Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | June 17, 2011 - 04:35 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: webgl, microsoft
WebGL: Heaven or Hell?
(Image from MrDoob WebGL demo; contains Lucy model from Stanford 3D repository)
WebGL is an API very similar to OpenGL ES 2.0: the API used for OpenGL features in embedded systems, particularly smart phones. The goal of WebGL is to provide a light-weight, CSS obeying, 3D and shader system for websites that require advanced 3D graphics or even general purpose calculations performed on the shader units of the client’s GPU. Mozilla and Google currently have support in their public browsers with Opera and Apple shipping support in the near future. Microsoft has stated that allowing third-party websites that level of access to the hardware is dangerous as security vulnerabilities that formerly needed to be exploited locally can now be exploited from the web browser. This is an area of expertise that Microsoft knows all too well from their past attempts at active(x)ly adding scripting functionality to the web browser evolving into a decade-long game of whack-a-mole for security holes.
But skeptics to Microsoft’s position could easily point to their effort to single out the one standard based on OpenGL, competitor to their still-cherished DirectX standard. Regardless of Microsoft’s motives it seems to put to rest the question of whether Microsoft will be working towards implementing WebGL in any release of Internet Explorer currently in development.
Do you think Microsoft is warning its competitors about its past ActiveX woes, or is this more politically motivated? Comment below (registration not required.)
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 15, 2011 - 05:58 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: programming, microsoft, fusion, c++, amp, AFDS
During this morning's keynote at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit, Microsoft's Herb Sutter went on stage to discuss the problems and solutions involved around programming and developing for multi-processing systems and heterogeneous computing systems in particular. While the problems are definitely something we have discussed before at PC Perspective, the new solution that was showcased was significant.
C++ AMP (accelerated massive parallelism) was announced as a new extension to Visual Studio and the C++ programming language to help developers take advantage of the highly parallel and heterogeneous computing environments of today and the future. The new programming model uses C++ syntax and will be available in the next version of Visual Studio with "bits of it coming later this year." Sorry, no hard release date was given when probed.
Perhaps just as significant is the fact that Microsoft announced the C++ AMP standard would be an open specification and they are going to allow other compilers to integrated support for it. Unlike C# then, C++ AMP has a chance to be a new dominant standard in the programming world as the need for parallel computing expands. While OpenCL was the only option for developers that promised to allow easy utilization of ALL computing power in a computing device, C++ AMP gives users another option with the full weight of Microsoft behind it.
To demonstrate the capability of C++ AMP Microsoft showed a rigid body simulation program that ran on multiple computers and devices from a single executable file and was able to scale in performance from 3 GLOPS on the x86 cores of Llano to 650 GFLOPS on the combined APU power and to 830 GFLOPS with a pair of discrete Radeon HD 5800 GPUs. The same executable file was run on an AMD E-series APU powered tablet and ran at 16 GFLOPS with 16,000 particles. This is the promise of heterogeneous programming languages and is the gateway necessary for consumers and business to truly take advantage of the processors that AMD (and other companies) are building today.
If you want programs other than video transcoding apps to really push the promise of heterogeneous computing, then the announcement of C++ AMP is very, very big news.
Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2011 - 11:47 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, patch tuesday, security, windows, internet explorer, silverlight
Tomorrow will see the arrival of 9 critical security patches and 7 recommended ones, covering Windows, IE, Silverlight and Office. The critical patches all resolve remote code execution vulnerabilities, the recommended vary from the same type as well as privledge escalation and denial of service vulnerabilities. WinXP through Win7 as well as server OSes will all be affected so be warned that your Tuesday and Wednesday might not be very fun. Follow the link from The Register to see Microsoft's pre-release document for yourself.
Adobe, obviously not wanting to seem lazy, is also pushing out a patch for both Reader and Acrobat.
"Microsoft is preparing a bumper Patch Tuesday for next week, with 16 security bulletins that collectively address 34 vulnerabilities.
Nine of the bulletins earn the dread rating of critical, while the other seven grapple with flaws rated as important. All supported versions of Windows will need patching on 14 June along with various server-side software packages and applications, including the .NET framework and SQL Server. Internet Explorer, which is affected by two bulletins, will also need some fiddling under the bonnet."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Why Microsoft has made developers horrified about coding for Windows 8 @ Ars Technica
- PC Mark 7 Performance Review @ OCC
- PathScale Open-Sources The EKOPath 4 Compiler Suite @ Phoronix
- Samsung Galaxy Tab sneak peak at Dubai @ t-break
- HIS Solar LED Flashlight @ Benchmark Reviews
- Sumo Lounge Titan @ Phoronix
- Final Benchmarks Of Project Dirndl @ Phoronix
- Tablet Wars Single Stage Phase and Computex @ NinjaLane
- Win a HIS HD 5670 IceQ 1GB Graphics Card @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2011 - 11:21 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wintel, microsoft, Intel, asustek
DigitTimes reports that the so called “Wintel” era is over. With Wintel representing the fusing of a Windows operating system on Intel x86 processors, Asustek Jonney Shih believes that the time period where Windows and Intel processors dominated the PC, tablet PC, and handset markets have passed. This is due in part to the rise of Android and ARM on the mobile front and increased mind share (and in some cases competitive market share) of the Mac OSX and iOS ecosystems on the PC and mobile platforms respectively. Shih further stated that the rising market share of once-smaller operating systems from competitors encourages healthy competition and innovation in the industry.
As mobile hardware advances to once-unprecedented levels of performance, Asustek sees the lines between what constitutes mobile handsets, ultra-portable computing devices and traditional computers breaking down. All these devices will soon start to coalesce into a new IT market where computing is more about productivity and entertainment more so than choosing differing classes of hardware as they will all be “good enough” machines.
DigiTimes states that the rise of the tablet PC will likely increase manufacturers abilities to try new things and sell numerous units; however, it will also impact and “significantly reshuffle the ranking of the whole IT market.”
With Microsoft currently commanding approximately 88.69% of the client OS market share (according to Net Market Share at time of writing), and Intel being the leading manufacturer of x86 CPUs, the “Wintel” relationship still has a good deal of weight to throw around and influence the market; however, on the mobile front the market is much more competitive with other operating systems and hardware advancing rapidly. Will the mobile market have an effect on traditional computing, and do you feel as though the Wintel era is coming to an end?
Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2011 - 11:52 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, microsoft, lawyers
It turns out that while NVIDIA did not quite sell its soul to get its GPU into the first XBox, it did give up its right to go out unchaperoned. As part of the deal Microsoft can block any large purchase of NVIDIA shares by another company. If a company tries to purchase 30% or more of NVIDIA's shares then had and still has Microsoft has the right to put kybosh on the deal. A decade ago when the deal was first inked the agreement would have made a lot of sense to Microsoft; they were going to depend on NVIDIA's GPU and did not want to have another company buy a majority share in NVIDIA to get a grip on Microsoft's new gaming console. This deal makes NVIDIA rather unattractive to many companies as the investment of time and money necessary to set up a large deal could be utterly wasted if Microsoft decides it doesn't like the look of NVIDIA's new bedmate. The Inquirer has more here, and are currently awaiting a response to the article from Microsoft.
"AN UNLIKELY BETROTHAL between Microsoft and Nvidia has been uncovered that gives Microsoft the right of first and last refusal to buy Nvidia.
Microsoft entered into an agreement with Nvidia back in 2000 when the chip design outfit was brought in to work on the GPU of what would then become Microsoft's Xbox. That in itself isn't particularly surprising, but Information Week dug up a 10K filing with the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) in which Nvidia reported that Microsoft had first and last rights of refusal should a third party make an offer to buy 30 per cent or more of Nvidia's shares."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- In-flight Internet: the view from 35,000 feet and three years @ Ars Technica
- Skype reverse-engineered and open sourced @ The Register
- Notorious rootkit gets self-propagation powers @ The Register
- UC San Diego Builds Phase-Change Solid-State Drive That's 2 to 7 Times Faster Than NAND @ ExtremeTech
- HTC Dev launched to support OpenSense development @ t-break
- Kodak PlaySport Zx3 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Installing a Server OS in Intel Media Series Motherboards Guide @MissingRemote
- Post Computex 2011 - Part 1 @ Bjorn3D
- Mach Xtreme Displays New JMicron SATA 3 SSD @ The SSD Review
- Fan speed control? BitFenix has an app for that @ The Tech Report
- Sapphire shows A75 mobo, passive Radeons @ The Tech Report
- Computex 2011: The ROG Releases @ AnandTech
- Liveblog: Microsoft's E3 press conference on June 6 @ Ars Technica
- Liveblog: WWDC 2011 keynote on June 6 @ Ars Technica
Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2011 - 12:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: fud, skype, microsoft
According to The Inquirer, at 12:15 GMT (+1 hr thanks to daylight savings), Skype suffered a major network failure that seems to not only have taken out the Skype VoIP client but also impacted the availablitity of their site. As of right now there is no work around or solution, Skype is investigating the cause but for now other clients are your best bet for communicating over the web.
Since this has occured 2 weeks after Microsoft purchased Skype, speculation is running rampant that this is some sort of planned interruption. It seems a little far fetched to think that even a company with as much financial power as Microsoft would dump $8.5 billion just to shut down a competing service. They are going to want some return on their investment and simply using Skype's patents, some of which are still under review now or its infrastructure to prop up Sharepoint is not going to return that money. Ad generated revenue on the sidebar of the client and hooking this up to Microsoft's various social and gaming applications seems more likely, which implies that shutting down Skype is the last thing on their mind.
Hopefully it will be fixed in time for This Week in Computer Hardware.
"VOICE OVER IP (VoIP) and chat service Skype has crashed throughout the world and continues to crash on login, leading many to suspect that its recent acquisition by Microsoft is a definite disaster.
The service began to crash around 12:15pm UK time, kicking people offline and freezing when they tried to log back in again. Other users who remained online had difficulties making calls. Restarting your PC or reinstalling Skype has no effect, as the problem is clearly on Skype's end."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel to offer Cedar Trail CPUs with prices 30-50% less than existing Atom CPUs @ DigiTimes
- Unpatched IE bug exposes sensitive Facebook creds @ The Register
- HTL Tests out New YouTube 3D Vision Playback Capability @Hi Tech Legion
- Samsung PL210 14 Megapixel Digital Camera @ TechwareLabs
- Win a SteelSeries Medal of Honor 5XB Headset @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech | May 10, 2011 - 12:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ballmer, microsoft, boomtown, skype, purchase, billion
The rumour mill really dropped the ball on this one, as just a few hours ago it was Facebook that everyone was muttering would one day buy Skype. Turns out that in just a few hours the new rumour that Microsoft was going to buy Skype for $7 billion became a reality at an $8.5 billion price tag.
Skype lost $7 million dollars last year, though that number seems rather small compared to their overall balance sheet to date which puts them $686 million in the hole. As All Things Digital is quick to point out, that is slightly less than what Microsoft Online Services Division lost last Quarter, proving all things are relative even at very high amounts of dollars.
On the plus side, Microsoft gets its hands on Skype's 763 million registered users, about twice as many as there are MSN users and significantly more that there are XBox Live users. Toss in the TechNet people and you still have nowhere near the user pool that Skype brings. That huge increase in the number of people Microsoft can reach possibly gives them the ability to recoup the money they spent to buy them. Consider that 8 million users pay actual money for their Skype account, which Wired considers as at least a hint of Microsoft's strategy.
Most PC users who already use Windows, such as those at Ars Technica, are scratching their heads over the purchase while Linux users at Slashdot are very concerned about continuing support for the Skype Linux Client.
"The Wall Street Journal reported earlier tonight that Microsoft–in what would be its most aggressive acquisition in the digital space–was zeroing in on buying Skype for $8.5 billion all in with an assumption of the Luxembourg-based company’s debt.
Sources told BoomTown tonight that the deal for the online telephony and video communications giant is actually done and will be announced early tomorrow morning."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Live from Google I/O 2011's opening keynote! @ Engadget
- Hard drive industry to continue facing shortage in May @ DigiTimes
- 15 Web Browsers Tested and Benchmarked @ Legit Reviews
- Complete Zeus Trojan source code gets leaked @ The Inquirer
- Intel's Cedarview Atom to sport PowerVR graphics @ VR-Zone
- Ninjalane Podcast - Aftermarket Heatsinks Sandy Bridge Memory Summer Vacation
- Start Summer with a Big Bang in association with MSI @ OC3D