Has it been 25 years already? Apparently it has, or so NEC tells us that's how long its MultiSync brand has been kicking. That's an eternity in tech years, and exactly how long the ATI brand was kept alive until AMD recently announced plans to kill it off.
"People forget that in 1985, the same year that Microsoft released Windows 1.0 and Intel introduced a 16 MHz processor, NEC unveiled a monitor brand that has enriched the computing experience of millions and millions of people around the globe," said Pierre Richer, President and C.O.O. of NEC Display Solutions. "Of particular significance are the breadth of performance and innovation that NEC has contributed through the brand for more than a generation. For example, MultiSync was one of the first future-ready computer peripherals in history. It didn’t force users to change monitors when they upgraded their computers."
In addition to celebrating 25 years, NEC has another reason to gloat. The display maker has shipped 40 million Multisync branded monitors to date, an impressive milestone in its own right.
As a way of saying "Thank You," NEC said it's offering to extend its desktop monitor warranties to five years for $25 for 17- to 30-inch panels purchased between December 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011.
In a joint statement, NEC, Intel, and Microsoft announced that the companies will enter into a strategic relationship -- can you guess why? If you said 'to provide digital signage to the global market,' then you're either clairvoyant or cheated and clicked on the link.
Intel and Microsoft were already best buds in this venture dating back to January 2010, and newcomer (to the team) NEC's role will be to "integrate solutions and services including content management and media distribution with the digital signage platform based on the Intel Core i5/i7 processor running Windows Embedded Standard 7."
That's all well and good, but when we first heard these three were teaming up, we kinda hoped it would have something to do with fast tracking USB 3.0 to the mainstream market. Silly us.
The development of PC display technologies over the last 30 years has taken us through many chapters: from IBM, the creator of the IBM PC, pioneering color display technologies (and ceding development to third-parties ATI, 3dfx, and nVidia); to the quest to provide both sharp text and colorful graphics; through the ever-increasing size of displays; to LCD flat panels overtaking TV-type CRTs; the move to 3D graphics rendering and, currently, to 3D viewing. Here's a brief history of these and other milestones in PC graphics history.
Long gone are the days of bulky CRT monitors in mainstream use, a point which is underscored by the introduction of NEC's new 23-inch MultiSync EX231W LED-backlit monitor.
The EX231W sports a slim bezel measuring just 14.6mm wide and is comparatively light at 9.3 pounds, including stand. Specs include a 1920 x 1080 resolution, 250 cd/m2 brightness, and 25,000:1 contrast ratio (dynamic).
There are a couple of features not found on most monitors, such as a USB pass-through on top of the monitor, and a human sensor on the front that detects activity. This latter feature, NEC says, reduces power consumption by up to 95 percent.
NEC says the EX231W will sell for around $340 in November. Full press release after the jump.
NEC this week added to its MultiSync display line with a new eco-friendly monitor the company says was designed with business users in mind.
"NEC is committed to continuing its strong leadership role within the industry by contributing to a greener environment with an eco-friendly display in the quickly-growing 23-inch category," said Lynn Gu, Product Manager for NEC Display Solutions. "The MultiSync E231W uses an LED-backlit panel to increase energy savings by up to 40 percent in comparison to conventional CCFL-backlit LCD monitors. This is especially beneficial for our business customers in this economic downturn."
The 23-inch panel boasts a widescreen LED-backlit display with a 1920 x 1080 HD screen resolution. It also comes with a number of green-inspired technologies, such as a carbon footprint meter and the Intelligent Power Manager (IPM), which NEC says helps conserve energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by switching to a lower power state or automatically powering down when you're not using the display.
As details of AMD's Hudson D1 -- the southbridge the chip maker will launch in tandem with its upcoming dual-core 32nm Fusion processors -- begin to trickle out, one thing still up in the air is how USB 3.0 will factor in. According to whispers among some notebook makers, there's a good chance AMD will integrate USB 3.0 into Hudson.
We won't have to wait very long to find out. The Hudson D1 chipset is expected to debut in the fourth quarter of 2010 and will primarily target ultra-thin notebooks and netbooks. USB 3.0 is somewhat of a rarity so far on mobile PCs, and with Intel taking its sweet little time pushing the SuperSpeed spec, something like this could give the Sunnyvale chip maker a leg up in a segment mostly served by Intel.
While nothing is yet decided, there's reason to believe AMD will get this done. AMD is already tapping into NEC to outfit its desktop boards with USB 3.0, and extending that relationship over to notebooks shouldn't be overly challenging.
While Intel continues to ignore our plea to jump on the USB 3.0 bandwagon and get the SuperSpeed spec rolling in full force, NEC is taking matters into its own hands and will reportedly cut prices for its first- and second-gen USB 3.0 chips in 4Q10. These are being described as "significant" price cuts, while the company's next-gen SuperSpeed chips will start shipping in the first quarter of 2011 for less than $2 a piece.
NEC, which currently holds a 90 percent share of the USB 3.0 market, is just one of several manufactures pushing SuperSpeed chips into motherboard makers' hands. ASMedia (an Asus subsidiary), VIA, Etron, and Fresco Logic have all introduced price cuts of their own, with ASMedia dipping all the way down to $1.7 per chip for bulk orders.
As for next-gen USB 3.0 parts, NEC's upcoming chips will reportedly feature higher performance, lower power consumption, and mainstream price points. There's talk that this pricing strategy will cut into NEC's profits, but the bulk of that will be offset from IP licensing fees, including that from bigwig clients like AMD, Intel, and Microsoft.
Thirty-three states, including California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and others, will receive $173 million from six DRAM makers to settle a suit accusing them of fixing prices for products between 1998 and 2002. Companies named in the suit include Micron, NEC, Infineon, Hynix, Elpida, and Mosel Vitelic.
"These companies conspired in an illegal global scheme to fix prices on chips used in computer equipment sold to consumers, schools, and government offices," California Attorney General Edmund 'Jerry' Brown Jr. said in a statement. "The large price tag of this settlement should serve as a warning that we will crack down on any manufacturers around the world that choose to gouge consumers through illegal price-fixing schemes."
It is yet to be determined how much each company will pay towards the $173 million collective settlement, which is to be doled out over the course of two years plus interest to the affected consumers, schools, and government offices.
"The settlement money is welcome, but the illegal overcharging never should have happened in the first place," Brown added. "Especially when times are tight, schools and government agencies can't afford to be ripped off by companies that violate our anti-trust laws to keep profits high."
Following an extensive investigation into alleged price fixing violations, the European Commission found nine memory makers guilty of wrongdoing and fined them a collective $404 million.
The companies involved include Samsung, Infineon, Hynix, Elpida, NEC, Hitachi, Toshiba, Mitsubishi, and Nanya, all of which submitted settlements admitting their liability for infringement, according to reports. Micron would also have been included, but ultimately was not fined since it told the Commission about the cartel as far back as 2002.
"You may think that to use the word 'settlement' next to the word 'cartel' sounds quite strange," Almunia said. "So let me explain right away that we are not compromising on cartels, with or without a settlement. A cartel is the worst violation of competition rules since its object is to collude against the interests of other companies and of consumers."
Samsung received the biggest fine at $145.7 million, with Infineon receiving the second largest fine at $56.7 million. The cartel is said to have operated from July 1, 1998 and June 15, 2002.
Automated technology to detect pirated content has been tried before, but the results are usually a mess of false positives and misses. NEC claims their new video identification system can succeed where the others have failed. According to NEC, the technology has a detection rate of 96% and a suspiciously good false positive rate of 1 in 5 million.
The NEC detection system works by creating a digital fingerprint from the original content. The files are 76 bytes in size per frame, making storage of many fingerprints doable. The system can work with scenes as short as two seconds; say goodbye to fair use. NEC is also claiming it can detect content that has been altered by converting it from digital to analog, or filming in a theater. It is unclear if a video can be manipulated sufficiently to evade the filter.
The technology is on its way to being integrated into the upcoming MPEG-7 media standard. We'll be interested to see if NEC is promising more than it can deliver here. It sounds like Star Trek level tech to us.