Intel told its investor day last week it would be producing 2m units a week of its latest “Ivy Bridge” processors by the end of June, but the chipmaker faces fresh competition from Tuesday’s consumer and business announcements by rivals AMD and Nvidia.

AMD launched its second-generation “Trinity” processors, touting longer battery life and lower prices than Intel’s offerings for notebooks and PCs, while Nvidia threatened to challenge Intel in the data centre and enterprise with the unveiling of its VGX graphics processing unit (GPU) platformRead more

A supercomputing race is taking place among leading nations to reap the economic benefits of reaching exaflop speeds, according to Steve Scott, formerly of Cray Inc and now Nvidia’s new chief technology officer. “It’s really critical for industrial competitiveness, military superiority is not the most important thing anymore,” he told us, in the week Nvidia announced it would supply 18,000 of its Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to upgrade a supercomputer at the US’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Read more

The iPhone and iPad have made Apple a mobile gaming leader in smartphones and tablets, but Android is now getting more firepower with the help of Sony and chipmakers Nvidia and Qualcomm. The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is the first PlayStation-certified smartphone, Nvidia has been showing off the gaming capabilities of its new quad-core processor at Computex this week and Qualcomm today introduced a game pack optimised for devices using its Snapdragon mobile processors. Read more

Nvidia’s acquisition of Icera on Monday for $367m completes the chipmaker’s transition from a PC-focused graphics chipmaker to one built to challenge in the post-PC world that Apple likes to talk about so much.
It also deals another blow to Texas Instruments, once the leading wireless chipmaker but now one that prefers to emphasise its strength in analogue chips. Read more

Aside from the flashy phones and tablets unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, chipmakers have been giving us a taste of things to come with announcements on future technologies such as quad-core mobile chips, new user interfaces and breathtaking graphics capabilities. A summary of the news from Qualcomm, Marvell and Nvidia, as well as a note on the serious lack of any major news from Intel, follows. Read more

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, and Nvidia, the graphics chipmaker, on Thursday announced they have together produced 1 billion GeForce graphics processors. An impressive milestone, but it comes at a time when winds of change are blowing through both the contract chipmaking and the graphics card industry. Read more

Intel introduced “Sandy Bridge” on Monday as a chip that would revolutionise the PC, with analysts agreeing it was part of a graphics trend that could reshape the industry.

Sandy Bridge will compete with rival products from AMD and Nvidia, with chipmakers focusing on consumer interest in watching and processing high-definition video as the best use case for the extra capability they are adding to processors. Read more

Computex, the world’s second-biggest IT trade fair, does not officially start until Tuesday but already the hype about which tablet personal computer will challenge the iPad as the hottest product of the year is in full swing.

The chief executive of Nvidia, the specialist graphics card company that is also a big supplier of chips for tablet PCs, kicked things off by making the prediction that within five years “tablets will be the world’s biggest computing category”. Jen-hsun Huang said tablets could even surpass netbooks and notebook PCs in terms of volume. Read more

Incredible detail, natural movement, photo-realism and 3D are the imagery-grabbing headlines from Nvidia for its new flagship PC graphics processor (GPU), unveiled at the PAX East gamers’ show in Boston on Friday.

The $500 GeForce GTX 480 may be blazingly fast, but Nvidia itself has been exceedingly slow in releasing the product a full six months after its rival AMD launched its equivalent card – the $400 Radeon HD 5870 – catching last October’s Windows 7 upgrade to the Microsoft operating system. Read more

With a never-ending need for better battery life and performance from netbooks and eReaders, there was welcome news this week from chipmakers Intel, Nvidia and Freescale on more efficient processors.

Intel released a faster version of its latest “Pine Trail”-codenamed Atom processor, lifting it to a 1.83Ghz clock speed from 1.66Ghz. Nvidia said its new ION separate graphics processor would give a 10x graphics performance improvement over Pine Trail netbooks that just use integrated graphics.Freescale promised faster page turns , higher resolution and longer battery life on eReaders from its new chip. Read more

Data centres are the modern version of the original mainframe computers, taking up vast amounts of space, with racks and racks of servers delivering high-performance computing.

As any engineer will tell you, a mobile phone now has more processing power than a room-filling mainframe of old, with its cost and electricity consumption infinitely leaner.

On Wednesday, Intel showed off a new 48-core chip that could crunch the size of data centres down in a similar way, describing it as a “‘single-chip cloud computer’ that rethinks many of the approaches used in today’s designs for laptops, PCs and servers.” Read more

Nvidia today launched a “GPU computing in the cloud” service that will allow designers to manipulate and check photo-realistic environments in a fraction of the normal time it takes on a PC workstation. Read more

Consumers worldwide spent nearly half a billion dollars on digital video software last year, according to a new study by John Peddie Research.

The firm predicts flat spending this year, partly due to the economic downturn but also because “consumers have made it very clear that they are not interested in difficult-to-use video editing software.” Read more

Intel has so far dominated the high-growth netbook category with its Atom microprocessor, but that position is unsustainable, according to one of its chip rivals, Nvidia.

Chips based on ARM of the UK’s designs are set to drive a new wave of netbooks, smartbooks, Mids (mobile internet devices) – call them what you will – going on sale over the next six months, and Intel is in no position to compete, it claims. Read more

What’s next in personal computing after netbooks? The answer, it seems, depends very much on what directions the makers of microprocessors are taking.

If you were to ask Intel – at its Research Day this week - the answer would be Mids (mobile internet devices). AMD said in a briefing it was “thin and light” or “ultrathin”, while Freescale came up with some interesting-looking “smartbook” concept machines (pictured) at this month’s Computex trade show in Taiwan. Read more

If the daily bad news about semiconductors continues much longer, Silicon Valley may shrink to a gulch.

The headlines were unrelentingly dismal on Tuesday as the industry reeled from collapsing demand.

Consider these lowlights: Read more