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.

And one key bottleneck keeping memory chips from being more efficient has been the pathway they use to move data to computers’ processors and back again. 

Micron’s new Hybrid Memory Cube architecture connects controllers to stacks of up to eight memory chips, making the movement of data across that pathway more efficient and making the memory chips 15 times faster than current widely-used technology allows, according to Micron technology strategist Mike Black.

IBM, using its 32 nanometer logic technology, is making the controller chips, which are then intricately connected to a stack of Micron’s memory chips.

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.

ARM Holdings’ chip architecture has come to dominate the mobile industry because its energy efficiency allows smartphone batteries to remain charged longer than Intel’s mobile processors, which are based on designs originally meant for powerful PCs.

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.

Researchers and helmet-maker Riddell are using clusters of computers powered by Intel chips to rapidly compute the risks and ways that a football player could be injured as he slams into a 220 lb linebacker and other typical head impacts.

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.

Kinect’s camera-based system, built into cameras, lets players control games with body and hand gestures, letting gamers ditch the hand-held controllers they have been tied to for decades.

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.

Sadly, he may well be right about the last part. The last Micron exec to speak about so-called solid state drives to an appreciatively nerdy Reuters summit was CEO Steve Appleton, who in November 2005 predicted that flash drives would replace hard drives within five years. Actually, he’s still got time, but folks better hurry!

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.

Why exactly is this issue so important to AMD? Because under current standards, laptops based on arch-foe Intel’s chips demonstrate significantly better battery life. Under alternative standards, their battery life is roughly equivalent to AMD’s.

Would-be dance star Wozniak tangos with Apple chip strategy

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, perhaps best-known to today’s generation for doing the Argentine Tango with world champion Karina Smirnoff on “Dancing with the Stars,” weighed in this weekend on Apple’s apparent foray into chip design.

Wozniak was a calculator chip designer at Hewlett-Packard before he and Steve Jobs founded Apple. He said that designing a chip should only cost a few million dollars. If Apple, like all PC makers, continues to contract the manufacturing, the endeavor shouldn’t be cost-prohibitive.

“I have been pushing for it since we started the company,” Wozniak said in an interview on the sidelines of the National Inventors Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Silicon Valley last Saturday. “It’s a competitive advantage.”