Pioneer Announces First UHD Blu-ray Optical Drives

Subject: Storage | January 26, 2017 - 05:47 PM |
Tagged: Ultra HD, UHD, Pioneer, optical, drive, disc, blu-ray, BDR-S 11 J-X, BDR-S 11 J-BK, 5.25, 4k

Pioneer has announced a pair of new 5.25-inch optical drives (via their Japanese site), and both offer support for UHD Blu-ray playback. These (SATA III) drives are the BDR-S 11 J-BK and BDR-S 11 J-X, and their Ultra HD capability represents a "world's first" for a BD burner, according to Pioneer.

pioneer_uhd_1.jpg

Image credit: Anandtech

There has been much discussion about support for UHD Blu-ray on the PC in the past year, and the technical capabilities of existing BDXL-compatible drives seemed to offer support for the current crop of UHD media. Unfortunately, the DRM requirements seem to involve the entire chain, and these new Pioneer optical drives support the required AACS 2.0 decryption. But this is just the tip of the iceberg with system requirements, as Anandtech lists what you will actually need to play back UHD Blu-rays on your computer:

  • A PC that supports AACS 2.0 and Intel Software Guard Extensions (SGX)
  • An appropriate optical disk drive
  • Software that handles UHD BD playback
  • Windows 10
  • A GPU that has an HDMI 2.0a output with HDCP 2.2 (and AACS2 supported by its driver, which eliminates current-gen standalone GPUs)
  • A 4K TV/display that has an HDMI 2.0a input with HDCP 2.2

The software playback requirements are apparently handled via the included software, which Pioneer lists as PowerDVD 14 - though even the latest commercial version (PowerDVD 16) does not support UHD playback yet. It is possible that a custom version, or one previously unavailable to the public, has been included; as Pioneer specifically states that this included PowerDVD 14 software will allow you to "play Ultra HD Blu-ray such as movies, animation, music, Blu-ray, DVD-Video on your computer".

pioneer_BDRS11JX.jpg

Image credit: Anandtech

The two models are differentiated by a more premium audio focus for the BDR-S 11 J-X (and correspondingly higher price, based on reported pricing, below), with this model offering the following audiophile-oriented enhancements:

"BDR-S 11 J-X​ displays the playback quality of the audio CD to be played back in four levels, and in the case of low quality, it carries the "audio CD check function" which displays the coping method such as setting change of this machine It is suitable for applications such as CD ripping and music playback. In addition, by applying the coating adopted also for high-end audio equipment to the disc tray to improve the vibration isolation performance, it also enhances heat dissipation by applying special paint to the interior and exterior of the enclosure, realizing high quietness and reliability..."

Pricing was not included in the official announcement, though Anandtech's report quotes (Japanese-language) PC Watch with pricing roughly equivalent to $200 US (BDR-S 11 J-BK) and $300 US (BDR-S 11 J-X) for the drives. Availability begins in late February in Japan.

Source: Anandtech

Photonic IC Created by University of Colorado Boulder

Subject: Processors | December 29, 2015 - 02:03 AM |
Tagged: optical, photonics

A typical integrated circuit pushes electrical voltage across pathways, with transistors and stuff modifying it. When you interpret those voltages as mathematical values and logical instructions, then congratulations, you have created a processor, memory, and so forth. You don't need to use electricity for this. In fact, the history of Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace was their attempts to perform computation on mechanical state.

ucolorado-2015-opticalic.jpg

Image Credit: University of Colorado
Chip contains optical (left) and electric (top and right) circuits.

One possible follow-up is photonic integrated circuits. This routes light through optical waveguides, rather than typical electric traces. The prototype made by University of Colorado Boulder (and UC Berkeley) seem to use photonics just to communicate, and an electrical IC for the computation. The advantage is high bandwidth, high density, and low power.

This sort of technology was being investigated for several years. My undergraduate thesis for Physics involved computing light transfer through defects in a photonic crystal, using it to create 2D waveguides. With all the talk of silicon fabrication coming to its limits, as 14nm transistors are typically made of around two-dozen atoms, this could be a new direction to innovate.

And honestly, wouldn't you want to overclock your PC to 400+ THz? Make it go plaid for ludicrous speed. (Yes, this paragraph is a joke.)

Corsair Shows Off Sabre RGB Gaming Mice With Optical and Laser Sensors

Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2014 - 09:55 PM |
Tagged: optical, mice, laser mouse, gaming mouse, corsair

Corsair showed off new gaming mice at PAX Australia outfitted with your choice of optical or laser sensors. The new Sabre RGB mice are squarely aimed at PC gamers with a stylish automotive design aesthetic, customizable lighting, programmable buttons, and the choice of sensors. The optical model starts at $60 while the laser sensor variant has an MSRP of $70.

Corsair Gaming Sabre RGB Optical and Laser Sensor Mice.png

Corsair has packed quite a few features into gaming mouse weighing 100 grams. As the name implies, the Sabre RGB includes four LED-backlit lighting zones that can be set to one of 16.8 million colors. There are eight programmable buttons including two under the thumb on the left side of the mouse and a 1.8 meter (5.9 feet) braided USB cable. The choice of sensor and Omron switches rated at 20 million clicks are traits that competitive gamers should appreciate. The optical sensor tops out at 6400 DPI while the laser sensor can hit 8200 DPI. Corsair is bundling the mouse with CUE software which allows gamers to adjust the DPI, acceleration, smoothing, backlighting, macros, and USB reporting rate (25Hz to 1000Hz). According to Corsair Gaming Product Manager Jason Christian, the Sabre RGB was designed to be a lighter and sleeker mouse that builds upon the company's M65 and M45 series.

The Sabre Optical RGB and Sabre Laser RGB are available now for $60 and $70 respectively. More information along with a chance to win a Sabre RGB mouse, NVIDIA graphics card, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel can be found on the Corsair Gaming website.

Also read: Computex 2014: Corsair's Cherry MX RGB Keyboards Launch

Sony's Once Open Optical Port Is Now Proprietary In Ironic Twist

Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2011 - 08:35 AM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, sony, pci-e, optical

 

SonyPort.png

See that blue port that looks like USB 3.0?  It actually has some optical prowess up its sleeve

Sony is well known among technology enthusiasts as being a company that loves to take the proprietary route; however, in a rather paradoxical twist Sony's new optical port on the VAIO Z did not start proprietary.  In fact, it was only made proprietary after Intel and Apple changed the design of the connection that became named Thunderbolt.

Both Thunderbolt and the new Sony connection are based on Light Peak, the optical standard championed by Intel that promised up to 100Gbps optical connections over 100 meter cables (though this was only in lab conditions).  OEMs influenced Intel into postponing the optical variant of Light Peak in favor of a cheaper electric variant, which is what today's Thunderbolt implementation is.  Thunderbolt uses an electric connection over copper using active cables to promises 10Gbps (20Gbps bidirectional) transfers.  The original design for the connector for Light Peak was a connection that looked like a USB connection and would be able to support USB connections as well as accommodate the Light Peak cables.  However, Apple and Intel decided a few months before what would become Thunderbolt launched to change the connector to a mini-Display Port connection.  

The Sony connection on the other hand, employs the USB-like connector, and is capable of handling USB 2.0, USB 3.0 devices as well as the Sony VAIO Z's Power Media Dock which uses the optical connection that is "based on Light Peak," according to This Is My Next.  While Thunderbolt devices will not be able to plug into the VAIO Z's new optical connector and Sony has not released any specifications on what it is capable of, the inclusion of a Blu Ray drive, lots of I/O options in the form of VGA, DVI, HDMI, one USB 2.0, one USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and a discrete 1GB AMD HD 6650M graphics card the connection (whatever its specific transfer capabilities) seems to be no slouch in the transfer speed(s) department.

This Is My Next has the full story on how Sony's (now) proprietary connection joined the companies lineup of proprietary technology despite Sony's efforts to use an non propriety standard (surprisingly) which you can read here.  It is certainly an interesting tale of karma and surprise.  What are your thoughts on the new connection?