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Future of PCs sneaks into party

Low-power screens and non-volatile RAM

Two technologies announced today are the beginning of an entirely better way to make computers work.

Sony has developed an organic electroluminescence (OEL) display that is of a usable size. Motorola has finalised and started to build MRAM memory of usable size.

But what are these and why are they important? Simple. OEL displays use a very different technology to LCD displays, the current flat-panel displays. They require, in theory, a fraction of the power. MRAM is what PC (including Mac) users have been waiting for for years. It is a non-volatile, high-speed RAM memory chip. This would allow instant-on PCs that hold the last recorded state of the machine, rather than holding in ROM a permanent state.

Essentially, two of the technologies vital to building low-power, high-quality small PC machines that take no time at all to boot up. Motorola's 256KB instant chip should prove almost as fast as the fastest SDRAM in use, but not lose information when power is taken away.

The prototype Sony screen has a diagonal width of 13" and a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels. With the announcement, Sony becomes one of only a handful of companies to have announced the development of full-colour OEL displays.

Energy savings are realised thanks to OEL displays' self-luminescence quality, which means an energy-guzzling back-light is not needed. With the back-light removed, power consumption will be reduced and portable devices will be able to function for a longer time on a single set of batteries.

For this reason they are expected to be first employed in cellular telephones, although several other devices, from notebook computers and personal digital assistants to portable audio/video consoles like Sony's Airboard, are also expected to include OELDs.


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