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Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Asus
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The Relative Lack of SLI on AMD

Several years back we were introduced to the Lucid Hydra technology, and it seemed like an impressive multi-GPU implementation which could leverage the power of different video card combinations to improve performance over that of one card. Quite a few years have passed, and we have a handful of motherboards now supporting this technology. We take a look at the technology now implemented on the AMD side, and how it performs when using both AMD and NVIDIA based video cards.The first we heard of Lucid was a few years back when they showcased working silicon running multiple video cards together.  Whether these were NVIDIA or ATI/AMD cards, Lucid had a way of allowing them to render a scene in a unique way, then composite the results to create a near seamless experience.  It took some time before the first products hit the streets, and there is also quite a bit of controversy behind the actual implementation.

The primary rendering mode for both SLI and CrossFire is alternate frame rendering.  Basically this allows each video card to process alternating frames, which theoretically can double performance.  We have never seen true linear scaling in such situations, but it is not unheard of to reach 85% scaling or slightly more with the latest video cards on fast systems.  Lucid does things a bit differently.

Block diagram of the Lucid Hydra chip and how it connects to the system.

A trio of keyboards from a name you've never heard

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2011 - 06:28 PM |
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Koribo is apparently a new company that wants to change the way you interact with your computer, or rather your HTPC. To that end three keyboards were introduced, the Leira, Vivar and Mini which are all wireless and intended not for the gamer but for those who prefer passive entertainment.  Whether you prefer a touchpad or trackball in addition to your keyboard or if you want a keyboard that approaches the size of a remote control you can see how well they work in Neoseeker's roundup.

"We're taking a look at a trio of keyboards from Koribo, a relatively unheard of name in the input devices market. Their Leira, Vivar and Mini keyboards feature built-in solutions for mouse control ranging from touchpads to trackballs, and are designed for the HTPC and media center markets. One of them even works with the Xbox 360. Hit the link to see what we made of these distinctly shaped keyboard/mouse devices in our latest review:"

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Source: Neoseeker

Make your own big screen out of random small ones with the Junkyard Jumbotron

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2011 - 11:14 AM |
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Over at MAKE:Blog you can get a look at a project out of MIT called the Junkyard Jumbotron.  Simply assemble your group of internet connected displays be they smartphones or laptops and assemble them into the grouping you want, and displayed visit a unique URL generated for you by the project that will display a QR code on each device.  Take a picture and fire it off to the project and your image or stream will be displayed over the devices as if they were one big, oddly shaped monitor.

"Rick Borovoy of MIT Media Lab’s Civic Media Project developed the Junkyard Jumbotron, which makes it easy to turn a bunch of small computer displays into one big one. Setting it up is as simple as opening a web browser on each device, loading their website, and taking a photo of the arrangement. After that, their software figures out which screen is where, and starts streaming data to each device’s screen directly over the web."

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Source: Hack a Day

The effect of the Japanese quake on your tech addiction

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2011 - 11:54 AM |
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Digitimes has put together a concise look at the effect the quake in Japan and the following tsunamis have had on the various fabrication plants located near the epicentre.  The plants affected are not necessarily producers of final products, they are more fabricators of parts, albeit very important parts such as RAM chips.  Most companies have had their assets survive more or less intact, in many cases it is the damage to the ports and runways that will prevent new raw materials from arriving at the plants for processing. 

SemiAccurate reports that Elpida's two plants are unharmed and The Inquirer reports that Toshiba's plants shut down briefly and lost some wafers to damage; they also mention shutdowns at Philips and Sony plants.

"Market research firm IHS iSuppli has given its commentary and analysis on how significant the Japan earthquake could impact the global electronics production.

Japan in 2010 accounted for 13.9% of all global electronic equipment factory revenues, according to a preliminary IHS iSuppli estimate. This includes manufacturing of all electronic equipment, including computers, consumer electronics devices and communications gear. Japan produced US$216.6 billion worth of electronic equipment in 2010, compared to US$1.6 billion worldwide.

Japan also accounted for 16.5% of global consumer electronics equipment factory revenues in 2010, IHS said. The country represented 10.2% of worldwide data processing revenue in 2010.

In 2010, Japanese suppliers accounted for more than one fifth of global semiconductor production, IHS noted. Companies headquartered in Japan generated US$63.3 billion in microchip revenues in 2010, representing 20.8% of the worldwide market. While not all of this actual production is located in Japan a large percentage is produced in manufacturing facilities in Japan.

The major impact on Japan's semiconductor production is not likely to be direct damage to production facilities, but disruption to the supply chain, IHS indicated. Suppliers are likely to encounter difficulties in getting raw materials supplied and distributed and shipping products out. This is likely to cause some disruption in semiconductor supplies from Japan during the next two weeks, IHS believes.

DRAM manufacturing in Japan accounts for 10% of the worldwide supply based on wafer production, IHS said. The two major DRAM fabs in Japan, operated by US based-Micron and Japan's Elpida, have not been directly affected. As for NAND flash, Japanese companies mainly Toshiba account for 35% of global chip production in terms of revenues, IHS added.

Japanese headquartered companies in 2010 ranked number three in semiconductor production among the world's major chip manufacturing regions, according to IHS. The Asia-Pacific region outside of Japan was number one, the Americas ranked number two and Europe/Middle East/Africa was fourth. Of the 300 semiconductor suppliers tracked worldwide by IHS, 39 are based in Japan.

Japan in 2010 accounted for 6.2% of the world's US$86.3 billion in global production of large-sized LCD panels in 2010, that is, panels 10-inches and larger in the diagonal dimension, IHS said. Japan also accounts for 14% of LCD TV panel production. The country is home to many higher-generation fabs, including the world's only 10G LCD fab operated by Sharp. The Sharp fab has not been directly impacted by the quake, given the remote location of the fab. Only one large LCD fab may be in the zone of peripheral impact by the quake.

The more important impact may be on Japan's production of components for LCD panels, IHS expressed concerns. Japan accounts for a very high share of components uses in LCD panels and LCD-based products, including glass, color filters, polarizers, cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs)."

 

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Source: Digitimes

It's a working pulse laser pistol ... and you can build one for yourself

Subject: General Tech | March 10, 2011 - 11:43 AM |
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Thanks to Hack a Day we now know it is possible to build your own pulse laser pistol, all you need is a little help from the inventor sourcing parts and about 70 hours of work.  At the end you get a frickin' laser gun.  This particular model can fire off 50 shots from a full charge and is able to lay waste to balloons, puncture thin plastic and metal and like you would expect from a working laser pistol, the beam is invisible.

 

"German hacker [Patrick Priebe] recently constructed a laser pulse gun that looks so good, it could have easily come off a Hollywood movie set. Its sleek white and black exterior adds intrigue, but offers little warning as to how powerful the gun actually is.

Fitted with a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser, it fires off a 1 MW blast of infrared light once the capacitors have fully charged. The duration of the laser pulse is somewhere near 100ns, so he was unable to catch it on camera, but its effects are easily visible in whatever medium he has fired upon. The laser can burst balloons, shoot through plastic, and even blow a hole right through a razor blade."

 

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Source: Hack a Day

Sure Unreal Engine 3 looks good but that's not gameplay

Subject: General Tech | March 9, 2011 - 01:33 PM |
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For a wee bit of frustration and a whole lot of drool-worthy graphics quality, drop by The Tech Report for a look at the newly released demo footage of the Unreal Engine 3 powered tech demo called "The Samaritan". 

Screenshots are nice, a full tech demo is better but how about some gameplay footage!

"If you thought those next-gen Unreal Engine 3 screenshots from the Game Developers Conference were impressive, wait 'til you see the engine in motion. Admittedly shaky-cam footage made its way online earlier this month, much to the dismay of Epic Games Design Director Cliff Bleszinsi. Today, however, we see that IGN has posted a proper, high-definition clip of the demo ..."

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Powerful new SandyBridge notebooks hitting the market

Subject: General Tech | March 9, 2011 - 12:24 PM |
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ASUS and Gigabyte have some new SB based notebooks hitting the market soon, or in ASUS' case already on the market.  Their flagship model sports a discreet GTX460 so you can expect some impressive 3D performance though the battery life will by lowered accordingly.  DigiTimes also reports on a lower powered all-in-one PC from ASUS that will be built into a 23" touchscreen LCD.

 

"Asustek Computer has recently started selling its latest PC products with Sandy Bridge chipsets in retail channels, and Gigabyte Technology is also set to release its Sandy Bridge notebooks in March.

Asustek has launched three new notebook models based on improved Sandy Bridge chipsets including the flagship CG8350 with an Intel Core i7-2600 processor, 6GB DDR3 memory and a Nvidia GeForce GTX460 discrete graphics card at NT$46,900 (US$1,597), targeting the high-end market; and the mainstream CM6650 with an Intel Core i5-2300 processor and 4GB of memory plus support of USB 3.0 and SATA 6GB at between NT$17,900-26,900.

Asustek also launched a new all-in-one PC, the ET2400 IGTS, adopting an Intel Core i5-2400s processor and a 23.6-inch touchscreen display with USB 3.0 support at about NT$40,000.

Meanwhile, Gigabyte is also set to launch its in-house-designed 15.6-inch P2532 notebook featuring improved Sandy Bridge platform in March.

Gigabyte also announced February revenues of NT$2.74 billion, down 45.36% from NT$5.01 billion in January."

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Source: Digitimes

Adobe will get 'em in the end; Wallaby converts Flash to HTML5

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2011 - 11:25 AM |
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No matter the reason the Jobs-ian crew decided to abandon support for the most popular way to stream video over the web, today it was proven that there really is no escape from Adobe.  Their new converter is called Wallaby and will convert .FLV files into HTML5 for display on iThings, though not in real time.  This is a developer tool which not only will allow you to convert existing Flash content into HTML5 but also to let you edit it afterwards.  The tool is not perfect, you can read about the limitations by following the link at Slashdot.

"Adobe has released its Flash to HTML 5 conversion tool, codenamed 'Wallaby.' Wallaby is an application to convert Adobe Flash Professional CS5 files (.FLA) to HTML5 and its primary design goals were to get the best quality and performance on browsers within iOS devices like iPhone and iPad."

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Source: Slashdot

MEElectronics M9 Earphones, maybe not the best but certainly a great deal

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2011 - 01:18 PM |
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At under $20 the MEElectronics M9 Earphones are certainly not priced in the range an audiophile would look for, but what about those just looking for sound quality that is just "good enough".  You can even pick up a different package with a microphone for an additional $5.  Think Computers rated the sound quality of these haeadphones on par with $80 models they have reviewed in the past, so if you want decent headphones without investing a lot check these ones out.

"There are a lot of contenders in the earphone market. The prices range from $10 up into the $200s or more for those simple little speakers folks plug into their ears for a few hours at a time, listening to a variety of forms and genres of music. Some folks can’t tell the difference between the low-end ones and the high-end ones, and prefer affordability over demonstrable sound quality. After all, if you can hear something, the earphones are working well, right? Clearly, we audiophiles know there is a difference. However, we, too, fancy ourselves frugal, so we’ll find the highest-quality au dio devices we can afford. Enter the MEElectronics M9 earphones, a $20 set of earphones which sound like $80 earphones."

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The second wave of SandyBridge is very security conscious

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2011 - 12:08 PM |
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Palladium, Trusted Platform Management and all of the other hardware based security solutions Intel and others have demonstrated will arrive with vPro which will be included in the new batch of SandyBridge chips that will be hitting the shelves by April.  The Vpro Core i5 and i7 and Xeon E3 processors are targeted more towards business applications with advanced support for virtualization and supposedly more compatibility with cloud computing.  The speed improvements Intel told The Inquirer about guarantee that these chips will find a home with some enthusiasts.

"CHIPMAKER Intel has announced its Vpro Core i5 and i7 and Xeon E3 processors that use the Sandy Bridge architecture and are designed to support virtualisation and cloud computing.

The first Vpro powered products from the likes Dell, Fujitsu, HP and Lenovo are expected with the next month, Intel told The INQUIRER."

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Source: The Inquirer