An academic collaboration leads to a GPU/CPU collaboration

Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2012 - 12:13 PM |
Tagged: gpgpu, l3 cache, APU

Over at North Carolina State University, students Yi Yang, Ping Xiang and Dr. Huiyang Zhou, along with Mike Mantor of Advanced Micro Devices have been working on a way to improve how efficiently the GPU and CPU work together.  Our current generations of APU/GPGPUs, Llano and Sandy Bridge, have united the two processing units on a single substrate but as of yet they cannot efficiently pass operations back and forth.  This project works to leverage the L3 cache of the CPU to give a high speed bridge between the two processors, allowing the CPU to pass highly parallel tasks to the GPU for more efficient processing and letting the CPU deal with the complex operations it was designed for.  

Along with that bridge comes a change in the way the L2 prefetch is utilized; increasing memory access at that level frees up more for the L3 to pass data between CPU and GPU thanks to a specially designed preexecution unit triggered by the GPU and running on the CPU which will enable synchronized memory fetch instructions.  The result has been impressive, in their tests they saw an average improvement of 21.4% in performance.

APU.jpg

"Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique that allows graphics processing units (GPUs) and central processing units (CPUs) on a single chip to collaborate – boosting processor performance by an average of more than 20 percent.

"Chip manufacturers are now creating processors that have a 'fused architecture,' meaning that they include CPUs and GPUs on a single chip,” says Dr. Huiyang Zhou, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering who co-authored a paper on the research. "This approach decreases manufacturing costs and makes computers more energy efficient. However, the CPU cores and GPU cores still work almost exclusively on separate functions. They rarely collaborate to execute any given program, so they aren’t as efficient as they could be. That's the issue we’re trying to resolve."

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Increased Hard Drive Write Speed and Density - Using Frickin' Lasers

Subject: General Tech, Storage | February 8, 2012 - 11:34 AM |
Tagged: laser, hdd, Hard Disk

The big hoopla as of late has been wrapped around SSD's and flash memory technology, with constant die shrinks promising cheaper and faster solid state storage for your PC. Everyone seems to be slowly forgetting about good old HDD's, but spinning rust may have some life left after all.

A team of scientists formed iron and gadolinium into a series of alloy 'nanoislands'. These are basically isolated mini magnets. Each one carries a magnetic charge. Normally you would write to materials like this by hitting them with a much larger magnetic field (i.e. from your HDD write head). This team had a different trick up their sleeve - don't bother with the bigger magnet, just hit it with a burst of heat and get it to change state on its own.

1-physicistsre.jpg

Magnetic nanoislands getting hit by a frickin' laser.

Picture a sling shot, stretched out, and frozen in a block of ice. If you melt the ice, the rubber band will just snap back to its unstretched state and stay there. The same kind of thing happens when you heat a magnet - it becomes demagnetized. Now imagine if you could melt the ice, but flash freeze it while the rubber band has extended in the opposite direction. You've reversed the direction of the sling shot. Pull off the same trick with a magnet, and you can flip its poles. The trick is finding just the right length of time to heat the magnet and catch the 'flip' on the other end of its resonance. This team appears to have figured it out, and the magic number (for their material) is 60 femtoseconds. They can heep hitting the same spot repeatedly, and each time causes another flip in the poles.

laser_writes_hard_drive.jpg

Each pulse flips the bit.

To back this down into typical computer terms. A 1GHz CPU clock triggers every 1.00000 nanosecond, and 60 femtoseconds is 0.00006 nanoseconds. Ultrashort Pulse lasers have been around for a while. One was even used on my eyeballs a few years back. These pulses are so fast that the biggest issue would be getting information to the laser fast enough. The straight line theoretical speed of this technique ranges in the Terabytes per second, with densities limited by the capabilities of the nanotech used to create the islands.

To be clear, this isn't the first time heat or lasers has been used in magnetic media. TDK pioneered Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording tech years ago, but that tech is only heat *assisted*. This new breakthrough is writing, with heat, without the magnet at all. Now the only trick is figuring out how to read such a high density of tiny written bits. Since the laser writes much smaller than a magnetic head could accomplish, we might see a reversion back to optics for the reads.We're not sure how long before this technology appears on your desktop, but what we can say is that magnetic storage is not dead yet.

Source: Physorg.com

Day[9] of Reckoning International Stream Event

Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2012 - 06:39 PM |
Tagged: day9

Wait, it's not Funday Monday -- why is Sean "Day[9]" Plott dicking around? Should this not be the day where he teaches us to be a better gamer? For the release of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Day[9] and Felicia Day (henceforth referred to as Felicia Day[9]) are streaming the game for the internet to see. If you are considering purchasing the game, or you enjoy watching a videogame adventurer occasionally run around in his boxers -- tune on in.

day9amalur.jpg

Felicia Day[9] and friends fun-time variety show!

The event originally started as Day[9] streaming launch-day play. During his preparation, he asked a few people if they wanted to play with him. Currently there are about a dozen internet celebrities playing in several countries. 38 Studios, the developer of the game, also caught wind of the event and offered prizes for viewers such as game codes and a giant swag hammer.

Fair warning, language is not exactly for a general audience.

Source: Twitch.tv

Have HDD prices started to come back from the stratosphere?

Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2012 - 11:55 AM |
Tagged: hdd, thailand, flooding

TechSpot did some number crunching to develop the chart you can see below which tracks the price of HDDs from September, before the flooding in Thailand straight through to last week.  The spike upwards as stock and manufacturing capability was destroyed is easily noticeable but then the pattern starts to fragment.  The Green lines from Seagate and WD seem to have the most resiliency, being among the first to start decreasing in price and the only ones with a still declining price.  The large drives, such as the 3TB Barracuda not only declined to reduced their price but are actually getting more expensive.  The mobile side of the market is also covered though it does not seem as hard hit as their desktop cousins.  They didn't collect data on Enterprise drives, which are few and far between for anyone looking to grow their data centre, since it is the mobile and desktop HDDs which interest most readers.  Check out the numbers here.

TS_desktop-hard-drive-pricing.png

"The hard disk drive supply chain was hit hard late last year when a series of floods struck Thailand. The Asian country accounts for about a quarter of the world's hard drive production, but thousands of factories had to close shop for weeks as facilities were under water, in what is considered the world's fourth costliest natural disaster according to World Bank estimates. That's on top of the human cost of over 800 lives."

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Source: TechSpot

ASUS Xonar Essence One, not all ears need apply

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2012 - 05:03 PM |
Tagged: audio, asus, Xonar Essence One

The Asus Xonar Essence One is an external soundcard and DAC designed specifically for use with high end earphones.  This is designed for use by people with very discerning ears, if you are not much of an audiophile or only use $50 headphones you will be missing out on the benefits Xonar Essence One offers.  If you are quite willing to discuss the merits of unbalanced and balanced outputs however this device is worth investigating.  The quality parts contributed to the premuim price of $600 but they also raised the audio quality enough for the ears of the Kitguru reviewer who highly recommends this for professional musicians and audiophiles.

KG_asus-xonar.png

"Today we are looking at the latest ‘audiophile’ grade Asus Xonar Essence One external soundcard and digital to analogue converter. The Essence series of products have targeted the enthusiast and audiophile user now for some time, using high grade components such as BurrBrown DAC chips. Today we analyse the latest Xonar Essence One from ASUS in a very challenging environment, paired up with a flagship, limited edition Valve/Tube CD player and award winning Audeze LCD2 headphones."

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Source: Kitguru

Cooler Master's expanding Storm now features the Xornet gaming mouse

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2012 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: input, gaming mouse, cooler master, CMStorm, xornet

The CMStorm Xornet attempts to give you the performance of a full sized gaming mouse in a form small enough to be easily portable.  It still features the 2000 DPI Storm Tactical Optical Sensor that its bigger relatives sport as well as programmable buttons.  Red & Blackness Mods had some trouble getting used to the shape of the mouse, it is smaller lengthwise but much taller than other mice in the CMStorm lineup.  If you find yourself on the road and in need of a gaming mouse, for $30 CoolerMaster might have the perfect solution.

RaB_xornet.jpg

"Corsair has recently entered the mouse/keyboard gaming peripherals market and decided to make a good impression. The M90 mouse features multiple programmable buttons for RTS/MMO gamers, contains an aluminum chassis for increased durability and comes with the Avago Technologies ADNS-9500 LaserStream Gaming Sensor."

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AMD drops a module and keeps its socket

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2012 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: amd, piledriver, Seoul, Abu Dhabi, fad

One of the many interesting bits of information AMD disseminated at this years FAD started some conjecture about possible problems with Piledriver.  It seems that somewhere along the line AMD dropped a module on the Seou chip bringing its core count down from 10 to 8.  Once the hue and cry died down a bit a theory propounded by SemiAccurate offered a sensible theory for the change.  It seems likely that AMD initially developed this family of chips with the belief that DDR4 would have made it to market by now, perhaps in compensation for the delay in adopting DDR3.  Unfortunately DDR4 is nowhere to be seen outside of testing laboratories which has had an effect on AMD's development plans.  Without new memory there is no extra memory bandwidth which will in turn starve the extra cores on the chip and likely slow the performance of all of the cores.  Instead AMD opted to trim out the extra cores and as a benefit they get to utilize their existing sockets as opposed to introducing another one. 

ddr4.jpg

"A lot of people are in a tizzy because AMD (NYSE:AMD) has changed the upcoming Seoul CPU from 10 to 8 cores. The general responses ranges from AMD incompetence to apocalypse, but all it really signals is a lack of technical understanding on their behalf.

The slide in question was the server roadmap we wrote up here. It introduces Piledriver cored Abu Dhabi and Seoul chips, successors to the Bulldozer based Interlagos and Valencia respectively. The base part has 4 modules/8 cores, and the bigger variant is two of those in a package. The big controversy is that they were supposed to be 5 module/10 core parts."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: SemiAccurate

Verizon And Coinstar Backing New Subscription Redbox + Streaming Movie Service

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2012 - 12:27 PM |
Tagged: verizon, subscription service, redbox, movies

Netflix has stood at the top of the hill for quite a while now as the streaming and disc subscription service of choice despite the price hikes and Warner Brothers' stupidity in regards to the 56 day waiting period to get a DVD (although it takes only an hour to pirate...).  They may have a new contender later this year; however, because, Verizon and Coinstar (the company behind Redbox) are teaming up to create a joint venture that will launch a new subscription service offering physical discs through the Redbox kiosks and streaming and download-able movies through Verizon.

verizon_redbox_movies.png

The new joint venture will launch the product portfolio in the second half of 2012, according to Verizon. Further, the joint venture will be a limited liability company with Verizion holding a 65% stake and Coinstar holding a 35% stake.  Neither company was willing to go into details on how much the subscription would cost or how exactly it would work at this time due to "competitive concerns."  They did dole out a few small bits of information about the service, however.  

Verizon's President of Consumer and Mass Business Markets Bob Mudge talked confidently about the new streaming service during a conference call to the press where he talked about putting Verizon's large Fiber to the Home (their FIOS service), DSL, and Wireless 4G LTE networks to work to deliver streaming services "to all consumers across the US" whenever they want and on the devices they want to use. Meanwhile, Coinstar will be using the thousands of Redbox kiosks in malls, grocery stores, Wal-Marts, Walgreens, and gas stations to deliver physical discs to consumers throughout the US. They are planning a single source, multi-platform, national product, and will be releasing more details as they get closer to the launch window.

It is certainly interesting, and the streaming subscription space could really use healthy competition and companies with enough weight to throw around to muscle the studios into entering the 21st century with increased streaming licenses and better contract deals. Redbox has recently revolted against Warner Brothers' 56 day waiting period in favor of obtaining the movies through other means, so the studios are not exactly friendly to renting discs much less streaming rights. Here's hoping that the new joint venture can become profitable and serve as further proof that providing a subscription service is a viable revenue stream to studios while being affordable to consumers. A commenter on another forum suggested that it would be a great idea for Verizon to incorporate the streaming service into its FIOS plans as a value add, which is a move that would certainly spread adoption and give the company a quick influx of users!

Do you think Verizon and Coinstar (Redbox) can take on Netflix?

Source: Verizon

Microsoft Removing Start Orb Button In Windows 8

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2012 - 11:19 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, windows, start orb, start button, microsoft, crazy

Microsoft is continuing full steam ahead with Windows 8 development where they axe many of the familiar features of previous Windows iterations. According to a post over at The Verge, the latest feature to get removed is the start button of all things. In the "Consumer Preview" version of the upcoming operating system, users will be greeted with a desktop that shows application icons and the Super Bar, but no start button in sight.

no_start_button.png

Oddly enough, they are removing the Start button in favor of a small area in the lower left of the screen that, when hovered over with a mouse or swiped over on a touchscreen, a Windows 8 charm (small menu) will appear along with a thumbnail preview of the mode that will be switched to upon clicking the element. For example, when you are in the Metro Start Screen mode, hovering over this area would show a small preview of the full Windows desktop and vice versa.

I'm a bit confused by this move as it doesn't really add anything to the experience, and makes the start "button" hover area harder to hit and find. Tech support people are likely crying now, as it is difficult enough to get people to click on the start button much less have the patience to hover over an area or perform a swipe action in the lower left of the screen! Not to mention that the start button has been a signature of the Microsoft operating system since Windows 95.  At least the Windows key (i hope) still works as expected, but it seems like a non sensical move.  How do you guys feel about the change?  Will you be keeping your relatives and/or employees on Windows 7 (heh)?

Source: The Verge

Dropbox Offering An Extra 5 GB of Free Storage Space to Beta Testers

Subject: General Tech | February 4, 2012 - 09:32 PM |
Tagged: storage space, share files, free storage, free space, free, dropbox 1.3.13, dropbox, cloud storage, backup files

Update: Dropbox is still running the beta testing extra space promotion.  The latest Experimental Forum Build is version 1.3.15 1.3.19. Dropbox is still running the promotion; however, users from here on out will be limited to 3 GB total extra space.  Anyone that got in before 1.3.19 and earned 5 GB will continue to keep the full 5 GB of extra space.  More information is available here.

I recently needed some video files from the PC Perspective office, and we decided to use the Dropbox file sharing service to get them to me.  i hit a bit of a snag; however, when I realized that I had nowhere near the amount of storage needed.  Fortunately, I was able to download the individual files from the shared folder on the Dropbox website.  It was sort of a nod at the idea that one can never have too much storage space, however.

That got me searching around the Internet for ideas on how to increase my available storage space for free, and fortunately came across a forum post on the Dropbox website for a beta version of the program wherein they were offering 5 GB of extra (and free!) storage space to those adventurous enough to test out the program by uploading 4.5 GB of photos or videos (which you can rename, move, or delete afterwards if you wish).  The extra free space you get will remain even if you move or delete the uploaded photos and after the beta period, barring any unforseen decision change on Dropbox's part.  Further, I found the process easy enough that it was worth sharing with our readers who may use the file sharing and backup service themselves.  

According to their latest forum post, the new Dropbox beta application is version 1.3.13 (though the beta started at version 1.3) which fixes a few bugs, but more importantly, adds a new feature that automatically uploads photos and videos from SD cards (and other storage devices that store photos and videos in a "DCIM" folder) and other storage devices on the PC application and your Android smart phone using a beta of the Dropbox Android app.  The first photo or video upload imported into Dropbox grants you a 500 MB "bonus," and then for every 500 MB of photos and videos that you allow Dropbox to import, they will give you an additional 500 MB of free additional storage space, up to a total of 5 GB (including the starting bonus).  Let's get into exactly how you go about auto-importing photos.

dropboxincreasetips.png

On the Windows PC side of things, you will need to download the latest Dropbox beta build which is currently version 1.3.13.  Once download from the link in the previous sentence, install it (if you already have the program installed, just install over the previous install), and then log into your account (or create a new one*).  Next, make sure that you have AutoPlay enabled via Windows Control Panel (it should be by default).  You should be all set to import as many photos and videos as your internet connection can handle to get all your free space.  Pop in an SD card or other USB storage device into your computer via USB.  Windows should open up an AutoPlay dialog box in response.  There should further be a new option in the AutoPlay window titled "Import pictures and videos using Dropbox."  Select that and Dropbox will begin uploading them to their cloud storage servers in a new folder called "Camera Uploads."  Once the batch of photos are uploaded, Dropbox pops up a notification in notification area (lower right of the window) as seen in the photo above.

dropboxincrease.png

You can also use a beta of the Dropbox client on your Android powered smartphone to upload photos and videos to the service, and to apply towards your free Dropbox space.  While not yet on the Android Market, you can download the beta application as a .apk file to your phone, and then install it from that downloaded file.  The apk package in question is the Dropbox Experimental Android Forum Build 2.0.9 and can be downloaded via a link at the bottom of this article.  All that's needed on the Android side of things (at least on my Samsung Infuse 4G), is to start up the application and log in.  After that, any photos or videos I take with my phone's camera are automatically uploaded to the dropbox service.  Although Google already has a similar automatic uploading service to its Google+ website, the Dropbox application is even a bit more useful because they are not only "in the cloud" but sitting on my desktop at home.

screen_20120204_1908.png

The Android Dropbox beta application

Unfortunately, Linux and Macintosh users are out of luck on the extra free space; however, I'm sure they will get a chance at it when the beta Dropbox application is closer to completion.  Now that you know how to get your hands on some free space, go forth and beef up those Dropbox accounts!  Some other methods for free space include adding a .edu email account to your account (to make it a Student Account) for an extra 500 MB of storage space an an increase referral bonus of 500 MB per referral, completing the various tutorials and quests on the Dropbox website, and getting referral sign ups.  Do you use Dropbox, and if so what do you like (or hate) about it?  Community discussion engage!

 

*Speaking of referrals, this is a referral link that costs you nothing and will give me and you an extra 250 MB of storage space.  If; however, you're not into that sort of thing (for some odd reason), you can create a new account by heading over their main website at dropbox.com

Source: Dropbox

Not just a FAD, AMD aims at the market ultra-thin laptop-like device

Subject: General Tech | February 3, 2012 - 12:13 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, amd, Financial Analyst Day, trinity

While Intel struggles to find a away to reduce costs to hit their self imposed $1000 limit on the price for ultrabooks without comprimising the quality of the machine, AMD is leveraging an old strength and a new one.  The old strength is familiar to any long time PC fan, AMD's chips are less expensive than Intel's which gives them some nice monetary leeway when creating low cost systems.  The new strength is Trinity, the next generation Llano, and the impressive graphics performance packaged in the same substrate and the smooth way it can integrate with a discreet GPU to give desktop like performance. 

One of the benefits Trinity will bring is what AMD called 'All day' battery life, with a 12 hour lifespan predicted.  Trinity uses half the power of Llano as well as featuring an improved graphics core which they predict to be half again as powerful as Intel's HD Graphics.  They also predict the new Bulldozer architecture will increase general computing power.  Check out the slides at SemiAccurate for more information.

SA_Ultrabook-Win.png

"Much has been said about Intel’s new Ultrabook form factor. But new details from AMD’s Financial Analyst Day are radically changing the prospective competitive landscape that 2012 has to offer. During Intel’s Q3 conference call certain Intel executives were confident that AMD would always be offering a lower cost alternative to Intel products. But it seems that thing are not turning out the way that the cunning marketeers behind Intel’s “visibly smart” 2nd generation Core processors had hoped."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: SemiAccurate

Podcast #187 - Our thoughts on Ultrabooks, the Radeon HD 7950, ASUS DirectCU GTX cards, and more!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 2, 2012 - 03:11 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sandforce, radeon, podcast, patriot, nvidia, Intel, gtx, arm, amd, 7950

PC Perspective Podcast #187 - 02/02/2012

Join us this week as we talk about our thoughts on Ultrabooks, the Radeon HD 7950, ASUS DirectCU GTX cards, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 58:02

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:40 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:01:20 Ultrabooks: Intel Knows What's Good For You
  6. 0:08:30 Patriot Pyro and Wildfire SSD Review - IMFT Async vs. Toshiba Toggle-mode Flash
  7. 0:14:20 AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB Graphics Card Review
  8. 0:25:50 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  9. 0:26:38 Asus DirectCU II Roundup: ENGTX560, ENGTX570, and ENGTX580 Review
  10. 0:40:35 Raspberry Pi Linux Computer Will Have Fast GPU For The Price
  11. 0:44:20 If you thought Intel did well wait until you see ARM
  12. 0:47:00 AMD 7700 and 7800 Release Dates Leak To Web
  13. 0:51:20 Live Blog: AMD Financial Analyst Day
  14. 0:52:20 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Radeon HD 7950 Cards
    2. Jeremy: I'm giddy as a schoolgirl, albeit a very mercenary one
    1. Josh: And it is on sale! $770 off!
    2. Allyn: Corsair Force 3 - very good pricing.
  15. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  16. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  17. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  18. Closing

Source:

A Texas sized party with Kyle and the [H] gang

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | February 2, 2012 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: amd, Texas GamExperience

While we at PC Perspective wait for Quakecon before heading to Texas, [H]ard|OCP hosts the AMD GamExperience in Dallas during January.  This is the third year in a row they've given gamers the chance to experience the newest in games and gaming peripherals and it must have been a good one since they only managed to recover enough to post the pictures today.  As you can see below they are just as hard on the audience as Ryan and the crew, but with $55,000+ worth of prizes to give out it is possible to get gamers to do pushups.  Check out what you missed here.

Hup.jpg

We did have a man on the scene, if you haven't seen Steve's coverage you really should.

"We recently put on the third "GamExperience" here in Dallas, TX! We invited 600 of our closet friends and 20 companies that crank out some of the best computer hardware in the world and put them all in one room together for some gaming and geek talk. And yeah, free stuff too, about $50,000 worth!"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

FirefoxX: Coming soon to a TF2 user handle near you!

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2012 - 05:55 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, firefox

Firefox is my default browser. I often complement Firefox with Google Chrome due to habits introduced in the dark ages where Flash and crash were more ironic rhymes for Firefox users, but I stuck with it. I watched as it grew from a suite and innocent Mozilla build into the standalone browser it is today. Could Firefox be ten already? It seems like it was just yesteryear -- it was just four and we were out in the textfield try{}ing to play catch(){}.

firefoxX.png

Yeah that got creepier as I went on, I apologize.
It’s easier to try{} and ask forgiveness than debug permissions.
… I prefer to recycle my jokes rather than rely on garbage collection.

 

If you are a developer -- and if you are still reading then you probably are -- this version of Firefox has a lot to offer you. While a lot of the features touted as new are not, they are certainly much upgraded from what we are used to. Allow me to put it like this: you may be able to finally uninstall Firebug. You may infer what you like from that statement. Some highlights of the developer features include a built-in page inspector, a web console interface, and scratchpad.

The page inspector allows developers to examine their own websites as well as study the websites of others in a much friendlier interface than Firebug. For quick tweaks, you can edit the CSS from within page inspector and turn whole properties on and off and immediately see its effect.

The web console interface allows you to edit your site as it is temporarily rendered from a command-line interface. This appears to be mostly useful for smaller Javascript tweaks and additions if you have a small change that you would like to iterate upon quickly. The web console also allows you to see network requests which should help greatly with optimizing load times.

Scratchpad is a new developer feature for Javascript which is just too complicated to test upon with the console interface. Scratchpad is somewhere between Notepad and Notepad++ and is used to quickly experiment with full Javascript scripts on the website you currently have loaded.

Don't just take my word for it, see it!

More general enhancements were, of course, also made with this version: WebGL is now antialiased; security, performance, and stability fixes were introduced; and add-on compatibility is much less annoying. The experience feels much more responsive and clean than it has recently, continuing on the advancements started with Firefox 7.

What do you think? Looking forward to new WebGL content now that it will not be as jaggy? Excited about the developer tools or performance enhancements? Let us know!

Source: Mozilla

You aren't done playing Skyrim yet, the official Mod tools are on their way

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2012 - 03:15 PM |
Tagged: skyrim, gaming, creation kit, bethesda

Attention all modders and Elder Scrolls fans, the official Bethesda Creation Kit for Skyrim is coming down from the mountain to give a shout out to the community.  It will be a free download via Steam under Tools and will not only give you the tools to mod the game but it can also replace the Nexus Mod Manager for updating and enabling or disabling mods.  From the description of the Creation Kit those familiar with previous versions from Elder Scrolls games and Fallout 3 will be familiar with the interface. If you want to see a video of this tool in action head to Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN and feast your eyes on the newest drain on your free time.

CK01.jpg

"Bethesda is soon to release the Creation Kit for Skyrim, that’ll allow official modding to begin, along with some really powerful-looking tools. It will also plug directly into the Steam Workshop, which will make adding user-created mods to your game over 39024% easier. You can see a video giving an overview of those features below."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

If you thought Intel did well wait until you see ARM

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2012 - 12:24 PM |
Tagged: RISC, quarterly earnings, earnings, arm

For total dollar revenue over 2011 the only company that can touch Intel's earnings would be Apple, who actually contributed to Intel's growth over the past year.  When you talk about percentage growth over last year however ARM actually beat Intel's 21% growth, although not by much.  Their pre-tax growth approached 50% for the year and they blew away analyst's predictions both quarterly and yearly.  This probably has to do with the 2.2 billion ARM-powered chips sold globally over the past year, not just the new chips that power your phones and tablets but also chips they've been making for a long time which appear in vehicles, appliances and toys.  ARM's way of doing business is different from Intel who prefer to tie you into an all Intel hardware or no Intel hardware contract, ARM is happy if their chips co-exist with others on a device; they just want a chip in there.  As The Register points out, this flexibility as well as the release of an ARM compatible version of Windows 8 could make the coming years rather interesting.

poster__man_with_the_golden_arm_the_02_0.jpg

"ARM, the eponymous designer of the chip architecture, had a stonking 2011 with revenue and profits up as it tightened its hold on both embedded and generic computing.

Revenue for the last quarter of 2011 was up by more than 20 per cent on the previous year, to £137.8m, while profit before tax jumped more than twice that percentage to £69m. For the whole of 2011 the numbers are very similar, revenue hitting £491.8m ($773m) and profit topping £229.7m ($362m), rather better than analysts had predicted."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Microsoft Says No To Next Generation Xbox In 2012

Subject: General Tech | January 31, 2012 - 04:42 PM |
Tagged: xbox next, xbox 720, xbox, gaming, 2012

The Internet has seen quite a few Xbox Next / Xbox 720 (or whatever it will end up being called) rumors over the past few months, and many gamers were likely hoping for the next generation console refresh to come in time for a holiday launch. According to Microsoft Marketing Director Cedrick Delmax; however, this is just not going to happen. Tom's Hardware quoted, from an interview with LePoint.Fr, Delmax in further stating that the "Xbox 360's cycle is not at all finished." He further tried to prove his point by saying that the Xbox 360 is not dead yet because the company did not see a need to cut the price of the current console this year. When pushed with questions about the console's competition in the Wii U (launching this Christmas season) and the eventual successor to Sony's PS3, the Microsoft spokesperson said that they would not be making any "hasty moves" and the next Xbox would come in its own time. More information including a statement from sony can be found in this separate Lepoint.fr interview.

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Sticking around until at least 2013!

Well, it looks like Microsoft is really riding this horse (the Xbox 360) until it dies. Hopefully they know what they are doing and the next Xbox rises from the ashes like a Pheonix instead of crumbling because they waited too long to enter the next generation. Game developers are already starting to hit a wall in how far they can push the current consoles and will start to turn to the PC (finally) to show off their graphics prowess. What are your thoughts on this, are you satisfied with your Xbox 360, especially when compared to the graphics on current PCs (for example, Battlefield 3)?

If 7 new Sandy Bridge processors arrive and Intel says nothing, does anyone know they exist?

Subject: General Tech | January 31, 2012 - 03:13 PM |
Tagged: core i5, core i3, celeron, sandy bridge, Intel

With absolutely no fanfare, Intel has released seven new Sandy Bridge processors of which two lack a graphics core.  Three quad-core Core i5 arrived, the Core i5-2550K is a normal chip running at 3.4GHz, while the i5-2380P and i5-2450P lack GPU cores; all are rated at a 95W TDP however so don't expect power savings from those two chips.  On the low powered end the dual core Celeron B720 and single core B815 will both sport TDPs of 35W and for mobile users the Celeron 797 and 867 will both have a TDP of 17W.  The Inquirer picked up this information from Intel's newly release price list; one which does not feature a single drop in the price of a CPU.

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"CHIPMAKER Intel has quietly released seven Sandy Bridge processors, with two of the chips not having built-in graphics cores.

Intel's Sandy Bridge range is already packed but that didn't stop Chipzilla from releasing seven chips, three of which are branded as Core i5 and two featuring a new 'P' suffix. According to our man at Intel the suffix denotes chips that do not come with Intel's integrated graphics core."

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Source: The Inquirer

Ubuntu versus OSX ... Fight!

Subject: General Tech | January 30, 2012 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: apple, osx, ubuntu, linux

We've all seen the various Windows verus Apple comparisons, so let us head to Phoronix for a fight of a different flavour.  They've taken the new OS X and pitted it against the new Ubuntu on SandyBridge hardware to see how they compare.  From the start it looks bad for Apple, as it detected the dual Core i5 2415M as a single core CPU with hyperthreading where as Ubuntu detected the processor correctly.  They did help Apple out a bit by adding in LLVM/Clang 3.0 into the Xcode4 package as GCC 4.2.1 performs less impressively.  The results were mixed, with each system excelling at certain tasks but not others proving once again that the choice between Apple and PC is generally based on specfic task and not a general performance decision.

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"After delivering benchmarks last week that were comparing the Intel Sandy Bridge performance of Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion" vs. Ubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot" when it came to the Sandy Bridge OpenGL graphics performance, here's a comparative look at the performance of Ubuntu 11.10 against Mac OS X 10.7.2 from the Intel Sandy Bridge-based Mac."

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Source: Phoronix

Stability brings ARMy of Developers: Windows on ARM Stable

Subject: General Tech | January 30, 2012 - 04:24 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, arm

I will be honest with you; I was not, personally, paying attention to Windows 8 let alone Windows on ARM. I often like to push the newest and obscure releases of Windows falling prey to both Windows XP 64-bit as well as the not-nearly-as-bad-as-people-make-it-out-to-be Windows Vista; Windows 7 seems to suit my needs and I do not expect to push past it any time soon unless something shows me otherwise. If you, on the other hand, were awaiting Windows on ARM to be stable -- which frankly I thought it already happened, but apparently not -- and on their way to developers? Not now.

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Intel's starting to drop bricks?

Brooke Crothers of CNET reports Windows 8 for ARM processors has reached a stable build and is expected to be in the hands of developers in February. Despite the seemingly late deployment, one source did not expect Windows 8 on ARM to be released later than the x86 version; that source also admitted to not being given information from Microsoft to support that assertion. I am skeptical of that source, to say the least, but I keep an open mind.

As for legacy applications, Microsoft Office has not been seen running on ARM devices. Intuitively, if Office were to be fully operational on ARM then Microsoft would likely have shown it off by now. Whether or not intuition holds true is yet to be seen, though CNET heard from a source of a source that Office is “running fine” on ARM.

Despite Microsoft’s demonstrations of Windows 8, there is little information circulating about Windows 8 on ARM. Even at CES, there was little that was shown to sate the questions asked about the new platform. Perhaps once it is in the hands of developers we might discover more concrete information?

Source: CNET