Samsung Announces 60GHz Wi-Fi (802.11ad)

Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2014 - 05:43 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, 802.11ad, wigig

Samsung Electronics, a member of the WiGig Alliance, has just announced an implementation that is capable of achieving 4.6 gigabit (575MB/s) speeds under the 802.11ad standard. Samsung claims that they have overcome "the barriers to commercialization" of wireless over 60GHz. This band has several disadvantages, including resonance with oxygen molecules (included under the blanket of "path loss" in the press release) and its opacity to many solid objects (referred to as "weak penetration properties" in the release).

WiGig_Alliance_Logo.jpg

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Some features that Samsung credits themselves with are beam-forming with less than four-tenths of a millisecond latency and the ability to track multiple devices simultaneously. Beam-forming in particular is said to help offset the mostly line-of-sight properties of earlier 60GHz prototypes. This allows the signal to be directed toward devices, typically by manipulating interference patterns to reduce the energy lost by transmitting to locations without a receiver and thus giving more energy to the locations that do.

Its usage as a product will mostly depend on how tolerant they are to non line-of-sight situations. This rate is comparable to a high-end SATA SSD. Samsung claims that it will be useful for their Smart Home and Internet of Things initiatives, similar to the Stanford and Berkeley announcement last month, but also mention it in terms of medical devices.

Source: Samsung

Anandtech Teaches Some Physics

Subject: General Tech | October 13, 2014 - 11:57 PM |
Tagged: processors, microprocessor, FinFET, fab

Ah, Solid State Physics. Semiconductors are heavily based on this branch, because it explains the physical (mechanical, electrical, thermal, etc.) properties of solids based on how their atoms are organized. These properties lead into how transistors function, and why.

allyn-intel-25nm-nand-bunnysuit.jpg

Put it back, Allyn.

Anandtech has published a seven-page article that digs into physics and builds upon itself. It starts with a brief explanation of conductivity and what makes up the difference between a conductor, an insulator, and a semiconductor. It uses that to build a simple transistor. From there it explains logic gates, wafers, and lithography. It works up to FinFETs and then keeps going into the future. It is definitely not an article for beginners, but it can be progressed from start to finish given enough effort on the part of the reader.

While this was not mentioned in the article, at least not that I found, you can derive the number of atoms per "feature" by dividing its size by the lattice-distance of the material. For silicon, that is about half of a nanometer at room temperature. For instance, 14nm means that we are manufacturing features that are defined by less than 30 atoms (up to rounding error). The article speculates a bit about what will happen after the era of silicon. This is quite interesting to me, particularly since I did my undergraduate thesis (just an undergrad thesis) on photonic crystals, which route optical light across manufactured defects in an otherwise opaque solid to make an optical integrated circuit. It has the benefit of, with a mixture of red, orange, and maybe green lasers, being able to "go plaid".

If you are interested, be sure to read the article. It is a bit daunting, but much more manageable than most sources. Congratulations to Joshua Ho and anyone else who might have been involved.

Source: Anandtech

Choose Your Own Windows 10 Update Cycle Adventure?

Subject: General Tech | October 11, 2014 - 04:11 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, windows, update

I cannot help but think of Adobe Creative Cloud when I read Peter Bright report on Windows 10's update schedule. Previously, we would have general security and stability updates for Windows with the occasional Service Pack to roll updates together and sometimes introduce new features. Now, users might be able to choose how quickly to apply these updates, opt-out of everything but security patches, and/or accept experimental features.

windows-10.png

I say "might" because this is not technically a Microsoft announcement. Windows 10 has a new user interface, along with a few registry entries, for users to choose update frequency and development branches. The company would not say whether the Windows Insider program would continue after release, but the assumption is that it would be around for enthusiasts and IT testers to prepare for (and influence) upcoming changes. Think of it like an OS equivalent to the prerelease versions of Chrome and Firefox.

The article also suggests that the version number could periodically increase and that this initiative would replace Service Packs.

And this is where it feels a lot like Creative Cloud. Rather than waiting for an 18-month release schedule, Adobe is able to push out features at their leisure. Initially, I expected that this would lead to stagnation, but I do not see many complaints about that. On the other hand, it also pushed Adobe's software into a subscription service, which is something that people have been anticipating (and fearing with some) for quite some time now. Alternatively, it could be setting up Microsoft to subsidize Windows with online services. Either way, it could make it harder for them to justify incrementing the major version number.

Source: Ars Technica

AMD Demonstrates ARM-Based NFV Solution Using Hierofalcon SoC

Subject: General Tech, Networking | October 11, 2014 - 01:42 AM |
Tagged: sdn, nfv, networking, Hierofalcon, arm, amd

AMD, in cooperation with Aricent and Mentor Graphics, recently demonstrated the first ARM-based Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) solution at ARM TechCon. The demonstration employed AMD's Embedded R-Series "Hierofalcon" SoC virtualizing a Mobile Packet Core running subscriber calls. The 64-bit ARM chip is now sampling to customers and will be generally available in the first half of next year (1H 2015). The AMD NFV Reference Solution is aimed at telecoms for use in communications network backbones where AMD believes an ARM solution will offer reduced costs (both initial and operational) and increased network bandwidth.

AMD ARM-Based Hierofalcon 64-bit SOC.jpg

The NFV demonstration of the Mobile Packet Core entailed virtualizing a Packet Data Network Gateway, Serving Gateway, Mobility Management Entity, and virtualized Wireless Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) applications. AMD further demonstrated live traffic migration between ARM-based Embedded-R and x86-based second generation R-Series APU solutions. NFV is related to, but independent of, software defined networking (SDN). Network Functions Virtualization is essentially the virtualizing of network appliances with specific functions and performing those functions virtually using generic servers. For example, NFV can virtualize firewalls, gateways, load balancers, intrusion detection, DNS, NAT, and caching functions. NFV virtualizes the upper networking layers (layers 4-7) and can allow virtual tunnels through a network that can then be assigned functions (such as those listed above) on a per-VM or per flow basis. NFV eliminates the need for specialized hardware appliances by virtualizing these functions on generic servers which have traditionally been exclusively x86 based. AMD is hoping to push ARM (and it's own ARM-based SoCs) into this market by touting even further capital expenditure and operational costs versus x86 (and, in turn, versus specialized hardware that serves the entire network whereas NFV can be more exactly provisioned).

It is an interesting take on a lucrative networking market which is dealing with 1.4 Zetabytes of global IP traffic per year. I'm interested to see if the telecoms and other enterprise network customers will bite and give AMD a slice of this pie on the low end and low power fronts.

AMD "Hierofalcon" Embedded R Series SoC

Hierofalcon is the code name for AMD's 64-bit SoC with ARM CPU cores intended for the embedded market. The SoC is a 15W to 30W chip featuring up to eight ARM Cortex-A57 CPU cores capable of hitting 2GHz, two 64-bit ECC capable DDR3 or DDR4 memory channels, 10Gb Ethernet, PCI-E 3.0, ARM TrustZone, and a cryptographic security co-processor.The TechCon demonstration was also used to launch the AMD NFV Reference Solution which is compliant with OpenDataPlane platform. The reference platform includes a networking software stack from Aricent and an Embedded Linux OS and software tools (Sourcery CodeBench) from Mentor Graphics. The OpenDataPlane demonstration featured the above mentioned Evolved Packet Core application on the Hierofalcon 64-bit ARM SoC. Additionally, the x86-based R-Series APU, OpenStack, and Data Plane Development Kit all make up the company's NFV reference solution. 

Source: AMD

Lenovo's New Yoga Tablet 2 Pro Packs In QHD Display, Pico Projector, and 8W JBL Audio

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 10, 2014 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: yoga tablet 2, tablet, qhd, lenovo yoga, Lenovo, ips display, intel atom, business

Yesterday, Lenovo revealed a barrage of products at an event in London including two new convertible laptops and new 8-inch and 10-inch tablets running Windows and Android. The final bit of new hardware to round out the new tablet lineup is the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro which is a larger version of the Yoga Tablet 2 with several tweaks specifically aimed at media consumption with focus on high quality audio and video.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro With Pico Projector and Improved Kickstand.jpg

The new tablet is a 13-inch tablet weighing 2.09 pounds and is 0.1-0.5” thick. Available in silver, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro shares a similar form factor with its smaller siblings including a 180-degree rotating kickstand with a cutout to allow hanging on a wall or the back of an airplane seat. The Pro model further adds a button on the side that pops out the kickstand which is not present on the non-Pro models.

The device is dominated by a large 13.3” QHD 2560x1440 IPS multi-touch display. The JBL audio is improved on the Pro model and includes two 1.5W front facing stereo speakers in addition to a rear 5W subwoofer. A 1.6MP webcam and 8MP rear camera with auto focus remains consistent with the Tablet 2 tablets. Lenovo has added a Pico projector exclusive to the Tablet 2 Pro that is capable of displaying a WVGA (854x480) resolution image up to 50” at between 40-50 lumens. External I/O includes a micro USB (OTG capable) port, 3.5mm audio jack, and one micro SD card slot.

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is powered by a quad core Intel Atom Z3745 clocked at 1.86 GHz with 2MB cache, 2GB RAM, and 32GB of internal storage (expandable by up to a 64GB micro SD card). Wireless radios include dual band 802.11 b/g/n and optional 4G (WCDMA 900/2100) which will not be available in the US. According to Lenovo, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro has a battery life of up to 15 hours.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro With Pico Projector.jpg

Curiously, the tablet is running Android 4.4 KitKat rather than Windows 8.1. As such, this is a high end tablet that likely will appeal to consumers wanting a quality media consumption device despite the exclusive (to the Pro) hardware bits that would otherwise appeal to business professionals wanting to create and deliver presentations (which was my first thought when seeing the hardware specifications). With that said, the display and audio are sure to please media enthusiasts. I have reached out to Lenovo for comment on the absence of Bluetooth support (mainly regarding keyboard support) in the documentation and will update the article if I receive a response.

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro will be available soon with an MSRP of $499. For comparison, the 10-inch Tablet 2 Android has an MSRP of $299. The $200 premium gets up a larger (and higher resolution) display, better potential audio, a projector, and a bit more internal storage space albeit at the cost of slightly shorter battery life.

Source: Lenovo

Cooler Master's NovaTouch TKL; we're OK with $240 keyboards becoming common?

Subject: General Tech | October 10, 2014 - 01:23 PM |
Tagged: topre, NovaTouch TKL, mechanical keyboard, cooler master, Cherry MX

That is not a typo, the NovaTouch TKL is currently selling for $240 on Amazon, and you don't even get a numpad.  However if you are a keyboard aficionado, which obviously some people are, the mix of Topre switches and Cherry MX caps may just take your fingers to typing nirvana.  The latter was certainly the conclusion at The Tech Report who found the Topre Cherry MX mix to be uniquely satisfying and preferred it to the other expensive keyboards they have tried recently.  If you are looking for something special to type on and don't have a tendency to drink near your computer then you should check out the review, if you are more prone to spillage you might want to give this one a miss.

CoolerMaster would like to point out that the MSRP for the NovaTouch TKL is actually $199 USD and you can occaisonally find it for a bit less.  Also to be fair, The Tech Report is not kidding when they describe the $200 keyboard market as crowded ... there are a lot of $200 keyboards, just none on my desk.

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"This $200 keyboard from Cooler Master features genuine Topre switches modified to fit Cherry MX key caps. Is it a good mix? We investigate."

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Symantec starts a non-destructive reformat

Subject: General Tech | October 10, 2014 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: symantec, security, norton, billions

Symantec is splitting its self down the middle, with one side focusing on their antivirus and security products, which apparently still sell and are not just bundled with new laptops and computers, and the other handling information management.  Considering they made nearly $7 billion last year someone must be buying their software and even more shocking they must be renewing the license which came with the new machine. Those commenting on Slashdot immediately tried to help Norton out by suggesting that one side should create and spread viruses while the other should come in like a white knight and slay them.  That would certainly make it a more interesting read; even so the fact that Symantec is still alive and prospering is enough of a shock for a Friday morning.

Symantec-Logo.jpg

"Symantec announced plans on Thursday to split into two separate, publicly traded companies – one focused on security, the other focused on information management. The company's security business generated $4.2 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2014 while its information management business meanwhile hit revenues of $2.5 billion. "As the security and storage industries continue to change at an accelerating pace, Symante c's security and IM businesses each face unique market opportunities and challenges," Symantec CEO Michael A. Brown, who officially took over as CEO last month, said in a statement."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: Slashdot

Lenovo Launches Atom-Powered Yoga Tablet 2 Tablets Running Android or Windows

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 9, 2014 - 05:02 PM |
Tagged: yoga tablet 2, yoga tablet, Windows 8.1, Lenovo, atom, Android

Back in January, Ryan got his hands on Lenovo's 8-inch and 10-inch Yoga tablets. The tablets ran Android OS, had good battery life, and featured a unique design that included a tube and kickstand. Despite less-than-stellar performance, Ryan came away with positive impressions thanks to the comfortable form factor and long battery life.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2.jpg
 

That was almost a year ago. Today, Lenovo unveiled updated Yoga tablets that address the pitfalls of the previous models while keeping the unique ergonomic form factor. The Yoga Tablet 2, like its predecessor, comes in 8-inch and 10-inch models and will run Android or Windows 8.1 operating systems, depending on the specific SKU. The Yoga Tablet 2 features upgrades to full resolution displays, Intel Atom Z3745 processors (the previous models used a quad core MediaTek Cortex-A7), and an improved 180-degree hinge. The Android versions come in silver while the Windows 8.1 tablets are ebony black. The table below lists the dimensions and weight of the various models.

  8" Android 10" Android 8" Windows 10" Windows
Dimensions 8.3"x5.9"x0.1-0.3" 10"x7.2"x0.1-0.3" 8.3"x5.9"x0.1-0.3" 10"x7.2"x0.1-0.3"
Weight 0.92 pounds 1.36 pounds 0.94 pounds 1.39 pounds

The Yoga Tablet 2 systems have the same general design as the previous models including one tubular side that holds a large battery, front facing stereo speakers, a power button, and an audio jack. One difference is in the kickstand, which can now be rotated 180-degrees and has a cutout that allows it to be hung on a wall or the back of an airplane seat (for example). Further, the Yoga Tablet 2 (8" and 10" alike) features an 8-inch or 10-inch display with a resolution of 1920x1200, a 1.6MP webcam, and a 8MP rear camera with auto focus and an improved BSI 2 (backside illumination) sensor.

Internal specifications are a huge improvement over the previous models including an Intel Atom Z3745 SoC (quad core clocked at 1.86 GHz with 2MB cache), 2GB LP-DDR3L memory, and internal flash storage. The Android models come with 16GB of internal storage while the Windows versions come with 32GB internal storage. In both cases, uses can use a micro SD card up to 64GB to expand upon the internal storage. Other features include dual band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, optional 4G (not available in the US), and a battery life of up to 18 hours.

The Android-powered version ships with Android 4.4 KitKat while the Windows version ships with Microsoft Windows 8.1 and one year of Office 365. The Windows version is able to take advantage of Intel Burst technology to allow monitoring of usage and overclocking to improve time to idle and reduced processing time at full load to improve battery life and balance performance.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Windows With Keyboard.jpg

The 10-inch Windows version comes bundled with a Bluetooth Accutype keyboard cover that can also be purchased separately for the 10-inch Android tablet.

Lenovo looks to have a winner on its hands with its updated Yoga Tablet 2 tablets, and I'm interested to see reviewers put them through their paces. On the Android side, the 8-inch Yoga Tablet 2 has a MSRP of $249 and the 10-inch model has a MSRP of $299. The Windows model starts at $299 for the 8-inch model and $399 for the 10-inch model with bundled keyboard. According to Lenovo these are the launch prices and rebates may be available in the future.

Source: Lenovo

Podcast #321 - EVGA GTX 980 Water Block, AMD's New CEO, R9 290 Price Drops and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 9, 2014 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, evga, hydrocopper 980, GTX 980, water block, amd, lisa su, nvidia, GTX 980M, Lenovo Y50 Touch, directx12, windows 10, arm

PC Perspective Podcast #321 - 10/09/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the EVGA GTX 980 Water Block, AMD's New CEO, R9 290 Price Drops 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
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  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

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

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

Three strikes; you're out! Microsoft might be abandoning Surface

Subject: General Tech | October 9, 2014 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, surface, fail

It seems that Microsoft might be catching on to something everyone else in the market knew when they first announced their first foray into hardware since the Zune; software companies shouldn't annoy their customer by competing with them.  Ballmer originally tried to assuage companies like Acer by claiming that Surface was just a proof of concept, which was met by disbelief and after 3 iterations of Surface those doubts were proven to be justified. According to Microsoft the Surface 3 is a big hit overseas but as this is their first crack at those markets you can bet that the sales will follow the same precipitous drop we saw for the first Surface in North America. 

The news from DigiTimes today is that Surface 3 will be the last generation of this hybrid tablet.  It could be that Microsoft will now focus on their phones, much to the dismay of those who have used their phones though perhaps the remaining human assets from Nokia will bring forth a new generation of workable devices.

microsoft-surface-pro-3.jpg

"Microsoft continues to see weak sales for its Surface Pro 3 tablet and is reportedly planning to cancel the product line since shipment performance has been far lower than expectations, according to sources from the upstream supply chain."

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