVZ to Release Kernel for Suse Linux Enterprise 10

Tue, 21 Mar 2006 02:07:13 EST

(CIO)

The OpenVZ Project Thursday will release its kernel for Novell’s Suse Linux Enterprise 10, said project officials.

OpenVZ, a scaled-down, open-source version of SWSoft’s Virtuozzo technology, is operating system-level virtualization technology built on Linux. It allows users to create isolated, virtual private servers on a single physical server to improve server utilization. Each virtual server can be rebooted independently.

The OpenVZ Project is also in discussions with Red Hat to incorporate OpenVZ into Red Hat’s Linux distribution, said Kirill Kolyshkin, who heads the project. The main goal, however, is to incorporate OpenVZ into the mainstream Linux kernel, Kolyshkin said.

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HP Introduces ’Arches’ Chipset

Mon, 20 Mar 2006 01:19:55 EST

(CIO)

Hewlett-Packard (HP) is rolling out a chipset for its Integrity midrange and high-end servers that it says will boost performance by 30 percent over its current "Pinnacles" chipset.

The new sx2000 chipset, code-named "Arches," was originally geared to launch for Integrity servers based on Intel’s forthcoming dual-core "Montecito" chip, but Intel has pushed back the launch of that chip until later this year.

So, HP tweaked the chipset to support its servers based on Intel’s existing "Madison" processor as well as for future servers based on "Montecito."

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Cray to Unite Scalar, Vector Computer Architectures

Mon, 20 Mar 2006 01:29:52 EST

(CIO)

Cray plans to create a new supercomputing platform combining four different types of processing capability in a blade server architecture. The platform will run Linux on Advanced Micro Devices’ Opteron processors, and should be on the market by 2010, a spokesman said Monday.

The company anticipates changes in the nature of high-performance computing applications: Instead of being composed purely of scalar calculations, or entirely of vector operations, they will increasingly be a mix of the two. Cray intends that its future supercomputers match that mix.

"Even today, you see heavily vectorized applications where 1 percent is scalar, but if you don’t have a scalar processor for that 1 percent, it might take 10 times as long to run the application. You could just fall off a performance cliff," Cray spokesman Steve Conway said.

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The Bugs in the Rug are RFID

Fri, 17 Mar 2006 07:20:38 EST

(CIO)

One of Germany’s best-known makers of vacuum cleaners and carpets aims to tap a new market: intelligent flooring embedded with wireless chips.

Vorwerk & Co. Teppichwerke GmbH & Co. is launching a textile flooring underlay equipped with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, Vorwerk spokesman Thomas Weber said Friday.

"After three years of research, we’re launching field tests with several companies that intend to use our smart-floor technology," he said. "We’re now able to mass-produce the product."

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Sanyo, Quanta Plan Flat-Panel TV Joint Venture

Fri, 17 Mar 2006 09:12:57 EST

(CIO)

Japan’s Sanyo Electric and Taiwan’s Quanta Computer have reached a basic agreement to form a joint venture to make and sell flat-panel TVs, they said Friday.

The televisions will be sold under the Sanyo brand and also offered on an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) basis to other TV vendors, the companies said in a statement. The venture seeks to combine Sanyo’s research and development work and global sales network with Quanta’s low-cost production base in China.

Precise details of the new venture, including ownership details, have yet to be decided, they said.

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Nvidia Acquires Indian Co. for Engineering Staff

Fri, 17 Mar 2006 10:32:40 EST

(CIO)

Graphics chip maker Nvidia has acquired Pace Soft Silicon in Pune, India, to increase its number of engineers in the country, according to a Nvidia executive.

The key benefit from the acquisition, which was completed in December, was quick access to a team of talented engineers, said Alain Tiquet, Nvidia’s group director of marketing for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Asia), in an interview Friday.

Tiquet did not disclose the acquisition’s price. Pace had been focused on video software for mobile devices.

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GPS Tracks Calif. Gang Members

Fri, 17 Mar 2006 10:18:37 EST

(CIO)

In an attempt to keep better tabs on San Bernardino, Calif., gang members, a number of the state’s prison officials have started to use global positioning system (GPS)-enabled anklets, Reuters reports.

State prison officials affixed GPS-enabled anklets to three known gang members last week, according to Reuters.

San Bernardino, located roughly 60 miles east of Los Angeles, is the first California city to employ the technology to track gang members, Reuters reports.

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Cisco Zooms In on Enterprise Video

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 07:44:58 EST

(CIO)

Fresh on the heels of its acquisition of video infrastructure vendor Scientific-Atlanta, Cisco Systems is making big bets on video for enterprises.

President and Chief Executive Officer John Chambers gave a few clues on Wednesday about a "telepresence" system that he said will make videoconferencing more lifelike; the company is soon to unveil software for enterprises to manage and present video content for employees, partners and the public.

The telepresence system will use "life-size" high-definition video and directional sound technology that makes voices seem to come from where a user is located at the remote site, Chambers said. It will even include better lighting than current systems, said Donald Proctor, senior vice president of Cisco’s Voice Technology Group, in an interview at the conference. Proctor declined to give more details on the technology.

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Lawson’s ERP Upgrade Adds SOA Capabilities

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 09:26:12 EST

(CIO)

Lawson Software has announced a new version of its ERP applications that includes SOA (service-oriented architecture) capabilities delivered through a middleware partnership with IBM.

Lawson announced last May that it would work with IBM to develop SOA interfaces for its business applications. Wednesday’s announcement of Lawson Release 9 represents the culmination of that year-long effort, Lawson said.

The company competes with ERP vendors SAP and Oracle, both of which have also been adding SOA capabilities to their products. As well as bringing SOA capabilities to Lawson’s software, the deal benefits IBM by giving it a major applications vendor committed to its service-oriented architecture, analysts have said.

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CeBIT: Vendors Flunk Wireless Security Test

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 12:57:58 EST

(CIO)

More than half of the wireless networks deployed at the CeBIT technology show in Hanover, Germany, last week had no encryption enabled, making the systems behind them prime targets, according to Kaspersky Lab, a security vendor.

"The number of unprotected access points is unacceptably high," Kaspersky said. "It should again be stressed that these points provide access to the local networks of companies participating in CeBIT--a prime target for hackers."

Kaspersky detected 300 wireless networks on March 9 and 10, during which 56 percent lacked security while only 44 percent used the WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) security protocol. The findings are surprising considering the IT-savvy crowd at the trade show and increasing awareness of computer security issues.

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CeBIT: Low Power Is Future for High-Powered Servers

Wed, 15 Mar 2006 07:21:04 EST

(CIO)

The electricity consumed by a server over its lifetime is likely to cost as much as the server itself if energy costs continue to rise, according to one analyst. That should make energy efficiency a key concern for data center managers--and it’s a concern that server vendors are increasingly addressing.

"If you take a server where the processor is using 80 to 90 watts, and factor in all the other hardware to support that--air conditioning, storage and so on--the cost of the electricity used by that server is on a par with the cost of the server over its life," said Steve Prentice, vice president and director of research at Gartner, speaking at the International CeBIT Forum in Hanover, Germany, last week.

"I don’t see IT managers replacing servers just for environmental reasons, but if it’s to slash 40 percent to 50 percent off electricity costs, that’s serious money," Prentice said.

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Study: RFID Tags Subject to Viruses

Wed, 15 Mar 2006 07:37:17 EST

(CIO)

Three computer science researchers are warning that viruses embedded in radio tags used to identify and track goods are right around the corner, a danger so far overlooked by the industry’s high interest in the technology.

No radio frequency identification (RFID) viruses have been released live as of now, according to the researchers at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands. But RFID tags have several characteristics that could be engineered to exploit vulnerabilities in middleware and back-end databases, they wrote in a paper presented Wednesday at a conference in Pisa, Italy.

"RFID malware is a Pandora’s box that has been gathering dust in the corner of our ‘smart’ warehouses and home," the paper stated.

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HP Seeks Big Growth With Thin Clients

Wed, 15 Mar 2006 01:41:46 EST

(CIO)

Hewlett-Packard launched its next generation thin-client computers Wednesday, rolling out the t5720, which uses Advanced Micro Devices chips. HP previously used processors from Transmeta, which no longer makes chips.

The company hopes the change will help it grab a greater share of the fast-growing market for thin-client computing, from business use at all levels and, in the future, for home use.

The t5720 thin client will be 10 percent faster than its predecessor, the t5710, and still use less wattage, said Keith Martin, product manager for HP thin clients. It achieves that by using the AMD Geode NX 1500 processor, a 1GHz chip based on the mobile Athlon. The t5720 also has more memory, with up to 512MB of flash memory and 512MB of DDR (double data rate) RAM. It runs the Windows XP Embedded operating system.

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Acid Test May Prove New Browsers Are Tough Sell

Wed, 15 Mar 2006 10:56:17 EST

(CIO)Opera Software recently became one of the few browser makers to pass the Acid2 test, and while that may earn the company bragging rights in the developer community, it’s unlikely to convince more Web users to switch from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, one analyst said. Opera initially proposed the creation of the Acid2 test as a way to highlight the lack of support for some standard HTML (hypertext markup language) and CSS (cascading style sheet) features in Internet Explorer (IE) and other browsers, said Hakon Lie, chief technology officer for Opera. The Web Standards Project (WaSP), an independent group that supports the use of standards in browsers, created and hosts the test. To pass the test, a browser must be able to accurately display the test page. Opening the page with IE reveals a large red block with some spots on it. A browser that passes the test, however, will display a smiley face and the words "hello world." Read More... [...]



Broadband Providers: Devices OK to Attach

Wed, 15 Mar 2006 02:19:15 EST

(CIO)The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and a group of broadband providers on Wednesday announced a set of principles that would allow consumers to attach devices to broadband video networks. The series of principles, designed to ensure the commercial availability of devices that attach to Internet Protocol-enabled video networks, was endorsed by large broadband providers AT&T, Verizon Communications and BellSouth. They call for open standards for consumer electronic devices such as set-top boxes and digital recorders, and the broadband providers said they will strive for "enough nationwide commonality" in their video networks to allow nationwide compatibility. The telecom providers are rolling out IP video networks to compete with cable television. These new networks will "provide consumers across the nation with a revolutionary new way to access their favorite video programs when and where they want," Gary Shapiro, CEA president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "In order to realize the full potential of this brave new world, consumers must be able to choose from the exciting array of innovative new devices being developed by consumer electronics manufacturers." Read More... [...]



Sun to Light up Public Grid on Monday

Wed, 15 Mar 2006 02:33:36 EST

(CIO)Sun Microsystems on Monday is set to light up its long-delayed public computing grid allowing users to book CPU (central processing unit) hours with a credit card through a Web-based portal, company officials said. The Santa Clara, Calif., company first promised to turn on the public grid last year, but has delayed the rollout. Reasons for the delay depend on whom you ask at Sun, but have included security issues, development hurdles and a redirected focus on Sun’s enterprise grid computing efforts. In the past year, Sun has referred to the public grid both as the "retail grid" and the "SMB (small to medium-sized business) grid." While the target market is not yet clear, the gist of it is that users can visit a website, sign up for grid services via PayPal and load their programs to be processed on Sun’s infrastructure. Read More... [...]



Fujitsu Extends Opteron-Based Blades

Tue, 14 Mar 2006 01:04:55 EST

(CIO)

In an effort to extend its blade servers to handle more demanding database applications, Fujitsu Computer Systems Tuesday said its Primergy BX630 blade servers can now be linked together into an eight-socket system.

Fujitsu started shipping the Primergy BX630 servers, which are powered by dual-core Advanced Micro Devices Opteron processors, late last year. At that time the company said that through AMD’s HyperTransport technology in Opteron, users could link a pair of the two-socket BX630 blades to create a single four-socket system, providing up to eight processing cores in a single system.

Now Fujitsu is combining a pair of those four-socket blades into a single eight-socket system, providing up to 16 processing cores, said officials.

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Via Announces Mini-ITX Motherboard for the C7 Processor

Tue, 14 Mar 2006 01:07:07 EST

(CIO)

Via Technologies Inc. Tuesday announced its first Mini-ITX motherboard designed to be used with its C7 processor.

The new board allows the chip to be used in smaller PCs. Measuring 170 by 170 millimeters, the Mini-ITX is one of the smallest motherboards on the market and is a favorite of PC enthusiasts.

Previous versions of Via’s Mini-ITX motherboards, which are sold under the EPIA brand, are designed to be used with the company’s Eden processor line. However, the EPIA EN series announced on Tuesday includes versions designed for both Eden and the C7.

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Samsung Produces DDR2 with 80-Nanometer Process

Tue, 14 Mar 2006 01:09:14 EST

(CIO)Samsung Electronics has begun mass production of 512M-bit DDR (double data rate 2) DRAM (dynamic RAM) chips using an 80-nanometer production process, the company said Monday. The 80-nanometer production process will allow Samsung to meet rising end-user demand for DDR2, the company said in a statement. When describing a production process, the number in nanometers refers to the size of the smallest feature that can be created on a chip. The more advanced production process allows Samsung to reduce the die size of a chip, meaning more chips can be produced on a single silicon wafer. Die size refers to the area on silicon that a chip takes up. With more chips produced on a single wafer, the smaller die size means lower manufacturing costs for the DDR2 chips, which should translate into lower costs for end users. Read More... [...]