Today’s other anniversary: The microprocessor turns 40

Today marks the anniversary of the launch of the Xbox and Microsoft’s Halo video game a decade ago, as we’ve chronicled in our coverage. But those launches would never have happened without today’s other anniversary: the 40th anniversary of the launch of the original microprocessor.

Synaptics hires former AMD executive as CEO

Synaptics, the maker of touch pads and other input devices for computers and phones, has hired former Advanced Micro Devices executive Rick Bergman as its new chief executive.Bergman will lead Synaptics into the future of human interfaces for computers, mobile phones, and entertainment devices. Synaptics currently makes the software and sensors for touchpads, which replace the computer mouse in a laptop. Users swipe their finger across the touchpad to get a cursor to move to a different part of a laptop screen. Synaptics also makes touchscreen interfaces for tablets and smartphones.Bergman resigned from AMD last week, not long after the chip maker hired former Lenovo executive Rory Read as its new CEO. Bergman was senior vice president and general manager of the products group at AMD.Bergman, 47, succeeds Russ Knittel, who was interim CEO since October, 2010. Knittel replaced Thomas Tiernan, who served as Synaptics CEO for a little more than a year before resigning last year for personal reasons. A familiar figure to VentureBeat readers, Bergman has been a longtime executive in the graphics chip business, serving in top jobs at ATI Technologies before it was acquired in 2006 by AMD.At AMD, Bergman was responsible for delivering microprocessors and graphics chips to AMD’s customers and for Fusion, which are the combination chips that put a graphics chip and processor on a single piece of silicon. During Berman’s tenure, AMD grew its share of the graphics chip market in competition with Nvidia.Francis Lee, chairman of Synaptics and its former CEO, said that Bergman is a visionary leader who can help take Synaptics’ capactive touch technology to new markets. Before joining ATI in 2001, Bergman was the chief operating officer at S3, another early graphics firm. He was also head of marketing at Exponential (where I first met him), and he worked at Texas Instruments and IBM.

Intel describes the computers that people want to use

Intel executive Mooly Eden profiled a new kind of PC today while on stage at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. You don’t expect to be wowed by PC advances in this age of smartphones and tablets, but Eden said new PCs — super-thin laptops nicknamed “Ultrabooks” — will combine functions that please both the left brain and the right brain.

Capping its best year ever, Intel reports record Q4 earnings

Intel reported record fourth quarter sales and earnings as it ramped up production for a new generation of microprocessors and saw strong demand during the holiday-selling season. That’s good news for the PC industry, since Intel is the world’s biggest chip maker and its earnings are a bellwether for the whole industry.

With Fusion, AMD plans to stop being the underdog in chips

Making good on plans it laid in 2006, Advanced Micro Devices is finally announcing that its Fusion family of computer chips, which combine graphics functions with general computing power, are ready for prime time. Namely, they’re starring in a host of PC models set to be unveiled this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.