News Bits: ATI Revamps Mobility Lineup, Sager NP6260 Released, Virgin Atlantic Loosens Laptop Restrictions

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ATI revamps Mobility Radeon lineup

September 24th – ATI is refreshing its Mobility Radeon notebook GPU lineup with updated chips providing better performance per watt. One of the GPUs, the Mobility Radeon X1700, will be manufactured using strained silicon technology.

Nvidia beat ATI to the punch last month when it launched its 80nm notebook GPU (the GeForce Go7700), and the use of strained silicon technology is ATI’s attempt to get ahead of its rival. Intel has been using strained silicon for some time, and AMD introduced it with its 90nm process. Strained silicon technology improves the flow of electrons in a semiconductor.

The X1700 is the only ATI mobile GPU that uses strained silicon technology. It is a 90nm chip, and has 12 pixel pipelines and 5 vertex shader processors. It incorporates ATI’s power-saving PowerPlay 6.0, and AVIVO video processing hardware. In comparison to the Mobility Radeon X1600, the X1700 does not provide much of a performance increase, even according to ATI’s own benchmarks.

The other refreshes in ATI’s lineup go to the current ATI Mobility Radeon X1300 and X1400 graphics cards, which will be updated to the X1350 and X1450 respectively. They give better performance per watt than the previous parts, but ATI did not give any more specific details.

ATI is depending on Windows Vista, DirectX 10, and HD DVD/Blu-ray Disc playback to increase demand for notebooks with dedicated GPUs.

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Sager releases the NP6260 12″ ultraportable notebook

Sager’s latest addition to its lineup is the NP6260, a 12″ ultraportable notebook weighing a mere 2.8 lbs and achieving over five hours of battery life on the standard battery. It is designed for business users and those needing long battery life in a portable package.

Specifications are as follows:

  • 12″ XGA (1024×768) display
  • Intel Core Solo U1400 Ultra Low Voltage CPU (1.2GHz/2MB L2/533MHz FSB)
  • Intel 945GM chipset, GMA950 graphics
  • Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG WLAN
  • 512MB on-board standard DDR2 RAM, expandable to 1,536MB
  • Up to 120GB 5,400RPM HDD
  • Internal Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW drive
  • 4-cell battery; 10-cell optional
  • Ports:
    • 3 USB 2.0 ports
    • VGA port
    • IEEE-1394 mini-Firewire
    • 1x PCMCIA Type II slot
    • Microphone/Headphone jack
    • RJ-45 LAN (10/100) Ethernet & 56k modem

With the optional 10-cell battery, the NP6260 can last about ten hours on battery. Prices start at $1,399 for the base model (NP6260-C), and $1,799 for the higher configuration NP6260-V.

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Virgin Atlantic eases ban on Apple, Dell notebook

Previously banning all Dell and Apple notebook use onboard flights, Virgin Atlantic today lifted restrictions on batteries that are checked by a member of the Cabin Crew and verified as safe for use. Dell had suggested to Virgin Atlantic that “They [Virgin Atlantic] could easily check out whether a laptop uses a Sony battery or other brand instead of banning them all.”

Virgin Atlantic revised its restrictions, and it is as follows:

Customers wishing to use an Apple or Dell laptop on board can only do so once the laptop battery serial number has been checked by a member of the Cabin Crew.

– If the battery is permitted for use, the laptop may be used as normal on board, with no further restrictions.

– If however the battery is identified as being from the affected batch as identified by Apple and Dell, the battery must be removed. In cabins where the seats are fitted with In Seat Power Supplies, leads/adapters will be offered. Where no ISPS is provided or no laptop leads/adapters are available, the use of these affected laptops is prohibited.

Any removed or spare batteries must be individually wrapped/protected and placed in your Carry On Baggage. This is limited to two batteries per passenger.

Virgin Atlantic is in communication with Apple and Dell. As soon as this safety issue is resolved these restrictions will be lifted.

Quanta and Korean Air have not changed their laptop policies thus far.

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Micron samples DDR3 memory

Micron is the second company to sample DDR3 memory, and they claim to be the first to ship 1GB devices, with a capacity of up to 2GB.

DDR3 memory could scale up to 800MHz (DDR3-1600), which is twice as fast as the current DDR2-800 memory. Micron claims that DDR3-1600 can transfer a 100,000 page document in about 1 second.

No commercial platforms support the DDR3 standard at this time; however, chip makers, including Intel, are already developing platforms that support DDR3 for introduction in the second half of next year.

In addition to increased performance, DDR3 offers lower power consumption; voltage drops from DDR2’s 1.8v to 1.5v. Although it consumes less power, DDR3’s problem may lie with the increased clockspeeds. DDR3-800 will consume less power than DDR2-800, but DDR3-1600 will consume considerably more than the fastest mainstream memory today.

Micron expects to begin mass production of DDR3 memory in Q2 2007.

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AMD’s “Multi-Core Processing for Dummies”

Although AMD will not be attending the Fall IDF (Intel Developer Forum) this year, it will be sending a 32-page “Multi-Core Processing for Dummies” booklet along with journalists. A note is attached to the book:

“We aren’t attending this year’s IDF, but were hoping you could pass something on to Intel for us. Included is a little something that we think Intel and its customers should find especially useful.”

There is nothing remarkable about the booklet, but its real purpose is to remind journalists that there are two processor makers.

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