Grab a copy of the Silmarillion ... apparently it's Tolkien Reading Day

Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2011 - 06:43 PM |
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Perhaps we are a little odd here at PC Perspective, after all a post entitled Another Good One is guaranteed to be about a difficult computer problem, not a viral video about a kid who loves cats on Friday, but we know what we like and are proud of it ... even if we aren't perfect.  We like to break things (or at least stress them) so that we can find out how they work and how to rebuild them, and to add to our collection of random screws that didn't fit back in. In that spirit, why not see if you can break the beta version of the new improved PC Perspective design and get a peek at the future while you are at it. 

Sometimes we go for the maximum punch and other times we take a more minimalist approach but we never do seem to take the easy road.  Once everything is working, to relax we engage we engage in activities which require split second reflexes or argue about the unsolvable problems that face the world.  If you do find that it all gets too much for you, just be glad you can watch the four of us do what we have done #147 times before.

Antec Donates Online Store Sales Proceeds to Japan Disaster Relief

Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2011 - 02:11 PM |
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Fremont, CA – March 24, 2011 – From now until April 24, 2011, Antec will donate 10 percent of proceeds generated from its online store sales to the American Red Cross, helping offer relief to earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan.

Understanding the far-reaching effects of its actions and recognizing its responsibility as a global company, Antec will offer its online store customers a 10 percent discount on all orders $50 or more, and free ground shipping on all enclosure and power supply orders (excluding b-stock items).

Orders can be placed at the Antec online store at http://store.antec.com. For more information about the American Red Cross visit http://www.redcross.org.

Source: Antec

Is it worth picking up a USB 3.0 add-in card?

Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2011 - 12:07 PM |
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The Tech Report investigates a question that is probably on the minds of those who upgraded their PC hardware just before the release of USB 3.0, is it worth picking up a PCIe USB 3.0 card?  They grab a Mukii TransImp TIP-PU301 2 port USB card and run through what you can expect in the way of bandwidth depending on the implementation of PCIe your motherboard has as well as the effect of legacy cables. 

"SuperSpeed USB connectivity may be a nice additional perk as part of a future system, but is it worth the trouble as a standalone upgrade?"

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Tech Talk

The most concise and accurate Crysis 2 review you need

Subject: General Tech | March 23, 2011 - 01:22 PM |
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If you've been living on pot noodles for months to save up enough money to upgrade your system for Crysis 2 then maybe it's time to reinstall FarCry 2 or Metro 2033, there must be a few mods out there to amuse yourself with.  Whatever level of fail BulletStorm reached with encrypted .ini files, Crysis 2 surpassed them and kept on going.  Who needs a DX11 game on an XBox after all, let alone challenging play or graphics that crush modern GPUs?   Kyle at [H]ard|OCP will help you save some bucks buying this console port, but if you really want to play it he did stick with it long enough to provide a performance preview.

 

"We have played them all! Farcry, Crysis, and now Crysis 2. If you were relying on Crytek to stress your new AMD or NVIDIA GPUs, well, you will likely have to wait another 4 years, or never probably. Crysis 2 graphics suck. Yes the graphics suck and you all know why. Crytek sold us out for a bunch of pussy 360 gamers. Gameplay is about as exciting and motivating as pulling a scab off your dog's scrotum. Open gameplay? Yeah right. Challenging? Not in the least. Crysis 2 goes into the "Never Finished" game bin with Daikatana. Come to think of it, Daikatana had better multi-player."

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Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Cedar Trail gets its big reveal at IDF in Beijing

Subject: General Tech | March 23, 2011 - 12:27 PM |
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Intel's new mobile platform for netbooks, notebooks and all-in-one PCs will be unveiled next month in Beijing.  Cedar Trail in its various forms could start to arrive on the market before the second half of the year, leading with netbooks powered by the new generation of Atom processor.  Graphically you can expect DX10.1 support and the ability to stream 1080p video, though we don't know how smoothly yet.  Digitimes has the tip here.

"Intel will introduce Cedar Trail, its new platform specifically designed for use in netbooks (Cedar Trail-M) as well as nettops and entry-level all-in-one PCs (Cedar Trail-D), at Intel Developer Forum (IDF) to take place in Beijing, China, during April 12-13.

The third-generation Cedar Trail platform will feature a 32nm Atom processor (Cedarview), that is already in beta testing and should be able to start shipping in May or June. The platform will support DirectX 10.1, Blu-ray content playback and dual-display output, and supports output formats such as LVDS, eDP, HDMI and DP.

In addition, Taiwan-based Asustek Computer may announce its US$200-250 ultra-thin netbook at the show."

 

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Tech Talk

Source: Digitimes

The last browser to renew its self; Firefox 4 arrives tomorrow

Subject: General Tech | March 22, 2011 - 12:06 PM |
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Over the past 7 days we have seen quite a bit of action in the browser world.  Internet Explorer has hit its 9th iteration for those running Vista or Win7, with improved performance across the board, previously unseen (from Microsoft) adherence to web standards and new features such as a Do Not Track header.  The eternally updating Chrome beat even Adobe to the punch in patching a serious Flash flaw, but Firefox has been lagging behind in this busy week.  Wait no more, as today sees the release of FireFox 4, with an update to the Gecko rendering engine and a new Javascript engine called Jaegermonkey.Drop by The Inquirer for a preview before you install it.

"OPEN SOURCE software developer Mozilla has big hopes that Firefox 4 will maintain the momentum of its most popular product, and so far the results are looking good."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

PCMark 7 Announced For Windows 7

Subject: General Tech | March 21, 2011 - 06:30 PM |
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HELSINKI, FINLAND – MARCH 21, 2011 – Futuremark, the developer of the world's most popular benchmarking software, announced PCMark 7 today, a new benchmark offering complete PC performance analysis for Windows 7. PCMark 7 includes 7 separate test suites combining more than 20 individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. A release date has not been announced though the official website states that PCMark 7 is coming soon. http://www.pcmark.com/

"Hardware innovations like solid state drives (SSDs), and new form factors such as netbooks and tablets are greatly increasing the range of PC performance available to businesses and home users," said Jani Joki, Director of PC Products and Services at Futuremark. "With so much choice available, PCMark 7 is an essential and easy to use tool to test and compare PC performance accurately and reliably across a wide range of usage scenarios."

PCMark 7 provides a set of 7 suites for measuring different aspects of PC performance with a high degree of accuracy. Overall system performance is measured by the PCMark Suite. The Lightweight Suite measures the capabilities of entry level systems and mobility platforms unable to run the full PCMark suite. Common use performance is measured by the Entertainment, Creativity and Productivity scenario suites. Component performance is measured by the Computation and Storage hardware suites. The Storage suite is ideal for testing SSDs and external hard drives in addition to the system drive.

For more information please visit http://www.pcmark.com/ or follow Futuremark on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Futuremark/

Source: FUTUREMARK

Corsair hits the low end of 2.1 speakers with the new SP2200 system

Subject: General Tech | March 21, 2011 - 01:30 PM |
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$220 Corsair SP2500 2.1speaker set, which you can see from the full review was quite impressive for those sitting directly in front of their PCs.  Overclockers Club had a chance to try out Corsair's less expensive alternative, the $90 Corsair Gaming Audio Series SP2200 2.1 speaker set.  As the price difference indicates, there are significant differences between the two models, the satellites are smaller and the control for the subwoofer also affects the bass sent to the satellites though on the plus side the speakers can accept input from 3 different sources without you having to swap plugs.  Check out the full review at OCC.

"Movies aren't so involving with the SP2200. Newer movies often have audio that favors bass, and, as mentioned, the bass must be turned down quite a bit on the SP2200 to prevent it from being overwhelming and boomy. Unfortunately, this means that the overall volume must be turned up rather high to have a traditional movie experience. Fortunately, because most movie audio is intentionally very quiet so that any dramatic, loud moments are emphasized, means that quiet listening of movies is possible. Simply note that you might have to increase the volume to hear quiet parts."

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Audio Corner

IR cameras tracking your eyes might just trump the mouse

Subject: General Tech | March 21, 2011 - 01:13 PM |
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The Lenovo-Tobii eye control PC offers a new way to interact with your PC; a few seconds of staring at dots calibrates the software and from there on you can use your eyes instead of your mouse or trackpad.  It will even be able to store different Eye Profiles, so others can use the new software without forcing you to recalibrate once they are finished.  A row of two synced infrared sensors scan your eyes 30-40 times a second leading to very precise control.   Digital Trends feels that Tobii's 'Kinect for PCs' is a strong contender for the next interface for your computer.

"First it was the mouse, then touch control, then motion. On Friday, we got our hands on Tobii's new eye-tracking laptop, which could potentially eliminate the need for the mouse by keeping tabs on what you're looking at with astounding accuracy. In the last few years, touch control has revolutionized the way we interact with mobile devices. The technology has been so popular on smartphones that Apple used its proven touch approach to reinvent the dead tablet market with the iPad. Thanks to the blooming growth of these devices, touch is taking off in a big way, taking on new form factors and posing a potential threat to our oldest friend: the PC. With all of these motion-controlled interfaces for video game systems and touch interfaces for mobile devices, the PC with its keyboard and mouse, just feels, well, old. The keyboard is still the fastest and best way to enter large amounts of data and to author written content, but the mouse and touchpad are a step removed from the natural, direct feeling one gets when using the Wii, Xbox Kinect, or a touch tablet. Tobii hopes to rectify this imbalance. Last Friday, I met up with Barbara Barclay, North American manager of Tobii Technologies (a Swedish company) to try out a completely new type of user interface built for consumer desktops and laptops. In a small office building in Manhattan, New York, she let me try out one of only 20 prototype Lenovo laptops, which each have built-in infrared sensors that track eye movement so precisely and quickly that it makes even the best mouse interfaces feel antiquated."

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Tech Talk

Talking about Fusion with AMD

Subject: General Tech | March 21, 2011 - 12:51 PM |
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X-bit Labs had a chance to speak with Neal Robison, the Senior Director of Content and Application Support at AMD, essentially he is in charge of ensuring AMD's APUs can be easily utilized with software and convincing programmers of all varieties to design software that takes advantage of the new abilities of the Fusion APU.  They discuss a wide variety of topics, such as hardware accelerated physics to tablets and AMD's choice to remain open as opposed to hawking AMD branded applications specifically for Fusion APUs.  Get a glimpse of AMD's future in the full article.

"AMD's Fusion technology is finally here. At present AMD Fusion platforms only power low-end personal computers, in the coming months AMD will introduce Fusion chips for mainstream PCs. But what about the future of Fusion program? Will it power high-end desktops? Maybe next-generation game consoles? What advantages can Fusion bring to end users? Neal Robison, the head of software developer relations department will answer these questions here and now."

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Tech Talk

Source: X-Bit Labs

Don't eat the green snow

Subject: General Tech | March 18, 2011 - 06:02 PM |
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If you head on over to the motherboard forum you can see a few members have been getting lately, from brand new SandyBridge systems to a Gigabyte 790X board that is throwing up BSODs on regular occasions.  No matter what made or model of motherboard you happen to have, new or old, AMD or Intel, the PC Perspective Motherboard Forum is where you should head if you are having difficulties, unless the problem is specifically with your RAM of course.  Some problems are harder than others to fix though. 

The Lightning Round is doing stellar business as there is a lot to talk about in this quickly changing world, as is the Trading Post with several new items up for sale as the original owners change their setups.  To get kit for free though you need to sign up for PC Perspective March Madness, where up to 400 people compete to come out at the top of a NCAA pool.  You can also catch the 146th episode of the PC Perspective Podcast right on our front page.

Springtime graphics round up

Subject: General Tech | March 18, 2011 - 04:06 PM |
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InsideHW gathered together a large number of video cards, broke them into four different price ranges and went benchmark crazy.  For this particular round up they were more concerned about GPU power as opposed to contrasting the different features that AMD and NVIDIA have incorporated into their cards.   As well, instead of complicating their results with multi card setups, they focused on how the cards compared when used singly.  Take a look to see how they fell on the performance scale in the full review.

 

"If you were attentive during the past few months, you’re bound to have noticed just how many new graphics card models have been presented in the past few months. To say that the market situation is confusing would be an understatement, since not only have there been plenty of new models making their appearance on the market, but an entire graphics card generation has shifted. Besides, NVIDIA seems to have made a full recovery and got back into the game as an entirely respectable competitor…"

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  Graphics Cards

Source: InsideHW

AMD's new releases, 11 Llano parts by the end of the year

Subject: General Tech | March 18, 2011 - 03:51 PM |
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You still have a few months of waiting before you will be able to get hold of AMD's new CPUs but there will be 11 new processors by the end of the year.  A mix of Llano and Zacate APUs will be released along with notebooks by a variety of vendors, based on the new quad core APU with an HD 6550 onboard.  DigiTimes didn't have a break down of the exact models and speeds that are coming but you can be sure that more information will be posted once it is released by AMD.

 

AMD will launch six Llano-series APUs for desktops in third-quarter 2011 and another five models in the fourth, in an apparent effort to take on Intel's Sandy Bridge CPUs, according to industry sources.

AMD will unveil its 32nm A-series Llano APUs at Computex Taipei 2011 to be held in June and the models to be launched in the third quarter will include A8-3550 and A6-3450, while the five models to be available in the fourth quarter will include A8-3560 and A4-3360.

Additionally, AMD will also release three E-series (Zacate) APUs, including dual-core E-300, E-450 and E2-3250, in the third quarter.

AMD has also announced that a total of 24 notebooks based on its C- and E-series APU have been rolled out by ODMs, including Clevo, Coby, Compal Electronics, Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS), Hasee, Micro-Star International (MSI) and Shuttle, and are available in the market now."

 

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Tech Talk

Source: Digitimes

Intel's tools in the coming battle for server room dominance against ARM and AMD

Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2011 - 11:36 AM |
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Intel has been dominating the high end of servers with Itanium and Xeon but the days when energy efficiency can be sacrificed in the name of processing power are coming to a close.  AMD has been working away at Intel's market share with Opteron, perhaps less powerful for some applications but also lower powered than Intel's top of the line products.  That is changing, especially as ARM is now putting out dual core processors that can handle tasks once reserved for chips made by AMD and Intel.  Intel has responded with the idea of Atom powered servers as well as lower powered Xeons, while AMD has Bulldozer and other products around the corner.  Thanks to DigiTimes we now have a rough roadmap of Intel's plans for the server room in the near future.

 

"Intel has disclosed its roadmap for low-power processors for the emerging micro server category including a new server processor based on the Intel Atom processor microarchitecture targeted for 2012.

Micro servers share infrastructure resources and are ideal for workloads where many low-power, dense servers may be more efficient than fewer, more robust servers. Intel will deliver four new processors for the category that span 45W high performance to sub-10W, all with server features including 64-bit, Intel Virtualization Technology and Error-Correcting Code (ECC).

Customers are already planning designs based on these processors, including Intel Xeon E3-1260L and E3-1220L processors in production now, Intel said."

 

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Source: Digitimes

Auzentech updates their impressive X-Meridian 7.1

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2011 - 01:23 PM |
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Wrapped around a C-Media CMI8788 Oxygen HD PCI Audio Processor and still using a PCI slot to avoid the use of a bridge chip to allow a PCIe version the new Auzentech X-Meridian 7.1 2G looks to improve the already impressive performance of the original.  It is just as powerful and tweakable as the original, though they did shave the headphone amplifier off, so [H]ard|OCP has no qualms recommending this card for anyone who needs to update an older soundcard.  They do caution that the difference between this card and the previous generation from Auzentech, or indeed from almost any manufacturer, is so slight that users of modern C-Media 8788 cards don't need to upgrade.

"Auzentech promises to deliver the second generation high performance PCI audio card that will let you know the difference between audio that sounds great and audio that sounds perfect. We put Auzentech's new card to the test."

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Audio Corner

Source: [H]ard|OCP

What do you need to play Dragon Age II properly?

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2011 - 12:36 PM |
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TechSpot downloaded the high resolution texture pack and applied it to the new, fully DX11 sequel to Dragon Age.  They take a close look at the visual differences between the various quality modes available in the setting screen so you can determine if it is even worth cranking up the settings.  They show that CPU speed has little to do with performance, although newer architectures perform superior to older models.  Take a look at the full review to see an impressive performance from the new HD6990.

 

"Given our ability to fit out PCs with vastly superior hardware, it pays off when playing Dragon Age II. Right off the bat BioWare released a free high-resolution texture pack download designed exclusively for the PC version. Just as important, the game exclusively supports DirectX 11 on the PC providing cutting edge rendering features such as tessellation, additional dynamic lighting, depth of field and ambient occlusion (SSAO). When compared to DX9 we can confirm that Dragon Age II looks considerably better using the more advanced renderer. "

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Gaming

Source: Tech Spot

The future of self defending chips, McAfee inside Intel ... inside

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2011 - 12:03 PM |
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The Register listened in to a conference call involving Wall Street analysts, Renée James, an Intel SVP and GM of the Software and Services Group, as well as Dave DeWalt, president of McAfee now a subsidiary of Intel.  There was good news for employees, apparently of the 20 software companies Intel has purchased recently over 90% of the original employees are still holding the same jobs.  Intel's James went on to discuss how they see integrating malware defences directly onto the chips they make, especially mobile platforms that currently lack good protection from a growing malware threat.  Look for embedded virus and malware production in Atom, Core, and Xeon chips as well as Wind River's embedded operating systems.

"Chip maker and now software player Intel tried on Tuesday to explain the finer points of its $7.7bn acquisition of security software maker McAfee, which closed at the end of February after jumping some European Commission regulatory hurdles."

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Source: The Register

A trio of keyboards from a name you've never heard

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2011 - 06:28 PM |
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Koribo is apparently a new company that wants to change the way you interact with your computer, or rather your HTPC. To that end three keyboards were introduced, the Leira, Vivar and Mini which are all wireless and intended not for the gamer but for those who prefer passive entertainment.  Whether you prefer a touchpad or trackball in addition to your keyboard or if you want a keyboard that approaches the size of a remote control you can see how well they work in Neoseeker's roundup.

"We're taking a look at a trio of keyboards from Koribo, a relatively unheard of name in the input devices market. Their Leira, Vivar and Mini keyboards feature built-in solutions for mouse control ranging from touchpads to trackballs, and are designed for the HTPC and media center markets. One of them even works with the Xbox 360. Hit the link to see what we made of these distinctly shaped keyboard/mouse devices in our latest review:"

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Source: Neoseeker

Make your own big screen out of random small ones with the Junkyard Jumbotron

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2011 - 11:14 AM |
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Over at MAKE:Blog you can get a look at a project out of MIT called the Junkyard Jumbotron.  Simply assemble your group of internet connected displays be they smartphones or laptops and assemble them into the grouping you want, and displayed visit a unique URL generated for you by the project that will display a QR code on each device.  Take a picture and fire it off to the project and your image or stream will be displayed over the devices as if they were one big, oddly shaped monitor.

"Rick Borovoy of MIT Media Lab’s Civic Media Project developed the Junkyard Jumbotron, which makes it easy to turn a bunch of small computer displays into one big one. Setting it up is as simple as opening a web browser on each device, loading their website, and taking a photo of the arrangement. After that, their software figures out which screen is where, and starts streaming data to each device’s screen directly over the web."

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Source: Hack a Day

The effect of the Japanese quake on your tech addiction

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2011 - 11:54 AM |
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Digitimes has put together a concise look at the effect the quake in Japan and the following tsunamis have had on the various fabrication plants located near the epicentre.  The plants affected are not necessarily producers of final products, they are more fabricators of parts, albeit very important parts such as RAM chips.  Most companies have had their assets survive more or less intact, in many cases it is the damage to the ports and runways that will prevent new raw materials from arriving at the plants for processing. 

SemiAccurate reports that Elpida's two plants are unharmed and The Inquirer reports that Toshiba's plants shut down briefly and lost some wafers to damage; they also mention shutdowns at Philips and Sony plants.

"Market research firm IHS iSuppli has given its commentary and analysis on how significant the Japan earthquake could impact the global electronics production.

Japan in 2010 accounted for 13.9% of all global electronic equipment factory revenues, according to a preliminary IHS iSuppli estimate. This includes manufacturing of all electronic equipment, including computers, consumer electronics devices and communications gear. Japan produced US$216.6 billion worth of electronic equipment in 2010, compared to US$1.6 billion worldwide.

Japan also accounted for 16.5% of global consumer electronics equipment factory revenues in 2010, IHS said. The country represented 10.2% of worldwide data processing revenue in 2010.

In 2010, Japanese suppliers accounted for more than one fifth of global semiconductor production, IHS noted. Companies headquartered in Japan generated US$63.3 billion in microchip revenues in 2010, representing 20.8% of the worldwide market. While not all of this actual production is located in Japan a large percentage is produced in manufacturing facilities in Japan.

The major impact on Japan's semiconductor production is not likely to be direct damage to production facilities, but disruption to the supply chain, IHS indicated. Suppliers are likely to encounter difficulties in getting raw materials supplied and distributed and shipping products out. This is likely to cause some disruption in semiconductor supplies from Japan during the next two weeks, IHS believes.

DRAM manufacturing in Japan accounts for 10% of the worldwide supply based on wafer production, IHS said. The two major DRAM fabs in Japan, operated by US based-Micron and Japan's Elpida, have not been directly affected. As for NAND flash, Japanese companies mainly Toshiba account for 35% of global chip production in terms of revenues, IHS added.

Japanese headquartered companies in 2010 ranked number three in semiconductor production among the world's major chip manufacturing regions, according to IHS. The Asia-Pacific region outside of Japan was number one, the Americas ranked number two and Europe/Middle East/Africa was fourth. Of the 300 semiconductor suppliers tracked worldwide by IHS, 39 are based in Japan.

Japan in 2010 accounted for 6.2% of the world's US$86.3 billion in global production of large-sized LCD panels in 2010, that is, panels 10-inches and larger in the diagonal dimension, IHS said. Japan also accounts for 14% of LCD TV panel production. The country is home to many higher-generation fabs, including the world's only 10G LCD fab operated by Sharp. The Sharp fab has not been directly impacted by the quake, given the remote location of the fab. Only one large LCD fab may be in the zone of peripheral impact by the quake.

The more important impact may be on Japan's production of components for LCD panels, IHS expressed concerns. Japan accounts for a very high share of components uses in LCD panels and LCD-based products, including glass, color filters, polarizers, cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs)."

 

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Source: Digitimes