AMD chips to be in many more PCs this summer – sources

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Advanced Micro Devices Inc may make some of its largest inroads into the fast-growing laptop computer market thanks to a new generation of power-efficient chips to be unveiled next week.

People familiar with the matter who work for AMD said the company’s latest microprocessors are expected to be included in 109 mainstream laptop models in the coming months, the company’s best showing during the crucial back-to-school sales season. Last year, AMD’s chips were available in 40 laptop models.

Want to see the iPad? So do Apple store employees

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As Apple Inc gears up for the crush of customers expected for Saturday’s iPad launch, employees who staff its retail stores are just as curious about the tablet as the fans who will line up outside.

Apple store workers say they have yet to see or touch the iPad, even though the launch is just days away and they are being trained and encouraged to talk about Apple’s newest device with customers.

“We haven’t seen it; we never do” before a product is launched, said one employee, who asked not to be identified because workers are barred from speaking with the media. “Every store employee I know, including the managers, they haven’t seen it.”

Delving into Intel’s results? Try flying to China

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To get accurate projections for Intel Corp, Wedbush Morgan analyst Patrick Wang often finds himself hopping on a plane to Asia.

Wang — who normally crafts complex mathematical models and pores over financial statements — finds, in Intel’s case, it helps to use his fluent Chinese to gather information directly from its customers: top computer manufacturers in the Orient.

“They’re just such a large semiconductor company and to get color in terms of the overall scale, you need that,” he said.

Wang and many other analysts’ predicament may underscore why the world’s top chip maker has beaten expectations in six of the last eight quarters. More than 80 percent of its sales are abroad. Analysts estimate over half its revenue comes from less transparent markets such as China, Africa and India.

Apple’s iPad: trouble for Intel’s mobile push?

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When Apple Inc unveiled its iPad last month, one crucial detail almost got drowned out in the hoopla: the new tablet computer will be powered by an in-house chip called the A4.

While Apple likely will not market the chip publicly, analysts say the new processor underscores how rival chip designs may eventually win out over Intel Corp’s designs in the emergent hot category of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

Intel says the first smartphones using its chips go on sale by 2010’s second half, as it tries to stake out a corner in the wireless market and replicate what it did for the formerly red-hot netbook category it now almost completely dominates.

But analysts point to an uphill battle against Nvidia Corp, Marvell and Qualcomm Inc, already making headway with cheaper, low-power processors based on designs by ARM Holdings PLC.

“They (Intel) don’t have a track record in delivering these types of chips,” said Wedbush Morgan analyst Patrick Wang. “They haven’t been successful in the past, and they’re trying to get in.”

GlobalFoundries merging operations with Chartered-CEO

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GlobalFoundries plans to merge its operations with recently acquired Chartered Semiconductor, creating a single contract chipmaker with more than $2 billion of revenue to take on market leaders TSMC and UMC.

GlobalFoundries, a joint venture of Advanced Micro Devices Inc and Abu Dhabi-backed Advanced Technology Investment Co, is already beginning to work with suppliers and partners as one company, GlobalFoundries Chief Executive Doug Grose told Reuters in an interview.

Can Nvidia power through a fading product line?

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Graphics microchip maker Nvidia Corp is a company in transition.

The Santa Clara-based company halted development for one of its largest units in October, raising questions about whether the unit’s product sales would slowly tail off or sales would drop off a cliff.

And, if they did, could the company’s products in new market segments gain enough traction to make up the difference?

Spending on U.S. rail seen stuck at the station

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CHICAGO (Reuters) – ANALYSIS – Major U.S. freight railroads and their advocates have argued for years that government investment is needed in the country’s rail system to take freight off congested highways and keep the economy moving.

But supporters say rail investments have been largely ignored by Congress, suggesting political support is lacking, despite warnings action must be taken sooner rather than later.