12-Feb-03: NEC Develops Flash Alternative

Digest: New computer memory technology, dubbed MRAM, may replace flash and DRAM ... Bluetooth and 802.11 combo chips get closer ... Fujitsu abandons LCD monitor biz, and more news from around the web.

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NEC Develops Alternative to DRAM, Flash

NEC Tuesday said it has come up with a new type of computer memory, one that may replace the DRAM and flash memory one day. At the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference, NEC said it has successfully developed 512-Kb cross-point (CP) magnetoresistive random-access memory -- or MRAM -- comprised of a simple CP-type cell structure that enables high-density data storage. MRAM is being prepped as the next-generation memory for use in mobile telephones, laptop computers and other computers because it is fast, non-volatile, uses less power and has a high density. According to NEC researchers, MRAM can be endlessly rewritten with no data loss, whereas existing flash memory is limited to about one million times.

Read the full story on: InternetNews.com

Toward a True Lab-On-A-Chip

Silicon Biosystems, in conjunction with the University of Bologna, proposed a CMOS-based biochip that it says could reduce the time period for common experiments from several days to just hours. The main features of the approach include the possibility to handle parallel detection of more than 10,000 cells, the chips software programmable flexibility and the possibility of putting embedded sensors into the silicon, which can detect the presence of particles. The chip could have broad applications in medical diagnostics, drug discovery and basic biomedical research.

Read the full story on: EE Times

Wind River, Embedded OS Vendors Dip Their Toes in Channel Waters for First Time

Top vendors of embedded, realtime operating systems are for the first time dipping their toes into channel waters to fight off the encroachment of Windows, Linux and BSD on their turf. Wind River Systems, the leading provider of a realtime embedded operating system known as VxWorks, for example, unveiled this week its first reselling agreement with semiconductor distributor the Memec Group to resell its development tools. Until now, dedicated embedded software vendors relied almost exclusively on direct sales. However, the entry of more channel-friendly commodity OS vendors into the embedded space and growing acceptance of Microsofts Windows XP Embedded and CE.Net, as well as Linux-based embedded systems from Montevista Software and TimeSys, are forcing traditional players to adopt new channel pricing and product models.

Read the full story on: CRN

Chip Designs Combine Bluetooth, 802.11 Capabilities

Chip designers reported on two separate projects to build combined 802.11b/Bluetooth RF chips at the ISSCC Conference Monday. While the two designs differed in detail, they shared a common strategy. Hooman Darabi of Broadcom and Thomas Cho of Wireless Interface Technologies reported on their respective companies combo chip efforts. Both designs included RF transmit and receive sections, clock generation and filtering. Both require an external power amplifier for 802.11b, and both require an external digital baseband chip with A/D converters. Both designs show promising economies by combining the two standards into a single architecture. But both also require some further investigation.

Read the full story on: CommsDesign

Lucent Readies Zippy New Networks

Lucent Technologies said Tuesday that its ready to license new cell phone technology it says will let carriers build telephone networks that are 10 times faster than anything now commercially available. The new Lucent silicon is meant for steroid-injected versions of present day digital cell phone networks, which breaks calls and data into bits and bytes for transmission. The faster a network operates, the more calls and data can go through. Lucents "turbo decoder" for cell phone handsets, developed by the companys Bell Labs and unveiled Tuesday, can translate those bits and bytes back into voices or Web pages at very high speeds--about 24mbps. Thats a quantum leap from the 2.4mbps speeds managed by Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMos network, the fastest commercial wireless network around.

Read the full story on: CNET News.com

Fujitsu to Focus on Notebook and LCD TV Panel Business

Facing strong competition from South Korean and Taiwanese producers, resulting in sharp price declines, Fujitsu reportedly will exit LCD monitor panel production and concentrate on its notebook and LCD TV panel businesses, according to the Japan Industrial Journal. Fujitsu Display Technologies, Fujitsus subsidiary formed last June, reportedly plans to launch a 22-inch TV panel and 10-15-inch notebook panels this spring. However, the company will subcontract Taiwanese companies to produce part of its overall panel requirements.

Read the full story on: DigiTimes

Digital Angel Gets FDA, USDA OK on Implantable Microchip

Digital Angel Corp. Tuesday said its temperature-sensing implantable microchip was approved for use in animals. The biosensor technology company said it has received clearances from the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to market the Bio-Therma microchip. The device can transmit a signal containing temperature readings to the companys proprietary radio frequency identification, or RFID, scanners. The company, a subsidiary of Applied Digital Solutions, is also developing other biosensors based on its implantable RFID microchip patents. Applied Digital is known for testing implanted chips in a Florida family last year.

Read the full story on: Mercury News