posts on CNET

Micron to tap IBM chip-stacking tech for fast memory

IBM and Micron Technology are beginning to produce a new memory chip based on technology designed to boost memory speeds 15-fold.

The technology, the companies announced today, will be used to make a Hybrid Memory Cube chip that will be commercially manufactured by Micron, the largest manufacturer of memory chips in the United States and one of the largest in the world. IBM plans to manufacture and supply the "controller" silicon that will be used in the memory as well as in the 3D-chip technology.

The joint efforts are designed to result in memory chips that realize the … Read more

Lenovo Ultrabook, 7-inch tablet on the way

Lenovo is expected to announce an Ultrabook and a 7-inch Android tablet in the coming weeks, CNET has learned.

The IdeaPad U300s would be Lenovo's first portable tagged as an Ultrabook--a category of sub-0.8-inch-thick laptops that has many of the hallmarks of Apple's MacBook Air. That is, weighing typically 3 pounds or less, constructed from special materials like aluminum or carbon fiber, powered by Intel Sandy Bridge processors, and priced--at least some models--below $1,000.

During Lenovo's earnings conference call last week, Chief Operating Officer Rory Read said that Ultrabooks would "reach mainstream price points...that were only 18 months ago in premium segments."

"The Ultrabook, like the tablet, is a legitimate member of the high-mobility class of devices," said Roger Kay, the principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies. The initial iteration of the Ultrabook is expected to hew to the traditional clamshell laptop design. "So, it's a very portable device that comes in a very useful form factor," Kay said.

A video of the U300s appeared in late May from the Computex show floor. Cosmetically, it resembles the 0.7-inch-thick IdeaPad U260 announced last November.

But that's not all Lenovo has in store. The 7-inch IdeaPad A1 tablet is also expected to be rolled out. A similar tablet has already gone on sale in China, according to Netbook News. The tablet for the China market is spec'd with a 1,024x600 display, Android 2.3 Gingerbread, a 1GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 3622 processor, 512MB system memory, 16GB storage, and micro-USB and microSD slots. … Read more

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet arrives as HP departs

As Hewlett-Packard retreats from the tablet market, Lenovo continues its assault. The first ThinkPad Tablets are now available for purchase, the company said today.

The 10.1-inch ThinkPad may have a better shot at success than HP's now-defunct webOS-based TouchPad. It is built around Android, the most popular alternative to Apple's iOS, and is aimed at business, not the dicey consumer tablet market.

Part and parcel of Lenovo's appeal to business is the pen-based handwriting recognition technology to "digitally write, draw, and create content," according to Lenovo.

In the productivity department, typically a tablet weak … Read more

Lenovo says 'mainstream' Ultrabooks coming

Lenovo, which reported first-quarter earnings in Hong Kong on Thursday, discussed its upcoming strategy for Ultrabooks--ultraslim, light Windows laptops that compete with the MacBook Air.

During the earnings conference call on Thursday, Chief Operating Officer Rory Read spoke about Lenovo's Ultrabook strategy in response to a question from an analyst. "Lenovo will invest in innovation to be a leader in that space and that will drive demand. No doubt," he said, referring to the Intel-based laptops.

Read continued. "You'll see us introduce over the coming quarters the ability to reach mainstream price points with [Ultrabook] … Read more

Lenovo: USB 3.0 mainstream in 2012

Lenovo's top product manager for the popular ThinkPad line says USB 3.0 will go mainstream in 2012, while Intel sees the new Thunderbolt interface gravitating to some high-end nonmainstream laptop models.

This week, Lenovo began selling its ThinkPad X1, a 0.85-inch thick (thickest point), 3.8-pound design based on Intel's "Sandy Bridge" Core i5 and i7 processors.

Beyond the obvious attractions of a svelte, high-powered laptop, the X1 also sports an increasingly popular USB port based on the "SuperSpeed" 3.0 specification. USB is one of the most widely used connection technologies … Read more

Ultrathin ThinkPad squeezes in Sandy Bridge chip

Presaging laptops to come from Apple and Dell, Lenovo announced an ultrathin ThinkPad today that houses Intel's newest Sandy Bridge chip.

The 14-inch Lenovo T420s is svelte for a 14-inch business laptop at 0.83-inches thick--reminiscent of the ultrathin X300 and X301. It weighs in at 3.94 pounds with a six-cell battery. Battery life can be extended up to 10 hours by adding an additional battery that goes into the optical drive bay, Ross Compton, a market manager at Lenovo's ThinkPad laptop group, told CNET today.

"We're getting 30 percent better battery life when users … Read more

Getting a Windows PC to boot in under 10 seconds

How fast will PCs boot up in the future? I asked industry experts to explain what's involved and what could lead to PCs that boot up in seconds.

One of the key components in getting a PC to start quickly is the BIOS, or basic input/output system. The BIOS, which is present in every Windows PC and Apple computer, is the first piece of code run when the computer starts up, also referred to as firmware. The BIOS serves to initialize and identify system devices such as the hard-disk drive, DVD/CD drive, networking components, USB ports, the video card, keyboard, and mouse.

I chatted with Surendra Arora, vice president of business development at BIOS supplier Phoenix Technologies, and Stephen Jones, the company's chief technical officer, as well as Mark Doran, a senior principal engineer at Intel's Software and Services Group.

And I exchanged e-mail with Fadi Zuhayri, senior manager at the Intel Software & Services Group. Zuhayri said that UEFI, the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, provides the foundation for reaching instant-on one day. But a number of factors, including the operating system, need to come together to achieve fast boot times in under 10 seconds. "So we are getting at near-parity to instant on. The technology foundation is there to make it happen," Zuhayri said. (Note that UEFI is already being used in Windows PCs from a number of PC makers.)

Q: What is UEFI and why is this replacing the traditional BIOS and why is it instrumental in achieving faster boot times? Surendra Arora (Phoenix): The reality is UEFI was started for various reasons. I'm not sure boot speed was one of the reasons that UEFI was started. The real reason was to move away from assembly code. That was what the bring-up process used to be. Hard-coded or machine-level coding. Now C [language] is being used. You can do it at an abstracted layer that's built on APIs [application programming interfaces]. This [UEFI] allows you to standardize things, use multi-threading. We've parallelized initialization so you can boot extremely fast.

Q: So how fast can boot times be now? For example, my Dell Adamo [laptop] that has a solid-state drive can boot to the Windows log-in in roughly 20 seconds. Arora: The OS and the components that you use lead to the complete experience. What we at Phoenix can do is hand off what we do to the OS extremely fast. It used to be 10 to 15 seconds and now… Read more

IBM ships 5.2GHz chip, its fastest yet

IBM's newest chip for mainframes boasts one of the highest speed ratings to date and will go into Big Blue's fastest mainframe computers.

IBM, no stranger to cutting-edge chip designs, will use the new 5.2GHz z196 processor in mainframes targeted at businesses managing huge workloads, such as large banks and retailers.

Why the need for more than 5GHz of speed, one of the highest frequencies of any commercial processor to date? IBM cites a study by Berg Insight, showing that the number of active users of mobile banking and related financial services worldwide is forecast to increase from 55 million in 2009 to 894 million in 2015. IBM's customers need all the horsepower they can get to handle these staggering data processing loads.

Big Blue's zEnterprise mainframe technology is the result of an investment of more than $1.5 billion in research and development for the zEnterprise line, as well as more than three years of collaboration with some of IBM's top clients around the world, the company said.

The processor itself packs in four cores, plus a respectable helping of DRAM--what IBM calls eDRAM--inside the processor module. Getting DRAM inside a processor module is quite a trick, as DRAM, or dynamic random access memory, is typically on a separate module inside a computer (just think of the RAM upgrade boards that plug into a PC's motherboard). The patented IBM eDRAM technology allows it to place dense DRAM caches inside its processors, which boosts performance.

Intel, by comparison, has its own very fast mainframe-class server processors, such as the Xeon X7560 processor, which integrates eight cores, in a 2.26GHz processor. Many consumer Intel chips also boast a new technology called Turbo Boost, which dynamically "overclocks" (speeds up) the processor to very high speeds, when needed by an application. (Intel also offers its 4-core Itanium 9300 "Tukwila" processor for high-end servers with 30MB of on-chip cache.) … Read more

IBM, Samsung, TI form firm for ARM chips

IBM, Texas Instruments, Samsung, ARM, and others have formed a company to streamline development of products, such as tablets, on ARM processors.

Typically, companies wanting to develop for ARM processors--one of the most prolific chip designs in the world--need to wade through a morass of different operating systems and versions of those operating systems. Those include Google's Android and Chrome OSes, Ubuntu Linux, Palm's WebOS, and MeeGo from Intel and Nokia.

The new company, Linaro, is a non-profit software engineering outfit that intends to simplify the development process and is backed to the tune of "tens of … Read more

Former IBM exec pleads guilty in Galleon case

A former senior IBM executive pleaded guilty on Monday to securities fraud in a case that has also reached the executive ranks at high-tech giants Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.

Robert Moffat, once thought to be a candidate for chief executive at IBM, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of securities fraud at a Manhattan federal court, according to the Associated Press. He will face up to six months in prison, based on federal sentencing guidelines.

Moffat, 53, provided confidential information about a reorganization at chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices, among other confidential … Read more