News Bits: ATI and AMD Merger Approved, Thin-Film Batteries, Apple Admits MacBook Shutdown Issue

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ATI & AMD Merger approved by regulators


September 7th – AMD and ATI have received the final go-ahead they needed to merge from government regulators in the U.S., Canada, and Germany. No antitrust-related issues were found.

ATI is headquartered in Canada, AMD has facilities in Germany and is headquartered in the US, explaining why they needed approval from all three countries. The merger won’t change significantly in the short term; the ATI brand will continue to live on under AMD. ATI will still work on Intel chipsets, but will probably shift more toward in-house chipsets for AMD, something which AMD has lacked for some time. Both AMD and ATI are working on Yokohama, a laptop platform to compete with Intel’s Centrino. It couples an ATI chipset with an AMD Turion 64 X2 processor and third-party WiFi chipset. The first laptops with the new platform are expected to be shipping by the end of the year.

The next big event for AMD and ATI is a vote on the merger by ATI shareholders on October 13 – approval is expected.

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Solid-core ‘Thin-film’ batteries safer than today’s lithium-ion tech

With all the recent problems centering around lithium-ion battery technology, other options are being looked at. One such competitor to Li-ion is the thin-film battery, still in a prototype stage.

Unlike current Li-ion batteries, thin-film batteries have a solid-state core, and are less prone to overheating and catching fire. They can be recharged thousands of times before needing replacement, and loose virtually no power over time. Lately, the technology has received a financial boost. Based in Golden, Colorado, Infinite Power Solutions is soon to announce that it has received a $34.7 million dollar investment from a group of private equity firms. The investment should allow mass-production of the batteries to begin next year.

Infinite Power Solutions has solved all of the technical problems with the batteries according to the company’s president, Raymond R. Johnson. Prototype units can be fully charged and discharged over 10,000 times. When the plant opens in Golden in 2007, it should be able to churn out millions of units per year. Thin-film batteries could eventually replace li-ion batteries in common devices today (laptops, cell phones), but it may not happen for several years, at least until the current technology has run its course. And if/when the switchover does happen, it won’t be easy, as every piece of circuitry must be fully re-engineered to use the new technology.

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FreeDOS v1.0 now available for download

After years of development, FreeDOS v1.0 is now available for download from the project’s website. It can be installed on a PC and used to run DOS programs. The project dates back 12 years ago when Microsoft released the last official standalone version of MS-DOS.

The project team says that FreeDos is “a stable and viable MS-DOS replacement.” Improvements in the v1.0 package include long file name support for certain applications along with a free CD-ROM driver, FAT32 file system support within the kernel and many other applications, and improved stability.

FreeDOS has been shipped on computers for years that do not have a commercial operating system. Such systems appeal to people who want to run Linux, or those who don’t want to pay for another copy of Windows if they already have one.

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Apple admits MacBook shutdown issue

DailyTech reports that Apple has finally posted an official notice on its website with regards to the MacBook spontaneous shutdown issue. The issue involves the MacBook shutting down without any warning signs or malfunction. Apple is asking users to call Apple Care for customer service if they are experiencing the shutdown issue. The official notice can be found here.

One possible explanation for the problem was that a cable inside the MacBook is too short, and when on, the cable would expand due to heat created by the processor. The heat would melt or cut through the cable’s insulation and short the wires within. When the machine is shut off, the cable contracts when it cools, and the problem is gone. Apple has not said anything about what might be the cause.

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Can your PC handle HD?

So your computer can handle Windows Vista, but is it ready to play HD Video? Perhaps it is time to rethink simply upgrading your current computer, and getting a new one altogether. According to Cyberlink, you need the following specifications or higher in order to get HD video playback from HD DVD and Blu-ray media:

  • CPU: Intel Pentium D 840EE or higher, Core Duo T2500 or higher, AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ or higher, Turion 64 X2 TL-60 or higher
  • RAM: 1GB
  • OS: Windows XP SP2
  • Graphics: HDMI and HDCP support; Nvidia 7600GT or higher, ATI X1600 or higher
  • HD player: third-party software required
  • Display: HDMI and HDCP support required

The above specifications are about what most hardware manufacturers are recommending. A high-performance system will be required for taking advantages of features that will be arriving in the next few months. Diagnose your PC here. I ran the program on my own PC:

No fair!

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