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Originally published Monday, October 6, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Technology Briefs

Nintendo ramps up Wii for the holidays

With the start of the holiday shopping season only weeks away, Nintendo said it was increasing shipments of its popular Wii video-game machine to avoid the supply problems that cost it sales last year.

Electronics

With the start of the holiday shopping season only weeks away, Nintendo said it was increasing shipments of its popular Wii video-game machine to avoid the supply problems that cost it sales last year.

Demand for the Wii was so high the last two Decembers that many shoppers were disappointed and Nintendo was widely criticized.

This year, Nintendo said there would be a "significant increase" in Wiis. "Will there be enough to meet demand?" Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Redmond-based Nintendo of America, said. "Ask me in January."

The company also announced many new games for the Wii, including Wii Music, which lets users play simulated instruments and participate together in bands.

Biotechnology

Price declines on gene mapping

The cost of determining a person's complete genetic blueprint is about to plummet again — to $5,000.

Startup company Complete Genomics is announcing today it will charge that price to determine the sequence of the genetic code that makes up the DNA in one set of human chromosomes.

Such a price would represent another step toward the long-sought goal of the "$1,000 genome." At that point, it might become commonplace for people to get their entire DNA sequences, giving them information on what diseases they might be predisposed to or what drugs would work best for them.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Complete Genomics will not begin its service until next spring. It expects most of its customers to be pharmaceutical companies or research labs doing studies aimed at finding genes linked to diseases.

The company's first project will be for the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, whose president, Leroy Hood, is an adviser to Complete Genomics.

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Computers

U.S. scraps tariffs on Hynix chips

The U.S. Commerce Department said it will no longer slap tariffs on semiconductors made by South Korea's Hynix Semiconductor, enabling the world's No. 2 maker of memory chips to boost exports to its biggest market.

The halt took effect Aug. 11 for Hynix, which had been paying punitive tariffs for exports since 2003, according to a statement posted on the U.S. Federal Register Web site Friday. The South Korean foreign ministry today confirmed the decision.

The U.S. began the duties five years ago after Micron Technology said the South Korean government's bailout of Hynix amounted to an illegal subsidy, prompting the European Union and Japan to follow suit. Hynix and the Korean government denied the claims.

In August, the U.S. decided to lower duties to 4.9 percent from 23.8 percent for the company's chip exports to the U.S. in 2006.

The U.S. is the largest market for Hynix, making up 25 percent of its memory-chip exports in 2007.

Entertainment

DreamWorks, Paramount split

Ending a short-lived and bitter relationship, DreamWorks SKG and Paramount Pictures said Sunday a deal was struck to part ways.

The pact, resembling an amicable divorce with joint custody of about 40 movie projects, came faster than expected in light of the tense relations between the two Hollywood studios.

Paramount's parent, Viacom, acquired DreamWorks, founded by Steven Spielberg, for $1.6 billion in 2006.

The deal will pave the way for Spielberg and his team to form a new independent studio backed by one of India's biggest conglomerates, Reliance ADA Group, which plans to invest $550 million for a 50 percent stake.

The new studio would keep the DreamWorks name and seek more than $700 million in debt financing.

Spielberg's new company will take the lead on 15 to 20 film projects owned by Paramount, which would have the option to co-finance and co-distribute the movies.

As part of the deal, Spielberg will take more than two-thirds of the 150 DreamWorks employees with him.

Electronics

New DSi model has digital camera

Nintendo's hit DS portable machine will come with a digital camera that will allow players to mix images, scribble on photos and create new faces, the Japanese game maker said.

The Nintendo DSi will go on sale in Japan on Nov. 1 for 18,900 yen ($180), and will be sold overseas next year.

One in six Japanese already owns a DS, according to Kyoto-based Nintendo.

The improved DSi is thinner than the current DS, and it will have a bigger screen.

Compiled from The New York Times, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and Los Angeles Times

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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