Sat, Oct 21, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Local supply chain optimistic on Vista

GREAT EXPECTATIONS Most computer, peripherals and component manufacturers believe that Vista will fuel industry demand, but a market researcher advised caution

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN ILAN

With the upcoming launch of Microsoft Corp's new operating system (OS) Windows Vista, the whole PC supply chain is poised to see growth next year, fueled by replacement demand, industry insiders said.

"Vista will bring new business opportunities to computer makers," said Calvin Chang (張敬仁), vice president of marketing at Acer Inc, the world's fourth-largest personal computer maker.

He made the remarks at an industrial forum held by Microsoft Taiwan at Ilan with the participation of local computer, peripherals and component makers.

Chang expected Vista to boost global PC sales to achieve "exponential growth" next year.

This is supported by the success of earlier operating systems, such as Windows 98, which raised global PC sales by 60 percent in the first year after its launch in 1998, and Windows XP, whose launch in 2001 lifted PC sales by 20 percent, he said.

To fully enjoy Vista's powerful features, PCs should have at least a 1GHz processor, 1GB random access memory (RAM) and a 128 MB graphics card.

Chang said that these higher specifications should boost replacement demand as users turn to more advanced machines. This in turn would raise PCs' average selling prices, benefiting computer makers.

Already more than two years behind schedule, Microsoft plans to release Vista to corporate customers next month before the OS becomes generally available in January.

In addition to computer makers, peripheral manufacturers are gearing up to cash in on the Vista effect.

Nexgen Mediatech Inc (新視代科技), a liquid-crystal-display (LCD) television maker under Chi Mei Group (奇美集團), expects Vista to generate brisk sales for its wide-screen televisions.

"Vista supports high-definition picture quality and multimedia content. It will encourage people to go for LCD TVs," said Ben Cheng (鄭良彬), a vice president at Nexgen.

This will open the door to wide-screen TVs, which can enhance viewing pleasure with their wider aspect ratio compared with conventional TV's 4:3 ratio, he said.

Meanwhile, Powerchip Semiconductor Corp (力晶半導體), the nation's top memory chipmaker, said it expects to see tighter supplies of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) owing to the Vista effect.

"It will be a rosy outlook for DRAM makers," Powerchip vice president Peter Ting (丁振鐸) said.

Vista's new applications cover graphics, networking, display, portable devices and storage, which all require memory, he said.

The advent of Vista signals the transition to 64-bit architecture from 32-bit, and it will push DRAM technology's shift to DDRII 800 and DDRIII, he said.

He assured users that although 1GB would be the minimum RAM requirement, their prices wouldn't be that much more expensive than the 512MB chips that most PCs are running on now.

"This is the cycle of the industry as makers move toward more advanced technologies. Double memory sizes do not equate to prices that are two-times higher," he said.

Microsoft is convinced that Vista -- an investment of US$20 billion -- will be a success.

"The impact of the release of Vista will be as huge as Windows 95, if not larger," said Davis Tsai (蔡恩全), Microsoft Taiwan's chief operating officer.

Windows 95 was introduced in 1995, marking a milestone for OS history as it paved the way for the switch from the 16-bit DOS architecture to 32-bit, with the introduction of graphics user interface.

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