There aren't too many companies with the infrastructure or financial backing in place to take on Intel in the desktop processor market, nor can there be much gumption after witnessing the struggles AMD continues to go through as the sole competitor. But in the fast growing netbook sector, all bets are off. VIA's Nano chip has emerged as a viable contender with a promising multi-core future, AMD is expected to unveil a chip for ultraportables at CES, and now yet another company looks to jump in the ring with a low cost processor of its own.
Freescale Semiconductor announced on Monday a new ARM-based chip from its i.MX line the company claims will finally make sub-$200 netbooks a reality.
"We see a huge opportunity in the netbook market as consumers demand more cost-effective and higher performing solutions,” said Lisa Su, senior vice president and general manager of Freescale’s Networking and Multimedia Group. “Our solution for netbooks will enable OEMs to develop compelling products that feature cell phone-like battery life at extremely aggressive price points."
Hit the jump to learn more about Freescales new chip.
If AMD continues to falter in 2009, it won't be from a lack of processors. Less than two weeks ago, DigiTimes reported that the Santa Clara chip maker would churn out no less than half a dozen 45nm Athlon CPUs by June of 2009 in addition to the upcoming Phenom II release, all of which are aimed at the consumer desktop sector. But that's just the beginning; AMD also plans to flesh out its business CPU lineup with several 45nm silicon as well, DigiTimes says.
Six new business classes processors divided evenly between dual-, triple-, and quad-core parts are slated for Q3 2009. These include:
Athlon X2 B21 (2.7GHz, 2MB cache)
Athlon X2 B23 (2.9GHz, 2MB cache)
Phenom II X3 B71 (2.6GHz, 7.5MB cache)
Phenom II X3 B73 (2.8GHz, 7.5MB cache)
Phenom II X4 B91 (2.6GHz, 8MB cache)
Phenom II X4 B93 (2.8GHz, 8MB cache)
Several new Phenom II, Athlon X2, and Athlon processors will also receive last order notices in Q4 2009.
A little over two decades ago, Kelly LeBrock would have been a shoe-in as the year's sexiest geek for her role as the computer-generated hottie in Weird Science (check out this NSFW trailer). Today, probably not so much. Taking her place are 2008's sexiest geeks as voted by Wired.com readers, the results of which might surprise you.
Taking the top spot is Philip DeFranco, a 23-year-old video blogger (we refuse to say 'vlogger') whose 'The Philip DeFranco Show' boasts over 100 million views on YouTube. At number 7, kooky faux newsman Stephen Colbert checks in as the only other male to make the list.
Marina Orlova, whose HotForWords videos earned her the number 1 spot in 2007 dropped to number 2 this time around. The rest of the pack includes Kari Byron (3) of MythBusters, Electric Playground host Jade Raymond (4), World of Warcraft fan Mila Kunis (5), Tina Fey (6) of 30 Rock, actress Zooey Deschanel (8), math advocate and actress Danica McKellar (9), and actress Alyson Hannigan (10).
Who do you think should be considered 2008's sexiest geeks? Hit the jump and let us know!
Copy protection and DRM in general is a difficult subject to write about objectively. If you take a step back and look at the desire to protect ones intellectual property, DRM sounds like a good idea. But as a legitimate consumer of many types of media, it can be somewhat frustrating to know that pirates get to enjoy their plunder on any device, while my DVD remains locked to its plastic prison. Ways around this exist, but they are often somewhat involved, and if you’re trying to keep things legitimate, it’s difficult to know exactly when you’ve broken the law. CD and DVD copy protection has been cracked for some time now, and many easy to use utilities exist to do so. For legitimate consumers, this represents a grey area of the law many seem willing to cross.
The rise of HD media gave birth to even more insidious DRM solutions for protecting video. HDCP compliant displays and BD+ are just two of the terms that haunt HD enthusiasts, particularly those with home theatre PC’s. Blu-Ray’s copy protection has been heavily criticized, and both software and hardware players often require constant updates to play the newest releases. Those in search of a better solution have almost universally embraced AnyDVD HD from Slysoft. Using a specialized Windows driver it allows decryption of most forms of media (even HD) on the fly, circumventing copy protection and region restrictions. A few days ago Slysoft issued us a press release proudly proclaiming once again that Blu-Ray’s BD+ has been fully cracked in version 126.96.36.199. Currently Slysoft offers free lifetime updates to customers, but will make the transition to a subscription model on January 11th 2009. A trial version is available from their website, and just might put an end to your media related DRM woes.
Has Blu-Ray’s extensive DRM requirements slowed your adoption of HD?
2008 will defiantly go down in technology history as the year of the netbook. Ultra portable PC’s defied the economy and helped push sales of notebooks beyond that of desktop’s for the first time in history. Netbooks have been thoroughly reviewed here at Maximum PC (see December 2008’s issue) and it’s clear from the both the comments, and the activity in the forums that those who are holding out are doing so primarily for one of two reasons.
1.) The form factor is too small. 2.) The machines are underpowered.
Though not much can be done to address the first complaint, the second will likely become a moot point in 2009. This is the year we will start to see dual core and graphics accelerated netbooks go main stream. With the Intel Atom 330 already launched, the stakes will be raised considerably with new offerings from both VIA and AMD. As disappointing as this must be for AMD, it appears as though the VIA offering will be the strongest Intel competitor, but this may change closer to launch. The VIA 3000 family will be an X86-compatible processor based on its existing Nano 1000, and 2000 series platform. What promises to give VIA the edge over AMD however, is compatibility with the SSE4 instruction set. This will give them a substantial performance boost in many processor intensive tasks.
To be fair, little is yet known about AMD’s offering and more details are likely to be released at CES next week. What we do know is that two new processors under the code names Caspain and Consesus have been added to the company’s roadmap. We also know that despite the fact that AMD claims it has little interest in netbooks, these chips are the closest competitor to the Atom we can find from the AMD camp. One thing is certain, by late 2009 or early 2010, netbook shoppers are going to have a lot more choices. And as we all know competition will go a long way towards helping to drive down prices.
What would it take to make you consider a netbook?
In today’s economy, job cuts seem to be par for the course. We all expected to see major losses at vulnerable companies such as AMD, Circuit City, and Yahoo. Recently however, we have been seeing cuts at major technology employers that we once considered to be at least somewhat recession proof. These include companies such as Sony, Google, Adobe, and now even Microsoft. What started out as an unsubstantiated rumor now appears to be true and the Redmond based software giant is preparing to let go around 15,000 of its 90,000 global employees.
The bulk of the layoffs are expected to be absorbed by MSN, but Microsoft’s global operations are rumored to be under the microscope as well. Large cuts are also expected at its Europe, Middle East, and African operations. Like most companies in these tough times, this is likely to be more of a belt tightening then a white flag. Profitable operations will likely dodge the bullet but as of this point, the full nature of the cuts is not yet known.
The layoffs are likely to take place starting January 15th, and finish before Microsoft issue’s its Q2 results on January 22nd. 17 percent of its work force is a pretty substantial cut and we will just have to wait and see what brands or product lines will be affected going into 2009.
If you have a shiny new PC running Windows Home Server (or an old PC you've refurbished for Windows Home Server) that includes Power Pack 1 (get it here), it's time to grab a new version of the Windows Home Server Technical Brief for Media Sharing from the Microsoft Download Center.
TG Dailyreports that Google's Gmail is now recommending that IE6 users switch to Chrome or Firefox 3. IE6 users logging into Gmail see a link that says "Get faster Gmail" that takes them to a "Get faster Google Mail with a faster browser" page that provides links to download IE7, Firefox 3, or Google Chrome.
Interestingly enough, if you use IE7, the page recommends upgrading to Firefox 3 or Google Chrome, as well as offering a link to the IE 8 beta.
So, what's up with Gmail and IE? Is IE6 no longer fully supported? For the answers, join us after the jump.
Do you ever find yourself wondering what to do with those spare SSDs you have lying around? Neither do we, but A-DATA's new XPG Dual SSD 3.5" RAID Enclosure makes a fairly compelling pitch to go out and buy a pair of the pricey drives. Or at least put to use those spare HDDs cluttering your PC room, which is a far more likely scenario.
Whether you want to roll with a pair of SSDs or HDDs, A-DATA's RAID enclosure will accommodate both. By adjusting the hardware DIP switch on the back, users can opt to run each drive independently or in tandem with seven different RAID modes to choose from, including JPOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, Span, SAFE33, SAFE50, or GUI.
A-DATA's multi-purpose enclosure comes with a one-button backup utility and can be used as either an internal or external unit with support for both SATA and USB. The enclosure will also be offered without the built-in RAID function.
Both versions are expected to ship by the end of Q1 2009, and according to TomsHardware, will run roughly $30 for the non-RAID version and $60 with built-in RAID.
Just how low can the memory market go? Pretty freakin' low, according to DRAMeXchange, who revised its flash bit growth from 108 percent in September to 81 percent. By comparison, that number stood at 175 percent in 2006, or more than double what it currently is. DRAMeXchange blames the slowed growth rate on declining demand for electronic gadgets.
Despite the weakened demand, the market research firm estimates 1Gb flash shipments to reach 52 billion units, up significantly from 28 billion in 2008. But as competition continues to heat up in the memory market and push flash storage capacities to new heights, actual chip shipments are expected to decline as a result. Throw in an oversupply of flash memory and there's not much for memory makers to celebrate in 2009.
Also feeling the pinch are SSD sales. There's been a major push in 2008 towards maneuvering SSDs into the mainstream, but despite those efforts, sales have been lower than anticipated.
"The penetration rate of SSD in the low cost PC market will be lower than 10% in 2009,” DRAMeXchange stated. "The short term demand mainly comes from the industrial market and the outcome in the low cost PC market is actually lower than expected, which was due to price and reliability issues."
The upshot, at least for consumers, is that flash memory is dirt cheap, and will probably remain that way at least through the next few months.