The WAVE Report
Issue #0517------------------4/29/05

The WAVE Report archive is available on


0517.1 Story of the Issue

Electronica China 2005

0517.2 3G Networking

Test Equipment Vendors Need to Focus on Facilitating Smooth Upgrades to 3G Technology

0517.3 Computer Processing

Computers with 'Two Brains' Give Users the Power to 'Smash the Hourglass'

0517.4 Wireless Technology

Cellular Industry Represents the Most Significant Market Potential for Software Defined Radio Technology

0517.5 Entertainment Computing

More Than 1,000 New Interactive Entertainment Products to Launch at E3Expo 2005

0517.6 Virtual Reality

InterSense’s IS-900 Inertial-Acoustic Helmet Tracking System Aids in Simulated Night Vision Goggle Training

0517.7 Virtual Presence

Marconi and ExhibitOne Team to Deliver ViPr Virtual Presence System Used in Remote Medical Training Trial Program

0517.8 Virtual Development Tools

Virtools Announces New Features for Upcoming Virtools Software Suite Release

0517.9 Virtual Tools Deployment

Virtools Has Been Chosen by Duke University to be used in the 7th 6-sided CAVE-like Virtual Environment in the World.

0517.10 Internet Marketplace

New Report Finds Measurable Differences between Internet Yellow Pages and Local Search Engines

0517.11 Software Releases

Microsoft Raises the Speed Limit with the Availability of 64-Bit Editions of Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP Professional

0517.1 Story of the Issue

***Electronica China 2005
By John Latta

Shanghai, Chine
March 15 – 17, 2005

The Tiger Stirs

Electronica & Productonica is meant to examine trends in laser and electro optics in China. Yet, when we got to the Shanghai New International Expo Center (SNIEC), it was obvious that something else was going on. Running in conjunction with Electronica and Productronica China 2005 is the annual Semicon China 2005 event - they are even sharing the same aisles. There were two other trade events in the SNIEC at the same time. The place was hopping. We have not seen such excitement at a trade show venue in years. China has awakened.

This is the 4th International Trade Fair for Components, Assemblies and Photonic Technologies. It occupies one and a half of the long buildings of the SNIEC. The other three and a half are taken up by the Semicon show. This is the semiconductor equipment trade event. Next week is the FPD event run by Semicon. The Semicon show, which opened this morning, was alive with attendees and exhibitors.

China Builds a Semiconductor Infrastructure

The WAVE, having been to three prior CeBIT Asia events and two at the SNIEC, knows the venue well. Under the CeBIT banner, it tried and it was not clear that this show was well targeted. Yet, since our last visit, two new halls have been added – making a total of seven. They were all full this week.

Walking into the Semicon exhibition the isles were packed both with exhibitors and Chinese. These were not the usual tire-kicking public but what appeared to be serious individuals. Many of the exhibits were large and very well manned. Applied Materials had a large booth, for example. Even Intel was here selling its older fab equipment. We noted many American companies with considerable staffs. Represented here is the semiconductor ecosystem. Another tip off was the large containers housed between the exhibit halls. These obviously were used to transport the large booths by ship. This was an expensive and very well staffed exhibit.

Our first response was – is this real or just a hope by the vendors? With that we had many conversations in the booths. Here is what we uncovered:

Most of attendees said that the Chinese are spending money to build fabs. Some were here for the first time and were cautious. But to those with experience in the market, there was no doubt that a major investment is taking place by the Chinese government to build a semiconductor fab infrastructure. Further, Shanghai will be the place where most of this will happen.

In spite of U.S. export controls on the fabrication geometry, this is not expected to be a major barrier to the construction of the fabs. Such controls do not exist in Europe or Japan. Yet, even with fabs that are one and two generations behind, this is not a major impediment to what the Chinese need and are looking for. They just have no immediate requirement for 65nm fabs.

TSMC had a booth and the comment was made by an American that the Taiwanese will not tell the Chinese their secrets to being efficient in fab operations. But in a number of conversations, this was dismissed. An analogy was drawn with the entry of the Koreans in semiconductors and especially DRAM in the 1980s. There was a high degree of skepticism back then that the Koreans could master this cutting edge fabrication technology. Now they dominate it.

In a pattern similar to the entry of Korea, the Chinese expect that when they buy equipment, it comes with training and support. Put in another way, they want the technology when they buy equipment. As a result, they can eventually own the processes and master the technology. As a further result, companies have a hard time charging for training and support. Given the tough semiconductor market, the Chinese seem to be driving the bargains.

Another point made in booth discussions is that the Chinese are cheap. That is they want the best bargain and will drive to no end to get it. Again, not dissimilar to the Koreans when they entered semiconductor fabrication.

When asked – Is there a need for such a large rise in semiconductor production – we did not get a clear answer. That is, no one knows the depth of the demand in China. Yes, everyone quotes the large population that this is largely a myth in that the rural populations have so little money. Thus, the real potential near term market is about the size of the U.S. – 300m. That is enough to still attract significant investment.

The really important issue is that China is on its way to creating massive infrastructure to support a consumer market which could be like none other in the world. China will not only drive growth in the consumer market but be able to satisfy the demands of the market largely internally. In this context, the balance of payments with the US and Europe shows how addicted these regions have become to the existing manufacturing infrastructure in China. Based on what was seen on the technology side this will only get worse.

The WAVE picked up on the floor that China made an announcement last week that it would make a major investment in the TFT LCD industry. We have been unable to confirm this. As indicated above, there is a Semi FPD conference also at SNIEC next week and this is sure to be discussed. The point of this, if correct, is that such an investment will make the current overinvestment in the Crystal Cycle even worse. Thus, the potential for an even greater glut in LCD output lies in the future and that some of the demand from China will be met by internal production. This is not good news for Samsung, LG and Sharp.

Checking the Consumer Market

Running at the same time was ispo – 1st International Tradeshow for Sports, Fashion and Lifestyle Brands. This is the goods market that North Face and other high-end brands sell to. The booths were first class and the place was busy but not as busy as Semicon. Again we tapped the floor for information.

Yes, China has become a very important market for even high end brands. The target market is for individuals from 28 – 40 – and who own cars. This family or individual is active and spends money.

One of the real challenges is pricing. For example, Shanghai will spend more money for the same product than Shenzhen. Thus, issues such as distribution and pricing remain significant to address as China becomes a high-end fashion and brand conscience market.

China’s Entry in Semiconductor Fabrication

If China is able to execute in creating an ecosystem of semiconductor fabrication it has huge implications in the production of electronics components. We went probing some more.

The focus on semiconductor ecosystem development in China is very high volume, one product, mass production. With this focus, the Chinese fabs can relentlessly drive the prices down to levels not achieved with other fabs. This comes at a disadvantage, however. There is no customer focus and changes in requirements, even if slight, are not acceptable. Notice how this is counter to the foundry fab model in place at TSMC and UMC. There is a close parallel with the automobiles in China, even the Shanghai Buick. One model suits all. Such an approach will suit the early market but we strongly doubt this will be sustainable in the long run, especially if the fabs are to supply outside of China. (Note that this has become the strength of TSMC and UMC.)

The China semiconductor industry has a problem with quality. This is a combination of inexperience and focus. The mentality is that things will work out with time but that today quality is less important than quantity. One of the issues is that profitability forces a relentless attack on yield and this is directly related to quality and its management. At present, these forces are just not present. One supplier of discrete components told us that his Chinese buyers shifted their buying patterns to Chinese suppliers. Then, after poor and inconsistent quality experiences they came back.

Some, in their assessment of the quality issue, went so far as to state this could threaten the Chinese attempts at entry into semiconductor fabrication. That is, if these companies do not get serious about quality, it could place at risk the entry into fabrication. One sound bite was “Will China preserve past its problems?”

The current emphasis in production is for 6” and 8” wafers and for specific circuits. This excludes small volume ASICs, custom designs and discrete items. The latter would exclude most EO devices.

China has an advantage with the pricing of the RMB and the strong push by the government to get into semiconductor fabrication.

In spite of the fact that U.S. and European companies are considering joint projects for fab in China, there is considerable concern of putting too many “eggs in one basket.” That is, China has become the world’s production basket, and to also be dependent on China for device fabrication, they would become too venerable. Many see this as not a good sign, the passage this week of the anti- secession act in China, authorizing force to secure Taiwan back onto China.

Many observed that if China is successful in its semiconductor and possibly a TFT LCD production strategy, this could have a major impact on companies outside of China. Companies in the U.S., Korea and Japan are counting on China to absorb their production. If the Chinese can become the lowest cost producers and supply the local market first, this could deny the market to outsiders. This would create a glut of products and possible exit from the market by major suppliers.

One supplier said that the technology transfer from Taiwan to China has already begun. The reason was rather interesting. Some of the engineering and operations talent in Taiwan find that they have no where to go. That is, middle management positions are occupied with young engineers at TSMC, UMC and others in Taiwan. Thus, upward mobility is at a standstill. This talent is coming to China and readily finds jobs where there talent is needed.

There is a Silicon China map, similar to other such Silicon maps. The difference is that this map is of Shanghai.

One supplier commented that the next 3 – 5 years will be the time when China becomes the center of semiconductor fab activity. It is clear that there are many dynamic forces shaping this market and China has, in this technology, the opportunity not only to supply its own market but to fundamentally change the supply chain.

Early Signs of FPD

Truly Semiconductors of Hong Kong and Guang Dong, China, were showing LCD and OLED panels. The most interesting were the OLED. Currently, they have in production a 1.17” panel, samples on a 1.5” panel and the next is 1.8”. The 1.17” panel is used in phone subdisplays and MP3 players. Pricing is $10 - $13 FOB. They get their materials from Kodak.

Truly did do LCD panels but has discontinued these. The panels were being assembled by them from components obtained from LG.

Jiya Electronics, Shenzhen, is doing flat panel production. They make only STN panels and no TFT LCD.

Pale Opto-electronics Presence

There was only the smallest presence of opto-electronics at these two events. In context it was quite simple: discrete components are not a high priority in China and all efforts in these areas are coming from Taiwan as it migrates production to China. The whole area of opto-electronics was so low at these events that even Agilent did not have any such products in its booth.

Taiwan remains a leader in part due to the technology requirements for CD and DVD players. As we have also seen, Pixart is coming on strong in optical mouse ICs and Unity Opto has secured a production contract from Agilent for mouse sensors. At least for the near term we should look to Taiwan for optoelectronics developments not China.

iSuppli Stiffs WAVE Report

Part of the conference program at electronica and Productionica China was an all day seminar on Flat Information Displays Conference 2005 – China. The WAVE Report sought entry but was denied by iSuppli. Yet, it was clear other media had been accepted and to the best of our ability to determine, these were from the Chinese media. It was not clear what iSuppli had to hide but they did not want the event reported by the WAVE Report.

WAVE Comments

Every trip to China is a learning experience. But this was more than we expected.

We have heard the words – China is a huge market – but we have not seen the clear indications of the impact of this other than the malls and shopping districts in the large cities. One of the first signs is usually the development of infrastructure and there is no more fundamental infrastructure in electronics than production and especially semiconductor production. What we saw at Semicon is that this infrastructure is being built. This could fundamentally change the supply chain in the same way that has happened in Japan, Korea and Singapore. China could well become its own self contained supply and demand market in much the same way that the U.S. was some 30 – 40 years ago.

Building a fab is expensive, complex and experience intensive. Operating a fab is even more experience intensive. The one component missing from China is experience. Quality remains a critical issue as China seeks to rush into fab. Further, the mentality of making semiconductors in China has a cultural component – they are creating only a few products for the mass market and in the process driving costs down to levels others cannot achieve. This is consistent with the production philosophy for other goods including automobiles. As a result, customer support is lacking because this is about responding to requirements. Volume is more important than flexibility to meet buyer needs.

We have no doubt that China will be an important market for fab equipment and that it will develop into a major supplier to the Chinese market. However, joint venture partners are showing increasing concern about the risk of relying exclusively on China for all parts of the food chain from component parts to finished goods.

Yet, cultural and political issues loom large and these, in the end, could do much to determine the role that China plays in the global electronics market. Much was made this week about the anti-secession act just passed which authorizes China to use force to secure Taiwan.

There is this magic glow of reaching an ever growing market of 1.3B. Yet, the realities in China are not so simple. A key issue is that outside suppliers of chips and flat display panels all expect to gain market share in China. Yet, if China is capable of executing its fab strategy, and apparently one also in TFT LCD, this could severely truncate external demand. Many a business plan could be left hurting.

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0517.2 3G Networking

***Test Equipment Vendors Need to Focus on Facilitating Smooth Upgrades to 3G Technology

April 26, 2005

With the rapid proliferation of wireless technology, telecom carriers are deploying 3G networks to tap the growing demand for new age wireless services. In moving up the technology chain from 2G to 3G protocol, the most pressing issue for a network operator is to ascertain a terminal's capability to handle technology up-drive while supporting multiple end-user applications.

Test equipment vendors, in helping address the challenges of supporting dual technology and data convergence, are using the opportunity to develop a single measuring instrument that supports multiple standards, interfaces, and protocols.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, World Wireless Communications Test Equipment Markets, reveals that revenue in this market totaled $1,910.8 million in 2004 and projects to grow to $4,451.4 million in 2011.

The promise of enhanced multimedia services, online gaming, faster wireless Internet access, and cheaper voice calls has increased consumer expectation from 3G services. To capitalize and exploit this business opportunity, 3G service providers, along with network equipment manufacturers (NEMs) and handset vendors, will have to assure quality of service (QOS) for consumers.

With the continuous evolution of wireless technology, the numbers of service providers shifting their focus to wireless services and carriers operating in the 3G spaces are climbing. Therefore, in a multi-carrier environment, vendors will need to design their equipment to handle multi-carrier tests. Although this poses a serious functional handicap, consolidation among service providers worldwide expects to dilute this challenge in the end.

Concerning base stations, 3G base stations are unique, since they are smaller and are required in larger numbers. Subsequently, the price that a service provider pays for such base stations is less because of the volume count.

Therefore, the ability to deliver test equipment at a high price-performance feature point expects to be a key differentiator among vendors, especially since the majority of the base station tests happen at the radio frequency (RF) parametric level and the test devices deployed for these purposes in most cases are bench-top general purpose equipment.

The emergence of low-cost wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) services and their increasing demand are causing much concern among 3G service providers and test equipment vendors alike. With WLAN operating in the unlicensed band, demand for test equipment to ensure QoS has been limited, unlike the case of 3G services where QoS testing is essential.

However, it is unlikely that Wi-Fi hotspots will eliminate the need for a wide area solution. Consumers could quickly become addicted to streaming music and downloading games and short videos, but will want to carry out these activities wherever they happen to be - not just in airports, hotels, and coffee houses.

Among the competing wireless standards, code division multiplex access (CDMA) is gaining in popularity as a standard capable of delivering high rates for data. There has been strong adoption of the service in South Korea and Japan and growth has been equally high in important North American markets. With the introduction of CDMA2000 1x services in India and Australia, the demand for test equipment in this segment expects to soar in the short term.

Nevertheless, global system for mobile communication (GSM) standards is likely to remain the strongest driver for growth and demand of wireless test equipment.

World Wireless Communications Test Equipment Markets, part of the Communications Test 9408 subscription, analyzes the world wireless communications test equipment markets, discusses key market drivers and restraints, and also presents strategic recommendations to deal with industry challenges. It further lists some of the key market and technology trends that could impact the demand for wireless communications test equipment.

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0517.3 Computer Processing

***Computers with 'Two Brains' Give Users the Power to 'Smash the Hourglass'

April 2005

AMD has announced its latest innovation in technology for users spanning from the enterprise to consumer and business users. At the second-anniversary celebration of the AMD Opteron processor, the company announced immediate availability of the Dual-Core AMD Opteron processor 800 Series for four- to eight-way servers. According to AMD, the new processors deliver a nearly 90 percent performance improvement for application servers over single-core processors.

The broad dual-core client and server processor line-up has arrived well ahead of schedule. AMD is packing its hi-tech punch in the server and workstation world, but businesses and consumers are soon to follow. For desktop and notebook PC users, AMD announced the new AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core processor brand that will enable true multi-tasking capabilities and richer computing experiences. Since dual-core processors are like having two brains, it allows users to do several complex tasks at the same time. Today, multi-tasking with several high-powered applications at once can cause a system to stale or crash. For consumers and businesses increasingly reliant on computers to do it all, dual core is big news. PC users, frustrated by staring at the hourglass icon when trying to work on multiple programs at the same time, can significantly increase performance. Now, burning a CD, checking e-mail, editing a digital photo, and running virus protection - can all be done without slowing down their computer.

The Dual-Core AMD Opteron processor 800 Series are available immediately and the Dual-Core AMD Opteron processor 200 Series will be available in late May. The AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core will officially launch in June 2005.

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0517.4 Wireless Technology

***Cellular Industry Represents the Most Significant Market Potential for Software Defined Radio Technology, According To New Report

DENVER, Colorado
April 18, 2005

The international, commercial cellular industry represents the most significant market opportunity for the deployment of Software Defined Radio (SDR) technology, according to a new report from SDR Forum. Titled “Market Segmentation and Sizing,” the report was released to SDR Forum members this week during the Forum’s general meeting in Singapore.

The cellular industry is evolving into one of the largest international industries, with subscriber base and market penetration continuing to climb. The report identified several key attributes of SDR that make the technology attractive for deployment in the cellular market place. These include SDR’s ability to:

foster component, chips, subsystems, and intellectual property reuse;

successfully address time-to-market pressures; and,

lower development costs.

Segments identified in the Market Segmentation and Sizing report included cellular, public safety, WLAN/WiMAX, military, automotive/telematics, and aviation/avionics. In addition, this first report provided Rough Order of Magnitude estimates of the units and revenue market number for each segment as well as general discussions of SDR requirements and market drivers.

Among the other key finding of this first report:

Lower cost is an important consideration for all market segments, and a common platform—which could be enabled via SDR technology—to provide for economies of scale has been consistently identified as a key enabler.

Software flexibility, enabled via SDR, is considered an essential benefit for all markets.

Recent advances in programmable logic are creating opportunities for SDR to extend from low throughput processing (baseband) to higher throughput processing (transceiver).

90 nm and below CMOS digital technologies appear well positioned to support aggressive SDR capabilities, such as highly flexible mode and band selection.

The second report in this series, tentatively titled “Cellular Industry and SDR Opportunities” is anticipated for release in the second quarter of the year.

Executive summaries of each report in the series will be made available via the Forum’s website. Full reports will only available to Forum members.

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0517.5 Entertainment Computing

***More Than 1,000 New Interactive Entertainment Products to Launch at E3Expo 2005

E3Expo 2005

April 25, 2005

More than 1,000 computer and video games and related products will make their debut at the 11th annual Electronic Entertainment Expo 2005 (E3Expo) May 18 - 20, according to exhibitor survey data released by the show's owner, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). The show, which is completely sold out, will host more than 400 of the world's leading interactive entertainment companies in more than 540,000 net square feet of exhibit space at the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC).

The trade-only show is the premiere product launching pad for the global interactive entertainment industry. According to a separate ESA consumer survey, 90 percent of gamers say they've heard of E3Expo and 50 percent say they rely on news and other information generated by the show to learn more about games and other products they plan to purchase. The E3Expo exhibitor survey results also show that consumers will not have to wait long to buy the products previewed at the event, as more than 4,000 (81 percent) of all products shown will be available on store shelves this holiday season. While consumers cannot attend E3Expo 2005, they can visit the show virtually through E3Insider

Overall, more than 5,000 products will be shown at E3Expo 2005. The nearly 300 exhibitors who participated in the survey were asked to provide details of what they consider to be their top-ten products at the event. According to survey respondents, top-ten titles at E3Expo 2005 will fall into the following categories:

-- Action/Adventure games (19 percent);

-- Role Playing games (13 percent);

-- Sports/Driving/Racing games (11 percent);

-- Child/Family games (6 percent);

-- Strategy games (5 percent);

-- Simulation games (4 percent);

-- Educational/Edutainment games (3 percent);

-- Arcade games (3 percent);

-- Other games (4 percent).

E3Expo's "First Looks" program will specifically spotlight products showing for the first time ever at E3Expo. Participating "First Looks" exhibitors will be designated in the E3Expo exhibit guide, the E3Expo Show Daily, the official E3Expo Web site and on the exhibit floor, beginning May 18.

WAVE Comment

The WAVE will be attending E3Expo and will provide our comprehensive report in a future issue.

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0517.6 Virtual Reality Training

***InterSense’s IS-900 Inertial-Acoustic Helmet Tracking System Aids in Simulated Night Vision Goggle Training for U.S. Air Force Pilots

April 25, 2005

InterSense, Inc. has delivered to Lockheed Martin a helmet tracking system for use with the night vision goggle (NVG) capability on the U.S. Air Force’s F-16 Mission Training Center (MTC) program. Lockheed Martin’s F-16 MTC pilot training systems provide realistic immersive training to the U.S. Air Force in high-resolution virtual training environments.

The initial order was used in a Critical Design Review demonstration to the U.S. Air Force of the NVG capability in the F-16 MTC.

InterSense’s ultrasonic referencing devices, ultrasonic transmitter placement and inertial-acoustic helmet tracking sensor provide the pilot an unobstructed view of the projected night environment outside of the cockpit, while visualizing the simulated, helmet mounted NVG images precisely synchronized with the pilot’s head motion.

Introduced in 1999, InterSense’s IS-900 motion tracking product family is an enabling technology used in flight simulation, mission training systems, oil & gas exploration, and other immersive display applications. With over 1000 systems deployed worldwide, the IS-900 product offers reliable & accurate motion tracking for the most demanding applications.

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0517.7 Virtual Presence

***Marconi and ExhibitOne Team to Deliver ViPr Virtual Presence System Used in Remote Medical Training Trial Program

April 13

Marconi Corporation plc has announced a trial with the Arizona Surgical Technology and Education Center (ASTEC) at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and ExhibitOne to deploy, test and develop videoconferencing for remote medical applications and training. Marconi and ExhibitOne Corporation, an Arizona-based provider of telepresence and presentation technologies, are working with ASTEC to explore real-time videoconferencing applications to support ASTEC's medical simulation education programs using Marconi's ViPr Virtual Presence System, an easy-to-use, flexible, high-resolution video telephony and multimedia communications platform. The applications will make it easier for students, nurses, residents and physicians throughout the state and eventually the world to access University of Arizona College of Medicine faculty, staff and their high-tech medical simulation training facilities.

ViPr will be integrated in ASTEC's Medical and Surgical Simulation Laboratory at the Arizona Health Sciences Center by ExhibitOne, which will also provide support and design services. ASTEC will use the ViPr for telesurgical consults, distance learning with virtual reality simulators, and other activities that support medical training. Additionally, Marconi and ASTEC researchers will work collaboratively to identify product requirements for future enhancements to ViPr, including telementoring, telesurgery and wireless solutions for remote medical training.

Telemedicine is the use of telecommunications technologies to provide and support health care at a distance. In addition to clinical applications, telemedicine can also be effective in the ongoing training of physicians, said Allan J. Hamilton, MD, professor of surgery and ASTEC executive director.

The mission of the Arizona Surgical Technology and Education Center (ASTEC) is to deliver medical education and surgical innovation that maximizes patient safety and improves the accessibility of medical expertise through technology. The center consists of the Medical and Surgical Simulation Laboratory, the Advanced Surgical Technology Development Laboratory, and the Telesurgery and Outreach Program.

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0517.8 Virtual Development Tools

***Virtools Announces New Features for Upcoming Virtools Software Suite Release

April 20, 2005

The new release of Virtools Software Suite expands on the previous platform that was consolidated with the launch of Virtools Dev 3.0. By taking client and partner feedback into account, along with issues identified by Virtools Services and comprehensive analysis by Virtools' own R&D team, Virtools Software Suite promises to provide solid answers to current and future development and production needs.

The release will offer a broad spectrum of new features oriented towards better compatibility and optimized support for external technologies and formats, as well as enhanced control over the rendering pipeline.

The Virtools Software Suite release is comprised of Virtools Dev 3.5 and additional functionalities relevant for the entire Virtools product line.

New Video Engine

The addition of a video engine will enable display of:

"Live" video feed from a video camera

Videos with soundtracks read from local hard

Videos with soundtracks streamed from a server

The new engine will make it possible to use video as textures or full screen, in today's standard formats: Windows Media, Mpeg, DivX.

SDK to Visual

As of Virtools Dev 3.5, the SDK development program moves up to Visual 03 (Visual Studio 6 will no longer be supported).

Native VRML Import

The Virtools Software Suite will incorporate VRML import to load objects at runtime.

5.1 Sound

With the new release, 5.1 sound effects will be supported.

Ready-to-Use Shaders Library

To make the most of Virtools programmable shaders, a library of ready-to-use shaders will be included. Apply effects to your objects with no programming necessary.

Support for OpenGL 1.5

Improved OpenGL performance comparable to that of DirectX9 will be possible thanks to a new OpenGL 1.5 rasterizer.

New VR-specific SDK: VRSDK

The VRSDK will give users access to specific VR Pack functions, to facilitate integration of external modules programmed in C++ (i.e. implementation of "warping" and "edge blending" algorithms).

Point Clouds

With the integration of the point clouds feature, millions of points can be optimally stored and displayed with associated functionalities such as addition of attributes for each point, display of such points by shaders, collision management and level of detail.

3D Textures

By supporting 3D textures, Virtools Dev 3.5 will enable easier creation of classic 3D visualization applications: interactive positioning of clipping planes, modification of look-up tables, as well as filtering and treatment by programmable shaders.

Resource Thumbnail Previews

Thanks to thumbnail previews, it will be possible to preview media assets and resources used in Virtools compositions. A "Thumbnail" mode will offer previews of various Virtools resource libraries (.cmo, .nmo) directly in Windows explorer, as well as media preview in the Resources window of Virtools Dev.

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0517.9 Virtual Tools Deployment

***Virtools Has Been Chosen by Duke University to be used in the 7th 6-sided CAVE-like Virtual Environment in the World.

April 13, 2005

Virtools has announced its technology has been chosen by Duke University as the solution to be used for their Cave-like virtual reality system, one of only seven 6-sided systems in the world.

The Fitzpatrick Institute is an interdisciplinary center at Duke University, whose primary mission is research in photonics and communication systems drawing researchers from Duke's Pratt School of Engineering and Duke Department of Physics, among others. The Cave-like system, officially called -C-, and all the associated equipment reflect a $1M investment intended as a research tool for scientific visualization, cognitive experiments, and undergraduate research experiences. The first project using Virtools will be an immersive experience recreating some of the visions from Hildegard of Bingen, who produced many influential theological works, as well as treatises, on natural history and the medicinal properties of plants, trees and stones.

According to Duke University, Virtools was the best choice for their virtual reality theater as even non-programmers can create interactive, virtual environments. This is particularly important for the University because they are developing a highly cross disciplinary research environment, with students from the classical studies department, cognitive psychology, and art history creating virtual worlds.

The -C- provides an opportunity to develop a better acoustic solution, new interaction devices, alternative tracking systems, and improved projection technology for engineers, while computer scientists use it for better navigation and interaction methods, by instance interactive visualization algorithms for large data. In addition, students in the humanities and fine arts use the -C- for making narratives "come alive" and these particular needs conducted naturally to the choice of using Virtools technology.

By running Virtools PC cluster technology, Duke University is now using a solution that is more economical and easily portable which significantly reduces their onsite deployment costs. Virtools' interactive 3D technology, used to create interactive 3D applications for simulation/virtual reality, as well as video games and marketing/multimedia applications, makes learning complex game or multimedia production easier than ever before. According to Virtools, more and more universities are taking advantage of this opportunity by introducing Virtools solutions to their arsenal of teaching tools. Dev's user-friendly graphic interface is the perfect introduction to interactive 3D media, whether students have a foundation in programming or not.

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0517.10 Internet Marketplace

***New Report Finds Measurable Differences between Internet Yellow Pages and Local Search Engines; comScore Report Shows Internet Yellow Pages Offers More Efficient Local Marketing Opportunity

April 26, 2005

comScore Networks and the Yellow Pages Association (YPA) have announced the results of a joint research initiative designed to compare consumer local search behavior on Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) and major search engines. The findings are based on consumer Internet behavior observed in comScore's panel, which consists of 1.5 million U.S. consumers.

YPA selected comScore Networks for its exhaustive database analysis method, which evaluates actual behavior rather than relying on survey recollections or perceptions. Besides determining overall consumer Internet usage patterns, the study examines local search behavior in five top consumer search categories: financial services, health care, home services, automotive products and services, and restaurant dining. Among the results are the following key findings:

-- IYP offers a more efficient local search experience - In the five categories examined, Web search engines accounted for 66 percent of consumers searching for local information, while IYP sites accounted for 34 percent. However, consumers are able to find local information quicker using IYP. Local searchers who use IYP take an average of 4.6 clicks to find local results, while search engine users take 7.6 clicks on average.

-- IYP users spend more in specific categories - Local searchers who use IYP spend 4 to 22 percent more per buyer than local search engine users in the automotive, home and garden, health and beauty and general services categories. IYP users also spend 4 to 17 percent more per buyer for offline purchases in the drugstore, automotive, restaurants, and home and garden categories than do local search engine consumers.

-- IYP users comprise an attractive demographic profile for advertisers - IYP users are 71 percent more likely than the average Internet user to have an annual household income over $100,000 and are more likely to have a broadband connection.

Norton presented the comScore research findings in a "Leveraging Local" panel discussion at AD:TECH San Francisco.

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0517.11 Software Releases

***Microsoft Raises the Speed Limit With the Availability of 64-Bit Editions of Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP Professional

April 25

Microsoft Corp. has announced the general availability of Microsoft Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition. The new editions mark a major advancement in computing by providing a single platform that can easily run new 64-bit applications and existing 32-bit applications at peak performance. With these new server and desktop operating systems, Microsoft and a broad array of partners are bringing cost-effective 64-bit computing from the fringes into the mainstream.

Today, many customers are looking for better ways to address increasing computing demands. In the enterprise, many common server workloads are straining the limits of 32-bit architecture. According to Microsoft, early adopters of Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions have seen stronger, faster results for database and data-intensive server applications. The x64 version of Windows Server 2003 Terminal Services, for example, can accommodate up to 170 percent more users per server than its 32-bit predecessor.

Customers using Windows XP Professional x64 Edition are reported as experiencing similar performance enhancements on the desktop in areas such as digital content creation, engineering, scientific computing and game development. For these customers, this translates into x64 Windows offering up to 32 times more physical memory and more than 1,000 times more virtual memory to work with, allowing them to work with massive datasets without needing to break the datasets into multiple portions.

Wide Range of Options for Migration

Developing Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition required close collaboration between Microsoft and industry leaders, including chip makers and hardware manufacturers. The new operating systems will run on 64-bit Intel Xeon and Intel Pentium 4 processors, as well as AMD Opteron processors and AMD Athlon 64 processors. Windows Server 2003 for Intel Itanium processor-based systems remains the most robust Windows platform for customers who need the highest levels of performance, reliability and scalability for databases, business intelligence, enterprise resource planning and line-of-business applications.

Broad Industry Support for Shift to 64-Bit Computing

Partners from every segment of the industry are demonstrating support for the Windows x64 platform on both the desktop and the server, with more than 400 supporting applications becoming available in the coming months.


Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition are priced identically to their 32-bit counterparts and will be generally available beginning immediately. More information can be found at

In addition, customers who acquired a qualifying 32-bit version of Windows with x64 hardware are eligible to exchange it for the x64 version. Microsoft's Volume Licensing customers may do this via their media kits; customers who acquired Windows from an original equipment manufacturer or system builder can receive their new software via the Technology Advancement Program. For more details, customers can visit

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