iFive: Qualcomm’s Wi-Fi Push, Samsung’s Super-Fast Memory, Goldman Sachs-Facebook, Kinect Sells 8 Million, GM’s Powermats

Today’s early tech and innovation news, in bite-sized bits for your convenience:

Rumor has it that LinkedIn, the social net for business communications, is thinking the fresh new 2011 is a good year for an IPO–sources speaking to Reuters say it’s rushing, and has already chosen its underwriters. Is the reason for the rush to beat Facebook to the market and grab mindshare? Anyway, on with real news:


1. Qualcomm, the maker behind key chips in many smartphones, has pulled off an enormous deal: It’s buying Atheros for $3.2 billion. The deal, if it meets regulations, will give the cell phone chip maker access to key Wi-Fi fabrication technology that really expands its powers as a communications semiconductor maker. It’ll potentially mean fewer and more powerful chips inside phones. And it’s a move to chase Intel.

2. Also in chips, Samsung has just revealed the “industry’s first” DDR4 computer memory silicon. Made using 30nm class tech, it’s up to 40% more power efficient than existing DDR3 memory (running off 1.2 volts instead of 1.5 volts) and yet it is faster: up to 3.2 Gbps versus 1.6 Gbps. This’ll lead to swifter, more energy efficient PCs.

3. Intrigue surrounding the Goldman Sachs-Facebook deal is all over the web, but now it’s emerged that GS may “at any time” sell or hedge or otherwise “reduce its exposure to investment in Facebook.” While it’s a technicality, it’s enforced due to a $550 million fraud payout GS had to make because it diddled clients in a similar 2007 deal with mortgage firm Abacus. Caveat emptor, as always.

4. Microsoft’s Kinect is a neat toy, for sure–and its innovative hacks are getting ever more impressive. But how successful is it? Very: Speaking at CES, MS’s Steve Ballmer revealed it had shifted 8 million units in just 60 days. The low price is a help here, as is the novelty, but it’s still good news for a firm that’s having trouble selling it’s high-stakes effort to win back smartphone market share: Windows Phone 7.

5. Here’s a quirky one: GM has just invested $5 million in wireless charging startup Powermat, meaning that cars like the Chevy Volt for 2012 will have the ability to wirelessly charge your cell phone or laptop–just by plopping them on the right spot on the dashboard or central console. Less wires cluttering a car? Sounds smart, safe.

To read more news on this, and similar stuff, keep up with my updates by following me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.


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