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2011-05-07 12:30
Category: Business, Development
Intel has claimed the biggest breakthrough in microprocessor design in more than 50 years, raising the stakes significantly for rivals in the increasingly capital-intensive global chip industry.

The world’s biggest chipmaker said on Wednesday that it would begin producing chips this year using a revolutionary 3D technology that has been nearly a decade in the making, and which it said would act as the foundation for generations of computing advances to come.

Microchip transistors, the building blocks of electronics, have to date been produced in flat structures – akin to printing on a sheet of paper. Intel’s breakthrough involves producing more complex three dimensional transistors on chips.

The new technology is one of Intel’s biggest gambles in the race to maintain and even extend its long-standing lead over other chipmakers in making components smaller and faster, while breathing fresh life into the remorseless cycle of chip improvements on which the modern computing and electronics industries are founded.

The impact of Intel’s attempt to push ahead of the rest of the industry was felt more widely on Wednesday, as Applied Materials, which supplies Intel with manufacturing equipment, announced a $4.9bn acquisition to keep up with the new technology.

2011-05-07 11:11
Category: Business, Technology
While in the past we’ve seen Microsoft work closely with Fiat in the auto industry to develop the Blue&Me electronic interface, the software giant is now partnering with Volkswagen to help develop the next-generation of in-car entertainment technology, and possibly do-away with in-car DVD players in the process.

Microsoft has announced that it’s signed a patent licensing agreement with Volkswagen’s software supplier, giving the automaker access to its Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) technology.

The file storage technology delivers a significant leap forward in the size of media files that can be stored on a broad range of consumer electronic devices and increases the speed with which they can be accessed.

This means vehicle owners could soon be able to quickly transfer a movie from any portable device and watch it through their car’s display screen. In fact, Volkswagen is currently working on a new multimedia platform that will provide a longer menu of infotainment options for vehicle owners.

Unfortunately, this all sounds like just another step towards turning cars into just another appliance. We hope any new technology Volkswagen and Microsoft are planning won’t lead to further distraction for drivers.

2011-04-01 18:14
Intel has announced it is to roll out a new technology for connecting computers and peripherals.

The system, known as Thunderbolt, promises transfer speeds twice as fast as USB 3.0.

However it won't reach its theoretical maximum because Intel has opted to use copper wires rather than fibre optic cables.

The company said it would gradually move to higher speeds over time.

Apple will become the first manufacturer to use Thunderbolt, on its Macbook Pro computers.

The Cupertino firm is said to have been a major driver of its development, although it remains to be seen how may other manufacturers will adopt the new standard.

Light Peak
Intel has been working on the technology for several years.

It was first announced, under the codename Light Peak in 2009.

At launch, its top speed will be limited to 10 Gigabits per second - twice as fast as USB 3.0, but still well below the theoretical maximum using optical cables.

Light Peak
Intel has been working on the technology for several years.

It was first announced, under the codename Light Peak in 2009.

At launch, its top speed will be limited to 10 Gigabits per second - twice as fast as USB 3.0, but still well below the theoretical maximum using optical cables.

Intel claims that future versions will be able to reach 100 Gb/sec.

The faster data transfer rates are likely to be welcomed by those consumers who use high-definition video, said Sarah Rottman Epps, an analyst with Forrester Research.

"This isn't an innovation that consumers have been asking for, but it's one they'll appreciate," she said.

"Especially when transferring video, as that's when [USB] starts to feel slow."

The system also promises to reduce the number of cables a user has connecting their computer setup.

It is able to carry multiple signal types at the same time, enabling power, display and peripherals to use a single cable.

However, in the short term, users may need to invest in special adaptors to connect their older devices onto Thunderbolt sockets.

Its arrival on the consumer market also raises questions about the future of other connector standards, such as USB and Firewire.

Thunderbolt's most high profile supporter, Apple, is expected to gradually transition to a single connector, according to Karen Haslam, editor of Macworld UK.

"In the long run there will be no need for Apple to support these multiple formats with individual ports - existing products can run through an adaptor," she said.

Not everyone is convinced that Thunderbolt will become the lone standard.

Ian Chiu, editor of the website told BBC News that the cost of components could put off some manufacturers.

"I don't really know how Intel will make Thunderbolt appealing to all the other first-tier PC manufacturers," he said.

"HP, Sony, Dell, Acer, Asus make most of their money from the low-end and medium-end notebooks.

"On the other hand, Apple's Macbook Pro line-up is targeted at the prosumers, professionals and other people who aren't so price conscious," said Mr Chiu.

2011-04-01 16:34
Some iPhone owners were heading in to work late on Monday after a glitch caused their alarms to malfunction.

Users found their wake-up alert coming one hour late, one hour early or not at all.

The problem, related to the clocks going forward for British Summer Time, does not appear to have affected everyone.

Apple has yet to comment on what caused it, but similar problems have previously hit iPhones in the US.

Many of those whose alarms went wrong turned to social networking sites to vent their fury. One Twitter user wrote: "iPhone alarm failed twice. 1) went off at 5.45 instead of 6.45. 2) Didn't go off at all when I reset it. Time to update software."

Another unimpressed owner wrote: "Thanks iPhone. I didn't really want that alarm to go off anyway."

According to user reports, the glitch has affected non-recurring alarms set within the iPhone's calendar application, rather than its dedicated alarm clock.

The problem first came to light in the United States last November during the switch from Daylight Savings Time.

Despite promises from Apple to correct it, a similar issue hit iPhones on 1 January 2011.

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