Despite tough economic times the world over, the processor market grew by 10.1 percent in the second quarter of this year, driven in large part by continued demand for Intel's Atom processor. That being the case, one would think we'd see more Atom-based mobile Internet devices (MIDs) or ultramobile PCs (UMPCs) show up in the market place, so why aren't we?
That's the question news site Arstechnica set out to answer, and what they discovered was pretty interesting. After failing to find many Atom-based MIDs or UMPCs for sale on the web, Arstechnica took a jaunt over to Intel's online list of MID/UMPC products intended to showcase what the company's technology can do, only to discover an outdated page. Everything listed is based on Intel's old McCaslin platform and out of production, which would seem to indicate that MIDs and UMPCs aren't a high enough priority for Intel to even bother updating its page.
"MIDs are very much alive and well, still are very central to our strategy in the mobile handheld space," said Shane Wall, VP of Intel's Mobility Group. "And we have a roadmap that certainly goes beyond 2012."
Walls went on to describe the MID sector as a work-in-progress, saying "it's what we had hoped it would be at this point. And in terms of volume it's above what our internal targets are." If only the retail channel agreed.
After strongly backing HD-DVD during the format wars of yesteryear, Toshiba has announced that they plan on releasing a Blu-ray player, and have applied to join the Blu-ray Disc Association.
“In light of recent growth in digital devices supporting the Blu-ray format, combined with market demand from consumers and retailers alike, Toshiba has decided to join the BDA,” stated an official press release. “Toshiba aims to introduce digital products that support the Blu-ray format, including BD players and notebook PCs integrating BD drives, in the course of this year. Details of the products, including the timing of regional launches, are now under consideration. We will make announcements in due course.”
So, as you can gather, there’s no word yet on any pricing or availability, but they’ll surely keep the world posted.
For those of you that are looking to get a Windows 7 Vaio from Sony, don’t plan on using the Windows XP mode to run applications, because it won’t be included with the systems.
According to Sony’s Xavier Lauwaert Windows 7’s XP mode will be disabled due to security reasons. According to one of Sony’s engineers, they’re “very concerned that enabling VT would expose our systems to malicious code that could go very deep in the Operating System structure of the PC and completely disable the latter.”
Apparently Sony still plans to enable XP mode on some machines, but as to which models they choose or when it’ll be available, nobody knows.
The rich get richer, so the saying goes, and it applies to Intel's x86 CPU business. Already the No.1 CPU maker in the world, Intel's x86 processor market share rose to 80.5 percent in the second quarter of 2009, up from 78.2 percent in the first quarter.
According to market research firm Mercury Research, Intel's recent market share growth is attributable to the chip maker's aggressive desktop CPU price cuts, as well as increased inventory alleviating continued shortages in certain segments.
Meanwhile, competitor AMD saw its shares drop from 20.9 percent in the first quarter to 18.7 percent in the second, a trend the No. 2 chip maker can't be happy about. It was almost a year ago that AMD announced a split into separate design and manufacturing firms.
VIA's market share remained relatively unchanged, claiming just under 1 percent for the second consecutive quarter.
We've longed bemoaned the real-world write performance of most SSDs, which often falls short of the much speedier read speeds. Even worse, surmises HotHardware, is the potential for an SSD's write performance to degrade over time.
"The flash memory used on today's SSDs is comprised of cells that usually contain 4KB pages that are arranged in blocks of 512KB," writes HotHardware. "When a cell is unused, data can be written to it relatively quickly. But if a cell already contains some data -- no matter how little, even if it fills only a single page in the block -- the entire block must be re-written. That means, whatever data is already present in the block must be read, then it must be combined or replaced, etc., with the new additional data, and the entire block is then re-written."
The good news is most manufacturers are attacking the problem head on via firmware. One such example is OCZ's implementation of the Indilinx firmware, which the company plans to include on all Vertex series drives. When the drives are idle, Indilinx and other similar SSD firmware sweep through an SSD's cells looking for and removing so-called "garbage data."
HotHardware got its hands on one of OCZ's new Vertex drives outfitted with the Indilinx firmware and the results are pretty surprising. After "dirtying" the drive with chunks of data, performance degradation became apparent while running the ATTO Disk Benchmark. But after letting the drive sit idle for 5 minutes, performance numbers were nearly restored to new condition.
Nvidia’s second quarter profits are evidence poor quality costs much more than just bad PR. The company recorded a charge of $119 million to cover warranty costs associated with faulty die and weak packaging materials used in its graphics chips. This is significantly better than the $196 million it had already written off for the same reason, but it was still much higher than analysts were expecting.
Most of these issues can be traced back to a faulty solder bump that was discovered in its 8M-series mobile graphics chip. Nvidia estimated at the time that the warranty costs could be somewhere in the range of $200 million, but clearly the $315+ million they have already spent shows they were perhaps a bit overly conservative in their estimates. This might be a result of the problem reportedly cropping up in G92 and G94 series mobile cards as well, but Nvidia has been pretty tight lipped on the issue.
When asked to comment on the charge Nvidia downplayed the impact and described them as a small distraction. Nvidia President and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang claims it hasn’t impacted Nvidia’s ability to launch new products, and he expects profits to rise in the near future. Huang is being optimistic, but he is likely hoping to reassure investors who saw the company’s revenue drop this quarter to $776.5 million from $892.6 million only a year ago. “The company has invested in new products such as Tesla, a graphics processing unit for high-performance computing, and low-power Tegra chips for mobile devices. The products should start contributing to the revenue stream soon”, Huang said.
It’s been a long time since TDK had bragging rights in the storage wars, but a new breakthrough promises to put them back on top. According to the companies recently released roadmap, a 3.5 inch 2.5TB drive design is currently being tested which will feature a new 640GB platter. This would allow TDK to leapfrog Seagate, Hitachi and even Western Digital who are still working with 500GB platters.
Mass production is currently planned for November of this year and will most likely result in drives hitting the street on or around late January or early February 2010. TDK is also investing heavily in the production and testing of a new 320GB platter for 2.5 inch drives which will result in low power, high performance 640GB notebook drives around the same period next year.
Sure this is a far cry from the 5TB Hitachi was promising for 2010, but TDK can still be king for a day right?
In November of last year, Intel's Atom processor was noted as being largely responsible for record growth in the processor market. While no more records are being broken, the processor market continues its upward climb -- to the tune of 10.1 percent in the second quarter of this year -- and once again, Intel's Atom chip is the reason why.
"The percentage of Intel's revenue earned in Asia/Pacific grew from 51 percent in 1Q09 to 55 percent in 2009," Shane Rau, director of Semiconductors: Personal Computing research at IDC, noted in a statement. "This fact, combined with the significant sequential 'snap-back' rise in Intel's overall processor shipments -- particularly Atom shipments -- while AMD's overall shipments were about flat, indicate that the PC processor market didn't recover in 2Q09."
The growth from Q1 to Q2, notes IDC, is mostly attributable to manufacturers replenishing their chip inventory rather than increased consumer demand for PCs. Predicting that most OEMs have now balanced their inventories, IDC says going forward we're more likely to see what the actual demand really is.
The last Thermalright cooler we reviewed, the IFX-14 (November 2008), actually bested our then-champion Thermaltake DuOrb in performance, but its enormous size cost it the crown. The slimmer Ultra-120 eXtreme, while still a skyscraper of finny goodness, is much skinnier than the IFX-14, and (happily) includes one 12cm clip-on fan—the older model supported two fans, but included none.
Five nickel-plated copper heat pipes rise from opposite sides of the base through a large stack of heat-dissipating fins, cooled by a 12cm fluid-dynamic bearing fan. The included fan connects to the motherboard fan socket with a 3-pin connector, so there’s no onboard fan-speed control.
Hitachi can't lay claim as the first manufacturer to develop a 2TB hard drive -- that distinction belongs to Western Digital -- but it is the first one to do so with a 7200RPM spindle speed, besting the spindle speeds found on 2TB drives from both WD and Seagate.
"The new Deskstar 7K2000 reflects our ongoing commitment to provide customer, channel partners, and OEMs with proven, reliable solutions for enabling desktop computers, gaming systems, workstations, and desktop RAID arrays," said Brendan Collins, vice president of marketing, Hitachi GST.
Hitachi's fourth generation Deskstar crams 2TB onto a five-platter design "with relaxed bit density" and perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology. As would be expected in a modern, high performance drive, the 7K2000 boasts 32MB of cache and a 3Gb/s SATA interface.