Sources close to Intel have confirmed earlier reports that Intel’s Montevina notebook platform, referred to as Centrino 2, will see a substantial delay. Montevina will not make it to Computex next week and will miss its originally planned debut date later in June. Intel has decided to delay Centrino 2, providing AMD with an opportunity to pitch its Puma platform and Turion Ultra processor. Intel’s engineering and manufacturing engine has been running flawlessly over the past two years, taking away AMD’s room to breathe. But, of course, mistakes are bound to happen at some point and Intel is now being confronted with an issue serious enough to officially delay the launch of Centrino 2. Analyst Doug Freedman claimed that the company had a “mis-step in the completion of FCC certification” for the next-generation Centrino processor with support for the 802.11n Wi-Fi standard. F
reedman said that 802.11n support may see a slower ramp as Montevina can only be shipped with support 802.11 a/b/g for now. Freedman also noted that Intel faces problems with its integrated graphics chipset, which is causing failures in OEM notebooks. “We believe the potential impact is to lower-end systems as higher-end notebooks are designed with discrete graphics cards. In fact, the impact on [Intel] is a possible improvement in mix within the chipset business; however, it is offset by the yield loss related to the functional issues.” Our sources at Intel told us that Centrino 2 is no scheduled for a July 14 launch with “some chipsets”. A “couple of weeks later” the company will be shipping the full line of chipsets, as the company needs “a few extra days” for tasks such as antenna testing.
Source: TG Daily, Martin
Samsung Electronics plans to launch within this year a flash memory-based solid-state disk that boasts a 256GB capacity and high-speed interface, it said Monday. The drive, which was unveiled in prototype form at a Samsung event in Taipei, has the same form factor as a 9.5-millimeter high 2.5-inch hard-disk drive for which it is designed to be a drop-in replacement. Solid-state disks (SSDs) are an emerging type of storage device that use flash memory chips in place of the spinning magnetic disks used in hard-disk drives.
The memory chips mean the drives are more sturdy and typically have a higher performance but the per-byte storage cost is also much higher, so they are generally more expensive. That has largely restricted them to niche applications but as flash prices come down they are expected to become more widely used. The prototype drive announced today by the company has a read speed of 200M bytes per second (Bps) and a sequential write speed of 160M Bps, said Samsung. Samples of the drive will be available to customers from September with mass production due by the end of the year. A version with a similar form factor to a 1.8-inch drive is also expected to be available in the fourth quarter of the year, the company said.
Source: PC World, Martin
Korean computer engineers are introducing a new digital music format that has a six-channel audio equalizer and separate controls on the sound volume for each musical instrument, such as guitar, drum, base and voice. The new format, which has a file extension format of MT9 and a commercial title of “Music 2.0″, is poised to replace the popular MP3 file format as the de-facto standard of the digital music source, its inventors say. The MT9 technology was selected as a candidate item for the new digital music standard at the last regular meeting of Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG), the international body of the digital music and video industry.
Ham says that the music industry should change its attitude to the market as music is becoming a digital service, rather than a physical product. Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics are both interested in equipping their mobile phones with an MT9 player and their first commercial products are likely to debut early next year, he said. Unlike other digital formats exclusively used by big companies, Audizen (the venture company behind the development) allows users to copy the MT9 files, making it a more attractive format. “It’s like having a CD or cassette tape. Once you buy it, you can lend it to your friends. We don’t want to be too fussy about DRM (digital right management),” said Ham Seung-chul, chief of Audizen.
Source: Korea Times, Martin
Samsung has released a one terabyte (TB) hard drive that’s capable of storing around 40 billion songs (or something near that number perhaps) for only $199, which is less than 100 English pounds. The desire for HD-quality programming and hard disk drive (HDD) recorders has led to an increase in storage capacity, and now the industry is talking about things in TBs rather than GBs. Although only an option for the PC, the EcoGreen F1 from Samsung offers a huge amount of storage for serial downloaders, or, as the Korean electronics company suggests, those with large surveillance capture needs.
Any HDD for less than a hundred pounds has to be worth the money, and this capacity would surely be all the storage you would ever need. Ever, ever, ever. Samsung have attempted to keep things decent in the spec stakes too, with 5400RPM rotational speeds, and offering the highest capacity per disk for one terabyte hard drives, at 334GB per platter. This keeps the amount of parts needed down to a minimum, thus boosting the overall performance of the device. Samsung says the drive uses up to 50 per cent less power than other one TB drives and has technology to keep it quiet through operation. EcoGreen F1 should be available in June of this year.
Source: Techradar, Martin
Despite a lack of ample storage space, Activision makes good on its word in announcing Thursday that Wii owners will be getting downloadable Guitar Hero expansion tracks. According to Activision, the newly confirmed Guitar Hero World Tour will be the “first game ever in the Guitar Hero franchise to allow in-game downloadable content on Wii.” The news comes as several publishers have voiced concern over the lack of a Wii hard drive, which discourages developers from releasing downloadable content on Wii, unlike Xbox 360 and PS3 which both support hard drive storage. Nintendo has yet to propose a viable solution.
The Wii does have internal storage for saving game content, but only 512MB worth — hardly enough to meet the download demands of wired gamers. And while the system supports the use of SD cards for storage, games and content cannot be played from external cards currently. In March, Harmonix said the Wii version of Rock Band (June 22) would not support downloadable tracks like Xbox 360 and PS3 versions “because the Wii’s online capabilities and potential have yet to be fully realized, and we wanted to wait before we explored online functionality for Rock Band to ensure that players get the high-quality of online performance they’ve come to expect.”
Source: PC World, Martin
Microsoft has decided that the best way to drive users to its search engine is to pay them a nice cheque. Turning Microsoft’s cash mountain into user clicks must have been agreed at the highest level in Redmond. According to the Live Search cashback site, Microsoft will dole out money to online users who find and buy select products through its Live Search engine. There is a fair bit of cash involved too. The amounts range from two per cent of the purchase price to 30 per cent. Microsoft has signed up a long list of merchants to participate in the programme including Barnes & Noble, Sears, Home Depot, J&R, Office Depot and others.
It is not a marketing system that Microsoft is hiding either. Bill Gates mentioned it yesterday when he was chatting to online advertisers at a Microsoft conference in Redmond. Gates said that in a few years time punters will look back and say, ‘Wow, search started to get a fair bit more competitive around that time.’ Consumers would have to sign up for a free Windows Live cashback account to participate in the program. Rebates would be issued after a 60-day waiting period to make sure there are no returned products.
Source: Inquirer, Reuters, Martin
Microsoft has proposed a complex new deal with Yahoo that would involve collaboration between their online advertising businesses but would not involve a full takeover, Microsoft said on Sunday. Microsoft released a brief statement on Sunday disclosing the renewed talks, a surprising reversal just weeks after Microsoft withdrew its $47.5 billion takeover bid for Yahoo and said it had “moved on.” The statement hints that Microsoft may later seek to reenter merger negotiations. In the statement, Microsoft said it was “considering and has raised with Yahoo an alternative that would involve a transaction with Yahoo but not an acquisition of all of Yahoo.” Microsoft provided no additional details.
People involved in the confidential discussions said the talks center on a partnership or joint venture for search-related advertising to compete against Google. When Microsoft first made its unsolicited bid of $31 a share for Yahoo in February, it said it was doing so as part of its battle to increase its relatively small slice of the search-related advertising market against Google, a behemoth with more than 58 percent of the market. The new discussions also come as Yahoo is facing increasing pressure from shareholders, some of whom are furious that its board did not work harder to reach a deal to sell the company to Microsoft.
Source: NY Times, Martin
For years, video games have been blamed for turning kids into idle layabouts who only venture off the couch to fill up on potato chips and soda. Nintendo now aims to shatter that image with a game that aims to get players off the couch and lead them to stretch, shake and sweat their way to a healthy life. “Wii Fit,” which arrives on U.S. store shelves on Monday, is expected to draw new customers to Nintendo’s wildly popular Wii video game console. The $90 game comes with a shoulder-width “balance board” that senses tiny shifts in a person’s posture and is used to control a cartoonish character on the TV screen.
It is forecast to be the industry’s latest blockbuster game after last month’s “Grand Theft Auto 4,” the criminal action title that racked up $500 million in global sales in one week. “They’ll sell everything they can manufacture,” said Signal Hill analyst Todd Greenwald. “It extends the life cycle of the Wii a little bit and gets people to go out and buy another game from Nintendo.” The Wii has proven to be the runaway hit of the video game industry, thanks to its easy-to-learn motion-sensing controller, simple games and low price. At the other end of the spectrum from “Grand Theft Auto 4,” “Wii Fit” coaches players through more than 40 exercises that range from tightrope-walking to yoga stances to push-ups. U.S. consumers bought 714,000 Wiis in April, nearly double the sales of Microsoft Xbox 360 and SonyPlayStation 3 combined.
Source: Reuters, Martin
Napster Inc., the digital music service, on Tuesday opened the world’s biggest MP3 download store with more than 6 million songs in a direct challenge to Apple’s iTunes store. The new Web-based music store will have digital songs from all major music labels as well as thousands of independent labels. The MP3-format songs will be compatible with the vast majority of digital media devices and mobile phones including Apple’s popular iPod as well as its iPhone. Before now Napster has focused on selling all-you-can-eat monthly streaming music subscription packages but has struggled to win over the majority of fans who want to be able to transfer songs they like on to a portable device such as the market-leading iPod.
The new Napster service tries to take on Apple’s dominance in digital music by offering fans more songs without copy protection or digital rights management (DRM). Most of the six million songs on the iTunes Music store are available with Fairplay DRM, which prevents the songs from being played on most portable players other than the iPod. Major labels in particular had previously been reluctant to allow online retailers to sell their songs without protection as a way to avoid piracy. As the industry outlook gets tougher more executives are willing to experiment or take a risk. “We’re now moving from under the DRM cloud,” said Chris Gorog, Napster chief executive. “Now consumers can use Napster with any device,” he added. Most songs on the service will be available for 99 cents (50 pence) each and $9.95 an album.
Source: AP, Martin