PC builders continue to jump for joy at the rock bottom prices of memory, leading to an easy decision to go with a 4GB kit in lieu of a 2GB kit of RAM. Never has memory been so cheap, and some say the market for memory makers is the worst it has been in 15 years.
And therein lies the problem. While end users are celebrating low prices, DRAM makers have been cutting back production, reducing workers' hours, and laying off employees all in an attempt drive prices back up and cope with decreased revenue. But it isn't enough, and now it appears that memory makers have reached a crossroads.
"We believe that the DRAM industry has entered the key adjusting stage of 'reduce or retire,'" DRAMeXchange stated. "The big scale reduction is now in progress and even some DRAM vendors will be out of the DRAM market in 2009. This adjusting wave will continue until the demand and supply come to balance."
According to DRAMeXchange, the cash cost of the market's 70nm technology is between $1.3 and $1.5 and is expected to drop to $1.0 to $1.2 as DRAM makers migrate to the 6x nm process. Total 12-inch wafer output continues to fall, with the reduction for November expected to be 125,000 less wafers, which is equivalent to 10 percent of the total 12-inch wafer output. The situation looks to get even worse in December, with another 17,000-wafer reduction expected, with more reductions possible in January.
"We expect the oversupply situation will be eased starting from the end of Q1 2009," DRAMeXchange said. "Therefore, the DRAM price may have a chance to rebound at the end of Q2 09 and Q3 09 with the rising demand of PC OEMS."
The question is, which memory makers will be left standing by then?
Pocket-sized HD camcorders appear to be all the rage lately, and Pure Digital looks to answer the question of 'how small can you go' with its new Flip Mino HD. From the same maker of the Flip Video, Pure Digital's new camcorder checks in at just 3.3-ounces, which the company claims is the "world's smallest HD camcorder."
"Consumers have embraced Flip Video because it delivers on the promise of making video simple, affordable, and fun," said Jonathan Kaplan, Pure Digital's chairperson and CEO. "Flip Mino HD, along with FlipShare software, now make it easy for anyone to capture and share their stories in stunning HD quality."
We'll reserve judgment on the quality of its HD video, but at least on paper, the Flip Mino comes prepared to shoot up to 60 minutes of 720p HD content. Other notable specs include a 1.5-inch anti-glare LCD display, one-touch recording with 2x digital zoom, touch-sensitive buttons, 4GB of internal memory, integrated video publishing to YouTube, MySpace, and AOL Video, and the ability to capture still photos from video.
Nvidia looks to take on both Intel and Apple and make a bid for the mobile device market with its Tegra chip. The low powered "computer on a chip" boasts an ARM based processor core, HD video decoder capable of 1080p playback, a variation of the GeForce graphics core, an integrated media processor, and more.
Right now the chip is in the development phase, which company president and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang says is going exceedingly well. Barring any snags, Huang says we can expect to see Tegra shipping sometime between April and June of 2009. The launch would likely kick off with the Tegra 600 running at 700MHz, Tegra 650 running at 800MHz, and the Tegra APX runing at 600MHz.
It remains unclear which partners plan to utilize Tegra, but given the specs, it shouldn't be hard to find willing manufacturers.
Down but not yet out, Circuit City has secured a whopping $1.1 billion in financing that will help keep the chain operational, at least for the immediate future. The loan, which comes from the same banks that backed Circuit City's $1.3 billion credit line, will be used to pay salaries and continue buying merchandise as the company restructures.
The loan gives the chain "another lease on life," Chris Horvers, an analyst with J.P. Morgan Securities Inc., wrote in a note to clients yesterday.
And a new lease is exactly what Circuit City needs. Debt has piled up as the electronics retailer owes $119 million to Hewlett-Packard and $116 million to Samsung Electronics Co. In its Chapter 11 petition, Circuit City indicated $3.4 billion in assets and $2.32 billion in debt.
Circuit City already announced plans to close 155 stores while also cutting up to 20 percent of its 43,000-employee workforce. Despite the new loan, that could be just the beginning. According to what Circuit City's lawyers told the judge, the company will likely shut down even more locations and attempt to find a buyer for a slimmed-down version of the chain.
For awhile there, things were looking pretty grim for AMD's graphics division, ATI. Nvidia could do no wrong, leaving AMD content to focus on the low to mid-range market and conceding the high-end altogether. Would ATI silicon ever be competitive again?
As we found out, the answer is yes. As a result, AMD's graphics chips have been able to take some market share away from Nvidia, according to a report by market research Jon Peddie Research.
"AMD has by all account exceeded expectations with its Radeon 4000 series," the report claims. "Priced aggressively yet delivering solid performance, AMD's new line not only took back some market share -- jumping up to 40 percent from 35 percent the quarter prior -- it forced Nvidia (and other partners) to cut prices on its recently released GTX 200 series product."
More than just price cuts, we've repeatedly referred to the situation as a price war between the two camps. Never have gamers been able to get so much gaming bang for their buck, and looking at the market share results, the war appears to be favoring AMD. Interestingly, JPR notes sequential growth in add-in boards (AIBs), which increased by over 2 million units from Q2 to Q3 2008, but a 15 percent drop in year-to-year growth.
Thanks to a borked update, some PC users running AVG's free antivirus were in for a long and frustrating weekend. The virus definition update, which was released on Saturday, erroneously detected the "user32.dll" file for the Trojan Horse PSW.Banker4.APSA instead of recognizing it as a critical Windows component. Once the scanner went active, users found their AVG software recommending that they delete the quarantined file. Doing so caused systems to either stop booting or enter into a continuous reboot loop. Whoops!
The misinformed update affected both AVG 7.5 and AVG 8.0 installations on Windows XP. Vista users appear to be in the clear, though a spattering of user comments around the web have indicated otherwise. In any event, another update has corrected the error. For those who already deleted the critical system file, AVG is providing step-by-step instructions on how to restore your system back to a working state. Whether or not it restores your faith back in the program is another question altogether.
Hit the jump and let us know what security software you're using.
When you were a hopeful, ambitious young whippersnapper, we're sure -- for the 15 minutes after you saw Apollo 13 -- you wanted to risk life, limb, and lunch by becoming an astronaut. Well, so did Ultima creator Richard "Lord British" Garriott, but he still went into game development and... oh wait, now he's abandoning game company NCsoft to live a life among the stars. Or something.
"I am very grateful to you loyal players for sticking around through what I think we can all honestly say was a rough launch. I thank the development team for pushing hard to get polish, updates and new content out every month since launch...a feat that I think is unusual in MMO development. They have a lot to be proud of," Garriott said in his farewell note.
"Many of you probably wonder what my plans are, now that I have achieved the lifelong dream of going to space. Well, that unforgettable experience has sparked some new interests that I would like to devote my time and resources to. As such, I am leaving NCsoft to pursue those interests."
Good luck, Mr. Garriott. Earth won't be the same without you.
Slow and steady wins the race against piracy? That's probably the mantra that came of EA and DICE's recent mind-meld, in which the publisher-developer duo decided to keep lithe heroine Faith from tip-toeing across PC rooftops until 2009 -- at least two months after consolites get their fix.
Now, today, after an almost conspicuously lengthy session of nonchalant whistling and faux-confused shoulder-shrugging, EA has announced a release window for its totalitarian twist on the formula Mario laid forth.
"The PC version of Mirror’s Edge will ship in North America in January 2009," said the press release. But that's not all.
"To keep the action coming after launch, DICE is currently developing downloadable content that will be available at the beginning of the year. More details to be announced shortly."
A late release to keep pirates from affecting sales figures? A spot of DLC to make players think twice about dumping Mirror's Edge in GameStop's used games section? Sounds like EA's really playing things safe with this franchise. It's just a damn shame that we all have to suffer for it.
Actually, "damn" isn't quite potent enough to describe the shame stream that currently plagues this situation. Jump past the break to see a more fitting phrase.
Dell has decided to pass on releasing their MP3 player this holiday season. With no real reason cited for the delay, it looks like Apple can sit back and let their iPod dominate the sales charts once again.
While the release of the MP3 player has been put on pause, their work on the planned entertainment software, Zing, has continued and is expected to release sometime this fall. Zing is purported to organize downloaded music and movies on PCs.
With any luck, this will give Dell more time to finely tune their product. Jumping into an Apple dominated market isn’t something that… anyone has succeeded at. But with 2003’s DJ Ditty failure behind them, perhaps Dell has learned their lesson.
Arizona-based Hyperion Power Generation is looking to take what was once a mammoth-sized power generator and shrink it down to a fraction of that size, thanks to some technology licensed from the U.S. government. They call it the Hyperion Hydride Reactor.
The Hyperion Hydride Reactor is a self-operating nuclear powered reactor that will output 27MW of power (enough to power 20,000 homes), won’t have any movable parts, will be self-operating and other than refueling, won’t require any maintenance. And unlike normal nuclear reactors, the need for water-cooling has be eliminated. This gives it the unique option to be placed anywhere.
According to Hyperion’s CEO, John Deal, their goal is “…to generate electricity for 10 cents a watt anywhere in the world.” And with the technology behind it, they’ve even managed to garner interest from the oil and electricity industries, as well as developing nations.
The reactor’s uranium hydride core is surrounded by hydrogen gas will only need to be refueled every 7-10 years. Other than that, it will remain completely undisturbed.