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Apple Unveils Core 2 Duo MacBooks

Broadcom Claims First Universal DVD Chip

Sharp Develops 12-Megapixel CCD For Digital Cameras

Apple Unveils Core 2 Duo MacBooks

Apple Computer unveiled its new line of MacBook consumer notebooks that now include Intel Core 2 Duo processors. Just one-inch thin, the new MacBooks are up to 25% faster than the previous generation and feature a built-in iSight video camera for on-the-go video conferencing and Apple's MagSafe Power Adapter that safely disconnects when under strain, according to Apple.

The new MacBook lineup includes three models: sleek white 1.83 GHz and 2.0 GHz MacBook models, and a black 2.0 GHz MacBook model. With Intel's latest Core 2 Duo processors, the new MacBook is up to 25% faster than the previous MacBook and up to six times faster than the iBook, said Apple. Consumers will also benefit from the added power in the new 2.0 GHz models, including double the memory and greater storage capacity than the previous generation, as well as a double-layer SuperDrive for burning professional-quality DVDs.

The new MacBook features a 13-inch glossy widescreen display and at just one inches thin, includes a built-in iSight video camera for video conferencing or chatting with friends or family using iChat AV, according to Apple.

The MacBook includes Apple's MagSafe Power Adapter that magnetically connects the power cord to the MacBook and safely disconnects under strain, preventing the notebook from falling off its work surface. Apple now also offers a new MagSafe Airline Adapter that makes using a MacBook on an airplane even more convenient by connecting to in-seat power ports for continued productivity throughout the duration of a flight, said Apple. The MacBook also includes Apple's Sudden Motion Sensor, designed to protect the hard drive in case of a fall, and a simple and intuitive Scrolling TrackPad for scrolling through long web pages or panning across large photographs.

The MacBook comes with iLife '06, the next generation of Apple's suite of digital lifestyle applications featuring iPhoto, iMovie HD, iDVD, GarageBand and iWeb. The MacBook also comes with the latest release of the Mac OS X version 10.4.8 Tiger, including Safari, Mail, iCal, iChat AV, Front Row and Photo Booth, running natively on the Intel-based notebook.

The new MacBook is available immediately through the Apple Store, Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers. The Apple MagSafe Airline Adapter is available for a suggested retail price of US$59 (US).

New Apple MacBook specifications
Item 1.83 GHz, 13-inch white 2.0 GHz, 13-inch white 2.0 GHz, 13-inch black
Screen 13.3-inch glossy widescreen 1280×800 display with 250 cd/m2 brightness
Processor 1.83 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
Front-side bus 667 MHz
Memory 512MB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM, expandable to 2GB 1GB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM, expandable to 2GB 1GB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM, expandable to 2GB
Hard drive 60GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, with Sudden Motion Sensor 80GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, with Sudden Motion Sensor 120GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, with Sudden Motion Sensor
Optical drive Slot-load Combo (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) optical drive Slot-load 6x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive Slot-load 6x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive
Graphics Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
Video Mini-DVI out (adapters for DVI, VGA and Composite/S-Video sold separately)
Webcam Built-in iSight video camera
Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet port
Connectivity Built-in AirPort Extreme wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
Ports Two USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire 400 port
Audio One audio line in and one audio line out port, each supporting both optical digital and analog
Misc Scrolling TrackPad, infrared Apple Remote, 60 Watt MagSafe Power Adapter
Suggested retail price (US$) 1,099 1,299 1,499

Source: The DigiTimes

Broadcom Claims First Universal DVD Chip

Consumer and communications chip supplier Broadcom Corp. today introduced what the company labeled the first single-chip solution to support both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD standards.

The battle between Blu-ray and HD-DVD, competing next-generation DVD standards with powerful backers, has been billed as the next VHS versus Betamax in some corners. But as EE Times reported recently, insiders believe that universal players supporting the standards will be introduced next year, taking some of the steam out of the fight. Such universal devices would presumably be powered by chips that support both standards, which are beginning to trickle into the market.

Broadcom originally introduced a high-definition (HD) audio/video decoder chip supporting both formats in January. But the company's latest device, BCM7440, integrates significantly more functionality, according to the company, including a pair of MIPS cores, a multi-stream HD video decoder, dedicated graphics engines, DSP-based audio processors, a security processor, DDR2 interfaces, integrated video and audio outputs and an array of system and network connectivity interfaces.

The device supports all decoding, processing and memory functions of both specifications and offers a universal optical disk software stack that is compliant with both Blu-ray and HD-DVD, Broadcom said. The chip supports all profiles of both specifications and includes application programming interface support and full navigation suites, according to the company.

The goal of the BCM7440 is to offer system designers a complete platform that includes "all of the little things that other people may be missing," according to Don Shulsinger, vice president of business development for Broadcom's broadband communications group.

The company is providing a complete hardware and software reference design that reduces the development time and associated cost required of original equipment manufacturers, he said.

"We really have collapsed the entire thing into a single piece of silicon," Shulsinger said.

BCM7440 supports the all the mandatory audio and video compression standards required for Blu-ray and HD DVD optical disc formats, including H.264 VC-1 , MPEG-2, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Tru-HD and DTS-HD, Broadcom said. The BCM7440 also provides full backwards compatibility for current DVD video titles as well as DVD-R, DVD-VR and audio CDs, according to the company.

Shulsinger said he expects the second-generation DVD market to evolve in much the same way that the standard-definition DVD market evolved—initially utilizing chips that provide the basic essentials and allows OEMS to build navigation systems and other differentiating features on top of them, but eventually evolving to expect more of the elements to be integrated directly within the chip.

This time around, though, Shulsinger expects this cycle to collapse into a much shorter timeframe—roughly three to four years compared to roughly eight to nine years with standard-definition DVD.

"I do think that in the end it will be a shorter timeframe to higher levels of integration," Shulsinger said.

To that end, Broadcom has made a strategic decision to bring to market a highly integrated SoC at a time when most of its competitors are "still struggling to introduce first-generation devices" that support the competing formats, according to Shulsinger. A big part of this challenge is developing software that supports two different programming environments—Microsoft's HDi for HD-DVD and Java for Blu-ray. One of Broadcom's strengths, Shulsinger believes, is the company's perceived lead in software development, where he credited heavy Broadcom investment with enabling developers to fully understand the system.

"It's really only through the deep understanding that we have of the navigation requirements of both HD-DVD and Blu-ray that we are able offer this chip," Shulsinger said. "We really understand these systems. Not just how to make the chip—we understand what you need to make the system."

Source: EETimes

Sharp Develops 12-Megapixel CCD For Digital Cameras

Sharp Corp. has developed a 1/1.7-inch CCD sensor with an effective pixel count of 12.19 megapixels for use in compact digital cameras. The new sensor comes in two models, the basic RJ21Y3BA0ET and upper RJ21Y3DA0ET with high-sensitive imaging function. The volume production is slated for January 2007.

With its proprietary microfabrication technology, Sharp has achieved what it claims to be "the industry's smallest-class" pixel size of 1.88 µm square so that the product features compactness and high sensitivity. It allows high-resolution output to A3 size. It has downward compatibility with its existing models (with an effective pixel count of 10 megapixels) in the optical system and pin configuration. Thus, the existing optical system can be used as-is when developing new digital cameras.

In RJ21Y3DA0ET, the pixel data in units of four adjacent pixels are respectively added by color R, G and B so that the sensitivity in shooting may be quadrupled. This is especially effective when the exposure time must be set short. In such a case, the pixel count of the resultant image is reduced to 1/4.

Source: Tech-On!

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