miercuri, 31 octombrie 2007

Samsung unveils 64Gbit flash memory chip

Company expects technology to appear in its storage cards by 2009

Samsung Electronics Co. today announced that it has built a 64Gbit NAND flash memory chip.

The new flash storage device utilizes 30-nanometer processing technology and was developed using Samsung's self-aligned double patterning technology (SaDPT), said Samsung officials.

The company said it plans to start manufacturing 30-nm 64Gbit NAND flash devices during 2009. Samsung has already applied for as many as 30 patents for the new flash memory chip, officials said in a statement.

By combining a total of 16 separate 64Gbit flash devices, businesses can create a 128GB flash storage device capable of holding up to 80 DVD movies or 32,000 MP3 music files, noted Samsung.

While some analysts have forecasted of somewhat sluggish NAND demand in 2007-2008, Gartner Inc. has predicted that sales of 64Gbit NAND flash and other higher density flash storage devices could reach $20 billion by 2011.

Joseph Unsworth, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner, called Samsung's achievement "impressive" but openly questioned the company's ability to mass produce the technology with good yields. "Samsung has had a difficult time adhering to its timelines for mass production due to the complexity of MLC architectures and ever shrinking process geometries," remarked Unsworth.

Samsung said that its new double-pattern technology creates a wider-spaced circuit design of the target process in the first pattern transfer and fills in the spaced area more closely with its second pattern transfer on the chip.

Although NAND already has a strong grip on multimedia handsets, Unsworth said vendors must find ways to cut its price and provide more compelling benefits in terms of boot up speed, reliability and power efficiency to make a significant impact on computing capacity.

Samsung said it has also designed and constructed a 32Gbit NAND flash storage chip using the same technology as its new 64Gbit offering.

SanDisk introduces video download device, service

SanDisk's Fanfare adds to the growing number of iTunes rivals, including's "Unbox" service

SanDisk Corp. introduced on Monday a service for downloading free and advertising-supported video from the Internet, which could compete with Apple Inc.'s iTunes.

SanDisk said its new system, called "Fanfare," serves as a companion to the Sansa TakeTV PC-to-TV Video Player, a pocket-sized memory module which it also introduced on Monday. The device lets users save videos downloaded onto a personal computer and move them to a traditional television.

Fanfare, now in the early "beta" stage, will be launched as a full version early next year.

SanDisk's device and online service arrive as consumers are exercising more control over when they watch TV programs, with many viewing shows on computers or portable media players.

Apple remains dominant in video and audio downloading, but it is expected to face a tougher time filling its iTunes store with TV shows and movies as big media companies gird against repeating the music industry's mistakes by giving away content at cheap prices.

Fanfare adds to the growing number of iTunes rivals, including's "Unbox" service.

"The overall vision of Fanfare is to enable users to draw from a rich catalog of free and paid video content from a single location for playback on a wide variety of portable devices in the future," SanDisk said in a statement.

The only major U.S. network affiliated with the service at launch is CBS Corp.'s CBS and its pay-tv unit, Showtime Networks, with shows such as "CSI" and "Dexter." Fanfare will also have videos from Smithsonian Networks, The Weather Channel and TV Guide Broadband.

Federal judge delays decision on Microsoft antitrust oversight

New Jan. 30, 2008 deadline gives all sides more time to argue the case

A federal judge today gave Microsoft Corp., state regulators and the Department of Justice (DOJ) more time to argue whether the company should be held to its antitrust settlement until 2012.

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly approved a motion filed by Microsoft, the DOJ, 17 states and the District of Columbia that pushed the extension decision out as far as Jan. 31, 2008. Originally, Kollar-Kotelly was expected to rule next Tuesday on whether major sections of the consent decree that Microsoft and regulators signed in 2002 would expire Nov. 12.

"It would not be practical for the parties fully to brief the Motions, and for the court to consider the Motions and render a ruling, prior to the current expiration of the Final Judgments," Kollar-Kotelly said today in a ruling.

"This temporary extension is procedural in nature and not a ruling on the merits of the motions," cautioned Jack Evans, a Microsoft spokesman, in an e-mail Tuesday afternoon. "[This] will give Microsoft and the other parties a bit more time to file their briefs and the court more time to issue a ruling."

Although most of the consent decree was to expire in under two weeks, several states have been pressing for another five years of oversight, saying that Microsoft still has a monopoly on the desktop operating system market and could stymie attempts by Web-based applications to break that hold. Earlier this month, California and New York, each leading a different group of states, filed motions with Kollar-Kotelly asking her to watch Microsoft until November 2012.

"The threat that these [Web-based] technologies pose to Microsoft's Windows monopoly through their ability to erode the applications barrier to entry depends, in large part, on Microsoft's willingness to maintain [Internet Explorer] as a standards-compliant browser and to continue supporting cross-platform implementations," the California group said in its filing.

Under the new schedule, Microsoft will have until Nov. 6 to submit its response to the California and New York requests for further oversight. U.S. antitrust regulators have until Nov. 9 to file a brief explaining why the DOJ doesn't want an extension, and the states will have until Nov. 16 to reply.

Kollar-Kotelly did not set a date for her ruling, saying only that it would come before the Jan. 30 deadline. She has given no hint as to how she will rule, but antitrust experts said as recently as last week that it would be a long shot to expert her to add another five years to the decree. "She is going to have to have some evidence that the decree hasn't done what it's supposed to to extend," Herbert Hovenkamp, an antitrust scholar from the University of Iowa College of Law, said then. "She'll need more than what she's heard."

Microsoft has maintained that the 2002 agreement has served its purpose, and will presumably argue that point in its filing next week.

The Google phone: Has a wireless upheaval begun?

Questions remain, but analysts expect a Google phone by mid-2008

The Google phone is inching closer to reality, with wireless handhelds running Google Inc. applications and operating software expected in the first half of 2008, several industry analysts said today.

Some see Google's model as revolutionary in the U.S., where nearly all customers buy their cellular phones from a wireless carrier and are locked into a contract with that carrier. But Google's entry could signal a more open system where a customer buys the Google phone and then chooses a carrier, they noted.

The Wall Street Journal today cited unnamed sources and said that Google is expected to announce software within two weeks that would run on hardware from other vendors. The Google phone is expected to be available by mid-2008. The company did not comment.

Last week at the semiannual CTIA show in San Francisco, several analysts said they had heard rumors that Google would be offering software to Taiwan-based device maker High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) for the Google phone.

Today, Gartner Inc. analysts Phillip Redman said the rumor was still that the Google phone "is coming from HTC for next year, [with] 50,000 devices initially."

HTC could not be reached for immediate comment.

Lewis Ward, an analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based market research company IDC, said Google is clearly working on software for a phone, but after making a presentation at CTIA on emerging markets last week, he said, "It didn't sound like it was on HTC after all."

Unlike several analysts who said that Google could face a fight from carriers opposed to open networks and open devices, Ward and Redman said some carriers will cooperate with Google. "It's possible some carriers will work with Google," Ward said. "AT&T seems to be more open already with its iPhone support and other things, while T-Mobile and Sprint Nextel may be more open than Verizon Wireless."

Redman said that Google's "brand is attractive, so I think there will be takers" for building hardware and for providing network support.

At CTIA, Ward said a Google phone would make a wireless portal out of what Google already provides on a wired network to a PC, such as maps, social networking and even video sharing.

"This is about Google as a portal," Ward said last week. "This is fundamentally about wireless and wire-line converging."

Ward said Google's plans for its phone software are still up in the air. "What's unclear also is whether it will be a Linux free and open [operating system] running on top of the hardware, with applets and widgets and search and all the advanced stuff that Google has done in the past."

Jeffrey Kagan, an independent wireless analyst based in Atlanta, said many questions are raised by Google's proposition, including what the phone could be named. "Will it be a regular phone, or will it be more like the Apple iPhone? How will customers pay for it? Will it be different from the traditional way we use and pay for wireless phones? There are so many questions," Kagan said.

Like Apple Inc. with the iPhone, "Google could be very successful if they crack the code." Kagan added. "The cell phone industry ... is going through enormous change and expansion. Many ideas will be tried. Some will work, and some will fail."