Tech Roundup: IBM Opens Foundry, Sun Partners Microsoft, Server Energy Ratings, More

Last Updated Nov 12, 2008 7:50 AM EST

IBM opens its foundry -- There are foundries in the world, about 20 or so, that manufacture chips for chip design companies. Now IBM is joining the ranks with some interesting competitive advantages. One is that it already runs a 45 nanometer process -- not the most leading edge, but pretty darned advanced. Another is offering a silicon-on-insulator process instead of the standard CMOS. Translated, it means lower power consumption and higher performance and more chips from a single silicon wafer, which means lower per unit costs. AMD's foundry spin-off will likely join the ranks, as it, too, offers 45 nm SOI. (Why spin it off if it would only process chips for AMD?) And all this cuts a key technological advantage that Intel has enjoyed, making the industry's future interesting, if more difficult to predict. [Source: GigaOM, BNET Industry Technology Blog]

Blu-ray -- how low it go? -- Although Sony and company wanted Blu-ray to be a premium product, prices are riding the economic avalanche down closer to commodity pricing. ABI Research expects holiday prices to be in the $150 to $200 range, which is roughly in line with other estimates. But if they want to compete, they'll have to join the "download from Netflix" crowd, which includes Roku, Microsoft, and TiVo, and realize that it's all about what consumers want and how they want to get it, not how you want to sell to them. Apparently Blockbuster wants in on its side -- maybe they can make a deal there. [Source: DigiTimes and BNET Industry Technology Blog, VentureBeat]

Dell holiday hoedown slowdown -- There's been plenty of reports about Dell coming out with its own MP3 player for the holidays -- and then not coming out with its own MP3 player for the holidays. But apparently this is a single symptom, not the problem. Even though Dell says that it plans to launch a "half-dozen laptops and desktops" before the end of the year, it has been lagging such rivals as HP and Apple in having new products ready for the seasonal shopping frenzy. But, hey, the company has a whole six weeks to get new items out for consumers. What isn't a good sign is that both Apple and Asustek have reduced their notebook outsourcing by 20 to 30 percent this quarter. Maybe Dell has a secret plan to win the consumer electronics war by capitalized on the after-Christmas return market. [Source: Reuters, Wall Street Journal, DigiTimes]

Energy Star lands in the data center -- Back in the late 1990s, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency, in their joint Energy Star guise, enlisted a number of large companies to bang the energy conserving monitor drum, albeit quietly. At the time, IT managers were indifferent, having bigger problems. But times, and energy prices, change. Thinking about IT energy consumption has become necessary, and now there will be an Energy Star rating for servers -- probably spurred on by the notion that servers consume more power collectively than color TVs. Ah, but can they download the Simpsons? [Source: Ars Technica]

Sun and Microsoft in co-marketing deal -- In a sign of the coming business apocalypse that is in addition to the financial meltdown, Sun will promote a Microsoft Live Search toolbar when people download new Java software. What? Sun and Microsoft working together? Hey, something has to pay the bills when you lost $1.7 billion last quarter and you're laying off 350 employees. But what is next â€" Google and Yahoo in a partnership? Nah, who'd ever believe that? [Source: AP, GigaOM]

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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.