NASD to upgrade computer network
The National Association of Securities Dealers plans to spend million over the next several years to upgrade the mammoth computer network that makes the modern "over the counter" system possible.
The NASD Automated Quotation System, with facilities in Rockville and in Trumbull, Conn., has seen daily trading volume rise from 33.3 million shares a decade ago to 184.4 million this year. While the current mainframes, provided by Unisys Corp. and Tandem Computers Inc., could handle volume of 400 million shares, NASDAQ wants its capacity to top 800 million shares.
NASD President Joseph Hardiman's announcement Thursday also noted that planners in Rockville are designing software that will let traders use Microsoft Windows to keep multiple screens of information available simultaneously.
When all the terminals in individual brokerages are counted, the NASDAQ system supports 180,000 screens across the country.
Intel's 80486 chip still king of the hill
Intel Corp.'s 80486 microprocessor will remain king of the hill for a while longer, thanks to last week's ruling that a competitor had no right to copy a key part of the design.
A judge ruled on the copyright case on Wednesday, saying that Advanced Micro Devices is not allowed to copy Intel's microcode under a 1976 contract. Microcode is a form of software, embedded on the chip, that tells a microprocessor how to perform basic functions.
Intel said it has written to Advanced Micro, demanding that all copies of the code be destroyed.
"They will now have to go back to the drawing board" and create the software from scratch, F. Thomas Dunlap, general counsel for Intel, said in a statement.
W. J. Sanders III, AMD's chairman and chief executive officer, said the decision will delay the Am486 microprocessor by six months. "As a prudent company, we had a contingency plan," Mr. Sanders said.
Intel's stock closed the week at $78.75, up $7.75, while AMD's closed at $16.75, down 63 cents.
Free help available from technical center
So you're trying to build a better mousetrap, but that spring lacks zing, and rodents turn up their noses at the bait. What to do?
You might turn to the federal government for help. The National Technology Transfer Center, which was publicizing its services during the Technology 2002 conference in Baltimore last week, helps businesses search 700 government laboratories for solutions to technical problems.
The center's toll-free number, 1-800-678-NTTC, provides researchers who gather the details of a technical problem and search federal data bases for an answer. The researchers also can recommend experts from federal laboratories.
NTTC, located at Wheeling Jesuit College in West Virginia, was established by Congress and funded through a five-year agreement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. There's no charge for the center's services.
Japanese pursue real-world computing
Japan's computer industry is forging ahead with a project to make computers think more like people.
"We're not aiming at concrete things but at the fundamental parts of computer science," said Ken Suzuki, executive director of the Japan Electronic Industry Development Association, in a news conference last week.
The Real-World Computing Partnership will begin by focusing on three areas:
* Neural networks, which use digital circuits to model the functioning of the brain;
* Massively parallel systems, which put tens or hundreds of thousands of processors to work on a problem; and
* Optical computing, or using light beams rather than mere sloth-like electricity to convey information.
If the $480 million project -- 90 percent funded by the government -- succeeds, R2D2 may no longer be a Hollywood fantasy.
New semiconductor is tiny light source
Some other "gee-whiz" items from Japan:
* A breakthrough in optical computing came last Thursday, as researchers announced a new type of semiconductor light source that is tiny, highly energy-efficient and emits light as pure as a laser.
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. researchers said they have experimentally produced the light using a specially formed cavity about one-hundredth the width of a human hair in a gallium arsenide crystal.
The light source is so small that a group of them could be used inside a semiconductor chip to transfer signals from one part of the chip to another, NTT said.
* Government officials announced a 10-year project to develop new computer chips, other electronic devices, biotechnology and new materials.
Among the goals: development of 16-gigabit dynamic random-access memory circuits, using technology to manipulate atoms and molecules. Such a chip would have 1,000 times the capacity of the most advanced chips now in use.
The project, tentatively dubbed "Atomtechnology," has government financing, but is expected to include U.S. and European corporations.