As if the semiconductor market needed any more bad news, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) released a statement showing how bad worldwide sales of semiconductors have fallen in the past year, while warning that the industry has yet to hit rock bottom.
"The global semiconductor industry is going through one of the steepest corrections in its history," said SIA President George Scalise. "While it would be premature to conclude that the sales decline has hit bottom, there are some indications that the rate of decline has moderated from the final quarter of 2008. The industry responded quickly to the changing market environment by curtailing production and reducing inventory as demand slowed in late 2008. The world’s two largest foundry manufacturers have recently reported slight improvements in factory utilization rates, albeit at levels well below those of a year ago," Scalise continued.
According to SIA, worldwide semiconductor sales sat at just $14.2 billion in February 2009, a decline of a little more than 30 percent over February 2008 when sales reached 20.3 billion. It also represents a 7.6 percent drop from one month ago when sales were $15.3 billion in January.
Scalise warned that sales are expected to keep falling "well below 2008 levels" for the foreseeable future.
Maybe the world has gone topsy-turvy on us, but Biostar, the company best known for its budget motherboards, has set another overclocking world record, this time on AMD's Phenom platform. Say what?
Using Biostar's recently released TA790GX A3+ motherboard, Japanese overclocker "PcCI2iminal" and his team (Yoko) pushed AMD's Phenom II 955 processor to 6.16GHz and 6.20GHz, respectively, claiming the top and third spots for highest OC for that processor. In both cases, liquid nitrogen cooling was used to push the processor nearly 94 percent higher than its stock speed. The fourth highest OC sits at a distant 4.09GHz using air cooling.
Last summer, a Biostar board was used to set the frontside bus world record when an overclocker who goes by the name Youngpro manged to maneuver the Biostar I45 board's FSB to 725MHz (2,900MHz quad-pumped).
Good news for Digital Rights Management fans, and particularly for those who take masochistic pleasure in filling their machines with SecuROM-protected titles. Electronic Arts, the company who caused an internet uproar over its custom SecuROM implementation on Spore, has released a SecuROM de-authorization tool.
"Certain EA PC games with SecuROM digital rights management technology allow users to concurrently 'authorize' up to five computers at the same time to play the games, EA states. "Users can then play the game on any authorized computer they choose. If your EA PC game was released after May 2008 and has a machine authorization limit, you can now manage your computer authorizations using EA De-Authorization Tools!"
The De-Authorization Management Tool scans your PC to automatically detect games released after May 2008 with machine authorization limits. You can then download the game-specific de-authorization tool(s) to de-authorize your PC and free up a slot. Alternately, you can skip the scanning and jump straight to the appropriate tool if you already know which games are eligible (see list here).
Thoughts on EA's new tool? Hit the jump and sound off.
Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI), the company responsible for helping create Terminator 2, Star Wars, and Jurassic Park, agreed to sell itself to Fremont-based Rackable Systems for $25 million. At one point, Silicon Graphics had been worth $3.66 billion in 1997, but has fallen on hard times, seeking bankruptcy protection two times in the past three years.
"It's kind of sad," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group in San Jose. "At one time, SGI was really though to be where much of the creativity was going to occur in Silicon Valley. They were the guys kind of on the forefront of virtual reality."
SGI's fall from prominence can be traced back to around 1999. The company had started laying off hundreds of employees, its newly hired CEO resigned shortly after taking the job, and many of its customers turned to less expensive computer systems made by SGI's competitors.
Assuming the bankruptcy judge approves the sale, it's unclear whether Rackable will retain the corporate name of SGI or what it plans to do with SGI's 1,169 employees.
Many venture capitalists have drawn in their horns and are biding their time – waiting for the financial tempest to make way, but Google is unfazed. It has setup a new venture fund called Google Ventures. The group will invest up to $100 million in businesses that catch its attention. David Drummond, William Maris and Rich Miner are the people in charge of Google Ventures.
According to William Maris, an entrepreneur and investor brought in to oversee the fund, the fund will make full use of the company's links to search for startups. The fund will focus on startups in sectors like the internet, green technology and life sciences. The fund might be in its youth but it has already invested in two companies. One of them, Silver Spring Networks, develops electric grid management system and the other, Pixazza, is an internet company.
An Android-based netbook now seems a near certainty. Asustek’s Samson Hu, who heads the Eee PC business, had told Bloomberg that the company has begun work on an Android-based netbook, but did not promise a commercial version. But Asus isn’t the only one allured by the distinctive price advantage offered by Google’s Android OS. HP has confirmed that it, too, is deliberating upon the use of Android netbooks as an alternative to Windows in netbooks.
Though Asus and HP are only testing waters, Android-based netbooks may become a reality in the near future – perhaps as early as next year. All said, challenging Windows’ ascendancy in the netbook segment won’t be easy for Android.
Crytek boss Cevat Yerli’s desire to be the Miss Cleo of the videogame world is becoming a tad transparent. First, he conjured up visions of the next console generation’s arrival in his crystal ball, and now, he’s predicting that Cloud gaming services like OnLive won’t be viable until – at the earliest – 2013.
"We had our research in 2005 on this subject but we stopped around 2007 because we had doubts about economics of scale. But that was at a time when bandwidth was more expensive," he said.
"We saw that by 2013 - 2015 with the development of bandwidths and household connections worldwide that it might become more viable then."
So why was Crytek’s computer-crippling shooter Crysis plastered all over OnLive’s demo screens at last week’s GDC? Apparently, that was out of Crytek’s hands.
"We're not involved, we just allowed Crysis to be tested on it," he said. "It will be interesting to see how it happens under millions of users. Let's say more than a few hundred users, how it will behave.”
Sounds like he’s really raining on Cloud’s parade. Yeah, we got nothing.
While speakers have been getting thinner and thinner, the geniuses behind Warwick Audio have developed a speaker so thin, you may accidentally wrap your leftover Italian with it.
“FFL technology is a carefully designed assembly of thin, conducting and insulating, materials resulting in the development of a flexible laminate, which when excited by an electrical signal will vibrate and produce sound,” states PhysOrg. “The speaker laminate operates as a perfect piston resonator. The entire diaphragm therefore radiates in phase, forming an area source. The wave front emitted by the vibrating surface is phase coherent, producing a plane wave with very high directivity and very accurate sound imaging.”
This probably means that the speaker won’t work like some newer speakers (by producing electrical charges that excite nearby air molecules, making sound without any vibrations), but instead will work like traditional speakers (but in much tighter wavelengths).
No word yet on just how long we’ll have to wait to see this tech implemented, but according to the site it’s meant to be used in conference rooms and cars.
The Internet is known as a great setting to exchange well-constructed arguments and thoughtful debate. YouTube, however, rarely houses either of these things, and that’s why two Firefox developers have created OpinionCloud, a simple addon that lets you quickly analyze the comments on a video without having to drag through page after page of mindless keyboard smashing.
Now, I’m not saying that every person that has ever commented on a video on YouTube is a neanderthal (though, it is awfully close). I’m saying that while YouTube features a function that lets users hear their own comments before they post them, there’s still plenty one word quips and streams of anger that make their way onto the video sharing site. So, with OpinionCloud you can quickly see what the active YouTube community is saying about a video, without having to sift through all the garbage! And, as an added bonus, if you see a word that catches your eye in the cloud, you can click it and see who used that word.
According to the official page, the addon indexed 9 million YouTube comments to help build its own dictionary of slang terms and phrases, and this number grows each time someone uses it. So, if you think this is for you, be sure to check it out here.
For those of you that still have a Circuit City credit card in your wallet, fret not – the minds at Chase have decided to allow you to use that (still good) card at Best Buy!
In a letter from Chase, Circuit City cardholders were told, “Chase has arranged for you to be able to use your account at Best Buy for all of your consumer electronics needs… In May 2009, we will be sending you a replacement Best Buy branded credit card that you can begin to use as soon as you receive it. Your account number and all of your existing rates, fees and terms will remain the same, which means that any existing regular or promotional financing balances will be treated the same way they are today.”
So, good news! If you hopped on board the sinking boat, you’ll soon be taxied via life raft to the bigger, still floating boat.