Hardware

It’s only been a few weeks, but Liu Yingjian, founder and chairman of Hanwang technology, already appears to be one step closer to his goal of making China’s biggest e-reader company a Fortune 500 company.

Mr Liu told the FT about this ambitious plan at the end of April, and we were a bit sceptical given the challenges Hanwang would face in order to achieve it, especially as consumers’ attention have clearly shifted from e-readers to tablet PCs in recent months.

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Acer clear.fi user interface

Speed has long been one of the secrets behind the success of Acer, the Taiwanese company that is now the world’s biggest seller of notebook PCs. 

Last April, they moved aggressively into the so-called ‘ultra thin’ notebook category by announcing plans for 30 models within the year.  At last year’s Computex trade fair, Acer became the first to unveil a prototype notebook running on Google’s Android operating system.

Now, within days after Google announced its grand plans for taking over our living rooms with Google TV, Acer said Thursday it plans to perform a similar feat using something it calls the ‘clear.fi’.  Apparently this year they couldn’t even wait for Computex, which opens next week, to make the announcement. Read more

There just still seems to be no clear consensus on whether netbooks – cheaper, simpler notebooks that were one of the fastest-growing tech segments last year – are starting to lose steam.

Paul Otellini, Intel chief executive, insists the tablet PC won’t “eat the notebooks’ and netbooks’ lunch”, while others suggest the netbook’s breakneck growth is running up against other barriers such as rising manufacturing costs . The latest numbers from Taiwan’s Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute, a government-backed research institute, hardly help clear up the issue.

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Over the last few months, AU Optronics, the world’s third-biggest flat-panel maker, had the dubious honour of being the last major independent flat-panel maker in the world. The Taiwanese company Thursday, however, made it clear that it agrees with its rivals: vertical integration is the way to go.

Unlike its rivals who are each allied to just one brand, however, AUO is casting its net wide by partnering with a number of Chinese TV brands. On Thursday AUO said it would add two more of its clients to this list by establishing TV assembly joint ventures in China with both Haier and TCL Multimedia.

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It is not often that a results conference comes complete with a lecture on the future path of semiconductor development should Moore’s Law reach its limits, but then Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing is not like many other companies – few other chipmaker produce as many different types of chips for as many different applications.

Among the highlights of the 20-minute talk by Chiang Shang-yi, TSMC vice president of research and development:

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How quickly the cycle turns. Barely a year ago D-Ram chipmakers couldn’t move fast enough to cut capacity as they struggled with oversupply during the industry’s most severe downturn. On Wednesday, the head of investor relations at Micron, the US memory chip company, confirmed what many analysts had been predicting: There is a shortage of Nand flash memory and D-Ram in the market.

This good news is tempered by the consideration that, over the history of the D-Ram industry’s existence, any shareholder gains made during the upturn have inevitably been destroyed in the next downturn. Many D-Ram makers, when presented with that fact, had last year vowed to be more disciplined should they make it out of the downturn, but can the tiger really change its stripes? Read more