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iMac graphics firmware update rereleased

If you own an iMac with an ATI Radeon graphics card and have been experiencing system hangs (where the computer stops responding), Apple has a firmware update that might help your situation out.

In the past week Apple has issued a number of firmware updates for various Mac systems, including updates for the onboard EFI firmware on its systems to address various problems with network booting and use of HDCP compliant monitor devices, among other issues.

This firmware release is for the graphics card on some iMac systems, and is a small download that includes a ROM flasher for Radeon … Read more

Quanta sues AMD over defective chips

Quanta has sued Advanced Micro Devices over a defective chip used in an NEC laptop.

Quanta Computer, the world's largest contract manufacturer of laptop computers, sued AMD for breach of contract, alleging the chipmaker sold defective products, as first reported by Bloomberg.

The suit is centered on the ATI RS600ME, an integrated graphics solution, an AMD spokesperson told CNET. Integrated graphics chips include other circuitry and also act as a chipset, which supports the main central processing unit or CPU.

"AMD and its ATI Technologies Inc. unit sold chips that didn't meet heat tolerances and were unfit … Read more

Return of the Commodore

Links from Tuesday's episode of Loaded:

Texas Instruments announces plans to acquire National Semiconductor for $6.5 billion

Google may have an antitrust investigation on its hands soon

AT&T will now charge an extra $50 if you want to upgrade your iPhone before your two-year contract is up

Sprint is looking into mobile phone payments using NFC

Google updates Maps for Android with enhanced check-in and location-based features

Sony is reportedly launching Honeycomb tablets later this year

The Commodore 64 is back

Acer's Iconia dual touch-screen laptop makes another appearance

LAS VEGAS--Not exactly new to CES, Acer's inventive Iconia laptop is making another appearance here. Back in November 2010, the dual touch-screen system was shown off in New York, along with a few Acer tablets, but little has been heard of it since.

Walking the line between tablet and laptop, the Iconia has two 14-inch screens, both of which are multitouch-enabled. The bottom screen can display content, a traditional QWERTY keyboard, or a variety of other control surfaces.

When we first saw it (and snagged a demo unit for a hands-on video tour), we said, "Iconia is, at its heart, a Core i5 laptop with familiar specs: up to 4GB of DDR3 RAM, integrated Intel graphics, a hard drive up to 750GB, and Windows 7 Home Premium. Ports are also typical for a high-end laptop: two USB 2.0, one USB 3.0, HDMI, and VGA."

In hands-on use, it seemed fast and responsive, and the onscreen typing function was usable, though awkward at first. It's similar to the Toshiba Libretto W100, which also had a dual touch-screen design, but crammed into two 7-inch screens. On the larger 14-inch screens, it feels much more natural, but as with iPad typing, there's sure to be a learning curve. We haven't spent enough hands-on time with the Iconia to tell if it'll be more than a gimmick, or if it will ever be as easy to use as a traditional keyboard. … Read more

Acer's high-end 18-inch Aspire AS8950G packs in Blu-ray, quad-core CPU

LAS VEGAS--There's one high-end laptop hiding in Acer's CES 2011 lineup, and that's the 18.4-inch Aspire AS8950G. The system packs in Intel's new upper-tier Core i7-2630QM processor, ATI's new Mobility Radeon 6850 graphics processor, 8GB of DDR RAM, and a 750GB hard drive. A Blu-ray drive is also standard, as we'd expect in a high-end multimedia laptop these days.

The company says, "The new Acer Aspire AS8950G is the ultimate portable entertainment center," and it certainly seems well-outfitted for media consumption. The 18.4-inch display has a 1,920x1080 native resolution (exactly what we'd look for in a laptop like this), and the screen's edge-to-edge glass gives it a polished home theater look and feel. Audio isn't left out, either, and the Acer CineSurround sound system includes five built-in speakers and a dedicated subwoofer. … Read more

AMD Radeon HD 6000M series--don't call it ATI!

Since chipmaker AMD retired the ATI brand name in 2010, its line of Radeon graphics cards for desktops and laptops now carries the same AMD branding as its CPUs. The company hopes to be the high-end laptop GPU maker of choice with its new Radeon HD 6000M, AMD's second generation of Microsoft DirectX 11-capable mobile graphics.

In the past year, we've seen many high-end laptops, such as HP's Envy series, use AMD/ATI graphics, and AMD says that as of the end of 2010 it owned about 60 percent of the laptop discrete GPU market.

Of the new 6000M, Matt Skynner, general manager of AMD's GPU Division, says, "AMD's best just got better by cementing its leadership in notebook graphics. Through our feature-rich line of top-to-bottom next-generation notebook graphics, including AMD's fastest-performing notebook graphics processor, we're enabling a superior visual computing experience in virtually every segment."

The different versions of Radeon 6000M are as follows: HD 6900M/6800M for high-end enthusiast laptops; HD 6700/6600/6500 for nongaming performance laptops; HD 6400 for mainstream systems; and HD 6300 for thin and light laptops that would normally not use discrete graphics. … Read more

Apple addresses Mac Pro distorted video

Apple has released a knowledgebase article outlining a problem with the ATI X1900XT video cards that were included as CTO options in some Mac Pro systems between August 2006 and January 2008. People using these cards have experienced distorted video output and other visual artifacts, and it appears the problem was in the manufacturing of the video cards instead of an issue that could be addressed by a software or firmware update. Apple is offering those affected by the problem a replacement graphics card, but only if the card matches a specific serial number range by having "V6Z" … Read more

Intel's Sandy Bridge graphics tech: How good is it?

Sandy Bridge is the culmination of a major Intel design effort to achieve a respectable level of graphics performance and make it a standard feature in all Intel mainstream processors going forward. This week at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Intel engineers were fairly candid in explaining what Sandy Bridge can and can't do.

First, some background. A number of technical sessions at IDF were devoted to discussing Sandy Bridge's graphics technology and the design teams that came together to take this critical feature out of the chipset--a separate companion chip--and put it, for the first time, in the main processor, or CPU.

Intel integrated graphics silicon started appearing in many mainstream laptops about six years ago. And since then has shipped in the lion's share of PCs sold worldwide. While this has made Intel the leading graphics chip supplier, it has also made it the perennial target of criticism from gaming devotees, who claim--rightfully so in many cases--that Intel graphics fall woefully short in handling a number of mainstream games. In turn, this has led to Intel rebuttals and corresponding primers on Intel integrated graphics.

And Nvidia, a leading graphics chip supplier, has always offered its two cents on Intel's graphics technology. "Today's visual computing applications--like photo and video editing, playing games, and browsing the Web--use a GPU for the best experience," Nvidia said in a statement just prior to IDF. Standalone graphics processing units from Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices almost invariably offer better performance, particularly on games, but can add cost and, in the case of laptops, can up power consumption requirements.

At IDF, Intel engineers described the markets they can, and cannot, address with Sandy Bridge's graphics. Sandy Bridge technology will be part of Intel Core i series mobile processors to be introduced into laptops early next year, with the first Sandy Bridge laptop announcements expected at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

"We're not trying to target the most high-end discrete (standalone) card. We don't have the bandwidth, we don't have the power budget. We're trying to do the best experience for the mobile platform," said Opher Kahn, senior principal engineer on the Sandy Bridge design team. … Read more

Digital City 95: AMD kills ATI, Apple event predictions, and video game pottery

We're down a man this week, as Joey calls in with back problems--but the rest of us are on hand to discuss this week's hot topics. The hottest of which may be Apple's upcoming September 1 press event, and we all weigh in with allegedly thoughtful predictions on what new iPods and other gadgets may show up.

Then it's time for a moment of silence as we mourn the death of the ATI brand, with its corporate parent reportedly planning to tag the company's future graphics cards with the AMD brand name instead.

Among the wackier technology antics we look at this week--a collection of pottery figures inspired by the hit casual game Plants vs. Zombies, and a quick visit to a Chicago coffee shop with a pretty sweet pop culture collectible--a full-size model Delorean car from the "Back to the Future" film series.

Read more

AMD drops the ATI brand

Links from Monday's episode of Loaded: AMD drops the ATI brand as it evolves the CPU and GPU. Apple rumors suggest a radically redesigned and smaller iPod nano without a clickwheel. USA Today restructures itself for emerging mobile platforms. YouTube may get movie rentals as Google tries to negotiate a deal.