Sharp, LG, and Chunghwa have each agreed to plead guilty to a price-fixing conspiracy related to LCD display panels and will pay $585 million in criminal fines, the Justice Department said. The plea agreements were filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, California.
"These price-fixing conspiracies affected millions of America consumers who use computers, cell phones, and numerous other household electronics every day," said Thomas Barnett, Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust at the Justice Department n Washington.
The extent of the losses as a result of the alleged price fixing conspiracy remains unknown, but Barnett said he expected to outline the damages at the time of sentencing. According to the Justice Department, LG Phillips, who plead guilty to participating a conspiracy from 2001 to 2006 to set LCD panel pricing worldwide, will be hit the hardest and ordered to pay $400 million. That ranks as the second highest criminal fine ever imposed for price fixing.
Sharp will pay $120 for its alleged role in three separate conspiracies with unnamed partners who sold price-fixed panels to Dell for monitors and laptops, Motorola for Razr phones, and Apple for use in iPods. Chunghwa will pay $65 for participating with LG and other unnamed co-conspirators.
The Justice Department warned that the investigation is ongoing, meaning more charges could be brought against individuals from each firm or from other firms.
Wrath of the Lich King may barely be ripe for the picking, but Blizzard's already hard at work on its next attempt at supplanting real life. Blizzard COO Paul Sams recent spoke with VG247 about the second generation of its MMO monarchy, and long-time WoW players will be both happy and relieved to hear that this game certainly isn't WoW 2.0.
“We want to create a great game,” Sams said. “Something that’s cool, and new, and different, and kind of next generation in terms of look and feel and gameplay. That’s a challenging endeavour.”
But as a dab of disappointment for WoW players' flagon of infinite joy, the new Blizzard MMO is still deep in the grimy pits of development, with no release date in sight.
“We’re definitely at the beginning, in the first half of development,” Sams continued.
“When we’re building a new game from the ground up, what happens is that it’s slow going for the first bit, while the team goes round and round and round figuring out how it’s going to look and feel, what the player experience is and what the differentiators are, and then the speed at which we then bring in the content and polish and actually get to the finish line…"
"I think the second half of the process is always substantially faster than the first half of product development,” he added.
Find out why it'll be quite some time before Blizzard gives fans an eyeful of its new MMO after the break.
Hitachi’s latest, the Travelstar 5K500.B mobile hard drive is next in line to offer built-in data encryption. With the increasing popularity of this trend, the big H has also managed to make it relatively easy to encrypt any valuable data you might have laying around. Thanks to a private security key, the user can encrypt and decrypt data as they see fit.
The new drives also include TCG Storage Security, which supports pre-boot authentication, and up to four different data ranges with multiple user and administrative authentication options.
And while the data encryption options are certainly nice, what really ices the cake is the drastically lowered power consumption. Using only 1.4 watts during various read/write processes, the drive will only consume 10% of the power that an average 3.5” 500GB drive does.
The Travelstar is reportedly going to be shipping worldwide in December, with an enterprise focused version designed for applications that run 24x7 shortly after.
InfoWorld's Randall C. Kennedy has put Windows 7's Milestone 3 pre-beta build 6801, a freebie from last month's Microsoft Professional Developer's Conference, through a variety of benchmark tests, and isn't all that impressed:
As I reported on my Enterprise Desktop blog, the more I dug into Windows 7, the more I saw an OS that looked and felt like a slightly tweaked version of Windows Vista.
Just as slow as Vista...Just as consumer-focused as Vista...Just as confusing as Vista...
Kennedy cites these similarities:
The number of execution threads in key subsystems is almost the same in Windows 7 as in Vista
Benchmarks of Windows 7 and Vista Ultimate SP1 using the DMS Clarity Studio tools suite show almost identical results
Similar amounts of RAM are used by Windows 7 and Windows Vista
From these facts and visual similarities between Windows 7 and Vista, Kennedy concludes:
Bottom line: So far, Windows 7 looks and behaves almost exactly like Windows Vista. It performs almost exactly like Vista. And it breaks all sorts of things that used to work just fine under Vista. In other words, Microsoft's follow-up to its most unpopular OS release since Windows Me threatens to deliver zero measurable performance benefits while introducing new and potentially crippling compatibility issues.
Is Kennedy right, or is he missing a big difference between Windows 7 and its predecessor? For my take, join me after the break.
Nearly a quarter century ago, a young, pinup version Bill Gates released Microsoft’s first operating system, Windows. While the announcement was made in 1983, and the boxes wouldn’t see store shelves until 1985, Gates’ debut at New York’s Helmsley Palace Hotel was a notably ambitious one.
Gates stated that his fledgling operating system would be powering 90% of IBM’s computers by 1984. This didn’t come true initially (read: missed release date by a year), but it has managed to come to fruition as a number that’s near Windows’ market share today.
While Windows 1 was a short-lived ride, being made obsolete only two years later by Windows 2, it was a great start for Microsoft. Using a brand new graphical interface, it certainly made an impact on computing, as we know it today.
After banning the troops from YouTube in 2007 for bandwidth and security issues, the Military is attempting to turn a quagmire into something positive.
The attempt, better known as the US Military’s new video sharing site, aptly named TroopTube, is already up and running. Potential members can register as a member of one of the three braches of the armed forces, a family member, or a civilian. Once registered, users can upload personal videos. But instead of being simply processed, this time the video is screened by a Pentagon employee to ensure that there isn’t anything naughty.
“A lot of people are excited … to be doing something for the people who make sacrifices,” said Alex Castro, the Chief Executive on the project. “We're proud of this.”
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.