February 10, 2006 1:15 PM PST

This week in VoIP

Intel wants you to call on the chipmaker when making Internet phone calls.

The latest version of Skype's Internet-calling software can host up to 10 users on a conference call, but only if your PC has a dual-core processor from Intel. Intel's Core Duo and Pentium D processors have been designated the mass conference-calling processor of choice for Skype 2.0, launched last month.

Skype's software allows PC users to make free voice calls to other Skype users over the Internet and to call cell phones and landlines for a fee. Intel approached Skype with its plan to optimize code on its chips for Skype's software so users would have a good experience while hosting a multiperson conference call.

Meanwhile, at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, the chip industry showed off a couple of the chip concepts that are still on the drawing board.

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have developed a chip that allows you to listen to an iPod using your forearm as the transmission wire for the audio signals. The chip was detailed in one of several presentations during a session called "Silicon in Biology."

Low power consumption was a common design thread in the several chips presented by university researchers. The need to reduce power consumption of chips has become an area of concern for the PC and server processor industry, but low power consumption takes on a new meaning when referring to chips that will be used inside the human body or on skin.

Researchers are also working on chips that will eliminate much of the pressure and anxiety that comes when a waiter hovers nearby as you taste the wine. Electronic nose vapor sensors are printed arrays of transistors that can detect ambient chemicals and odors and then alert a consumer if the contents of a medicine bottle or bottle of wine have changed.

One of the sensors' key features is that they should be cheap to manufacture, allowing them to be inserted into wine bottles. An integrated nose--which would include a sensor array and a silicon chip--could cost a few dimes apiece to manufacture now and drop to less than 5 cents over time. A nose based on all printed semiconductors would be even cheaper and could be feasible over time.

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I ran across an interesting article titled "Talk Is Cheap" reviewing top VoIP programs at DealDogs.net. This is the article link <a href="http://dealdogs.net/?p=10668" rel="nofollow"> here</a> to read a description and see videos about top webchat programs.
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