All eyes continue to be glued to Intel and its upcoming Core i7 (Nehalem), but AMD has a product release in the wings too, this one for the server market. The struggling chip maker said it's planning to release a new server platform in the second half of 2009 currently code named Fiorano. Built to take advantage of AMD's upcoming 45nm Shanghai processor, Fiorano represents the company's first foray into the server chipset market instead of using chipsets from Nvidia and Broadcom.
The Fiorno platform will fully support the company's chip-to-chip technolgy called HyperTransport 3 while also offering a new virtualization technology called IOMMU, which allows for the virtualization of the system's I/O traffic. Support for the second generation PCI-Express will also be included, but the same can't be said for DDR3 because of cost concerns.
"it will hit once the price of DDR3 comes down," said John Fruehe, who handles worldwide channel market development for AMD's Server and Workstation Division. "The back half of next year is about the time the process changes in DDR3 will happen that will allow the prices to come down."
The first AMD platform to use DDR3 memory will be called Maranello (previously known as Piranha).
Yesterday Google announced on its Android Developers Blog that it is releasing the Android 0.9 SDK beta. A crude SDK build was made available in November, 2007 to give a dekko into the Android mobile platform. The Android 0.9 SDK gives developers a better chance to unravel the OS before the release of version 1.0. The release of 1.0 shouldn’t be far off as the first Android-bearing phone will be soon launched by T-Mobile, a member of the Open Handset Alliance. It is called the Dream and has been developed by leading smartphone manufacturer HTC, another key member of the consortium behind Android. To get your hands on the 0.9 SDK beta and Google’s development roadmap head over to the official blog.
With Asus, Lenovo, Toshiba, Acer, MSI, and everyone else offering mini-notebooks, it might be easier to list which companies aren't jumping on the netbook bandwagon than vice versa. But is the recent hype surrounding ultraportables just a passing fad, or is it here to stay?
If it is a passing fad, research firm Gartner says to expect the craze to stick around for at least a little while. The firm reports that worldwide mini-notebook shipments are on pace to reach 5.2 million units in 2008, with 8 million expected to ship in 2009. However, by 2012, Gartner says the market could balloon to nearly 10 times the size it is today with the potential to see as many as 50 millin units sold.
"The demand for mini-notebooks will be driven by several factors: by their small form factor and small screen, their light weight, their price, their ease of use and their basic, but sufficient, PC functionality," said Annette Jump, research director at Gartner. "Mini-notebooks are likely to attract a variety of users with different usage scenarios."
If Gartner's predictions hold true, the ultraportable market will have shifted from low-cost education PCs to consumers in both mature and emerging markets, including some business buyers. The research firm says the largest growth opportunities for mini-notebooks are in the consumer subcategory, which will eventually account for about 70 percent of all ultraportable sales.
Tom’s Hardware reports that IBM and its chip development partners (which includes AMD), revealed that they beat Intel in creating the first functional 22 nm SRAM cell. Unfortunately 22nm processors are still 3 years out. This will put the pressure on Intel to make sure it keeps its manufacturing lead. Intel presented its first 32 nm SRAM cell wafer last September and is not expected to show 22 nm SRAM cells for another year.
While for the foreseeable future it seems likely that Intel will remain on top in CPU performance, this announcement means that we could be looking at a shakeup within three years unless Intel starts cranking away in research. We can certainly hope for things to heat up in the processor wars again. We don’t want Intel to become complacent about it’s position in the market.
The most popular game in the social activist fraternity and political circles currently happens to be “blame the videogames.” However, there are ardent gamers and researchers galore to even out the scales. Once again, fresh studies have reinforced the value of games in enhancing cognitive and perceptual skills among children; creating a breed of hyper-dexterous surgeons; and bolstering scientific reasoning capabilities in gamers. All said, there is a slight blemish with one of the studies having found that violent games lead to more violent behavior among gamers. Make the "jump" for all the justification you need to keep playing games.
Come December, directory assistance will hit the web in a big way, and it has nothing to do with the online yellow pages. Instead, ICANN has approved the creation of a new domain name, .tel, which will serve to offer a one-stop surfing destination to look up contact information on what it hopes will eventually include every individual and corporate entity.
ICANN says that .tel sites are stored within the DNS systems so that information can be "quickly accessed on any device from a game console to a PC to a mobile phone." Regardless of the vehicle, navigators could, for example, head over to WillSmithMPC.tel to gain access to a wealth of contact information, including address, phone, Facebook URL, IM, Twitter, and whatever else the MPC editor-in-chief chose to share. Companies can purchase a domain name too, meaning you could visit MaximumPC.tel to see who's on staff and other contact information for your favorite magazine.
The new Telnic-owned domains will go on sale this December with initial registrations reserved for trademark owners. General availability opens up to public on March 24, 2009. Pricing yet to be announced.
Another social news voting system gets added to the web today as Yahoo opens up its Buzz to the public. Prior to the public release, only about 400 publishers could contribute new links to the service, though anyone could see them and vote buzz up or down what they consider to be the most/least interesting news stories.
The release comes with little fanfare or hype, an interesting move for a service that hopes to contend with similar sites like Digg and Reddit. Separating itself from the pack, Buzz's algorithms also analyze search engine popularity rather than remain purely community driven, and Yahoo's editors still program the Yahoo.com front page.
While it's far too early to predict how Buzz will fare, the social service could gain some traction both by leveraging other Yahoo communities, and by luring participation by having some of the most popular news items posted on its main page.
Another birthday for the CD has come and gone and yet the damn things just won’t die. On Aug. 17th, 1982, the Compact Disc was born into an age of rampant consumerism that was the 1980s. Big hair was in, big vinyl and the big snarls of tape from cassettes was out.
The CD of course wasn’t without its drawbacks. They disliked abuse and absolutely had to live in their cases. I replaced the bulk of my CDs with my first car player before going back to cassette so I could dub my own playlists and stop spending money on music I had already bought. Even the players then were delicate. My car CD player touted a 3 second anti-skip buffer for those canyons in the road called potholes. Of course back in east Texas they had washboard roads that could eat up that buffer and just ruin AC/DC’s Who Made Who.
It would be well over a decade later before semi affordable CD-Rs would arrive. Since then everything from music, to photos, to video, to Grandma’s recipes have been stored on CD.
Some really great things came on CD like, Windows 98, Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A., and Starsiege: Tribes. I invested a big chunk of my life in Tribes.
Of course the CD is also responsible for bringing us some really bad things too. Remember Windows Millennium Edition? They should have melted down those CDs before they left the factory. Then there was Mary Schneider’s Yodeling the Classics. That thing should be classified as a method of torture.
Remember when AOL used to spew out those CDs to pimp their dialup service? I use to use them as coasters for my coffee cup. When a new one came into the office, (about every few days it seemed) I’d toss my old AOL coaster and put down the new one.
What do you think some of the best and worse things that have ever been put to CD are?
As we covered previously, Dell was trying to trademark the term ‘cloud computer’ and had filed the necessary paperwork with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The application had reached the Notice of Allowance phase where they receive a written notification that a mark has survived the opposition period and that other parties have had a chance to object to the application.
In a ruling posted on the trademark office’s web site on Aug. 12th, they rejected Dell’s application to trademark the term cloud computing, backing away from a final official recognition of Dell’s application.
The trademark office’s findings said, "In addition to being merely descriptive, the applied-for mark appears to be generic in connection with the identified services and, therefore, incapable of functioning as a source-identifier for applicant’s services”. This leaves everyone in the IT field saying, “Well, duh!”
Each year, we ask, "Was this the best year ever for games?" A good deal of the time, our answer tends toward "Yes," with a few nostalgia-maniacs vehemently worshipping 1998 instead. "Oh, they're just raving fanboys," I've always thought of those stuck in '98. "Their opinions are rooted in so much misguided subjectivism that even a bulldozer couldn't budge them."
However, a recent post at the always-interesting Sexy Videogameland gave me some insight into another, altogether more-acceptable reason for gamers' unyielding grip on the past. The post, by Leigh Alexander, of course, took a look at our tendency to play a game once, shove it into a nice, dusty shelf corner, and leave it there with no hope of excavation. Why do we do this? Especially when, as Leigh pointed out, many of us were happy to bury months of our lives in a single game back in the day.
But the answer's simple, really: You're reading this column.
As a bleeding-edge gamer, when you're not playing a game, you're probably reading about other games -- basking in the ever-brightening glow of a new title's hype -- and getting yourself psyched to play them. This column, with its daily dose of the latest gaming news, only helps propagate this trend.
Really though, does it matter? As Leigh pointed out, our consumer-focused society breeds hit-driven industries. Movies, TV, sports -- you name it. "15 seconds of fame" is an apt phrase. So we're just like other media. Big deal. But I think it does matter. I think games, by virtue of their interactivity, are meant to break the typical, rapid-fire hype cycle. And that's why so many gamers love 1998. The year was chock-full of top-notch titles, but gamers still spent hundreds of hours with their favorites -- testing boundaries and pushing limits. Why? The hype train as we know it hadn't quite picked up steam. Print was still strong and the Internet wasn't the all-knowing force that it is today.
And therein lies the problem. As the gaming industry grows -- as the press expands and the hype train takes on new carts -- it defies its own potential. Someday, games will shrug off the shackles of linearity, but will gamers stick around to experience those trailblazers in different ways? Or will our own anticipation for The Next Big Thing get the best of us?
Today's Roundup details a couple of initiatives that could grab at gamers' ankles and never let go, but will they work? Can't say. But for now, my commentary will have to suffice. It's all past the break.