Upping the ante on tenable celluar signals

Subject: General Tech | November 8, 2012 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: antenna, 4g, LTE, 3g, GSM

The duties of a mobile phone have changed drastically over the past decade, starting as a simple voice communications tool and evolving into today's video phones, movie players and occasionally productivity tools.  There is one thing inside every cell phone which has not changed at the same pace but is vital to the functionality of the phone, the antenna.  As the expectations of fast transfer speeds rise with the advent of new communication standards like LTE, phone manufacturers are faced with two growing problems.  The first is the diminishing tolerances allowed on the antennas, while less than perfect tuning was acceptable for GSM you cannot let the tuning slip with higher bandwidth standards.  The second is the growing electronic background noise which is omnipresent and growing each year, causing degradation of your cellular signal. The solution might be RF-MEMS ( Radio Frequency Micro-ElectroMechanical Systems) antennas with software controllable tuning which could ease the difficulties of providing tighter tolerances and boosting signals.  The Inquirer covers two companies working on this technology here.

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"Smartphones nowadays come with big screens, megapixel-packed cameras and, thanks to apps, many, many more features than anyone could have dreamed of in the early days of mobile telephony. It has even reached the stage where making telephone calls is just one small part of a modern phone. And yet the need to support all the radio technologies punters expect to be able to use, for voice and for data, ensures that wireless communications is still the hardest part of a phone’s design to get right."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Medal of Honor: GPU Fighter

Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2012 - 04:06 PM |
Tagged: gaming, ea, medal of honor, warfigher, 14th installment, frostbite

Medal of Honor is the game which just refuses to stop, with the arrival of Warfighter which is thie 14th version of this venerable series.  It uses the DX11 Frostbite 2 Engine, the same as BF3, which is famous for needing high end graphics cards to get the most out of the effects available to the engine.  [H]ard|OCP took three of the fastest AMD GPUs and three of the fastest NVIDIA cards to see how they fare against this new game.  You may be pleased to hear all six cards could play at 2560x1600, it was only the MSAA settings which needed to be altered.  Neither company was a clear winner, it seems that just about anyone with decent graphics capabilities will be able to play this game and experience the best the engine has to offer.

That is not what PC Perspective will be playing tonight on PC Per Live, we will be continuing our preferred choice of retro gaming with the original Battlefield 1942 game.  It is now available for free on Origin, so if you want to play with us tonight you'd better start downloading it now!  You should also think about tweaking the .ini files to enable resolutions that were not a choice 10 years ago!

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"Medal of Honor: Warfighter uses the Frostbite 2 engine which was made popular by delivering realistic graphics and physics in Battlefield 3. We will be finding out if the image quality has improved or stayed the same compared to Battlefield 3, and what kind of hardware is needed to take full advantage of the game."

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Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Nanotubes will make fast non-volitile memory even if they are slow out of the gate

Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2012 - 03:29 PM |
Tagged: graphene, nanotubes, NRAM, non-volitle RAM, Van der Waals, Nantero

Nantero promised us that their nanotube based flash memory would be available in 2009 and disappointed us by failing to reach that goal but The Register has some great news, they currently have 4Mbit arrays of NRAM up and running in their labs.  These arrays are writing data as fast as 3 nanoseconds while producing reasonable heat and consuming what is described as low power.  Perhaps even more important in a market which is currently quite worried about the lifetime of flash memory, this nanotube based RAM has no write limit whatsoever and if it makes it into SSDs it will assuage the fears many users currently have.  The memory works based on resistance, when the tubes are not touching they are in a state of high resistance which represents a 0 and when touching they have low resistance and represent a 1.  The stiffness of the nanotubes keeps them in a separated state until close enough that the Van der Waals force keeps them touching ensures that this will be non-volatile RAM and will retain data without an external power source.  Hopefully we will be seeing more on this soon.

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"Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are cylindrical carbon allotropes, molecules up to a millimetre long but just a nanometer thick, and have a length-to-diameter of up to 132,000,000:1. Their walls are made up of single-atom-thick carbon sheets - graphene. CNTs are members of the fullerene family and their properties include the ability to conduct electricity as well as copper, while being stronger than steel and as hard as diamond."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Limited Linux Steam Client Beta Begins With 26 Games and Big Picture Mode

Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2012 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: valve, ubuntu 12.04, ubuntu, steam, linux, gaming

The developers at Valve have been hammering away at a Linux version of its popular Steam client and software distribution service.While Windows is currently the dominant platform, CEO Gabe Newell has shown his displeasure at with Windows 8 and the Windows Store such that development has been expedited to support the alternative operating systems and port Valve’s own titles to the platforms. Last month, Valve announced a limited public beta would start soon, and that it was taking applications.

That beta is now in effect, with a small subset of the total 60,000 applications the company received being invited to participate in the beta build. Intended for Ubuntu 12.04, the Linux for Steam beta includes the client itself, and several surprising additions (that were previously thought to not be included). Big Picture Mode and 26 games will be part of the Linux beta.

Steam running on Ubuntu.jpg

Big Picture Mode is Valve’s 10-foot interface for the Steam client. It is designed to work well with remote or controller such that Steam functionality and games can be easily accessed from the couch with Steam on the living room TV. (I took a look at Big Picture Mode earlier this year if you are curious about what the interface looks like.)

The list of games includes:

  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  • And yet it Moves
  • Aquaria
  • The Book of Unwritten Tales
  • Cogs
  • Cubemen
  • Darwina
  • Dungeons of Dredmor
  • Dynamite Jack
  • eversion
  • Frozen Synapse
  • Galcon Fusion
  • Serious Sam 3: BFE
  • Solar 2
  • SpaceChem
  • Space Pirates and Zombies
  • Steel Storm: Burning Retribution
  • Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
  • Team Fortress 2
  • Trine 2
  • Uplink
  • Uplink/Darwinia Pack
  • Unity of Command: Stalingrad Campaign
  • Waveform
  • World of Goo
  • World of Goo Demo

Needless to say, there are a number of games more than the previously expected TF2, though Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 are noticeably absent (as are the rest of the Valve/Source collection). Space Pirates and Zombies is sure to suck some productivity out of Linux users’ days, however!

Valve has stated that additional users will be added to the beta from the pool of applicants over time. The company is also looking at making the Linux client available to other Linux distributions as well (even HML?). If you want a chance at getting into the beta, Valve is still accepting new applications via this survey (you need to log in with your Steam credentials).

Have you tried out the Steam for Linux beta?

Source: Valve

HP Becomes Platinum Member of Linux Foundation

Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2012 - 11:51 AM |
Tagged: servers, linux foundation, linux, hp, hardware

The Linux Foundation announced today that PC OEM Hewlett-Packard (HP) is upgrading its membership status to Platinum – highest level of membership. HP joins Fujitsu, IBM, Intel, NEC, Oracle, Qualcomm Innovation Center, and Samsung.

Linux Foundation Logo.gif

As a Platinum member, HP will have a seat on the Linux Foundation’s Board of Directors and will be able to influence the future direction of the organization. Reportedly, the OEM is making Linux a priority and is looking to further integrate the open source software into its hardware offerings. For $500,000 a year, HP will also be given priority at events like LinuxCon. HP's branding will also be on the Linux Foundation site and as sponsors at any events.

According to Jim Zemlin, the executive director of The Linux Foundation:

“With one of the richest and most recognized stories in technology, HP has a history of innovation and market success. Because of this history and innate knowledge of software development, HP understands that Linux and collaborative development can benefit its business across its product portfolio. We’re looking forward to the work we can accomplish with HP.”

It is certainly an interesting move, and hopefully one that means HP wants to commit more to the direction of Linx and its adoption on HP hardware. You can find the full press release on the Linux Foundation's website.

Finally something new for the server team from AMD

Subject: General Tech, Processors | November 6, 2012 - 01:30 PM |
Tagged: piledriver, opteron 6300, amd, Abu Dhabi

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Low power, high density server designs are very important but it is nice to see updates on the more powerful server processors as well, something quite rare so far in 2012.  AMD has finally released their Opteron 6300 family, with ten members bearing between 8 to 16 cores and all running at over 3GHz.  We don't have any reviews to offer, so the only performance benchmarks are from AMD's press releases, but you can expect more change than just an increase in frequency as this is a Piledriver based chip.  The Register has put together a high level overview of the new Opterons or you can head on over to AMD to check out the information on offer there.  Cray is already shipping servers based on these chips, with Dell and HP releasing a variety of servers in the near future.

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"Customers using big ol' fat x86 servers didn't have much to jump for joy about this year. There just isn't a lot going on. But to make things interesting, AMD is now goosing the performance of its top-end parts with the launch of its "Abu Dhabi" Opteron 6300s, which sport the "Piledriver" cores that already debuted in the FX Series of high-end desktop chips."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Deals for November 6th - 15.6-in Dell 15R IVB Laptop for $741

Subject: General Tech | November 6, 2012 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: deals

Top deal

15.6" Dell Inspiron 15R 3rd Gen Core i7 Quad-core Laptop for $741.74 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $988.99 - Use coupon code ?$QNC1?HSKNR9F).

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Laptops

14" Lenovo ThinkPad T430 Ivy Bridge Laptop for $749.00 with free shipping @ Lenovo(normally $779.00).

14" Dell XPS 14 Core i5 900p Ultrabook w/ 500GB HDD + 32GB SSD for $999.99 with free shipping @ Dell(normally $1,129.99 - Use coupon code LDNXM8HBV85MW4).

Desktops

Dell Vostro 470 "Ivy Bridge" Core i5 Quad-core Desktop + 21.5" LCD Monitor for $579.00 with Free Shipping @ Dell (normally $788.00 - Use coupon code W9D06J14FX10WM).

Computer Components

Logitech K750 Wireless Solar Keyboard for $50.99 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $60 - use coupon code P83Q8GXNJK9Q0R)

22" Dell S2240L 1080p LED-backlit LCD Monitor for $149.99 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $220).

Corsair Hydro H70 CORE Liquid CPU Cooler (CW-9060002-WW) for $49.99 with shipping @ TigerDirect (normally $100).

Refurbished Linksys Dual-Band N900 4-Port Gigabit Router (EA4500) for $105 with free shipping @ Cisco (normally $200 - Use coupon code HSDISH5).

HDTVs

39" Proscan PLCD3992A 1080p LCD HDTV for $284.99 with Free Shipping (normally $400).

Onkyo SKS-HT540 7.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System for $199.99 with Free Shipping (normally $250 - use coupon code: EMCJJNJ88).

Portables

Apple iPod 16GB Nano (MD475LL/A) Current Generation for $149.99 with Free Shipping @ Abt.com

Source: LogicBuy

Corsair AXi/AX PSU Refresh: AX860, AX860i, AX760, AX760i

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | November 6, 2012 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: PSU, corsair, 80 Plus Platinum PSU

It has not been too long since Lee Garbutt reviewed Corsair’s AX1200i Power Supply. Corsair used that product to introduce their Corsair Link Dashboard to the monitoring of Power Supply performance. Lee was very impressed with the supply and gave it a Gold Award.

AX860i_PSU_sideview_a@300.jpg

Some of us are not looking to power a microwave inside our PCs. Corsair has thusly brought that feature to lower wattage PSUs with their new AX860i and AX760i. These PSUs achieve 80 PLUS Platinum certification along with the Digital Signal Processor connection to monitor. If you would rather have $30 USD instead of monitoring capabilities: each model number without the i contains the same 80 PLUS Platinum certification just without the monitoring capabilities. As an added bonus the Corsair power supplies should be very silent. The 860W power supply will shut down its fan to 0 RPM until it reaches a 60% load while the 760W will operate without fans until a 70% load.

These PSUs will be available in November and are priced: $249.99 USD for the AX860i vs. $219.99 USD for the AX860. The AX760i will be available for $229.99 USD vs. $199.99 for the AX760. Again, the i denotes the ability to be monitored by Corsair’s Link Dashboard software.

Press blast after the break!

Source: Corsair