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from Breakingviews:

U.S. drought could spark economic water warfare

By Kevin Allison and Antony Currie

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

The withering drought afflicting California and the southwest United States could spark economic warfare over water. Scarce rains have left large swaths of the country dry for, in some areas, several years. That’s happening as industries from beverages to semiconductors grow concerned about whether they will have adequate access to water in the future. For cities and states situated around the Great Lakes, as well as water technology firms, it presents a flood of opportunities.

Access to water may have been overlooked by the Risky Business report on environmental threats to the U.S. economy launched earlier this week by, among others, former Goldman Sachs and U.S. Treasury boss Hank Paulson and ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But executives at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos have ranked it one of the three biggest global risks for the past two years. The area encompassing Arizona, New Mexico and other states regularly tops surveys of regions at risk of water stress, along with sub-Saharan Africa and China.

Until recently, though, U.S. companies routinely relegated water scarcity to the fine print of risk factors in regulatory filings. Dealing with the issue has cost some companies $400 million, according to the Carbon Disclosure Project.

from Global Investing:

Amid yen weakness, some Asian winners

Asian equity markets tend to be casualties of weak yen. That has generally been the case this time too, especially for South Korea.

Data from our cousins at Lipper offers some evidence to ponder, with net outflows from Korean equity funds at close to $700 million in the first three months of the year. That's the equivalent of about 4 percent of the total assets held by those funds. The picture was more stark for Taiwan funds, for whom a similar net outflow equated to almost 10 percent of total AuM. Look more broadly though and the picture blurs; Asia ex-Japan equity funds have seen net inflows of more than $3 billion in the first three months of the year, according to Lipper data.

from MediaFile:

Micron enlists IBM to speed up memory chips

Micron has enlisted IBM to help build smart memory chips that could drastically speed up the high-performance computers and networking systems that make up the Internet.

Engineers in recent years have run into a "memory wall" as the increasing efficiency of computer processors outpaces the speed that memory chips can deliver, limiting the overall performance  improvemement of high-end computers.

from MediaFile:

Nvidia’s power-efficient chips picked for supercomputer

In the latest challenge to Intel's dominance of the PC and server industry, smaller chipmaker Nvidia is teaming up with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center to develop a supercomputer that will run on energy efficient ARM processors.

With the massive data centers that power the Internet consuming an ever increasing amount of electricity, energy efficiency is becoming a priority, and many companies are looking toward the technology behind our smartphones and tablets to do the job.

from Reuters Investigates:

All Japan, all the time

Two more special reports from Japan today: first up, a look at how globalization has made companies around the world vulnerable to a shock like the earthquake. "Disasters show flaws in just-in-time production."

The PDF version, here, has a nice graphic showing the location of Japan's ports, some of which have been hard hit by the disaster.

from MediaFile:

Researchers use Intel chips to build better football helmets

 Football players infamously take a serious amount of punishment. Now, Intel is offering up a way to measure the extent of that pootential physical damage.

footballIntel is currently working with universities and a sports equipment maker to build an intelligent football helmet.

from MediaFile:

Microsoft raises bet on motion-sensing tech

MICROSOFT/SPECIAL-REPORTMicrosoft has acquired Canesta, which designs microchips that it says enable computers to see images in three dimensions, according to the privately-held Sunnyvale, California-based company.

The purchase comes as Microsoft prepares to launch its Kinect motion-controller next month, hoping to spark sales of its xBox video game consoles. Buying Canesta, whose technology focuses mainly on consumer applications, suggests Microsoft is already eyeing more and better movement-recognition products down the line for its video game system as well as other applications.

from MediaFile:

Speak, memory! The eternal search for notebooks with flash drives

Good news for us computer geeks! PCs are nearly ready to ditch hard drives for faster, less energy-intensive drives with flash memory, like in a camera or cell phone, according to memory maker Micron, which ought to know. That is exciting news for victims of crashed hard drives and people who always want something new.

"I think it'll be a story in 2011, and it'll be pretty good penetration in 2012. But, you know, maybe I'm wrong," said Mark Durcan, president and chief operating officer of Micron, during the Reuters Global Technology Summit.

from MediaFile:

Intel vs AMD: battle spills over into battery life

(Posted by Clare Baldwin)

Advanced Microchip Devices Inc is arguing that laptop battery life should be measured the same way as cellphone battery life: in terms of idle time and talk time.

AMD first raised the issue in a blog post in March, but is again making the rounds to convey its message that current standards, which it says measure the equivalent of standby mode in a cell phone, is misleading consumers.

from Summit Notebook:

No gadgets please, we’re tech executives!

Tech managers are not just savvy about new technology but also own the coolest, most cutting edge gadgets, right? Think again, some of them have no use for gadgets at all, finding pleasure instead in century old paintings and (gasp) pen and paper.

Alain Dutheil heads the world’s second largest mobile chipmaker, ST-Ericsson, but told Reuters Technology Summit he is not a big fan of the gadgets that run on his company’s chips.

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