June 2002 Hardware Digest

July 9, 2002

By Vladimir Romanchenko

As any big show, for many people Taiwan Computex 2002 is a colorful exhibition, a chance to see the novelties and get to know the future product specifications from companies representatives. For vendors themselves it's a hot time of signing contracts. Their amount and volume directly affects the company's prosperity. Just remember that delivery volume reduction of the second quarter was caused, according to analysts, by low customer activity at the spring CeBIT 2002. So what are the results of Taiwan Computex 2002?

Pity but according to reports from Taiwan, signed contract volumes are low. At least, lower than expected. Moreover, most of large customers have refrained from contracts and new dealerships are considered unimportant. Perhaps, most OEM orders of equipment for the fall sale season will be made in July.

Though, one shouldn't indiscriminate the entire component market, as the traditionally calmest second quarter has finished and the market is reviving. So, DRAM vendors report that sales volumes grew by 10-15% in June comparing to May. Though motherboard makers were short (with the rare exception of MSI).

In general a number of analytical firms report better indices of the current year comparing to the last, and some of them have even changed the market forecasts for 2002 to more optimistic. So, according to IDC, almost all regions except Japan had market indices of 1Q, 2002 higher than expected. This year, according to the same firm, will bring sales of about 139.71 million PCs, i.e. the market will grow by 4.7% comparing to 133.47 million sold computers of 2001. If the growth rate keep the same, in 2003 the world wide PC sale will achieve 155.25 million units. IDC thinks that PC demand will be mainly formed by large corporations, being sluggish in the middle and small business segment.

Another disturbing factor is the dollar inflation. Currently its rate to euro is the minimal for the last two years, the rate to yen is minimal for the last seven months as well, the same for the dollar / South Korean won rate for the last 15 months.

Why is it a threat to the semiconductor industry? First, if the situation remains for a long time, it might make some vendors revise their new fab roadmaps, resulting in the growth of new plants amount in USA.

However, according to media reports, large international companies are already prepared for this, having various economic instruments for reducing the dollar inflation effect. Anyway, they'll be less short than others, being weaker bound up to currencies. But losses of European and Asian makers are expected to be the highest.

And what do economy analysts say about that? Some believe that dollar inflation might continue for a quarter to a year, other prolong it to the end of 2003. So, according to Morgan Stanley, dollar will lose 7% of "weight" during 2002 and 2003.

However, it's not our main business to forecast various dollar and other currencies behavior models. It's just to mark another shaky factor of the international economy, affecting the semiconductor industry. And now, back to the main theme.

Production, technologies, equipment

The main "technological" theme of June (as well as of May) was the implementation of production lines for making 0.09 micron chips, and speeding up the construction of new 300 mm wafer factories. Most reports are about one fact: this way or another most technological brands planned the mass production of 90 nm process technology products to the closest year, and the test lines launch - to the closest half-year.

June brought detailed plans of new generation equipment launch by Taiwanese UMC. According to company executives, the test line for making 90 nm chips featuring copper interconnects, low-k dielectrics, and SOI will be launched in the third quarter of 2002. the first test samples are to be made in the 1Q, 2003. UMC representatives have already approved the usage of new 193 nm tools from Dutch ASML and Japanese Nikon for working with critical layers of 90 nm chips.

90 nm process technology of UMC - L90 IP9M is a 9-layer production technology for logic devices with 1.0-1.2 V voltage, 0.08-0.045 micron gates, and 14-16 angstrem thick dielectrics. At that the in-chip signal expansion reduces down to 7-20 picosecond depending on the process technology version.

The sample production with usage of 90 nm mixed process technology is expected in the second quarter of 2003; eD90 and eD90s process technologies for making DRAM-equipped chips are expected in 3Q, 2003 and 2004, respectively. At the same time all UMC's 90 nm process technologies will feature copper conductor and low-k 2.7 dielectrics.

It's also close to the launch of 90 nm Cu-08 process technology from IBM microelectronics subdivision, using copper conductors, low-k dielectrics and SOI. Cu-08 enables memory integration and usage of voltage reduction methods.

IBM plans to implement Cu-08 at its fab in East Fishkill, promising to release a toolkit for ASIC and other chip designers in the third quarter. According to the company, Cisco Systems is the first customer of 90 nm chips.

Cu-08 enables to make 8-layer chips with layers separated by SiLK low-k dielectrics from Dow Chemical. Cu-08 uses "voltage islands" technology to use various voltages for different chip areas. IBM claims that Cu-08 will increase chip performance by 20%, reducing the energy consumption by 40%.

Now TSMC is the leader of 90 nm implementation race, having promised to launch the mass production using its process technology this year. It's followed by LSI Logic, Fujitsu, NEC, UMC, Intel, Motorola, Texas Instruments, and IBM.

The growth of load of fabs using modern 0.2 process technology and smaller can be an indirect criteria of their demand. As you remember last year some makers reported almost 50% production lines load reduction during some months.

According to the June report of IC Insights, analysts expect the load of modern fabs to grow up to 83.5% in 2002 comparing to 72.2% of 2001. By the way this index made all 95% in the successful enough 2000. Another semiconductor market analyst, VLSI Research, forecasts higher indices - they expect 87% fab load in June against 82.6% of May and 80% of April. Well, it's very pleasant, but will sales volumes correspond to growing orders volumes? I guess more or less reliable data will become available in the middle of the third quarter.


June was rather rich for new processor announcements, and it would be excessive to try and describe even one of them. I think it would be enough to list the novelties, and readers who missed the announcements can read our news archives and articles:

Still the mass-media spent more energy for other, not mass-produced processors due to the Computex 2002 that brought many chips that are only planned for production.

During one of the interviews at Computex 2002 Intel representative said that the company plans to release the successor to XScale mobile architecture already in the end of 2002. Or it would rather be a new chip, codenamed Manitoba, the next version of XScale.

312 MHz Manitoba won't be more powerful than current Xscale, actually having the same core. But it will feature a built-in DSP, 32 MBytes flash memory and 512 KBytes SDRAM. In addition Intel plans to include the hardware support of GSM and GPRS.

Intel reported its further plans for developing Socket 478 Celeron line. According to provisional data, the next 1.9 GHz processor will be made using 0.13 micron process technology (1.7 GHz and 1.8 GHz are 0.18 micron). Its announcement is planned to September. By the way, the demand for Socket 478 Celeron turned out to be higher than expected. According to the latest data, the company is going to pay more fixed attention to the low-end sector.

Intel is very close to the release of long-expected new-generation 64-bit Itanium 2 to be officially announced July.

We can state that Intel decided to increase on-chip L3 cache to get Itanium 2 performance higher. The novelty will feature 3 MBytes L3 cache. 0.13 micron Madison, planned to 2003, will have 6 MBytes of L3 cache.

Speaking about chipsets for new CPUs: by that time Intel plans to release its E8870 chipset for 16-processor servers; Bull, NEC, and Unisys are to develop 32-processor Itanium 2 systems. Intel promises that Itanium 2 based systems will be supported by 7 operating systems by the end of the year: two Windows, four clones of Linux and HP-UX.

Computex 2002 has become the first experience for AMD in 4-processor system demonstration. According to AMD, the showed multi-CPU featured 0.13 micron Opteron processors, working under 64-bit SUSE Linux, IP-client being controlled by 32-bit Windows XP.

Shipments of server and workstations AMD Opteron is planned to the first half-year of 2003. Shipments of new 64-bit AMD Athlon (ClawHammer) are still dated to the 4Q, 2002. Seems that we won't see AMD K8 earlier, except for maybe small shipments of ClawHammer for retail sales, as the planned chip production volume won't overcome 10,000 units until the end of 2002.

At the press conference, that took place at the exhibition, AMD announced large-scale industrial support of its Opteron platform. 35 makers supporting AMD Opteron include Micron, the memory manufacturer; mobo makers: Acorp, AOpen, ABIT, ASUS, BioStar, Chaintech, DFI, ECS, EPoX, FIC, Flexus, Gigabyte, IWILL, Jetway, Leadtek, Legend, Lucky Star, MSI, Shuttle, Soltek, Soyo; vendors: BIOS AMI and Phoenix.

System boards and chipsets

Having started at the beginning of the month, Computex 2002 messed up everything even more: current and future processor solutions, mass-produced chipsets and single units. Just remember the motherboard line for AMD Hammer and Opteron to be released only in a half-year! Chipsets for them included:

Besides, mobo makers offered a variety solutions on unannounced DDR400 / AGP 8x chipsets: - SiS648 and VIA P4X400 for Pentium 4, VIA KT400 and nForce 2 for Socket A AMD processors; there was even some exotics - ATI IGP320 boards. The only actually presented solution was integrated VIA Apollo CLE266 chipset, designed to work in new PC and Internet-tablets near Socket 370 C3/Eden, Intel Pentium III/Intel Celeron Socket 370 processors with 66/100/133 MHz FSB.

It's clear the show was great, but what about actual results? It's not a secret that contracts of OEM customers are the most important for such large-scale shows. So, it's natural to show yourself in all the glory, present prospective products, and interest most manufacturers.

Pity, but according the results of Computex 2002, the situation with actual contracts was not very pleasant: clients were mainly interested in inexpensive motherboards, many larger companies refrained from signing contracts al all. According to the latest data from Taiwan, this June brought the lowest amount of motherboard shipments.

Thus some mobo demand growth, expected in the end of June, is now pushed to July. According to analysts, in case there will be no growth, motherboard makers will have to seriously revise their fiscal forecasts.

However, Intel itself came to rescue its Taiwanese partners. In order to save shipment volumes from "looming" i845PE and i845GE DDR333 versions, the company decided to push their release further, to the fourth quarter.

Other chipset makers, achieved DDR400 and AGP 8x support, have also restrained their ardour slowing down novelties promotion: it's not only the demand that's far from expected, but also untimely announces of more powerful products that negatively affect current sales volumes.

What should makers do in these uneasy conditions? Well, as always: develop interfacing markets, release odd products, move to low-end. Everybody does what he can: ASUS, for example, said reported that it won't feel the summer downturn components for PlayStation 2; Gigabyte and Elitegroup are sure that their price policy will help to avoid probable losses; MSI plans to compensate shortage by selling more graphics cards.

In June ABIT made a serious step to developing the server market. Having announced three barebone systems based on its server solutions: SI-2P (dual-processor Intel Xeon board, Intel E7500 chipset) and SSR-1P (single-processor Socket 603 Intel Xeon board, Serverworks GC-SL chipset), the company has also decided to become one of the leading server vendors in about 5 years.

In 2004 ABIT's server part, now being about 10% of its whole sale, will be increased to after the launch of a new fab for making servers and networking products.

Tyan, the well-known server component maker, (that presented its 4-processor Xeon MP board - Thunder GC-HE (S4520) based on ServerWorks Grand Champion HE chipset - at Computex 2002), decided to expand its "sphere of influence" due to graphics cards sector, unusual for the company. Soltek went the same way, having presented the complete graphics card line along with motherboards.

Many makers plan to increase sales volumes by completing their products with various additions. So, DFI offered Media Kit based on its NB76 i845G board, including a card reader for SmartCard, Secure Digital, and Memory Stick; S/PDIF-IN, and S/PDIF-OUT panel, AGP card with DVI and TV outs. Though the idea of attracting customers by interface expansion kits is now new, perhaps, it will do what it should do.

Acorp presented i845GL board - 4845GLF - of Flex ATX design, not very usual for P4 platform.

Want a small PC based on prestigious P4 up to 2.4 GHz? Voila, get it with everything needed: PCI slot, integrated LAN adapter, 4 USB 2.0 ports, AC'97 codec.

A kind of the "surprise of the month" became the announce of Aopen's i845E board - AX4B-533Tube - with a real electrovacuum lamp onboard.

AOpen engineers decided to gain the attention of all who likes quality sound, and made such an audio output (the path itself features 5.1-channel Realtek ALC650). Of course, it hasn't been done without "quality audio path capacitors".

I'm not sure in the expediency of this release as a Hi-Fi solution. It resembles a bicycle with a jet engine. Still, it will perfectly suit those wishing to surprise their friends with such an odd board. :-)

Memory products

Prices continued to reduce until the middle of the month, but it had already been impossible to describe further trends of DRAM sector.

So, in the beginning of the third week spot prices for 256 MBit SDRAM chips dropped below $5.0, 256 MBytes DDR SDRAM chips cost average $4.88, 128 MBit SDRAM and DDR SDRAM - $2.24 and $2.15, respectively.

However, the end of the month brought different values: 256 MBytes SDRAM and DDR SDRAM chips became more expensive, $5.2 and $5.4, respectively, 128 MBit SDRAM and DDR SDRAM chips - $2.55 and $2.60.

And contract prices continued to reduce and made $5.00-5.75 for 256 MBit SDRAM, $5.00-5.75 for 256 MBit DDR SDRAM, $2.50-2.75 for 128 MBit SDRAM, $2.40-2.85 for 128 MBit DDR SDRAM chip to the end of the month.

Why have prices started to increase so early? Perhaps, that's not a correct question: the thing is that, according to DRAM distributors, the main volume of contracts was short-term, without any customers enthusiasm to make orders for August.

In July contract prices are expected to be stable enough, as the demand will grow anyway due to purchases for back-to-school season.

Stable, if... unaffected by some completely unexpected events like the government's investigation of Micron, Samsung Electronics, Infineon, Hynix, Winbond Electronics, Nanya Technology, and Elpida Memory, regarding noncompetitive price fixing.

Some believe that Micron and others agreed to reduce prices together to push Hynix out of the market. Anyway, the interference of Department of Justice might easily lead to memory prices growth.

June brought some prospective memory types. So, Motorola presented 50 ns nonvolatile magnetoresistive memory (MRAM) chips. They feature the same structure - "one transistor / one static magnetic cell", but use copper conductors unlike sample 256 and 512 KBit MRAM.

The current samples, made using 0.6 micron process technology, provide about 50 ns access time. In the future, when the 0.18 micron process technology is mastered, the access time can be reduced making MRAM a serious rival to flash memory.

CellularRAM's access time is 60 ns, memory clock rate is 108 MHz, enabling up to 1.6 GBit/s data transfer rates.

CellularRAM mass production is expected to start next year, the first 32 MBit samples will be available by the end of 2002.

SyncFlash is another interesting and prospective development from Micron. It's the memory for embedded electronics, PDAs and networking equipment.

64 MBytes Plug-&-Play SyncFlash units presented in June work at 143 MHz. Besides, they are pin-compatible with SDRAM that enables to use them in any corresponding environment. The supply voltage of 0.15 micron SyncFlash is 3.3 V for 143 MHz clock rate and 1.8 V for 125 MHz.

Elpida Memory, planning to become one of the DDR-II SDRAM market leaders, announced new chip and low-impedance hierarchical I/O interface production technology, enabling to set up to 1 GBit/s memory chips with 1.8 V supply voltage. The technology has already been tested by the company at the production of 0.13 micron 512 MBit DDR-II SDRAM chips.

The new technology from Elpida meets the DDR-II requirements, and, according to the company, can be even adapted for making DDR-III.

By the way, Elpida Memory is still has a firm grip on RDRAM production, planning to transit it to 0.13 micron 300 mm silicon wafers.

The company has already presented its 1066 MHz RDRAM chips, designed for 32-bit RIMM modules. According to company executives, in the near future it will share the market with the only serious RDRAM vendor, Samsung Electronics.


First, I'd like to separate ballyhoo of Computex 2002 around single samples like ATI R300 based card from real products presented in June and expected in retail soon. Of course, it was interesting to read that journalists missed the place of R300 presentation; it was sad to know that release of Gigabyte's MAYA AP128D-H3 based on Radeon 8500XT (below) turned out to be almost a marketing trick, being presented by 3000 units only, etc... It's good that June brought many real announcements, so I won't have to spend time for such pseudo events.

In June Matrox Graphics presented the Parhelia-512 based line and promised to start the shipments already in July. The features of the new chip are described in our article Introducing new Parhelia-512 GPU from Matrox, and its performance test results are expected closely as well.

According to company, 128 MBytes DDR board will be the first to appear in both box, and OEM versions. Matrox plans to present 64 MBytes and 256 MBytes versions closer to summer.

All Parhelia cards will be designed for ATX cases and feature two DVI-I sockets.

Having released Parhelia, Matrox didn't cancel its successful previous-generation chips and announced another two G450-based cards: Matrox G450 X2 MMS and G450 X4 MMS.

Matrox G450 X4 MMS supports 4-monitor output, G450 X2 MMS - twice less. Both variants are PCI, intended for low-profile desktops. They also support 2048x1536 output to each analog display, and 1280x1024 to each digital one. Matrox G450 X4 MMS has 64 MBytes or memory, and 360 MHz RAMDAC.

Besides, in the end of the month the company presented another video-editing solution - RT.X100. Well, if Parhelia-512 cards are unsuccessful due to some reasons, Matrox won't lose its traditional profit.

NVIDIA really surprised everybody, having released the specifications of its new Cg language or "C for Graphics".

Cg is a high-level language, developed together with Microsoft and designed to create real-time cinematic quality graphics applications.

Cg syntax is close to C, and the language itself is compatible with Microsoft's High Level Shading Language for DirectX 9.0.

NVIDIA announced the language along with its SDK, Cg Toolkit, including Cg Compiler, Cg Browser, CgFX format support, Cg Standard Library and sample Cg shaders to use in user apps.

3Dlabs, a subdivision of Creative Technology, started to ship P10-based Wildcat VP graphics card family for workstations.

3Dlabs Wildcat VP includes three cards: Wildcat VP970, Wildcat VP870, and Wildcat VP760. They feature 64/128 MBytes 256-bit DDR memory and are mainly intended for CAD and DCC applications.

While 3Dlabs P10-based cards with their "professional" prices ranging from $449 to $1199 won't touch the consumer market, the long-expected Zoetrope core from VIA / S3 Graphics, presented at Computex 2002 and having two versions: mobile AlphaChrome and desktop Savage XP, has all chances to become a popular product.

The new graphics core is the improved version of Savage4/8, featuring multi-pipeline 3D engine with 128-bit DDR memory interface, 2-channel LVDS transmitter, CRT digital-to-analog converter and TV encoder supporting DuoView.

Savage XP and AlphaChrome are actually the same solution positioned for different markets (though AlphaChrome will also have another package version, which production is planned for later time). While there wasn't information about AlphaChrome implementations, Savage XP based cards have been at once announced by Tyan, Gigabyte, C. P. Technology, and Manli.

In general, I can state that the overloaded graphics market now features another interesting player besides SiS Xabre 400.

I can also say that new system boards based on integrated Intel 845G / GL chipsets trouble low-end graphics companies. Industry analysts think the demand for 845G boards will seriously grow in the third quarter to strike makers, unable to move to Middle- and High-End.


All achievements of monitor makers fade behind the one of the most surprising events of June: after more than two years of legal actions 16 LCD panel and controller makers signed the agreement with John H. Coleman, owner of patents for thin film ion replacement processes, used in LCD panel production.

Despite all the fun of patenting such technologies like plasma ion replacement process, used in almost every branch of semiconductor industry, or patenting flat panel structure, the fact remains: patent owner will receive assignments from such giants like Advanced Display, Canon, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Hyundai Electronics, Intel, LG Electronics, Matsushita Electric Industrial, Mitsubishi Electric, NEC, Oki Electric Industry, Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba Display Technology.

Despite the strong intention of TFT LCD makers to leave wholesale prices the same, the market dictates its own will: in June some companies reduced prices for some shipments.

Analysts unanimously forecast the noticeable reduction of prices in July. According to provisional data, Samsung Electronics will initiate this, planning to reduce prices for its cbo 17" and 15" LCD panels by $15 and $5, respectively. The reason seems to be the recently announced company's promotion of 17" monitors as a new standard.

Taiwanese makers hate to reduce prices, being troubled with circulating assets deficit, as many of them plan to make large investments into the construction of new 5G fabs.

Speaking about June novelties, I'd like to mention the large amount of new, over 18" monitors and the continuing trend of releasing universal models equipped with TV tuners.

BenQ presented the 20" HS2081 ($1700) with 800 candles/sq. m maximum brightness and 800:1 contrast at 800x600 resolution (on the photo below: compare the brightness - a product from Sharp (right), and from Benq (left).

NEC-Mitsubishi announced the new LCD display line - NEC MultiSync LCD NX that includes 19" LCD1920NX ($1300) and 17" LCD1700NX ($750).

Both displays feature 1280x1024 effective resolution, support Rapid Response and XtraView technologies, providing up to 170-degree horizontal and vertical viewing angle; both of them have DVI-D inputs. 19" LCD1920NX provides 250 candles/sq. m maximum brightness, 500:1 contrast, 25 ms response time.

Sony presented a line of X-serie LCD monitors, including 4 models: 15", 17", 18.1" and 20.1" mob. The new serie is interesting due to its Eco Mode that enables to save up to 20% energy selecting the optimal screen glow.

The main leader - 20.1" SDM-X202 ($2000) - will feature silver or black case, other models will be black or gray. All of them feature analog and digital DVI-D inputs.

New interesting CRT monitors are so rare these days. In June Japanese EIZO Nanao pleased us, having released 19" FlexScan T766 ($500) with extended controls.

New displays feature maximum resolution of 1920x1440, pixel size - 0.24 mm in the center and 0.25 mm closer to sides, maximum brightness - 280 candles/sq. m, working refresh rates - 30-115 KHz horizontally / 50-160 Hz vertically. The novelty features standard D-Sub15, BNC, and USB inputs (and a built-in 4-port USB hub).

Besides standard controls, the product features 6 fixed presets of contrast / brightness / color temperature / clearness - FineContrast II depending on application: text / browser / photo / graphics / video / RGB. There are also five additional presets for specific modes: Nature, Portrait, Print Image Matching (PIM), etc.


The release of new mobile 1.9 GHz and 2 GHz Pentium 4-M became the most important event for notebooks makers. Dell was one of the first to react to Intel's production, having released three notebook based on 2 GHz Pentium 4-M: Inspiron 8200 for the SOHO market, enterprise Latitude C840, and professional Dell Precision Workstation M50.

Inspiron 8200 (from $2400) has two versions: on 1.9 GHz and 2 GHz Pentium 4-M. Notebooks feature i845MP chipset, 15" SXGA+ (1400x1050) display, GeForce2 Go graphics (32 MBytes DDR).

Latitude C840 ($3300) bases on 2 GHz Pentium 4-M and i845MP chipset and has 15" UltraSharp UXGA (1600x1200) LCD panel and GeForce4 440 Go graphics (64 MBytes DDR).

The updated Dell Precision Workstation M50 ($3600) based on 2 GHz Pentium 4-M and i845MP chipset, has 15" UltraSharp UXGA LCD display and professional Quadro 4 500 Go GL GPU (64 MBytes DDR).

Samsung has started to ship P10 notebooks based on Mobile Pentium 4-M.

P10B ($1900) features 1.8 GHz Mobile Pentium 4-M (Intel 845MP chipset), 14.1" 1024x768 TFT screen, ATI Mobility RADEON 7500 (32 MBytes) graphics, 8/8/8/24x DVD/CD-RW combo. The less expensive P10A ($1500) has 1.6 GHz Mobile Pentium 4-M.

Both models also feature an additional miniature LCD screen for listening to MP3-CDs with a closed notebook without booting up Windows.

There also were announcements of notebooks based on less expensive desktop Pentium 4. Toshiba announced the solution on 2.2 GHz Pentium 4 - P5/522PME ($2000) featuring i845MP chipset, 15" 1024x768 LCD panel, ATI MOBILITY RADEON M6-P (16 MBytes) graphics.

There were messages that Dell will also produce notebooks on desktop processors, following Taiwanese and Japanese vendors. They'll be made at Wistron fabs; the first models is to appear in July/August.

The next "desktop" notebook is being developed by Dell together with Compal Electronics. The sales of this model are to start by 2003. Dell will probably promote the new products by their relatively low price.

June brought very many light portables on economical processors. Matsushita Electric extended the Let's Note (R1) line with a new B5 model - Let's Note LIGHT or CF-R1PCAXR ($1500).

CF-R1PCAXR has 10.4" XGA (1024x768) LCD panel, 800 MHz ULV Intel Mobile Pentium III-M supporting SpeedStep (i440MX chipset), SMI Lynx 3DM+ graphics (4 MBytes). Sized 240x183x37.2 mm Let's Note LIGHT weighs just 960 gr., being capable of 6-hour operation!

The second model - Let's Note PRO (CF-R1PWA2S) - is an advanced variant of CF-R1PCAXR with a built-in 11 Mbps IEEE 802.11b WLAN interface. This increases the weight to 990 gr.

Another novelty - Versa E120 DayLite ($2200) from NEC on 800 MHz Mobile Intel Pentium III (SpeedStep) - is positioned as a model for users spending much time outdoors.

The screen of Versa E120 DayLite is covered with special material, reducing sunlight reflectance. Besides, the notebook features a more powerful battery. In addition, the notebook has a special transporting case.

Among inexpensive consumer novelties of the month, I'd like to mention two BioNote FX family notebooks from Sony.

PCG-FX33V/BP ($1500) has 900 MHz Mobile Celeron (Intel 815EM chipset), 14.1" 1024x768 LCD panel and 8/12/8/24x DVD/CD-RW combo.

The second model, PCG-FX77Z/BP ($1500) features Mobile Athlon XP 1400+ and 15" screen.

Also I'd like to say about new TravelMate 100 from Acer that can be categorized both as a tablet, and a notebook due to special screen mount.

The similar construction has been already shown by Sony in its CLIE PEG-NR70. TravelMate 100 features the following: Pentium III-M 800 MHz, 10.4" sensor LCD panel, Windows XP.

The mass production of TravelMate 100 is expected in the third quarter of 2002.

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