In today’s Bulldog wrapup of technology and life science news:

  • Intel unveils new chips hoping to give PC industry a boost
  • Uber drivers win class-action suit in pay fight
  • Amazon to allow video downloads
  • Valeant, which is buying Raleigh-based Sprout Pharmaceuticals, sees its stock drop
  • Comcast targets millennials with new service

The details:

  • Intel’s new Skylake chips

Intel on Tuesday unveiled new microprocessors code-named Skylake, hoping the chips give a boost to lagging global PC sales.

“For instance, the chips can start up a Windows 10 PC up to four times faster than the current PC that most people own. It has double the performance, and triple the battery life compared to past laptops,” reports VentureBeat.

Chris Walker, vice president and general manager of the notebook products group at Intel, told VentureBeat the chips are the company’s best processors ever.

Chips will start showing up in more than 300 laptops and 500 desktops by this fall.


  • Uber drivers win class-action status

A federal judge granted class-action status to a lawsuit in California against Uber over the payment of its drivers, upping the stakes for the ride-hailing company in the case.

Tuesday’s ruling increases the number of potential California plaintiffs in the suit that claims Uber drivers are incorrectly classified as independent contractors when they are actually employees.

“Today’s ruling sets the stage for a trial and a legal battle that will have dramatic implications for Uber’s business model as well as more generally how independent contractors are viewed under California law,” said Lonnie Giamela, a labor lawyer in Los Angeles who has been following the case.

U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco made his decision in the lawsuit filed by several current or former Uber drivers. The plaintiffs named in the suit say they are Uber employees and have been shortchanged on expenses and tips.

Their lawsuit sought class certification on behalf of 160,000 drivers who have worked for the company in California since 2009. Chen certified the class, though he excluded some drivers and limited it to the drivers’ claims for tips, not expenses.

Chen estimated the number of drivers in the suit could at least be in the hundreds, meaning the company could be on the hook for more in damages if it loses the case.

  • Amazon allows video downloads

Amazon is upping the ante in the streaming-video competition with downloadable videos.

The e-commerce powerhouse will now let members of its $99 annual Prime loyalty program download some shows and movies on its streaming video service to watch offline, or when there is no Internet connection available, for free.

To watch the content users can download the Amazon Video app for iOS or Android.

Users will now be able to download shows like “Downton Abbey” and “The Good Wife,” HBO shows including “Girls” and “Veep” and movies including “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Shows will be downloadable to Apple and Android phones and tablets, including Amazon’s Fire devices — but not desktops or laptops.

Other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu offer streaming-content only.

“There’s no doubt that the way people watch entertainment is changing_anytime, anywhere viewing is important,” said Michael Paull, vice president of digital video at Amazon, which is based in Seattle.

The downloadable videos are available to prime members in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Austria.

Netflix said it had no plans to follow suit.

  • Valeant stock falls

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International shares closed down $6.55 to $224.05 on Tuesday. The Canadian company is buying Raleigh’s Sprout Pharmaceuticals for some $1 billion.

The drug developer also is buying rights to AstraZeneca’s psoriasis drug brodalumab, which is in late-stage development.

  • Comcast targets millennials

Comcast, which became a TV powerhouse by signing up Generation Xers, baby boomers and their parents, now is fighting for millennial eyeballs.

The TV giant is investing in online media outlets like BuzzFeed and Vox that attract young viewers. It’s setting up a streaming TV service for millennials who don’t watch a boob tube. And it’s developing a YouTube-like video app and website.

It’s the latest effort by the TV industry to attract younger customers at a time when ratings are sliding and more millennials are becoming “cord cutters” by ditching traditional cable entirely.

People ages 18 to 34 spent on average nearly 109 hours a month watching live TV in the first quarter of this year, according to Nielsen. That’s by far the largest amount of time spent on any device, but the number is down from more than 131 hours a month during the same period in 2011.

Meanwhile, time spent watching video on the Internet, though far smaller, is growing to about 17.5 hours per month. That’s up from just over 7 hours four years ago.

As a result, companies are trying to beef up their video and Internet offerings to appeal to millennials. They hope to capture what makes digital companies successful with younger viewers, says Ken Doctor, a media analyst.

“They want to import some of the digital DNA,” he says.