The Terminator movies are entertaining and all, but they forget to point out one important fact in the midst of all the cybernetic shotgunning; if Skynet is ever going to actually become self-aware, it'll probably require a drastic change in the way computers process information. Hey, James Cameron – don't sweat it. IBM has your back. The company just announced it's created a series of prototype "chips designed to emulate the brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition." We suspect they'll also be the key to the eventual robot revolution.
Hazy mobile plans notwithstanding, the chip maker has signed up for the MeeGO mobile operating system project. It will be lending its engineering expertise to the open source Linux-based OS project, which already includes the likes of Intel, Nokia and the Linux Foundation as its backers.
“MeeGo represents an exciting, open-source mobile operating system we expect to be adopted by mobile and embedded device makers over time,” said Ben Bar-Haim, corporate vice president, software development, AMD. “We are glad to provide engineering resources to joint industry efforts like MeeGo and expect that this operating system will help drive our embedded plans and create expanded market opportunities for our forthcoming Accelerated Processing Units.”
It can be argued that British chip designer ARM is perhaps one of the most self-effacing tech companies out there. Quite a rarity in a world where big tech firms are always on the lookout for opportunities to draw attention to themselves and their products. But with its customers already selling 4 billion chips a year, the Cambridge-based outfit can not possibly evade the limelight.
ARM's latest attempt at modesty is, well, very modest. Although it currently doesn't – and may never – measure up to Intel in terms of vital business statistics, but the fact is its chip designs are virtually everywhere, and they already pose a huge threat to Intel's hegemony by the virtue of their ubiquity alone.
"Construction of the new fab reflects expectations for increasing demand for NAND flash memory for existing and emerging applications, such as smartphones and solid-state drives," the companies said in a statement. Fab 5 will be ready for action midway through next year.
The facility is part of a Toshiba plan to spend 500 billion Japanese yen (US$5.65 billion) on new factories and equipment during the next three years.
Despite reports to the contrary, market research firm iSuppli warns that semiconductor inventories are too low to sustain demand, The Wall Street Journal reports.
"When measured in terms of [days of inventory], chip supplier stockpiles for the 10 semiconductor product categories tracked by iSuppli appear to be within the range of normal seasonal equilibrium," said analyst Carlo Ciriello. "However, iSuppli believes these numbers are misleading and that the supply chain is actually leaner than current levels indicate."
iSuppli's bean counters determined that global semiconductor inventory amounted to $25.73 billion in the first quarter of 2010, up just 1 percent from $25.48 billion in the previous quarter, and barely rising to the tune of 0.2 percent from the first quarter of 2009.
The numbers are somewhat deceiving, says iSuppli. During the 69 days in the first quarter, days of inventory rose 3.2 percent from the fourth quarter and appear to be strong. But that isn't the case when factoring in both reported revenue and inventory value, as well as adjusting cost of goods. When all is said and done, the metric drops 20 percent below the seasonal average, iSuppli said.
It’s no secret that Nvidia and Intel are having a dispute over chipset licenses. Now it seems like Nvidia is getting a little fed up with the whole situation. On a new Nvidia website called “Intel’s Insides”, you’ll find a series of editorial style cartoons with some sharp criticisms of chip maker Intel.
The cartoons take aim mostly at Intel’s legal woes, which have gotten that much more severe with new US federal action this week. The US case is related to the same scandal that ended with Intel receiving massive fines in the EU. Intel is accused of bribing OEMs to keep them from using rival AMD’s chips. It all makes for some good cartoon fodder.
Editorial cartoonist Steve Lait creates the cartoons for Nvidia. The site explains that the series “is intended to be a parody of events occurring within the semiconductor sector, with particular focus on its largest and most commented-upon competitor." In all honesty, the cartoons aren’t that funny. But really, how amusing can the nuances of the semiconductor world be?
Its next-generation microprocessors, which are based on its Westmere microarchitecture, are codenamed Clarkdale (desktop version) and Arrandale (notebook version). The “Dales” chips are a multi-chip solution featuring 45nm integrated graphics cores. Intel is also expected to shed light on a new system-on-chip technology, besides announcing transistor improvements. The event might also feature some updates on the company’s Larrabee platform.
Many people still think of Apple as a relatively small computer company, even though it’s a large consumer-electronics company. Those folks were surprised by recent reports that Apple is hiring more chip designers. They question the wisdom of plunging deeper into the risky and costly venture of designing custom chips.
But Apple’s moves are a logical response to current events. We are witnessing a fundamental shift in computing, as important as the debut of personal computers in the 1970s.
Desktop PCs—and to a lesser extent, notebook PCs—are the old wave. The new wave integrates mobile computing and communications with ubiquitous Internet access. Although notebook PCs can ride this wave, they are the largest species of new personal computers. Netbooks are better examples. Best of the new breed are the Apple iPhone, RIM Blackberry, and Palm Pre. More are coming.
The schism between DDR3 and DDR2 spot prices is widening. According to market research firm inSpectrum, although memory module and graphics card vendors made a lot of inquiries for DDR3 during the last week (July 13-17), transaction volumes remained low due to limited stocks. The market’s bullishness helped the price of DDR3 to continue its upward trends while price of DDR2 continued to fall with cussed consistency, with the price of 1GB effectively tested (eTT) chips even dropping below $1.
DRAM contract prices have refused to budge during the second half of June, according to DRAMeXchange. The first half had witnessed an increase in contract prices and chip suppliers, encouraged by the token recovery, were planning to increase prices.
Although analysts expected DDR3 contract prices to rise on the back of increased demand resulting from the launch of ultra-thin notebooks, DDR3 prices have remained stagnant. DDR2 contract prices have remained static just as anticipated.
The contact prices for 2GB DDR3 and 2GB DDR2 chips have averaged $23 and $21.50, respectively, in the second half of June. On the other hand, the contract prices for 1GB DDR3 and 1GB DDR2 chips are $1.25 and $1.16, respectively.