Grab the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 while it's still hot

Subject: General Tech | February 29, 2012 - 11:59 AM |
Tagged: win8, Metro

[H]ard|OCP has a direct link to the shiny new Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which weighs in at 3.3GB for the 64-bit and 2.5GB for the 32-bit.  From testing that their forum members have been doing we know that VMWare is not fond of this release either, just like the developer preview.  The Start button is indeed gone and the war it will trigger has just begun.   ExtremeTech noticed that you can upgrade the Developer to the Consumer and preserve your settings and files however if you do an update from Win7 be advised that there is no going back.  See their preview here.

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Last chance to see?

"Windows 8 Consumer Preview is prerelease software that may be substantially modified before it’s commercially released. Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information provided here. Some product features and functionality may require additional hardware or software."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

MWC 12: Android 5.0 this fall? Google drops sweet hints.

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 28, 2012 - 07:27 PM |
Tagged: MWC 12, Android 5.0, Android

Android Ice Cream Sandwich is currently getting rolled out to compatible devices at a leisurely pace. The OS itself is for the most part well appreciated by both developers and end-users. As the rollout progresses and minor maintenance patches are created: Google is looking forward to the next major version.

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Just get Ice Cream Sandwich and they already talking about the future. U Jelly? : D

ComputerWorld went out to Barcelona to check out Mobile World Congress and of course could not resist reporting on Android. In an interview with Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google VP of Engineering for Mobile, we are treated to a few indirect statements about the next major version of Android.

The major release timeframe for Android is said to continue to be an annual endeavor. An annual release schedule would slate Android J (5.0) to an autumn timeframe. During the discussion, Lockheimer noted that there is flexibility with when developers wish to roll out updated. While that personally sounds like Google is allowing OEMs and carriers to take as long as they desire to implement the new Android releases it appears as if ComputerWorld has heard rumors of Android 5-power phones appearing as early as summer.

Despite ComputerWorld’s best effort, Google would not confirm the dessert associated with Android 5. Best guesses point to the name Jelly Bean, which are supported by a glass jar of Jelly Beans on the show floor.

Show off your mousing skills in the boardroom with the Genius Ring Mouse

Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2012 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: Genius Ring Mouse, input, wireless mouse

The Genius Ring Mouse will not win you any CounterStrike tournaments but it will get you noticed in the conference room.  It is not quite the size of a ring but certainly fits well into your hand and the 2.4GHz wireless signal should not run in to any interference.  It operates in two special modes, Presentation Mode and Media Center Mode as well as functioning as a regular mouse.  Techware Labs like the easy control over PowerPoint slides as well as playing and pausing video in Media Center Mode but they did not do so well when they tried StarCraft.

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"Ever wanted a reliable wireless mouse for presentations? The Ring Mouse brought to you by Genius does that and more. The Ring Mouse is an award-winning device for its ingenious design and works as well for the business person as it does someone who simply wants an easy way to thumb through multimedia on their home machine."

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Could this new research lead to light speed RAM?

Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2012 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: ram, optical ram, o-RAM

If this is truly a breakthrough and not just another step towards optical RAM, then this story at The Register should put smiles on a lot of faces.  Utilizing an indium gallium arsenide strip buried in gallium arsenide these researchers have found a way to make this material either transparent or opaque to light, and using that to dynamically record a 0 or 1.  This would imply that the speed of the RAM would only be limited by how quickly the material can switch from one state to the other. These theoretical DIMMs would need a minute amount of power, the abstract states 30 nW as the predicted power draw, which could eliminate heatspreaders as we know them today.  The security conscious may also be assuaged that the state will last for a matter of microseconds so there will be no more freezing RAM for snooping through later.

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From the article on Nature.

"Japanese researchers are claiming a breakthrough in all-optical memory, one of the key bottlenecks remaining in the optical communications world.

The high throughput of optical communications systems brings its own problem: any function that can’t be performed in the optical domain demands an opto-electric conversion, creating a bottleneck in the system. This has put a premium on research into optical switching, amplification and signal regeneration."

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Source: The Register

GPU sales look a little down in the month

Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2012 - 12:24 PM |
Tagged: jon peddie, gpu, market share

The graphics market seems to be changing, a feeling backed up by Jon Peddie's latest report on the GPU market.  IGPs are dying, low end discrete is dying, and the quickest selling GPUs are integrated onto the CPU.  All this means that the sales of discreet GPUs are down, with a 10.4% drop from the previous quarter as customers opt out of a GPU and simply use the one found on their CPU.  AMD is slowly gaining in this market thanks to the fact that Llano is now available for those who would purchase it.  One oddity that SemiAccurate notes is that NVIDIA actually still claims a share of the IGP market thanks to some sales in China.

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"Word has just come in from everyone’s favorite market research group, Jon Peddie Research, that Q4 2011 was not a particularly inspiring quarter for graphics shipments. Q4 was seasonally down compared to Q3, in step with the prior years, and up slightly compared to 2010. The seasonal drop this year was particularly heavy coming in at 10.4 percent, the largest Q3 to Q4 drop since 2008."

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Source: SemiAccurate

MWC 12: TI OMAP5 will beat your A9 with its own two cores

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 25, 2012 - 07:06 PM |
Tagged: texas instruments, MWC 12, arm, A9, A15

Texas Instruments could not wait until Mobile World Congress to start throwing punches. Despite their recent financial problems resulting in the closure of two fabrication plants TI believes that their product should speak for itself. Texas Instruments recently released a video showing their dual-core OMAP5 processor based on the ARM Cortex-A15 besting a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 in rendering websites.

Chuck Norris joke.

Even with being at a two core disadvantage the 800 MHz OMAP5 processor was clocked 40 percent slower than the 1.3 GHz Cortex A9. The OMAP5 is said to be able to reach 2.5 GHz if necessary when released commercially.

Certain portions of the video did look a bit fishy however. Firstly, CNet actually loaded quicker on the A9 processor but it idled a bit before advancing to the second page. The A9 could have been stuck loading an object that the OMAP 5 did not have an issue with, but it does seem a bit weird.

About the fishiest part of the video is that the Quad-Core A9, which we assume to be a Tegra 3, is running on Honeycomb where the OMAP5 is running Ice Cream Sandwich.  Ice Cream Sandwich has been much enhanced for performance over Honeycomb.

We have no doubt that the ARM Cortex-A15 will be much improved over the current A9. The issue here is that TI cannot successfully prove that with this demonstration.

Just Delivered: Corsair Vengeance K90, K60, M90, M60 Keyboards and Mice

Subject: General Tech | February 24, 2012 - 06:46 PM |
Tagged: vengeance, mouse, m90, m60, keyboard, k90, k60, just delivered, hid, corsair

Just Delivered is a section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less.

Corsair does just about everything now - memory modules, power supplies, cases, SSDs, headphones, speakers, water coolers, functional LED umbrellas and now keyboards and mice.  And just like we have seen when Corsair entered new markets previously, they took their time to do it right.  The Vengeance line of keyboards and mice offer two dedicated series for gamers of different persuasions: the K90 and M90 for MMO players and the K60 and M60 for predominantly FPS users.

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The new keyboards consist MOSTLY of Cherry MX Red switches (which you can read more about here in our recent Rosewill keyboard roundup) and are generally very well built.  The mice have adjustable DPIs, lights and lots of button.  What follows is a pictorial preview of these gorgeous devices before our review sometime in the near future!  Enjoy!!

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The K60 comes with a removable left hand rest for your frequent gaming as well as replaceable WASD keys that have a rubber texture to them and are slightly angled to keep your fingers from slipping out during those INTENSE gaming moments.

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Corsair tends to think of the customer first so they were sure to include a tool to remove the keys rather than telling you to use a flat head screwdriver from your garage.

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One of my favorite features is the Windows button disable key up there to prevent you from accidently hitting that during gameplay.

See a lot more photos of these devices in our full post!!

Source: Corsair

MWC 12: Lots of industry support for NVIDIA DirectTouch

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 24, 2012 - 06:18 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, DirectTouch, MWC 12

As a part of their Tegra 3 product, NVIDIA embedded the ability to control some of the touchscreen processing onto the CPU. The offloading allows for increased power efficiency by reducing the number of powered components as well as increased touch responsivity. Atmel, Cypress, and Synaptics are three leading touch-controller companies who join N-Trig, Raydium, and Focaltech in supporting the DirectTouch architecture.

Touchy subject, I know -- but...

Advancements in touch technology are definitely welcome especially when the words power efficiency or responsiveness are involved. Both NVIDIA and Intel have been looking for ways to reduce the number of electronics behind your phone or tablet. The less required to do the most the better we are. It is great to see NVIDIA taking the lead in innovation when it is needed the most.

While I do not mean to rain upon NVIDIA’s bright blue skies -- I must make a note. Despite the precision brought by high sample rate, there does appear to be quite a bit of latency between where his finger is and where the touch is reported. I would be curious to see where that latency occurs.

Of course this issue probably has nothing to do with NVIDIA. Videogames, particularly on consoles, are known to have latencies floating up to 100ms as the input device does not influence the frames being rendered often enough. The latency could come in from the touch device itself, from the software, the operating system, and/or whatever else.

We do not know where the latency occurs, but I expect that whoever crushes it will have a throne awaiting them somewhere in Silicon Valley.

Source: NVIDIA Blogs

MWC 12: LG gives Mozilla Marketplace a try to boot to Gecko?

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 24, 2012 - 04:29 PM |
Tagged: MWC 12, mozilla, B2G, LG

Mozilla will show off their marketplace for web apps at Mobile World Congress 2012. Mozilla Marketplace will support the upcoming Boot to Gecko (B2G) operating system for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. It is rumored that they will announce LG as a partner to develop either a tablet or a phone for developers of the B2G platform.

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I ~ <3 Paypal... I guess.

Mozilla Marketplace will be a store where developers can distribute and sell their applications based upon HTML 5, Javascript, and CSS. The marketplace will support both free and paid apps with a variety of terms. Developers can have their users paid for the app up front, within the app for microtransactions, within the app for demo unlock, on a subscription basis (not yet implemented), or by donations.

Paypal has been announced as the payment processor for the Mozilla Marketplace. Paypal is not universally adored although we can understand why Mozilla would need to use an existing package. Prices are locked to one of 30 tiers so pricing is not entirely flexible but does run the gamut from 99-cents to $50 as well as of course free.

Hopefully we will get more details about Boot to Gecko or the Mozilla-powered LG phone at MWC in the coming days.

Source: Extremetech

Good news everybody! The HDDs are coming back

Subject: General Tech | February 24, 2012 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: flooding, thailand, hdd

It won't be completely back to normal but if DigiTimes' information is correct the HDD industry is getting back on their feet after the flooding in Thailand wiped out several fabs.  This is not just great news for your average consumer or enthusiast but also for businesses that have had server upgrades and maintenance postponed since stocks of enterprise HDDs dried up.  While it may seem funny that NewEgg limits the number of units you can buy for some of their stock, it is not so funny for a company that needs to rebuild a 10 disk RAID on a SAN.  By Spring we should see a return to stock levels of about 80% and prices about 30% higher than what existed on the market previously which will help out a lot of bottom lines as well as bring much needed money into Thailand to help with the recovery.

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"The global production capacity of hard disk drives (HDDs) will increase to 140-145 million units, about 80% of the level before flooding hit Thailand in late 2011, in the first quarter of 2012, according to industry sources.

HDD makers exhausted their inventories of products and components in December 2011 and January 2012, the sources indicated. However, HDD vendors have not hiked quotes due to the off-season.

Among HDD vendors, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies and Seagate Technology have suffered less damage from the flooding and therefore have moved faster in restoring production capacities, compared to Toshiba and Western Digital, the sources indicated."

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Source: DigiTimes