Event on September 30th "For Windows and the Enterprise"

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 08:01 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 9, threshold

In two weeks, Microsoft will be holding an event to communicate where Windows is going. It is expected that a public technical preview will launch either at the show, or immediately thereafter. The invitation reads, "Join us to hear about what's next for Windows and the enterprise." This seems to mean that the next version of their desktop OS, probably called Windows 9, will have a strong focus on enterprise features. Contrast this with Windows 8, which I feel comfortable saying wanted to win consumers away from iOS and Android tablets.

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Image Credit: The Verge

Virtual desktops and the Start Menu's return were strong signs, too.

Pretty much the only announcement that they could make to get me excited would be sideloading for all versions (which would also remove developer certificate requirements for those apps). I know that it is seductive from a "gatekeeper against malware" point of view, but it decimates the whole reason for having a computer. The Windows Store requirements are just too terrible. No third-party browser engines? C'mon. Microsoft has expressed their continued support of these regulations at Build, but I can hope for a surprise. Seriously Microsoft, give users the option to install what they want, regardless of the API used.

Two weeks until we know. We might even have access by then.

Source: The Verge

NVIDIA Game24 Is Coming in Three Days—And Promises to be a Star-Studded Event!

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 12:53 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, game24

game24.png

If you are in Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Mission Viejo (Ca.), Indianapolis, Shanghai or Stockholm you might want to see if you can get into GAME24, a 24-hour event celebrating PC gamers that kicks off on Thursday September 18th at 6PM PDT.  If you can't make it in person it will be broadcast live on the internet at www.GAME24.nvidia.com.

Highlights include:

  • New products announcements from NVIDIA and game publishers
  • A DOTA 2 Invitational tournament featuring professional teams including Evil Geniuses, Cloud 9, Team Tinker, and Alliance competing for a share of $15,000 in prizes.
  • Mod24, the world’s first 24-hour livestreamed modding completion will also be held.
  • Renowned modders Team Mongoose, BSMODS, and Team Kill Ninja will be at NVIDIA HQ in Santa Clara, California doing the onsite build.  Viewers of the live stream will be the judges and three lucky winners will take home these one of a kind builds.
  • Two world records will be broken!

Special guests will include

  • Jay (no Silent Bob though)
  • cos-play queen Chloe Dykstra
  • (ex)MythBuster Grant Imahara
  • Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter.
  • also appearing will be Tiffany Smith, Zach Selwyn, Alison Haislip, Alex Albrecht, Kristin Adams, Chris Gore and Blair Butler.

More information about GAME24 and details on the many local events taking place on September 18 can be found at:  www.GAME24.nvidia.com.

 

Source: NVIDIA

Acer has a Switch you would actually want

Subject: Mobile | September 16, 2014 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: acer, inspire switch 12, core m, 5Y10a

The Inquirer had a chance for some hands on time with the new Acer Aspire Switch 12 convertible tablet and keyboard.  It is powered by the new Core M 5Y10a at 1Ghz, which does not require a fan and has 4GB of RAM and runs Win8.  The screen specifications were not listed but their eyeballs suggest the screen is a full 1080p which is a great improvement from the usual 1366x768 on these convertible devices.  They were not overly impressed by the quality of the keyboard or the process to attach or remove it from the screen but the sacrifice in aesthetics does help to keep the device very light and thin when the keyboard dock is attached. You can see their preview here, hopefully a full review will appear soon.

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"The Aspire Switch 12 is the successor to the Taiwanese firm's previous affordable multi-mode device, the Aspire Switch 10. It boasts a slimmer design thanks to Intel's new 14nm fanless processor, has a 12.5in display and features five alternative viewing modes."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: The Inquirer

Flexible FinFETs are feasible

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 11:38 AM |
Tagged: FinFET, flexible

We've seen a few examples of OLEDs being used to create flexible displays but they are much slower than their unbending silicon rivals.  With conductive ink and thread it is possible to make wearable technology but again the silicon components remain solid and immobile.  Researchers in Saudi Arabia have been working on flexible technology which retains the speed of silicon transistors but is able to flex up to 0.5 mm which may sound large until you remember the size of a transistor.  They have created these FinFETs by putting a thin layer of a polymer on top of the material they will be etching the transistors into and gently removing the polymer once the process has completed.  This results in a FinFET which retains the power saving and performance attributes common to the 3D transistor but with the ability to bend.  This won't be marketed for a while yet but in the mean time read all about it on Nanotechweb.

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"Researchers at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudia Arabia are continuing with their experiments to transform traditional rigid electronic wafers made from silicon into mechanically flexible and transparent ones."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Nanotechweb

Micron launches M600 SATA SSD with innovative SLC/MLC Dynamic Write Acceleration

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | September 16, 2014 - 11:29 AM |
Tagged: ssd, slc, sata, mlc, micron, M600, crucial

You may already be familiar with the Micron Crucial M550 line of SSDs (if not, familiarize yourself with our full capacity roundup here). Today Micron is pushing their tech further by releasing a new M600 line. The M600's are the first full lineup from Micron to use their 16nm flash (previously only in their MX100 line). Aside from the die shrink, Micron has addressed the glaring issue we noted in our M550 review - that issue being the sharp falloff in write speeds in lower capacities of that line. Their solution is rather innovative, to say the least.

Recall the Samsung 840 EVO's 'TurboWrite' cache, which gave that drive a burst of write speed during short sustained write periods. The 840 EVO accomplished this by each TLC die having a small SLC section of flash memory. All data written passed through this cache, and once full (a few GB, varying with drive capacity), write speed slowed to TLC levels until the host system stopped writing for long enough for the SSD to flush the cached data from SLC to TLC.

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The Micron M600 SSD in 2.5" SATA, MSATA, and M.2 form factors.

Micron flips the 'typical' concept of caching methods on its head. It does employ two different types of flash writing (SLC and MLC), but the first big difference is that the SLC is not really cache at all - not in the traditional sense, at least. The M600 controller, coupled with some changes made to Micron's 16nm flash, is able to dynamically change the mode of each flash memory die *on the fly*. For example, the M600 can place most of the individual 16GB (MLC) dies into SLC mode when the SSD is empty. This halves the capacity of each die, but with the added benefit of much faster and more power efficient writes. This means the M600 would really perform more like an SLC-only SSD so long as it was kept less than half full.

M600-1.png

As you fill the SSD towards (and beyond) half capacity, the controller incrementally clears the SLC-written data, moving that data onto dies configured to MLC mode. Once empty, the SLC die is switched over to MLC mode, effectively clearing more flash area for the increasing amount of user data to be stored on the SSD. This process repeats over time as the drive is filled, meaning you will see less SLC area available for accelerated writing (see chart above). Writing to the SLC area is also advantageous in mobile devices, as those writes not only occur more quickly, they consume less power in the process:

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For those worst case / power user scenarios, here is a graph of what a sustained sequential write to the entire drive area would look like:

M600-3.png

Realize this is not typical usage, but if it happened, you would see SLC speeds for the first ~45% of the drive, followed by MLC speeds for another 10%. After the 65% point, the drive is forced to initiate the process of clearing SLC and flipping dies over to MLC, doing so while the host write is still in progress, and therefore resulting in the relatively slow write speed (~50 MB/sec) seen above. Realize that in normal use (i.e. not filling the entire drive at full speed in one go), garbage collection would be able to rearrange data in the background during idle time, meaning write speeds should be near full SLC speed for the majority of the time. Even with the SSD nearly full, there should be at least a few GB of SLC-mode flash available for short bursts of SLC speed writes.

This caching has enabled some increased specs over the prior generation models:

M600-4.png

M600-5.png

Note the differences in write speeds, particularly in the lower capacity models. The 128GB M550 was limited to 190MB/sec, while the M600 can write at 400MB/sec in SLC mode (which is where it should sit most of the time).

We'll be testing the M600 shortly and will come back with a full evaluation of the SSD as a whole and more specifically how it handles this new tech under real usage scenarios.

Full press blast after the break.

Source: Micron

Raptr's Top PC Games of August 2014

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 11:11 AM |
Tagged: wow, smite, raptr, pc gaming, lol, DOTA 2, Counter-Strike

The PC gaming utility, Raptr, keeps track of per-game play time across each of their of their tracked titles. Because it is not locked to Valve, Blizzard, Riot Games, Mojang, and so forth, it compares games that are from different publishers and distribution platforms as long as the software is running. Around once each month, the company shares their findings and gives brief explanations for notable results. Again, these are not sales or download figures. This ranking is decided by the number of hours played.

raptr-most-august-2014.png

Note: Diablo III is erroneously listed as losing a rank.
In July, Minecraft was #5 and Diablo III was #6

First, League of Legends continued its reign as most played PC game; in fact, it widened its lead to over one-fifth of all recorded game time (20.55%). This increase was mostly attributed to the game's 4.15 update. Second place, with a significantly less 7.62%, is World of Warcraft. Raptr believes it passed DOTA 2 for two reasons: WoW gained players from their Mists of Pandaria 50%-off promotion and DOTA 2 deflated a little bit after the swell from The International tournament.

Counter-Strike: GO held steady in fourth place and Smith Smite (Update 09/17/2014: Corrected typo), a free-to-play MOBA from Hi-Rez Studios, jumped five places to fifth place.

Source: Raptr

IDF 2014 Storage Roundup - RAM and NVMe and IOPS! Oh my!

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | September 16, 2014 - 09:49 AM |
Tagged: ram, NVMe, IOPS, idf 2014, idf, ddr4, DDR

The Intel Developer Forum was last week, and there were many things to be seen for sure. Mixed in with all of the wearable and miniature technology news, there was a sprinkling of storage goodness. Kicking off the show, we saw new cold storage announcements from both HGST and Western Digital, but that was about it for HDD news, as the growing trend these days is with solid state storage technologies. I'll start with RAM:

First up was ADATA, who were showing off 64GB DDR3 (!) DIMMs:

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Next up were various manufacturers pushing DDR4 technology quite far. First was SK Hynix's TSV 128GB DIMMs (covered in much greater depth last week):

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Next up is Kingston, who were showing a server chassis equipped with 256GB of DDR4:

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If you look closer at the stats, you'll note there is more RAM in this system than flash:

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Next up is IDT, who were showing off their LRDIMM technology:

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This technology adds special data buffers to the DIMM modules, enabling significantly higher amounts of installed RAM into a single system, with a 1-2 step de-rating of clock speeds as you take capacities to the far extremes. The above server has 768GB of DDR4 installed and running!:

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Moving onto flash memory type stuff, Scott covered Intel's new 40 Gbit Ethernet technology last week. At IDF, Intel had a demo showing off some of the potential of these new faster links:

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This demo used a custom network stack that allowed a P3700 in a local system to be matched in IOPS by an identical P3700 *being accessed over the network*. Both local and networked storage turned in the same 450k IOPS, with the remote link adding only 8ms of latency. Here's a close-up of one of the SFF-8639 (2.5" PCIe 3.0 x4) SSDs and the 40 Gbit network card above it (low speed fans were installed in these demo systems to keep some air flowing across the cards):

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Stepping up the IOPS a bit further, Microsoft was showing off the capabilities of their 'Inbox AHCI driver', shown here driving a pair of P3700's at a total of 1.5 million IOPS:

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...for those who want to get their hands on this 'Inbox driver', guess what? You already have it! "Inbox" is Microsoft's way of saying the driver is 'in the box', meaning it comes with Windows 8. Bear in bind you may get better performance with manufacturer specific drivers, but it's still a decent showing for a default driver.

Now for even more IOPS:

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Yes, you are reading that correctly. That screen is showing a system running over 11 million IOPS. Think it's RAM? Wrong. This is flash memory pulling those numbers. Remember the 2.5" P3700 from a few pics back? How about 24 of them:

DSC05443.JPG

The above photo shows three 2U systems (bottom), which are all connected to a single 2U flash memory chassis (top). The top chassis supports three submodules, each with eight SFF-8639 SSDs. The system, assembled by Newisys, demonstrates just how much high speed flash you can fit within an 8U space. The main reason for connecting three systems to one flash chassis is because it takes those three systems to process the full IOPS capability of 24 low latency NVMe SSDs (that's 96 total lanes of PCIe 3.0!)!

So there you have it, IDF storage tech in a nutshell. More to come as we follow these emerging technologies to their maturity.

More NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Leaked Details

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 15, 2014 - 05:02 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, GTX 980

Details and photographs of the GeForce GTX 980 are leaking on various forums and websites. Based on the Maxwell architecture, it is supposed to be faster and more efficient than Kepler while being manufactured on an identical, 28nm fab process. While we were uncertain before, it now looks like the GTX 980 will be its formal name, as seen in leaked photographs, below.

NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-980-Front-Picture.jpg

Image Credit: Videocardz

As expected, the cooler is a continuation of NVIDIA's reference cooler, as seen on recent high-end graphics cards (such as the GeForce Titan). Again, this is not a surprise. The interesting part is that it is rated for about 250W whereas Maxwell is rumored to draw 180W. While the reference card has two six-pin PCIe power connectors, I am curious to see if the excess cooling will lead to interesting overclocks. That is not even mentioning what the AIB partners can do.

NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-980-Back-Picture.jpg

Image Credit: Videocardz

Beyond its over-engineering for Maxwell's TDP, it also includes a back plate.

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Image Credit: Chip Hell via Videocards

Its display connectors have been hotly anticipated. As you can see above, the GTX 980 has five outputs: three DisplayPort, one HDMI, and one DVI. Which version of HDMI? Which version of DisplayPort? No clue at the moment. There has been some speculation regarding HDMI 2.0, and the DisplayPort 1.3 standard was just released to the public today, but I would be pleasantly surprised if even one of these made it in.

Check out Videocardz for a little bit more.

Source: Videocardz

AMD R9 390X Is Rumored Liquid Cooled

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Cases and Cooling | September 15, 2014 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: amd, R9, r9 390x, liquid cooler, liquid cooling, liquid cooling system, asetek

Less than a year after the launch of AMD's R9 290X, we are beginning to hear rumors of a follow-up. What is being called the R9 390X, because if it is called anything else, then that was a very short-lived branding scheme, might be liquid cooled. This would be the first single-processor, reference graphics card to have an integrated water cooler. That said, the public evidence is not as firm as I would normally like.

amd-r9-390x-leak.jpg

Image Credit: Baidu Forums

According to Tom's Hardware, Asetek is working on a liquid-cooled design for "an undisclosed OEM". The product is expected to ship during the first half of 2015 and the press release claims that it will "continue Asetek's success in the growing liquid cooling market". Technically, this could be a collaboration with an AIB partner, not necessarily a GPU developer. That said, the leaked photograph looks like a reference card.

We don't really know anything more than this. I would expect that it will be a refresh based on Hawaii, but that is pure speculation. I have no evidence to support that.

Personally, I would hope that a standalone air-cooled model would be available. While I have no experience with liquid cooling, it seems like a bit extra of a burden that not all purchasers of a top-of-the-line single GPU add-in board would want to bare. Specifically, placing the radiator if their case even supports it. That said, having a high-performing reference card will probably make the initial benchmarks look extra impressive, which could be a win in itself.

Huzzah! RAM reviews are much more interesting now

Subject: Memory | September 15, 2014 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: kingston, hyperx predator, DDR4-3000, ddr4

Ah DDR3, it has been a long and fruitful partnership and it is good to know you won't be going anywhere soon but you now have a younger sibling that is attracting a lot of attention.  DDR4 has arrived, with a base clock of 2133MHz and many kits with higher frequencies also appearing for sale.  The ~$350, 16GB Kingston HyperX Predator kit which Legit Reviews just reviewed comes with two XPM profiles, one @ 3000MHz with timings of 15-16-16-39 and one @ 2666MHz at 14-14-14-36 and they also tested the kit @ 2133MHz with the previous timings.  As you read through the review you will notice that the synthetic benchmarks show much more drastic differences than do the gameplay tests, similar to what was seen with DDR3.  As with the previous generation it looks as though tighter timings trump frequency in the majority of cases.

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"Now that the Intel X99 chipset has been released along with the Intel Haswell-E processor series we have entered the era of DDR4 memory. There are many DDR4 memory kits on the market and right now you can find 16GB to 64GB kits of DDR4 memory ranging in speeds of 2133MHz to 3333MHz. The sheer number of kits on the market for the platform launch is rather impressive and luckily there are a good number of Intel X99 based motherboards that are ready to support DDR4 memory frequencies well beyond the JEDEC standard clock frequency of 2133MHz."

Here are some more Memory articles from around the web:

Memory

Add-ons Might Be Included in IE "Spartan"

Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2014 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: spartan, microsoft, internet explorer 12, internet explorer, ie12, extension

The next version of Internet Explorer is said to be codenamed "Spartan". The allusions to Halo from internal Microsoft names are strong this year. One exciting rumor is the ability to run native, x86 code as a browser extension. This is expected to be built upon the Xax browser plugin model, published as a white paper by Microsoft Research six years ago. Its age should be noted when reading how it discusses JavaScript compatibility and performance. A lot has happened since then.

ie11.png

But why would Internet Explorer need extensions? The first, and most obvious, answer is that Microsoft is trying to win back some enthusiasts to their browser (and its platforms). If Microsoft relaxes certification requirements for extensions, compared to Windows Store, it could also bridge the gap between native app and web app for enterprises, especially smaller businesses, a give them a platform without the burden of sideloading.

We might also see this being used by third parties to contribute to Internet Explorer development. In much the same way as Nokia experiments with WebCL by a Firefox extension, others could use Internet Explorer add-ons as a testing ground. In fact, according to their aforementioned 2008 paper, Microsoft Research already tested an OpenGL rendering stack in Xax.

We will probably find out more about the next IE soon.

Source: ZDNet

VESA Releases DisplayPort 1.3 Standard

Subject: General Tech, Displays | September 15, 2014 - 01:05 PM |
Tagged: displayport 1.3, freesync, 5k, vesa, dockport

It is official, DisplayPort 1.3 has finished VESA approval and should be hitting the streets in the near future.  Freesync support came with 1.2a which is why it was not mentioned, however DockPort has been enhanced with the higher 8.1 Gbps link rate for each of the four lanes present which means you can support a 4k monitor using two of those lanes, leaving the other two available for USB, audio or even power.

This also means that 4k and even 5k monitors can function over a single DisplayPort 1.3 cable without any compression and with the use of VESA's Coordinated Video Timing you can have a pair of 4k monitors function in multi-monitor mode ... assuming you have the graphical horsepower to run 7680 x 2160.  It is rather impressive to see this jump to 32.4 Gbps combined link rate that can deliver 25.92 Gbps of uncompressed video data.

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Newark, CA (15 September 2014) The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) announced the release of the DisplayPort 1.3 audio / video (A/V) standard. An update to the widely used DisplayPort 1.2a standard, this latest version increases the maximum link bandwidth to 32.4 Gbps, with each of four lanes running at a link rate of 8.1 Gbps/lane a 50% increase from the previous version of the DisplayPort standard. Allowing for transport overhead, DisplayPort's 32.4 Gbps combined link rate delivers 25.92 Gbps of uncompressed video data.

The increased bandwidth enables higher resolution monitors, including recently announced 5K monitors (with pixel resolutions of 5120 x 2880) using a single DisplayPort cable without the use of compression. It will also enable higher resolutions when driving multiple monitors through a single connection using DisplayPort's Multi-Stream feature, such as the use of two 4K UHD monitors, each with a pixel resolution of 3840 x 2160, when using VESA Coordinated Video Timing.

DisplayPort 1.3 continues to support video conversion to VGA, DVI and HDMI. DisplayPort 1.3 adds support for HDCP 2.2 and HDMI 2.0 with CEC (Consumer Electronics Control), which enhances DisplayPort's utility for television applications, including 4K video with copy protection. The new standard adds support for the 4:2:0 pixel structure, a video format commonly used on consumer digital television interfaces, which enables support for future 8K x 4K displays.

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DisplayPort 1.3 also enhances DisplayPort's value for multi-function interfaces that combine data transport, A/V transport and other capabilities on a single cable. It further refines protocols that enable DisplayPort to share a single cable with other data types. With its higher 8.1 Gbps per-lane link rate, DisplayPort 1.3 can support a single UHD monitor with 60Hz refresh and 24-bit color over two lanes, while assigning the remaining two lanes to increase capacity for alternate data types, such as SuperSpeed USB data, as allowed in DockPort. DisplayPort is the A/V transport standard used by DockPort, Thunderbolt and other wired and wireless multi-function interface standards.

While becoming a mainstream video standard, DisplayPort continues to be at the cutting edge of A/V transport, said VESA Board of Directors Chair Alan Kobayashi, Fellow & Executive R&D Management for DisplayPort Group at MegaChips Technology America. These new enhancements to DisplayPort will facilitate both higher resolution displays, as well as easier integration of DisplayPort into multi-protocol data transports, which will satisfy consumer's desire for simplicity and ease-of-use.

The DisplayPort standard is offered to VESA members without any license fee. For more information about DisplayPort, please visit http://www.displayport.org or connect with us on YouTube.

Source: VESA

Mojang Sells to Microsoft for $2.5 Billion. Founders Leave.

Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2014 - 12:23 PM |
Tagged: Mojang, Minecraft, microsoft

Mojang AB, a company with about 22 employees, has been sold to Microsoft for $2.5 billion. Being that the studio is based in Sweden, I would expect that it was purchased with funds that would be taxed heavily if brought back into the States, so the large sum might not feel as large to Microsoft as if they were purchasing an American company. It should be noted that they did not require that the founders, Notch, Carl, and Jakob, stay on as employees -- and they aren't.

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This, of course, leads to many concerns for die-hard Minecraft fans. First of all, what platforms (if any) will be deprecated? PlayStation? Mac? Linux? Java itself? Second, how will Microsoft change the franchise? Will they remain faithful? Will they reduce or remove third party content?

As for the founders? Only Notch seems to have commented on his next plans: participating in game making competitions and creating "small web experiments". Additionally, he says, "If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I'll probably abandon it immediately." Most of his blog post references issues between Mojang and its community, regarding the EULA, server and mod monetization, possibly the CraftBucket GPL issue, and so forth. Honestly, I like the idea that Notch would spend a significant amount of free time developing web demos. I think he would contribute a lot to Web standards, especially if he is happy doing it.

As for Microsoft? Clearly they are buying Minecraft because they are running out of Halo codenames.

Source: Mojang

Upgrade your selfies to the next level with these new products announced at IDF

Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2014 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: idf 2014, sony, Panasonic, Samsung, cameras

At IDF there were a few new cameras on display which caught The Register's attention in amongst the smart appliances and other gadgets.  For the highest quality selfies try the Panasonic HX-500 4K activity cam which is good at depths of up to 3 metres for up to 30 minutes.  Perhaps you would prefer to pair your Galaxy Note 4 with the Samsung Galaxy VR headset to give you an Occulus like look at the world; a 96-degree view which is intended to look like a 175-inch screen seen from 2 metres away.   Samsung users could also pick up the Olloclip for Android, giving you fisheye and wide angle lenses for your Galaxy S4 or S5.  There is more in the article, check them all out here.

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"Image is everything - or so it has been said, and if the gadgets at the recent IFA techfest in Berlin are anything to go by then manufacturers certainly seem to think we’re image obsessed. With selfies being a global compulsion, perhaps they know us better than we know ourselves."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Stanford & Berkeley Announce Tiny, Signal-Powered Radios

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Mobile | September 14, 2014 - 11:24 PM |
Tagged: radio-on-a-chip, iot, internet of things

Tiny and passively-powered radios would make for some interesting applications. One major issue is that you cannot shrink an antenna down infinitely; its size is dependent upon the wavelength of EM radiation that it is trying to detect. Researchers at Stanford and Berkeley have announced "ant-sized" radio-on-a-chip devices, fabricated at 65nm, which are powered by the signal that they gather.

stanford-antenna.jpg

The catch is that, because their antenna is on the order of a few millimeters, it is tuned for ~60 GHz. There are reasons why you do not see too many devices operate at this frequency. First, processing that signal with transistors is basically a non-starter, so they apparently designed a standard integrated circuit for the task.

The other problem is that 60 GHz is an Extremely High Frequency (EHF) and, with its high frequency, is very difficult to transmit over long ranges. The 57-64 GHz region, in particular, is a range which oxygen resonates at. While it is possible to brute-force a powerful signal through a sensitive antenna, that defeats the above purpose. Of course, the researchers have been honest about this. Right in their IEEE abstract, they claim a current, measured range of 50cm. In their Stanford press release, they state that this is designed to be part of a network with units every meter (or so). Current bandwidth is a little over 12 megabit.

Simply put, this will not become your new WiFi hotspot. However, for small and connected devices that are in close proximity, this could provide an interesting communication method for when size, cost, and power efficiency trump speed and range.

Source: Stanford

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Is Selling Out?

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 14, 2014 - 10:31 PM |
Tagged: surface 3, surface, microsoft

Through their blog, Microsoft claims that their Surface Pro 3 devices are selling out in their recently added, overseas markets. In parts of Australia, all models were sold out early in the first day (we can of course question how many is "some retailers" and how much stock each had). The company expects to have appropriate stock levels in a week or two.

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Honestly, I never quite get these announcements of low stock. While it is better than having too much stock, and these releases might ease the nerves of shy investors, having too low stock is a problem, too. It is often a sign of something lacking: production, confidence, market insight, distribution, and so forth. It can tell an interesting story if these sales figures are immense, see the Nintendo Wii, but often it just raises a critical eyebrow. This is especially true if concrete figures are danced around.

I mean, if someone is at a store and looking for a Surface but none is available, do you really need to let them know that you intend to make more?

Source: Microsoft

Engadget and Ars Technica Reviews Moto 360

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 14, 2014 - 07:11 PM |
Tagged: motorola, moto 360, smartwatch

When I covered the announcement of the Apple Watch, one of our readers pointed out that we had very little smart watch coverage. That is fair critique, and I can see how it appeared to give Apple an unfair slant. As far as I know, we will not be reviewing any smart watch, of any sort, for the foreseeable future (my phone still runs Froyo). Engadget and Ars Technica did, though.

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Android Wear launched with three smart watches: the LG G Watch, the Samsung Gear Live, and (after a little delay) the Motorola Moto 360. The third one is a bit different from the other two in that it features a round screen. Both sites like the design but complain about its use of a TI OMAP3 SoC and its limited battery life. The OMAP3630 is manufactured at 45nm, which is a few process shrinks behind today's 28nm products and soon-to-be-released devices with 20nm and 14nm processors. With a 300mAh battery, a little less than a half or a third of a typical AAA battery, this leads to frequent charging. The question is whether this will be the same for all smart watches, and we don't know that yet. The Samsung and the LG smart watches, under Ars Technica's custom benchmark, vastly outperform it, though.

Engadget also complained about its price, at $250 and $299, which is actually $100 and $50 less than Apple's starting price. Ars Technica neither praised nor complained about the price.

Source: Engadget

Intex Cloud Fx Is a $35 Firefox OS Phone (not for USA)

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 13, 2014 - 07:12 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, intex, Firefox OS, firefox, cloud fx

If you were on a mission to make the cheapest possible mobile phone, you would probably not do much better than Intex Cloud Fx. Running Firefox OS, it will cost users about $35 to purchase it outright. Its goal is to bring the internet to places which would otherwise have nothing.

Intex-Cloud-FX-2.jpg

I believe the largest concession made by this phone is its RAM -- 128 MB. Yes, I had a computer with 32 MB of RAM and it browsed the internet just fine (on Netscape Navigator 2 through 4). I also had a computer before that (which was too slow to run Windows 3.1 but hey it had a turbo button). This is also the amount of RAM on the first and second generation iPod Touches. Nowadays, it is very little. Ars Technica allegedly made it crash by scrolling too fast and attempting to run benchmarks on it. This leads into its other, major compromise: its wireless connectivity. It does not support 3G. Edge is the best that you will get.

Other than those two points: it has a 1 GHz Spreadtrum SoC, 46MB of storage, a 2MP camera, and a 1250mAh battery. You do get WiFi, Bluetooth, and a microSD card slot. It also supports two SIM cards if necessary.

Again, at $35, this is not designed for America or Western Europe. This is for the areas of the world that will probably not experience the internet at all unless it is through a mobile phone. For people in India and Asia, it is about the lowest barrier to entry of the internet that is possible. You can also check out phones from other partners of Mozilla.

Source: Ars Technica

ChromeOS Gets Android "App Runtime for Chrome (Beta)"

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 13, 2014 - 02:52 PM |
Tagged: google, chrome os, Android

To some extent...

This is not the entire Google Play Store; in fact, it is just four Android apps at launch: Duolingo, Evernote, Sight Words, and Vine. According to a Google spokesperson, via Ars Technica, the company built an Android platform on top of Native Client, which is their way of sandboxing (a subset of) native code for use in applications which require strict security (such as a web browser). Android apps can then see and use those platform-dependent Android APIs, but be kept at two arms-lengths away from the host system.

chrome-os-android.png

From the app's standpoint, code will not need to be changed or ported. Of course, this is sound in theory, but little bugs can surface in actual practice. In fact, Flipboard was demonstrated at Google I/O under this initiative but is curiously absent from launch. To me, it seems like a few bugs need to be resolved before it is deemed compatible (it is dubbed "Beta" after all). Another possibility is that the app was not yet optimized for a Chromebook's user experience. Claiming either would be pure speculation, so who knows?

Android apps using App Runtime for Chrome (Beta) are available now at the Chrome Web Store.

Source: Google

Apotop S3C SSD, Silicon Motion's new controller for less than $0.50/GB

Subject: Storage | September 12, 2014 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: SM2246EN, S3C, mlc, Apotop

The Apotop S3C SSD uses the same controller as the Angelbird drive Al reviewed recently.  It uses synchronous MLC NAND with the 4 channel present on the Silicon Motion controller and is able to provide more than the specified 490 MB/s read and 275 MB/s write in some benchmarks.  It can often read faster than the wrk SSD but the writes cannot always keep up though it is not something likely to be noticeable in real usage scenarios.  The MSRP is very attractive with the 512GB model expected to be released at $200.  Silicon Motion is likely to start appearing in a lot more SSDs in the near future with this mix of price and performance.  Read the full review at Kitguru.

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"The new Apotop S3C SSD features the Silicon Motion 2246EN controller which we first reviewed in the Angelbird 512GB wrk SSD back in August this year. The controller impressed us, so we have already high hopes for the Apotop S3C."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: KitGuru